God’s Spirit in the Congregation

Text: 1 Corinthians 12-14

For the next couple of chapters, Paul explains the work of God’s holy Spirit in the ministry of reconciliation.

Spiritual gifts (ch 12)

  • The Holy Ghost testifies that Jesus Christ is the son of God (vss 1-3)
    • In this new covenant, the knowledge of God is first defined as understanding that Jesus Christ is the LORD and the Son of God.
    • Jesus asks Peter who do you say that I am? Peter says you’re the Christ, the Son of the living God. Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
    • John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
    • The Ethiopian eunuch asks what hinders him from being baptized, after witnessing many Jews from all nations getting baptized and confessing Christ. Philip asked, well, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? The eunuch said yes. That means the Jews and Gentiles come to God the same way. Jesus Christ is the unifiying man.
  • 1 John 4:2-3 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
  • This Holy Spirit is the singular spirit that works in all the children of God who are partakers of this new covenant (vss 4-11)
    • Spiritual gifts are things individuals bring to the congregation in the redemptive work of the ministry.
    • Take faith for instance in verse 9. Fatih comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. The Holy Ghost authors scripture as holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and a soul trusts those words by faith.
    • How about working of miracles in verse 10? I don’t know how often that happens today, but it certainly happened for the apostles. Look at what Paul said about it in Galatians 3:5-7.
    • How about wisdom in verse 8? The Spirit of God authors the law to the nation of Israel and Moses says this, Deuteronomy 4:6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
    • So it’s one holy Spirit that directs and guides in the ministry of reconciliation in verse 11.
  • Paul uses an illustration of the body to describe the Spirit of God working in true believers’ lives (vss 12-26)
  • The LORD builds his body
    • It’s the LORD’s ministry (vss 11,18,28)
    • Not everyone is doing the same thing, but you’re not limited to a single “gift” either. You can participate in the Lord’s ministry in multiple ways.

Charity (ch 13)

  • More important than abilities is attitude. This is akin to the fruit of the spirit.
  • Using the illustration Paul uses a foot or a hand or a nose or an eye as parts of the body but serve different functions. The hand, nose, eye, ear, are like the gifts. Have you ever met anyone without the ability to walk, but was a blessing? Or someone who had full function of all their limbs, an athlete maybe, but had a terrible spirit? The more excellent way is the attitude, the spirit, and that’s why Paul says I’ll show you a more excellent way.
  • In Romans, Paul identifies some gifts with the spiritual attitude to apply them in Romans 12.

Encourage one another in an orderly way (ch 14)

  • Follow charity while you desire spiritual gifts. You should want to be a blessing to the congregation in various ways. But the big benefit to the congregation is prophecy like speaking for the LORD to build up God’s people.
  • That was Moses’ desire for the Israelites. Numbers 11:29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!
  • The unknown tongue is also called a foreign language (vss 2,4,13,14,19,27)
    • For instance, many Messianic Jews believe Hebrew is a better language than English. So they’ll use Hebrew words to be more spiritual. Well, you’re not more spiritual because you use a certain language. The value of a language is in the ability to communicate. So if you speak Hebrew to me and I don’t understand what you’re saying, neither of us is made better because you spoke Hebrew.
    • There is a heavy Jewish influence in the Corinthian church because of the synagogue leaders that came to Christ. The men covering their heads while they teach in chapter 11 sounds like the Rabbis who teach with their fedoras or yarmulkes on. In fact, the Jews forbade any rabbi to teach without something on his head. Which Paul says is contradictory. He said the man needs to uncover his head if he’s going to pray or prophecy publicly in the assembly in 11:4.
  • God is not the author of confusion (vs 33)
  • Let things be done decently and in order (vs 40)