Three ways to live

Which is your way?

1 Corinthians 12 – summary of study

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 12:01 pm on Monday, October 22, 2007

I am posting this on behalf of Ivy, one of our bible study facilitators.

Chapter 12 commences a new subject, which continues till the close of Chapter 14. The underlying subject matter of these chapters is spiritual gifts, or more practically, how the church should exercise spiritual gifts. It is obvious that the church of Corinth was well-endowed with these gifts, but that did not stop some of them from abusing those gifts.

It is not improbable that someone in the church had written a letter to Paul requesting his counsel on the subject. Paul addresses the issues in these famous chapters, and begin in Chapter 12 by stating the objectives of his teaching, i.e.:

1) For the members to be aware of the many different spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit

2) To appreciate the interdependence of the members of the Body of Christ

During last Wednesday’s study, we discussed:

A. The origin and nature of spiritual gifts.

Comparing similar passages in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4, the general consensus is that there is no exhaustive list of spiritual gifts provided in the Bible, but there might be a difference between spiritual gifts (see this Chapter and Romans 12 ), and equipping roles (Eph 4, i.e. apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers). All spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit.

B. Definition of a spiritual gift

While a person may have a particular talent, or natural ability, that resembles a spiritual gift (e.g. teaching), that talent only becomes a spiritual gift when it is intended by the Holy Spirit to edify the church. A working definition may therefore be:

An ability that a Christian possesses (whether from before the time of conversion or after) given by the Holy Spirit freely and for the purpose of edifying the members of the Body of Christ.

C. The description, benefits and potential pitfalls of a spiritual gift.

We discussed a list of spiritual gifts – how each of them looked like, the benefits they confer on the church, and the potential pitfalls which the person who possesses them may need to be careful about.

D. Unity of the Body

We discussed the idea of unity in the body of Christ, and how one pitfall of a church that is blessed with many spiritual gifts in its members may be divisiveness arising from envy, pride and selfishness.

For those who would like to do a simple test to identify your spiritual gifts, you might like to refer to the short test contained in the free workbook on spiritual gifts. There is also a gift-by-gift discussion in the workbook.

P.S. On my own behalf, I would also like to mention a few other insights, borrowed from Tim Keller:

1) We shouldn’t confuse gift with talent. Charles Spurgeon was a talented and charismatic speaker. Someone has once said that had he not become a preacher, he would probably be a prime minister. In his case God decided to use his natural ability to serve the church. But Dwight L. Moody wasn’t a good speaker, yet he still has became a successful preacher. His contemporary witness recalls:

The first meeting I ever saw him at was in a little old shanty that had been abandoned by a saloon-keeper. Mr. Moody had got the place to hold the meetings in at night. I went there a little late; and the first thing I saw was a man standing up with a few tallow candles around him, holding a negro boy, and trying to read to him the story of the Prodigal Son and a great many words he could not read out, and had to skip. I thought, ‘If the Lord can ever use such an instrument as that for His honor and glory, it will astonish me.

2) How to discover your gifts? Since gift is not equal talent, instead of looking at the list of gifts and thinking which one you are most compatible with, take a look at the needs of the church you are most gravitating towards. If your natural talent is not of much use in your church, maybe God will give you a gift that church needs. The workbook Ivy mentioned is actually doing a good job achieving this goal.

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