Summary: The Holy Spirit's purpose for spiritual gifts is to edify and unify the church.
Title: Adhesive Gifts
Text: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Truth: The Holy Spirit’s purpose for spiritual gifts is to edify and unify the church.
Aim: To use their spiritual gift to edify and unify the church.
My pastor friend (Steve H.) was telling me about two men in his church who are stricken with Alzheimer’s. One man is a retired pastor. He and his wife still attend church. Sometimes it takes this retired pastor longer than usual to say something. My friend spoke of being patient with him as they talked.
The other man is not as far along in the development of this disease. He still greets people as they come into the church. The pastor had unlocked the doors but somehow the latch at the bottom of one of the doors had locked. Not many people had arrived for church when my pastor friend went by the door where this man was posted. The man was on his knees inspecting the latch. He was pushing on it. He didn’t remember to simply lift the latch up. The pastor got on his knees beside this man and fiddled with the latch pretending he was trying to discover how it worked. Then he lifted it up and released the door. The reason he did that was to save this man from embarrassment.
I don’t doubt that my friend Steve preached a Spirit-filled, Bible-centered sermon that morning. But long before he preached that sermon, his act of love and mercy revealed that he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
This is not the way the church at Corinth was treating one another. There were divisions in the fellowship; immoral behavior, doctrinal confusion, and a heavy dose of selfishness motivated all of it. This is the background for Paul’s discussion of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts in chapters 12-14. The problem is an abuse of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues in the worship service. The tongue speakers were being disruptive and divisive in the worship service. In chapter 12 Paul explains the purpose of spiritual gifts. They are to edify and unify the church. In chapter 13 they are to be exercised with love. The chief aim of love is to edify and unify the church. In chapter 14 it would be better to speak a few words that are understood than hundreds of words that no one can understand because the church is to be edified and unified. The Holy Spirit’s purpose for spiritual gifts is to edify and unify the church.
I want you to see two emphasis’ Paul makes about spiritual gifts and how they edify and unify the church. First, the Holy Spirit’s purpose for spiritual gifts is to edify and unify the church by exalting Jesus Christ as Lord (v. 1-3). Second, the Holy Spirit’s purpose …by equipping the church to do the work of Jesus Christ (v. 4-11). In other words, the Holy Spirit gives us a test to use to determine if any so-called ministry is truly of God, and Paul says that everyone plays a vital role in the health of the church.
I. THE HOLY SPIRIT EXALTS JESUS CHRIST AS LORD (1 COR. 12:1-3)
Read v. 1.
Paul wants to educate them about spiritual gifts. He points out that they are exceptionally blessed with spiritual gifts. They had every gift necessary to make an impact for Christ on the city of Corinth. We know from chapter 4 that they thought they had arrived at full maturity. This is probably a slap at their pride. It’d be like saying to a professor of mathematics, “I don’t want you to be ignorant of the multiplication tables.”
A spiritual gift is an empowerment by the Holy Spirit to perform some service for Jesus Christ. It’s what Jesus would do if he were in your place. Jesus taught the Word, evangelized the lost, cared for the hurting, and much more. The Holy Spirit empowers Christians to do what Jesus would do if He were in your place.
When I’m gone and another preaches for me he is called a supply preacher. He is supplying what I would if I were here. You are Jesus’ supply teacher or nursery worker or listening ear for another. The Holy Spirit wants to use you to serve as Jesus would.
Read v. 2-3.
The pagan religious practices could become very expressive and the people would often breakout in ecstatic utterances. They might even get so carried away that out of honor to the false god they’d shout, “Jesus be cursed.” Paul says the test of any religious statement or religious movement is what they say or do about Jesus. If it diminishes Jesus it is not coming from the Holy Spirit.
It is not just reciting the words, “Jesus is Lord,” that makes a person or movement OK. Remember the context of the first century. The Roman Caesar was requiring everyone in the Roman Empire to burn incense to him and declare that he was a deity. They were required to say, “Caesar is Lord.” To refuse to make this confession was to make oneself an enemy of the state and be viewed as an atheist. If a believer said, “Jesus is Lord” he might be putting his life and/or livelihood on the line.