Each One of us is given a giftJanuary 19, 2022 2022-10-25 2:16
Each One of us is given a gift
Each One of us is given a gift
“Each One of us is given a gift”.
1 Cor. 12:1-11
To Each One Is Given a gift! What’s your gift and how is it used in His church?
Beloved, this text deals with the topic of “spiritual gifts”, and spiritual gifts is a very contentious.
Teaching and talking about controversial topics is perhaps always not to say too little while being careful not to say too much, especially when the devil has his foot in the door. In a controversy, one needs to teach precisely what God teaches, and nothing more nothing less.
One of the points is the denial of the Holy Spirit, and on the other is the charismatic excesses in churches. This particular text offers a number of emphases and teaching points for us to consider.
There is talk of unity of the church. It talks about faith as the work of the Holy Spirit, and it addresses the importance of every individual within the church. Thus this theme is spot on: “To Each One Is Given a gift”.
Beloved, at our baptism, faith is given by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
In a church where one cannot distinguish between believer and unbeliever, it is essential to know that no one who has the Holy Spirit at work in them is going to deny Christ or curse Him.
In Corinthians that was happening under persecution, in the days of the Apostles. People were being asked, at the point of a sword, to curse Christ or die. Even back then, the intellectuals in the church, though few were always tempted to be too wise to fall for the ‘superstition’ of the Gospel, and so they would deny Christ. And Paul says quite plainly that no one can deny Christ if the Holy Spirit is at work in them.
Why is that crucial? Because the Holy Spirit alone works faith: no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. You can pronounce the words, of course, but you cannot confess the faith with integrity unless the Holy Spirit has created faith within you.
The Church and the Christian faith in each and every believer is the work of the Holy Spirit. So, aside from those unknown hypocrites, you can tell believer from unbeliever by whether they confess Christ or deny Him.
Of course, denying Christ means far more than simply saying the words “Jesus is accursed.” The modern scholars who deny that Christ said the things He said or did the things Scripture tells us that He did are denying Him. When they try to picture Jesus as merely a great man, they are denying Him. When men hijack the church for their own purposes: entertainment, business, political action, money making or social service alone, or just to turn it into a psycho-therapeutic society – they are denying Jesus.
By taking Christ and His Church for any purpose other than the Gospel, nurturing and the salvation of men, they are, by their deeds, as much as saying, “Jesus is accursed.”
The Church is God’s work, for the purpose of the nurture of His holy ones, and the sharing of the good news that Jesus has conquered sin, death, and hell on our behalf with those that do not yet believe.
Christ’s death paid the penalty due according to the justice of God for our sin, and His resurrection declares the forgiveness of our sins and the favor, the good will and love of God for us. Because of Jesus, your sins are forgiven. Because of Jesus, you will live forever. It is by grace, through faith, and the Church exists to nurture that faith, and enable you to stand firm in it until you reach God’s promised rest in heaven.
Beloved, Christ has knit us together into a family and given us the charge to show forth His glory by holy lives of faith and by telling others the same Gospel that we believe. That’s faith action!
Now and then, some Christians get it in their minds that they are insignificant. They think that they do not matter. The church is so big, and they are so small that they are inconsequential.
This text argues against those ideas as well. While the text doesn’t mention church sizes, it does address the individual’s place in the church.
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. The manifestation of the Spirit is simply, the gift which the Spirit brings. You have a place of significance in the Church. You have something to offer that the church needs. No one is unimportant and no one is indispensable.
Now the ordinary Christian is tempted to fall off the straight and narrow of sound doctrine and thinking in one of two ways. Some people think that they are not significant, and others begin to imagine that they are so talented and so important that the church cannot do without them, and that they ought to be accorded special consideration for being so bright, or talented, or so wealthy or important, or rich, or whatever.
Saint Paul apparently was facing both of the coin and ideas in the church in Corinth, and he effectively addresses both.
First, each of us has a manifestation of a gift. It is for the common good. The church is stronger and better off when each member uses their gifts. You are a blessing, intended for our well-being as individual Christians and especially as congregation.
Paul goes on to explain how each gift is worked by God – and he cleverly works the Trinity into the explanation. There are gifts, ministries, and effects, but they are all worked by the same Spirit, same Lord, Same God. Whatever good things happen in the church happens by the power and under the direction of the Lord, the Good Shepherd of the church Jesus Christ.
The evil men do in the church is not done by God’s power – but He knows about it – and sometimes He uses it for His own purposes, such as disciplining the lazy Christian, or trying to awaken the church that is losing its confession to its dangerous situation. But the good stuff, blessings, growth in faith or in numbers, unity, and such, that is all accomplished by God.
Paul takes several verses here to point to specific gifts, and claim each one is worked by the Spirit: Wisdom, knowledge, faith, unity, and all the other manifestations of the Spirit mentioned are worked by God where and when it pleases Him, for the good of all.
This is where we come face-to-face with the idea that each of us is important. God gives each of us our abilities, and fits us into our place for the common good. We don’t have to know all that we accomplish. We are not responsible for rating the value of any gift.
We are merely called on to use what the Lord gives us, whether we see it as precious or we don’t even see it as a gift – in the situation in which He places us, for the glory of God and the life of a congregation.
How it works out from there is up to God. We are not responsible for figuring out why or how things work. Paul writes that the Spirit distributes them to each one individually just as He wills.
The Holy Spirit decides which gift to give to believers. We don’t choose the gift we want. He gives as He wills. We have what we need, and the congregation needs every one of us. We are only important because God says so not because we think so.
Let me give you examples from history.
Some of the most famous congregations in history were small. They did what they could, what they saw as set before them to do. And so people remember them as great congregations. For example, a small church in Bunkpurugu in the North, a small forest village now has 9 congregations not counting several preaching Station. One missionary was sent there and now several churches are manifestation of the Spirit with many pastors. It was a small congregation, but vitally important in our ELCG history.
We do not know what God is doing in us or through us.
We get to be there when it is happening, but we cannot know how God will use our humble faithfulness.
As a pastor, I have seen where the seemingly insignificant people were quietly doing the things that made the biggest difference down the road. I have also witnessed where the man or woman who did nothing extraordinary, simply was always there, always kind, always praying, was considered the “rock” for so many, an example of patience, of kindness, of faithfulness for others, at the time of their passing. That very faithfulness and goodness was their particular gift for the common good. After all, to each one is given that manifestation of the Spirit.
It is very much like our salvation: planned by God, earned by Jesus, given to us by grace, that is to say, without considering our value, worth, or beauty. Our lives are given to us in the family of God, the Church, too. God has planned the good works we are to walk in. He says so in Scripture, Ephesians 2:10. He has given us gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, according to His plan and will, not our wisdom or wishes, for the common good.
We are permitted the glory of doing what God does through us, but it is God at work, not us – so it doesn’t have to make sense to us now as it is in the hand of God. We are simply called on to receive His blessings with thanksgiving, and walk in the light of our salvation faithfully in Christ.
God grant it for Jesus’ sake.