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Christian Spirituality: 1 Corithians 12:4-11

  • What does the Spirit do?
  • Why does the Spirit work?
  • Who decides who gets what gifts?
  • Application: How does this set our thinking about and using any gifts?
The church is diverse. It must be so. These verses teach this. There is great range of difference. But this diversity is in gifts, works and service not convictions. The Holy Spirit brings one common conviction - "Jesus is Lord".

But, the same Spirit brings wide ranging gifts, service and workings to the body. Verse 4-6 follow much the same pattern as verses 7-11. Just as in v4-5 we have a long list in v7-10. Different gifts. Firstly, we must see where these gifts come from. They are gifts from the same Spirit (4), manifestations of the Spirit (7). They are from God.

Secondly these gifts are for the common good (6). They are for the benefit of the body. This is vital in the Corinthian context where gifts were pursued for personal glorification. Paul refutes this and says the gifts are misused when they are for such purposes. They are for the benefit of the church, the common good.

Thirdly, these gifts are given as the Spirit determines (11). God decides who gets which gift. This theme continues through the chapter with God arranges (18), God combined (24) and God appoints (28). This goes not negate the command in v31 to eagerly desire higher gifts, but we're ahead of ourselves.

So we see that gifts are from God, for the common good as the Spirit determines. What gifts? Here we see wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, powers, prophecy, distinguishing spirits, different tongues and interpretations of tongues. This is evidently not an exhaustive list. Others will appear at the end of the chapter.

Nothing here suggests that any of these gifts would not continue today. These are the ways that God by the Spirit builds his church, and the church surely still needs to be built up. We must understand this. Whatever my gift I must see what its use is for and where it comes from.

The church will be diverse, not in confession but in charismata. Not in convictions about charismata, the church minus charismata will be sadly immature and lacking in gifts that God would give for its benefit. All gifts will be needed, in their full range so that the church can be built up. This theme will be developed in much more detail as the chapter continues. I find myself asking, what will this look like in practice? Paul will explore this.

Talk of charismata brings some to abject fear - fear of charismatic chaos. Paul knows about charismatic chaos. It was happening in Corinth. He does not quake in fear, rather he educates, he teaches. He says - charismata should not be divisive or scary. They are grace-gifts from God for our corporate benefit.

To be continued...

Blogging in parallel with Adrian Warnock.

Comments

  1. Good times studying this with you Bish. I'm leading the word in homegroup on weds, and we're talking about the Holy Spirit...looks like i might be 'leaning' on your wisdom once again!

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