(1 Corinthians 12:26-31)
The modern church for the most part has watered down the ministries of the new covenant to the point where most of the gifts of ministry have ceased to exist. This is especially true of the miraculous and spiritual gifts of God that He gave to the church for the express purpose of building up the church so that it could stand in the face of opposition.
Now I am the first to point out that the gifts are not going to bring anyone to salvation. You do not need to be able to perform miracles, walk on water, speak in tongues, prophesy by the spirit, carry out miraculous hearings or cast out demons to be saved. None of these things are necessary for salvation.
However, the gifts have been provided to the church to help us as we walk with Christ. They are meant to provide insight, spiritual help and guidance as we walk in the faith that will bring us to salvation in Jesus Christ. Thus Paul says here in verse 31,
But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. – (1 Corinthians 12:31)
(1 Corinthians 12:12-26)
When the gospel was first preached by Jesus Christ Himself, and subsequently by those who learned it directly from Him, there was only one body. There was one message, one truth and one way that was taught to all the people of the early church.
One body, many parts
But as time went on and those who walked with Christ and spoke with Him passed away the message changed. People who were using Christianity as a means for personal power or gain began twisting the message to suit their own desires. And we even saw the beginnings of this perversion of the truth in the times of the early church as many of the letters of Paul, John, Peter, Jude and James attested.
Look where we are today. Countless denominations, sects, groups and churches that hold many different teachings, some of which do not accord with the truth of the gospel and others that do.
And we Christians are often our own worst enemies. Different groups or ministries arguing with one another over small things. And some of these arguments are even about things that have no bearing on the doctrine at all. This should not be so.
(1 Corinthians 12:8-11)
In my last post I spoke of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit that is given to all people who are born of the spirit and who receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The manifestation of the spirit as spoken of by Paul in verse 7 of this chapter is clearly speaking in tongues.
But now we look at the other gifts of the Holy Spirit that different people may receive. All of the gifts of the spirit are given for specific purposes. But there are two primary reasons why the Lord sees fit to bestow the gifts of the spirit on people, which we will cover here.
But first let us look at getting the gifts. There are many people who would like to have the gifts of the spirit. I mean, who wouldn't want to have the gift of miraculous healing and be able to walk into a hospital and empty it out by healing everyone there? Imagine that! Why can't we do that? Well…let's have a look at this whole matter in some more depth.
(1 Corinthians 12:7)
This single verse presents Christians with a few interesting questions. It says,
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. – (1 Corinthians 12:7)
First, what is the “manifestation” of the Spirit? Second, who is it given to and how do you get it? And finally why is it for the “common good?”
The answers to some of these questions can be seen when looking at the original Greek words from which this verse is translated, but others of these questions require a more extensive search to gain an understanding.
(1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
These verses teach us many things and one of the most important is about the nature of the person of God. There is a foundational truth in these few verses that goes deep into the heart of what we as Christians believe.
Who is God? More specifically who is the God worshipped in Christianity? Is it the god of the trinity that is so strongly held by almost all Christians sects, denominations and faiths or is the true God someone else?
This is an important issue and one that must be discussed and addressed for if we are wrong, we may be worshiping a myth and a lie. If the God we worship is not in fact the God of truth, then who or what are we worshiping?
(1 Corinthians 12:1-3)
Many years ago while my father was still alive he said to me that we need to take note of the “little” words in the Bible. It is often the small words that we can pass over at a glance that convey a depth of meaning we would miss otherwise.
I have repeated this same good advice to others on many occasions, and in this short section of scripture there is a case in point worth looking at to illustrate this point.
It is often in the small, insignificant words that we get the full and true meaning of the text. The particular verse in this section I am referring to is verse 3, which says,
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. – (1 Corinthians 12:3)
(1 Corinthians 11:27-34)
There are a few traditions defined in the New Testament that the Lord gave us to follow. These are all actions and acts of praise or worship that define the methods of our worship of the Lord.
The primary few, and there are not many, are:
- Baptism in water
- Laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit
- Anointing with oil for healing
- Breaking of bread or communion
In this section of scripture, Paul is concerned with people who carry out the act of breaking bread in an unworthy manner. But the principle of following any of the traditions of the Lord in an unworthy manner will likewise incur judgment.
(1 Corinthians 11:20-26)
Whether you call it eating the Lords Supper, taking communion, breaking bread or any of the other names for this sacrament of the church, it is important to understand what it is and why we do it.
Over the years I have visited a number of different churches in my travels and I have been amazed at the number of churches that do not uphold this practice. I do not know whether they feel it is unimportant or unnecessary, but for whatever reason they fail to follow this practice.
And we should understand first and foremost that the practice of breaking bread or taking communion was ordained not by men, but by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It was He who commanded the disciples to do this and to ensure this tradition was passed on into the churches as the church grew.
(1 Corinthians 11:17-19)
One of the greatest issues in the church over the many years of its history has been the problems of division. Consider the church as it exists today in its many forms. Who knows exactly how many denominations, groups, sects and independent churches there are in the world today.
And yet when we look back, it all began with just one group and just one church.
Jesus came and presented man with the teachings that established the first church, which He set up through the twelve apostles. But after Jesus returned to the Father we began to see the gradual disintegration of the early church into sects and factions. Many of the New Testament writers wrote of this issue and here we see Paul explaining part of the reason why divisions occurred.
(1 Corinthians 11:2-16)
There was a practice in the church for many years where women were expected to wear some kind of head covering when they attended church. This practice has weakened and pretty much disappeared today, but even so there are some churches that still hold to this tradition quite strongly.
To veil or not to veil
Much of the argument for this tradition comes out of this section of scripture. But is it what the scripture is truly saying? Does a woman have to wear a veil or a hat or some other kind of head covering today?
The question is probably even more compelling given the rise of Islam and the requirement of that religion for women to not just wear hats or veils, but to fully cover their faces with the burka. Now I do not intend to get into the discussion over whether the burka is right or wrong as my focus is not about what is done in Islam, but rather what is practiced in the name of Jesus Christ and the Christian churches. So let us look at this scripture to try to understand what Paul was driving at.