1 Corinthians 12:1-4

In 1 Corinthians 12:1-4 Paul now shifts from addressing all the issues of the Corinthian church and moves to God’s empowerment of its people with spiritual gifts. Clarke defines spiritual gifts as “Gracious endowments, leading to miraculous results… these all came by the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit.” “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.” Paul specifically has three things in his letters he didn’t want God’s people to be ignorant of:

  • Don’t be ignorant of God’s plan for Israel (Romans 11:25)
  • Don’t be ignorant of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1)
  • Don’t be ignorant about the Second Coming of Jesus and the eternal state (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to remember that their past idolatry did not prepare them for an accurate understanding of spiritual gifts. We’re really in no different of a situation today. We don’t have a great background of teaching on the principles of what God’s design is for the church and the gifts He provides for it. “You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.” It is easy for us to take our materialistic or superstitious views into our understanding of spiritual gifts. God gives us some teaching on gifts, but the world has a tendency to twist and turn God’s truth to fit their own desires.

Paul lays down a broad principle for discerning matters regarding spiritual gifts – judge things by how they relate to Jesus Christ. Does a supposed spiritual gift glorify Jesus? Does it promote the true Jesus or a false one? “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.” The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not to promote Himself or any man, but to glorify and represent Jesus. We can, therefore, trust that the true ministry of the Holy Spirit will be all about Jesus.

Paul will go on to list some nine spiritual gifts in the following verses, and more in other places. There is indeed a diversity of gifts! Yet there is only one Giver, who works through the diverse gifts. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;” The reality is that living as a Christ Follower does not mean we all have the same gifts – in fact by design – God has created a variety of gifts to be given to those who follow Jesus. We cannot determine what gifts an individual should have, even for ourself, as those are distributed by God through His Spirit and are part of the variety needed to make the church function as God designed and desires. We are given gifts by God for His purpose, not picked by us for ours!

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