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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Seek the Source

Craig Smith - Seek the Source


Craig Smith - Seek the Source
TOPICS: Equipted

Well, welcome to all of our locations. So glad you’re with us. We’re launching a new series today called Equipted and just in case you’re wondering, no, that’s not a mistake. We did that on purpose. We had a bunch of people call this week and say, ”Hey, I hate to be the ones to tell you this, but, well, you guys goofed actually. You misspelled the word equipped.” We didn’t actually. I’m not saying we’re like above the possibility of making serious grammatical or typographical errors. It happens. Just a couple of weeks ago we did a baby dedication service and we kind of had a perfect storm honestly because we had a lot when people come in than we expected. And so we had to move in at the last minute to a bigger auditorium here on the Littleton campus. And when we did that, our tech people had to like scramble to get everything. And so we had one poor tech guy. He was like typing frantically to get all the slides in.

I was trying to help out. So this is all on me too. I was watching over his shoulder because I knew he was moving fast and he might easily make mistakes. And I allowed one to slip through, which meant that at a certain key point in the service, we as missionaries were thanking all the parents and the grandparents and all the families. And so we put up this big slide that said, hey, basically, thank you for allowing us to join you in your journey of tasing your children. Yeah, so it happens. We’re certainly not above making those kinds of mistakes, but this is not one of them. Okay. This is not one of them. We actually did intend to call this the Equipted Series.

And the reason is pretty simple. When God laid this series on my heart almost a year ago, I put it in the working title. I called it Equipped/gifted, figuring we’d either settle on one or the others or the worship team…the creative team had come up with another way to talk about it. But the way that we kept talking about our planning team, every time we talked about it, people kind of scanned those two words equipped/gifted and smooshed them together. They’d say, so for the Equipted Series, I mean, I’m sorry. I mean the equipped or the gifted or the equipted…what? What is it? Everybody kind of wanted to just say equipted. It’s just the way it came out. And I’m not saying the Holy Spirit led us to this, but maybe he did. We just decided to push it and we’re gonna call it the Equipted Series because it reminds us of two very important truths, which is this. If you’ve said yes to Jesus, if you put your faith in Jesus, God has given you new gifts to equip you for your new mission. Do you understand that?

If you’ve said yes to Jesus, then God has given you new gifts for your new mission. Because when we say yes to Jesus, we don’t just get forgiven of our sin. I mean, that’s amazing enough by itself. When we say yes to Jesus, we don’t just get adopted into the family of God. That’s amazing enough. But when we say yes to Jesus, we also get invited into a new mission with him. We get invited to participate in the mission that Jesus himself had and that he calls us to, of extending God’s influence into the world. And that’s exciting, but it can be a little bit as well. We might feel like, who am I to be on a mission with Jesus? How could I possibly have what it takes to really be doing that in the world? And on our own, we wouldn’t, but when you said yes to Jesus, God gave you new gifts to equip you for this new mission. Okay?

And so we’re gonna be talking about in this series. We’re gonna be talking about all kinds of gifts, but in particular, we’re gonna spend a lot of time talking about something we call spiritual gifts. How many of you have heard about spiritual gifts? It’s totally okay if you haven’t, we’re gonna get you caught up real quick. But even those of you who have heard about spiritual gifts, let me ask you this. How many of you are not quite exactly sure what a spiritual gift is? Can we be honest? Yeah. Some hands there. How about this? How many of you would say, I know exactly what my spiritual gift is? How many of you are like, I do not know what my spiritual gift is? Okay, got questions there. How many of you would say, I’m not even sure how to go about figuring out my spiritual gifts? I’m not even sure how to know what it is. How many of you would say, I don’t know how to know my spiritual gift? A lot of questions.

We’re gonna deal with all those questions in this series. And so whether you come from a background where you’ve heard a lot about spiritual gifts or this is a brand new concept to you, we’re gonna unpack the answers to those questions. Why don’t you go ahead and grab your Bible and start making your way to the book of 1 Corinthians. We’re gonna be in chapter 12 but the key idea is this, God has equip-ted you, God has equipted you for mission, okay. That’s the key idea we’re gonna explore. So, why don’t we just do this? Why don’t you look at somebody next to you and say, God has equipted you for mission? So the question is how? What kinds of gifts has he given? What does it look to use those gifts for the purpose that he’s called us to? And that’s what we’re gonna explore.

Now, let me just say this, the very kinds of spiritual gifts, if you’re familiar with and you may not be, and again, that’s totally fine, we’ll catch up. But if you’re familiar with the concept of spiritual gifts, the concept may actually have some baggage for you. And you may have come from an environment that really emphasized spiritual gifts, maybe even over emphasized certain gifts and made you feel like maybe you weren’t quite as good a Christian because you didn’t have a certain spiritual gifts or maybe you came from an environment that was just really skeptical about spiritual gifts in general. And so if you felt like you had a spiritual gift, maybe you kind of were feeling a little bit sort of out in the wings and ostracized because of a spiritual gift God had given you. And so the content of spiritual gifts can actually create a lot of anxiety for people depending on the background they’re coming from.

So let me let you know, here’s how we’re gonna go at this. At Mission Hills, we’re a Bible-driven church. And to be a Bible-driven church means that we don’t figure out what we think and then slap a Bible verse on it to justify what we think. And we don’t have experiences that dictate what we think that we put a Bible verse on top of. But we’re compelled by the powerful truth of God’s Word. That’s what it means to be Bible-driven. We’re compelled by the powerful truth of God’s Word, and, so we go to Scripture to figure out what to think and how to think. Scripture, it shapes and it drives our thinking.

And so what we’re gonna do in this series is we’re gonna work verse by verse through a section of the book of 1 Corinthians that pushes into the topic of spiritual gifts in-depth. There’s other passages that we could go to in the Bible that talk about spiritual gifts, but none of them deal with it in as much depth as 1 Corinthians: 12-14. So we’re gonna work through that verse by verse. And Paul starts us off with a foundational truth about spiritual gifts. He says this. ”Now, about the gifts of the spirit,” about the gifts of the spirit or we could also translate, now, about spiritual gifts, which tells us immediately the spiritual gifts come from who? Came from the Spirit. They come from the Holy Spirit. What that means is that a spiritual gift comes to us by the Holy Spirit. We don’t learn it over time. It’s not built into us when we’re born, okay? It’s something that came into us the moment the Holy Spirit came into us. That’s what we mean by spiritual gifts. They’re empowered by the Holy Spirit. Apart from the Holy Spirit working in our lives, we wouldn’t have this ability. We wouldn’t have this gift. Spiritual gift comes from the Holy Spirit.

Now, that’s not the only kind of gifts we have. I think it’s really important that we understand that God actually gives us three different kinds of gifts. Everybody listening to this has three different kinds of gifts that God gave you so that you could be on mission with him. We can talk about natural gifts, we can talk about learned gifts, and we can talk about spiritual gifts. We’re gonna be talking a lot in this series about spiritual gifts, but I think it’s important that we understand that we all have natural gifts and learned gifts as well. Natural gifts are abilities that we have that we are born with. Natural gifts are abilities that we have, that we’re born with.

Some people are just born with the ability to do certain things. I’m not talking about like babies who can play the grand piano or those kinds of things, but I mean sometimes people are just born with an ability to do music and it develops over time, but that core gift was in them from the moment they were born. Some people have the gift of languages. They’ve been really good with languages from the moment that they were born. Some people were born with the gift of patience. Maybe, maybe, it could happen. Anybody have like incredibly patient children? No, okay, well, I could be wrong about this one then. Maybe we’re not born. But the point is that a natural gift is something that we kind of were formed in the womb with. As God knitted us together in our mother’s wombs, he gave a certain kind of abilities that we realize over time, but they’re kind of baked into us from the beginning. Those are natural gifts.

We also have learned to gifts. Learned gifts are abilities that we develop over time and through experience. They are things that we learn how to do because of experiences that God allows us to go through. We’re not born with these abilities, but because of experiences we’ve had and over time, we learn to be able to do things we couldn’t have done otherwise. I had an opportunity just this past week to meet with two different Christians that were struggling to sort of see eye to eye on something significant to both of them. They’re kind of missing each other and there was misunderstanding. They thought the other one was seeing something, and saying something, and feeling something very different and it was kind of creating an issue.

And so I had the opportunity to kind of mediate that and try to draw them a little closer together. And one of the things that became clear as I talked to them was, part of the problem was it was a clash of cultures. They were looking at the same issue through two very different lenses. One of them was Asian and the other was Anglo. And what I realized was that God had gifted me, through experience, to be able to speak in that situation because I grew up in Asia, and so I kind of got the Asian cultural view. But of course, I am Anglo. I mean, look at me, right? Like, there’s no question that I am Anglo, right? But what I was able to do is I have to go, hey, because I was raised in Asia, I sort of understand that, you know, here’s what’s happening from the Asian perspective. But because I’m Anglo, I was able to go to the Asian, here’s what’s happening from the Anglo perspective. And that helped them to make some steps towards each other and reconciliation. And God allowed me to do that. It was a gift that God gave me, but I wasn’t born with that. It was an experience that I had that gave me the ability to speak into that particular situation. So those are learned gifts and we all have those kinds of things.

And then of course, we have spiritual gifts. Paul is gonna be talking a lot about spiritual gifts in this section, but spiritual gifts are abilities that came into our lives when the Holy Spirit came into our lives, right? We weren’t born with them. We were born again with them. You can say it that way. We didn’t learn them over time. They were abilities that were brought into us, implanted within us, that came to us when the Holy Spirit came into our lives. And of course, that immediately raised the question, well, when does that happen? When does the Holy Spirit come into us? When do we get these spiritual gifts as believers? And I just wanna acknowledge that there’s some division in the Christian Church on this particular subject. Some Christians believe the Holy Spirit comes fully into our lives the moment we say yes to Jesus. The moment that we say yes to what Jesus did on the cross and we put our trust in him, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and is fully there in all of his power to begin changing us from the inside out and giving us access to these abilities that we wouldn’t have apart from his presence in our lives.

So some Christians believe that that happened from the very moment we said yes to Jesus. But there’s another side of the spectrum and that is there are some churches that teach that the Holy Spirit applies forgiveness when you say yes to Jesus. And so you’re forgiven, and you’re free, and you’re destined for heaven at that moment, but the power of the Holy Spirit doesn’t fully come into your life until some secondary experience. At some point after your trusting in Jesus moment, the Holy Spirit comes into you through what they call the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but it comes later.

And what I wanna say, no matter which background you come from, is that I believe that we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ on this issue. That whether you believe the Holy Spirit came fully into your life the moment you said yes or that he comes in fully at some other moment, we’re all still followers of Jesus, okay? We’re all still brothers and sisters in Christ. But I also wanna be honest that where I believe based on Scripture and what the leadership of Mission Hills believes is on that first side, we believe the Holy Spirit is fully present in our lives the moment we say yes to Jesus. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are present in our lives the moment we say yes to Jesus.

Now, there may be moments as we go along where we have a more powerful experience with the Holy Spirit or we’re yielding ourselves to be completely filled by the Holy Spirit. And that’s an ongoing process. Since we have may have different experiences over time, but the power of the Holy Spirit is present with us the moment we say yes to Jesus. So the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, which can be called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit according to Scripture, the moment that we say yes to faith in Jesus. So if you are a follower of Jesus, if you’ve said yes to Jesus, the Holy Spirit is fully present in your life. The power of the Holy Spirit is fully present in your life, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are present in your life, just waiting for you to use them, okay?

But we have three gifts. We have natural gifts, we have learned gifts, and we have spiritual gifts. Here’s what I wanna say before we get into the spiritual gifts business that Paul’s gonna really focus on. I wanna make sure that we understand that all the gifts have some similar truths that apply to them, whether we’re talking natural or learned or spiritual, here’s what I want you to understand. Number one, every good gift is from your good Father. Every good gift is from our good Father, whether it’s natural or learned or spiritual gifts, they’re all from the same source. They’re all from God. This is what James says. He says, ”Every good and perfect gift comes from above. It comes down from the Father of Heavenly Lights.” So every gift, natural, learned, spiritual, they’re all from God. And there’s a reason why God has given these gifts. Natural, learned, spiritual, every gift that’s given from our good Father is given for good purpose. Every good gift has a good purpose.

God doesn’t give gifts at random. He doesn’t go, well, I don’t know, try this. In other words, God does not give gifts to us the way that men give gifts to their wives, right? Let’s be honest, we’re not good at it, guys. In around Christmas time, you’re gonna see guys wandering through the mall going, I’ll try that. How about this? Because we’re not quite sure. We’re not good at it, but that’s not our God, okay? Our God doesn’t give random gifts. Our God gives gifts that are very specifically tailored for the part you’re to play in his mission. Do hear me on that? God gives gifts for the specific part that you’re to play in his mission. And so he gives you gifts to enable you to play the part that he’s custom designed for you to be on mission. He’s equipted you for mission and the gifts are what allow you to do that.

Now, by the way, that means something I think very significant. This is kind of a bonus. You want a bonus today? Here’s your bonus. Understanding what God is providing often points to where God is guiding. I get this question all the time. It’s probably the most common question that I get asked. What’s God’s will for my life? What is God leading me to? What does God want me to do? What’s my part to play in the mission? Like, I understand, I’m called to be on mission, I’m called to become like him and join him on mission, but, well, what part do I play? Exactly how do I do that? How do I extend God’s influence? What’s my unique part or what’s God’s will for my life? And I get that question from every season of life.

You know, right around now when we’re doing graduation time, I have all kinds of high school people wanna say, ”Hey, what is God’s will for my life?” College graduates are asking, “What’s God’s will for my life?” But I’ve had 89-year-olds ask me that question, what’s God’s will for this season of my life? And what I’ve discovered is that easiest way to begin to understand where God is guiding is to ask the question, what is he providing? Because God gives gifts that are tailored to the part that he’s called us. Imagine that you’re a soldier and your commanding officer calls you up and says, ”Hey, I’m sending you on a mission.” You’re like, ”Okay, great, where is it?” ”Oh, you’ll figure it out,” because that’s kind of where we are, right?

God doesn’t usually set things on fire and then speak out of them. We know we’re called to be on mission but he hasn’t necessarily told us exactly what that mission is. But see, if you’re being sitting off on a mission and the CO said, you know, you’ll figure it out. We’re gonna send you some equipment, pay attention to the equipment, that equipment would give you some pretty good insights, wouldn’t it? I mean, if you unboxed the first thing of equipment and you found that you were being given sandals, you’re probably not being sent to Antarctica, right? If you opened the box and you’re getting a down parka, probably not being sent to the Middle East, right? The equipment that you’re receiving is giving you some insights into the particular place where you are to be on mission. And so in the same way, paying attention to what God is providing often gives us insight into where God is guiding.

So if you wonder what’s my part to play, here’s what you do. I’m gonna give you some homework. Now, most of you are not gonna do this homework, but a special few among you are gonna do this. And the special few who do this are gonna find that this series is that much more powerful in your life. If you do this, you’re gonna find that God speaks to you very specifically throughout this series in a very powerful way. So I wanna encourage everybody to do this homework. Here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna ask yourself this question. What gifts has God given me? Natural, learned, and spiritual. What gifts has God given me? And then what do those tell me about my part in his mission?

So here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna go home, so set some time this week. Get a piece of paper and make three columns. At the top of the first column, you’re gonna put natural gifts. Top of the second column, you’re gonna put learned gifts. Top of the third column, you’re gonna spiritual gifts. And then you’re gonna fill in those columns. You’re gonna spend some time reflecting, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you. And say, you know, what has God given me as a gift that I was kind of born with, a natural innate ability? And you’re gonna write those down in that first column. Second column, you’re gonna think through your experiences and what God’s taught you to do over time and through experience and you’re gonna list down those learned gifts.

Now, if you know what’s your spiritual gift is, some of you said you do, great. You put that in that column. If you’re not, that’s okay, don’t worry about it. Because oftentimes, even those natural and those learned gifts begin to really point us and then you’re gonna step back from that list, you’re gonna go, “God, what does this tell me about where you’re guiding me? What does this tell me about the particular part that I’m called to play in your mission?” And if you do that, you’re gonna find that the rest of this series really pushes you further and further into being on mission with Jesus. So I wanna encourage you to do that.

Paul’s speaking here primarily about spiritual gifts, but a lot of what he says applies to all gifts. Some of what he’s gonna tell us though, is unique to this third category. Here’s what he says ”Now, about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed,” which is Paul’s way of basic… Well, actually it’s not Paul, it’s the New International Version. They’re cleaning Paul up just a little bit. They’re making it really polite and kind. What Paul literally said was, I don’t want you to be ignorant, which is insulting, right? He says, I don’t want you to be… About spiritual gifts, I don’t want you to be ignorant. And there’s two reasons for that.

Two things that happen when we’re ignorant about spiritual gifts. Number one, ignorance about spiritual gifts leads us to ignore them. You hear me, church? Being ignorant about spiritual gifts leads us to ignore them. If we don’t know what they are, if we don’t know how they function, if we don’t know what ours are, then we’re not gonna look to them to accomplish the mission that God has called us to. And it means we’re gonna be engaging in mission without the tools that he specifically provided to enable us to accomplish it effectively for his glory. I mean, imagine somebody tells you, “Hey, I want you to go dig a hole.” And they hand you a shovel, but you don’t know what a shovel is. And we’re also gonna imagine for the purpose of this illustration, you’re not that bright.

They give it to you and you don’t know what it is or how to use it, so you start with the handle end and you’re like, “Well, this is stupid. I’m not getting anything done.” So what are you gonna do, you’re gonna set it aside and you’re gonna go to digging it with your hands, right? And you’re not gonna be nearly as effective because you don’t understand the tool that you were given. And in the same way, being ignorant about spiritual gifts can lead us to ignore them, which means that we are not as effective in the mission that God’s called us to as we could be. And that’s no good. So Paul says, I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.

Now, there’s another way that ignorance about spiritual gifts causes a problem. And here’s how I’d say it. Ignorance about spiritual gifts can ignite conflict in the Church. Ignorance about spiritual gifts can ignite conflict in Church. People who don’t understand what spiritual gifts are, can get kind of weirded out when people are practicing their spiritual gifts or people start using spiritual gifts as a way of elevating their superiority. Well, I’m more spiritual than you because I have this gift and, you know, I understand what it is and you don’t. And all kinds of things can begin to happen because we don’t understand spiritual gifts. It happens around the world. It happens in this country. It’s happening in our community right now. Churches are being divided because of what I would call ignorance over spiritual gifts.

So ignorance about spiritual gifts can ignite conflict and division in the Church, which is ironic because that’s the exact opposite of what spiritual gifts are intended to do. Spiritual gifts are intended to multiply the mission of the Church. Spiritual gifts are intended to help us do what God’s called us to do. And here’s what we’re gonna see time and time again in this series. The way that we think about spiritual gifts either divides the Church or multiplies its mission. The way we think about spiritual gifts either divides the Church or multiplies its mission. And so there’s a lot at stake here and Paul says, ”I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.” He says this, ”You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other, you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.”

And it feels like an abrupt shift. But if we break it down, I think it’ll make sense. He says, I want you to know that when you were pagans, in other words, before you had a relationship with Jesus, before you said yes to Jesus, before you had faith in Jesus. He says, before that was true, you were somehow or other, and that’s such an interesting phrase. Well, what he’s saying is basically, there was some force at work. You couldn’t necessarily put your finger on it. You couldn’t point to exactly what it was, but there was some forced at work, some way that it was influencing you and it was doing something. It was leading you astray to mute idols. And that’s such an interesting phrase, to mute idols.

There’s some irony in what he’s saying because he’s talking about idol worship. I don’t mean idol worship the way we often talk about it in the modern world. We wanna say things like, well, you know, anything that you are giving worship to or giving your time and energy and attention to besides God, that’s an idol. And that’s true on some level, but Paul’s talking about literal idols here, actual stone, or wood, or metal statues that represented spirits. And they worshiped not the idols, they worshiped the spirits that they thought were associated with those idols. And Paul calls them here mute idols. And the irony is, he’s saying, well, of course, they’re mute. They’re chunks of wood, or stone, or metal. They don’t have the power of speech. But he’s just said somehow or other, there was power leading you to these things.

There’s more going on here than just chunks of wood and stone. But there’s a spiritual force at work here. And really what Paul is doing is he’s building on something he said a little bit earlier in the Book of Corinthians, if you wanna look there with me, it’s 1Corinthians 10. 1 Corinthians 10:19, he said this. He said, ”Do I mean then that an idol or that food sacrificed to an idol is anything or that an idol is anything? Am I saying that those chunks of wood and stone, am I saying that they’re gods or goddesses?” ”No, of course not. ”He says, verse 20, ”No, but,” and this is so important, church, “But the sacrifices of pagans that were offered to idols are actually offered to,” what’s that word? Demons. He says, there’s a real spiritual force. There are real spiritual creatures associated with his idols. The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.

Here in Chapter 12 when he talks about somehow or other you were influenced and led astray. He’s saying, the idols themselves might be mute, but there are spiritual powers associated with those things. There are spiritual forces associated with those things. And before you were followers of Jesus, you had experience with them. He says, you know what this was like. And to really understand what Paul is saying, we’re gonna have to get just a little bit uncomfortable. Are we comfortable with getting uncomfortable, church? Yeah? What had happened before they came to Jesus when they were worshiping idols is what happened a lot in the ancient world. In fact, it happens in the modern world when idol worship is happening, that is when people are worshiping idols, weird things happen, strange things happen, supernatural things happen. People go into ecstatic trances or frenzies and they speak in strange languages or strange voices. They have information they shouldn’t have and they’re giving prophecies and all kinds of things that are going on.

And this is so important to understand. Paul’s not saying they were faking it. He is not saying the people worshiping idols are making it up or inventing it themselves. But what Paul told us is they are spiritual forces, they are supernatural forces causing these things, but those supernatural forces are what, they’re demons, but they’re real spiritual forces. It’s not all faking, real spiritual forces are at play in the worship of idols. And he says, and you knew that. You were familiar with that. You experienced it yourselves.

And now here’s where it’s gonna get really uncomfortable. You’re ready? Some very similar kinds of things were happening at the church in Corinth. In Christian worship services, people were speaking in strange tongues. People were delivering prophecies. People were going into ecstatic frenzies. People were delivering messages to others that seemed to involve information that they shouldn’t have access to, words of knowledge and wisdom, all things Paul’s gonna talk about. But of course, the church in Corinth said, but it’s not demons, it’s the Holy Spirit doing it. It’s the power of God moving through us. What’s uncomfortable for some people, I think is that Paul never says they’re wrong. He never says the Holy Spirit doesn’t do that. He never says God would never do that. But he says, understand this guys, you had similar experiences outside the church and that was demons. Now you’re having some experiences sort of like that inside the church and you’re saying it’s the Holy Spirit and that might be true, but you gotta remember this, never forget this, the Holy Spirit is not the only source of supernatural phenomenon. The Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon.

The devil counterfeits that outside the church. He’s not that creative. Do you understand that about the devil? He’s not that creative. He didn’t come up with his own ideas. He takes God’s ideas and he twists them and he tries to imitate them. Says, yeah, it’s not all that surprising you’d see that kind of stuff outside the church because the devil’s an imitator, but just because you see it inside the church doesn’t necessarily mean it’s from God because the Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon. So what do we need? We need a way to tell the difference, right? We need a way to seek the source. That’s what Paul’s getting at here. We need a way to seek the source. We need a way to tell whether something is God or whether it’s not. And not even just for supernatural things. Because you know what? There’s so many things that claim to be able to speak into our lives, right? There’s so many things that claim to be able to tell us, this is what you should do. This is how you should live your life. This is what you should devote yourself to. This is the mission you should be on. This is the part you should play. There’s so many different voices and some of the voices claim this is from God.

How do we know if it really is? It’s not just how we evaluate supernatural phenomena, it’s how we evaluate every voice that claims to be able to speak authoritatively into our lives. How do we seek the source? We need a way to seek the source. So how do we do it? This is what Paul says. 1 Corinthians 12:3. ”Therefore, I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says Jesus be cursed. And no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” That’s where he says is the criteria. That’s the way that we seek the source. He says, these are the two things, these are the things you look for. He says, no one, one side of it, no one speaking by the Spirit of God says Jesus, be cursed.

Now, understand, he’s not just talking about saying the words out loud, okay, because you understand, I just said the words out loud. The Spirit of God does live in me. So people are perfectly capable of saying those words. Even demons can say the words Jesus is Lord. He’s not just talking about saying the words, he’s talking about the trajectory that they set us on. He’s talking about the path that those words put us on. He says, nobody’s speaking by the Spirit of God can cause you or tell you or lead you to live in such a way that takes glory, and honor, and authority away from Jesus. You hear me?

No demonic spirit, no human being faking it can actually set you on the right path. And nobody who is filled by the Spirit of God can set you on a course that dishonors Jesus. Because here’s what happens, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus up. The Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus. The Holy Spirit always gives honor to Jesus. The Holy Spirit always draws attention to Jesus. The Holy Spirit always gives authority to Jesus even though the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible is very clear. There’s three persons who make up God, Father, Son and Spirit. They’re all equally divine, they’re all equally powerful, they’re all equally worthy of worship, and yet the Holy Spirit says, don’t look at me. Look at Jesus. Pay attention to him, gives glory and honor and authority to Jesus. The Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus up. And so nobody empowered by the Holy Spirit can cause you to live in a way that takes glory and honor and authority away from Jesus.

He says the other side of it, the flip side is that no one can say Jesus is Lord, apart from the Holy Spirit. And again, we’re not just the words, but nobody can actually teach you to live in such a way that gives Jesus honor and glory and causes you to bow down to him as the Lord, unless they’re being empowered by God. No human being can set you on a path to give Jesus honor and glory in your life. No demon’s gonna set you on a path to give glory and honor to Jesus and lead you to obedience because the Holy Spirit always leads us to bow down to Jesus, right? The Holy Spirit always leads us to bow down. The Holy Spirit always causes us to live in a way that we give glory and honor to Jesus, and we bow down to him as Lord. That we give authority to him, that we live in obedience and submission to him.

So really, what Paul is saying is, there’s two sides of it. He says, the Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus up and leads us to bow down, right? There’s your criteria. There’s your key. There’s the way that we seek the source. We ask, does it lift Jesus up and lead me to bow down to him? That’s the key question. This is the important question, friends. Whatever the thing is, whether it’s seeming to have a supernatural origin or whether it just seems to be a voice that’s speaking with some authority, whatever it is, this is how we evaluate — as we are gonna see later in the book of Corinthians, this is how we evaluate somebody who claims to have a word of knowledge, or a word of wisdom, or to speak in tongues, or to give a prophecy, or whatever it is.

This is also how we evaluate that Bible study that everybody’s going after. This is the voice of God. You should listen to this Bible study. You should listen to this preacher, you should listen to this podcast. You should go to this church. The way we evaluate all of those voices, is that we ask this all-important question, does it lift Jesus up and lead me to bow down? And if the answer is it doesn’t lift Jesus up, it takes glory away from him, or it draws attention to a human being, or to some other thing other than Jesus, and it’s not leading me to live in submission and obedience, it’s not the Holy Spirit speaking. On the other hand, if it lifts Jesus up, draws attention, glory and honor to him, and it leads me to live in greater and deepening obedience and submission, then that very well might be the voice of God. But that’s how we seek the source.

And Paul starts this entire set of instructions on spiritual gifts with this one key truth. This one all important question because he says, the Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon. And you might see something and go, “Well, how could that not have the power of God? I mean, did you see the crazy things that are happening? Did you see the supernatural power that’s evident?” And then Paul says, “Yeah, but remember, the Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon.” Or we listen to a podcast, or a teacher, or read a book and we go, “But it sounds so good. It sounds so right. I mean, it’s using Bible verses all over the place. It must be the power of God.” Maybe, but this is the question, does it lift Jesus up and does it lead me to bow down to him? Before Paul goes into any more instruction, he says, you’ve got to learn to ask this question. This is the filter that we put everything through. This is the test that we use for every voice trying to speak authoritatively into our lives.

And so, I just have one question for you today because we launched this series and this is the question, what in my life do I need to apply this question to? What in my life do I need to apply this question? I’m wrestling with this right now. You need to wrestle with it. What in our lives do we need to apply this question to? The reality is that we’re often undiscerning. We allow things to speak into our lives that we have not evaluated. Books, and TV shows, and preachers, and churches, and podcasts, and so many different things, we allow them to influence our lives and we’ve never subjected them to this test. Is it lifting Jesus up and leading me to bow down? And what happens is, you know, we often go, well, it doesn’t really matter because it’s not really…it’s not having much of an impact on me.

So does it really matter where it comes from? Because we look and we go, “Well, yeah, I mean maybe it’s not exactly speaking truth and maybe it’s not the voice of God in my life, but I mean, it’s not really impacting me.” But the problem is that what happens is sometimes the impact, it’s really small. You know, we’re only a half a degree off a plum. We’re only a half a degree off of going straight. And it doesn’t seem like much of a big deal until you get farther down the line, right? And that one degree off over the course of weeks, and months, and years, and decades, can very well lead us to places that we look around and go, how on earth did I get here? How did I get so far from Jesus? How did I get so far off of the Christian faith? How did I get so far off from that place where I’m recognizing the authority of Jesus and bowing down? How did I get here and the answer is because we allowed a voice to speak into our lives that got us just one degree off and we allowed it to keep speaking, and didn’t subject it to this all important question. So I challenge you this week spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to lead you. What in my life do I need to apply this question to? Let’s just pray right now.

Jesus, we thank you for your goodness. As the followers of Jesus, we thank you that you have saved us. You demonstrated you love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, you died for us. You forgave our sin and in rising from the dead and inviting us to put our trust in you, you not only eliminated the debt of our sin, but you adopted us into the family of God and you invited us on mission with you. You allowed us to come into a new life of meaning and significance where we get to work with you, Jesus, extending the influence of our good father throughout creation. And not only did you call us to that mission, but you gifted us, you equipted us. You equipted us with gifts from your Holy Spirit.

Lord, we ask that you’d bless this study, that you bless this series, that over the next few weeks as we unpack what you teach us in your Word, you would help us to not be ignorant about spiritual gifts, to not allow them to divide our mission, but to multiply our mission. Lord, would you help us start out right this week by causing us through your Holy Spirit to ask this all-important question of all those voices speaking into our lives. Does it lift Jesus up and lead me to bow down? But would you show us each place in our lives that we need to apply that filter, that we need to seek the source, so we would be on the right path, pure of heart and of mind, and clear of those things that would encumber us from being on mission with you.


Now, if you’re follower Jesus, would you continue praying? I wanna ask you to do me a favor. Would you start praying for the people around you, the people watching online, all over the world? Because I believe in all of our campuses, there are people who can’t apply this truth. Even the concept of a spiritual gift is ultimately meaningless because they don’t have a spiritual gift, because they don’t have the Holy Spirit, because they don’t have faith. They don’t have a relationship with you, God. And if that’s you, I just wanna speak to you for just a moment wherever you happen to be. Because we were all in that same place at one point, maybe we’re trying really hard to please God by doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things, and so frustrated we can never seem to do enough right things or avoid enough bad things, always seem like we fall short. And maybe for you, faith is really religion. It’s just about trying to check the right boxes of the dos and the don’ts. And yet, that’s not the essence of Christianity. That’s a powerless version of Christianity. And if you’ve bought into it, I wanna speak to you right now.

This is true Christianity. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God loves you so much he sent his own Son to die for you. All those wrong things you’ve done, he took the weight of them on his own shoulders. He died on the cross to pay them off, to cancel your debt. Three days later, he rose from the dead to prove that he had accomplished it. That’s not a matter of faith. Those are facts of history.

Here’s the matter of faith. The risen Jesus is offering you forgiveness. He’s offering you adoption into the family of God. He’s offering you power through his Holy Spirit to come into your life to begin changing you from the inside out, to allow you to become the man or the woman that God designed you to be, that you’ll never get there on your own, but by faith in Jesus, you will be transformed. Faith comes in when we decide to accept his offer. And if you’re listening to this and you realize, I don’t have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus, I’ve never said yes to his offer. But if you’re ready to say yes, if you’re ready to put your trust in Jesus to see forgiveness and adoption and the power of the Holy Spirit, would you just lift your hand up right now if you’re ready? That’s awesome. Fantastic. If you’re watching online, just click the button right below me and wherever you are, you just have this conversation with God. In your heart, say this to him:

God, I’ve done wrong. I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying in my place. Thank you for paying the price of my sin. I know that you rose from the dead and that you’re offering me new life, forgiveness, adoption into your family, power through your Holy Spirit. I need all those things, Jesus, and so I’m ready to accept your offer. Right now, I’m saying yes to you, Jesus. Right now, I’m putting my faith in you, putting my trust in you. It’s all about you. Jesus, come into my life, be my Lord and my Savior. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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