Introduction: Paul addresses the “spiritual gifts that were abundant within the Corinthian church, but the powers and use were greatly being abused by certain individuals. God gave the church the Holy Spirit as our guide and through him empowered the ministers and fellow Christians to be “witnesses” (Acts 1:8) The purpose of this endowment was for conviction of unbelievers of their sin, and propagation of the gospel to compel them of the need to be saved and to confess their salvation in Jesus Christ alone. Simply put, some of the leaders and fellow members of this church began to misuse their spiritual gifts. Chapter 12 also concerns the Holy Spirit’s relationship to the Body of Christ. It’s a “2-fold” relationship:
A. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit forms the “body” and unites all believers to Jesus Christ and to each others as brothers and sisters in the faith.
B. Every believer in the faith is given spiritual “enablement” through “gifts” to carry out a specific service within the ministry of the Christian religion. Nobody in the faith is destitute of at least one spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit endows each individual as HE sees fit for specific ministry assignment as He sees the need. We may choose to volunteer to a specific ministry, but the HOLY SPIRIT assigns us to the place God wants to use us. The Christian service we perform is a direct result of the endowment of spiritual gift given by the Holy Spirit.
I. Concerning Spiritual Gifts (No Ignorance) (verses 1-3)
Paul tells the members of the Corinthian church before they were converted:
a. They were steeped in superstition, paganism and heathen practices.
b. They were bewitched because they were led away by false doctrines doing and saying perverse things.
Declaration: Nobody that speaks by the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) says Jesus is accursed.
Nobody can say Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Ghost.
Notes from Barnes Commentary: "[But by the Holy Ghost]" That is, unless he is influenced by the Holy Spirit. This is a very important verse, not only in regard to the particular subject under consideration in the time of Paul, but also in its practical bearing at present. We may learn from it:
(1) That it is a proof that any man is under the influence of the Holy Spirit who is heartily disposed to honor the name and work of Jesus Christ.
(2) Those forms and modes of religion; those religious opinions and practices, will be most in accordance with the designs of the Spirit of God, which do most to honor the name and work of Jesus Christ.
(3) It is true that no man will ever cherish a proper regard for Jesus Christ, nor love his name and work, unless he is influenced by the Holy Spirit. No man loves the name and work of the Redeemer by following simply the inclinations of his own corrupt heart. In all instances of those who have been brought to a willingness to honor him, it has been by the agency of the Holy Spirit.
(4) If any man, in any way, is disposed to disparage the work of Christ, to speak lightly of his person or his name; or holds doctrines that infringe on the fullness of the truth respecting his divine nature, his purity, his atonement, it is proof that he is not under the influence of the Spirit of God. Just in proportion as he shall disparage that work or name, just in that proportion does he give evidence that he is not influenced by the Divine Spirit; but by proud reason, or by imagination, or by a heart that is not reconciled to God.
(5) All true religion is the production of the Holy Spirit. For religion consists essentially in a willingness to honor, and love, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ; and where that exists, it is produced by the Holy Spirit.
(6) The influence of the Holy Spirit should be cherished. To grieve away that Spirit is to drive all proper knowledge of the Redeemer from the soul; to do this is to leave the heart to coldness, and darkness, and barrenness, and spiritual death.
II. Concerning Diversity of Gifts (All by the “Same” Holy Spirit) (verses 4-7)
a. Different endowment-same Spirit-Holy Spirit
b. Different ministries- same Spirit- Holy Spirit
c. Diversity of operations- works and miracles-same Spirit-Holy Spirit
d. The “works” of the Holy Spirit given to all Christians as the Holy Spirit dictates (graces and endowments) for “profit” that is the common good and for advantage of the church’s ministry and edification overall; They are not given for personal competition or “bragging rights”. God gives His gifts adequately not necessarily equally to every member.
This means we must: Concerning our attitude about gifts and services:
1. Use these gifts to best uphold the church’s covenant, especially the following:
“We promise to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort. To promote its (the church) prosperity and its spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, disciplines and doctrines.
2. Never get beside ourselves and think we are more important worthy, or endowed than any other saint, regardless of the number of gifts God bestows upon us.
3. Never feel underappreciated, or fall into depression, as if whatever positions or ministry callings we hold in the church, ministry or otherwise are inferior to another person’s position or calling. Remember, God endowed you with “that gift or gifts” and He appointed and assigned you to the position you occupy no matter where it is.
4. Be content in your duty station and allotment of spiritual gifts. Strive to make maximum use of the gifts and endowments to the glory of God and to their fullest
5. Everybody should give of their time, talents, and resources for the common good of the fellowship and the advancement of the kingdom of Our Savior
III. Spiritual Gifts Given “Diversity of Gifts” (verses 8-11)
a. Spirit of Wisdom- counselor, teacher, advisor
b. Spirit of Knowledge- distinguished knowledge- They would have knowledge of the plan of salvation, the biblical doctrines and their application to the church, the individual, the family and the government. Both the wise person and the knowledged person would exemplify eminence and intelligence and are equally useful in the church.
c. Gift of faith- having simple confidence in God. Many of the most useful people in the church are distinguished mainly for their simple confidence in the promises of God; and often accomplish more by prayer and by their faith in God than others do who are distinguished for their wisdom and learning.
d. Gift of healing- Jesus endowed his disciples the power to heal in HIS name as He sent them forth by 2. “Healings” were prevalent during the early church period. (Acts 5:12-16 and chapter 19:12)
e. Gift of “working miracles”- This would mean the healing of “acute sickness and diseases., casting out demons, inflicting punishment or judgment upon an evil person as the Holy Spirit directs.
f. Gift of Prophecy- 1. “forth-telling”, not “for-telling” the future and 2. Expounding on the Scriptures through teaching.
g. Gift of discernment- the ability to discern the difference between a false prophet or teacher and a true prophet or teacher of God, a false miracle from a true miracle, a false prophecy from a true one.
h. Gift of “different” kinds of Tongues- that is the ability to speak other languages under the power of the Holy Spirit that were not “formally” learned through formal education. These languages were given for the purpose of educating nationalist from other countries who sat in your ministry.
i. Gift of “interpretation of Tongues- the ability to explain what the messenger said to those present who didn’t understand the language in which they messenger spoke.
Remember: all of these gifts are given by the Holy Spirit as “HE” will (vs. 11)
A. The Holy Spirit is a person in the Godhead. When we speak of the Holy Spirit is “it” we merely speak to the “acts” or the actions taken by the Holy Spirit in His ministry of comforting, guidance and empowerment..
B. The Holy Spirit is also “soverign” He gives to all as he pleases. In regard to spiritual endowments of the highest order, he deals with people as he does in the common endowments bestowed upon people, and as he does in temporal blessings. He does not bestow the same blessings on all, nor make all alike. He dispenses his favors by a rule which he has not made known, but which, we may be assured, is in accordance with wisdom and goodness. He wrongs no one; and he gives to all the favors which might be connected with eternal life. (from Barnes Noble Commentary)
IV. Concerning the “Unity and Diversity” of the Body-The Church (verses 12-14)
(Cross reference with Ephesians 4:1-16)
A. Like the Human body- the church is one body made of many members.
B. The church (organism- people) and one in Christ. Jesus Christ is the “head” of the church and all principalities and powers.
C. The Holy Spirit baptizes us into “one spirit” formulating all of us into “one body” regardless of rank or position, state of status, even nationality.
V. Schism (Classism) infiltrated the Church (verses 14-19)
A. “Because I hold a lower rank in position or not doing what someone else has been assigned to do am I not part of the body? (vs. 14-16)
B. If we all did the same thing, the work would never get done. Everybody must do the work ‘God assigned them to do whether the work is out front or in the background. (vs. 17-19)
C. Because we are dependent upon the work each other does, none of us can truly say: I don’t need you…..or your help! (vs. 21)
1. The weaker members – so we think (train them and they won’t be!) like it or not we need them too. And we should bestow the greater honor on them because they are equally as important in the background as we who are strong are in the forefront. (vs. 22)
2. We are to protect and cover the weaker parts of the body of Christ (church) rather than throw them under the bus, exposing their weaknesses. (vs. 23)
3. God has so fixed it that we are dependent upon each other whether we ant to be or not…I need you….you need me … the “Jesus” in you must see the “Jesus” in me and vice-versa. (vs. 24)
D. Reiteration: There cannot be a schism in the Body of Christ(verses 25-27)
1. Every member must care about one another.
2. When one suffers in the body, we suffer with them by rallying to help them where we can especially in prayer.
3. When one member is honored, we should all rejoice in their being honored.
4. We are one body in Christ yet individuals yet members of that “ONE” Body in Christ.
E. What God has set “SOME” (designated leaders) in HIS CHURCH (verses 28)
1. Apostles- Highest rank in the Apostolic church realm
5. Helps- minister, lay-people ( deacons)( pastor’s aides) ( pastoral assistants) who help in specific areas of the church’s ministry.
6. Governments- Councils-Cabinets
F. All will not have the same office (reiteration) (verses 29-31)
1. All will not be called to preach.
2.Have a zeal for the best gift.
3. Strive to obtain the highest gift God has in store for you.