In discussing the believer’s relationship with God the Holy Spirit, we are suggesting that some Christians overemphasize Him, while many of us overlook Him. This is to our detriment. We can speak to Him because He is personal and, because He is God, we can (and should) worship Him. Neither of these actions are intended to minimize the primacy of the Lord Jesus, for the Spirit of God’s primary job is to glorify the Lord Jesus.
The various ministries in the church are not all to be performed by professional clergy. The Bible is quite clear that every believer is given gifts by the Holy Spirit which he or she is to use to build up the Body of Christ and to serve a broken and needy world. We’ve looked at the first of the four major passages on spiritual gifts (Romans 12) in our last post. Let’s continue our study by looking at the second of our four passages (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4), I Corinthians 12 —
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
We realize that this is a lengthy passage, but let’s see what we can learn, not so much about the gifts, but about the Giver, God the Holy Spirit:
1. First of all, it is He who distributes the gifts (v. 4).
2. Although there are different gifts, the same Lord is at work (v. 6).
3. Every believer is given a gift (also known as a “manifestation of the Spirit”) for the common good (v. 7).
4. Several gifts (nine specifically) are listed (vv. 8-10- a message of wisdom, a message of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues). But the point is made that “all these are the work of one and the same Spirit” (vv. 11). The oneness of the Spirit’s distribution is important here.
5. We also learn of His will — He distributes these gifts “just as He determines” (v. 11).
6. The baptizing work of the Spirit is brought up, presumably to emphasize the oneness of the Body of Christ (v. 12). “We were all given the one Spirit to drink” (v. 13).
7. There is no room for jealousy regarding the gifts or for one to feel unnecessary. Why not? Because we need all the body parts to function properly and “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (v. 18). “God” here certainly seems to refer to the Third Member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
8. The sovereign assembling of the body by the Holy Spirit should not lead to division in the body but “equal concern for each other” (v. 25).
9. Again we are reminded that “God has placed in the church” certain people and gifts. “God” in verse 28 seems to refer to the Spirit of God. The people and gifts mentioned in verses 28-30 are: apostles, prophets; teachers; miracles; gifts of healing, helping, guidance; and of different kinds of tongues. [I find it interesting that three gifts — healing, helping, guidance — seem to be a small category of gifts].
10. Lastly, this same Spirit who disburses different gifts, longs for unity among believers. Several questions are asked in verses 29-30 to show that there are different gifts among the people of God.
The Challenge: What gift or gifts has the Spirit of God given you? How does your gift help you to have “equal concern” for other members of the Body?