Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we considered The Lord’s Supper. We learnt that when we partake of the communion, we are not only reminded that we have partaken of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins, we symbolically demonstrate that we have become a member of His body, the church. In today’s study, we will be looking at the first part of the use of Spiritual Gifts. Paul’s introduction of this chapter implies that the Corinthian church had once again gotten it wrong. We can only assume what the exact question was; but obviously, Paul’s response to their question(s) implies that they must have held an erroneous opinion of spiritual gifts when he said in verse 1: “Now about the spiritual gifts [the special endowments given by the Holy Spirit], brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.” (AMP)
Verses 2-3 (AMP) - The Different Responses to Christ
“2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led off after speechless idols; however you were led off [whether by impulse or habit]. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the [power and influence of the] Spirit of God can say, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is [my] Lord,” except by [the power and influence of] the Holy Spirit.”
Paul addresses the different responses to Christ; the rejection by the pagans, the rejection by the Jews, and the acceptance by faith of the Christian.
Many of the Corinthian believers had been pagans before they became saved. These Gentiles worshipped various idols that could not speak or help.
A second response was the rejection of Christ by the Jews. In 12:3a, Paul writes, Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the [power and influence of the] Spirit of God can say, “Jesus be cursed,” Here, Paul speaks of the typical response of the Jews. Not all the Corinthians were Gentiles before believing in Christ…some were Jews who did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.
The final response is found in 12:3b, where Paul writes, and no one can say, “Jesus is [my] Lord,” except by [the power and influence of] the Holy Spirit.”
To say that Jesus is “Lord” is to say that He is God. In the context of the Jewish world and the Old Testament, this confession essentially affirmed that Jesus was God. This was a counter-cultural assertion to both the Jews and the Romans. Because citizens of the Roman Empire were required to declare, “Caesar is Lord.” But Christians who believed that Jesus was the only Lord couldn’t say this. It was a challenge to faith. Thus, Paul’s point is this: No one can say that Jesus is Lord except through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a supernatural act. Paul brought up these three responses to Christ to refute the claims of those Corinthians who assumed that they alone possessed the Spirit. Paul wants all his readers to understand that salvation is the greater leveller. Every member of the Corinthian church who has trusted in Christ (whether they were once Gentiles or Jews) is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is incredibly valuable to God. This is also true in our church today. If you have believed in Christ, it is because God did a supernatural work in your life and you are incredibly valuable to God.
Verses 4-6 (AMP) - Gifts, Administrations, and Operations – Variety is spice of the Church too!
Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. 5 And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. 6 And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]
In other words; Paul was saying that there are different spiritual gifts, but all of them stem from the one and only Holy Spirit (verse 4). And although we may administer (serve with) these gifts differently, but we serve the same Lord (verse 5). There are different types of operations (procedures or methods), but it is the same God who does the work in all of us (verse 6). The Holy Spirit does not employ ONLY ONE method, so we should be sensitive and not be stereo typed.
Verse 7 (AMP) – Understanding the Ultimate Purpose of the Gifts
7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good.
Paul was making the distinction here that "gifts" of the Spirit aren't gifts in the sense that the believer owns and operates the gift whenever he wants to. They are gifts of the Holy Ghost, manifested through individual believers as the Spirit of God wills. The gifts of the Spirit aren't just given for the individual, but they are given to profit the whole local assembly or local body of believers. Sadly, too many people have decided that they will not serve in the church or serve only occasionally and when it’s convenient. But the church needs people who will make lifelong commitments and be dependable. So, the probing question today is: “Are you a consistent worker or a convenience worker?
Verses 8-10 (AMP) - The Nine Gifts of The Spirit
8 To one is given through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] the *message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] the *word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Spirit; 9 to another [wonder-working] **faith [is given] by the same [Holy] Spirit, and to another the [extraordinary] gifts of **healings by the one Spirit; 10 and to another the **working of miracles, and to another ***prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another *discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another ***various kinds of [unknown] tongues, and to another ***interpretation of tongues. (Emphasis Mine)
The nine manifestations or gifts of the Holy Spirit are generally divided into three groups of three each. Please note that the division into these three groups was not done by Apostle Paul but it is purely to be able to easily distinguish and discuss them and for no other reason.
REVELATION GIFTS: Gifts That Reveal Something
The word of wisdom: God-given insight into the mysterious purposes and workings of God.
The word of knowledge: God-given insight into what God is doing in the world.
The Discerning of Spirits: The ability to quickly perceive whether such things as people, events, or beliefs are from God or Satan
POWER GIFTS: Gifts That Do Something
Faith: The ability to confidently believe God for changes and spiritual growth that will enhance the purposes of God.
Healing: The faith to believe God for healing. Individuals can serve as agents of God’s healing power.
The Working of Miracles: The ability (energizing power) given by the Holy Spirit to perform miracles (supernatural acts)
UTTERANCE OR INSPIRATIONAL GIFTS: Gifts that say something
Prophecy: A declaration of God’s will to God’s people
Divers Kinds of Tongues: Utterance in an unknown (unlearned) language. Not to be confused with the baptism of the Holy Spirit
Interpretation of Tongues: The ability to interpret tongues.
Conclusion – Verse 11
11 All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He chooses.
Paul emphasizes once again that every believer can be spiritually gifted as the Holy Spirit chooses. That these gifts are not for some spiritual elite, but the entire body of Christ. We are all called by the Lord to minister with the gifts He has supplied. Each believer, regardless of his or her gifts, ministries, and the manner and extent of God’s blessing, should demonstrate the Holy Spirit’s gifting through his or her life. All the gifts manifest the Spirit’s presence, not just the more spectacular ones in each category. It is important to note that Believers who have spectacular gifts, ministries, or effectiveness are not necessarily more spiritual than Christians who do not. Each believer makes a unique contribution to the common good, not just certain believers.
Remember, the Corinthians were the most gifted church in the Scriptures while at the same time the most carnal church in the Scriptures. They were a church of divisions, immorality, and distortion in doctrine. This serves to remind us that a great spiritual gift is no indication of spirituality. It is possible to be gifted and not spiritual. In this case, the Corinthians were getting high on their spiritual giftedness instead of recognizing the source of the gift—Jesus Christ. Thus, Paul’s introduction in verse 1 about not wanting them to be “unaware” or “ignorant”.
Parts of this study was culled from bible.org