1Co 12: "The apostle Paul wrote concerning spiritual matters,
pointing out that the gifts of the spirit were to be used for the unity of the
Body. Although the miraculous spirit gifts are not available today, the
principle of those gifts must be sought. He outlines nine such gifts. Two
involved the intellect, in the expression of wisdom and of knowledge. These two
principles are the foundation of our belief, as we obtain the wisdom of the
Word, and apply it in knowledge. Another two gifts involve speech, being the
gifts of tongues, and the interpreting of tongues. Consequently, when we speak
words of Truth we manifest the voice of God; when we interpret the Word we apply
our minds to revelation. Two more gifts concern truth: those of prophecy and the
discerning of spirits, reminding us of the need for faithful exhortation, and
the testing of exposition. The final three gifts are of actions: those of faith,
healing and miracles. Similarly, in the extension of those principles, we apply
ourselves to the strengthening of faith; to the caring for others; and to
working fruitfulness. When properly applied, these principles centre on the
unity of the body, for the differing elements are all necessary for the
upbuilding of Christ in his Ecclesial Body. Thus as members in part, we each
contribute something to the whole" (GEM).
AND HE GIVES THEM TO EACH ONE, JUST AS HE DETERMINES:
"God's will is perfect. He distributes our gifts as they are supposed to be.
What a disservice we do to ourselves, our God, and our ecclesias when we try to
compare ourselves to one another. We are not supposed to be the same. We all
have different roles to perform. Some roles are more visible than others, but
that does not make them of more value to the body. Let us encourage each other
in his or her own special gifts. Let us not put false or ill motives on what our
brethren do. We must remember that our brethren are children of God who are
doing their part as best as they know. Let us encourage each other to recognize
the gifts and contributions as extremely important to the functioning and health
of our body -- no matter how visible or invisible they seem to be. Let us not
judge one another or measure one another according to our own standards -- for
we are not the same -- nor were we meant to be. This we do know -- that God has
put the body together as he saw fit -- and who are we to question His purpose
and design? We are intended to be a functioning part of the body -- each and
every one of us in his or her own particular way" (CPv).
IF THEY WERE ALL ONE PART, WHERE WOULD THE BODY BE?:
"What kind of church would my church be... if all of its members were just like
me?" Think, for example, of a "pot-luck" dinner where every guest brought the
exactly same dish. Or a baseball team where all the players had exactly the same
abilities. Or an orchestra where everyone played the same instrument.
At a meeting of the American Psychological Association, Jack
Lipton, a psychologist at Union College, and R. Scott Builione, a graduate
student at Columbia University, presented their findings on how members of the
various sections of 11 major symphony orchestras perceived each other. The
percussionists were viewed as insensitive, unintelligent, and hard-of-hearing,
yet fun-loving. String players were seen as arrogant, stuffy, and unathletic.
The orchestra members overwhelmingly chose "loud" as the primary adjective to
describe the brass players. Woodwind players seemed to be held in the highest
esteem, described as quiet and meticulous, though a bit egotistical. Interesting
findings, to say the least! With such widely divergent personalities and
perceptions, how could an orchestra ever come together to make such wonderful
music? The answer is simple: regardless of how those musicians view each other,
they subordinate their feelings and biases to the leadership of the conductor.
Under his guidance, they play beautiful music.
"The beauty and purpose and usefulness of the human body is in
its diversity" (GVG, Ber 57:308).
THE HEAD... TO THE FEET: "Feet" = those who carry the
gospel message (Rom 10:15; Isa 52:7). Christ cannot come to those to whom he is
not carried by his "feet" -- us!
"Difference... far from sanctioning divisions, calls for
devotion" (WFB 131).
THERE SHOULD BE NO DIVISION IN THE BODY, BUT THAT ITS PARTS
SHOULD HAVE EQUAL CONCERN FOR EACH OTHER: "They tell the story of the fellow
trying to sleep with his feet hanging out the end of the bed, so cold that they
have turned blue. Someone asked him why he didn't draw them up under the covers
and his reply was, 'I'm not going to put those cold things in bed with me!' The
story is funny because it is so ridiculous. Our feet are so much a part of our
body that what happens to them happens to us. We recently had this demonstrated
to us in a very real way. A heavy object was dropped on our big toe, and the
pain it caused was felt throughout the body. Later as we lay in bed trying to
sleep, we could feel each beat of our heart by the throb in our big toe. We were
painfully aware of the truth of Paul's statement concerning the body when he
said 'whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.'
"We had not given our big toe a second thought for years, and
suddenly it became difficult to think of anything else. Paul makes a beautiful
comparison of the parts of our physical body, being parts of the body of Christ.
Paul shows how each part of the body is necessary and how one part must not say
it does not need another part. Even 'those members of the body which seem to be
more feeble, are necessary,' says Paul.
"Paul's elaborate analogy is for the sole purpose of teaching
us that there ought not to be any 'schisms in the body; but that the members
should have the same care one for another.' If we really love the body of Christ
as we love our own body we ought to 'nourish and cherish it, even as the Lord
the church.' We know what Jesus did for us. We know what we each do for an
ailing part of our body. This, says Paul, is the way we ought to care for those
members of our body who are spiritually sick. He tells us that 'we then that are
strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.'
"This is exactly what we do when our big toe hurts. We don't
normally hop around on one foot holding the other with both hands, but when that
toe has an infirmity that is exactly what we do. It doesn't make much difference
either how busy we think we are. We still take time out from whatever we are
doing to do our little one-foot dance.
"Now the problem is we are not usually as sensitive to the
infirmities of others as we are to our own. Those that were with us were not as
concerned about our big toe as we were. After all it was our toe that was
"We all need to cultivate a caring attitude for the
infirmities of others. God has built into our body a nervous system so that we
automatically care for the part of our body that is injured. Now we need to
learn how to become sensitive to the hurts and feelings of others so that we can
nourish and cherish them in their distresses.
"James tells us 'that this is pure religion, to visit the
fatherless and widows in their affliction and keep ourselves unspotted from the
world.' [Jam 1:27]
"Sometimes what we do for the other is really a very small
thing to us but very important to them. A visit, a kind word, just reaching out
a steadying hand when one is hopping on one foot can prevent a fall. We need to
learn to think of others, and try to do for them as we would have them do for us
if we were in their situation. It truly is the thought that counts but the
thought will be demonstrated by a deed, for as faith without works is dead, so
thoughts without actions are dead also. A cup of cold water isn't much but if it
is given in the name of a disciple, Jesus says the giver will not lose his
Let us each learn to care for the body of Christ as we do for
our physical body that there be no "schism in the body; but that the members
should have the same care one for another. Now ye are the body of Christ."
Examples of personification: riches (Mat 6:24); sin (Joh 8:34;
Rom 5:21; 6:16); spirit (Joh 16:13); wisdom (Pro 3:13-15; 9:1); Israel (Jer
31:4,18); people of Christ (Eph 4:4,13; 5:23; Rev 19:7; 1Co 12:27; 2Co 11:2; Col
"One valuable scripture (1Co 12:7-10,27-30) provides a long
list of the gifts of the Spirit. Here they are, with a comment or two about each
Apostles. Besides the twelve there were special messengers of the churches
who also carried this title. (eg Phi 2:25; 2Co 8:23).
Prophets. Some were
inspired to foretell coming events (eg Acts 11:28). But prophesying really means
'speaking forth the word of God.' So preaching and praise (as in 1Co 15:3,4)
were also out-workings of the gift of prophecy.
Teachers. That is,
instructors of those preparing for baptism, and, no doubt, for those already
baptized, as well.
Workers of miracles. Not much is known about this gift,
but it is mentioned as separate and distinct from the gift of
Healing. This explains itself. The marvel wrought by Peter on the
lame man (Acts 3) is a good example.
Wisdom. For the sound guidance of the
Knowledge. Not knowledge of science or mathematics, of course, but
divine knowledge in addition to what the Scriptures taught, for at that time the
Bible was not complete.
Faith. This gift was probably what enabled some
believers to attempt and achieve what they could not have hoped to do in their
own strength -- dangerous preaching tours, selling up and giving the money for
the well-being of their poor brethren, and so on.
The ability to distinguish
or discern spirits. Here was a splendid and necessary safeguard against
impostors. When men claimed to be speaking under the control of the Spirit,
these had power and authority to confirm or deny the truth of the claim. When an
epistle was received by one of the churches, some brother with this gift would
be able to pronounce whether or not this was written by genuine inspiration of
the Holy Spirit.
Speaking with tongues. It is difficult to be sure exactly
what the gift was. It may have been actual superhuman speaking of foreign
languages; or perhaps a form of enthusiastic utterance in no known language; or
even an inspired repetition of prayers and psalms in ancient Hebrew. The subject
really requires a study of its own; but certainly 'tongues' was one of the least
useful of the gifts.
Interpretation of tongues. This and speaking in a
tongue come last in the list. Speaking with tongues not understood would have
been no real help at all without translation. So some were given this power. But
Paul commanded: If there is no one present with the gift of interpretation,
there must be no speaking with tongues. That gift could be, and must be,
Vv 29,30: Cp 7-fold Spirit: Isa 11:2. Also, Rev 1:4; 4:5; 5:6.
No one was self-sufficient. The Holy Spirit gifts were widely distributed so
that all the individual members were dependent upon one another.
BUT EAGERLY DESIRE THE GREATER GIFTS: This implies that
some gifts are of more use than others. There is an ordering of the spirit
gifts: 1Co 12:28; Eph 4:11. Notice the gift of tongues is at the bottom of the
list, and notice also that Eph 4 provides the reason for the gifts -- they were
not given for self gratification; this was the problem at Corinth.
AND NOW I WILL SHOW YOU THE MOST EXCELLENT WAY: There
is something far better than all the Holy Spirit gifts: and that is