Summary: First in a series of Lectures on the Gifts of the Spirit. This lectures treats that Main Thing in Spiritual Matters.
The Church must maintain its Distinctiveness amid a Corinthianizing Culture! A distinction God-made, not man-made. That was the fundamental failure of the Church at Corinth. It had failed to maintain its distinctiveness amid the corrosive culture of Corinth.
The Maintenance of Distinctiveness is also the challenge that confronts the Church in America. Amid our contemporary Corinthianizing Culture, we must resist the pressures to Conform.
However, contemporary Congregationalists are more compassionately concerned for the Carnal than they are for the Spiritual. We tend to be Overly Obsessed with the Obvious and apathetically Ambiguous on the Actual. Our concern for the Carnal is overtly evident in Three Major Areas.
First, our Polarizing Politics in Kingdom Matters evidence our concern for the Carnal. Church folk possess an uncanny knack for exhibiting opposite powers in opposite directions. WE love to divide up into opposing groups, sects and parties. In every congregation there are opposing sides with opposing powers. Its as if we haven’t heard the Lord Jesus say, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Yet we still pursues this “I of’s” policy. I am of Paul, of Cephas, of Apollo and of Christ. We have foolishly labeled ourselves as Conservatives, Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, Independents, Moderates, Liberals, Primitives, Progressives and Charismatics. Yes, we have subscribed to Carnal Party politics. And that always polarizes, divides the unity of the Body of Christ. Perhaps, we need to ponder this question: Is Christ divided? Polarizing Politics!!! Our concern for the carnal is evident.
Second, our Prejudiced Principles evidence our concern for the carnal. We have formulated our creeds and fashioned our affirmations upon the anvil of our own preconceived misconceptions, our likes and dislikes and not upon the unalterable Word of God. Of late we hear much of “Traditional Family Values” that are more culturally biased than Biblically based! WE hear many in the camp of the Church champion the cause of Religious Freedom. We foolishly rally around the idea of freedom of choice, our inherent right to pick and choose, and have forgotten that we are not free to choose: We are not our own for we are bought with a price. We did not choose the Lord Jesus, He chose us! Our concern for the carnal is evident. Not only in our Polarizing politics and Prejudiced Principles but:
Third, in our Perverted Programs. I must sadly confess that personally, parentally and parochially our programs are misguided, distorted and perverted representations of the King’s agenda. You have to admit that the goal of most of our church programs is Materialistic Gain. Our so-called Revivals are mostly geared toward Culturalization and not toward Regeneration. And our feeble efforts to increase our memberships are an exercise in extending Ethnicity rather than Religiosity. Hence, Polarizing Politics, Prejudiced Principles and Perverted Programs evidence our Obsession with the Obvious, our Concern for the Carnal.
Subsequently, I submit to us that if the Church does not practice the Maintenance of Distinctiveness, then the Carnal will Supersede the Spiritual. The Church at Corinth is a classic case in point. They had allowed the Carnal to take the place and position of the Spiritual because they succumbed to a Corinthianizing Culture.
Yet, in the midst of Neo-Corinthianism the Church must rise above the Carnal. And so, I thought it would be helpful if we could tap in on this Pneumatical Movement of the First Century. A movement that was marked by a Rejection of Carnal Social, Religious and political Ideas. A movement that had a strong and sustained emphasis on the Spiritual. I call this Pneumatical Movement Spiritual Enlightenment, a Renaissance of the Sacred.
To rise above the Carnal, a people must consider and commit to the Spirit.
Therefore to realize that, we are Summoned to the Summit to Sup with the Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit. We must comprehend as well as apply His Absolute Sovereignty over the Subjects and Service of the Church of Christ on Earth.
And so, cognizant of both the Spirit’s Sovereignty over the Church and our Usefulness as we are subjected to that Lordship, Paul writes in Verse One: “Now concerning Spirituals…” He deals here first and foremost with Spiritual Enlightenment. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren,” says Paul, “I would not have you ignorant.”
Hence Paul knew that Ignorance and even Idolatry were implied concepts in the idea of Enlightenment. So first, Paul deals with the Darkness before he holds forth the Light. And we do well to follow his train of thought as we consider –
I. First, Ignorance and Idolatry as recorded in Verses One and Two.
Spiritual Enlightenment follows upon the heels of Ignorance.
So first, let’s consider our Ignorance as revealed in Verse One of out text (read). “Brethren, I would not have you Ignorant” says Paul, “concerning spiritual gifts.” The implication there being they were ignorant. “Brethren, I would not have you ignorant…”