Summary: The Holy Spirit has given every believer gifts. These gifts give us a foretaste of a better day to come while we are still here on earth.
Today we will be looking at what the Scriptures call “spiritual gifts” For some this morning you are new to this idea or concept. Others have heard about the “Gifts of the Spirit: but are unsure of what it all means.
Some of you know about and have experienced God using you in the spiritual gifts. And there are those who are afraid of spiritual gifts. Your fear stems from various sources: misuse of spiritual gifts for personal gain, a feeling that they are weird, and other reasons.
My prayer this morning is that as a church we will move forward into a better understanding of spiritual gifts. I also want us to embrace the gifts as a vital growth element of the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:1 1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
The church at Corinth was a petri-dish for church problems. It seems that if anything could go wrong it went wrong among the Corinthian believers. Paul writes to them several times attempting to help them through their situations.
One of the many problems facing the Corinthian church was a misuse of spiritual gifts. You know the gifts we just read about: word of wisdom, faith, healing, prophecy, miracles, etc.
The problem was not that people did not believe in these gifts. Neither was it a case that people were not being used in all of these gifts. As a matter of fact people were being used to heal, do miracles, give messages in tongues and interpret them, to prophecy and more.
The problem in the Corinthian church was one of “power.” Instead of using spiritual gifts to build up and unify the body of Christ they were causing division. People in the church were equating one being used in a particular gift as a sign of spiritual power. Unfortunately, it also seems there were some church members glad to let other people think they were “superstars” in the area of spiritual gifts.
This is why Paul writes to the whole church and says, “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed (ignorant KJV).”
He wants the whole church to understand the purpose and the SOURCE of spiritual gifts. The purpose is to build up the church and make it more effective for the Kingdom. The SOURCE of spiritual gifts is NOT HUMAN ABILITY OR POWER – the gifts come from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit decides how He will gift EVERY INDIVIDUAL in the church.
The Holy Spirit administrates the use of spiritual gifts in a way that brings peace and unity. If the spiritual gifts are causing confusion and disunity then two problems are at work: 1) the church is uninformed about spiritual gifts and needs teaching, or 2) the Devil is at work trying to use spiritual things to confuse God’s people (consider the miracles done by the sorcerers when Moses goes before Pharaoh).
Consider this reality of Scripture in Matthew 7. Jesus tells us there will be those who do miracles, casts out demons and prophesy who will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus will look at them at the judgment and say, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
Paul is trying to help the Corinthian believers be informed about spiritual gifts so they will not be led astray into false doctrine. He is trying to help them not be deceived by counterfeit’s claiming to be prophets of God but are just ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing. That is why we have 1 Corinthians 12 (and other passages) – we too need to be informed.