1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 12, 20-22, 27-31
4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
Ironically, it didn’t take much time for misuse of the gifts to begin after the initial Upper Room experience on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). After all, this was all new to EVERYONE! No protocol had been sent out as a memorandum to the first 120 to educate them on what, when, how, and who should do what. Undoubtedly their heads were spinning a bit at all they were about to embark upon in simply fulfilling what Jesus had commanded them to do before He ascended back to the Father (Mark 16, Acts 1).
“Peter, what are we supposed to do now?”
“I have no idea. This is what He said. But is this how He said to do it?”
“Let’s pray some more.”
No letters to the churches had been written or sent. No guidelines and doctrinal stances on praying in tongues or gifts of the Spirit had been established, much less documented and taught. It was all new. And, I imagine, a bit confusing at times. And because of this, everyone was relishing in this new power and anxious to use it. I assume some fleshly desires like pride and jealousy began to crop up, as well. Otherwise, Paul wouldn’t have felt so strongly in his endeavor to provide some structure for the new Corinthian believers. Corinth was known for excessive behavior, whether that be from sexual immorality to pagan worship. They were passionate people but were already struggling to maintain order and discipline in their use of these new spiritual gifts. Paul wrote in chapter 12 of his first letter to the Corinthians to remind them of the doctrine he had previously taught while there, and to update them on what God was showing to him as the proper use of these spiritual gifts.
If you read through this entire collection of epistles to the rowdy Corinthians, you’ll never find a time when Paul scolds them and tells them to eliminate the gifts. He simply taught more explicitly about how to use them. In essence he was saying, “All of these gifts are great and are given to us by God to help us all! We aren’t going to get rid of the gifts because someone has misused them. But we ARE going to learn how to use them. Let me teach you how to do that.”
One of the most devastating trends we are seeing in our ministry travels is the overt determination to do away with Pentecostal, Spirit-infused gifts. This includes the five-fold ministry gifts as mentioned in Ephesians 4, as well as those mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12. Some are designed for use predominantly during the gathering of the saints–the Church service–while others are to be used through various ministries throughout the Church body’s ministry at large.
When we consider what Paul was trying to say about the various gifts and the diversity with the members of the Body, I find myself begging the question: “Why, in 2016, do we feel authorized to, as Paul stated, look at one gift and lessen its validity for profit to the Church versus another?” This bona fide apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ spoke quite frankly when he said, “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all“.
All. Everyone. Saint. Sinner. Pre-Christian. Post-Christian. Churched. Unchurched. Whatever term you prefer to reference the various people groups we find in the local Church today, the VIP guest that must be given carte blanche is the Holy Spirit and His work through the members of the Body.
If such gifts were warranted for the Early Church to establish the work of the Kingdom, they are no less valid and crucial in our modern efforts to finish the work before Christ returns.
Have the gifts of the Spirit, both in public use and through other outlets, been misused in your church or ministry to the point that you longer allow them to be used? Has your service or experience time slot eliminated the open door policy for the Holy Spirit and His work? Whatever we must do to reinvigorate use of these gifts once again, we must do it immediately. Intercessory prayer, repentance, training, instruction, and overall re-evaluation must take place to put ourselves in a place where we can say, like Paul and the Early Church, these gifts will bring a profit to us all in our endeavor to be more like Christ and hear His Spirit on a consistent basis; therefore, we will be better equipped to fulfill His commission.
“But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”
Yours for Souls,