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Concerning Spiritual Gifts: Will I be used by God? (1 Cor 12:1-3)

1 Cor 12:1-3 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however, you were led. 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.”

Spurgeon said: “It is the whole business of the whole church to preach the whole gospel to the whole world.”

This is a section heading, where he begins a new topic. “Now Concerning Spiritual Gifts.” 12:1. The word gift is not in the original language here, Paul uses just one word that describes “things that pertain to the spirit.” a few verses later he will describe the gifts of the spirit, and so here it is added for some clarity. But it is more generic here. This may indicate the consistent battle against pragmatism on the one hand and spiritism on the other. But make no mistake: Paul gives more time to the issue of spiritual gifts than any other problem in the Corinthian church, and the expectation is that every believer in Christ is going to be used to build up the body into the head who is Chrsit.

They have been divided over, teaching, sexual immorality, church discipline, and many other issues...

It seems at least, that this begins a rejection of some faulty theology:

The Pragmatists v. the Spiritists:

Pragmatists: We can accomplish things in our strength, or in human wisdom. We Just need practical wisdom.

“What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use -- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men -- men of prayer.” E.M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer

Spiritists: On the other extreme might be the spiritists. They might say, “we just need to follow the holy spirit.” The Corinthians were saying “We are of Christ...” not Paul, or Peter, or Applos. -- we go wherever the spirit leads.

"The Christian is bred by the Word and he must be fed by it." --William Gurnall

What do you need to know if you are going to be used by God? Know the contrast that the Holy Spirit Brings to life!

1. Know the contrast in where you stand.

You were pagans: Gentiles, unbelievers, godless/worship false gods.

1 Cor 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Col 3:1+ “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:...In these, you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away.....Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly...

Man of Sorrows,” what a name. — For the Son of God who came. — Ruined sinners to reclaim —   Hallelujah! what a Savior!

As Barclay says "the man who is pneumatikos is the man who is sensitive to the Spirit and whose life is guided by the Spirit." Vine has an interesting note that pneumatikos "always connotes the ideas of invisibility and of power...the purposes of God revealed in the gospel by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:13

2. Know the Contrast in how you are led.

"As unbelievers we are “slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:17), we were not free at all. You are not doing what you want to do...“Unbelievers not only are bound but blinded. They cannot see their chains. They live “in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph. 4:17–18).” John MacArthur

3. See the contrast in who you serve.

Jesus is accursed/Jesus is Lord.

A citizen of the Roman Empire was required once a year to put a pinch of incense on the altar and say, “Caesar is Lord!” This might also be a greeting at times. This was anathema to believers. No true Christian could call anyone but Christ “Lord,” so this was a definite test of whether or not a person was saved.

Context so far...Praying, prophesying (11:4), preaching (9:25)

The meaning: 1. Could be Jewish, 2. Could refer to some Corinthian pagan act of worship in reference to Jesus sacrifice. Either way, it seems to be an extreme (maybe hyperbole) to put up against the fundamental Christian reality that “Jesus is LORD.”

Of course, this was also a politically loaded affirmation in the context of the Roman Empire, where that title was expected to be attributed to Caesar. Jesus is Lord is not merely a statement of theological conviction but of personal allegiance. The First Letter to the Corinthians (i. Presentation of the Christological Criterion for Discerning Spirit-Led Worship, 12:1–3)
Jesus is Lord of all, or nat at all.

Christians were seen as unpatriotic.

Matt 7:21-23 ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

All ministries, therefore, must be subjected to this test—if they do not glorify Christ, they are not of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit of God, we can do nothing. We are as ships without wind. We are useless. -Charles Spurgeon


  • You life before Christ was clearly defined

  • Your life before Christ you were led by forces, but not by revelation of God.

  • But Jesus is Lord

  • you are not what you used to be,

  • You have the Word of God to ground you in all your experience

  • You have on Lord to follow...

Eph 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

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