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Studies in 1 Cor. 12-15, Power From On High:
Study #4: Spiritual Things
We have seen in the last few studies that after Paul's introduction, the first twelve chapters of Corinthians were written to address error in the physical details of the lives of the Corinthian believers, and to address such things in the lives of all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have seen that in chapter twelve, this emphasis alters. We are now addressing spiritual things ("pnuematikos" in the text, translated erroneously in 1 Cor. 12:1 as "spiritual gifts.")
We have seen that according to God's design, there are through the ages, or depending on the circumstances, various spiritual gifts, various spiritual administrations, and various operations of spirit.
But that the spirit should be manifested, that is given as the responsibility of each believer, as each believer decides to rise up and magnify God.
I Cor. 12:1-2: "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
"Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led."
We were Gentiles, ignorant of spiritual realities. We followed every "ism" under Heaven, without knowledge of the God of Heaven.
It is time to grow up.
1 Cor. 12:3: 'Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."
Up until the end of the second century A.D., there are records to indicate that the signs and miracles of the Book of Acts were prevalent in the Church. This included the act known variously as "speaking in tongues," "speaking in the spirit," "tongues," or "praying in the spirit."
You are not, as some still say today, "cursing God" by speaking in tongues.
Rather, you are speaking "as the spirit gives you utterance."
Furthermore, no man can say Jesus is Lord but by pnuema hagion, holy spirit, translated here as "the Holy Ghost."
Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, believe in your heart God has raised him from the dead, and you shall be saved. "Shall" is absolute.
But to walk as God really would have you walk, you have to start walking in the spirit, doing things that connect your spiritual new life to the flesh of your dead old life. You want to really make Jesus Lord of your life? To not be carnal, like these Corinthians had been? This section tells you how.
It is a package, and part of that package is praying in the spirit.
There are many worldly reasons not to do this, reasons steeped in doubt or unbelief.
There is at least one reason to do this. We are told to.
And this section tells you how to walk correctly in these matters.
1 Cor. 12:4-6: "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
"And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
"And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."
Indeed, those things God keeps to Himself are God's to dole as He sees fit. Indeed, the "age" we are in now of the Body of Christ was kept a mystery until after it had already started, or else Satan never would have crucified Jesus, and our sins would not have been paid for!
1 Cor. 12:7-11: "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
"To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
"To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
"But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."
We have seen that God gives out each of these according to as each believer wills. We should see that we should "will," we should walk according to need.
Keep in mind, these are nine manifestations. Manifestations of what? Of spirit.
The spirit operates in a way that affects the natural order, and the effect of those operations are seen, heard, felt, smelled and/or tasted, i.e., they are manifested nine ways.
But we see here how many Christians are taught that a Christian is given one, maybe two or three, according to their own predisposition.
Yet if the deciding factor is how the man, how the believer, wills, then is it not better to say that the deciding factor should be how we rise up and believe God to work in us to do what is necessary AT ANY GIVEN TIME?
If it is available, certainly.
1 Cor. 12:12-14: "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
"For the body is not one member, but many."
No, we are not interchangeable. No, our ministries are not identical.
But we all drink into one spirit. We can all do what is necessary to do WHERE WE ARE AT.
1 Cor. 12:15-17: "If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
"And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
"If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?"
Verse 14 of Chapter Twelve starts with the word "for."
It makes this section subordinate to verse eleven, "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."
One might say, "Father, I am an ordained minister, but I really feel weird about praying in tongues or interpreting the tongues I speak among the Church. I won't do it."
Another might say, "Carter healed several people again this week, all I got to do was speak in tongues and interpret, or prophesy, at Church."
But Carter was the one there with those healed who had the "will," as in "as he will," when the time was right. Just as the second here was one of the ones who had the will to speak in tongues and interpret or to prophesy when the Church was gathered.
And of course, the one who said "no," regardless of his official status, is one who lacks the will.
Among those of us who have the will, and who act, are we to judge according to what we see? Are we to judge the worth of each manifestation of spirit? No, the only worth is dependent on what is necessary at the time.
1 Cor. 12:18: "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him."
That's correct. When it comes to this business of manifesting the spirit, God knows what is necessary, doesn't He? That is why we aren't supposed to pick and choose. We need to do whatever is necessary at the time to edify the Body of Christ.
1 Cor. 12:19-22: "And if they were all one member, where were the body?
"But now are they many members, yet but one body.
"And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
"Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:"
Once again, we are reminded that we need to address the unglamorous jobs as well as the glamorous.
While perhaps not addressing the use of manifestations of the spirit, think of the accounts of Stephen in Acts.
He was set in charge of taking care of widow. Your glamour job?
Then he was stoned to death, no reprieve, no angels rescuing him. Glamour?
But one in the crowd heard his preaching, and years later, when Christ appeared to him, Saul believed those words that had laid dormant for years. Saul became the sent apostle who received the greatest revelation ever given the Church, the mystery of the age of grace which we are a part of.
Was Stephen's ministry necessary?
To those widows, wonderful Christian women a part of the Body, certainly.
To the conviction and restoration of Paul, yes.
1 Cor. 12:23-24: "And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
"For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked."
Not all jobs are the glamour jobs.
But all of our situations are unique, and so our concern should be to rise up and do what is necessary to minister to the Church at any given time.
1 Cor. 12:25-26: "That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
"And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it."
See? In this spiritual walk, wherein we take care of spiritual things, and manifest the spirit in us, we should have no schism.
A cell lining the intestines doesn't say "I want to be a brain cell," but we all know what would happen if the intestinal cells should strike in protest.
Of course, this is an analogy, and unlike the human body, a "cell" in the Body of Christ isn't always stuck as an intestinal cell. As we do what is necessary, our roles change regularly.
And to those brothers and sisters who want to quit volunteering for jobs in the intestines and become permanent brain cells, we say this: The Body of Christ already has a head, and it is not you.
1 Cor. 12:27-28: "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
"And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."
Each time you are among the Body, you will be inspired to meet particular functions, you are members in particular.
First come, first served, people. Rise up.
Want to grow?
Grow the Church.
As the Church grows, there will be need for more apostles, more prophets, more teachers and healers.
1 Cor. 12:29-30: "Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
"Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?"
At any given time, is everybody who comes to church going to be an apostle? Or a prophet? Or a teacher?
Of course not.
At any given time, there may be only a few apostles, a few prophets. There may be only one or two who are teachers on a given Sunday, or whatever days your meetings take place.
1 Cor. 12:31: "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
Covet earnestly the best gifts.
What are the best gifts?
Answer this: what, in the Church, when it comes to spiritual matters, is the most important thing that doesn't have people doing it?
What are the most pressing needs of the Church?
Remember, this particular section deals with the ministering to the body broadly regarding spiritual matters, and more specifically it is still dealing with how the spirit is manifested.
What spiritual matters are unattended?
What needs that need spiritual power, and thus will manifest spirit, are not being met?
Covet those things, yet there is a more excellent way.
And this "more excellent way" is not an alternative to coveting these best gifts, it is something that will be built as you do so.
It is a way to build, you might say, a life of fulfilling this function so that it becomes first nature for you to actively seek ministering effectively to the Body of Christ.
This "more excellent way" of ministering spiritually to the Body will be our next study in this series in 1 Corinthians 12 through 15.
Thank you for joining us, see you in the next study, and God bless!
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