Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God has given each believer spiritual gifts. What should we do in response to His gifts?

June 9, 2002

In the 60’s, the Age of Aquarius, an age of so-called enlightenment, harmony and understanding, people often asked the question, What’s your sign? That referred to the twelve houses of the Zodiac. The question was often an attempt to find out what you were like – your personality traits. In astrology, your birth date identifies what position the stars occupied (relative to earth) when you entered the world of the conscious. That supposedly determined what pathway your life would follow, who you would marry, what you would do for a living, and when you would die. Everything – according to Madame Zahra – was in the stars! In singles’ bars it was less an inquiry of your astrological bent, and more an opening line.

The longer you live, the more you will realize not many things change; the sixties was not a new movement, but an old paganism revisited. It was the religion of Nimrod. Nimrod was the one that built the tower of Babel(Genesis 10). The tower was supposed to set this tribal lord up high – close enough to the stars to be close to all the power. Nimrod wanted to be God. We still have Nimrod’s followers in the new millennium. They are on the Internet, TV and radio. You can recognize their identifying marks: a deck of Tarrot cards and a 1-900 number. What they control is your pocket book! They ask, what’s your sign – AND your PIN number!

There’s another question which has been floating around in the charismatic movement of the last two decades: What’s your gift? The question is about spiritual gifts. The question is both good and bad. What’s your gift is a bad question when we are talking about Christians identifying themselves with gifts that are more noticeable or popular. It is a kind of competitive-edge thing, or spiritual merit badge collection. To show off our gifts is a sign of pride. On the other hand, what’s your gift is a good question when it is preceded by a prayer, Lord; show me how I can be helpful in Your Kingdom. It is something which should happen frequently in churches. The conversation begins, Pastor, I wonder if there is any part of ministry around here that can use some help. The pastor’s response is, (help me now), What’s your gift?

As today, there was in Paul’s day, a lot of questions. Let’s read how Paul answered the questions of a highly-gifted, but somewhat dense congregation:

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

1 Corinthians 12:1 - 11 (KJV)

There are a couple of things worth noting about Paul’s introduction. First, he asks the Corinthian believers to remember their pagan past. They too had been steeped in idol worship. In that day ecstatic frenzies were part of temple idol worship. Worship that is entirely emotion-driven can wind up in some pretty wild stuff! Do you recall the Canadian-born laughing revival? The phenomenon came out of a sincere desire for more joy in the Christian community. However, it wound-up a laughing stock, as people simply sat giggling, lying in the aisles, some running and laughing wildly during “worship”. It was an emotional frenzy, not a God-honoring time of praise.

Baptists, on the whole, are not in any danger of going off the emotional edge. Deadly-formal churches need to check for a pulse, to see if the Spirit has departed. So-called “spirit-filled” churches that are really emotionally-driven parties need to check up on their motivation and inspiration to see if there’s really any God in it. Either way – when it comes to spiritual gifts and their use, the main key is: Is there any God in it? An easy way to check is to honestly inventory to see how much of “me is in it”. The simple equation has always been, the more of men there is in anything, the less there is of God!

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David Stanton

commented on Jul 5, 2007

I have been in the charismatic/pentecostal movement for well over 20 years and have not heard people say "What's your gift" relative to the gifts of the Spirit listed in First Corinthians 12. We believe that scripture teaches that these gifts are given for a particular moment in time to edify the church body and to be spiritually profitable to the local church. The pentecostal/charismatic services that I have seen were not "emotionally driven", but were services where sincere believers met to serve God. God bless your service for Him.

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