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Equipped to Serve with our Spiritual Gifts

Text: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Dr Alex Tang

 

Text

    1CO 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

    1CO 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

 

1.      Introduction

Dr. Scott Peck, a renowned psychiatrist recently published a book “Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist’s personal accounts of possession, exorcism, and redemption”. In it he documented two cases of demon possession that he has treated; 27 years old Jersey, a caring devoted wife with two young daughters and Beccah, a woman in her mid-forties who has suffered from profound depression and chose to remain in an abusive relationship with her husband. Jersey has been possessed for 12 years. This is the first documented account of demon possession written by a psychiatrist which makes it very interesting reading. In fact, before Dr. Peck met Jersey, he did not believe in the devil. In reading this book, I am reminded that the church exist in a very dangerous world. We are aware of the physical world in which we can fight with natural talents and skills. But there is also a supernatural world where spiritual gifts are needed for survival.

‘Spiritual gifts’ is translated in one Greek word as charisma which means ‘grace gift’. It means a gift give by God for service. The lists of spiritual gifts are found in Romans 12, 1 Cor.12 and Ephesians 4 which is by no means exhaustive.

 

2.      Spiritual gifts are Diversity in Unity.

1CO 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

There are DIFFERENT KINDS     of gifts,              but the same Spirit.

There are DIFFERENT KINDS    of service,           but the same Lord.

There are DIFFERENT KINDS    of working,          but the same God

                                                    works ALL OF THEM IN ALL MEN

Paul is writing about the different spiritual gifts that are given to the church. Even though there are many spiritual gifts, there is only one purpose for these gifts. He was writing to the Corinthian church which we abusing the spiritual gifts, using it for personal gains. Here Paul uses the illustration of our Triune God to show that there is unity in the diversity of the spiritual gifts.

·        The Spirit gives to each of us ‘grace gifts’ for us to use for the building up of the church.

·        Service is used to describe the servant ministry of our Lord Jesus and his followers who are to be servants,

·        Working refers to the working out of the Divine Purpose of Redemption of God the Father of which the church has a large role to play – works all of them in all men.

Paul shows the relationship of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit in the Godhead and  their different roles. He also wants us to understand the different roles we are to play in the church.

 

3.      Spiritual gifts are given to everyone as the manifestation of the Holy Spirit

1CO 12:7a Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit

Now to EACH ONE the manifestation of the Spirit. Paul emphasizes that each Christian who has the Holy Spirit inside them have a spiritual gift. Spiritual gift can also be described as the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in us. But we do have a choice. Do we accept and allow the Holy Spirit to manifest himself in us? We could always say no. The Spirit of God is gentle and will not force us. But he will continually remind us.

Spiritual gifts are different from talents. Talents are something we are good at, like having an ear for music, dancing, teaching etc. We are born with talents because of a unique combination of our genetic makeup.

Spiritual gifts are different from skills training. We can be trained as a skilled manager, singer, pianist, doctor. Spiritual gifts are what were given to use after we received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

 It is the ability to go beyond our natural abilities into the supernatural. It enhances our talents and our skills. For example, a teacher may finds that she will receive deeper insight as she prepares her lessons and her teaching as greater impact in the lives of her student than her skill training can provide. A pianist may play with deeper insight and passion than he may think possible. Or a person who has never plays a piano before sudden has the ability to play the piano.

 

4.      Spiritual gifts are for the common good.

1CO 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

Now to EACH ONE the manifestation of the Spirit is given for THE COMMON GOOD.

TO ONE there is given                        the message of wisdom             through the Spirit           

·        TO ANOTHER                    the message of knowledge        by means of the same Spirit

·        TO ANOTHER                    faith                                               by the same Spirit,

·        TO ANOTHER                    gifts of healing                            by that one Spirit

·        TO ANOTHER                    miraculous powers

·        TO ANOTHER                    prophecy

·        TO ANOTHER                    distinguishing between spirits

·        TO ANOTHER                    speaking in different kinds of tongues

·        TO STILL ANOTHER        the interpretation of tongues.

Spiritual gifts are given for the common good. Even though spiritual gifts can be used for our personal edification, its ultimate purpose is for the common god of the church. In this letter to the Corinthians Paul did not mention a comprehensive list of spiritual gifts. But it is enough to show us the diversity of the gifts given to the church. Again Paul emphasized that these gifts are from the same Spirit.

·        the message of wisdom                      

·        the message of knowledge       

·        faith

 Matt 17:20  He (Jesus)  replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. "

Those with gift of faith will strengthened and help others. Through the history of the church, many Christians with gifts of faith have believed God in face of terrible odds and dangers and in doing so strengthened their brothers and sisters. Hudson Taylor believing that God would win many Chinese converts through him, without money or support, refusing to ask for a penny for help began the China Inland Mission which is today known as the OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship). George Mueller, solely through trusting for God to provide in prayer continually seek him provide for the orphanages, schools and even the support of mission organization like the China Inland Mission in times of their greatest needs.                                         

·        gifts of healing                         

·        miraculous powers

·        prophecy

·        distinguishing between spirits

·        speaking in different kinds of tongues

                                                   i.      It is Spirit inspired utterance.

                                                 ii.      The speaker is not in ‘ecstasy’ or a trance.

                                                iii.      It is a language that in not intelligible to the speaker or the listeners.

                                               iv.      It is speech essentially directed towards God.

·        the interpretation of tongues.

 

5.      Spiritual gifts are given as the Spirit decides

11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

ALL THESE are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he GIVES TO EACH ONE, just as he determines. This to a fascinating view of spiritual gifts. Though Paul did ask us to desire spiritual gifts like prophecy, it is ultimately the Holy Spirit who decides which gift to give to us. There is a pastor friend of mine who has been praying for the spiritual gift for speaking in tongues for the last 20 years but have not received it.

Lessons for us.

  1. Each of us has received spiritual gifts.

Spiritual gifts are the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in us. In this passage, it is clearly written that all of us who have the Holy Spirit have spiritual gifts.

  1. We have to discover what spiritual gifts we have.

How do we discover our spiritual gifts. There are many workbooks or tests that have been designed to help us to discover our spiritual gifts. Some of them are useful but most are not. What I have found useful is just ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what our gifts are. We ask in prayer and listen for his prayer. Often he will put a desire in our heart to be involved in specific areas of ministry in the church. Make sure that it is the Spirit you are hearing and not your own ego.  we look for opportunities to serve. When you are serving in that area, ask yourself these questions

  • Are people blessed by what I am doing?
  • Are they brought closer to God?
  • What are the feedbacks from others? Do they affirm your gifts?
  • Am I energized by what I am doing?
  • Do I feel the pleasure of God?

If your answers is not ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may have to review your area of service. You have not been serving in your area of spiritual gifts. Nothing is more harmful to the church that people serving in areas out of their gifting.

 

  1. We have to use our spiritual gifts for the building up of the Church.

All of us are to use our spiritual gifts if the church is to be edified or build up. There are no spectators in the church. Nobody is on the sideline. Everyone has a role to play, a spiritual gift to contribute. The reason why the church is so weak today is because the people of God refuse to use their spiritual gifts. Using the spiritual gifts involves time and effort. These are two precious commodities nowadays. People find it easier to give money. Here, take the money. Let somebody do the job. They dampen the calling of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Because of this the church is weak, held up by a few faithful doing the job for the rest.

Gordon Fee, Professor of New Testament in Regent College, Canada writes, “Perhaps the greater tragedy for the church is that it should have lost touch with the Spirit of God in its ongoing life that it should settle for what is only ordinary…The hope, of course lies with v.11, that the one and the same Spirit will do as he pleases, despite the boxes provided for him …”

 

Soli Deo Gloria

 

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