SermonsDiscover the Joy of Leaving Laodicea Behind
When we have the desire to know more about the gifts given each of us by the Holy Spirit, and our responsibility in exercising those gifts, we are faced with a couple of questions. Especially when we see that the purpose of those gifts is to give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to manifest or express Himself to others. Consider the following:
1 Corinthians 12:7 – But the manifestation (expression) of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
How does the Holy Spirit manifest or express Himself in the world today?
Does the Holy Spirit give His gifts to everyone that belongs to Christ?
Does that include you?
What gift or gifts has He given you?
And why did He give you His gifts?
So He could express Himself to others through each of us.
Do you realize the reason the Holy Spirit gives us His gifts is to manifest Himself to others through us? Let that sink in for a moment.
Many of us make resolutions this time of year. It just seems natural. Maybe we want to lose weight, get out of debt, or finish a long neglected project around the house. But as a Christian, we want to somehow make our resolutions more spiritual. That also seems natural. So we often resolve something like this:
“I want to read my Bible more.”
“I want to pray more.”
“I want to share my faith more.”
“I want to love more, forgive more, worship more.”
“I want to live more like a Christian.”
“I want to know more of God and have myself conformed to the image of His Son.”
But the key to discovering the “abundant life” (John 10:10) Jesus spoke about is not in keeping resolutions, no matter how good they may be. It’s living a life of holiness. It’s practicing sanctification. It’s being set apart or consecrated unto God. After all, we belong to Him.
But sanctification never takes place unless we first understand the way God’s if / then promises work. The promise comes after the condition. The then follows the if. Consider the following:
When we read the reason God gave each of us spiritual gifts, we find they are an expression or representation of the Holy Spirit to a lost world in dire need of Him. Think about it, the Holy Spirit lives in each of us as a deposit or guarantee of our future inheritance in Him (Eph. 1:14). In essence, no Holy Spirit, no salvation. And because the Holy Spirit now lives in each of us, He also graciously gives us certain gifts that come from Him. Some of these gifts we readily embrace. Others we feel less than excited about. But regardless of our personal feelings about what the Holy Spirit has blessed us with, we are given these gifts for the benefit of others. They are to be used for others as a clear expression of Him who now lives in us.
Consider the following:
1 Corinthians 12:7 – But the manifestation (expression, to make visible or observable) of the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is given (to bestow, to give freely of one’s own accord and with goodwill) to each one (to each and every one separately and individually) for the profit (benefit, advantage, usefulness, help, to bring together for the benefit of another) of all.
Does this also apply to the “gifts of healings” and the “working of miracles” in the verses that follow? What about tongues and the interpretation of tongues? How about the gift of discerning of spirits? Now it gets a little squirrely, doesn’t it? Do you have questions about these gifts? Are you wondering how your experience lines up with the Scriptural teaching about spiritual gifts? Do you feel confused and somewhat in the dark when it comes to these controversial gifts? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most of the church feels the same way. Want some answers? Then keep listening.
When we think of the cost of Christmas, most of us think about how much it is going to cost us and how long before we pay our credit cards off. But that’s the horizontal cost. The cost of presents that feel good for the moment but have very little lasting value.
There’s also a vertical cost to Christmas. And that cost was paid by the Son of God who “emptied Himself and took on the form of a slave” (Phi.2:7), the lowest of men.
What did Christmas cost Jesus? You’d be shocked, surprised and humbled to know. He exchanged the praise and adoration of angels for the spittle of men.
In 1 Corinthians 12:9, in the beginning of the second group of spiritual gifts, it says one of the gifts is faith.
“To another faith by the same Spirit” – 1 Corinthians 12:9a.
But what kind of faith are we talking about? Is this saving faith? The faith God gives to those chosen by Him from the foundation of the world? (Eph. 1:4). Or is it something else? And, if so, what exactly is this kind of faith?
Is it faith like Abraham had when he left his home to travel to a land the Lord would show him? (Gen. 12:1). Is it faith like Moses had when he approached Pharaoh with a staff and a simple message from the Lord, “Let My people go!”? (Ex. 8:1). Or is it faith like Peter had when he asked Jesus to let Him step out of the boat and walk on water to Him? (Matt. 14:28). Or again, is it something else?
And is this faith really a gift from God to reveal the Holy Spirit to others like the Scriptures say? (1 Cor. 12:7). Could this gift be for you and me today? Or was this gift only given to others who lived long ago in a land far, far away?
So many questions. Do you want some answers? Then keep listening.
Often we are confused concerning the gifts of the Spirit, especially the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. Questions still linger: Are all the gifts for today? Or, were some of them only for the time of the apostles? And, if they are for today, what does the exercise of these gifts look like? How are they manifested in the church today?
In order to understand the truth behind these questions, we must begin with a simple, seven letter word: another. There are two Greek words translated “another” in this passage. The first is allos, which means “another of the same kind.” And then there is heteros, which means “another of a different kind.” Now, look at the passage in question:
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 – For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another (allos) the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another (heteros) faith by the same Spirit, to another (allos) gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another (allos) the working of miracles, to another (allos) prophecy, to another (allos) discerning of spirits, to another (heteros) different kinds of tongues, to another (allos) the interpretation of tongues.
Now we have three groups of gifts each divided by the word heteros – or “another of a different kind.”
Word of wisdom
Word of Knowledge
Gifts of Healings
Working of Miracles
Discerning of Spirits
Different kinds of tongues
Interpretation of tongues
Do you see how logically the Lord has presented this confusing passage about the gifts of the Spirit? Do you see what He is trying to teach us? If you want to know more, then keep listening.
When we look at the warnings from the Lord found in the first chapter of Proverbs, we are naturally drawn to the almost prophetic words of Forrest Gump.
“Stupid is as stupid does.”
To put it in the words of Solomon:
“How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?” – Proverbs 1:22.
Or, “How long, you simple (foolish, simpleminded, stupid, naive, moronic) ones, will you love simplicity (what is foolish, simpleminded, stupid, naive, moronic)?”
Great question. But what is the object of this question? What exactly are the stupid ones loving stupidly? What can we learn about the wisdom of God from what is being said here? If you want to know more, then keep listening.
In our study on Spiritual gifts, the question before us is this: Why does the Holy Spirit give us His gifts? What’s the point? How does giving us gifts, that we don’t believe we have, benefit Him?
The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 12:7. Here it says: But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
Got that. But what does this verse really mean?
The word manifestation means “expression, to make visible or observable.” Think about that. The “expression” of the Holy Spirit, or the way the Holy Spirit expresses Himself is “given to each one for the profit of all.” Or, the way the Holy Spirit makes Himself “visible or observable” is by the gifts He gives to “each one for the profit of all.”
Do you see how important these gifts actually are? And what specific gifts are we talking about?
To continue in context: for to one is given the (1) word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the (2) word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another (3) faith by the same Spirit, to another (4) gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the (5) working of miracles, to another (6) prophecy, to another (7) discerning of spirits, to another (8) different kinds of tongues, to another the (9) interpretation of tongues – 1 Cor. 12:8-10.
And this is only the beginning. There is so much more to learn. Are you interested? Then keep listening.
In the final few words in his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, the apostle Paul leaves them with some heartfelt, bullet-point warnings and admonitions that speak to living in the Kingdom. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 he said,
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
If you look closer, you will see this is another classic, life-changing if / then passage. If we do the first three, then we won’t experience the last. Or, if we don’t do the first three, then the last, quenching the Spirit, is ours as a consequence of the first three. And who in their right mind wants to willingly quench the Spirit of God in our life. But there is so much more to be found here. Interested? Then keep listening.
This truth is never more apparent than at the crucifixion of Jesus. There, at the foot of His cross, standing faithful with their Lord, we find several women and only one disciple, the one characterized as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). We see Mary the mother of Jesus, and her sister, Salome, the mother of James and John and the wife of Zebedee. We see Mary the wife of Clopas who, along with Mary Magdalene, kept vigil at the tomb (Matt. 27:61) and was one of the women who tried to persuade the disciples that Jesus was alive (Luke 24:10). We also see a larger group of women, possibly as many as a dozen, standing together “at a distance” from the cross (Luke 23:49).
But what we don’t see are the bold, self-confident men who pledged their very lives to Christ just a few hours earlier. Nowhere is Peter, the “even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matt. 26:35) disciple. Andrew, James, Matthew and the others disciples are conspicuously absent. AWOL. Scattered like dry leaves in an October wind.
The men are gone. These bastions of courage and determination fled like frightened children while the women stood faithful with their Lord to the end. Why was that? What was it about the quality of love and devotion found in these women that propelled them to such courage when the men, who should lead in that area, drifted off into the landscape? What does this show us about true faith and devotion? What does this show us about the love of women and the apparent apathy of men? And how can that change our lives today?