Introduction: Spiritual gifts and why we need them
Often in modern churches, spiritual gifts are largely absent. This is so unfortunate, because we absolutely need the gifts of the Holy
Spirit. If we didn't need them, God wouldn't have given them to us.
The Holy Spirit brings a profit to us both individually and corporately as a church body by endowing spiritual gifts -- capabilities that are beyond our natural capabilities.
First Corinthians 1:4, 5 speaks of two kinds of spiritual gifts: utterance gifts and knowledge gifts.
Utterance: logos (describes vocal gifts -- gifts that are spoken) tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy
Knowledge: gnosis (describes revelatory gifts -- knowledge not naturally obtained) word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits (Note: Some of these gifts overlap each other or are used in concert with each other.)
Spiritual gifts start with grace
When talking about the gifts of the Spirit, we must begin with the
Grace (charis) -- A very common word Paul borrowed from the pagan world. Pagans believed that when the gods touched individuals in a special way, that touch empowered an individual to be different or to do things that person previously could not do naturally.
What is the grace of God?
One definition based on its historical usage: The grace of God is an empowering touch that transforms and enables a person to do things that previously he or she could not do.
One of the manifestations of grace is the demonstration of
When grace is in manifestation, it always comes with something visible, demonstrated, and tangible that you can feel or see.
For example, when the grace of God touches an individual, you can physically see the results. Grace brings change.
Likewise, when the grace of God is in operation in your life or in a church, one of the manifestations that become visible is that you become empowered with spiritual gifts. It is the "spillover effect" of grace.
The Church of Corinth: The Corinthian church had received the grace of God. Paul began to describe the manifestations of that grace in verse 5.
This word describes extreme or vast material wealth. Plousios is where we get the term "plutocrat," referring to a person who is so prosperous that he is unable to ascertain the full extent of his own wealth.
First Corinthians 1:5 uses the word plousios to proclaim that the Corinthian church was "enriched" with gifts of the Spirit, such as the gifts of knowledge and utterance: the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.
Another example of this word is in Ephesians 2:4 -- God is rich in mercy. The word plousios is used to tell us how much mercy He has. God is so plousios in mercy that it is difficult for Him to even keep track of how much mercy He has.
Verse 5: The Corinthian church was known for the abundance of spiritual gifts in their midst.
They were so rich in spiritual manifestations that Paul had to write them and teach them how to manage the operation of their spiritual gifts.
Paul didn't restrict the manifestations. He just gave them rules so they could flow in those gifts in a way that was decently and in order.
The Corinthian congregation was spilling over with spiritual manifestations of the utterance gifts and the knowledge, or revelatory, gifts.
Paul never rebuked the Corinthian church for having an abundance of spiritual gifts.
Diabalos -- "devil"
Dia: penetration; to penetrate someone from one side to the other side. Balos: to throw something like a ball or like a rock; a repetitious throwing.
In Greek, it describes one who repetitiously pounds away at an object until he so wears it down that he is able to penetrate. This is how the devil operates.
The constant dripping of little drops of water over a long period of time accumulated together has the power to beat a hole through solid rock.
That's why the devil never speaks a lie to you only once.
The Gifts of the Spirit
Paul told the Corinthian believers that these gifts were vital, for they "confirmed" the "testimony" of Christ among them (1 Corinthians 1:6).
"Testimony" (maturio): a personal testimony so strong, it could stand up to scrutiny in a court of law.
You cannot report hearsay or give secondhand information in a court of law.
Example: I was raised in a denomination that did not encourage the operation of spiritual gifts, so I never saw them in operation. Therefore, when I read about the healing ministry of Jesus, it was like a fairytale to me because I had never seen anyone miraculously healed. When I read about Jesus casting out devils, it was like a fantasy because I had never seen demons cast out. I didn't know how that looked; I didn't know how that felt. All I knew was what I had read about in the pages of the Bible.
Therefore, if someone had put me on the witness stand and asked me to give testimony about the miraculous power of God, I couldn't have done it. I could have only given secondhand testimony about what I had read -- what had happened in someone else's life. I had no firsthand information.
In verse 6, Paul wrote that when the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in manifestation, the testimony of Jesus is confirmed among us.
Example: We know Jesus is a Healer. That knowledge of Jesus can be mental, remaining only in the realm of your understanding or your intellect. But when the gift of healing is in manifestation, the Healer in the Bible steps off the pages into your midst, and now you have firsthand experience with the Healer Himself.
You are now a firsthand witness that Jesus Christ is a Healer -- not because of what you have read but because of what you have seen and experienced. The gifts of the Holy Spirit bring Christ to you in
a very concrete way.
When you witness the miraculous power of God, you don't have to report what you've read in the Bible. The gift of miracles brings the miraculous power of God to you so that if you were put on a witness stand, you could give a firsthand account -- not secondhand information, but your own testimony.
The gifts of the Spirit bring our knowledge of Christ out of the realm of the intellect and right into our midst so we have a firsthand encounter with Christ Himself.
"Confirmed" (bebaioo): to make firm, concrete, or stable; to authenticate; to verify; to guarantee; or to prove to be true.
That is why we need the gifts of the Holy Spirt at work in our lives and in our churches. Much of what we believe will remain only in the realm of the intellect until the gifts of the Spirit operate.
b. When those spiritual gifts operate, they remove all that information from the mental realm and bring it right into the experiential realm.
Now there is not only a witness -- that is, a person or a group of people who possess concrete knowledge and facts -- but there is also confirming evidence brought forth to validate their knowledge and verify that their report is bona fide truth.
With all this in mind, First Corinthians 1:6 could be translated: "Everything you've heard and believed about Jesus Christ has been authenticated, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, verified, and guaranteed to be true because of the gifts of the Spirit."
Desire spiritual gifts.
First Corinthians 1:7: "So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." These gifts of the Spirit will be in manifestation until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some have tried to assert that these gifts left with the death of the apostles. But the history of the gifts of the Spirit in operation can be traced throughout the 2,000 years of the Church's existence. Wherever people are open to being used in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gifts are manifested.
First Corinthians 14:1: Here the apostle Paul clearly told us to desire these gifts because they bring the
reality of Christ to us.
Verse 8: "Who also shall confirm you until the end, that you may be blameless."
"End" (telos): Something that is mature, complete, or ripe.
Jesus Christ through spiritual gifts confirms and establishes the Church until the end -- until we are brought to a place of spiritual maturity, a place of completeness, or until we are spiritually ripe.
Partnering with Jesus
First Corinthians 1:9: "God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
"Fellowship" (koinonia): describes a relationship or a partnership.
Through the operation of spiritual gifts and our yielding to this ministry of the Spirit, we are brought into a unique partnership/fellowship with Jesus Christ. When we lay on our hands on people to pray for them, Jesus is partnering with us. When we open our mouths to speak, Jesus is partnering with us.
Jesus wants to partner with each of us, not just in an intellectual way, but in a spiritual way. We need spiritual equipment!
A. Recap verse by verse:
First Corinthians 1:4 -- The gifts of the Spirit are the result of God's grace touching us and empowering us to be different. His grace gives us spiritual equipment that we previously didn't have. It enables us to do what we couldn't previously do. It literally thrusts us forward into a new spiritual dimension.
First Corinthians 1:5 -- God's grace enriches us in every way. It gives us vocal gifts and revelatory (or
knowledge) gifts. God's intention is that we should be rich with spiritual manifestations. But we have to make room for and desire the gifts of the Spirit.
First Corinthians 1:6 -- When these gifts work in and through us, we see manifested before us what we have only intellectually believed up to that point. We become firsthand witnesses who can now give a
personal testimony regarding the gifts and the power of God.
First Corinthians 1:7 -- The gifts of the Spirit will be in manifestation until the coming of Jesus.
First Corinthians 1:8 -- The gifts confirm us. They establish us unto maturity and spiritual completion -- until we are spiritually ripe.
First Corinthians 1:9 -- The gifts of the Spirit ultimately create for us a supernatural partnership with Jesus Christ.
The gifts of the Spirit bring spiritual riches into our lives. In fact, the more these gifts operate in our lives, the richer we become spiritually!
If there is no operation of the Holy Spirit's gifts in your life or in the church you attend, an entire supernatural element of Jesus Christ is missing from your life.
God never intended for a person's salvation to exist only on an intellectual level. He gave the Holy Spirit to the Church to bring the overflowing, abundant life of Jesus Christ right into the lives of His people!
There is a whole level of understanding of Jesus -- who He is and how He operates -- that can only be comprehended by observing and participating in the working of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Don't settle for spiritual poverty. You have every right to expect an abundance of manifested promises, power, and spiritual gifts in your life.
These spiritual riches are yours by virtue of your relationship with Jesus. In God's eyes, you are a spiritual plutocrat -- so loaded with spiritual assets and treasures that you'll never be able to fully explore or exhaust all of them in your lifetime!