Summary: In today's lesson we learn that God has given a variety of spiritual gifts for the purpose of building up the body of Christ.
We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
One of the challenges that Christians face is the issue of spiritual gifts. Let’s learn about more about that in a message I am calling, “Spiritual Gifts.”
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11:
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)
I would like you to imagine that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers somehow make it to this year’s playoffs. I know that is wildly imaginative, but work with me on this! Suppose that somehow the Buccaneers even make it to the Super Bowl! Now you are really wondering where I am going with this! But imagine—I know this is just make-believe—that the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl, and that Josh Freeman is named the Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl. During the interview he is asked, “What do you think about winning the Super Bowl and winning the MVP?”
Josh Freeman responds, “It is great! I can’t describe the feeling! After all, I pretty much single-handedly managed to turn the team around back in December. I was able to win games because of my superior gifts. I deserve to be the Super Bowl MVP because there is no question that I am by far the most valuable player in this entire organization. If it were not for me, the entire team would be sitting at home and watching the Super Bowl with all the other losers out there!”
What would you think if Freeman actually said that? You would think that he is incredibly arrogant, even delusional, because you know that it takes an entire team to win games.
Well, this hypothetical situation was actually what was going on in the church at Corinth. The Corinthians had a very skewed view of their spiritual gifts. They took personal pride in their spiritual gifts as if they had earned them or deserved credit for them. They were much more interested in using their gifts for personal fulfillment than for the good of the church body. They failed to realize the importance of the smallest gifts. They also failed to recognize the importance of those people whose gifts were least visible.
Sadly, the same thing can often be said about today’s church. We respect and honor those who do most for the ministry. We act as if they do God’s work by their own human abilities and not by God’s grace. We fail to see the importance of every member of the church, focusing instead on those whom God is using most visibly at the moment. Like the Corinthians, when we exercise our spiritual gifts, we frequently do so because it gives us a sense of personal fulfillment and enjoyment—not for the good of the church body.
In our lesson today, we learn that God has given a variety of spiritual gifts for the purpose of building up the body of Christ.
We learn about this as follows:
1. The Importance of Spiritual Gifts (12:1)
2. The Source of Counterfeit Gifts (12:2)
3. The Test of Spiritual Gifts (12:3)
4. The Source of Spiritual Gifts (12:4-6)
5. The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts (12:7)
6. The Variety of Spiritual Gifts (12:8-10)
7. The Giver of Spiritual Gifts (12:11)
I. The Importance of Spiritual Gifts (12:1)
First, notice the importance of spiritual gifts.
Paul said in verse 1: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.”
Paul began in verse 1a by saying: “Now concerning. . . .”