Tuesday, January 16, 2007

1 Corinthians 12:1 – 7
Gifts, Services, and Workings

I. The story of a dying church:

A. They had a lack of information.

1. Paul called it “ignorant.”

2. Ignorance occurs because people do not know or they do not want to know.

B. The ignorance led to confusion and division.

1. I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. [11] My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. [12] What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ." [1 Corinthians 1:10 – 12]

2. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. [1 Corinthians 11:18]

C. There was abuse.

1. The gifts became symbolic of spiritual standing.

2. 1 Corinthians 12:14 – 26 deals with the body as a whole and how ridiculous it is for the parts of the body to be at odds with one another.

D. The illustration of all this was “mute idols.”

1. Paul asks them to “remember when...”

2. They were easily influenced and led astray. And they had fallen back into those same behavior patterns! (The names were different but the situation was the same.)

II. God as a design for the church to follow.

(The church and spiritual gifts reflect the Holy Spirit at work.)

A. There are gifts (“charisma”).

1. A gift was a miraculous ability.

2. This is something that can not be done by an individual’s own ability.

B. There are services (“diakonia”).

1. These are offices or positions. The same gifts can be applied different ways.

2. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. [v 28]

3. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers. [Ephesians 4:11]

C. There are works (“energeme”).

1. Literally these works are the EFFECT the work of the Holy Spirit has on the church and others. The same gifts can have different effects.

2. “And now I will show you the most excellent way.” [v 31b]

3. “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” [1 Corinthians 13:8]

D. There is the manifestation (“phanerosis”).

1. The manifestation (singular) is the expression of the Holy Spirit at work!

2. The gifts, the services, and the works are for the “common good”

3 The common good is contrasted to the confusion, division, and abuse found in the church.

III. People will always have an excuse.

A. Someone will suggest it is easier to ignore the gifts, services, and works than it is risk abuses.

1. Ignorance and its abuses have ALWAYS been a dividing factor in the church.

2. It happened in the first century church in the Roman empire and it happened in the early 20th century in America.

B. Some will question, with all the abuse, how we are to know for certain what is real.

1. Judgement is a matter of control. [Both positive and negative.]

2. When we sit in judgement on one another, we are in serious danger.

C. Some will argue that the gifts will end.

1. Yes, they seem to be situational. I Corinthians 13:10 seems to indicate that maturity will end the necessity for these gifts.

2. Problem: is a dying, stifled church mature?

3. Reality: the church in America is desperate for the gifts, services, and works of the Holy Spirit!

IV. How do we process all this?

A. The normal outcome of becoming a new creation is:

1. The individual is possessed by the Holy Spirit.

a. “Indwelling” is based on faith, at conversion, it is a one time event.

b. “Filling” changes behavior and is a CONTROLLING POWER.

c. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” [Ephesians 5:18]

d. Constant renewal.

2. The individual is empowered for service and used by God.

a. This is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit: the individual at work for the glory of God.

b. This empowerment becomes the CONTROLLING PASSION.

c. Filling gives power but sin weakens.

B. Maybe there is a problem that runs deeper than ignorance or an excuse.

1. Could it be that some are “converted” (changed their mind) but not regenerated (“born again” become a “new creation”)?

2. Could it be that some are convinced (mind) but not transformed (“heart of flesh”)?

3. Could it be that some are carnal (controlled by the sinful nature, “deeper man” – Gordon M.) and consecrated (and filled)?

4. Since God will take total control by permission only, could it be that we are trying to keep control?

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