Friday, August 12, 2016

P2 Every Christian is supernaturally gifted by God

1 Corinthians 12:1-7 "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. 3 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. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

In the church of the living God there is no such thing as the "haves" and "have- nots". Paul's concern is to inform and illumine his readers on the subject of spiritual gifts. At Corinth, the problem that the Christian believers had was the excess of focusing more on the gifts than the Giver - God. In a cultural center of the ancient Graeco-Roman world like Corinth, more was considered to be, well, "more". The Corinthians took a cultural assumption and attempted to apply it to the arena of the supernatural things of God. They though of the gifts as a means to self-promotion, or an avenue by which to display one's power or one's so-called "spirituality". 

Paul's exposition on the gifts of the Spirit is designed to inform and illumine the Christian's understanding. We saw in yesterday's post that when we speak of every Christian being supernaturally gifted by God, we first of all refer to how the gifts of the Spirit are given to every believer at salvation. We then saw a second point, namely, that the gifts of the Spirit are given to every Christian to show forth God. In today's post, we will conclude our look at 1 Corinthians 12:1-7 by noting a third important truth: The gifts of the Spirit are given to every Christian to serve others. 

The gifts of the Spirit are given to every Christian to serve others. 1 Corinthians 12:7
In showing forth God, Paul is setting up what ought to be a cycle that proceeds from showing forth God to serving others. As God's people exercise their gifts with this God-centered focus, they will serve one another. 1 Corinthians 12:7 states - "But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." Spiritual gifts are not given to primarily bless the recipient. They are given to bless others. In the local church, the church membership is given the task of regulating the atmosphere of that assembly. 

Whenever God's people are genuinely serving one another and showing forth God as they ought, the giftings of the Spirit will operate in fullness and power so as to perpetuate this cycle of showing forth God and serving others. 

The great commentator Alexander MacClaren notes: "Now, that involves two plain things. There have been people in the Christian Church who have said, ‘We have all the Spirit, and therefore we do not need one another.’ There may be isolation, and self-sufficiency, and a host of other evils coming in, if we only grasp the thought, ‘The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man,’ but they are all corrected if we go on and say, ‘to profit withal.’ For every one of us has something, and no one of us has everything; so, on the one hand, we want each other, and, on the other hand, we are responsible for the use of what we have.

You get the life, not in order that you may plume yourself on its possession, nor in order that you may ostentatiously display it, still less in order that you may shut it up and do nothing with it; but you get the life in order that it may spread through you to others.

‘The least flower with a brimming cup may stand,

And share its dew-drop with another near.’

We each have the life that God’s grace may fructify through us to all. Power is duty; endowment is obligation; capacity prescribes work. ‘The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.’"

I have seen churches where the atmosphere is constricted. The people in the church become judgmental, self-serving or entitled - resulting in the grieving of the Spirit (see Ephesians 4:30-31). As a result, the gifts will be constricted, God will not be shown and the church becomes a temporary casualty of Satan's war to mute the testimony of that assembly. The cycle of serving others --> showing God --> serving others --> showing God is broken. 

But now I have also seen churches where the atmosphere is free and the people of God want to serve one another and thus, God's power and presence are clearly manifested in the giftings. People will come forward with the attitude of "here I am, use me, O God". They sense needs, they help out one another. Will it mean that the attacks of the enemy will lessen. Hardly. 

As the great commentator Matthew Henry notes: "If we have any knowledge of the truth, or any power to make it known, we must give all the glory of God. The greater the gifts are, the more the possessor is exposed to temptations, and the larger is the measure of grace needed to keep him humble and spiritual; and he will meet with more painful experiences and humbling dispensations. We have little cause to glory in any gifts bestowed on us, or to despise those who have them not."

For those who desire to use their God-given gifts to show forth God and serve others, that will be the persons who witness God's presence and power moving in their midst. Churches that regularly stress these points can be expected to be used greatly of God. 

Closing thoughts
As we have explored Paul's introduction to the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:1-7, we have pursued this main thought: "Every Christian is Supernaturally Gifted by God". The question is, how is it that this the case? Over the last two posts we have discovered three main thoughts:

The gifts of the Spirit are given to every believer at salvation. 1 Corinthians 12:1-3

The gifts of the Spirit are given to every Christian to show forth God. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

The gifts of the Spirit are given to every Christian to serve others. 1 Corinthians 12:7