Summary: As Paul continues to address the problems in the church at Corinth, he now turns to the issue of spiritual gifts and how the church is supposed to function like a human body.
A. Many of you know how much I love the Peanuts comic strip.
1. In one of the strips, Snoopy, the lovable beagle, was pictured with his left leg broken.
2. Snoopy philosophized about his plight one day while perched on top of his doghouse.
3. He thought, “My body blames my foot for not being able to go places. My foot says it was my head’s fault, and my head blamed my eyes…My eyes say my feet are clumsy, and my right foot says not to blame him for what my left foot did…”
4. Snoopy then looked out at the audience and confessed, “I don’t say anything because I don’t want to get involved.”
5. Snoopy’s body sounds a lot like the church body, at times.
B. As we turn to 1 Corinthians 12 today, we turn to familiar territory.
1. It is one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament, because it talks about the church functioning as a physical body.
2. Certainly that is a metaphor that we all can easily understand, since we all have bodies.
3. So let’s take a look at this wonderful chapter and see what applications God would have us address in our lives.
I. Now About Spiritual Gifts…
A. In the first 11 verses of the chapter, Paul explains the way the Holy Spirit works in the church through individual spiritual gifts given to the different members.
1. We need to remember that the Christian era was ushered in when the Holy Spirit came on the apostles in Acts 2 in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise.
2. The Spirit then aided the Twelve and certain other specially chosen evangelists as they preached, wrote and confirmed the Gospel.
3. Look at Hebrews 2, starting about halfway through the 3rd verse, “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (3b-4)
B. Here in 1 Corinthians, Paul has already had several important things to say about the Holy Spirit.
1. Paul has already declared that the church is the place of the Spirit’s abode (3:16). We, collectively, as the church are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
2. Then in chapter 6, Paul argued for sexual purity on the basis of the fact that the bodies of individual believers are temples of the Holy Spirit (6:18-20).
C. Now here in chapter 12, Paul addresses the subject of spiritual gifts among the Christians at Corinth.
1. The Holy Spirit had granted certain miraculous powers to different Christians in that church.
2. The purpose of those gifts was to strengthen the body of Christ.
3. Unfortunately, they had served an opposite end – they were leading to division, jealousy, and other unspiritual attitudes in the church at Corinth.
4. Many there at Corinth were using their spiritual gifts to glorify themselves rather than serve the body.
5. The immature Christians there at Corinth had taken the presence of the spiritual gifts as proof of their justification and perfection in Christ.
6. Paul will insist, in this chapter, that the gifts were given for the building up of the body, and that without the proper exercise of love, the gifts become a liability rather than an asset.
D. Paul points out that the Corinthians once served “dumb idols” and were thereby implicated in demonic evil.
1. Now, however, they had been brought to the light through the revelation of Jesus through God’s Spirit.
2. The Spirit’s most important ministry is pointing people to Jesus.
3. The Spirit exalts Jesus in His redemptive role and helps believers live lives consistent with their calling.
4. To see only the Spirit’s supernatural gifts, to covet and abuse them, or to confuse and disrupt the life of the church over them, is to miss the point of His ministry.
E. Notice how in verses 4 – 6, Paul points out that the One God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, have distributed the gifts at Corinth.
1. Verse 7 reads, “Now to each man the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
2. The fundamental unity of the church should have been served by those gifts, but the opposite was occurring.
F. Paul listed a total of nine spiritual gifts in verses 8-11.
1. Each of those gifts was apparently present among the Corinthians.
2. When we look at some of Paul’s other writings where he mentions spiritual gifts, we notice that a few gifts are missing from this list. (For instance leadership, evangelism, and giving are missing)
3. We can conclude from what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, that not everyone had all the gifts, and that no gift was possessed by everyone as evidence of salvation. (like the gift of tongues)