God’s Blueprint For The Church
12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 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.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12 ESV)
God’s Blueprint for the Church – Spiritual Gifts
– 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 – What is God’s will for our lives and the Church?
- God’s blueprint for the Church?
Y’all know what a blueprint is, right?
Blueprints show you not only how to build something, but the layout of systems within the structure and their dimensions. It shows you all the little details and mechanisms throughout the build. God has not only done that for the Church but our bodies as well.
In the human body, there are millions of mechanisms and complex procedures all working together synergistically to let us live our lives. From the hundreds of bones and muscles, thousands of feet of nerves, and billions of bacteria in your digestive tract to the single brain, two eyeballs, and ten toes that each us have, hopefully.
Everything in the body has been designed and placed by God to function as he desired so that you would be complete. It has been laid out so that we would operate together as a whole with each mechanism working together in a series of systems.
We’re made to interact as a whole.
And the Church is put together the same way as our bodies. There are people that the Spirit places here to complete the blueprint.
11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
We’re placed here in the body because of our specific function. And the Spirit does this NOT ONLY WITH CHURCHES TODAY, BUT OVER TIME AS WELL.
The same Spirit that gifted one church to operate in an individual style or method will gift another 20, 100, 500, 1000 years later to do something else entirely different and in a different context.
Or, to put it another way…
* God has so directed things and providentially placed you in your particular situation so that you would come to know him and so Christ would live in you. *
* The gifts we receive by Spirit of Christ have been specially prepared for us by God for our particular place in time and culture. It’s part of the blueprint he prepared before eternity. *
The blueprint talks to us and tells us His message.
v.11 says that
The Spirit empowers us to work out God’s will, and the Spirit gives us gifts because…
- Gifts communicate God’s Will
Gifts are from God
Everybody, whether you are a Christian or not, wants to know what their purpose in life is.
How many have ever said or thought something like this:
- “What am I supposed to do in my life?”
- “What is the meaning of life?”
- “Why am I even a Christian and how does that apply to life now?”
I’m sure everybody has asked themselves something like this at some point or another in their life.
We all want to know what our purpose is, why we’re here. But…
I think it’s more appropriate to ask,
- “What is my purpose in the ”
Well, you would be right in saying one thing:
- We are here to do God’s will, right?
Christians know that their primary goal in life is to glorify God and follow his will.
- “But what is God’s will for my life?”
Well, this is where the Apostle Paul says that spiritual gifts come in.
As Christians, we know that spiritual gifts come from the Spirit and show us what God’s will is for our life.
Everybody here who has the Spirit inside of them has been given gifts from him.
I want to emphasize what Paul told us in v. 11, all gifts individually come from God alone and as he wills. These gifts we have been given show us how God wants to work his will in our lives.
God has given us the means to fulfill his calling for our lives.
Those methods, those tools have been provided to us, the church, to accomplish the goals, or outcome, of God’s will.
Look what Paul says in Ephesians 4:4-8
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
- We don’t receive and comprehend the gifts of God unless we have first been given the gift of salvation.
- We cannot glorify God with the gifts he’s given us unless we first acknowledge that those gifts have been given to us by him.
- Everyone in Christ gets a spiritual gift (or gifts…)
Let’s talk about specific gifts for a minute.
1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and I’m gonna add Ephesians 4 talk about spiritual gifts that God gives us to accomplish his blueprint for the Church.
The Spirit gifts not only broadly, but individually, enabling you to do what you would not have been able to do otherwise without God.
- How many of you know what your gift is?
- How many of you know what a spiritual gift even is?
* A spiritual gift is an ability or talent that the Spirit has given to you for use in the Church and building the Church. *
* These gifts are things that you would not be able to do without the Spirit’s work in your life. *
- What has God enabled in you that you could not do otherwise?
This passage and a few others talk about the various categories of gifts the Spirit gives to us. Let’s talk about the gifts in our passage today. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10
8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
- Let’s break this down…
The utterance of wisdom
The utterance of knowledge
- These are verbal gifts, which the word utterance tells us. These gifts are the proclamation of understanding and truth and interpretation of Scripture and especially the teaching of wisdom and knowledge.
- This might sound like an obvious one, but we all know people who have more faith than others. The trust that God will work everything out, that God will provide for his people, they have complete faithfulness in They are loyal to God. The Spirit gives them this.
Working of miracles
- Miracles are happenings that could not otherwise be explained through human understanding. The raising of the dead, feeding thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and fish, people being miraculously healed of cancer or other diseases, deadly car crashes where not a single person is hurt… All miracles are the work of God through individuals as part of His providence throughout creation, and God uses those gifted this way to build his Church
- Prophecy is the proclamation of God’s truth, whether that is preaching a sermon like I’m doing, or like the prophets did in the Bible. Prophecy isn’t just prediction of the future. And I’ll leave it at that.
Distinguish between spirits (discernment)
- To be able to distinguish between good and evil spirits and, more appropriately, discerning good and evil works of spirits. I find that you can’t really understand this gift until you accept that the initial state of the heart of all humankind is evil. The earth is evil’s domain and we need to be aware of that before we can try to distinguish between good and evil.
Various kinds of tongues
- Now when people think of spiritual gifts, they often think of tongues.
- What does that even mean, what is speaking in tongues?
Notice what the Apostle Paul says in this part of the passage “various kinds of tongues…” There are multiple ways of speaking in tongues. Whether that’s speaking in another earthly language that you do not know, or whether that’s an angelic language that the Spirit gives to you, or something else. There are clearly various kinds of tongues.
But the important aspect of tongues is the interpretation of tongues.
- Speaking in tongues is part of the blueprint, but without somebody to read the blueprint correctly, we wouldn’t understand it. Tongues need to be interpreted. Otherwise, it is distracting and not helpful for building up the Church. Interpretation of tongues is a specific gift that is to be worked in tandem with the speaking of them.
BUT WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE WHO CANT IDENTY SPIRIT GIFTS?
- What are you good at? What can you do to help the church that nobody else can?
Well, what do you desire to do? What is burning in your heart? What is the Spirit telling you? My advice for people who simply don’t know how to help or build the Church is to start helping to build the Church.
Some of you could just start attending small groups and your gifts may become apparent. We get different varieties of gifts presented at our Oikos classes. Sometimes simply encouraging somebody who’s having a bad day in your small group could be your gift.
You won’t know you’re gifted at something until you show up. And if you’re bad at something, keep showing up. There are many types of gifts, and ones you may not think of. Look at the other passages I mentioned, Google “spiritual gifts bible verses,” and do what comes naturally to you.
We often think of the fantastic and the supernatural gifts as being more critical, and we brush off the others. It’s only natural that we do it.
We’re sinful people, we want to be great. But the gifts do not make us great. Our gifts proclaim God as great.
Still, I’d rather do something amazing and get a lot of attention than clean a toilet.
But look what the book of Exodus tells us about spiritual gifts. Matter of fact, this is the first record in the Bible of the Spirit endowing people with extraordinary abilities.
31 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. 6 And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: 11…According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.” (Exodus 31:1-6, 11 ESV)
Notice something that Moses wrote here:
…I gave to all able men ability…
God didn’t just give Bezalel and Oholiab spiritual gifts. He gave everybody spiritual contributions to carry out God’s purpose for them.
The Spirit works in everybody’s lives to carry out specific tasks through the abilities he provides them.
And, also important, Moses’ gift of prophecy told them that they had the ability. It took all of it them together to build the tabernacle — all of the Kingdom of God were active participants. It wasn’t just one person doing everything.
Picture this: Could Moses have built tabernacle by himself? No, that would be absurd. There were millions of people in Israel. So, God gave everybody gifts to work together to build the tabernacle and its furnishings. The same goes for us here.
Each of us has been given a specific task that will help build the Church. Not just physically like the tabernacle, though that’s how a lot of church buildings get made.
But the Spirit has individually gifted you with the precise abilities He intends for you to have that will enable you to further His mission to bring him glory.
I have a friend in one of my seminary classes that is an Emergency Medical Technician. (I am too). He deals with the sick and dying on a daily basis. He’s also a very gifted Christian.
So, when the devastating earthquakes in Haiti happened a while back, he flew to the places that needed help. His love for humanity and God gave him the intense desire to use his gifts to their fullest ability.
He told a story in class how they had not only brought medical attention to hundreds of people one day in this makeshift hospital.
But after they had finished the day’s work, he preached (with an interpreter) to a crowd of around hundred sick people. Talk about a fantastic gift! God gave him the stamina to achieve more than I can. Not to mention that of the interpreter who was there all day as well.
Now while you may look at that and say that their dedication and self-gratification was got them through that day, but I see the divine work of an almighty God who enables His people to do extraordinary acts. God still heals miraculously in the medical field, he still saves lives in beatdown villages, and the Spirit will always guide us to use our gifting to bring God the most glory.
Then they worked together to literally build a church from the destroyed building they were using as a makeshift hospital after the people were better. They didn’t limit the Spirit to fantastic supernatural workings of miracles. All gifts work together to accomplish the Spirit’s intentions.
All the gifts of the Spirit work together in the Church to accomplish the building of the Church.
* Contrast the two different types of church growth in these examples though. *
- Gifts are for the growth of the church body. There is…
- Spiritual Growth (personal) God built up Israel and the Church
- Missional Growth (evangelistic) God used the building up to bring people to him.
The Spirit gives us gifts for both spiritual and missional growth.
Those same gifts we use to build up the church for the benefit of others in the church also are given to us to build the church from the outside in.
The Spirit has specially gifted us to reach the lost. Each one of has had people supernaturally placed in our lives for us to share the gospel with. That’s what we’re learning in our Oikos classes.
We have been given the gift to able to proclaim what God has done in our lives. The Spirit is concerned not only concerned with building us up. He is involved with us in building the Church to its potential.
God’s means to accomplish his will in the lives and building of the Church is through everybody in the Church.
That’s why the Great Commission isn’t called the great mission. It implies that there is a unity of believers working together to God’s will. And that is because…
- Gifts Serve God’s Church–
that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (1 Corinthians 12:25)
The gifts we receive aren’t so that we have divisions, but so the attention needed to minister to the body of the church is available to us. Even when we’re…
- Suffering together
All gifts are required for the Church to function. This includes everything in our lives.
Even when we are suffering…
Romans 5:3-5 says this…
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
When we come together to mourn, when we are suffering together, the Spirit uses that to give us endurance and character and hope that we can one day there will be no more suffering.
We read that Christ has overcome all suffering and will end it for us too.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, (Revelation 21:4 ESV)
There is a specific need for the Church to minister to people who are grieving in the Church. So, if you need to grieve, if you are having a bad day, if you are angry, whatever is plaguing you, there is a need for you to be in the Church.
Why? What’s the point of suffering together? Because those who are gifted by the Spirit to help you and encourage you and guide you are in the Church. The people who have been gifted by the spirit to help those in emotional stress cannot exercise their gifts if you don’t suffer with them.
- Rejoicing together
As a Church, the Spirit also gifts people to praise and encourage you when things are going right.
Some people are particularly gifted at seeing how God has worked in not only their life but yours as well. So, whether things are going right, or if things are going bad, praise God, because the Spirit has enabled us to do that.
The Spirit has gifted us with abilities that work the best when we use them together. If we aren’t all together, it doesn’t work as well. So, to rejoice in the Spirit correctly, we all need to be together as a body of believers.
Look what the author of Hebrews says:
23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another… (Hebrews_10:23-25a ESV)
How many of you have come to church and not felt complete because somebody isn’t here and they’re sick or out of town, or simply just didn’t come? That’s because we’re supposed to be together to do the work of the Church. [BLANK]
That doesn’t mean that you should come to church with an extreme illness. Please, stay home with that nasty stuff. We’re praying for you.
It’s clear that we are supposed to be together to do what the Spirit has enabled us to do. If we aren’t then the body is separated from itself.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:14 ESV)
How can the hand do work of the body if it’s in a different location? And the same example Paul says about the body being made of specific parts hold true if we are separated. What happens if you cut off somebody’s hand. It’ll wither and die within minutes. Put it on ice, hours. But inevitably, it will die if it is separated from the body. The one thing about the Church body though, is that Christ will revive the dead believer, and they’ll be made alive in the Spirit. [BLANK]
So many people think they aren’t important and the body can go on without them. But listen to this
There is no appendix in the church! And LISTEN, even the appendix has a function in the body. There is so much you can remove from the body, and it’s still going to stay alive, but not with optimal performance. It will die earlier than it should if it is missing parts.
If a person leaves the church and another person leaves the church, the work they were doing will be absorbed by the other parts of the body. Then those parts get overworked, tired, and don’t function as well.
The appendix of the Church has a purpose, and that is to complete the optimal vision of God’s goal in the Kingdom of God.
I like that the Apostle Paul made this illustration easy for us. I don’t have to add anything. A human body cannot be made up of missing parts. It just won’t work. We can’t be some Frankenstein version of a body with the wrong parts doing the unintended job of its designer.
But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t desire more gifts.
God has gifted us for a purpose, but we can still work in different ways in addition to what we’ve been gifted. The Apostle Paul says to…
earnestly desire the higher gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31)
We should desire these higher gifts because the
- Gifts Serve God’s Mission
You may think some gifts are better than others.
You might wish you could preach, (I do) and you might wish that you were a gifted evangelist (I do), and you might wish you could go to Haiti and build a church.
It can happen. The Spirit can enable you to do these works in him.
The Spirit listens, and when the desire is genuine, and love of him is at heart, he will enable you to do what you couldn’t otherwise do. I believe this is at the heart of charismatic revival in third world countries. It seems evident that in Paul’s journeys that the Churches had a lot of people speaking in tongues. And for a good reason. They desired the gifts.
But there is more than speaking in tongues. That is what Paul considers a lesser gift
Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. (1 Corinthians 14:5)
Paul isn’t saying that prophecy is any better than tongues, he is saying that prophecy is better at building the church because it doesn’t need an interpreter.
So, if you desire to preach the truth of the gospel, AMEN!! Please desire this gift! We should all desire to speak the truth of the good news and to tell others the good news of Jesus Christ.
These higher gifts Paul speaks of are not any more important, so we shouldn’t envy those who have them. Just because one of us can sing better than another doesn’t make any of us better than another. If you desire to preach the gospel to those in third world countries, let the Spirit use you, make it happen. Don’t just wish you were there, or get angry that you can’t do it.
Pray that the Spirit enables you to accomplish that goal.
That also goes for people you are closest with. Desire to accomplish the Spirits will for your will in your Oikos, you close group of people that you are most influential as a believer.
Most spiritual gifts are small group gifts. Your particular gifts are best served in the setting you’ve been placed in.
I want to build a church way out in rural areas surrounding the Antelope Valley. I pray that God would let me do that. I have longed that people would hear the message of the gospel Jesus Christ all over the Antelope Valley, and not just here in Palmdale and Lancaster.
Through my prayers, I’ve realized it’s no mistake that the Spirit guided me to move to Lake Los Angeles.
The Spirit is working in me and guiding me to accomplish his will.
The Spirit is working in church planters and church plant catalysts throughout the world to build churches.
The Spirit is working through evangelists and celebrity pastors of megachurches to bring the message of Jesus to millions of people daily! Desire these gifts!
But don’t envy them and get mad at God because you can’t fulfill your job here.
Take a hard look at your gift or gifts here and now. Is God calling you to obedience?
Is the Spirit making you take baby-steps towards a high gift, and you want to jump to the conclusion? Do you get frustrated that others are doing great things for God while he gave you the gift of cleaning and serving?
Well…You have to start somewhere.
All Christians must start out somewhere. Just because you are a great motivational speaker and then you are saved doesn’t mean that’s how the Spirit is going to use you.
God would take what the world thinks is wise and humble it. He would take what the world thinks is foolish and make it great.
God would take the testimony of a child coming to understand the riches of grace that the Lord has given him and make it into a beautiful story.
* Higher gifts are not more important, they serve a different job and purpose of the body. *
You can’t walk into a job interview with the experience of an entry-level construction worker and expect to get a job as a medical doctor in the busiest ER around.
Just because you helped build the hospital doesn’t mean you get to do the labor within it. You may be called to a different purpose.
But you can go to school. You can desire to be a doctor, you can train yourself and learn the trade, hone your skills and finally become a doctor.
The Spirit will make this happen for you if it is desired and it conforms to his will.
- Higher gifts are higher because they serve the mission of God and that’s the most important thing here.
The mission of God is the most crucial mission there is.
He gave it to us very simply, and we call it the Great Commission. It’s in Matthew 28 starting in verse 16.
The disciples of Jesus were explicitly chosen by him to fulfill this charge in the early Church. Jesus was picking his body, his church, his nation to be built. And he specially gifted them with abilities to build his Church and proclaim him as Lord, God, and Messiah of the Kingdom.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus charged them with making disciple of all nations, to build his Church. We’re supposed to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We’re supposed to teach them to then follow everything that he taught us.
God wouldn’t call us to this mission if he didn’t give us the ability to achieve it. Our mission is to go out into the world and build his church. He flat out told us that he has the authority to do that because he’s God. Everything is in his charge as King over the Kingdom.
The Spirit has guided people into your life that need to know about him. They need to know about his saving grace and mercy. They need to know about how we live in a broken world, but Jesus is the answer.
If you don’t know how to do that, pray.
Pray that the Spirit will guide you, he will gift you, he will make you the best missional evangelist known to man.
Faithfully and truthfully and lovingly come to him and let him do it in you.
Paul says one last thing and one which David will talk about next week.
31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:31)
Paul says to desire the higher gifts for a reason. There is a more excellent way to achieve the mission of the church. There is a more excellent way for you to reach your Oikos.
There is a more excellent way to reach all the nations to give glory to his name above all. The beautiful name of Christ Jesus, Lord of All.
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