Summary: This part is a continuation of the Holy Spirit's role in the functioning of the New Testament church which began in Part 4 of this series. In this part we examine the greater and lesser gifts and functions of apostles and prophets in the early church.
This nine-part series was originally developed for a class environment, and later adapted for use in a prison ministry conducted via correspondence. Because of that background, questions were developed for each lesson for participants to use in a setting conducive to discussion, or as handouts for private use if the lessons are presented as sermons. At the beginning of each part of the series, I will include the outline of the series.
OUTLINE OF THIS SERIES OF STUDIES
Introduction, Holy Spirit as deity
Names of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
Holy Spirit in the NT (apostles to receive power)
Gabriel’s message to Mary
Foreseen by NT characters—Jesus, John
What we learn from Jesus in John 14,16
The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost
Baptism in, or by, the Holy Spirit
Baptism of believers
If I do not go away the Holy Spirit will not come
Men received and were dependent on the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a Guarantee
Grieving the Holy Spirit
The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
Being Filled With the Spirit
The Holy Spirit in the Functioning of the church (first installment)
(1 Cor 12; Rom 12; Eph 4)
Gifts of the Spirit
Grace as Gifts (did not delve into each of the gifts, or special aptitudes, given by the Holy Spirit)
Functions “God Has Appointed”
The empowering gifts of the Holy Spirit
Bestowing honor upon less “presentable” members
Order of functions (First apostles, second prophets, third teachers) Teachers discussed in Part 6
First apostles, second prophets, third teachers.
Ministries of the Holy Spirit
Are the Bible and the Holy Spirit the same?
Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
Fruit of the Spirit
The Spirit vs the Flesh
Attributes of the Holy Spirit
Acting in opposition to the Holy Spirit
• Lying to the Holy Spirit
• Resisting the Holy Spirit
• Quenching the Holy Spirit
• Grieving the Holy Spirit
• Defiling the Temple of the Holy Spirit
• Insulting the Spirit of Grace (doing despite)
Intercessor (though mentioned previously)
How Can I Know if I Have the Holy Spirit?
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THE HOLY SPIRIT
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE FUNCTIONING OF THE CHURCH (CONTINUED)
In preparation for the previous lesson, I recommended reading the following passages of scripture:
1 Corinthians 12 in its entirety, Romans 12:3-8 and Eph 4:11-16. Those passages are foundational to the functioning of the Holy Spirit in the church, both in the first century and today, and are the chief basis for this lesson as we continue on that subject.
The Empowering of the Church Through the Holy Spirit’s Gifts
As mentioned in Part 4, one of the Holy Spirit’s ministries is bestowing gifts upon Christians. In this lesson we will examine further the place of those gifts in the functioning of the church.
In conjunction with the work capacities, the New Testament mentions gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit that enabled persons to perform in those capacities. The gifts--and the functions they empower--are so closely coupled that a gift and the function it empowers sometimes sounds the same, as in miracles, helps, and serving. The various gifts are differentiated from one another, and the scriptures make it clear that all members do not receive the full complement of the gifts, although certainly some have more than one gift.
In addition to these three passages, directions were given by Paul to Timothy and Titus with regard to establishing persons in functioning capacities of overseers and deacons in the churches they were helping to start. Those instructions, in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, describe the qualities of men who are to serve as deacons, or servants. Instructions pertaining to deacons appear to be linked to an earlier occasion (Acts 6:1-6) in which a problem of neglect in providing food to the Hellenistic widows was corrected by selection of seven men to oversee that particular matter. A plausible possibility is that the seven men served in a capacity somewhat like that of the deacons about which Paul gave instructions to Timothy. Correspondingly, Paul gave Timothy and Titus the qualifying characteristics for overseers, which are variously called elders, pastors, bishops, and presbyters.
As you reading the passages cited, it is immediately apparent that functions are often overlapping. Not only in the first century, but all through the church’s history, some individuals have received more than a single gift, and thus empowered, performed multiple functions. But although some members received more than one gift, 1 Corinthians 12:14-26 also makes it clear by the differentiation of functions that every member did not receive every gift. Accordingly, each member was not expected to perform every function. They were to perform functions as they were empowered by their specific gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12:29-30, he asks, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” Obviously not every person is gifted in every way.