Why Get More Involved?

October 30, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: I’m not sure if I want to get more involved with Sunday School and church because I’m not totally comfortable with it. Before I moved here, I had a church I really liked. For my sake and my wife and kids’ sakes, I’m not going to commit myself until I find a place that makes me feel the way church should make me feel.

Answer: That’s a tough one. The important thing is, if you are a Christian, you need to be serving somewhere. That’s not really an optional thing in the Christian life. See I Peter 4:8-10. Ideally, you would be able to serve at a place exactly like the place where you were the happiest, but finding two identical churches is probably not a real possibility.

Maybe you can try to think of it like this: Some days you come home from work and the house is spotless. The kids are delighted to see you. They run up laughing, and hug and kiss you. Your wife is cooking your favorite meal. Her hair is perfect and she’s wearing your favorite outfit. You are ushered to your easy chair, and handed the TV clicker and a cold drink, and told to relax. But other days, you come home and the place is a wreck. Kids are crying and fighting. Your wife has a headache and she’s surly. There’s no food in sight. And somebody forgot to buy the poster board for a big school project that’s due TOMORROW. Guess who they’re expecting to do that?

In the first example, it’s a no-brainer, right? You’re glad to be home, and all is well with the world. But the second scenario is tougher. You feel like turning around and going back to the car and leaving, right? Wrong! They’re both no-brainers. Why? Because you are a dad and a husband and you are there to love and serve your family, not to be served! That’s the Bible’s opinion, not mine (Ephesians 5:25; 6:4).

See, you go to a restaurant, you get lousy service, the food stinks, it’s too expensive, you don’t feel valued as a customer, whatever, fine, you leave and don’t go back. But your home is not a restaurant. It’s where your family is. So you sacrifice and you serve and you commit yourself to be faithful, no matter what. Same with church. That’s where your spiritual family is – the family of God in Christ. Now, if you’re not saved, then you can’t be expected to serve. But if you’re saved, you’re in the family of God, and you need to be serving, not demanding (or even expecting) to BE served.

I know that there are certain perceived “perks” (if you can call them that) to hovering around the edge of a local church family – showing up just often enough not be forgotten – but not often enough or on time enough to really be depended upon to do anything difficult or sacrificial. But those perks aren’t really benefits. They are really missed opportunities to glorify and thank the Savior who poured out His blood for your soul while they cursed and mocked Him. I would encourage you to jump in with both feet when it comes to Sunday School and church involvement. Nobody will go see Jesus at the end of this life and say, “Man, I can’t believe I spent that time serving Him!” I promise, you will want to go see the King saying, “I’m glad I did” a lot more than “I wish I had.”

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Growing up Perfect

October 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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Even as the birth of Jesus heralded Good News for the helpless and the hopeless, Jesus Himself quickly became “the hunted,” as His earthly parents were forced to flee to Egypt for His safety. Luke did not record this event in Jesus’s life, but he did document the family’s observance of the Levitical rites of purification under the Old Testament law.

And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Leviticus 12:4-8

Under these laws, a woman was considered unclean for 40 days after giving birth to a boy, and for 80 days after giving birth to a girl. Her separation from the Tabernacle had hygienic reasons and spiritually symbolic reasons, but why would a sin offering have been required? Not because having a baby is a sin, but as a reminder that our sin nature is transmitted by birth.

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

Luke 2:21-24

The fact that Joseph and Mary went with the bird offering instead of a lamb shows that they were not wealthy, and that Jesus was not born with a silver spoon in His mouth, despite the claims of some of the prosperity preachers. (I don’t know if you’ve purchased a lamb lately, but they aren’t cheap!) This also shows the humanity of Jesus, and that one of His Divine missions was to fulfill all righteousness and to perfectly keep the Law of God.

Now we meet Simeon, another elderly person (like Zacharias and Anna) who had been praying and waiting for the Messiah.

And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Luke 2:26

Most people tend to think of “Christ” as Jesus’s last name, but really it is a title: the Anointed (Messiah/Christos) of God. Jesus was God incarnate, and He was also sent by God the Father, to both the Jewish people and to gentiles.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name [was] Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

Luke 2:25 (emphasis added)

A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Luke 2:32

Here is what Simeon prophesied about the life of Mary:

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Luke 2:34-35

This remark about a sword piercing her soul referred to the ongoing conflict of loving her human Son and of knowing something of His Divine calling. Try to imagine the tension of having a Son Who was sinless and Who would have recognized the sin of His earthly parents acutely, and still having the responsibility of exercising parental authority over Him.

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

Luke 2:39

Here, once again, the Holy Spirit had Luke emphasize Jesus’s perfection under the Law.

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:40

This is a good picture of what parents should be nurturing in their young children. Growth is promoted by nourishment, exercise, and protection. Strength in spirit means spiritual “toughness” – learning the principles of faith and separation. Fullness of wisdom means intellectual instruction. The grace of God is given by God, obviously, but it is to be explained and illustrated to children by their parents.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

Luke 2:41-50

Note the “must” and note the “business” to get an idea of the way we ought to view church attendance and ministry. As far I know these are the only two recorded questions asked by Jesus during the first 30 or so years of His earthly life, and they speak a world of information about our reason for living this life: carrying out our Father’s business, in community, and considering it unthinkable to do otherwise.

Love and Order

October 24, 2017 at 10:25 am | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

I Corinthians 13:1

The reference to speaking with the tongues of angels appears to be hyperbole, which is a common device used in Paul’s letters, although it is taken by some as evidence of a heavenly language spoken by angels and unknown on earth except by people with a gift for ecstatic utterances. The mention of sounding brass and tinkling cymbals is a warning against the cacophonous sounds and the disorder that would result from people speaking different languages all at once. It is also an allusion to the pagan practice of using percussive sounds or instruments in worship.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

I Corinthians 13:2

Paul, being an Apostle, surely did have the gift of prophecy, but he continued in the vein of hyperbole when discussing the understanding of “all” mysteries, “all” knowledge, and “all” faith. Even if someone had all these gifts, and all this wisdom, it would be useless without Christian love (“charity,” agape).

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

I Corinthians 13:2

The gifts that he went on about in Chapter 12 are important, but they must be handled with maturity, and the definition of maturity in New Testament Christianity cannot be separated from grace, knowledge, and love. Christian love puts up with wrongdoing for a long time, and it is not puffy with pride. It is not rude or impolite or discourteous, and it is not overly touchy. It gives the benefit of the doubt; it doesn’t assume the worst; it makes charitable judgments. It does not get happy when it is proven wrong and finds iniquity when it was hoping not to, and it rejoices in objective reality with a contagious joy, because things are being done out in the open and are being given value because of their truthfulness.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

I Corinthians 13:8

Christian love is shown to be superior to the spiritual gifts because of its endurance.

But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

I Corinthians 13:10

The “perfect” which is to come could be referring the completion of the canon of Scripture, although this is rejected by most recent scholars. It could be referring to the complete maturity of the Church – the Body of Christ. Or it could be referring to the return of Christ for His Church and our entry into Heaven. We tend to associate the term “perfect” with the idea of being sinless or faultless, but usually in the Bible it means “complete” or “lacking nothing.” Certainly the Church will not be “perfect” in either sense of the word until we are glorified with Christ at our departure from this world.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

I Corinthians 13:11

This indicates that “sign” gifts like tongues and healing were “childish” gifts in the sense that they were needed for a very young church. It was anticipated that the Church would “outgrow” the need for signs and wonders.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

I Corinthians 13:12

The image of looking through a glass, darkly, might mean that we see things now the way things are seen through a dirty window, but, more likely, Paul means for the reader to imagine a “looking-glass” (mirror), which would not have given as accurate a reflection in those days as mirrors do in ours. This analogy is often misinterpreted, but the correct meaning is that, once we see Jesus face to face, we will know Him “immediately.” We will see Him personally, the way He is able to see us now.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

I Corinthians 13:13

Christian love is not the only Christian grace that will endure, but it is greater than these others because faith will become sight, and hope will be fulfilled. Love (I John 4:8) will still be needed in Heaven. Christian maturity equals Christian love, and we can “grow” and become more spiritually mature by practicing it (even when we might not necessarily “feel” it) NOW.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omniscience (Part 2)

October 19, 2017 at 11:10 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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Last time, we acknowledged that God’s knowledge is comprehensive, continuous, and constant. Now we will see that it is also complete.

Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

Isaiah 40:13-14

God does not need any assistance in getting information, or in helping Him to understand or interpret the information He has. Nor does He need anyone to counsel Him as to how to use His information or knowledge. Obviously, the same cannot be said of us. We often need assistance, help, or someone to give us advice. We need teachers, and the Bible says we are foolish if we won’t listen to someone with more experience than us. We need instruction manuals. We have to stop and ask for directions.

But not God. He doesn’t need anyone’s advice. That’s one of the many reasons that we must read and study our Bibles diligently. That’s where God has told us exactly what He wants us to know – no more and no less. Obedience to God’s Word is not bondage or drudgery; it is great freedom. He knows what’s best for us, and when He says, “thou shalt not,” we had better believe there’s a very good reason for it. His Word is not up for debate, because He has spoken it, and caused it to be written, out of His omniscience.

In addition to being complete, God’s knowledge is correct.

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Isaiah 46:9-10

Even the smartest human experts are sometimes proven wrong. There are times when we “know” something without a shadow of a doubt, and then it turns out that we were deceiving ourselves or we were forgetful.

But not God. He is perfect in all His ways, and, in His omniscience He cannot be wrong, mistaken, forgetful, or untrue. He knows everything that will happen, not because He looks ahead in time before making His predictions or prophecies, but because He is infinite and is already present in the “future” now, sovereignly causing or allowing events to occur before anyone else “gets there.” God would score a perfect A+ on any history test, not because He was the one Who wrote the test, but because history is “His story.” He is making it happen, and the future, to Him, already exists in His omniscience.

Because God’s knowledge is comprehensive, continuous, complete, and correct, it is also comforting.

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

I John 3:20

We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but (to use a well-worn but still accurate cliche’) we know Who holds tomorrow. At least I hope you know Him. He knows you – either as His child or as His enemy – either as His “son” or as a sinner. He knows where you’ve been, what you’ve done, what you’re thinking right now, and where you’re going.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Romans 8:29-32

You are going to see Him – probably much sooner than you think. The determining factor on that day will not be your baptism, your church attendance (or even your membership), or your religious affiliation. No last rites or rosaries or confessions or the record of how good a Samaritan you were will matter at that moment. Your “good” deeds will not be weighed on a scale against your bad deeds. Your parents, your skin color, your bank account, or whether you loved your country – none of that will matter. What will matter is whether you believed and received the eternal Son of the omniscient God.

The Relationship between Sin and Disease

October 17, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Sin has real consequences, including danger, disaster, and death. One of simplest, but most insightful, sermon-poems I know goes:

Sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay
It will cost you more than you wanted to pay
It will teach you more than you wanted to know
And it will take you farther than you ever wanted to go

However, there is another consequence of sin that we don’t always hear as much about, because of the danger of turning it into an abusive, rather than a constructive, warning: disease.

The Bible makes it clear that disease CAN BE the result of sin.

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:14-16

And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

John 5:13-14

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

I Corinthians 11:27-30

All illness is a general result of the curse of sin brought into the world by the fall of Adam, but, of course, not every single disease, infirmity, or health problem is directly caused by the sick person’s specific sin, as is shown in the case of Job and the man born blind, to name just two examples. This means that, while it is probably unwise for us to make judgments about whether someone else’s disease is a consequence of his or her specific sin, it is probably VERY wise to consider our own lives with an eye toward identifying, confessing, repenting of, and forsaking sin as a possible remedy for, or deterrent to, physical disease.

The Statute and the Ordinance at Marah

October 12, 2017 at 9:56 am | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: In Exodus 15:25, after the Lord made the bitter water at Marah drinkable, it says that “there he made for them a statute and an ordinance.” What was the statute and the ordinance?

Answer: Moses probably wrote this section of Exodus many years after the events took place, so the Holy Spirit is referencing the giving of statutes and ordinances by God as a foreshadowing of the formal “giving of the Law” which will come at Mount Sinai a few chapters later. The expression, “a statute and an ordinance,” is an example of a hendiadys, meaning that an idea is used and then repeated after the conjunction “and” for emphasis and for clarification. For example, sometimes I refer to “a basic and fundamental” fact. Basic and fundamental are nearly synonymous in that context, but I want to make the point strongly and use two similar words in case one or the other might not be as familiar to everyone who hears or reads it. Lawyers do this when they draw up a “last will and testament.” The “statute and the ordinance” referenced in Exodus 15:25 is described in the next verse:

If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes…

Exodus 15:26

God had Moses tell the people that one of His general laws, even before the Covenant at Sinai, is that His people are required to be attentive and loyal to Him. It will be a really good day for you and me when we understand this and accept it.

Helpless and Hopeless No More

October 9, 2017 at 10:55 am | Posted in Luke | 6 Comments
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Jesus came to save the helpless. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. Luke Chapter 2 is where we find what is known as the “Annunciation” The Annunciation is the announcement of Christ’s Incarnation. In the Incarnation God became flesh. God the Son became man while remaining God.

Why did He become a man?
1. To represent us before God
2. To identify with us in our nature
3. To fully keep God’s Law, thus becoming the perfect sacrifice for people who had broken God’s law.

As humans, left to our own strength, our own wisdom, our own merit, we are completely helpless. Jesus came as a newborn baby, and babies are helpless. They can’t eat, they can’t talk, they can’t walk, they do not even know what to think. Spiritually, we are that helpless without God.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

Luke 2:1

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Luke 2:4

God providentially involved others in helping Jesus, including His earthly parents, and angels.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:13-14

He even used shepherds.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:20

Maybe you know someone who is poor and helpless (like Joseph and Mary). Maybe you know someone who is on the “outside” of society (like the shepherds). Maybe you fit into these categories yourself. Maybe you even feel shut out of Christianity because of your sin. If so, there is Good News: Jesus wants you to come to Him – to look on Him in faith. He became helpless Himself in order to be the Great Helper to the helpless. He gave hope to the hopeless.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

Luke 2:22

The law of Moses pointed toward the Hope, but it did not give hope itself. You can not live a “good” enough life. You can not do enough “good” things. You can not bring anything to God in order to gain entrance into Heaven. Those attempts are hopeless attempts.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Luke 2:25-26

You may know someone who has given up, but the hope of Christ is always available in this lifetime.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

Luke 2:36-37

You may feel hopeless because no one cares about you, but Jesus cares about you. God cares about you so much that He sent His Son to give you hope, and not to be a messenger only, but to BE your Hope Himself!

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omniscience (Part 1)

October 5, 2017 at 9:30 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 7 Comments
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Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.

Psalm 86:8

God is holy – not only in the sense of His sinlessnes (righteousness), but in the sense of His uniqueness. He is the only Being of His kind. Because He is so fundamentally different from us, it is difficult for us to accurately and truly describe Him. We are limited to talking about His characteristics – to “attributing” qualities to Him that we can grasp, which is why they are called His “attributes.”

One characteristic of personhood is that a person who can think, can know things. He can possess information. Some people think they know something about everything. We call them know-it-alls, but God not only knows something about everything – He knows EVERYTHING about everything. We call this attribute “omniscience:” omni = all; science = knowledge.

Our knowledge can only be partial at best, but God’s knowledge is comprehensive.

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

Psalm 147:5

He is not like us, only smarter. He is not really like us at all in this regard. His knowledge is exhaustive. God can do anything, but He is still a God of logic, so we might say that there are some things that logic does not permit us to say about Him. This means that, while, in His power, there is nothing too difficult for God, there are some things that God “can not” do. He can not get better. He can not improve. He can not sin. He can not learn anything new, or “learn” anything at all. He can not gain any new information, because all information there is originates IN HIM. His omniscience means that His knowledge is comprehensive and that He can never be surprised or caught off-guard. He can’t be confounded or confused or stumped or fooled.

God’s knowledge is comprehensive and it is continuous. It is a constant knowledge.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

Proverbs 15:3

You and I can run certain rudimentary brain functions on different levels at the time (such as singing a song and driving a car), but what we are really doing is shifting our attention back and forth very quickly, and we often find it impossible to control the focus our thinking. Sit there for a few seconds and try your hardest NOT to think about a purple elephant…

… or try to suddenly switch off your thoughts at the end of a stressful day, and simply go to sleep. Not so easy, is it? However, God not only knows everything, but He knows everything ABOUT everything – all at once – all the time. He doesn’t have to take His mind off North Korea for a second to consider your prayer about healing for your ingrown toenail.

Next time we will consider some more of the ramifications of God’s omniscience.

The Determination, Demonstration, Distribution, and Designation of the Spiritual Gifts

October 2, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 5 Comments
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But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

I Corinthians 12:7

The spiritual gifts are demonstrated by their manifestation and display within the Body of Christ. This means that no Christian should feel left out or “giftless,” but it also means that you are depriving the Body of Christ of something that God wants it to have if you are neglecting to exercise your spiritual gift or gifts.

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

I Corinthians 12:8

The word of wisdom is the gift of being able to apply knowledge or truth to a situation and to discern a course of action. The word of knowledge was a gift of direct divine revelation. It was a truly supernatural gift, and arguably no longer available or needed since we have a closed cannon of Scripture.

To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

I Corinthians 12:9

Every true Christian has a gift of faith for salvation, but some Christians are able to believe the promises of God with a greater certainty, and to stand upon them in times of difficulty, hardship, or persecution in special ways. The gift of miraculous healing is not operational today in the way that it was during the time of the Apostles. If it were, then it should be put into practice at the nursing homes, pediatric cancer wards, and burn treatment centers, rather than only at the big event centers where money is being collected.

To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

I Corinthians 12:10

The gift of miracles probably included healings, although it would have been more comprehensive. The gift of prophecy today would be a gift for the effective proclaiming of God’s Word, or what we could call preaching. The gift of discerning of spirits was an ability to spot false prophets and charlatans. The gift of divers kinds of tongues allowed certain believers to supernaturally speak in a language or languages not naturally known to the speaker. The gift of the interpretation of tongues was the ability to understand what was being said in other languages without prior knowledge.

These gifts do not comprise an exhaustive list, and they need to be discovered through practical service more than an analytical or a psychological test.

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

I Corinthians 12:11

The spiritual gifts are distributed among a body of believers according to the will of the Holy Spirit.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

I Corinthians 12:11

The analogy of the human body is used to help us understand this distribution.

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

I Corinthians 12:13-18

This reminds us that the Holy Spirit is also God, and perhaps God the Father has placed you into the part of the Body that He wants, and then the Holy Spirit determines which gift(s) you will need to function in that capacity. Just as there is diversity in a human body, there are a diversity of gifts in the Body of Christ, and certain members may need multiple gifts. A hand needs the gift of catching, but also the gifts of throwing, grasping and holding, and caressing. A person acting as the hand of the Body of Christ may not need a speaking gift, but he may need a discerning gift or a gift of mercy.

And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

I Corinthians 12:19-21

The emphasis here is on the importance of working together. Otherwise, the gifts become things to brag about, or to fight with, rather than tools given for building.

Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

I Corinthians 12:22-24

Everybody likes to look at pretty hair or an attractive face. We like to hear winsome words and see graceful movement. Nobody wants to see your pancreas, your lungs, or even your brain, but no one could reasonably assert that these “parts” are less important.

That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

I Corinthians 12:25-26

A body at war with itself will die, or at least not function properly. It will limp along, and it will suffer. The body is an organism, not an organization, but an unorganized organism will die.

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

I Corinthians 12:27

Once again, the Holy Spirit stresses unity AND diversity.

What is the purpose of the spiritual gifts? How are they to be exercised? To what end?

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

I Corinthians 12:28

The designation of the gifts is for the edification of the Church.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:11-12

Therefore, it makes no sense to be bitter about someone else’s gift. If we do that, we are criticizing God, and, really, committing another form of idolatry – thinking we know better than Him.

Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

I Corinthians 12:29

The obvious answer to this is no.

Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

I Corinthians 12:30

Once again, the obvious answer is no, although this is very much overlooked by some Pentecostals and Charismatics who make speaking in tongues a test of salvation or a measuring stick for Holy Spirit-anointing.

Now another, even more important, factor is added to the equation of unity and diversity: maturity.

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

I Corinthians 12:31

Too many people assume that this means everyone should desire the more visible gifts, but the “best” gift for you is whichever gift(s) that God has chosen, in His perfect will, to give you. Covet what He wants you to have. He will give you the desire of your heart if your desire is to know and serve Him. The more excellent way is (as will be shown in I Corinthians Chapter 13) “charity” – agapeChristian love.


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