Monday, 1 December 2014
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: 1 Corinthians 12:1
Paul will now begin a completely new segment of his epistle. After treating the issue of the Lord’s Supper, he next moves into the area of “spiritual gifts.” This is probably a response to the next item in the letter he referred to in 1 Corinthians 7:1 which said, “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me…” In this verse, the word “gifts” is not in the original. Rather, it is inserted by translators. In essence, the verse more accurately reads, “Now concerning (things) spiritual…”
“Spiritual gifts” are gifts which have been given by the Spirit for the building up of the church and for the edification of believers. Some of these gifts were certainly apostolic in nature (meaning that they occurred only during the apostolic age which ended with the word “Amen” in Revelation 22:21). Others are gifts which may be seen highlighted at certain special times during the church age when revival is needed. And others are gifts which are common and needed for the church at all times.
The gift of “tongues” is possibly one of the most abused of all of the supposedly received “gifts” within the church today. It is given extended treatment by Paul, particularly in chapter 14. This specific gift is so commonly misused in comparison with how it is defined in Scripture that nothing other than the term “embarrassing” can be applied to its use in churches, particularly in recent times. If the word of God was held in any regard at all, there wouldn’t be such a humiliating display of its supposed use. But apparently, Paul went through the same behavior in his time and his words of instruction which were intended to correct the problem have been largely ignored.
There are several certainties concerning gifts which will be detailed now and then evaluated in the coming verses –
1) Non-Christians cannot claim their comparable abilities as gifts. They may have them as natural human abilities, but not as spiritual gifts. If it is a true gift, it is given by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God, and the Holy Spirit is only given to true believers in Christ. This is implied by the term “brethren” in this particular verse.
2) Regardless of what gift is given, they all have the same divine Source. Therefore, they are all intended to bring glory to God, not to the individual who receives the gift.
3) If a “gift” is used in a church and its use contradicts the words of the Bible (which has been given by the Spirit), then it cannot be a true exercising of that gift. Rather than exalting God, it therefore discredits the person who is misusing the supposed “gift.”
4) Each gift is intended to work cohesively within the body and for the body, not independently of the body. Supposed “gifts” which are disruptive or self-highlighting are not gifts at all, but are unwarranted displays.
And so, in expectation of very important instruction from him concerning the issue of spiritual things he says, “I do not want you to be ignorant.” It is the same thought he gave when beginning his discourse of chapter 10 which dealt in detail with sexual immorality and idolatry. Paul’s words here contain the same weight and the same heartfelt desire to ensure the glory of the Lord is maintained.
Question – How can you know if a certain type of conduct or supposed “gift” which is seen in a church is acceptable or not?
Answer – By reading and knowing your Bible, which is given for this very purpose, and then comparing that knowledge to how the “gift” or conduct is used.
Remedy for bad doctrine – Rightly divide and properly apply the words of the Bible to your church gatherings.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the freedom to worship You in a way which is comfortable for those I gather with. The one thing I would ask is that we would never do something contrary to Your word. For sure, we would desire Your glorification above all else. I know there is plenty of room to glorify You while remaining faithful to Your word. So help us in this and we will be sure to praise You with all our soul! Amen.