Skip Heitzig - 1 Corinthians 12:1-8
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A few weeks ago, if you recall, on a Wednesday night I kind of did a quick snapshot overview of the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39 which predict a movement of nations, a coalition of nations, in the last days headed by Russia coming down to Israel to get something very valuable. And I never want to say that we're seeing that happen now because you never know. In the fog of war a lot of things change. But we are in a situation where that prophecy has never been closer to a manifestation. It was written 2,600 years ago where, at least in a prophetic window, that makes all that possible that hitherto has not been possible. And though I never want to look at tragedy like this simply from an academic or theological viewpoint or an outsider's viewpoint, when things like this happen, believers naturally ask why and what does this mean.
And not that we can always answer the question, "what does this mean"? But we do keep our eyes on it and we do examine the Scripture in light of what we see. And our lens is always a scriptural lens. We don't interpret Scripture based on current events. We interpret current events based on Scripture. So we're always looking and thinking, what does this mean? How does it play out? And of course, we don't know. And we get involved. And we alleviate suffering. And we do what we can in the midst of it. However, from that viewpoint once again, just to add a little bit to that, something happened today that I thought you should know about. And that is the president of Israel, not the prime minister, Naftali Bennett, the president, Isaac Herzog, flew to Turkey to meet with the head of Turkey, Erdogan, and to strike the deal of deals, to make a deal with Turkey since so much oil has been purchased and dependence upon Russia has been used by nations in Europe, up to this point they've gotten their fuel, their oil, et cetera from Russia.
Israel has struck a deal to supply, to be the new supplier of Europe by giving a pipeline, since Israel has discovered massive reserves of gas and oil off its coast. And they have undersea wells. And they have struck a deal today. They're talking about the deal of bringing a pipeline to feed Europe that would go through Turkey. Now, that just adds an interesting complexion to the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39, especially when Israel has something that valuable that would eventually attract someone to go in and wage a war against it. Again, not making any wagers or saying this is it. But I do remember what Jesus said, that when these things begin to take place, lift up your eyes. Look up, for your redemption draws near. So it's just something we look at and go, "very interesting".
I am sort of in a prophetic fog, if you will. I have been, the last few days, in Arizona, teaching at a prophecy conference. And I took three sessions yesterday on several prophecy topics. But I wanted to be back for Wednesday night because we're covering some very awesome material here in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. So, the last few days have been wonderful and fun for me. But I wanted to be back with the best church in the world and get into 1 Corinthians, that's where we're at, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, with you. Also, it's a chance to meet new friends, which we have two of in the front row. They didn't know I was going to call them. But we have Lynn and her son Eric, and they have driven out from Michigan to be here tonight. Actually, they were in Arizona to visit folks, and then they wanted to make sure that they came to church so they drove from Arizona to be a part of this Wednesday night Bible study. So welcome to you. We are covering some very fascinating material.
Now I want to warn you about tonight's study. I am not going to make it through the entire chapter. I try to do that from time to time. I try to make it through one or two chapters, and depending on the material, we do. But the reason I'm not is to simply obey what this chapter tells us, at least in part. Paul says concerning spiritual things, "Brethren, I don't want you to be ignorant". And so I believe that's a mandate that I want to make sure this church is understanding this text. So, you know, I have taught through 1 Corinthians before in one evening when we did the Bible from 30,000 feet. That was 30,000 feet. That can be done. And normally, when we do Wednesday night, I guess it's like the Bible from 30 feet. We move verse by verse, chapter by chapter. But tonight, and probably the next few weeks, is going to be the Bible from three feet because we want to look at individually some of these gifts of the Spirit to understand how they work. So 1 Corinthians chapter 12.
Father, thank you for the Word of God. Thank you for the testimony of Scripture. Thank you for Paul the apostle, moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit to write this letter that became part of Holy Writ. And we hold to it and we model ourselves and our practices after the entire body of Scripture, hopefully. In which we pray that you would add to our understanding and the balance of our understanding and our practice, especially within the church, that we might exercise the gifts you have given us with the love and unity in the Spirit that would consider everyone involved. Bless the time that we have together, and give us the ability, the mental capacity, and the spiritual hunger to digest these things and understand them. And help your servant, Lord, me. I'm so imperfect in this. But I just pray you'd grant great grace. In Jesus's name, Amen.
Never forget when I first moved here, and I saw Sandia Crest, and I was just so impressed by it. And I did see, from time to time, people take off. It looked like they were taking off from the crest in these hang gliders. So I took a drive up there and got up there on a day when there were a few different hang gliders who would take that running jump down that little slope and jump off. And takes your breath away to see them. And so I was there to watch a couple of guys launch off the crest. And I expected that thing, and it did at first, I expected it to go down. I understand how gravity works. And I understand that the city is down there, and we're up here. So they took the jump. And they took off, and they went down, and they went down. But then suddenly they got out far enough where they didn't go down anymore. They actually ascended. They went up into the air. And they kept going and kept going. And somebody was explaining to me, there are thermals that they're looking for that give them buoyancy so they can go further and longer than any other means.
So I watched it, and it got way up and way out. And I was told by somebody that one of them made it almost to the border of Arizona. Now I can only imagine what it would take to walk to Arizona. I just flew from there a few hours ago, not in a hang glider, but in a jet-powered aircraft, a couple of them, to get me here. But they were able, in that hang glider, using air, wind power, to go further and higher than they could ever go on their own. The power of the wind, the power of the air to make you go higher and further than you could go on your own. Just because something is not seen does not make it not powerful. Air is very powerful. And there are tools that harness the power of compressed air. We call them pneumatic tools. They have systems in 18-wheel transport trucks that are pneumatic brakes. They harness the power of compressed air. The power of air is powerful.
The word in the Greek language, and we'll see it here in verse 1, for "Spirit" is the word "pneuma". It means wind or air or spirit. It's the word whereby we get our word "pneumatic". It's power of wind. There is a correlation. Jesus said "The wind blows were it wills. You hear the sound of it but you don't know where it comes from and where it's going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit". We're about to, in this chapter, get into another topic of Paul in this letter. And that is spiritual gifts. And he begins by saying "Now concerning spiritual gifts". Now that should be a tip off for you Bible students, you Wednesday nighters, you faithful Wednesday nighters.
Now that you've been through 1 Corinthians, you know that whenever you see the phrase "now concerning," Paul is introducing a new topic. So it's usually topics that have been addressed by the Corinthians, it seems like, in a letter written to him. Because the first appearance of it is in chapter 7, "Now concerning the things that you wrote to me about". Later on in chapter 7, he says it again, "Now concerning virgins". Then in chapter 8, "Now concerning things offered to idols". Each time he introduces the phrase "now concerning," he goes and turns a corner and covers a new topic. And he does it again, "Now concerning spiritual gifts".
So chapters 12, 13, and 14 address this issue, these three chapters. The use of the gifts of the Spirit in the body of Christ, in the assembly of the church, how they are to be used, especially when they are regulated by love. And that's why 1 Corinthians 13 is sandwiched in between chapter 12 and 14, which deal with the use of spiritual gifts and their abuse in the church. And right in the middle is the love chapter because it's how to use your gifts but regulate them for love and concern and compassion of other people. There's a key word I want you to have, and know, and have under your belt as we go through spiritual gifts. It's the word "balance". When it comes to this area especially, we should be balanced. And I say that because I think, my opinion is, I feel that many churches, many movements are not all that balanced.
I think there's truth in every movement of orthodox Christianity, every basic denomination that is orthodox in its beliefs. There's truth. But I think that in many of them there is a little bit of imbalance. So when it comes to gifts of the Spirit, there are extremes. And there are people who want to put you in one of those extremes, kind of move you there instead of letting you keep balance. It's important but hard to maintain balance. But balance is so important. If you play a sport, they'll tell you, you need to work on your balance. If you want to get this golf swing right, you've got to, you're not hitting it like a baseball bat hitting a baseball. You've got to have a certain rhythm, and a certain balance, and certain muscle memory.
So balance is important in everything. People will, and have, asked me, so Skip, are you a fundamentalist? Yes, in some ways. I do believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith. I believe in the essentials of the Christian faith. I'm certainly a fundamentalist when it comes to believing in the inerrancy of Scripture, the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Scripture. I believe it was transmitted by the Holy Spirit. It is without flaw in its original autographs. I believe that. I am fundamental in my belief of my Christology, believing in the deity of Christ's bodily Resurrection, et cetera. I'm a fundamentalist in my soteriology and how I believe a person is saved. But I'm not necessarily a fundamentalist dispensationalist, if you know those terms, when it comes to my pneumatology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. So yeah, sort of, yeah.
Well, does that mean you're not a charismatic? Well, sort of. I mean, I do believe in the perpetuity of spiritual gifts. I believe that the gifts of the Spirit, all of the gifts of the Spirit, are for today without exception. I don't believe they've passed off the scene. So I believe in their use and in their legitimate exercise. So, I'm not really fundamentalist. I'm not really charismatic. I guess I'm "funda-matic". I'm sort of a balance between the two. And people don't like that. They don't want you to be in the middle. They don't want the balance. They want you to be rigid, one place or the other because they just want to pigeonhole you. Well, I'm sorry. I refuse to be in any of those slots.
So, in verse 1, and I told you we're going slow. "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant". Don't be an ignoramus when it comes to how spiritual gifts work. Don't be dumb. Don't be lame. Don't be an idiot. Or maybe I'll just soften it like Paul did, don't be ignorant. What's fascinating to me is just about every time Paul said "I don't want you to be ignorant" about something, it seems that happens to be the very area that churches are often most ignorant. He said it again in 1 Thessalonians 4, "Now concerning the coming of the Lord," our gathering together with Him, "I don't want you to be ignorant brethren". And yet, when it comes to prophecy, eschatology, rapture, et cetera, there seems to be such, well, at least disagreement if not ignorance about those things.
So Paul said "Concerning spiritual gifts". Now, if you'll notice, in your Bible, you tell me if this is true. The word gifts is italicized. Is it? Whenever you read, at least in the New King James Version, an italicized word, it means it's not in the original language. But the translators have put it there because the rest of the chapter does indeed talk about spiritual gifts. So we can surmise that's what Paul is referring to. But in the Greek language, it says concerning "pneumatikon". Pneumatikon, literally "spirituals". Spirituals plural. "Now concerning spirituals, brethren, I don't want you to be ignorant". The word spirituals, pneumatikon, can refer to spiritual things, can refer to spiritual people, can refer to spiritual events. In this particular chapter, it seems to refer to spiritual gifts. And so Paul begins introducing a new topic saying, "OK, I'm going to talk about spirituals, spiritual gifts, and this is pretty important guys, so I want you to listen up. I don't want you to be ignorant about this".
Where does the ignorance lie when it comes to spiritual gifts, in particular? Well let me give you the rigid extremes of spiritual gifts theology. One extreme is, I'll call it cessationism. The other extreme I'll call sensationalism. Let's begin with the first, cessationism. The word "cessation" means to cease, to stop. It's the belief that spiritual gifts have ceased, stopped, in the church, that they were there for a particular period of time. But after that period of time they're no longer needed. Thus, they are no longer in use. They have ceased. They have ceased to be practiced. So I call them cessationists, they're not for today. Now, on what basis would anybody ever think that gifts of the Spirit as outlined in the Bible could cease? Because you have to have a rationale for it. It's not like, well you know, I just think that was for then but not for today. Well based on what? Well you should know what the basis is.
So turn a chapter to chapter 13. And you'll get, usually the explanation and the rationale. Chapter 13 verse 8, "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away". So, the cessationists will interpret what we just read by saying this, "gifts of the Spirit, these certain gifts, are temporary. They were used only until something more perfect". What is more perfect? The full canon of Scripture. The gifts of the Spirit were there, sort of as a stopgap, sort of as a goodwill measure, to carry the church over during that very volatile transitional period until they would have the full canon of all the New Testament books.
That constitutes "that which is perfect". That is a very irresponsible interpretation. It's presupposing that Paul in his mind is thinking that he's writing Scripture, and one day it's going to be fulfilled, but it isn't yet fulfilled. Keep in mind, Paul the apostle, at this time that he was writing this, would quote from Old Testament Scripture. And he's writing real letters in real time to people. And, by the way, to say that "that which is perfect" refers to the Scripture, good scholars will disagree. Good fundamentalist scholars will disagree. Good dispensational scholars will disagree.
For instance, Charles Ryrie, of the Ryrie study Bible, who taught theology at Dallas Theological Seminary, would be considered a strict dispensationalist, not somebody who would revel in these gifts of the Spirit, says "that which is perfect" does not refer to the canon of Scripture, can only refer to the second coming of Christ. And that's why it could be translated, says Ryrie, "when He who is perfect comes, then that which is in part will be done away with". So, if that is indeed the case like these scholars including Ryrie say, then the gifts of the Spirit should be intact in their use until the coming of Christ, throughout the whole church age. So "we prophesy in part. We know in part. But when that which is perfect has come, that which is in part will be done away with".
So these are not gifts. The gifts of chapter 12 and chapter 14 are not just gifts to be used during the apostolic age only. Do you remember when Peter was preaching on Pentecost? And after his message they said, well, what should we do? And he said, "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is for you for your children, and for as many as are afar off, as many that call on the Lord".
So every saved person is immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And I believe the power of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit are for every generation. But you see, one of the reasons people want to be cessationists is because it's just convenient, and you don't have to get in the weeds and get messy with all the weird people who want to say and do weird things, and have to mop the mess up in the church when people abuse the gifts. So just say, doesn't exist. It's not for today. It's much easier. It's so nice and clean and antiseptic. And honestly, many people who are in this camp, to be truthful with you, are just afraid of what might happen if they were to open themselves up to that.
I've even heard people say, "Oh, I've heard stories of people who've opened themselves up, supposedly to the Holy Spirit. And I had a friend. He was like in line in the bank or at the grocery store, and he started jabbering in a weird language! Aaah"! Not so. Not if they're led by the Spirit. Not if it's a legitimate work and move of the Holy Spirit, not going to happen. So that's one extreme. The second extreme that I told you about is sensationalism. That's the opposite end of the spectrum. Whereas the cessationist says, "These things don't exist. It was only for the apostolic era. Those things don't happen anymore".
The sensationalist isn't happy until people just go crazy and get weird. They want to see sensational stuff. And they're on the opposite end of the spectrum. They don't believe the Holy Spirit is moving unless there's chaos, and tongues, and prophecy. The problem with sensationalists is when they talk about the "gifts of the Spirit," they're not talking about all of the gifts of the Spirit. They're only talking about a few. They want to see the fireworks of tongues, and interpretation, and prophecy, and words of knowledge, and miracles, and healing. Well great, but there's a lot of other gifts to balance it out that you've left out. But when you make a movement out of that, and that is why, though the charismatic movement has done a lot for the church in highlighting the importance and need for the legitimate work of the Spirit, I do not identify with the charismatic movement.
I believe, largely, they have abused the gifts of the Spirit and encourage the abuse of gifts in the Spirit when it comes to public assemblies. So that's why I say I'm a "funda-matic". I'm a "charis-mentalist". When I was a kid, my dad had a couple of really cool toys. We saw them as toys. So one of the things he had was this cool brass cannon. And it had red wheels. But it was just really detailed. And if memory serves, it may not, but if memory serves, I think it even came with little balls, little metal balls that went into the cannon and little wicks that you could put in that exploded and shot the ball, not far. But as a kid that was just so cool. But he also had something else. He had a little plug-in steam engine.
This I remember well. And what you would do is you'd put water in it. It was made out of metal, had little metal wheels on it, and you'd plug it in, and the water would heat up and create steam. And it would actually move the steam engine on the table, wherever it was plugged in. It wouldn't go far because the cord wasn't very long. It could only go about as long as this little cord. So it would kind of chug along. We thought it was cool to see this steam engine being propelled. But it could do something else. You could pull a little string, and it would blow a little whistle on top. And we just thought, oh, that's so cool. Listen to that, toot-toot. Now it only had a reservoir for just enough water to create just enough steam that would propel it a little ways or blow the whistle.
So you kind of had a choice. Do you want it to move or do you want it to make a lot of noise? When it comes to the movement of the Holy Spirit, it seems like there are movements of people who just want to make a lot of noise. They don't really want to move forward and use the Holy Spirit to make a dynamic that moves them ahead and forward in their Christian walk. So they're not really growing. It's not really equipping them to grow. But they're making a whole lot of noise. They're content to let all the power go out the whistle. That's sensationalism. So "concerning spiritual gifts, I don't want you ignorant". So we've covered a verse. I told you, Bible from three feet. You OK with that?
Verse 2, "You know that you were Gentiles," and by Gentiles he means non-Jewish, but in the sense that you are unbelieving Gentiles, "carried away to these dumb idols," dumb here meaning lifeless, inanimate, insensate, not stupid, lame, dumb. But that would fit. Dumb idols! "You know that you were Gentiles carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led". Now get this, in the Gentile pagan worship system in many of the temples, and I've been in some of these temples throughout Asia Minor, and had the guides explain. Part of the worship in these pagan temples of the Gentiles that Paul has in mind, he's referring to, was the belief that the spirit of the god or goddess, the idol itself, would come in and inhabit the worshiper. And the evidence of that would be ecstatic speech, kind of out-of-control speech, kind of non-intelligent, emotional, ecstatic experience. Paul says, that used to be you. You were carried away with these stupid dumb idols, insensate, unempowering idols. "However you were led".
Now he's going to talk about the Holy Spirit. And you know the Bible does talk about being led by the Holy Spirit. And he's trying to segue to them and say, look I know your background. I know how you were led. I know what you were into. Now we're talking about gifts used in the church. Some of them will be verbal gifts. Some of them will be gifts of utterance. But I want you to be led and filled and controlled, that's the idea, by the Holy Spirit. The New Testament talks about three different phases. Let's say that, three different stages of how the Holy Spirit works in a saved person. Jesus said in the Gospels, "the Holy Spirit will be with you and the Holy Spirit will be in you".
Then in the book of Acts chapter 1 He said, "stay in Jerusalem till the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth". So we have three words, with, in, and upon, all prepositions that tell how the noun functions. The Holy Spirit will be "para" in Greek, with you. When does that happen? That happens before you are saved. Holy Spirit is with you, comes alongside of you, convicts you of sin, righteousness, and judgment, lets you know you're empty, you're a creep, you need help. And when you go, yeah I do, and you repent, great. He's done His job. He's been with you to get you there. Then, we move into stage two. He said "and the Holy Spirit will be in you".
The Greek preposition "in". He'll come inside of you. He'll indwell you. He'll inhabit you. Right now, if you're a Christian, the Holy Spirit is occupying your physical body. What good new news is that! That's so good! So He'll be with you. He'll be in you. So that happens when you're saved, before you're saved, when you're saved. But then, in Acts chapter 1, He said, wait, stay in Jerusalem, saying this to saved disciples, till the Holy Spirit come "para". Oh, that's with, come "epi," upon you, and then you will be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, et cetera. So that's sort of the third phase. These saved disciples are told to wait until the Holy Spirit fills them and empowers them, comes upon them, so that they could be witnesses in Jerusalem. So those three are very important. And let me encourage you, on a personal note. When it comes to your walk with God, I hope you're growing in your walk with the Lord. I hope all of us are growing.
You know, I love to discover new things in the Word, and I love new experiences with the Lord. And I never want to say, yes, I know all things, and I've had enough good Christian stuff. I don't need anymore. Are you kidding? I want everything I can get a hold of. And not so much as I want more of the Holy Spirit, as I want the Holy Spirit to have more of me. I want Him to control my life and move so I can move ahead. I don't want to just blow the whistle. I want to move ahead. So, in John chapter 7 Jesus made a promise. Do you remember the promise? He stood up on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and He said, "Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water". And John adds a footnote and said this, "Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit who was not yet given".
Now wouldn't you agree that it's one thing to have water in a reservoir, kind of nicely kept. It's always there if you need it. You can tap into it, take a drink when you want. It's in the cistern. It's in the reservoir. It's quite another thing to have water that gushes out of you, a river, a stream of living water. So that not only do you have something if you need it, whenever you choose, at your discretion, but there's so much of it not only are you refreshed, but everybody who's around you gets a splash. This he spoke of his Holy Spirit. That's the kind of relationship I want with God. So, it's not like, man, I'm just my end. I'm just like burnt out. It's like, man are you kidding? If it's living water, it keeps flowing to me, and I want it to flow through me to everybody else.
So that's the kind of experience I think that Paul is fleshing out for the church, bringing all these scriptures together. He's explaining to them how these things work in the context of Christian community. So, we've covered two verses. "Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit". Now I think Paul is referring to the experience of Gentiles, unsaved Gentiles, being controlled by demons in their worship system, speaking things under the influence of a demon power that are blatantly wrong. I think that's the reference in the first part of the verse, "I make known to you no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed". Only somebody in a pagan worship system under the influence of a demon would say that. "And no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit".
Now something you need to know about the gifts of the Spirit, especially the vocal gifts, tongues, interpretation, prophecy, words of wisdom, words of knowledge. These are verbal gifts. They are speaking gifts. There are, I guess you could divide it up into three categories. If you looked at all the gifts of the Spirit, and you wonder, well, how many are there? Well, I'll touch that in a minute. But you could divide them up into speaking gifts, serving gifts, and signifying gifts, sign gifts like miracles, faith, et cetera. When it comes to the speaking gifts a Christian is never out of control. So if you're ever worried about, gosh, if I open myself up to this and go to an afterglow, which, by the way, Kevin is going to be leading in a few weeks. We're going to do that for the church, believers meetings, to experience these things in the context of assembly.
If you ever wonder, gosh, I would just be afraid to open myself because I think that something might happen where I lose control and say weird stuff. Not going to happen, as I mentioned. You're always in control. Now I want to show that to you. I think you need to see it. Because again, "I don't want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning 'pneumatikon,' spirituals," right? So turn over, turn right to chapter 14 because I want you to see this. This is all sort of introductory. I promise you, in weeks ahead we'll move a little faster. But I want you to see it. Important to get this under your spiritual belt. Chapter 14, verse 27, "If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret".
All of those instructions imply control. You can count. OK, there's been three, stop. Now we need an interpretation. So all of this implies control of the user of the gift. "But if there is no interpretation, let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God". Now we'll explain that as we get to it. "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged". Now watch this, "And the spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets".
In other words, you never lose control. Any manifestation of God, supposed manifestation of God, where a person loses control is not of God. "The spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints". How do I know this to be true? I know this because not only of these verses and the others that we're studying, but I know this because Galatians tells me "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control". That's a manifestation of the Spirit in the fruit of the Spirit. So the gifts of the Spirit don't ever operate independently from the fruit of the Spirit. So like, man I just like lost control and fell backwards and hit somebody as I did, but I couldn't help it. Whatever.
Now, look at the second part of verse 3. "No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit". That's also a very key idea, that anybody who is unto the influence of the Holy Spirit in any kind of manifestation is going to glorify Jesus Christ. Because that's what the Holy Spirit does. He's going to make a lot. He's going to make much of Jesus. It's going to all be about Jesus. It's not going to be about myself and exercising my gift. "Do you know who I am"? We don't care who you are. Because none of us are as important as Jesus is. We make much of Him. And Jesus said, "when the Holy Spirit comes, when the Helper comes whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, He, the Holy Spirit, will testify of Me". The Holy Spirit is going to make it all about Me. So that's why Paul includes that.
So, three verses, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I don't want you ignorant. You know you were Gentiles, carried away to those dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit". Now, now he gets into the gifts. Now "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one," that is, each member of the body of Christ, each Christian individual, "to each one for the profit of all". We learn a few things about spiritual gifts. Before he even names them, he's summarizing their usage.
What do we learn? First of all first of all, we learn they're varied. They're varied. There's not just one gift. There's not just one manifestation. There's several. So they're varied. They're not monotone. They're not monolithic. And, this is what I love about God, He loves variety. He loves variety. I mean it's pretty obvious. If you look around our country, go in one direction, you'll go past mountains. You'll see just sort of flat prairie. Go the other direction long enough, you'll see a lot of water, ocean. It's just, the world is filled with such variety. And then people are different. We're all different. We're all unique. Our faces are unique. It's why you can have that security device on your little phone that looks at your face and says, oh that's you, OK, I'll open up. You can get somebody that looks like you, it won't open up because there's facial recognition software that's pretty accurate that can detect the subtleties. You are unique.
And so there's variety, not only in creation, not only in different people. But also in the church there are diversities of gifts. There are differences of ministries. There's diversities of activities. How many gifts of the Spirit are there? Sort of a trick question because you're saying, well you're supposed to answer that. OK, so, there's not just one list. We're about to read them. We'll read a partial list. But there are three lists of the gifts of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12, Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4. Some of them are mentioned in both places. Some of them, a few of them are included that are not included in another. So, there's a little bit of overlap, but new ones are introduced.
So, for example, verse 8, "To one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another the gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues". So that adds up to what? Nine gifts? But that's not the only list. Go down a few verses. Go down to verse 28 and he says, "God has appointed these in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues".
So you see there's overlap, but he's adding a few new ones. "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Or all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret"? He's expanding on the point. There's diversity. There's variety. "But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I will show you a more excellent way". So that's one of the lists. Another list is in Romans chapter 12. I'll turn to it. You can turn to it. I have it marked. But it says, verse 4 of chapter 12, "We have many members of one body, but all the members do not have the same function. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them, if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry," that is service, serving, "let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives," that's a spiritual gift, "with liberality; he who leads, with diligence," the gift of special leadership, "he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness".
So you see there is some overlap. But he's introducing others that aren't listed in the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Then in Ephesians chapter 4, Ephesians 4, verse 10, "He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the full measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ".
So, it would seem to total up to about 18 gifts. I'm going to go with 18. It depends. Some see some of these as gifts. Others see some of them as offices. I'm not going to argue the point with that or get into that kind of minutia. But, I think, suffice it to say, there is variety. We've established that. There's a lot of differences. By the way, even two people that have exactly the same gift have different styles of the exercise of that gift. So that's, I think, what it means when it says there's differences of activities, but it's the same God who works on all in all. So if you think about different styles, activities, same gifts but different activities, different personalities, there's an infinite combination. That's what makes the body of Christ so awesome.
Just to see how uniquely God is working in each individual person and the unique mix and blend of gifts that are different from everybody else, and the way they exercise them so different. And when everybody is involved doing something, it's so awesome! Because you get the full orb, full rounded Christian experience, life of Christ, through the different variety of manifestation. So the gifts are varied not monolithic. Number two, gifts are given, not earned. They're given, not earned. Verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 12, I told you this is the Bible from three feet. I hope you'll forgive me for this. I hope you don't mind. But I do think it's good, and I think that you'll walk away with, Well, you're probably going to have more understanding of this than most seminarians do. That's OK with you, I hope. So, it says "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all, for to one is given the word of wisdom".
So that's the idea. They're not earned. It's not like, well if I'm really good at the gift of helps, will He give me the gift of teaching? You don't work your way up a ladder. That'd be like the kneecap saying, if I'm a good kneecap could I eventually become an elbow just to be closer up? Now you want to find out who you are, how God made you, what gifts and talents and capacities you have, and go with that. So variety, they're given and not earned. You see, it is the body of Christ. Jesus is the head of the body, the Bible tells us. And maybe a good way to think of the body of Christ, the Church, is Jesus is the head, the brain. The Holy Spirit is like the nervous system, he's going to take the impulses from the brain and convey them to the different parts of the body so that there can be a smoothness of operation.
We can all coordinate, and work together, and feed off the ministry that we each have together. And that's why, and we're going to get to it when we get to it, but he says, therefore covet or desire earnestly the best gifts. What's the best gift? Which is the best gift? Whichever gift God has given you is the best gift for you. You see, if you think, well, you know what? Ministry seems awfully exciting. I think I want to be one of them pastors. Or singers, because people see them. They get a lot of attention. Well, if you try to step into this role, and you haven't been equipped by God to do it, it is the most frustrating experience on earth. Any gift, any calling is. You have to be called to it. And you to be gifted for it. And so you want to let God lead you into it, be led by the Spirit. So they're varied. They're given and not earned.
Here's the third, gifts are not the goal. They're the gateway. Gifts are not the goal. They're the gateway. Ooh, I want to have and exercise gifts. That's not the goal. The goal is to have the gift, but, the goal is to, once you have the gift, let it be a gateway of service, of helping others. You see in verse 7? "The manifestation is of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all". That's the real goal. The gifts aren't the goal. The gifts are the gateway to the goal. The goal is the building up of the body of Christ, the profit of all. It's not like, man, I want that gift so I can just really feel good. Because it's all about me having a feel-good experience. Well actually, no it's not. And actually, it's for you to discover your gift so that you can be a fountain of living water blessing other people. Helping other people in their parchedness, in their loneliness get helped and get brought closer to Christ by the use of your gift.
So they're not the goal. They're the gateway. Which takes us to our first gift on the list. And that's in verse 8, "For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit". We're going to take these one at a time. We're not going to take all 18 gifts. We're not going to look at all the gifts and all the lists. But we're going to take the list as given to us by Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. We've already looked at the book of Romans. We'll eventually get to Ephesians. So we're going to take these gifts. I want to stay in the text and in the context. But I want to talk about this first gift in the 6 minutes and 27 seconds we have remaining. And of course, I'm only going to touch on this. And that is the word of wisdom, the word of wisdom. Let me lay the foundation, and we'll build on it next week.
Every one of you has a certain amount of wisdom. Wouldn't you agree? I'm looking at some married couples. I see a lovely couple right here. Her hands are on his shoulders. And they have wisdom. They chose each other. That was a smart choice. But you have wisdom in the Lord, too. God has given you a certain amount of wisdom. And wisdom is promised to every single Christian. Foundationally, all Christians can have a certain amount of wisdom, the wisdom to live, the wisdom to orchestrate and make decisions in your life based upon Scripture. That's wise living. And if you get hung up and you need wisdom, the Bible says "if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives liberally to all and does not upbraid or chide or reproach. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, and it will be given to him".
So, you're given wisdom, and you are promised wisdom when you specifically ask for it. But, in the Bible there were people that were given special gifts of wisdom, right? I mean, let's begin with the most obvious. Who's the guy in the Old Testament? When you think of wisdom, who do you think of? Solomon, wise, to some degree, but pretty lame in others, pretty unwise in how he orchestrated his personal life. But that aside, let's begin with the first part. He was wise because God gave him wisdom. God gave him, it says, understanding, and wisdom, and largeness of heart. Isn't that beautiful? God gave him wisdom, and understanding, and largeness of heart so that there was no one on the earth as wise as Solomon.
God gave him unique wisdom. He was so wise that the queen of Sheba heard about his wisdom and wanted to just test him with questions and was amazed. And she came back and said, Wow! You're so smart. You're so understanding. You have such a large heart. You're so wise. The half wasn't told me! The thing that launched the wisdom of Solomon was two women that came to him. You know the story. It's the most famous story. It's become a proverb in our language, cutting the baby in half. These two women, both of them harlots, came to Solomon. They each had babies. One baby had died. A baby had been born. They were roommates, as harlots. I don't know how that works out. But they were roommates.
So, one gal had her baby. 3 days later the other gal had her baby. The gal that had that baby, the second one, at night because they, in those days, slept with their infants, rolled over and suffocated her child. The baby was dead the next morning. Well, the mother of the dead baby who went to nurse it woke up first, saw that her baby was dead, so she switched the dead baby with the live baby. So that when the first mother woke up and saw the dead baby, but then examined it said, hey, that's not my baby. You stole my baby! No man, this is my baby. So they went to King Solomon. And Solomon said, what's up? No, he didn't say that. But I'm just picturing it. So he, what's up? And so, they told him the story. And she said, this lady stole my baby. She said, no, that's my baby.
So Solomon heard them arguing and said, bring me a sword. And he took a sword and they said, what are you going to do? I'm going to cut the baby in half, and half goes to one woman, half goes to the other. Well the first woman, the real mother, said no, no, no, no. Give it to that woman. That's her baby. I was really not the mother. I was just saying that. But give it to her to let her live. The second one said, no, he's right. Cut it in half. Solomon immediately knew who was the real mother. The compassion welled up and she was lying for her roommate so that her baby could live. And the second one was so callous that she thought, if I lost my baby then you should lose your baby.
And that's how callous, so that launched his reputation of being wisest man in the world. But, did you know, so that's foundational. All people can have wisdom. All Christians can have wisdom. If you need it you ask for it. But there are special gifts of wisdom. But, did you know, there are special wisdom manifestations different from that one-off of Solomon and different than the foundational "you can ask for wisdom in your life".
There are special manifestations of wisdom in Christian history. And you have to wait for next week for you to get that explained to you. And I'll show you. And I'll explain to you both the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. And who knows, we may make it into the next verse and look at the gift of faith as well. But I'll guarantee you, by the end of these studies, you'll know what these gifts are. You'll know what they're not. You'll know when they're used. You'll know when they're abused. So if you ever travel and go to an assembly, and you hear things, and you go, wait a minute, something else is wrong. That has to happen first. You'll have that. And you should have that. It's standard operating procedure. It's 2000 years old, so we should at least find out what it says.
Father, thank you for the ability to gather together as the body of Christ, the Church, and to consider the fact that you are a God of great variety and that each of us have been given, not, we didn't work for it. We didn't earn it. You gave us a very special mix of abilities, talents, and, besides the natural talents, supernatural, enabling spiritual gifts to be exercised in the body of Christ, and some of them in the world for the furtherance of the gospel and the building up of the body of Christ, and all for the glory of Christ. So Lord we're anxious to see what they are. We're anxious to see how they work. We're anxious to discover what they are in our lives, so that we might not only benefit ourselves, but we might bless others and be like those torrents, rivers of living water, that not only satisfy ourselves in the use but bless and satisfy others as well. In Jesus's name, Amen.