Summary: Paul encourages the Corinthians believers and reminds them of God's gifts and grace that He bestowed on them.
The name Jesus Christ is mentioned ten times in the first ten verses of 1 Corinthians. I think Paul did this because he wanted the minds of the Corinthian believers to be immediately centered upon Jesus Christ. He knew that the answer to the Corinthian problems didn’t lay in his ability to discuss and reason, not in his laying down rules and regulations for them. He knew that the answer to their problems was in Jesus Christ. So in verses 4-9, he discusses some of the resources which the believer receives when he accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.
The first resource a believer receives is the grace of God. READ v. 4. Very simply, grace means the undeserved favor and blessing of God. It’s when God gives us what we don’t deserve. G-R-A-C-E = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Grace means the kindness and love that God freely gives to those who have acted against Him. God’s grace is not earned. His grace is a free gift. God’s grace is the only way a person can be saved. We don’t deserve grace but God loves us with an unbelievable love, so He favors us with the most unbelievable gifts.
The Corinthian church, the believers there, knew and experienced the grace of God. They knew what it was to receive the favor and blessings of God.
READ v. 5-7. The 2nd resource for believers is the gift of God’s grace and Spirit. God’s grace had enriched the Corinthian believers “in every way”. They were especially blessed with the gifts of speaking and of knowledge.
In the area of speaking, they were blessed with all the spiritual gifts involving speech which includes prophecy, teaching, and tongues—any form of speech needed to praise God and to witness for Christ.
In the area of knowledge they had the spiritual gift of understanding spiritual truth and doctrine. They had unusual insight into the nature of God and His call and mission in the world.
The church and its believers were enabled to know and understand the truth of God’s Word and to speak the truth to a lost and dying world. The Spirit of God had enriched their lives with these gifts.
The result of God’s grace and gifts were wonderful. They show what can happen to our faith when God’s Spirit extends us His grace. Three of those results are mentioned in these verses.
1. The gifts and grace of God confirmed our testimony about Christ in the hearts of the believers. (Verse 6) The believers were sure of their salvation. They knew beyond question that they were saved. Jesus had testified the truth that He was the Son of God. The disciples also had testified that Christ was the Son of God, the Savior of the world. The Corinthian believers’ faith was confirmed by the gifts of God’s grace. God showed His grace and showered them with blessings to confirm that their salvation and experience with Christ were genuine.
2. The second thing we see is that the gifts and grace of God were a full provision to the Corinthian believers. By that, I mean that they lacked no spiritual gifts. They experienced not only the personal gifts like faith and knowledge and tongues, but also the public gifts such as miracles, healing, and prophecy; and they possessed them in abundance.
In chapters 12 and 14 of 1 Corinthians we are going to see that the believer is to eagerly desire the greater gifts and the spiritual gifts. But just because someone has the gifts of the Spirit does not mean that person is necessarily strong in the Lord. The Corinthians are a good example of that. There was no one more carnal in the early days of the church than the Corinthian believers. Their abuse of their gifts and their judgment, as we will see in chapters 12-14, serves as a strong warning to all.
3. The third result of God’s gifts and grace is that it stirred a strong longing for the return of Christ. The gifts of the Spirit give us a foretaste of the glories of heaven. For instance:
- The gift of prophecy or of preaching proclaims what heaven will be like.
- The gift of ministering demonstrates the loving compassion and care that exists in heaven.
- The gift of healing shows the power and will of God for man to live without corruption and pain.
The more active the gifts of the Spirit are among a church, the more the people long for the Lord’s return because, using the gifts of the Spirit, the church experiences the presence of the Lord. Let me put this in every day terms that might be easier to understand.
A body of believers comes together. They minister to one another. They hear the Word of God preached and taught. They pray together. They experience the moving of the Holy Spirit as He touches hearts and draws them closer to God. They see people healed. They see relationships mended. And on and on it goes. They are getting a foretaste of what heaven will be like. And then we start expecting things based upon what God’s Word says to us. For instance: