Summary: What kinds of epiphanies do we experience in a local church? Are spiritual enhancement of intellectual words, deeds of faith and foreign language skills manifestations of the Holy Spirit?
What kinds of epiphanies do we experience in a local church? Are spiritual enhancement of intellectual words, deeds of faith and foreign language skills manifestations of the Holy Spirit? Let’s see how God’s glory was revealed in spiritual gifts given to an ancient church by exploring 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.
1 Corinthians 12:1-3 “Now concerning spiritual [manifestations, things, gifts, matters], brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, [in the manner] you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is accursed’; and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”
This chapter begins broadly with spiritual manifestations, which also occur in other religions. For example, tongues exist in non-Christian religions. How can we discern which spiritual manifestations are from God? We discern by what is spoken. Words of wisdom, knowledge, and languages can effectively curse Jesus or call Him Lord.
An acquaintance once told the story of attending a revival service. Down front a woman began shouting in tongues. Naive people thought it was from the Holy Spirit and praised Jesus. My acquaintance is Greek and knew it was not from God, because the woman yelled filthy words in Greek.
A well-known evangelist tells the story of getting a strong urge to speak in tongues to a fellow passenger on a flight. He finally gave in and started speaking. His neighbor was shocked to hear his unwritten central Asian local dialect. The evangelist then led his new friend to Christ.
Spiritual manifestations are common to many religions. Deuteronomy 13 teaches that false prophets can also perform miracles. Matthew 7 teaches we judge by good/bad fruits. Paul discerned that spiritual manifestations were causing divisions in Corinth. No longer led astray by idols, their greatest manifestation was being led to Jesus.
The most important speaking is saying, “Jesus is Lord.” Under Roman state persecution those words could lead to a person’s death. In a country with religious freedom like ours, anyone can say the words, but the proof of the words in our culture, is lives SUBMITTED to Jesus as Lord.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 “Now there are varieties of GIFTS, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of MINISTRIES, and the same Lord. There are varieties of EFFECTS, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Not all diversity is good. Godly diversity exists in a variety of grace-endowments, ministries [diaconates] and energizings. The purpose of these spiritual manifestations was not for selfishness but the common good. The gifts listed are not ALL the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but ones which were controversial in Corinth.
Psychologists say that personality tests have no scientific basis whatsoever. Gullible corporations spend billions each year on them. What about spiritual gifts tests? They are sloppy, half-testing only manifestations that were controversial in Corinth, and ignore that God has given a great variety of spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10).
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 “For to one is given the word of WISDOM through the Spirit, and to another the word of KNOWLEDGE according to the same Spirit; to another FAITH by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of HEALING by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of MIRACLES, and to another PROPHECY, and to another the DISTINGUISHING of spirits, to another various kinds of TONGUES, and to another the INTERPRETATION of tongues.”
This sampling of divine manifestations, begins with the least-showy ones. We could divide these epiphanies into three kinds: gifts of intelligent words, deeds of faith and words that need a translator. When we witness these things, do we see a manifestation from God or just pass it off as normal?
We cannot limit divine manifestations to this list. God’s gifts are unlimited and the things God gave us may not even be on the list. Far better than a faulty test is the testimony of those Christians who know us best. Such epiphanies are everywhere if we open our eyes.
1 Corinthians 12:11 “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”
Let’s understand God doesn’t want cookie-cutter Christians. We are all different because God wants it that way, for His purposes. Our unique spiritual gifts are not to be abused, or make us jealous, or to puff us up, but so we can be happy to contribute to the common good.
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