SPIRITUAL GIFTS PART 1
- Pastor Mark Driscoll
- 1 Corinthians 12:1-8; 11
- August 06, 2006
Well, as we get into this issue of spiritual gifts – and what we’re talking about here is the Holy Spirit giving each Christian at least one ability to do ministry – as we get into this, there are many controversial issues, like tongues and prophesy and healing and in the coming weeks, we’ll deal with all of them in great detail, but by way of preface, let me start by telling you about Jesus. Because if we ever study anything and we don’t connect it to Jesus, we are bound to get into a lot of trouble. So what I will say to you about Jesus is this – that Jesus is our eternal God and that he knew that we had sinned and separated ourselves from him. And so rather than leaving us in that dire situation of separation from God, Jesus Christ came into human history as a man. And he was born and he grew up and he lived and he spent the final three years of his life doing formal public ministry. Before that, he had lots of informal ministry, but his formal, public ministry lasted about three years. And so Jesus taught people and he healed people and he served people and he encouraged people and he counseled people and this is what he did. Now, as we study the Bible, we find that Jesus did his ministry by the power of God the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the best book for you to read on this to see this connection between the Holy Spirit and Jesus is the Gospel of Luke, and therein, Luke continually connects the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and why I’m stating this is that so oftentimes, those who talk a lot about spiritual gifts and talk a lot about the enabling and empowering and gifting of the Holy Spirit, to live the Christian life – sometimes they, sadly, aren’t as into Jesus as they are the Holy Spirit and they don’t talk as much about Jesus as they do the Holy Spirit and if we are to be Biblical, we must always maintain the preeminence of Jesus.
And what I want to show you is this – that as Jesus did ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit, so we can do ministry like Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. And so the Holy Spirit and Jesus are not competing for our allegiance or for our interest, but the Holy Spirit indwelt and enabled and empowered Jesus and likewise, the Holy Spirit – for those of us who are Christians – will indwell, enable and empower us to do ministry like Jesus. I’ll show it to you – how this works. In John 14:12, Jesus makes a very curious statement the theologians have argued over for centuries. And he says to his disciples, his followers, you will do greater things than me. And some have taught that, see, Jesus was junior varsity, we’re varsity. I don’t really see how we could say we’re better than Jesus. I’ve never walked across Lake Washington; I haven’t showed up and gotten a Quiznos sub sandwich and fed a whole Seahawks crowd. I haven’t done the things that Jesus did. I didn’t rise from death. I didn’t bring anyone else back from the dead. I didn’t come down from Heaven – there’s a lotta things I haven’t done. And Jesus’ resume is far superior to any of ours, so what could it possibly mean when Jesus says that we will do greater things than he. And this is what I believe he is saying. That he could feed people but billions of Christians could feed a lotta people. That he could pray for people but billions of Christians could pray for a lot of people. And that he could teach people but billions of Christians could teach a lot of people and it’s not that our ministry is greater than Jesus but it is greater, numerically. It is greater in impact because there are so many Christians that are able to serve.
Jesus then went to the cross and died as a substitute in our place for our sins. Three days later, he rose and he went, demonstrating his resurrection for some 40 days and then he ascended back into Heaven where he is today and then he said something very curious. Just before his departure, he said, don’t go do ministry just yet. Wait. Something else needs to happen. I will send the Holy Spirit and when the Holy Spirit comes, he will enable, he will empower you to do ministry and then you can go do ministry and be my witnesses all over the world. Jesus ascended into heaven and just as he promised, the Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s people. And beautifully, today, you and I who are Christians, we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. That’s what it means to be a Christian. We can be filled with the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit, we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and we can be gifted by the Holy Spirit to do the ministry of Jesus on the earth. And since there are so many Christians, we can spread around the globe and we can touch more people than Jesus could as one person on the earth. Now the Holy Spirit is working through all of God’s children to continue the ministry of Jesus. So when you think of doing ministry, all you’re supposed to think about is being led, empowered, enabled by the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus did.
And so we are always looking to Jesus for our example. And that being said, by way of preface, let me say this as well. When it comes to this issue of being filled and led and enabled and empowered and gifted by the Holy Spirit to do ministry, there is a big debate among Christians as to whether or not certain gifts are still in existence, functioning today, right? And so there are four teams, and I’ve broken them down very simply and I know for those of you who are theological neatniks, this is sort of oversimplification, I know, bear with me. But there are four basic teams and I’ll take you through them and then I’ll tell you which team we are on.
The first is the cessationist position. You’ll get some big words today. The cessationist’s position essentially says that the supernatural gifts like tongues, prophesy, healing, miracles, any of the more supernatural, you know extraordinary gifts, function only in the early church and are not to be practiced today. So there are no tongues today. There’s no prophecies today. There’s no healings today. There’s no miracles today. That was for the early church, not for today. When we get to 1 Corinthians 13, we’ll look at some of the reasons why people teach that. We don’t believe that. We don’t believe that certain gifts were for then and they’re not for now. This came out of – in the early church, a gentlemen named Augustine – his early position was cessationism and later, he changed his mind. In the more modern era, there was a theologian named Benjamin Warfield, B.B. Warfield, who was afraid that if we allowed tongues and prophesy, then we would have revelation that could be in competition with the authority of the Bible. And so he and some others essentially argued for the early Augustinian cessatonist’s position in an effort to get rid of lesser forms of revelation so that there would be no competition for the Bible. Some of you come from cessationist backgrounds. Some of you get freaked out when you see someone raise their hands in worship. You think, “Oh my gosh! It’s a charismatic!” You know, you get freaked out if you think that someone is praying in tongues. You get freaked out if you hear that someone has a private prayer language of tongues and it freaks you out because you come from some cessationist church that has sought to spook you into being afraid of certain gifts of God. We do not hold, the cessationist position. I probably did for about two weeks in my 20s because I met the weirdest charismaniac, freakish dude in my whole life and he kept prophesying and telling me nonsense and so I thought, “Okay, we’ll just get rid of those, because those people are really weird.”
And not all people who practice these gifts and hold this other position are imbalanced or inappropriate but this guy was and he kinda spooked me. We believe, instead, the second position, which is the charismatic position. Right? We are charismatic with a seatbelt. That is, technically, our position. Okay, and I’ll explain that to you. The charismatic position is this – and this may surprise some of you. You thought you were going to a nice fundamentalist church. We have a little charismatic in us. Supernatural gifts are given to every generation and should be practiced today, according to limits of Scripture. So we believe that things like tongues and prophesy and healings and miracles all do exist today but they’re supposed to be done in a way that is Biblical, not violating the teachings of the Bible and in the coming weeks, as we study, we’ll look at the rules for tongues. We’ll look at the rules for prophesy. There’s rules, according to the Bible that govern how these things are to be done. So what we are saying is all of the gifts exist today. Sometimes they are abused, but as long as we obey the teaching of the Bible and we maintain the Bible as the highest authority and the gifts are used according to the Bible, then there is no problem and there is no conflict and there’s nothing to be scared of.
The third position, however, is a little more scary. It is what I have affectionately titled, the charismaniac position, also known as the shake-and-bake position. The shake-and-bake position, the charismaniac position is like the charismatic position, in that they believe that all the gifts are for today, but they tend to have at least functionally, a lower view of the Bible. Now, they wouldn’t say that sometimes, but the way it works is this. That, that contemporary revelation is, in effect, equal to Bible, right? I saw this on Christian television. I turned it on and I saw this total wing nut get on there and, he got on and he held up his Bible, he said, “This is the Word of God,” and he put it down and then he said, “And now I’m going to give you the word of God,” and he just prophesied and spoke for a while. And I thought, “No way in the world. That guy just said he and the Bible are equal.” We do not believe that, right? I looked in the concordance. That dude is not in the book. He is not in the book, right? We believe that the Bible is like the Supreme Court, it’s the highest authority. We love the Bible, we, we don’t hold anything above the authority of the Bible, which means if you say you’re a prophet, we test you by the Bible and your prophesy. If you say you have tongues, we test how you function in your prayer language or your prophetic utterance, according to the Bible.
The charismaniac position is one where there is, sort of, an abuse of spiritual power. Someone saying, “I’m God’s anointed and I speak for God. Put your Bible down and listen to me.” That is how you start a cult, right?
The fourth position, there’s the cessationists, the charismatic, the charismaniac, and then there’s the Pentecostal position. Some of you may have come from or Pentecostal backgrounds, and the Pentecostal position is similar to the charismatic position in that it believes that all the gifts are in operation, the tongues, prophesy, healing, and miracles with this exception – that some Christians have the Holy Spirit and some don’t and that the only way you know you have the Holy Spirit is if you speak in tongues, and that tongues is essentially the evidence of having the Holy Spirit, which is not true.
We’ll look at it today, but Paul says – or God says, I should say, through Paul – that God gives gifts to each person as he determines and that we don’t all have the same gifts. You’ll see this in the coming weeks, and that we won’t call you to speak in tongues.
Right, they’re tongues speakers. And then, some of us don’t. I don’t. And I was arguing with a Pentecostal friend of mine – he’s a good guy – but he said, “It’s too bad you don’t have the Holy Spirit.” I was like, “Really? Uh, thanks Barnabas, that’s such an encouragement. That’s wonderful.” I said, “You know, it really stinks I don’t have the Holy Spirit, because I got the kinda job that seems like I would need him.” So I asked this guy, I said, “Well how did I get convicted of sin? How did I have I changed heart, a renewed mind, a love for Jesus, an understanding of scripture, and the ability to serve God, without the Holy Spirit?” He said, “I don’t know.” I do! I have the Holy Spirit.
So, you know, that you be- you receive the Holy Spirit at conversion. That’s what it means to be a Christian, right? The Holy Spirit comes in, Ephesians 1 says and it is at the moment of salvation, you’re baptized, sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit rain is your mind. He changes your heart. Here redirects your will toward the purposes of God. He convicts you of sin. He instructs you in Scripture. He gives you a deep, abiding love for Jesus. You can’t be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. You can’t be a Christian on your own power, on your own strength, on your own merit. It’s by the grace and empowerment of God that you become a Christian.
So our position is that if you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit is not exclusively evidenced by the speaking in tongues. Some people will speak in tongues, other people will have other kinds of gifts and they’ll have other kinds of gifts and they’ll have other kinds of ministries and God has handed these out to us just as he has determined. So, if you are now ready, we will move forward, but, to summarize: we’re not cessationists, we’re not charismaniac, we’re not Pentecostal, though we love them, and they love Jesus and that’s cool – we’re just a Bible believing, sort of conservative charismatic with a seat belt church. That’s where we’re at. That’s where we’re at, okay?
So now we’ll get into Paul’s the prefatory work on the spiritual gifts, beginning in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12, Verse 1. “Now,” that’s the transition that he uses on a few occasions in 1 Corinthians. They had written him a letter with a lot of questions and what we have is his series of responses and their questions here are about spiritual gifts. This is a church that is not using the spiritual gifts well. They have all kinds of confusion and they need teaching. One of the things that happens when the section of Scripture is wrongly taught, is 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 are taught that the Corinthian church used the gifts and we should do it like they did. No, we should not. They’re being corrected and rebuked. He says, “Now, about spiritual gifts, brothers,” he’s writing to Christians in the church, “I do not want you to be ignorant.” So what are they about spiritual gifts? They’re ignorant. There’s a lot they don’t understand and they are doing it all wrong. A lot of churches the do the spiritual gifts, especially the more supernatural ones, wrongly. He also says later, in 1 Corinthians 13 that they’re acting like children, that they’re being childish, right? So when you read Corinthians, don’t say, “Well we need to do what they did.” No, Paul is correcting them because they’re doing it wrong. He says that they’re ignorant and childish, which is not a compliment.
And so what we find is, when it comes to spiritual gifts, there are a lot of ways that people can be ignorant and not understand. And when I say spiritual gift, what I’m saying is that when the Holy Spirit comes in and makes you a Christian – when that miracle occurs – the Holy Spirit brings with him at least one ability to do ministry like Jesus. It’s a supernatural enablement to do ministry like Jesus. When I say the words spiritual gift, that’s what I mean. And so here are some ways, pastorally and practically, that I have seen people operate in a way that is ignorant regarding spiritual gifts. First, there is a distinction between a natural talent and a supernatural or spiritual gift. A natural talent is given at birth and a supernatural talent, or supernatural gift, is given at your new birth. So when you’re born, you have certain talents and abilities and skills, and when you’re born again – you become a Christian – the Holy Spirit brings with him other abilities or at least one ability to do ministry that honors Jesus.
So your natural talents are things like this. Some of you are highly artistic, right? You can paint, you can draw, you can sculpt, you can do architecture, you can do design – you just have designed and creative ability and skill. Some of you are great athletes. You just have phenomenal athletic ability. Some of you have perfect pitch and a great singing voice. Some of you can write code and have all kinds of technical skills, right? These are gifts that God has given you and you can have those gifts and abilities, those talents, without being a Christian. That’s why there’s people who don’t know Jesus who have some amazing talents and abilities and a can do some amazing things. Not because of the Holy Spirit indwelling them as a Christian, but because God made them and gave them the certain abilities, okay? And so when we’re talking about spiritual gifts and natural talents, sometimes the error is saying, “Well, I need to find out my gift.” That’s true, but you also need to look at your talent, because sometimes your ministry can be as much centered around your natural talent as it is your spiritual gift.
For example, let’s say you’re a tremendous artist. You – your art maybe the way that you really serve God. Maybe you’re a phenomenal musician and you end up helping lead worship. You have a great voice. You can help build code for our website and distribution of information. I mean, whatever you have that can be used for God’s glory and the benefit of the church should be used, whether it’s something you had before you were a Christian or is something you had after you became a Christian, it all counts and God gave it all to you to be used. So as we talk about spiritual guess, I want to stress that that’s not the only thing that God has given you to do ministry. There are other abilities that God has given you as well.
Secondly, there is no complete list of spiritual gifts in the New Testament. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 have some lists of gifts. 1 Peter 4 and Ephesians 4 have additional lists of gifts and the lists aren’t all the same. Some have corollary gifts. Some have new gifts and so we’re not sure exactly what the sum total list of spiritual gifts is in the Bible. Some say, “Well, if you put all the lists together, then you get the list.” Well, maybe. Maybe not. So as we study the gifts, there may even be additional things that the Holy Spirit has enabled you to do that aren’t even listed in the Bible and that doesn’t mean that they’re wrong, it just may mean that we don’t have a complete and thorough list. We just don’t know.
Additionally, every Christian receives at least one spiritual gift, and some of you will get more. One way to serve God – one supernatural enabling to do ministry like Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit – and some of you will have two or three or four. Some of you will have the ability to have the gift of knowledge and study like crazy and the gift of teaching. You’re good at teaching, okay? Some of you will have the gift of administration and hospitality. So you’ve loved to bring people over and through a big parties, and you like to have all of that very well organized and those gifts work together. Some of you have multiple gifts and some of you have one. And also, too, there are different portions of spiritual gifts. Some of you can lead. You could lead dozens of people. Some of you can lead. You could lead hundreds of people. Some of you can lead. You can leave thousands of people, right? I know one gentleman, and I’ve had dinner with him a few times – and I asked him one time, I said, “How many employees do you have?” and I can’t remember the number. It was like hundreds of thousands of employees. I thought, “My goodness. That is an amazing gift of leadership.” I mean that’s, that’s an amazing, amazing level of leadership capacity.
Some of you have different portions of your gift. Some of you have, for example, the gift of administration and you can keep your checkbook balanced, you keep your home in order, maybe you’re a mom and you’ve got everything tidied up at home and you home school and you got it all rolling along well. Some of you are able to run large companies. Some of you are able to run whole franchises of an organization. There are different levels of gifting, right? Some people can’t operate at one level, some can operate at another, and all are important. And additionally, it doesn’t matter what your spiritual gift is, you need to serve outside of your area of gifting, right? Right, like for example, you’re a mom. Your kid comes to you and says, “Could you tell me about Jesus?” “No, I don’t have the gift of teaching. You’re gonna need to go to hell. I’m sorry about that.” You know, you can’t do that. Your kid comes up, “I’m really hungry, mom.” “Sorry, I don’t have the gift of hospitality. You’re gonna be skinny. That’s the way it’s gonna go for you.” You know, I mean, you know what I’m saying? I mean sometimes, people will say, “Well, I’m a teacher. I don’t pick up trash.” Well, if you have the gift of teaching and there’s trash into your seat, pick it up on the way out and also serve.
We also need to know that in addition to our gift, we need to sometimes just to do what is necessary to help other people. All give you one example. When I was a brand new Christian in college, I was in church a few weeks in a row and they kept asking for someone to volunteer to run this ministry, this nursery for kids. All these moms got together and they had a bunch of little kids who were old enough to go to school, yet. So there like 2, 3, 4, 5 years of age and there was like 15 moms and I don’t know what there were, 20 or 30 kids, if they’re all there at the same time – and they kept getting up and saying, “Could someone come and watch the kids for two or 3 hours every week?” and everybody was like, “No. That’s not gonna happen. You know, that’s, that’s a lot of poop, you know, I’m not gonna do that.” And it was. And I mean, these are – you know, you’re looking at 20 or 30 dirty diapers, 20 or 30 runny noses, 20 or 30 you know, little dispensing of fishy crackers. I thought, “Man, I’m a single guy, I’m 19 years of age, I don’t do diapers and I don’t do fishy crackers,” and I thought, after about the third week, I thought, “You know, I need to just go do that. I just need to volunteer, because nobody else is gonna do it and I’m gonna do it.” So I said, “I’ll do it.” and they all looked at me like, “Really?” I’m like, “I – yeah, I’ll do it. I’ll do it.”
So I show up, man, and these moms all just come in and drop off their kids and run for their life, right? And so I’m looking at all little people, fingers up their nose, hand down their diaper, poking each other, and I’m thinking, “I don’t feel gifted for this. I don’t feel called to children’s ministry. Ay, ay, ay.” But you know what? It ended up being a great experience. I’d teach the kids stories. I’d wrestle with them and hand them fishy crackers and spend time with them and it was really cool, because I felt like, you know, this isn’t where I’m gonna spend the rest of my life, Jesus, please – but there was a need and I did it and I enjoyed it and sometimes you just do what needs to be done until a person with the gift comes along and sometimes they pick up for you. So, so after I did it for a semester, someone else who really did feel called to children’s ministry and was probably far greater with the kids than I was says, “Well, I’ll take it now.” Great. I was just, you know, sort of holding down the fort ‘til the pro showed up. You know, here’s the fishy crackers, God bless you. So, sometimes you just do what you need to do, even if it’s not in your area of gifting, just for the sake of the ministry of the gospel. And what happens as well, you’ll find that in addition to your gift, God is going to give you passions.
Some of you are going to be really fired up about a part of the world, about certain people. So if you are gonna say, “I love kids. I love kids.” And actually, today, I’m a father of five. I love kids, love little people. My hearts changed a lot. I mean, I’ve always loved kids, but now that I have my own kids, like I love kids all the more. And some of you are going to be really into single moms. You’re gonna say, “I just have a heart for single moms.” Some of you are going to say, “I have a heart for women who had an abortion.” “I have a heart for new married couples.” “I have a heart for people that have been addicted to drugs and alcohol.” “I have a heart for people who are financially upside down. Don’t know how to make a budget, get themselves out of debt.” Some of you say, “I just have a heart for elderly people.” My wife and I, in college, one of our first ministries together is we took meals to shut ins and visited with elderly people who couldn’t get out of the house and we’d bring meals to them every week.
Some of you will have a heart for older people. I mean, and it’s a passion that God gives you and then that’ll work with your gift. So let’s say you have a teaching gift and a passion for kids. You’re gonna go in the nursery in teach kids. If you have a passion for service and the elderly, you’re probably gonna be go visiting shut ins and serving them. I mean, your passion and your gift work together to give you a ministry. And so, what you’ll find as well – some of the ways to discover your spiritual gift, as we get into the series, is asking questions like this – what is my passion? What am I really passionate about? You know, if I had extra money, if I had extra time, if I could really commit myself to one project, what would that be? That’s probably indicative of where your gifts lie.
Additionally, what makes me happy? What gives me joy? What do I get excited about? What, when I get to do that, man, I just feel so glad? Is a serving? Is a teaching? Is it having people over for dinner? Is it organizing things, because if things are out of order, you freak out? It’s not in order. Where’s the label maker? Your gift of administration and a control freak with a OCD, all of that working together for God’s glory, right? So what makes you happy? Are you happy when things get organized? Does it make you happy? You have the gift of administration, right? Does it make you happy when people learn the Bible? Maybe you have the gift of teaching. Does it make you happy when somebody comes up to you and says, “Man, I need your help.” I have the gift of service. Ta da! I’m here. I’m happy. I’m glad to help, makes me happy, okay? There’s joy that comes when you’re using your gift, because you’re doing what God made you to do and it’s really a wonderful thing to use your gift.
And additionally, you’ll know what your gift is by figuring out where you are effective, right? When you do something and people are blessed and it goes well and others say, “Thank you so much. That was really helpful,” you’re probably working in your area of gifting, right? If you think you have a gift and you keep doing it and it just doesn’t work, you really are not good at it, you probably should say, “Maybe I thought my gift was this and maybe it’s this. So maybe I should try this, now.” And here’s the key. The way you find your gift is by trial and error. Some of you, right, everybody becomes a new Christian, they think, “I’m a teacher.” Well not everybody’s a teacher. Some of you think, “Well, okay I tried teaching and I – I wasn’t all that fired up about it and I wasn’t all that great at it, but I notice when I show up in that community group, I was the one who would meet with everybody afterward and take them out for coffee and see how they were doing and pray for them. Maybe my gift is encouragement. Maybe that’s my gift. Maybe I don’t need to be the teacher. Maybe I’m the encourager.” Or, “I’m the one who always brought food and made ‘em all fat and I have the gift of hospitality. I bake things for Jesus and I love doing that.” I love to see people get bigger. That makes me happy.” Okay.
And so part of it is just trial and error, figuring out where’s my passion? Where am I effective? What gives me joy? What do other people see and how do they respond? And do they see that I have some ability that God has given me in this area? Paul says that there are many ways that we can be ignorant of spiritual gifts and the last I would give you is this – is that some people don’t cultivate their spiritual gift, which is an ignorant thing to do. Your gift needs to be cultivated, right? You need to grow in it. I mean, let’s say you’re an administrator. You need to learn technology and Excel and charts and graphs and calendars and budgets to grow in your administrative ability. Let’s say your gift is teaching. You’re gonna need to read and study a great deal to grow in your gift of teaching. Let’s say for example, your gift is encouragement. You will need to learn how can I ask good questions? How can I be a good listener? How can I give good counsel? How can I pray for people regularly and grow in your gift? And I’ll say this too. Anyone who has the Holy Spirit, which is a Christian – that’s what it means to be a Christian, is you have the Holy Spirit – has a spiritual gift that can and should be cultivated and this includes kids. I’m the father of five and my oldest two kids – I’ll use them for example – they started praying on their own at 18 months and they have had a relationship with the Lord since they were little kids and it’s very, very genuine and I see already in my kids their spiritual gifts emerging and I’m cultivating those gifts. So just, even if you’re a parent and you’ve got a six-year-old kid, you could still cultivate their spiritual gift.
All give you an example. My son, Zach, he just turned seven, he is word and knowledge theologian kid. Like, I love this kid. He comes to me with the craziest theological questions. He came to me at five, right. Here was his question, I mean, he’s just going into kindergarten. He says, “Dad, at the end of Genesis, the pharaoh in Egypt loves God’s people, right?” “Yes.” “But in the beginning of the next book of the bible, Exodus, the pharaoh didn’t love God’s people, right?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “What happened? Why did the pharaoh change his mind?” Right, this kid can’t read yet? Right, he’s going into kindergarten. Most kids at that age are like, “What’s one plus one?” “Orange.” I mean, they’re you know, they’re not super theological, yet. And I said, “Oh, there’s a 400 year gap, son, between the end of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus and it was a different pharaoh.” He said, [snaps fingers] “Ah. That explains it.” Some of you are going, “There’s a gap between the two?” Yes there is. Right? But this is what he’s thinking about, you know? This is what he’s thinking about. He came up to me when he was six and said, “Okay, dad, there’s one God, right?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Now, the father is God, right?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “And Jesus is God, right?” “Yeah.” “And the Holy Spirit is God, right?” “Yeah.” “How do you get one God when there’s three of them?” He’s six, he can’t read yet at this point. He’s in kindergarten. I said, “That’s the Trinity.” He said, “That’s a tough one.” I said, “Yeah, I know. Especially in kindergarten.” You know? But he’s that kid. So he and I – we need to have theological talks, because he – his mind is always racing. Cultivating that, that study, that knowledge gift.
And my daughter Ashley, she just turned nine, she has the gift of administration. She’s the tidiest girl I’ve ever seen. It’s crazy. When she was seven, I walked into her room and I noticed she had this routine at night. She was sitting there, writing in her journal. I said, “What are you doing?” she says, “I’m journaling my thoughts of the day.” Oh. Nice seven-year-old activity. And I looked over, and her clothes are all laid out. I said, “What’s that?” she says, “I always lay out my clothes the night before so that their matching and organized.” Really? And I said, “What’s that on your desk?” she says, “That is my to do list for tomorrow.” Seven. Right? Seven. You know, I mean. So she makes the to do list every day, and throughout the day checks it off, and at the end of the night reviews it, journals how her day went, lays out her clothes, prays, has her devotional time, and makes her to do list for the next day, starting at 7, all by herself. Gift of administration. So we cultivate that. She’s the girl we go to on vacation. She literally be like, “Today, we have five options. We can go to the park. We can go to the water slides. We could go out to dinner. We could take a family nap. We could go for a walk. What do you think?” and she is just – she is tidiest I’ve ever seen and it’s cute. So, when you have kids, you can cultivate their gifts, even from an early age and tell them, “I see this in your and I’m going to help encourage that.” Okay?
My next point is that spiritual guess her about Jesus and that’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:2. “You know that when you were pagans,” back when you used to go to college and play guitar, “somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.” You worshiped false gods, like success and fame and sex and money and power and they don’t speak to you and they don’t love you, because those are false gods that aren’t alive. “Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Let me nail this down for those of you coming from a more Pentecostal backgrounds, and I love the Pentecostals because they, they sing and they pray and they worship and a evangelize and God bless them one and all – but it is sad to me when someone says, “You don’t have the Holy Spirit unless you speak in tongues.” Paul just said, you don’t have the holy spirit unless what? You love Jesus. How do you know that you have the Holy Spirit? You love Jesus.
Now we’re not all gonna speak in tongues, but if you’re a Christian, we’re all gonna love Jesus. When it says, “Jesus is Lord,” what that means is Jesus is the highest authority in my life. His opinion, his word is supreme. It is above all else for me. I valued no one and nothing above Jesus. I love no one and nothing above Jesus. I serve, honor, obey, follow, imitate Jesus. All of that is packed in two when the Bible says Lord, right? That he is high and exalted and that he is supreme and preeminent. And what he’s saying is, you know you have the Holy Spirit if you’re into Jesus, right? Because see it’s the Holy Spirit who takes out our heart of stone, gives us a heart of flesh to love Jesus. It’s the Holy Spirit who renews and transforms our mind to love and serve and obey Jesus. It’s the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin which separates us from Jesus and reorients our life course toward Jesus.
If you’re here to date and you’ve wondered, “I don’t know if I have the Holy Spirit.” Ask yourself this question. “Do I love Jesus? Is he my Lord God and savior? Am I into Jesus above all else?” If so, you have the Holy Spirit. You have the Holy Spirit. And don’t let anyone look down on you and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a second class citizen because you can prophesy or you don’t speak in tongues. Or don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a first class citizen because you have some specific gifts, talents, or ability. The main issue is Jesus. Do you love, honor, serve, obey, follow, dig Jesus? That’s what he’s talking about. And so, this is what’s important because there are people who do ministry, but they don’t love Jesus. And you can do ministry and not love Jesus. You can do ministry and not be filled with the Holy Spirit. You can do ministry and it doesn’t even count because it’s not for Jesus and it’s not by the Spirit.
You know, what I’m telling you is this not all people who say they are Christians are Christians unless they’re filled with the Holy Spirit and love Jesus. Not all pastors are Christians. Not all pastors are filled with the Holy Spirit. Not all pastors love Jesus. I mean, I know this sounds crazy but if you walk into a church, you’ve gotta ask questions like, “Do you believe in the lordship of Jesus? Are we gonna talk about him? Are we gonna learn about him? Are we gonna pray to him? Are we gonna sing to him? I mean, are our lives going it be patterned after his?” If not, then the Holy Spirit is not leading those people as the Holy Spirit leads people to Jesus and leads people to be like Jesus. And it’s just so sad when you have whole denominations that aren’t even willing to take a vote as to whether or not they think Jesus is Lord when whether or not they vote, he still is, praise be to God.
So I’ve gotta ask you, before we move any further, before I get into spiritual gifts and how to serve God and how to do ministry, has some of you will say, “That’s great. I wanna feed the poor. I wanna clothe the naked. I wanna help the needy. I wanna go to the war torn corners of the earth and I wanna do good works.” And we say praise be to God but the first question is, is Jesus Christ your Lord? First things first. Do you know Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Are you walking with Jesus? Are you singing to Jesus? Are you praying to Jesus? Have you confess your sin to Jesus? If not, first things first. The worst thing I could possibly do is tell you how to do ministry and not tell you how to be a Christian because we would end up with just more people who are doing quote/unquote ministry that is not led by the Holy Spirit and is not a glorifying Jesus and will just continue to dishonor him and send people to hell. Are you a Christian? I don’t know all of you. I don’t know your heart and your mind and your life. I don’t know, but you do. Do you believe that Jesus is God? That he lived without sin. That he died in your place for your sin. That he rose, conquering Satan, sin and death and that salvation is through him alone. And that if you confess your sin to Jesus, he will take away your sin. He will reconcile you to God the father. That he will send his Holy Spirit to dwell in you to change your heart and your mind in your life, just to empower you and gift you and enable you to live a life patterned after the life of Jesus. That honors God in Heaven. That serves people on the earth. Are you a Christian? If not, you become a Christian today.
Enough of good works and feeding the poor and doing all of these things. They’re good but they’re secondary. The primary issue is Jesus. The primary issue is always Jesus. And you can become a Christian today by acknowledging that sin is separating you from Jesus, confessing that sin in prayer to Jesus, and asking him to forgive you and saying, “Jesus Christ, you are my Lord. I follow you now. I belong to you now. I worship you now. I pray to you now. I seem to you now. I want to be like you now.” Once you’ve established that, then we can move forward and talk about spiritual gifts and ministry in all the wonderful ways that we can serve God. But none of that can be done unless you’re filled with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit doesn’t reside in you if you don’t love Jesus, because that’s his first work.
He goes on then, in verse 4 and talks about how the entire Trinity is involved in the distribution of spiritual gifts. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.” That is the Holy Spirit. Verse 5. “There are different kinds of service rather, but the same Lord.” That’s the Lord, Jesus. And “There are different kinds of working, but the same God,” that’s God the Father, who “works all of them in all men.” Here’s what he’s saying. That when you become a Christian, the entire Trinity is paying attention to you. God’s busy. He has got a lot going on. It’s amazing. You become a Christian and God actually pays attention to you, individually and personally. And God, the Father, says I want them to have this gift. This is what I have for them to do. They’re very important. I’m gonna put them in this city. I’m gonna put them in this church and there gonna do this ministry and there gonna help these people, so I need them to have this supernatural spiritual gift. And the Holy Spirit comes and brings with him that gift and all of a sudden you have the ability to do ministry like Jesus and God the father is honored because he appointed your ministry and the time and place in which you live and a gift that he’s given you. And the Holy Spirit has brought that gift into you to now enable and empower you to do that thing that God the Father has for you to do and your whole life is about looking at Jesus, saying, well, how do I live my life and do my ministry like Jesus he has all I’m doing is continuing the ministry of Jesus. And the whole Trinity is involved in the giving of our gifts.
And he goes on in Verse 7 to say, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” The Holy Spirit gives us a spiritual gifts to serve others, right? To bless others. To benefit others. So that the whole church, he says in 1 Corinthians 14, may be edified. That the whole church may be built up, he says elsewhere in 1 Corinthians 12. That God gave you a gift – and let me say this – that you are a gift to this church. That you are a gift to this church. That God has given you to this church as a gift. And the Holy Spirit is in you and the spiritual gift that has been imparted to you is part of the gift that you give. And you serve and other people help. So if you teach, you teach and other people learn. If you’re in encourager, you encourage and other people grow. If you’re an administrator, you help us organize this growing church. Whatever the capacity God has given you, he has sent you here on divine mission with important things to do and we need you and you need us and we all need each other to become the church that is most like Jesus, so that as many people as possible hear about his love, know of his affection, and are transformed by the Holy Spirit. So we’re all in this thing together and we each have our part to play.
And so if you’re a Christian and you’re here and you’ve been hanging out on the fringe and you look around, say there’s a lot of people, they probably got everything covered, we don’t.
Then we’ll jump down to Verse 11 and then we’ll revisit Verse 8. But in Verse 11, he says, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives each one to us, just as he determines.” Okay, so who determines what gift you get? God. And the Holy Spirit decides what gift you get. Now this, this is what frustrates me – in some churches, the pastor will get up and say, “If you would like to speak in tongues, if you’d like to prophesy, com one up and I’ll give it to you.” The pastor does not give gifts. The Holy Spirit does. I hope you know this. I’m not the Holy Spirit, right? He is not like me. He’s holy and he’s working on me. The Holy Spirit is not me. We’re not the same person, right? I can’t give you a gift. I’m not God. I can’t give you a ministry. I’m not God. I can’t give you abilities. I’m not God. The Holy Spirit can and he does. And he does.
So, if you have a gift and you’re sort of despising your gift, saying, “Oh man, he gave me the gift of service. I wanted the gift of prophecy.” You know, “I wanted some – I wanted a big gift, you know? I wanted some cool gift. I wanted, I wanted the leadership gift so I could be on the front of a band and rock star, you know? I wanted the tongues gift so I could get up and yabba dabba do Jesus loves you and do my thing. And God didn’t give me those gifts, dang it. God gave me the gift of service.” Well, Jesus was a servant. God gave me the gift of encouragement. Well, Jesus is an encourager. I mean, you’re still doing what Jesus did. You shouldn’t despise the part that God has played for you to affect yourself in the body of Christ. You should say, “Well, if this is what you chose, and this is who I am, then God, I’m gonna do that, because that’s what needs to be done and I’m sure all have joy because I’ll be serving effectively, people will be blessed, the church will be better and I’ll be doing my part.” Don’t despise the gift God has given you.
Every 20 year old guy who gets saved wants to be a preacher, all right? I mean, just, just figure out who you are and do your thing. And I’d tell you, being a preacher, there’s a lot of hate mail involved, you may want to rethink wanting that gift, you know? You may want to just accept the fact that God does love you and what he has asked of you is something very important, as important as anything else, and that he gave you that gift and you don’t wanna be like a bratty kid on their birthday, right? Opening their present, saying, “Well, that’s not what I wanted.” If God gives you a gift, praise God for the gift.
So now we’ll pick up two gifts in Verse 8 and in the ensuing weeks, we will look at all of the gifts that are listed in the New Testament and we’ll look at two, here, beginning in Verse 8. “To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom,” we’ll look at wisdom, first, “to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit.” So the second one is knowledge. So we’re in 1 Corinthians 12:8, there’s wisdom and knowledge and there will be more in the coming weeks. We’ll look at wisdom first.
Here’s the gift of wisdom. I’ll read the definition that I made for you. The gift of wisdom is the ability to have insight into people and situations that is not obvious to the average person, combined with an understanding of what to do and how to do it. Right? You people are intensely practical. Right? You read the Bible? What are you gonna do? I don’t know. Well, let me help ya. Right? You don’t know what to do with your money? Let’s put a plan together. You don’t know how to manage your life? Let’s put a schedule together. You don’t know how to do ministry? Let’s talk about that.
It is the ability to not only see, but also apply the principles of God’s word to the practical matters of life by the what Ephesians 1:17 calls the spirit of wisdom. So the Holy Spirit comes in you and he makes you wise. You have wisdom. Now wisdom is the ability to take the principles of God’s word and practically apply them to the decisions of life. It’s knowing what to do, how to live your life. What do I do with food, money and sex and friendship and marriage and kids and power and – it takes wisdom two figure all of that out. And you can’t live your life without wisdom. And some of you don’t have wisdom in certain areas, and so there are people that God gives the gift of wisdom to, and we get to go to them for help and council and insight and they’re huge gifts to us to help us figure out how do I take what I know to be true in the Bible and live it in my life, practically, what does this mean? Okay? James 1:5 says if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who give in abundance without finding fault. I pray that prayer all the time. Every time I do counseling, I open up with that prayer. God give me wisdom. I wanna know what questions to ask. I wanna know what issues to examine in this person’s life. I wanna know what Scriptures to use. I wanna know what principles to share. I wanna know what applications to advise so this person could have a good life, marked by wisdom, not a tragic life, marked by folly.
It goes on, the general make up. These people often have the ability to synthesize Biblical truth and apply it to people’s lives so that they make good choices and avoid foolish mistakes. These people make good life coaches, counselors, consultants, right? These are the kind of people that you can go to them and they start asking the right questions and they pull out the right information and they say, “Well have you tried this? Have you done that? Have you read this? Have you studied this book of the Bible? Have you prayed about this? Have you talked to this person? Have you made this plan?” You’re like, “I haven’t done any of that. Why not?” You don’t have this gift, man. But they do and they love you and they’re there to help you. These people are great life coaches. These people are great counselors. You go to them, saying, “Okay, here’s the deal. This is where my life’s going. I’m making some foolish decisions. It’s really getting bad. I don’t know how to fix it, what do I do? And they tell you, “Well, here’s what you do and here’s what you do,” and you know, [snaps fingers]. That is wise counsel. That’ll work, thank you.
And they’re great consultants. They can walk into ministries and into businesses and organizations and a concert of get the lay of the land and figure out all of the systems, policies, procedures, leadership, and the budget, and then they ask the right questions, and they can help to bring foolishness and mistakes and error out and then correct it with wise counsel. Where do we see this in the life of Jesus? Will we see it, a lot, in the life of Jesus. I’ll give you some examples. In Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 40 through 52, we are told that Jesus was “filled with wisdom” as a little boy, and that as he grew, he grew, the Bible says, in the wisdom. Jesus was wise. It goes on to say that in his day, the scholars, the older, learned men, looked at this young boy, Jesus and it says they were amazed at his learning. That could not believe what they heard this little boy, Jesus, say. He is wise. Where did that wisdom come from? The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 1:24 and 30 says that the Holy Spirit is the spirit of wisdom and that Jesus Christ was filled with the Holy Spirit. The spirit of wisdom and Jesus was wise, even from youth. It goes on to say in Mark 6:3 that crowds who heard Jesus teach said, “Where did this man get his wisdom,” right? He doesn’t sound like anybody else we’ve ever heard. He makes perfect sense. He takes the most complicated parts of our life and he applies the Bible to them and he helps us figure out how to live our life according to God’s wisdom and avoid folly. And Matthew 14:2, Jesus says that he is wiser than Solomon, who up until that point, was the wisest man who ever lived. And in Luke 21:15, Jesus says, “I will give you words of wisdom.” That Jesus is wise and that Jesus gives wisdom and that the Holy Spirit is the spirit of wisdom. That’s why like James 1:5 says if you lack wisdom, ask for wisdom. Ask Jesus and the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and if you have that gift, you are such a gift. You can really help people. Some of you know the joy of this already. People come up to you and they say, “Look. Can I talk to you about something? This is a wreck and I don’t know what to do.” You say, “Well, I do. Have you looked at this part of the Bible? Have you prayed? Have you talked to these people? Have you considered doing this?” No. How do you know that? That was the Holy Spirit. That was the Holy Spirit giving me wisdom for you because God loves you. And what a joy that is to give wisdom to people. To help them. I mean so many people live their lives full of foolish decisions and tragic consequences. People with the gift of wisdom help us avoid that kind of life.
Biblically, here’s some character studies for you. I’ve got this in your notes. You want to look at the life of Joshua, the life of Solomon and the life of Daniel. If you have the gift of wisdom, one of the best things you can do, in addition to studying the life of Jesus, is to look at Solomon. Look at Joshua. Look at Daniel. Do a Biblical study. Take some time, saying, “How did they get wisdom? How did they use wisdom? How did they serve and help other people? And how was wisdom that God gave them a part of their ministry and what can I learn from that?” It’s good to study your Bible and see people with the same gifts that you have.
Do you have this gift? Here’s some questions. When studying God’s word, do you find that you discover the meaning and its implications before other people do? Right? You’re in a Bible study group, and everybody’s sitting there and they read the verse and everybody’s like, “Huh?” then they all look at you and you’re like, “Da da da da!” Everybody’s like, “That’s it!” The spirit of God teaches you the Bible and everybody’s like, “That’s what it meant. Thank you very much. Next.” And people just look to you to tell them what does that mean? “Well here’s what it means.” “What do I do about that?” Get real practical. When you read the wisdom books, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Job, James – they’re really practical. They’re about money and sex and power and finances and kids and your tongue and your job. They’re really practical. People with the gift of wisdom tend to be really practical. They read the Bible and they practically, they know what to do.
Additionally, do you have this gift? Do you seem to understand things about God’s word that other believers with the same background and experience don’t seem to know? Right? Talk to other people and you say, “Well, I was reading the Bible and here’s what it means and I think this applies to.” They’re like, “How did you know? I just read that. I didn’t get that. It didn’t make any sense to me.” You say, well, the Holy Spirit’s given me this gift of wisdom and he loves you and this is what he wants you to know.
Thirdly, are you able to apply Biblical truth in a practical way that helps, counsels others to make good life choices? I’ve already talked about that a little bit. But when people come to you, do you say, “Well, let’s open the Bible and here’s what it says and here’s what it means and here’s what God has for you to do”? And people walk away going, “Thanks. That’s it.” And they’re freed up from their folly to live a new life. Do you get frustrated when people make foolish decisions and damage their quality of life because you know what they should’ve done instead? “She marries him? What? No! They shoulda called. Shoulda called. She should’ve called. No! You’re kidding? They ran off to Vegas? Aaah! He can’t read. He doesn’t have pants.” You know? “They had to take the bus because he’s got a DUI and can’t drive. What? No. That’s not wise.” You see people raising their kids totally wrong. And the kids are just not doing good. You’re like, “Man, that, that saddens me because they just keep making the same foolish mistake, raising that kid. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Whatever it is. People are making bad business decisions over and over and over and they keep getting themselves further into debt. You think, “Man, that was foolish. You know, God’s word has some principles that really woulda helped there and coulda kept ‘em outta that trouble and man, if they just woulda come to me, I coulda prayed with them and we could have Bible studied and I coulda given ‘em some help and I coulda pointed ‘em to the right books and websites and I coulda helped ‘em make a plan and they didn’t need to go that way.” People with the gift of wisdom, what bothers them is folly. They just can’t stand to see it, because it hurts people’s lives and God has so much wisdom to give that there’s no excuse to live a foolish life when so much wisdom is available.
And additionally, another few final questions. Do you find that when people have important life decisions to make, they come to you for prayer and Biblical counsel? They just come up to you, “Do you think I should marry that person?” “Do you think I should take this job?” “I was thinking about getting this degree in college. What do you think about that?” “I’m thinking about studying a book of the Bible. Where do you think I should start?” “I was reading this book. Do you think that’s a good book?” “I was thinking about dating this person. Do you think that’s a good idea?” “I was thinking about starting this company. What do you think about that?” “I’m having trouble in my marriage and here’s what’s going on. What do you think I should do?” And these people are wise and they don’t flaunt it. I mean, they don’t all have t-shirts that say, “Wise.” You’re like, “Oh, good. Nice to know. I’m gonna run some stuff by ya.” These are just people who have influence because of their wisdom and these are the people in this church that people just go to them. We have people in this church that spend many hours, every week, meeting with people. They don’t have an official ministry but people know them and they go to them because they have the gift of wisdom and it’s a wonderful gift.
And then lastly, do you find that when you counsel people that God this Holy Spirit gives you wisdom to share with them from Scripture that they except as God’s truth to them through you. How many a few have been meeting with somebody, and you’ll start talking, and you’re like, “That was brilliant. I don’t know where that came from. I never even thought of that before. That was fun. That was cool.” That was God, right? That was God. I mean, sometimes in counseling appointments, I’ll say things and people’ll be like, “How did you know that?” I’m like, “I didn’t ‘til just a second ago.” That was God. You know? That was God. And some of you know when God is working through you and speaking through you and others hear it and they know it was God and it benefits their life.
If you have this gift, you could be a great community group leader. People that get together, you could say – you could ask the right questions, draw people out, give them the counsel, give them advice, give them wisdom, help them figure out how God’s word applies to their life. In addition, it says that there is the gift of knowledge in 1 Corinthians 12:8. This is one of my primary gifts. This is the geek gift. If you’re a geek for Jesus, this is you, right? Here’s the definition of the, the gift of knowledge. The gift of knowledge is the ability to research, remember, and make effective use a variety of information on a number of diverse subjects. You are in information freak. You love websites and books and magazine that’s the and more books and more magazines and more websites and information in classes and you love to study and you love to learn things and when the Amazon.com guy shows up, you weep because you’re so happy. “He’s here again. Ah, Jesus loves me. That’s another book.” If you get a book by a dead guy, you dance a jig. “It’s a dead guy book. It’s a dead guy book.” You love the books by the dead guys. If you get a out-of-print book, you show all your friends, right? “It’s a out-of-print book. You can’t even get this one.” Now they think you’re crazy, and you are, but you’re happy because you got a out-of-print book. “Got a out-of-print book. I love books. I don’t even believe in the rapture, but if it does happen, I’m gonna grab my bookshelves and take ‘em with me. That’s how much I love my books. I love books.” I – you know – and how many of you are just information geeks? You’re like, “Oh, those are statistics! Those are statistics! Thank you Jesus! Those are statistics!” You’re so happy when you see statistics and footnotes.
Some of you don’t know this. The little print on the bottom of the page is called a footnote. The footnote has additional information. Go, footnote! Yay, footnote! We love the footnotes. And if there’s an appendix in the back of the book where the latest other books that they think you should read, we love that. “We love that so – there’s more books on this subject! Yes!” and you love to learn. You geek out. You like to read. For those of you who don’t have this gift, this is your hell. Somebody hands you a big book, if you’re like, “There are no pictures. I like to eat. I got the gift of hospitality. That’s a big book.” I like big books and I cannot lie. I loved big books. I do love this gift. These people love to study, right? You get a day off. “What are you gonna do today?” “I’m gonna study.” Everybody else is like, “Study? What? You are crazy. Study?” No. They love to learn. They’re not content with surface level knowledge of topics, meaning when you read a book on the subject, you go, “I know there’s other perspectives. I need to get more books. I need to look at all the perspectives.” This is what I do. Like on 1 Corinthians – I’ve got a stack of books taller than me and all the different views and perspectives and all the different interpretations and I’m looking at all of them, just because I can.
I’m such a geek, I have a library that has actual rows of shelves, like the public library, with books on both sides and they actually have the Library of Congress catalog number on them, scanned into my computer with a searchable database by time, rather by author, by date, by subject matter, by title, but appendices, it’s wonderful! It’s great. And I just sit there – I have a 13-foot desk, like the Starship Enterprise. And I just sit there and there’s books everywhere. And it smells like books. And in my house, I got books. And in my bedroom, I got books. And in my living room, I got books. And on the back of every toilet, I got books. Just in case I need one because I don’t like to be more than arm’s length away from a book. I carry books with me all the time in a satchel. I carry books in my car, right? I’m that guy. Freakish and weird. But I love books. I get hundreds of books a year. All to myself.
If you have the gift of knowledge, you’re a geek. This is what you like. I love you too. These people are compelled to conduct their research, compile their findings so that others can benefit from their long hours of study. People with this spiritual gift love God with all their mind. You love God with all – you’re a researcher. You’re a geek. You’re an information junkie. I subscribe to like 30 magazines, 4 newspapers. I’m online all the time. I literally buy and read hundreds of books a year. I love to study, love to study, makes me happy. How ‘bout the life of Jesus? Jesus was a rabbi, he was an Old Testament teacher. Jesus had committed whole sections of Scripture to memory. That’s why when he shows up, he just starts talking Bible, because it’s just in his mind and it’s in his heart. He just loves Scripture and he is all about Scripture. If you have the gift of knowledge and you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible to be read, the Holy Spirit is gonna inspire you to memorize Scripture. You’re gonna love your Bible.
My wife says it’s not so good when we’re fighting, because I remember everything. But it’s this ability to retain information and then to recall it and to share it so that other people can know it and it’s so – it’s so delightful to do that. That’s why I love my job, quite frankly. Jesus, though, rebuked the scholars in his day. He said, “You diligently study the Scriptures thinking that in them, you’ll find eternal life, but you fail to recognize that these are the Scriptures that testify about me.” John 5:39.
So the whole point of study is what? Love of Jesus. You can memorize the whole Bible. You can get more degrees than Fahrenheit but if you don’t love Jesus, you kinda miss the whole point. The whole point of all study and knowledge is the love of Jesus through science and through medicine and through law and through philosophy and through history and through theology. What does this reveal about God? What does this tell me about Jesus? That’s how you study.
Ezra, Solomon and Timothy are good character studies for you in the Bible to say, “Who else had this gift?” Learn from them. Do you have this gift? Do you love to study? Do you have a good memory that retains and compiles lots of information? Have you – have others frequently pointed out your ability to know and understand God’s word? Do people come up to you, say, “What do transubstantiation and consubstantiation mean?” You go, “Ooo! I know! Glad you asked.” “What does it say in the Greek text?” You’re like, “Oh, oh, oh, oh! This is a good moment for me. I’ll tell ya.” You love it when people come up and ask Bible questions. Okay? And you’re not arrogant about it, you’re excited to tell them because you’re excited about Scripture and you want them to have the truth, too.
Do you – to people often come to you with difficult problems and questions from the Bible, seeking your insight because they know you’ll have an answer? Okay? And studying God’s word, you found that new insights and understanding on difficult subjects come easily to you. People get confused on all kinds of big doctrines. You’re like, “Oop, nope. Da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da. Boom. There we go. Connected all the verses, here’s what it means, that’s where it is.” And everybody goes, “Ah, thanks, man. I was just totally confused. That makes sense.”
And lastly, are you frustrated when you hear bad teaching from someone who has not done their homework? You’re going, “That’s not what the Greek text says. That’s the wrong cross reference. That’s not what that,” you know and some of you are real neatniks. I mean, you’re real neatniks, right? We’re in the most literate and the most educated city in America and so the gift of knowledge is possessed by many of you and, and you love research and when research is not done well, you get very, very frustrated, right because that wasn’t accurate. You didn’t do your homework. And I know, because you email me. Thank you. It makes me better. Seriously. The people with the gift of knowledge make teachers better because they continually show where we all make mistakes and help us to improve.
Which brings me to my conclusion. What is your part? Why has God brought you here? To become a Christian? Become a Christian. To be a person who participates in a meaningful way and figures out how God has knit and wired you together to do something to help make this church better so that we can help see more people in this city come to know and love Jesus. That’s why we’re all here.
I’m gonna give you a chance to pray and in your prayer time, I want you to ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight into your part in this body of Christ. Holy Spirit, what do you want me to do? Where’s my part? Where’s my gifts? Where should I start? What passions, desires, dreams, and abilities do I have and why did you bring me here and what am I supposed to do? And he’ll tell you. He’ll lead you, he’ll guide you. Then you look to Jesus and say, “Okay, whatever I’m doing, I wanna follow the example of Jesus” and together we’ll become even a better church that can better serve one another, that can better serve our city, that can better bring the love of Jesus to people who do not yet know him, but the Holy Spirit is already working on them, too. When you’re ready, you can partake of communion, remembering Jesus’ body and blood shed to take away our sin and send the Holy Spirit to indwell, empower, enable us to live this wonderful new life. You can give of your tithes and offerings and if you’re not a Christian, you’re a first-time visitor, don’t give. But if you’re a Christian and this is your home, give generously, that’s part of your worship. And then we’ll sing and we’ll celebrate and we’ll honor Jesus by what? By the power of the Holy Spirit who has connected us to the risen Jesus and given us a part in his ministry on the earth.
Jesus, we love you so much. We love the Bible, because it teaches us about you. We love the Holy Spirit, because he leads us to you. Jesus, we want to be a church that is like you. So please send the Holy Spirit to us individually and corporately to save those who are lost, to convict those who are sinning, to transform those who are wayward, to empower those who are weak, to give wisdom to those who are stuck in folly, to give knowledge to those who do not yet know the truths of Scripture. Please give us each a meaningful part to play in this church. Please keep us from extremism and arrogance. Please, Holy Spirit, make us like Jesus.
Jesus said that one day Christians would do even greater ministry than He did by the empowerment and gifting of the Holy Spirit. This gifting, however, is often misunderstood. Paul provides clear teaching on the purpose, nature, and goal of “spiritual gifts”.
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