I Corinthians 12:1-11

Steve Viars June 20, 1992 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

- tonight we're moving into a brand new section in the book
  of I Corinthians...I Cor. chapter 12
- this book of I Cor. has been filled with topics that are
  critical for every believer in Christ to know and to
  understand and to be applying

- the book's already addressed subjects like:
    1) divisions in the church and how to avoid them
    2) carnality (lack of growth) on the part of believers
        and how and why we can be growing and changing
    3) taking believers to court
    4) what to do when someone from the church is caught up
        in sin
    5) marriage, divorce, and remarriage and even God's Word
        about singleness
    6) the controversial issue of Christian liberty and all
        the questions that surround that subject
    7) the role of men and women in the church
    7) abuses at the Lord's table

- Paul handled some of those topics in just few verses while
   he took several chapters with some others

- tonight we're moving into another one of those extended
   passages that actually includes three full chapters
- we're talking about "Understanding and Exercising Our
    Spiritual Gifts"

- now, I probably need to make a disclaimer about that title
   and that is - we're talking about studying "understanding
   and exercising your spiritual gifts--from the material in
   I Cor. 12-14
- those of you who have studied this subject before know that
   this subject is also discussed in several other passages
   of Scripture
- I'm kind of notorious for "spin off" studies
    - that's why this is our 40th message out of the book of
      I Cor. and we're still in chapter 12!

- but we're not going to do that with the subject of gifts

- we'll study what these verses say--at another time we
   intend to do a topical treatment of gifts where we'll look
   at all the passages

- let's begin tonight by thinking about the question:

(Introduction)
    "Why is this topic important?"

- I'd like to suggest 4 reasons:

  1) The Church is a spiritual organism.

      - it's wrong whenever we begin thinking about the
        church as a human organization run by a hierarchy of
        human officials.

      - it's not a social agency to meets the needs and
         demands of the community.
      - it's not a convenient place to be married, buried,
         or baptized.
      - it's not surely not a social club where religious
         minded people get together for fellowship or
         occasional service.

       - the church is made up of humans--but it's not
          fundamentally a human organization.
       - the church of Jesus Christ as revealed in the New
          Testament is a spiritual and supernatural organism.
           - we've trusted Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord.
           - we were been baptized into the body of Christ by
              a supernatural work of the Spirit when we were
              saved.
           - we're growing and changing as we submit
              ourselves to the living Word of God and as we
              seek to obey it through divine enablement

- this is spiritual business.

- and when it comes to the work of the church--the ministry
   to which God has called us--that is spiritual business as
   well.
    - a successful church isn't the one that has the most
       raw talent, human abilities or skills

    - a successful church is one that understands and is
       growing in its use of the gifts of the Spirit of God.

  2) The right use of spiritual gifts is a great source of
      joy and fulfillment.

    - one of our key verses for this study is going to be I
       Peter 4:10 -- "As each one has received a special
        gift, employ it in serving one another, as good
        stewards of the manifold grace of God."

       John 13:17 says - "If you know these things, happy are
        ye if you do them"

  - there's great joy in the life of the person who is
    exercising their spiritual gift(s) in the Lord's service.

  - now that's the positive side of that--we could turn it
    around and talk about the negative side.
      - frustration and boredom will result in the lives of
         folks who don't exercise their spiritual gifts.

- let me ask you to think about that for a minute from the
   perspective of what's happening in our country.

    - we're told that by the year 2000, the life expectancy
      here in America will be 80 years.
    - the number of Americans over 65 is expected to double
      by the year 2020, to over 60 million

    - now what's going to happen in our churches and
       communities to people who have that kind of time on
       their hands who have not developed a lifestyle of
       using their gifts in God's service?
- whether a person acknowledges it or not, God created
  created us....He created us for the purposes of:
     - having fellowship with Him
     - glorifying Him.

- those purposes are accomplished by the person who
    understands this subject and is applying that
    understanding.
     - but what about that person who didn't develop this
       kind of lifestyle?
         - who immersed themselves in their career-but that
            career is gone?
         - who lived for material things, but their financial
            freedom is limited?
         - who lived for entertainment or pleasure, but can't
            get around physically like they once could?

- what's going to happen in subsequent generations (if the
    Lord tarries) to people who didn't apply the truth of I
    Cor. 12-14? (and now have significant amounts of time on
    their hands?)

- I think one of the answers is that we'll see widespread
    depression among senior citizens.
     - In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if that was one of
       the great growth areas in the American economy if the
       Lord tarries -- anti-depressant drugs and mood
       altering drugs for senior citizens.

- but the good news is, it's never too late.
   - it's never too late to trust Jesus Christ as Lord and
       Savior.
   - it's never too late to discover how God has uniquely
       gifted you for His service.
   - it's never too late to begin using those gifts for the
       building up of the family of God.

- It's never too late to experience the great joy and
   fulfillment that comes from right use of spiritual gifts.

(another reason we need to study this subject is because:)

  3) There are many abuses in this area.

     - In some segments of the church--the subject of
        spiritual gifts has gone wild.
     - I think it's reasonable to say that it some situations
         in our country today--there's really no limit to
         what some people are doing under the guise of
         spiritual gifts or super-spiritual experiences.

    - let me just give you a few examples and we'll talk more
      about this in subsequent weeks.

- Dr. Percy Collett - a charismatic medical missionary -
    claims that in 1982 he was transported to heaven for 5
    1/2 days.
      - Colletts newsletter says this:
        "While Christianity abounds with accounts of
         'glimses' of the 'other' dimension from those that
         have had out of body experiences, Dr. Collett's is
         unlike these.
         Obviously he was caught up in the third heaven just
         like the apostle Paul. The difference is, Paul was
         not allowed to utter the things he saw and heard,
         while Dr. Collett, almost 2000 years later, was
         commanded to do so."

         - this man has put together a set of videos you can
           buy that tell you about heaven.
         - here's an excerpt - "Everything God created upon
           earth is in heaven--horses, cats, dogs.
           Everything that he created upon earth is in
           heaven-in the way of animals, only these are
           perfect.  For example, the dogs don't bark...you
           don't need plumbing. You can go to the banqueting
           house and eat all you want and no plumbing is
           needed."

- Another example is a photographer named Dudley Danielson.
   Danielson ran an add in the charismatic newspaper "The
   National Courier."
   - The copy of the add read like this - "A genuine
      photograph of our Lord. Yes, I believe I have one
      recorded on film. In mid-summer I awoke to a strong
      voice-impression, "Go and photograph my sunrise."
      Beside the river I set up my camera and waited for the
      sun. In that predawn, I felt so close to God, perfect
      peace.  On one negative is the perfect shape of a
      figure, arms raised in blessing as reflected in the
      water opposite to every shadow.  I believe God gave me
      an image of Himself to share."

      - At the bottom of the add he has his name and address
        and says this - "8x10 copies in perfect color are
        available for $9.95 prepaid (larger sizes available
        on request."

      - see forget about what the Bible says.

      John 1:18 - "No man has seen God at any time."

      John 4:24 - "God is spirit, and they that worship him
        must worship him in spirit and in truth."

      Exodus 33:20 - "No man can see me and live"

- see, we need to study this subject of the gifts of the
   spirit because some have given this subject of the
   spiritual gifts and charismatic experiences more authority
   than the Bible itself.

- forget the fact that it violates the Scripture, Dudley has
   a picture of the Lord and he's willing to share it with
   you for $9.95 prepaid.


- Can you stomach one more example? (Roberts Liardon quote)


- Now I've obviously used some extreme examples, but we need
   to study this subject because of the many abuses in this
   area.

- one last reason I'd like to mention is that:

4) This subject was very important to the apostle Paul.

    - I say that for two reasons.

       a. the amount of Scripture that is devoted to this
          subject.

           - we have to be careful here. I don't think we can
             go through the Bible and count up all the verses
             on a particular subject and assign a "weight of
             importance" based solely on volume.

           - but the other side is - Scripture is very
             selective.  Of all the subjects the Lord could
             have spoken to us about--he chose to devote
             three chapters of His Word here and several
             passages elsewhere to the subject of spiritual
             gifts.

  I think we can also say it was important to Paul because
   of:
       b. the placement of this passage among other critical
           biblical subjects.

           - earlier we listed all the topics Paul has
             addressed in this book and we would all agree
             that everyone one of them is critical for a
             church.
           - Paul places this subject of spiritual gifts
             right up there with other topics that are of
             critical concern to believers.

- now, with those thoughts in mind, let's read verses 1-11.
   READ

- in the time we have left, I'd like us to look at Three
    Truths Paul wants us to know and apply about spiritual
    gifts.

I. Don't Be Uninformed About Spiritual Gifts

    - Paul says - Brethren, I don't want you to be ignorant
       concerning spiritual gifts.

    - let's take a minute at this point and think about this
      question:

    A. What if we are?

        INPUT - What could result in an individuals life or
          in the life of a church if believers are uninformed
          about the subject of spiritual gifts?

        - bottom line - great trouble will come to the person
           who fits in verse one--who is uninformed about
           spiritual gifts.

- now let's add verse two to that:
    B. Our background "fuels" our possible
         misunderstanding/misuse of the gifts.
        - for one thing, we were all "Gentiles" or "pagans"

        (1. Gentiles)

            - we didn't know anything about using our
              abilities to serve and glorify the Lord
            - that unsaved background "fuels" our possible
               misunderstanding
- Paul also says:

        2. you were "led away" (or enslaved)

            - that word was often used of prisoners being
              taken under armed guard to prison or execution.
            - even though the world wants to describe the
              unsaved lifestyle as great freedom, the Bible
              repeatedly describes it as enslavement.
- he also says - you were enslaved to:

        3. "Dumb" idols

             - not that the idols were foolish or stupid
                (though they undoubtedly were)
             - the point is - they couldn't talk--they
                couldn't communicate

             - see, every person worships something
                - they worship themselves
                - they worship money
                - prestige, their bodies, pleasure,
                   ease, sex

             - everyone worships something - and in some
               cases it's even a literal idol of stone or
               wood

             - Paul reminds us--whatever that was--it was
               "dumb"
                 - dead, lifeless--unable to communicate
                    - unable to sustain a relationship
                    - unable to empower

- now a good question to ask here would be this - how does
   verse 2 fit together with verse 1?
- why did Paul warn us about being uniformed about the use of
    spiritual gifts // and then turn around and remind us
    about our unsaved pasts?

- I think the answer is this--The Corinthians might have been
    tempted to turn up their noses at verse 1 if it were by
    itself.

    - What do you mean, Paul--that you don't want us to be
      uninformed about our spiritual gifts?
        - after all, we're the great Corinthians
        - we're the gifted ones
        - you even admitted that earlier in the book

        - how can you suggest that we might not know how to
          exercise our gifts properly?
        - You can almost hear the Corinthians asking those
          kind of questions, can't you?
- let me ask you this--is it possible that you or I might ask
   those kinds of questions?

- Paul, how could you suggest that I might be uninformed or
   unskilled in the use of my spiritual gift/gifts?

- verse 2 is an excellent answer

    - because of our background as unbelievers

    - whatever we served before we were saved was dead
        - it was unholy
        - it was unable to hear
        - it was unable to speak
        - it was unable to give truth
        - it was unable to give life
        - it was unable to give power

        - "led away by dumb idols"

- point is - life without Christ made us completely
    unprepared to minister in the church and exercise our
    spiritual gifts.
       - which are endowed by the living Spirit of God.
       - which are developed by following the Living Word
           of God.
       - which are exercised to magnify the Living Son of
          God.

- see, one key question that our Lord would want us to ask
   tonight is - How informed are you about spiritual gifts?

   - the answer he expected from the Corinthians was: "maybe
      not as informed as I thought"


      - now he goes on in verse three and gives us:

    C. One sure test - the effect the use of that gift has on
        the name of our Savior.

        - any gift, and the exercising of any gift, that does
          not result in the name of Jesus Christ being
          magnified is not a spiritual gift.

        - Verse 3 is an unusual verse in that you walk away
          saying-"but that’s so obvious."
        - apparently what was happening in the Corinthian
            church was that they were so carried away with
            the ecstatic experiences--they were so carried
            away with the paranormal....
              - that a person could even say that our Lord
                was accursed and get away with it at their
                church-at long as the statement was given as
                part of some ecstatic utterance

- experience was more important than truth

- Paul says - no way
- the first step toward moving out of ignorance about gifts
    is recognizing that true spiritual gifts bring glory to
    Jesus Christ
- that's the Holy Spirit's job, and that's the result of
    genuine spiritual gifts

- that’s what's wrong with the examples I cited earlier

    - the person is glorified, but our Lord and spiritual
        truth is made to look foolish in the process

    - and so now we've got people saying you can buy a
      picture of our Lord on a 8x10 glossy
    - and others saying the greatest thing about heaven is
      the fact that dogs don't bark
    - and another guy's transported to the third heaven so he
        can play in the creek with Jesus

- Paul would say--it doesn't matter how spiritual that kind
   of talk sounds///there's nothing spiritual about it
     - spiritual gifts magnify the Son of God

- now you might say--but PV, no one in our congregation would
   pull a stunt like that
     - no one here is that uninformed

- that’s true, but do you think this test might reveal that
    any of here are not as informed about this subject as we
    ought to be?

- sure it can - let me give you a couple of possible ways:

1) When we use our gifts to glorify ourselves instead of
     glorify the Lord.

    - Do you think that ever takes place?...Where Jesus
       Christ is given the glory that verse 3 says He
       deserves?

    - Of course it does.
    - some folks have been gifted with great wisdom.
        - great abilities to think and reason

    - yet instead of using that gift to serve and glorify
      Christ -- they use it to intimidate others
        - or bring glory to self

        - so they use words nobody else understands
        - or they waste great amounts of mental energy
           thinking about ways to manipulate others

- Their gift has become their curse--because it wasn't used
    to glorify the Savior.

    - some folks have the gift of administration and
        organization.
         - they're able to plan, keep track of details, and
           manage people

       - but they never get around to using those skills in
          God's service or in a way that brings glory to
          Christ
- so surely no one would stand up in an ecstatic frenzy and
   call Jesus accursed, but not every Christian uses his/her
   spiritual gifts to bring glory to Christ
2) Here's another way this point might be borne out in a
   setting like ours:
    - By Omission.
    - in others words, where a person never takes time to
         discover his/her areas of giftedness.
    - they never take time to develop their areas of
        giftedness.
    - they never make an effort to use those areas of
        giftedness in God's service.

    - while that person surely would not stand and call Jesus
       accursed--there's no message on the positive side of
       the ledger
          - because of omission.
          - the gift was never discovered, developed, or
              used.

- one key question tonight is - How informed am you?
    - how far removed are you from the condition described in
      verse 1?
    - what from your lifestyle could I use to support your
       answer?
        - Have you given sufficient time to discover your
            areas of giftedness?
        - Have you worked at developing those areas?
        - Are you using those gifts in God's service?

- How informed are you?

II. Gifts Have Both Unity and Diversity (4-7)

    - let's think first about:

    A. How gifts are different

        - in these verses, there's one phrase that's repeated
          three different times
        - the exact wording depends on the version you have
          in front of you

        - we're talking about the word diversities,
          varieties, or kinds of (depending on your version)

        - Paul's saying - "here's how gifts are different"

        1. in what they are - verse 4

            - there are many different kinds of gifts
            - he's going to give a partial list--but the
               point here is - there are many different kinds
                  - they're different in what they are

    - they're also different:

        2. in how they are used - verse 5

            - "differences of administration", "varieties of
               ministries"

            - in other words, even a particular gift can be
               used a variety of ways

                - that's true, for example, of the gift of
                  teaching
                  - that gift isn't used the same way
                   - some are effective at teaching the Bible
                       to children - they can make it plain
                       and understandable on their level
                   - others are effective at teaching the
                     Bible to seminarians - they can tie
                     together important theological truths

- Paul's saying - gifts are different
   - they're different in what they are, different in how
       they're used

    3. in what they accomplish (verse 6)

        varieties of gifts, varieties of ministries, and
        varieties of effects

        - some people exercise the gift of evangelism in
          places where the people are especially receptive to
          the gospel
           - they often speak to huge crowds where many are
             won to Christ each time they speak

        - but others exercise that gift to the ones and twos
          in places where it might be years between converts

- see, spiritual gifts have great diversity
    - and we need to recognize this--that diversity can
        result in some great problems (and the Corinthians
        were a great examples of those problems)
    - they were arguing over the gifts,
        - coveting one another's gifts
        - looking down on certain gifts

    - the bottom line is - instead of the gifts being used to
       edify and build up their church family and make them
       more effective in their service for the Lord,
         - their misuse was actually dividing the church and
             tearing it down

- Paul says - Wait a minute
    - sure, there's a lot of diversity in the gifts
    - Our God is a creative God, and we ought to expect that
       the gifts He's created for the church would naturally
       have diversity....BUT

    - they also have great unifying features

    B. How they are (and must be) the same

        1. their common Source

          - there's two important arguments in verses 4-7
          - one is that the gifts have a common source
              - the Triune God

          - many kinds - but one SPIRIT
          - many uses - but one LORD
          - many effects - but one God

        - see, a church ought to be more and more unified as
           the members grow in their use of the spiritual
           gifts because of their Common Source

        - we'll have more to say about that under the third
           point

- there's also unity in the gifts because of:

        2. their common purpose

            - did you see that at the end of verse 7?
              - "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to
                   every man for profit"
              - (NASB) - "but to each one is given the
                   manifestation of the Spirit for the common
                   good."

    - See, what draws together all these gifts and abilities?
        - what keeps this thing going the same way?

        - we've seen two answers in this passage
            - verse 3 - The desire to glorify Christ
            - verse 7 - the desire to use those gifts for the
                 good of the body

- you see - different gifts, different ministries, different
    levels of effectiveness
        - but the common goal of building up the body of
           Christ
            - great unity comes to a group of people who are
               living for that goal

- dev. Paul Tassel - January - request for missionary conf.

 

- point is - Paul wants us to concentrate on--not just how
    gifts are different--but also on how they're the same
      - they have a common purpose -- to be used for the
         common good

- that brings up another question we need to concentrate on
   --that is - Do I have a unifying effect on the church
       family by using my gifts for a common purpose, for the
       common good

III. All True Gifts Are Spiritual And Therefore Important

    READ 8-11

    - now, its easy to see what Paul is emphasizing here

    - there's a list of some of the different kinds of gifts
        - wisdom, knowledge, faith, etc.

        - but I think we make a real mistake if we just focus
           on the list of different gifts
        - because that’s not the argument of the verses

        - the argument of the verses comes from focusing on
          the phrase that Paul repeats over and over in these
          verses

       - Do you see it?  by the same Spirit, by the same
          Spirit

        - Why did Paul have to emphasize that?
            - because somewhere along the line the
              Corinthians had forgotten that the spiritual
              gifts were just that--Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

- a right focus on that truth will have at least two results

    A. No one should boast about their gifts

        - Paul had said earlier in this book - what do we
          have that we didn't receive?
        - surely no one should boast about thier gifts and
          in so doing cause disunity in the church.

        - These are the gifts...of the Spirit
            - by the same Spirit...by the same Spirit

    B. No one should covet some one else's gift

        - the gifts and abilities that you have were
           sovereignly chosen for you by God Himself.
           - God has equipped you with all that you need to
               minister for Him and please Him in a unique
               and special way.

           - but some folks never get around to doing that
             because they're too busy coveting what someone
             else has.
                - by the same Spirit...by the same Spirit

    C. No one should minimize the importance of someone
        else's gift

        - churches that have unity are marked by a grateful
           spirit for one another.
        - the members take time to recognize the contribution
          of each person.
            - they take time to thank and praise and honor
              and recognize.

        - and even in those behind the scenes jobs where
          gifts are needed but seldom recognized
             - believers are mature enough to rejoice in
               their gifts even if they aren't given the
               praise and recognition they deserve

                - because that joy comes from seeing the
                  wisdom of the Spirit's design
                     - gifts of the same Spirit

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