Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Worst Kept Secret in the Church!

1 Corinthians 12
12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 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.4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Today is Valentine's Day, and I hope you all remembered to give your special someone a nice gift showing how much you love them. Maybe it is roses or chocolate, the gifts are different but the most important thing is the love you share and show to that person. 1 Corinthians 12-14 are all dedicated to Paul teaching the Corinthians about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is the most extensive teaching in the New Testament about spiritual gifts (see also Ephesians 4). Jesus said before he went away to the disciples in John 16, "It is good for me to go away, for if I did not go away I could not send the Holy Spirit to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." Earlier he told them, "You will do greater things than He I am going to the Father."

So it is not surprising when Paul says to the Corinthians, "Now about the gifts of the Spirit, I do not want you to be uniformed." Paul does not want the gifts of Spirit to be the "worst kept secret in the church". The first gift of the Holy Spirit is our confession of faith in Jesus as Lord. None of us come to faith by our own effort, but the Holy Spirit calls us and enlightens us with His gifts. So we all share the gift of faith in Jesus because of the Holy Spirit's conviction of sin and His leading us to trust in and confess Jesus as Lord. Then, Paul talks about the role of the Holy Spirit in distributing gifts. Although there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, it is the same Spirit who gives them and distributes them to each one just as he determines. What does that mean? The spiritual gift(s) you have been given have been divinely determined by the Holy Spirit. A lot of people don't realize this and it does the church a great disservice.

You can read the rest of the chapter but here is a quick summary of the role and work of the Holy Spirit.

1. Though we all have different gifts, they are for the common good. Later we will read that the spiritual gifts' primary purpose is to build up the body of Christ, the church.

2. Each part of the body and each gift are equally important. Paul uses the metaphor of the human body to illustrate the principle of interdependence. I.e. The eye cannot say to the hand, I don't need you. And the head cannot say to the foot I don't need you. What would the body be like if it were one "big" eye.

3. Parts of the body that we might think are weaker or dispensable, should be given greater honor. Here Paul is saying that although some gifts might be flashier or garner more attention publicly, we should never rank the importance of gifts that way. For instance we might think that someone who has a gift of doing miracles is more important, than the person with the gift of serving unnoticed. Paul says we should honor the less showy gifts, for he knows human nature and a tendency to be prideful. We will see more about this in chapter 14.

Bottom line is that God has beautifully created, designed and gifted the body of Christ to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit as it accomplishes its God given mission. We are all memmbers of the body Christ. As members we have special privileges ... "We get to serve!". As a friend once said, "We all get to play!" The church will only be as effective as it has equipped its members to understand, know and practice their spiritual gifts.

Do you know your what your spiritual gifts are? There are lots of ways to figure them out, but the best way is to learn about what they are, which one you might have, and then try them out in ministry to others. When you are serving using the gifts God has given to you, you will feel the special privilege of God working through you. Why? This was what you were meant to do! As a disciple of Christ you have been called to help the church fulfill the Great Commission, which is to make disciples of all nations. Discovering my spiritul gift as a lay person, led me to my calling as a pastor. It was the most exciting time of my life. I hope you will discover and use your spiritual gifts soon if you haven't already. There is really nothing like it in this world!

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