I Corinthians 13-14

Steve Viars July 25, 1992 1 Corinthians 13:13-14

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- tonight we're going to continue our study of Spiritual
  gifts from I Corinthians 13-14
- you may remember that the last time we looked at these
  verses, we centered in on the theme of chapter 13
     - of course the subject of that chapter is love,
          - and Paul said that the gifts of the Spirit must
            be characterized and controlled by the fruit of
            the Spirit.
          - so we took a whole Sunday to talk about the
            definition of love, and the priority of love, and
            the characteristics of love.

- I'd like to call tonight's message "Three Important
    Questions About Spiritual Gifts"

- you may have noticed, as we've moved through these verses,
   that I have skipped a few from time to time.
- there's a definite reason for that.
   - we said at the beginning of the study that Paul is
      developing an extended argument throughout these
      chapters, and our goal has been to trace that argument.

- now, let me repeat something I alluded to a couple of weeks
   ago--that is that our American minds are not always used
   to the mental concentration that is necessary to think
   through an extended discussion or argument.
- now that’s surely not meant to be an insult--I'm just
    trying to point out that there are some real differences
    between "The Scripture" and the "10 O'Clock News."

- Paul, writing words that were divinely inspired by God,
   often wrote long sentences, that have to be chewed on and
   digested
- The opposite of that is the way information is often
  presented to us today.
    - I ran across this statistic recently:
        - "length of a network news sound bite of a
           presidential candidate in 1968 - 42.3 seconds."
        - today - 9.8 seconds

- now, I'm not faulting the network news--that's the way we
   often want our information.
- this is the Pepsi generation and we want everything
   quick and we want it easily.

- the Lord has designed His truth, not to be "hard to
   understand" (I'm not saying that)
      - but He's designed it to require study and effort

- you remember that Solomon likened the pursuit of God's
    wisdom to mining silver or gold.
     - it takes work, but the product is worth.

- Paul told Timothy to "Study to show thyself approved unto
   God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly
   dividing the Word of truth."

(Could commend the church for the way they do this)
- so understanding this subject takes some work, but I know
   you'd agree that it's certainly worth the effort.
- Lord willing, two weeks from today we'll study chapter 14
   together, but before we move into that chapter, I believe
   we need to take a night and wrap up some things from
   chapters 12-13 and answer "Three Important Questions About
   Spiritual Gifts"

- here's the questions:

  1) Are all gifts for today?
  2) What Are The Spiritual Gifts Listed In God's Word?
  3) What Should I Be Working On As A Result of This Study?

- now you might say, why study the questions in that order?
   - the answer is - I think it will be a lot easier, when we
     go to study the other lists of spiritual gifts in other
     passages, if we've first studied out what the Bible says
     about the longevity of the gifts.

I. Are All The Spiritual Gifts For Today

    - let's answer that question first from the passage we've
      been studying:
    (A. What does this passage say?)

        - read 4(?) - 8

        - now, verse 8 is pretty "straightforward"
        - INPUT - How would you answer this question,
           According to verse 8, All spiritual gifts are
           permanent, or at least some of them are temporary?
           (temporary)

    - now, let me ask you to do this - please draw a little
       line after the word "fails" (love never fails)
         - now let's talk about the rest of the verse

- INPUT - how many gifts are listed in verse 8?  (three-
           prophecy, tongues, and knowledge)
    - two of them are described with the same verb, the other
       one has a different verb.

- INPUT - which two gifts have the same verb? (prophecy and
            knowledge)
- INPUT - what is the verb (done away)

    1. prophecy and knowledge will be done away

        - the word literally means, "reduce to inactivity"
        - remember, I Corinthians was one of the earliest
           books of the NT to be written
             - Paul is saying--at some point, prophecy and
               knowledge will be (future tense) done away -
               reduced to inactivity.

- INPUT - what gift is left and what verb is used with it?

    2. tongues will cease

        - cease = "to stop, to come to an end."

- you also might want to note that that verb is in the middle
   voice
      - "it will cease in and of itself"
      - its like a battery -- you don't expect them to last
         forever
            - they weren't designed that way

- so the original question was, "Are all gifts for today,"
    - this passage clearly states - "some of the gifts are
         temporary"

- now let's think about:

    B. What do other passages say?

        1. Revelation is no longer being given.

            - how do we know that from God's Word?
               - Rev. 22:18-19
                   (develop - it's a serious thing to add to
                      or subtract from God's Word)

           INPUT - now, what does that have to do with gifts?
                    (some of the gifts clearly involved new
                     revelation.
                     - this was the time of the
                       establishment of the church.
                     - the Scriptures had not been completed.
                     - certain gifts involved new revelation
                        from God.
                         - we usually refer to those as the
                            sign gifts.

- the bottom line is - we can say with great assurance that
   any gift that involved "special revelation" was a
   temporary gift--because Rev. 22:18-19 couldn't make it
   any clearer that the period of special revelation ended
   with the completion of God Word.

- another reason we know that not all gifts are for today is
   because:

    2. The latter books of the NT speak of sign gifts in the
        past tense.

        a. Heb. 2:3-4 - (READ - also read out of Jay's
            version)

        b. II Cor. 12:12 - (In this passage, Paul is
            remaining the Corinthians of the kind of ministry
            he has had and verifying his apostleship.
              - READ 11-12

              - Paul says, "see, here's why you ought to be
                 completely convinced of my apostleship--
                 because you remember what my early ministry
                 was like when your church was first
                 established"
                    - not-here's what I'm doing now
- point is - we know that not all gifts are for today because
    the latter books of the NT speak of these sign gifts in
    the past tense.

    3. Certain gifts were waning even during the recorded
        history of the NT church.

        - let's look at a couple of passages during the
          earlier ministry of Paul.

            - Acts 19:12 (read and develop)
            - Acts 20:9-12

            - but look what was happening at the end of
              Paul's ministry:

            - II Tim. 4:20 - READ - INPUT - what about this
                passage strikes you as odd?

            - I Tim. 5:23 - READ
                 - What do you mean, "take a little wine for
                    your stomach's sake? Why not send him a
                    handkerchief in the mail?
                 - Why not go lay hands on him?

- point is - the sign gifts were waning even during the
     recorded history of the NT church.

    4. The purposes of sign gifts were fulfilled

        a. to bring Israel to repentance and confirm
           judgement on those Jews that would not repent.

           - I Cor. 14:21-first half of 22 (READ)

           - this verse is a quote from Isa. 28:11-12

- Isaiah was saying that - because Israel refused to listen
  when God spoke to them in their own language through the
  prophets, the day would come when He would speak to them in
  a language they could not understand as a testimony against
  their rejection of Him.
- that may be why Paul said - in verse 5 - "I would that you
    all spoke with tongues"
      - because he knew that as tongues died out - the hope
        for his nation repenting was dying out as well.

- you could add to this historical fact to that - in 70 AD,
    the Roman General Titus destroyed the Temple, and Judaism
    ended except as a shadow religion.

- point is - there was no reason for the sign gifts, in this
    case--specifically the gift of tongues--after this point.

        b. confirming the Word spoken by the Lord and the
            apostles

            - Rev. 22:18-19
            - again--after the completion of the Bible, the
                church was established--its doctrine codified
                and there was no longer any need for sign
                gifts.

 

- so the point is - surely not all the gifts of the Spirit
   are operating today.
- the passage we're studying says that
    --other passages say that.  - not all the gifts are for
       today.

- let's summarize this with this question:

C. From The Lists of Spiritual Gifts In The Bible, (I Cor.
     12:8-10, 12:28, 12:29-30, Eph. 4:11, Rom. 12:6-8, and I
     Peter 4:11), what guidelines help us determine which are
     gifts for today?

    - let me tell you where I'm going with this
    - we're about to do a very quick survey of the passages
      that list various gifts.
    - so let's summarize what we've studied so far so we'll
       be ready to think properly about these lists:

    1. Does (did) that gift involve giving special
        revelation?

          - if the answer is yes, than that can't be a gift
            for today--and we surely ought not to want to
            exercise anything like that gift today.

    2. Is it impossible for a person to possess that gift
        today?

          - there's a least one gift that doesn't satisfy
            this qualification
               - that's the gift of an apostle
               - an apostle had to see the risen Christ, so
                 as soon as everyone "who had seen our Lord"
                 later passed away, the possibility for
                 anyone having that gift passed away.

    3. Was that gift "waning" (dying out) even in recorded NT
        history?

        - we've already seen some examples of some that were.

    4. Is the gift emphasized in the "latter NT books?"

         - or was this gift only operational during the
            transitional period before the church was
            established and the Scripture completed?

    5. Is the gift still necessary, even though the NT church
        has the completed Bible "in hand?"

- now, with that information in mind, let's move on to the
  second question:

II. What Are The Spiritual Gifts Listed In God's Word?

- this is what I was referring to earlier when I said that I
   had skipped over some verses in our study.
- Every time has made any sort of list of the gifts, we've
   purposely skipped over them because that information was
   not a central part of the argument that we were studying
   at the time.

- but we can't make all the applications we need to make from
   this study on the spiritual gifts in these three chapters
   of Scripture unless at some point we get all the gifts out
   on the table.
- I'd like us to quickly do that at this time.

    - now, please remember what we said when we first started
        this part of the series.
    - Pastor is doing to do a more detailed study of the
      individual gifts fairly soon
        - the purpose of what we are doing right now is just
           laying out enough data so we can fully benefit
           from the arguments Paul is making in this section.

- On the back of your notes we have a table with the 6
   principle lists in the NT of the spiritual gifts.
- it's not as complicated as it might sound at first, because
   three of the passages are in the same chapter and two of
    the passages are rather brief.

- let's go to I Cor. 12 first of all, and we'll try to fill
   out the chart as we go.

- (Go through each passage and write a "G" for gift, "VG" for
    vocational gift.)

- (note the brief descriptions at the right - Pastor will
   give much fuller descriptions when he leads us in a
   topical study on the subject of the gifts)


- we're going to go back through the list now and ask whether
   that gift is for today or not.  (please keep in mind the
   criteria we mentioned earlier.)


- so far we've talked about whether all gifts were for today,
    and we've compared the various "lists" of spiritual gifts
    in the NT.

- Now let's talk about:

III. What Should I Be Working On As A Result of this Study?

  - I'd like to propose three questions

    A. Ask - Am I deriving all the benefit that God intended
          by giving me a completed Bible?

       - we've seen tonight that several of the:

        1. sign gifts were temporary.

       - they were partial
           - that’s not criticizing the gifts or wrongly
              downgrading the gifts.

        - that’s exactly what Paul said in I Cor. 13:8
           - some will be reduced to inactivity
           - others were designed just to die out

        - Remember, since the words in the Bible are
          inspired of the Holy Spirit—that’s what the Holy
          Spirit said about His own gifts.

        - by the way:

        2. Even our Lord "downgraded" the importance of the
           signs and miracles He performed.

            John 14:11-12 - "Believe me, that I am in the
             Father, and the Father in me, or else believe me
             for the very work's sake. Verily, verily, I say
             unto you, the works that I do he shall do also;
             and greater works than these shall he do,
             because I go unto the Father.

            - Now how could that be true?
            - the answer is that even the signs and wonders
               our performed were temporary in nature.

            - When he healed someone, as marvelous and
                miraculous as that was, that didn't mean he
                would never ever be sick again.
            - Do you know who is the supreme example of that?

                - Lazarus
                   - while that was a tremendous display of
                     the power and deity of our Lord, He
                     Himself said - we will do greater things
                     than that...WHY?
                      - because Lazarus eventually died
                      - those gifts were temporary, and
                         therefore had temporary results.

- But our Lord has graciously given us something to replace
   the sign miracles that is not temporary.
- INPUT - can you think of any verses that teach that God
    Word's is not temporary?

        (3. In contrast, God's Word is permanent.)

            Matt. 5:18 - For verily I say unto you, Till
              heaven and earth shall pass, one jot or one
              title shall in no wise pass from the law, till
              all be fulfilled.

            Isaiah 40:8 - The grass withers, the flower
              fades, but the Word of our God shall stand
              forever.

- see, what's the point of all this--Instead of:
       - standing in awe of the sign gifts
       - coveting the sign gifts
       - thinking that the sign gifts is where the real
            spiritual action is

    - as a result of this study we ought to elevate the
        IMPORTANCE and the BLESSING of having a completed
        Bible
            - "God's permanent replacement for the temporary
                  sign gifts."

- Can I ask you tonight--Are you deriving the benefit God
    intended from giving us a completed Bible?

- this issue ought to be a great concern
   - I'd like to make a couple of comments about this, and I
       want to be very careful:
        - I don't want this to come off condescending or
           harsh.

          - I have the opportunity and privilege to talk to
            folks pretty regularly about problems/
            difficulties/ questions:
             - and sometimes (not always--but still
               frequently enough that it ought to be a
               concern)
             - THE PERSON APPARENTLY HAS NOT DERIVED THE
               BENEFIT GOD INTENDED BY GIVING US A COMPLETED
               BIBLE.

             - That seems to come up in a couple of critical
               ways:

                 1) not knowing some of the critical verses
                     in the NT about growing and handling
                     problems.
                        - there ought to be certain verses
                          that are "bread and butter" verses
                          for believers...
                           where, if you've been saved for a
                           period of time, you know those
                           verses and those verses have a
                           real impact on the way you:
                              - think about life
                              - handle life
                              - respond to the pressures of
                                  life

- another way this comes up is when folks don't know:

    2) verses/biblical concepts that were recently discussed
        in one of the services.

        - sometimes a person will ask me something that was
          just recently discussed in the service.
            - I'll say "Were you there last Sunday when
               Pastor spoke about that?"
               - "were you in Sunday School when we discussed
                   that?"

- again--I'm not wanting this to be condescending.
   - the Lord isn't expecting us to be Bible experts over
      night.

   - but He does expect us to be good stewards of the truth
      He's given us.
        - Because we have the completed Bible, we have it so
          much better than the early church
            - yet it seems like often they were more
              effective with less, than we are with more.

 

- do you remember a year and a half ago when we had the ice
    storm?
- some of us got our first taste of what it was like to live
    back "in the olden days"
      - we learned how to get water in some unusual ways
      - we had to heat our homes with wood or kerosene
      - we had to use candles and keep everything going

     - I remember one of the things I thought about during
        that time was
           - it's amazing how much time it must have taken
             just to keep the household going before we had
             all these conveniences:
                - like running water and indoor plumbing
                - central heat and air conditioning-
                - stove and refrigerator

    - then I thought this
       - I ought to be able to accomplish so much more than a
         person in that day because my circumstances are so
         much better.

       - it's kind of convicting to read about people back
          then and realize that at least in some cases, they
          accomplished a lot more with a lot less.

- and that’s one of the lessons we ought to take away from our
  study of the gifts
    - we are so blessed to have a completed Bible
      - are you deriving the benefit God intended?

       - are you studying?
       - are you hungering and thirsting after righteousness?
       - are you learning to put it into practice?
       - are you becoming more principle oriented?
       - Are you becoming more and more filled with the
          Spirit because you're allowing the Word to control
          you and motivate you and cause you to change?

        - we've got it good, and we'll all have to give an
           answer some day concerning the spiritual benefit
           we derived from God's goodness to us.

    B. Ask - Am I neglecting my gifts?

        - while several of these gifts were temporary, many
           of them were not.

        - Paul told Timothy in I Tim. 4:14 - "neglect not the
             gift that is in thee."

        - if it was possible for Timothy to do that, a man
          who had been discipled by the apostle Paul himself,
          surely it's possible for us to do it as well

        - see, are you working at discovering your gifts?
        - Are you working at using your gifts?

        - the gifts in the lists we studied tonight that are
           still operative in the church today are critical
           to the success and growth of the body of Christ.

- we need to ask ourselves - Am I neglecting mine?

    - now, listen, some gifts we receive from other people
      are kind-of hard not to neglect sometimes.
    - have you ever had somebody buy you something, and while
      you tried to be gracious and appreciative--you really
      had trouble finding a use for it?

    - just to get that concept in out minds, does anybody
      have a example of gift you've received?

        - cf. the painting we received for our wedding

    - so I'm saying it's difficult with some gifts we're
      given by other people, not to neglect them.
    - but that's not the picture here

    - the picture here is a gracious endowment by the Lord
      himself
         - and the Lord would want us to ask - Am I using it,
            or am I neglecting it?

(may want to hit - if you're looking for a place - we'll find
   a place for you to serve)

    C. Am I developing my gifts?

        II Tim. 1:6 - Wherefore I put thee in remembrance
           that thou stir up the gift of God.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video