Now as I always do, I want to give a little bit of a brief as to how we got to here from the beginning of the book. You must always keep in the back of your mind that this letter is the second of four corrective letters to the church at Corinth, clearly the one that had the most issues that we read about in the new Testament. We must not initiate the building of theology from this letter without understanding the greater context of the Scriptures as a whole before using 1 Corinthians to draw any theological conclusions. You’ll see what I mean when we talk about our second paragraph this study.
In chapter 1, we learned that basically, everyone is some kind of fool, and concluded from our study that if we have to play the fool anyway, we should play the part of God’s fool, because the so-called “foolishness” of our sovereign God will put any of the logic or wisdom of the world to shame. Come, give your life for a carpenter’s son – for “a madman who died for a dream,” according to Dr. Albert Schweitzer. But only the foolish can tell of the wonderful grace of God in their own salvation and the wisdom found in His word through His Spirit.
That brought us to chapter 2, where we had opportunity to examine the nature of this heavenly wisdom, that the world calls foolish. We learned that not only was that true wisdom a spiritual, and nor earthly wisdom, but also that such wisdom could only be revealed to those who are aiming at maturity in Christ by walking “in the Spirit,” where for lack of better words, we obey what the Holy Spirit informs us through the Word of God and the New Nature that Christ gave us to walk in instead of the old nature that we are still very capable of falling into no matter how long you have been a real Christian.
Then in chapter 3, we considered that God’s reality is the reality to which attention must be paid. We like to manufacture our own at times to avoid responsibility toward God, but believers cannot afford that luxury – all believers are doing a great work, and Paul speaks to the details of that. Our conclusion is that because we are actually collectively building the naos of God, that is the Sanctuary, where God sits and lives and speaks and works, we must take great care with the construction in terms of the material we use. There are good and bad choices, and we want to make the best possible choices, because if we are careless, then we will suffer loss. And that loss is unimaginable, though we will still be saved – “yet so as through the fire, according to Paul.
Then the Apostle presents a choice in chapter 4 – which Paul would you like to face? The angry disciplinarian that wrote the letter to the Galatians, or the loving, humble, meek servant that wrote Ephesians and Philippians, etc.? It seems that the dividers were already hard at work trying to separate the sheep from the fold in Corinth, and it had to be explained that although Paul and his fellow servants perhaps appeared to be without honour, instead of discarding them, they should rather be imitated – because the kingdom of God does not exist in eloquent speeches, but in the power of changed lives, and that should be the measure for a preacher. It seems that we need to obey God and walk in the Spirit at this point, because that is what the Lord is mandating.
That brought us to chapter 5 and an example of the use of church discipline. We saw that it was to be used seldomly if possible, relying on the Holy Spirit to resolve our minor differences, but in the case of the persistent sin being expressed without any kind of repentance, it should be engaged to remove the covering of protection from an individual so that he may begin to understand through his own wrong choices that brought him into the place where he is so as to make him repent, and even be brought back in as occasion allows. It is specifically used in cases where a brother or sister WILL not repent, but because most of us want to become more like Christ, it should remain a rare thing.
That brought us to chapter 6 and a consideration about our spiritual choices, because you must remember that Christianity is a faith based on our motivations and choices of heart and mind, not an external religion of liturgy and external ritual, or of refined and well-presented words, but in the demonstration of power that comes from a changed life. Two things became clear. 1 – if your life is not changed as a result of turning to Christ, something is wrong. 2. If you ARE His, you are no longer your own, you don’t get to do what you want, you have been bought with a price – His lifeblood. And if that is true of you, how could you NOT follow Him? Really, how DARE you not follow Him?
That brings us to the first part of chapter 7, which we will now call 7A. We looked at verses 1-24, where we learned that although there were some things about marriage we needed to pay attention to, that again, Christianity is not a religion of rules, ritual, and rote, but instead is one of heart and attitude. One thing is very sure – the need to pay attention to the principles of marriage in the New Testament show that God still has His Law in place to be obeyed; so much for unhitching from the Old Testament, Andy. In the next portion of 7, which we called 7B, we learned that Paul was actually applying a biblical principle to a number of issues, and that principle is that anything we do should be done “in the Lord,” as Paul informs the Corinthians believers. We discovered through this that the principle of walking with the Lord and following His instructions that the Holy Spirit illuminates for us in His word applies to pretty much everything in life and practice.
That brought us to chapter 8, where we considered the defining mark of God’s servants – His agape love. With all the “stuff” we know here at BereanNation.com, we run a real risk of the arrogance that such knowledge can bring. Because we know it, it can be a natural thing to just think ourselves smarter than you, and therefore better than you. My prayer is that such a thing will never be from us. And when we compare what the world “knows” compared with the heavenly reality that all real believers should be aware of, it becomes clear that those of us who know the truths of God need to be gracious and approach people on the ground of their needs, and not our own – just like Jesus did for us when He came the first time.
This chapter (11) is important to understanding the whole of what has just been said in chapters 8 and 9 about the identifying mark of agape love for biblical Christians (Ch.8) and the subsequent rights and responsibilities of those who really do belong to Christ (Ch.9). Then we have a list of examples from the Old Testament of how not to be (Ch.10). We have to be given the list of behaviours to avoid because it is there we see what we need to stay away from – it is not always clear what we are moving towards.
In the first part of chapter 11 (11A) we saw that the Lord does actually have a created order, and that it is very clear to observe. Those that rage against it from any direction must deliberately confuse themselves and obfuscate the view for others in order to sell their lunacy as it turns out. This week, we will consider the church Ordinance (some would say Sacrament) of the Lord’s Supper itself as a part of that divine order that we began to consider last week, and see once again that Christianity is NOT a religion of tradition and rote ritual but is instead a living faith of heart and mind and motive and choices made in faith by grace in Christ. In the second part of chapter 11 (11B) we saw the Lord’s Supper as a specific ordinance and how the “love-feast” had become an add-on to what the Lord told us to do, and for what was happening, the absolute best way to deal with it was to get rid of the add-on and just do what the Lord said in the way He said it.
That brings us to the first part of Chapter 12 (vv.1-13) this evening, and I broke the passage into thought units like this:
KV1: About Spiritual Things for The Believer
1-3: How to tell a speaker’s authority base
4-11: The Gifts of the Spirit distributed by God alone
12-13: Though everyone is different, we are of ONE Spirit
Recall last week we discussed all the add-ons that we really need to get rid of from the things that the Lord said to us, no matter what they are, when they have outlived their usefulness. Certain things are longer-lived than others apparently, but we’ll hopefully get into that later.
KV1: About Spiritual Things for The Believer
The very first thought of Paul here is about what the NASB calls “spiritual gifts,” which I think in this case is an unfortunate and someone misleading way of translating this. I understand it, the translators are trying to give the widest possible appeal for their translation, because they get paid when NAS Bibles are sold. I am not trying to be critical of that either, but I think a better translation of the Greek word pneumatikos would be something like “spiritualities” (note the plural here). The problem I think for the translators is that this is an adjective, and that means it should in theory modify something, so “gifts” is inserted, and it isn’t strictly speaking out of place. Every good thing God gives us is a gift of some kind. However, the use of the word “gifts” is a throwback to the King James Version, and it pulls some things that should be considered as spiritual things into the realm of being actual gifts like when I give my wife flowers. It isn’t that kind of gift, there are spiritual things to consider, and not earthly things. That is what is actually primarily before us this evening. If we were to consider these things like actual presents that were given to us that were for us to control and use as we ourselves saw fit, well, we would be charismatics, because they get a lot of their nonsense from the passage before us this evening, or more particularly from a bald misinterpretation of this passage. Hopefully, I can demonstrate that as I go along, assuming I can remember. Ha ha, sucks to be me at times.
1-3: How to tell a speaker’s authority base
The very first thing that Paul wants to address is to tell us how to discern by what authority a person is saying something, and it isn’t as easy as you think. Why not? Well, sometimes, people can be mistaken. Sometimes people will flat out lie about their positions to people for a period of time. I could present day examples of people that have come out of the woodwork about stuff like this. Russell Moore. Beth Moore (no relation). JD Greear. Tim Keller. I could extend that list into the personal realm, but I don’t feel like that time has come just yet. I will when it does. So the need has clearly arisen to understand who means what when they start talking.
Sometimes you need to listen very carefully to the words and ideas that a particular person espouses. Sometimes, they just begin spouting nonsense, sometimes they start with things you know are not true or accurate. Beloved, these are signals to those who are discerning that something is amiss in the speaker’s life, and their base of authority from which they speak. Are they speaking with God’s authority? Or are they speaking on their own (or worse)? How do we tell? It isn’t always about “who opens the Scriptures.” Kenneth Copeland opens the Scriptures. Is HE right? I don’t think so. Paul lays out for us how to tell the difference, and it sometimes goes beyond just words. Here’s where we will enter the text.
1: Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.
- It’s as if Paul is saying that there are certain spiritual realities of which the believer needs to be aware, and Paul WANTS them to be aware. That fits with something I’ve kind of thought for a long time – an informed Christian is an equipped Christian. We need to NOT be unaware, but rather to be informed, and often the responsibility for being aware of things falls to ourselves, especially with the liberal agenda out there trying to confuse things.
- Let’s talk about these “spiritualities” here for a moment. I’ve already told you that the Greek word is pneumatikos, and that means we need to define how it is used in Scripture. The Lexicon defines the word like this: “non-carnal, i.e. (humanly) ethereal (as opposed to gross), or (daemoniacally) a spirit (concretely), or (divinely) supernatural, regenerate, religious: — spiritual.” Clearly, we are talking about things that are not physical or fleshly (carnal is the word used here). We are also talking about things to do with HUMANS, as opposed to demons or other spirits that are not the Holy Spirit by this definition.
- We’re quite obviously to Paul talking about stuff other than a toy to play with as a present, and things that come along with regeneration in the Lexicon. Vine tells us in his Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, that it “always connotes the ideas of invisibility and of power. It does not occur in the Sept. nor in the Gospels; it is in fact an after-Pentecost word.” It goes on to say, “the activities Godward of regenerate men are ‘spiritual sacrifices,’ 1 Pet. 2:5b; their appointed activities in the churches are also called ‘spiritual gifts,’ lit., ‘spiritualities,’ 1 Cor. 12:1; 14:1; (i) the resurrection body of the dead in Christ is ‘spiritual,’ i.e., such as is suited to the heavenly environment, 1 Cor. 15:44…” Again, we are clearly talking of things that people use to serve and glorify God, and not themselves, up to and including our resurrection bodies. These are not toys that can be played with at will, they must be operated in the context of submission to the Lord Jesus Christ.
2: You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.
- Now this is interesting. Paul is saying that formerly people were led astray to worship pagan idols, but confirmed that they were in fact led to that. That should make the thinkers in the crowd ask, “Who or what led them to do so?” Because you can be sure it was a “spiritual” (as opposed to physical) being.
- Now consider that Paul is speaking in the PAST TENSE here. The believers in Corinth USED TO BE this way, but are NOT ANY LONGER. What happened? From the verse immediately past, something spiritual happened that ended their captivity to the deceiving spirits. That was their regeneration or New Birth, or whatever term you use for it. Justification was the result, and they were changed and created anew in an instant. They now had a new nature that Christ gave them – His nature – so that they could follow Him if they were truly born again. They were still being led, but now it was by the Holy Spirit, the third person of our triune God that leads them, instead of the deceiving spirits. That is a solely spiritual reality, my friends. And you have no say or control over it. There is nothing you can do to merit it or cause it, and yet you must submit to it. And the only way this will ever happen is if God give you that grace. Some (Arminians) call it “prevenient grace,” but around here we call it “irresistible grace” (because we aren’t Arminians, and that irresistible grace” is one of the Doctrines of Grace taught throughout Scripture). Either way in this case, the believer is led in the end by the Spirit of God.
- But why does Paul mention that HERE of all places?
3: Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
- Well, I think it is because Paul is saying that if you are paying attention to what people are saying in an attempt to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do, the Holy Spirit will guide you into the right thing to do, and I take that to be a non-negotiable promise of God to the real Christian believer. Why do I say that? Because Paul talks about what people say in very simple terms.
- No one who is speaking with the authority of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, will every be able to curse the Saviour. No one will be able to say that “Jesus is accursed” and mean it. They just won’t want to say it.
- Conversely, no one but a real believer will ever say and mean the statement that , “Jesus is Lord.” Why would they? To anyone but a real Christian, Jesus is a good man, a good teacher, maybe a sacred prophet, a tragic figure to be sure – but not the very Son of God Himself come to atone for the sins of others at the expense of His own life. Ever notice that? And if you trace the ideas they express with their language, you can always figure out where someone is coming from.
- And those who are not real Christians, try as they may to hide this fact, still never quite manage to do so. Case in point, Tim Keller. Did you know he is a registered Democrat? That story broke two days before the Presidential election south of our border. All I can possibly say here is “I told you so,” but I hate doing that because it sounds like I’m rubbing it in, and I’m not trying to do that.
What Paul is doing here is giving us a solid way to determine the authority from which a person making a speech of some kind (or writing a book, or being interviewed, like that, you get the idea). He’s doing this in Corinth, the church with the most problems in the New Testament because there were a great many voices telling the Corinthians they were speaking on God’s behalf. As far as we know, there were really very few, and this was how you sort out the truth from all the fakery.
There is a name for this today, in fact. It is called polemics, where we can take what people are saying in the name of God and compare it to the actual written Word of God and see what they are actually saying. This is also called discernment, and is a form of making judgements. So when someone says, “Judge not lest you be judged,” you can confidently turn to them and say, ‘Twist not Scripture lest you betray that you are a child of the devil.” There you go, how to win friends and influence people. [BAAAAhahahahahahahaaaa…okay, maybe not…]
In fact, this is something we should be doing with everything and everyone we hear about, because we really need to know who is saying what, as it turns out, which brings me to the next though unit, where we are going to look at these spiritualities Paul spoke of in detail.
4-11: The Gifts of the Spirit distributed by God alone
This is a very useful and descriptive list when taken in its context. The problem that Corinth had and our modern-day Charismatic friends have in spades, is that they lacked or lack an actual understanding of the definitions and context of these particular gifts of the Spirit, and these are not the only gifts that the Spirit gave. However, because there are nine of them mentioned, and these can at least superficially be divided into three groups of three gifts, some people (Charismaniacs) have put them into their own little chiasm and developed an entire and unhealthy theology about them. I’ll make comparisons where I can, but I’m just going to have to go with the flow here, because there is a lot.
4: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
- For all of my exposure to Charismatics in the first church I attended, I never heard one actually do more than just simply read these words of this verse. No exposition was ever attempted, and it turns out that if they had, they might not actually BE charismatics anymore. I have developed a bit of an issue with that, in fact. We believe there that God chose every word He included in Scripture and He meant specific things by specific words, did He not? And is it not our responsibility as His sons and daughters to understand those words and what they mean for us, like it or not? Of course it is.
- What Paul actually said here is that there are different gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. Did you catch that? Gifts will differ. The Giver will not. Forgive my beyond-charismania question, but if this is true, why does everyone need to speak in tongues? (Be careful, there is at least one answer to this, and I can go there too!) The very evident reason is that someone did not do such a great job of exegeting, and based their answers on a faulty understanding of the text because they did not do their homework. Or they read theology books and are parroting their answers to appear orthodox but aren’t. Take your pick.
- It must not be overlooked that there is only ONE source for the gifts either – and He apparently gave different gifts to different people. To say that everyone must exercise this same gift is flawed reasoning. Further, it is out of order, but we’ll come to that when we look at the appropriate text in chapter 14. The Greek word for varieties is diairesis, and it means literally “to take apart,” or “to take asunder.” In other words, to show or demonstrate the differences between the gifts from the One Giver. The Greek word for “gift” is charisma, meaning a gift of His grace, or involving His grace [Gk., charis]. It is meant to speak of His endowments upon believers by the operation of the Holy Spirit in the churches in this usage. See also, Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 1:7, this verse, vv.9, 28, 30, 31; 1 Tim. 4:14, 2 Tim. 1:6, 1 Pet. 4:10. Those are all the verses where it is used in that way, and if you like, they make a decent word study.
5: And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
- Here is a similar statement. That word for “ministries” might surprise you, and you might recognize it. It is the Greek word diakonua, or the office and work of a diakonos. That’s the word we translate as Deacon, friends. Wait, this is supposed to be about the Gifts of the Spirit, I thought? Oh, it is. Apparently there are a number of responsibilities that are also gracious gifts of God, and so are the people that fill them. Remember, ministere is just the Latin word for the same thing. A Minister is above all else a SERVANT. Try that out when you say the words “Prime Minister.” It is literally supposed to mean “chief servant.” Because they are the leader of the government of the land, that means they are supposed to serve the people of that land. I know none of them have for a while now, but that’s what it is SUPPOSED to mean, and there are some individuals that are real believers in their number that take that seriously. I have met one at a PK event a few years back.
- Now – I ask you – why would Paul make this statement about the office and work of a deacon here? Well, maybe, just maybe, the so-called “gifts of the Spirit” are not the main point as some have posited. I’ll leave you to make up your own mind about that, but Paul isn’t finished creating categories to mention here.
6: There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
- There also appear to be different workings of things. Now – the Greek words I have been telling you about are ALL important, and this one no less so, because it is the word energema, and from it we get our English word “energy.” Some (Charismaniacs) have taken that to mean that there are different kinds of energies that we can take on when dealing with different needs or situations. However, that is NOT what the Greek means, so that is a mistaken understanding. I’m sure there is a term for that, and I bet Dan knows it, him being a former linguist. Here it simply means “what is worked,” or “workings,” or “operations” (KJV). It isn’t necessarily implying anything spiritual or physical – it’s just a thing doing what it is supposed to be doing the way it is supposed to be doing it. But whatever ‘it” is, it is God that is working it in everything. Please note, the word “persons” is not in the Greek, nor is it even understood to be there. I thought that worth mentioning. The KJV folks know that, because it does not occur there either.
7: But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
- Paul is on a bit of a roll here. So far, he has talked about gifts of grace, the office and work of a deacon, that is servant, and different kinds of workings and happenings in the universe – and now he comes to the main argument.
- Everyone, speaking of believers, is given a manifestation of the Spirit. Just what that is, is UP TO GOD, and it is a RESULT of being justified, not the cause of it, nor is it the proof of that justification before God. That, Beloved, MUST be stated, particularly because there is a large number of people in the modern charismatic movement that say that you are not really saved if you cannot speak in tongues. But everyone has one if they are a believer. That word “manifestation” is the Greek phanerosis, and it simply means “brought to light,” and is not something mystical. The Love of the mystical is not just a Charismatic trait, but it does seem to define them.
- Now, the problem that most if not all charismatics will have is with the last phrase of the verse. The reason that all are given this “manifestation” of the Spirit is “for the common good.” Got has gifted His people with – you got it – His people! We are gifts for each other, and the spiritual gifting we have is for the blessing of everyone else, not ourselves. Okay, I see the facial expressions there, It’s like, “Aw, man, I knew you were gonna say that.” Well, of course I was! What is to be the main activity of the church of God? The building of the naos! The holy of holies! Where Got sits, and speaks, and reigns! With living stones, that Peter tells us are…us! Our primary task as the people of God is to build up the people of God, beloved! To do anything else is pretty much a waste of time and effort, and a costly one at that! Remember how Paul said the ones that did not build wisely would suffer an unspecified (read unimaginable) loss, though they would still be saved? Believer, take warning. There is a prize to win, and it can be lost! Let us not fall into that loss category.
- No, we are given gifts by the holy Spirit so that we may build up the church – the only possible thing that could be referenced by the phrase “the common good” here.
8: For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
- Here, Paul begins one of his famous lists. The one we should actually concentrate on is found in Gal. 5:22-23, where Paul lists off the fruit of the Spirit, but that isn’t Paul’s topic here, so we will see what we may and try to fit this into Paul’s theological framework as we go. Here is where we may make comparisons to current Charismatic definitions as it may be appropriate.
- The first “gift” listed here is “the word of wisdom.” This is usually understood as an utterance or message of wisdom given to a person supernaturally. For context, Paul saw this as “the knowledge of the great Christian mysteries: the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ, and the indwelling in the believer of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2; Ephesians 1:17.)” The problem that Charismatics have today is that Paul had that wisdom and wrote it down for the churches. So did Peter, James, Luke, and others. That “extra-Biblical” revelation was necessary then because those things were still being explained for the first time by the Apostles (Capital A). Once that was done, there was really no further need of that. So that brother (or sister) that walks up to you with a “message from God” just for you might mean well, but there is no scriptural basis for it. You don’t ever see any of the Apostles doing this, nor any of the other folks like Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, or Gaius doing things like this. You would think that if this were really a thing, you would read about it specifically in the Word from more than just the Apostles.
- The next “gift” is closely associated with the previous one, and it is called the “word of knowledge.” Paul thought of this as having to do with the understanding of the didaktikos of the day, that is the doctrine or scriptural truth of something. This isn’t, as used by Charismatics today, a special set of knowledge that will allow the believer to succeed at whatever the stated goal is. Folks, this has to do with the ability to teach and the ability to understand what the Scriptures say in context, nothing else.
- Now BOTH of these things are from the same Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. And if that’s true, the Charismatics have a problem. Many of their “special messages” are contradictory between “knowers” (for lack of a better term). If it’s all from God, how is that possible? Answer – it isn’t really from God, is it. That is not a question.
9: to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
- Paul now mentions faith as a gift of God. I don’t want to delve deeply into my former charismatic past here, but they taught me faith was a substance that coats things that you can claim as yours from God, and it’s actually under your control. I don’t know about you, but my opinions of that changed when things started to not work out according to the way I wanted it, but the way God wanted it. Usually they misquote the Elizabethan English of the King James Version of Hebrews 11:1, which says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The Greek word for “substance” is not describing a material of some kind, but is more of a legal term like the substance of a title-deed or a support for an argument. The NASB translates this word as “assurance.” Those who have followed the study for a while will know that the Greek for “faith” is the word pistis, meaning a strong persuasion or opinion held about a given subject matter. This firm persuasion is what is a gift from God. It is NOT the willful ability to cause massive upsets in geography unless that is what God wants, and I would venture to say that most of the time it is NOT what He wants. Charismaniacs will tell you that it is also this faith that casts out devils, and they will even support it with Scripture (sort-of), but most of the texts they use are taken out of context, and the closest contexts involve Jesus, God the Son, casting out demons, or Paul casting a demon out of a slave in Acts. By and large, you don’t find Paul teaching a lot about it. Others have things to say about it, and interestingly, the “decreeing” and “declaring” of today’s Charismania is strangely absent from Scripture. This is an example of how a “misinterpretation” or failure to understand what the Greek text is actually saying has led to very strange practices in the Charismatic movement. They distinguish this kind of faith from saving faith or normal Christian faith, but how can they? There is no basis in Scripture to do so unless you add all kinds of contrived context to do so, like that “substance” bit in Hebrews 11.
- Gifts of healing is actually pretty straightforward. The Greek word iamatone is the plural, neuter, genitive case of the noun. It means “healings,” and originally meant “a means of healing,” that is, the result of the act. It is clear that the healing itself is the gift, not the ability to heal others. That was specifically limited in Scriptures to the Lord Himself and Capital-A Apostles like Paul, Peter, or the rest of the 12. According to Vine, it is used in the plural of divinely imparted gifts in the churches in apostolic times. This is not a gift of the ability to heal people. It is the healings of the myriad of conditions itself that was the gift, not the ability. I’m repeating myself, but I cannot say that enough. But Gerry, it sounds like you’re saying that you believe in divine healing! You’d be right, I do – what I don’t believe in is divine healers. This is not and cannot be turned into a “ministry.” And yet we have these brainless people never seeing the very thing that has us all social distancing over the internet coming, called COVID-19, and then these so-called “divine healers” not being able to cure this thing, no matter how much they “decree” and “declare” it finished, and in fact the Bethel Redding (CA) School of Supernatural Ministry where they teach all this actual nonsense has 150 cases or so traced directly to it and it gets labelled as an outbreak, and the School is closed down, and Bethel Church’s “healing rooms” are closed down because they cannot do anything to help. I mean – really?!?!? I don’t care if you use the highest grade of olive oil available, or how many times you chant the name of Jesus like a mantra or make a sign of the cross, there is NO ritual that can bestow what God has not.
- Now, the actual gifts are given again by this single source of the Holy Spirit. That is important to note, because you will see this develop as a pattern – the Holy Spirit gives these gifts in whatever proportion He sees fit when we are first justified in Christ, and then use those gifts in the people He has given to them to glorify God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone attempting to steal that glory or otherwise horn in on what God has done for His own purposes will be dealt with in a harsh manner.
10: and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
- Here are some more. The effecting of miracles. According to the Charismatics, this is the performing of actions that are clearly beyond the scope and ability of a normal human. A bona fide miracle would be like the Lord Jesus giving thanks of 5 pitas and a couple of small fish, and then proceeding to feed 5000 men (plus women and children, so about 15,000-25,000 people). Or turning the water into wine at a wedding. Like that, but under the power of the Holy Spirit. It is that same word we looked at earlier in Greek, “what is wrought,” or working/operation. In the Greek it is neuter and plural, so, “effectings” of miracles, which is translated from the Greek dunamis, meaning power or ability. The thing about this is that not all these powers and abilities are always physical manifestations. Some are moral and may reside in a person or thing. A good way to look at this word is “power in action,” According to Vine, like when it is put forth to perform or effect a miracle. This word occurs 118 times in the New Testament. Sometimes, it is used to describe the miracle or sign itself, where the effect is named for the cause, and you see that in the Gospels a great deal, as well as Acts. In the Pauline Epistles, particularly this letter, it is often translated as “meaning” or “force” in terms of why God is doing this or the causative effecting. So really the gift is the causing of the effect or the effect itself, but it is important to remember that it is the Holy Spirit that is doing this, and only by the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. If God doesn’t want it, it ain’t happening, and that’s all there is to it.
- For Charismatics, this flies in the face of what they are taught. Kenneth Hagin, and his “child in the faith” as it were, Kenneth Copeland, both have run seminars on how to get God to give you exactly what you want. In those books, sermons, studies, or seminars, they tell you that God loves you, and you are special to Him (that’s why He loves you). So you need to demand what you want from Him and then plant “seeds” of faith (meaning give monetary donations to the giver of the seminar) which God will return to you as a “harvest,” 30-, 60-, or 100-fold. Then name it and claim it baby! It’s yours. As my Grandpa Bob used to say, Poppycock. Allow me to explain so that you know the truth.
- The above Charismaniac explanation of how God views you is wrong, because it is very self-centered and elevates man to special status before God. In fact, all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God, and we MUST remember that. The moment we think we are special and that God owes us because of that (yes, that is the extended teaching of all of these wolves in sheep’s clothing) is the very moment we are departing from the heavenly way. Completely opposite of this Charismatic teaching, we must say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) Friends, God owes us NOTHING. The faster we realize that the quicker we can turn to Him for His mercy and grace, under which all these gifts are given.
- The next gift is one that is always badly misinterpreted – prophecy. For the Charismatic, this at a minimum is about encouraging and building up the church, and in so-called prophecies I have heard with my own ears, I have never heard one with any negative aspects, interestingly. So-called Prophetic ministries today feature all the “blessings” that God is apparently “speaking” to the church. Now, I think I have to disagree. I will not deny that there is a place for prophetic ministry today. Because the office of the prophet is to speak the Word of God to God’s people, that today falls to the pastor or elder in the church that does the teaching. Compare this “speaking blessing” with the call of the pastor to the church as see how it stacks up. 2 Tim. 4:1-5 says:
- I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
- Where is the reproving? Where is the rebuking? Most pastors have a full two-thirds of their ministry saying negative things or addressing sin-based issues in the flock, such as people not using their brains and following people that are using worldly goods to try to bait them into following their lies. Do you get this? People, that time is RAPIDLY approaching, and may already be HERE. And what is the command? Be sober in all things, ENDURE HARDSHIP (as opposed to naming and claiming or decreeing and declaring), preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Fulfil your service to God!
- Also, there seems to be this definition that the “prophet” speaks things that are revealed to Him OUTSIDE of the Scriptures. Um, I’m not sure of that. If it doesn’t line up with the very Word of God, I don’t think we should be following it. I used to have a thing. When a brother would come running up the aisle and tell me he had a word from the Lord for me, I would hold up my bible and ask if he could show me in the Scriptures. My next words were dictated by his answer. If he said yes, I would let him turn to the page, read the verse(s), because you never know, right? But if he said no, the Lord just whispered this directly in my ear, I would simply roll my eyes and tell him I already didn’t believe it, because I wouldn’t be able to check it against the Word. Most of the latter were usually so put off by the question that I didn’t need to go further. I actually can’t remember even having to. Remember, a true prophet speaks the whole counsel of God that He recorded for us in His word. And Paul is going to talk about this in subsequent chapters, so I’ll save that for now.
- The next listed gift is here translated “the distinguishing of spirits.” It is a pair of Greek words that say, “diakriseis pneumatone” and are in the plural. The first of these words means the very “act of judging.” The second means “spirit” or “breath,” which is a reference to a spirt, but can represent ideas or concepts personified in poetry. I am not aware of such usage in the New Testament, but it might be there, I just didn’t read it that way. So this is the distinguishings between spirits. Remember how we started this chapter? Paul was distinguishing between those spirits that were not of God and those that were. That is also a gift the Holy Spirit gives to believers. So when someone misquotes Matt. 7:1 to you, tell them the real Christian discerns everything, because that’s what kind of judging is meant there. This is the most under-utilized gift among Charismatics, but this is one of the most important for that very reason.
- The next gift named is called in Greek, “glossa,” which literally means tongue, but is also the word for languages. I’m not going to get heavily into what these gifts are this evening, because this will be handled in detail by the Apostle in chapter 14, and we WILL look at it in detail there. I will, however speak of these things in General to whet your appetite and set the stage for those studies. The Biblical manifestation of this gift of the Holy Spirit can be seen on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Peter preached a sermon, and all of the hearers heard Peter addressing them in their own languages and not Aramaic or Hebrew. Did you get that? They heard him and to each one there, it seemed that Peter was speaking in their own language – all at the same time. This is what because of this I have come to identify as the “gift of languages.” Something of note here is that Peter was unaware of this while he was speaking. It was NOT under his control and wasn’t even in his scope of awareness. This is opposed to what Charismatics today believe about what they call “tongues,” and they even tell people that they are not saved if they can’t speak in tongues because that is the only acceptable proof that God has saved you. NONSENSE. The proof God has saved you is that He has changed your life! Remember 1 Cor. 6:11 – “…and such were some of you…”
- The last gift in the list is the “interpretation” of those languages spoken about earlier. This is supposed to be for the edification of the church (we’ll get there in Chapter 14), and it suggests that this gift was NOT a universal gift, just like tongues was not universal. I don’t know how it was distinguished, and neither do Charismatics, so if anyone tells you that “this is how it works,” that hasn’t got a very basic explanation, they are making stuff up and you shouldn’t let them get away with it.
- That’s a quick trip through this first list of gifts of the Holy Spirit. We will see more about this in the next study.
11: But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
- Now here, Paul is telling the Corinthians that it is the same Holy Spirit, the third person of our triune God, that is responsible for these giftings. These gifts are given to all believers. Now that’s kind of important. These gifts are GIVEN to us. We should not, with a divinely given attribute need to “learn” how to use them. I say this, because there is a place in Redding, California that has what they call, “The School for Supernatural Ministry,” that supposedly offers “instruction” (for money! That’s the sin of Simony!) in the use of the gifts of healing, miracles, like that. Beloved, it is the power of God, and not us that is being put on display. The truly sad thing about Bethel, Redding is that I think I have a friend who at least used to attend there with her (former) husband. But I have had very little recent contact, so I don’t know where she is anymore, spiritually speaking.
- The other thing to remember here is that these are distributed to all believers just as HE wills, not us. So if He has given you the gift of administration, but you really wanted the gift of healing, it isn’t like you can go to school and learn it. But these gifts, at least in my opinion (which I share with John MacArthur no less) is that these gifts are given to us at the moment of our justifying, and God uses them at HIS pleasure, NOT ours, and they are used to glorify HIM and not us. So what does that say about all the Charismatics that want to shout their “prophecies” (they aren’t) in “tongues” (again, they aren’t)? Well, they aren’t usually trying to glorify God, they’re usually using them to scream at the top of their lungs, “Hey, look at me, how good I am – and if you send me money, you can do this too – and if you do it well enough, you can do it with me!” I must ask – just how does that glorify God in heaven? Personally, I can’t see or show that it does.
Now you might think that I have designed this diatribe to rail on the Charismatic movement because I am bitter from being unceremoniously tossed out of it over 30 years ago. Friends, I have no bitterness over that, only sadness that they were so deceived and in the case of the man that actually threw me out, the man that taught me in my grade 6 year, whom I loved as another father (or at least close uncle), great sorrow that he probably died in that condition, and I do not know if his soul was ever reconciled with Christ. I honestly hold no bitterness at all. And I have already said I have a friend that I believe fellowships at Bethel, Redding. Folks, I can poke holes in the theology of the pastor (Bill Johnson, a somewhat public figure) all day long, but it is my friend that I worry for and pray for. A very dear friend of mine from the days where Christ saved me is a brother named Evan. His father was my first pastor, and although both of these men were and are Pentecostal, they were not given to the extreme Charismaticism to which I have referred. Although Pastor Bruce has gone home to be with the Lord Jesus, I still love Evan (and all of his sisters), and I still post these studies to his Facebook group, of which (by his invitation) I was one of the founding members. I have nothing but love and respect for my brothers and sisters there, regardless of our minor theological disagreements, which do not concern themselves with these issues, or at least they never have.
No, friends, on the contrary, regardless of the words I am using, I have nothing but concern for my Charismatic brethren. I have said this before, but the man who preached Christ to me and God used to bring me to Himself was in fact a Roman Catholic Charismatic! (His name was Greg, and I never saw him again after that summer. I do hope to see him again one day to say a proper thank you, with our Lord standing right there.) But these Charismatic teachings that we are discussing this evening are FALSE teachings. God has called me to be a spokesman for Him, and I MUST teach the whole counsel of God found in the Scriptures. This is that “reproving” and “rebuking” part of my call to the ministry. So I address this comment directly to my Charismatic or even Pentecostal brothers and sisters that have been believing wrongly, or are in danger of biting the bait for some of these wolves that are all to prevalent today, please – read your bible, my beloved brethren. God WILL show you the truth of these things. After all, our God is ONE, and He really does love His children, and His desire is that they walk in the Truth as it is in Jesus, and not the error and lie of the devil.
And believe it or not, Paul was addressing the Corinthians (not the Charismatics, though arguments could be made this is where they started, but the Montanists, their forerunners weren’t actually around yet). And He has more to say that pulls all this together.
12-13: Though everyone is different, we are of ONE Spirit
Now, this is where we are going to do a little crossover into next week. It’s okay though, because after all that correction above in the Spirit of the Apostle himself, we probably will need a little reminding as to what all this was about, just like we do now.
These gifts, given by the Holy Spirit Himself, are supposed to build up the church and glorify God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit, and I do not know why this is, seems to be content with a more “behind the scenes” role in all of this – but He is most definitely involved, and He seems okay that everyone knows it. For real Christians, the Holy Spirit is the single reason that we can call each other Brother and Sister and really mean it. These bonds, by my own experience, are closer than my own physical family bonds of blood relatives, which for me are actually very close and healthy despite a rough upbringing. My sisters were there, and they know what I went through because after I left for university, it was their turn to get it firsthand. We’ve all talked about it. Only the youngest of us was really spared the abuse, and was the only one that would talk to my dad after my folks split up. But those bonds pale in comparison to what I have found in fellow believers in Christ. I once walked into a room in Chicago, and found my twin sister and her husband, Sue and Garth. I’ve lost touch with them, but I still remember staying with them in Chicago, and witnessing in a Forest Park neighbourhood at lunch on Sunday with Garth. Another brother named Gary was a mob enforcer who got saved, left the life, and became an Elder, and they threw a party for me, who was basically just there “on vacation” to escape some of my own problems for a couple weeks, to take a breather. I have another twin named Bruce in Saint Louis, MO. Pat from a little town in Illinois no one here has ever heard of, Brother Peter that ran a boy’s school in Kenya, Sister Nancy who was a missionary in Kenya, who I played Tennis with in Ottawa (she cleaned my clock). Many of us commented to each other that it was like after just a few minutes that we had known each other all our lives.
That’s what I think Paul is talking about here, at least in part, and with a purpose – to demonstrate that all of these spiritual gifts are to build us up, and that all of us are different and unique, but we ALL have the same Holy Spirit living in US, and it is the single thing that unites us. See the text.
12: For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
- Look at the language here. Paul is being plain, but using the analogy of the body, or soma for you Greek fans. There are many, many parts to a body, but it is still one unit. But that one body has many different members. But those members are still a part of one body, working together to care for itself. So also is Christ. The “body” of Christ, as are often called, is meant to be self-correcting, self-healing, and self-sustaining while all the while being cared for and controlled by the head, who is Christ. See how well the analogy works, friends. It is a deliberate one.
13: For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
- Notice how this works in brief. By the SPIRIT, we are “immersed” into this “one body” whereof Paul speaks. That means that the Holy Spirit Himself plays a part in our salvation by immersing us into the body of Christ when we are justified in what we call real time.
- I do need to say there that I do not feel that the Scriptures are speaking here of being baptized in water, though that symbology is clearly used. When I was water-baptized some 33 years ago, I was actually dunked (immersed) into the water by two men, not just the Spirit of God. This is not speaking of our need for that (and it is a need), but is rather a reference to what is happening in the spiritual realm, and may or may not occur at the same time as your water-baptism. Please don’t make the mistake of superimposing one on the other. And you may have guessed by this remark that I am not a confessional Lutheran. This would be one of the differences I have with them, but we do both believe in a water baptism, and therefore it is not an issue to argue over, though it is a significant difference.
- Notice who is baptized. Jew or Greek (a substitute word for Gentile in this case). Well, that means no matter where you started, when you became a believer, it became irrelevant – everyone who really believes for real is a part of that one body of Christ. Slave or free. Your economic status is irrelevant to God. You are ALL slaves to Christ because He has paid the price of your redemption to set you free from the punishment that was laid up for you via the wrath of God, and has made you free to serve Him! People seem to not like it when I put it that way, but that’s what the Scriptures teach. What did Paul call himself? Doulos. That means SLAVE, brothers, and we KNOW Paul was set free from being a slave to sin, so whose doulos was he? Christ’s slave, and He says it in all of His letters.
This is kind of our jumping off point this week. There is, as always, MUCH more to say, but I think our time is running out, hopefully before your attention span does. So for THIS week, that’s what I saw in the Text.
Next study, Chapter 12B, verses 14-31.