Summary: A look at the difference between manifestations, ministries and offices’ of a certain gift, and whether we should desire and focus on certain gifts (as we are often encouraged to do)
Gifts of the Spirit 8: Gifts, ministries, offices and “greater gifts” 1 Cor 12:27-31 WBC 3/10/4pm
GIFTS, MINISTRIES AND OFFICES (v27, 28)
Paul has spoken about
- not wanting them to be ignorant of ‘spiritual things’, the ‘spiritual dynamic’ and ‘what makes a person spiritual’ (v1)
- He’s spoken about the kind of things that happen when the Lord shows up and manifests Himself. V7 (‘manifestations of the Spirit’).
o How things, spontaneously, start happening
He then moves on to talking about PEOPLE
- the body of Christ. It’s diversity
- the roles & ministries of PEOPLE.
- How people can so regularly have certain manifestations that they are said to have the office of ‘helps’, ‘apostle’, prophet etc
A good understanding of this is important as many of us get confused or intimidated by thinking of ourselves or someone as ‘prophet’ or ‘apostle’
- clam up and don’t exercise the manifestation, thinking ‘I’m certainly not a prophet, so I’d better shut up’
- poo poo someone saying ‘they’re not a healer’. ‘I didn’t get healed’
So- Paul draws up another short-list and teaches us from it
- it contains some manifestations mentioned earlier
- plus some newies: helps, apostle etc
Aim: to give some examples and show the diversity of roles people have
He puts them in some kind of order:
- either order of priority or time. Amounts to much the same.
o It’s very possible he’s correcting the hierarchy the Corinthian church had established ( of elevating the zappy ones)
- So he’s saying: ‘look, churches are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20)
o Apostles go in and start them. Prophets come in and speak the word of God to them. Explain the prophecies of the past and bring God’s alive word, now
- Then teachers come and build them up. Then God does stuff among them in healings and miracles..
- Then people help… administrate….
Illustr: Pastor Elijah in Sheregesh. “I’ll go. We’ll proclaim God’s word on the streets. Some will get healed. Then we’ll start a church and people will get involved in that”
So- the order is not so much an order of importance (as he’s just taken 27 verses to explain they are all equal and necessary!)
- it’s the order and priority to ‘get the job done’
Now: here’s the thing. We can look at this list and it can make us cynical or freeze up. “I know no prophets”. “That’s not me”
- truth is: these are probably not any of us! Well-maybe some administrators or helpers
o but none of us are Apostles or Prophets with a capital A & P
- most of us are still in the v7-11 experience
o we have occasional manifestations of these things and are growing in them
o but not to the point where we hold the ‘office’ of Prophet
Gosh- doesn’t this set your mind at ease: I’m not a prophet, yet- so I’m gonna make mistakes, and have to step out in faith… and nobody’s gonna stone me if I get it wrong!
You see: there are different levels of operating in these things:
- the occasional spontaneous manifestation, given by God
o (IT has YOU)
- regular manifestations of God’s Spirit in a certain way to the point where OTHERS may say of you: “you’re developing a ministry, there”
- high maturity and development to the point where others may say “They’re a prophet, apostle, healer’ etc. “They hold the OFFICE”
And it’s the ‘office’ that’s being spoken of, here
- so, relax. We’re not in this realm!
So-Paul speaks of the office of Apostle:
- those who saw the risen Jesus (Paul: 1 Cor 9:1). Who did miracles with regularity (2 Cor 12:12).
- Who were ‘sent’ by Jesus and the early church to establish churches (Cf Paul & Barnabas? Acts 13)
o That’s what ‘apostle’ means, lit
- Those whose words were of equal authority to OT and wrote NT
o (1 Cor 14:36. Paul’s word were on a par with scripture)
And there are no more Apostles in that sense
- no more scripture to be written
But there are still people to be sent, churches to be planted, people with regional ministries
- ie those who exercise apostolic MINISTRIES
o restoration movement has sought to restore these to the ch. (all ministries of Eph 4)
There aren’t any more prophets like the OT
- so: no laying starkers on your side for ages like Ezekiel did. Or cooking your food over poo. Or marrying a prostitute as an enacted parable
- but also: no stoning if you get it wrong!
o That kind of accuracy was for the prophets and apostles (ipsisima verba, exact words)
o Now: prophecy is released generally to all: sons and daughters. And it’s ‘ipsisima vox, exact sense’