Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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      1 Corinthians - Chapter 12 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. My friends, you asked me about spiritual gifts.
    2. I want you to remember that before you became followers of the Lord, you were led in all the wrong ways by idols that cannot even talk.
    3. Now I want you to know that if you are led by God's Spirit, you will say that Jesus is Lord, and you will never curse Jesus.
    4. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit.
    5. There are different ways to serve the same Lord,
    6. and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.
    7. The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.
    8. Some of us can speak with wisdom, while others can speak with knowledge, but these gifts come from the same Spirit.
    9. To others the Spirit has given great faith or the power to heal the sick
    10. or the power to work mighty miracles. Some of us are prophets, and some of us recognize when God's Spirit is present. Others can speak different kinds of languages, and still others can tell what these languages mean.
    11. But it is the Spirit who does all this and decides which gifts to give to each of us.
    12. The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does.
    13. Some of us are Jews, and others are Gentiles. Some of us are slaves, and others are free. But God's Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ. Now we each drink from that same Spirit.
    14. Our bodies don't have just one part. They have many parts.
    15. Suppose a foot says, "I'm not a hand, and so I'm not part of the body." Wouldn't the foot still belong to the body?
    16. Or suppose an ear says, "I'm not an eye, and so I'm not part of the body." Wouldn't the ear still belong to the body?
    17. If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn't hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn't smell a thing.
    18. But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best.
    19. A body isn't really a body, unless there is more than one part.
    20. It takes many parts to make a single body.
    21. That's why the eyes cannot say they don't need the hands. That's also why the head cannot say it doesn't need the feet.
    22. In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest.
    23. We take special care to dress up some parts of our bodies. We are modest about our personal parts,
    24. but we don't have to be modest about other parts. God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable.
    25. He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others.
    26. If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honored, the whole body will be happy.
    27. Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body.
    28. First, God chose some people to be apostles and prophets and teachers for the church. But he also chose some to work miracles or heal the sick or help others or be leaders or speak different kinds of languages.
    29. Not everyone is an apostle. Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone is a teacher. Not everyone can work miracles.
    30. Not everyone can heal the sick. Not everyone can speak different kinds of languages. Not everyone can tell what these languages mean.
    31. I want you to desire the best gifts. So I will show you a much better way.
Reflections

1 Corinthians - Chapter 12

Entered: September 30, 2005
Paul's revelation of God's design for the church is one of the greatest provisions for the church God gives, but it is also one of the least utilized by the church. There is little talk or teaching about it in the church nor is there much reference to it in operating the church. How can this be! It has troubled me for years that this passage is no more utilized in the church than it is. Fortunately it has greater attention today and some churches are actually trying to operate out of spiritual gifts, but there are still far too many churches that give only lip service to it and others that refer to it not at all. How unfortunate! I believe this is the power of the church and the power of the individual to serve Christ, and thus a great reason so many churches operate without power. One cannot stop with chapter 12, though. It must be combined with chapter 13. The motivation for using our spiritual gift must be love. It cannot be out of a motivation of pride or out of a desire for power or control or attention. We must each respect the gifts of all and give each their due place and authority.

Entered: October 31, 2011

Paul, in chapter 12, addresses yet another abuse of the Corinthian Christians related to their self-indulgence. The exercise of spiritual gifts. He prefaces the subject by prividing a test by which they can discern genuine teachers. Many of them had been led astray in paganism, and coming out of that they were not equipped to discern false teachers. Besides their own self-indulgence, they were likely being fed wrong teaching by false teachers. The test of true Christian teachers and their teaching is Jesus. What do they do with Jesus? Many talk about God but may not be referring to the one true God. The true God gave His Son, Jesus, as the way of salvation. Talk of God does not point to the true God unless it includes Jesus, crucified and resurrected on our behalf. Any teacher who cannot testify that "Jesus is Lord," is a false teacher.

Now, concerning spiritual gifts. Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that all spiritual gifts have the same source and purpose. That source is the Holy Spirit, and the purpose is "to produce what is beneficial" for the body, the church. Furthermore, the gifts are not given to individuals for their personal use, but for the benefit of the body. They have been "placed . . . in the church" by God. (12:28) In other words, they are the means by which God empowers the church to fulfill the disciple-making mission He has given it. At the time one receives Christ, they are "baptized by one Spirit into one body." It matters not a person's ethnicity or status in life, all are "made to drink of one Spirit." And in this baptism each receives a gift from the spirit enabling them to fulfill a function in the body of Christ - the church - thus enabling the church to fulfill its mission.

There were those in the Corinthian church who were evidently wanting to "hijack" their spiritual gifts for their own personal benefit rather than that of the church. In so doing, they were denying that their gifts belonged to the church. Thus Paul's comment, "If the foot should say, 'Because I'm not a hand, I don't belong to the body,' in spite of this it still belongs to the body." (12:15) There were also those who discredited the gifts of others, to whom Paul said, "So the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' nor again the head to the feet, 'I don't need you!'" (12:21) Still others, wanting more recognition, were pretending to have gifts they didn't have. To these Paul said, "If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?" (12:17) 

It is puzzling why today's church often gives so little attention to these gifts of the spirit when it is God's gift to the church empowering it to be what He intends for it to be. The lack of attention or misuse of these gifts of the Spirit is a key reason for ineffectiveness of the church.