Summary: Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12 regarding 4 of the 5 non-miraculous gifts in this text. Saving prophecy for later, and going to deal with the miraculous gifts (tongues, miracles, and healing) in a different sermon.
Text: 1 Cor 12:7-11, Title: Spiritual Gifts Round 1, Date/Place: NRBC, 10.29.11, AM
A. Opening illustration: Slowly, the barber’s business began to dwindle. He just couldn’t compete. In a last ditch effort to save his business, he hired a business consultant. The consultant spent a day pouring over the barber’s books asking many questions. At the end of the day the barber asked the consultant, “So what do you think ? Should I close up shop ?” The consultant said, “Not yet. I’ll be back tomorrow.” The next day the consultant showed up with a huge banner that he hung in front of the barber shop that said, “We Fix $3.00 Haircuts!”
B. Background to passage: although Paul’s point is not to define all the spiritual gifts, he makes a certain amount of assumption that the church knows about these gifts enough that he doesn’t have to define them. Or maybe they indicated in their letter their understanding. But either way, we need to elaborate on them a little more. And we will cover the others spiritual gifts not mentioned in these verses in the coming weeks.
C. Main thought: today we are dealing with 4 of the 5 non-miraculous gifts in this text. Saving prophecy for later, and going to deal with the miraculous gifts (tongues, miracles, and healing) in a different sermon.
A. Word of Wisdom (v. 8)
1. One thing to note about both of these first two gifts, this is the only mention of these gifts in the NT. And no other writings in the in the early church mentioned them either, other than lists I suppose. So we are limited in our firmness to the conclusions here. That being said, we have the actual words, the context, and the discussion of other gifts to help us. Logos is the word used for “word,” and it has spiritual significance in some passages, but in many others, it is simply a common term. The same applies to sophia for “wisdom.” It was a word that meant to have special skill in applying biblical principle or truth to life situations. It is interesting that they were clamoring and dividing over wisdom in the early chapters. So a word of wisdom means: a spoken word or utterance that is characterized by wisdom skillfully applying biblical principles.
2. Acts 6:1-5
3. Illustration: those exercising the gift of word of wisdom are like sharp scapels or sutures in the hands of a capable surgeon to heal and protect, “Marines are still being taught to fight. They are gifted in heavy weaponry and with the tools to use them effectively; but in order to diffuse hostility borne of suspicion they are being taught to ask questions first and shoot later.” –Wall Street Journal
4. If you have this gift, it would manifest itself in the consistent (not flawless) application of truth and wise solutions on the fly to real life problems. This is a gift that probably will be recognized in you rather than by you. Which BTW is probably the main way that are spiritual gifts are found (inventories are helpful), you serving others and others seeing the Spirit’s activity in you and the results of that applied wisdom. If you have this gift, you would serve well on committees that deal with significant issues regarding the future or present ministries and decisions of the church. Do people consistently note your abilities to solve issues that arise biblically and effectively? Sometimes people look on committee assignments as drudgery, but those who serve within their gifting will not be as mentally/spiritually wearied. And you will be providing a great service to build up the body. Not a lot of us like conflict resolution either, but that is a huge need in Baptist churches. What if we had those gifted of the Spirit who regularly smoothed over conflicts between members? What if we had members serving as marriage or family counselors informally so that marriage could be strengthened? You can see the need/applications for this gift.
B. Word of Knowledge (v. 8)
1. Differentiate between prophesy and these two gifts. Some (especially in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements) have considered these two gifts revelatory. And even though we don’t have much info about their exact operation, we do have plenty of info about prophecy. And most of these occurrences of this gift are said to come straight from God through others to others. But this is exactly what prophecy includes, and so it is not a duplicate gift. Again, normal word for knowledge. So the meaning of this gift is: a spirit-empowered ability to understand deep truths and relate/explain them to others. This isn’t necessarily limited to biblical truth, but other disciplines as well—apologetics, law enforcement, archeology, philosophy, farming, science, coaching, etc.