#3 (Series on the "Promises of God")




TEXT:         1 Corinthians 12:1-13


INTRO:       Why is the church successful?  With the diversity of personalities and abilities, how can it be "one?"  The only reason the church can succeed is because the Holy Spirit gifts each of us differently, but together in spite of our different personalities He builds His body!


Imagine how the following scene is much like the church:


ILLUS:      Someone has imagined the carpenter's tools holding a conference.  Brother Hammer presided.  Several suggested he leave the meeting because he was too noisy.  Replied the Hammer, "If I have to leave this shop, Brother Screw must go also.  You have to turn him around again and again to get him to accomplish anything."

   Brother Screw then spoke up.  "If you wish, I will leave.  But Brother Plane must leave too.  All his work is on the surface.  His efforts have no depth."

   To this Brother Plane responded, "Brother Rule will also have to withdraw, for he is always measuring folks as though he were the only one who is right."

   Brother Rule then complained against Brother Sandpaper, "You ought to leave too because you're so rough and always rubbing people the wrong way.

   In the midst of all this discussion, in walked the Carpenter of Nazareth.  He had arrived to start His day's work.  Putting on His apron, He went to the bench to make a pulpit from which to proclaim the gospel.  He employed the hammer, screw, plane, rule, sandpaper, and all the other tools.  After the day's work when the pulpit was finished, Brother Saw arose and remarked, "Brethren, I observe that all of us are workers together with the Lord." -- Leslie B. Flynn, Nineteen Gifts of the Spirit -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 231-232.


It is not the intent of the Holy Spirit to gift everyone in the church in the same way, but it is the intent of the Holy Spirit to gift every believer in some way!


Tragically, there are many churches today that ignore the importance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit ... these are gifts from God to build up His body, they should not be ignored!


PROP. SENT:     The Bible teaches us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to build up the body of Christ, that although they are given differently to a variety of people they come from the same Spirit for the edification of the body of Christ.




A.   Educate    12:1-3  (see also 14:1a)

1.   The Corinthian church was very confused over the gifts of the Spirit ... not unlike things today!

a.   Unfortunately, some churches would rather just ignore them instead of educating themselves about the gifts … and so they don’t deal with them!

b.   Paul wanted this church that misused the gifts to better understand them, not stop them ... in fact in 14:1a he encouraged the church to “earnestly desire the gifts!”

2.   In spite of problems, Paul is not prepared to ask the church to ignore the gifts just because they had not been used appropriately, education was the need, not elimination!

a.   If the Corinthians use to accept bizarre stuff when they were pagans, they should be willing to learn something about the gifts of the Spirit now that they are Christians ... so as not to confuse mystical paganism with the operation of the gifts of the Spirit of God!

b.   The problem is NOT the gifts, but their understanding of them and their use of them ... you don't fix the problem by eliminating the gifts, but by educating the saints about them!


ILLUS:     Konnie Stevens took over as pastor of a large southern church after spending eight years ministering in Moscow and other Eastern European cities.  Things had changed a lot in America, especially in the world of technology.  Cable, computers, cellular phones -- it can all get a bit confusing.   So when pastor Stevens complained to his new secretary that he didn't think that the paging device folks asked him to wear was working, she was gentle in pointing out that he was wearing his garage door opener.  That of course explained why his pager wasn't having much success opening the garage door.

   Pastor Stevens had all the tools.  He just needed a little good information on how to use them.  Today the body of Christ (the church) is facing a similar information crisis when it comes to spiritual gifts. -- Dana Key, By Divine Design (Nashville, 1995), p. 57.


3.   Pagan mysticism simply blurted out anything ... but the gifts of the Holy Spirit will follow certain clear guidelines.

a.   While in paganism the so called prophet can say anything, the man who speaks under the direction of the gifts of the Holy Spirit will only speak those things that are in line with what God says.

b.   Probably someone in the church at Corinth had actually said the word given here that is rebuked by Paul as not coming from the Spirit of God ... in other words, Paul is educating them what to listen for and what is “acceptable and not acceptable” as coming from the Spirit of God!

4.  The distinctive difference then is this:  paganism emphasized the experience of the speaker, and Christianity emphasizes the message of the speaker and his or her relationship with God – content and character count.


B.   Edification    12:4-7

1.   Every gift of the Holy Spirit is to be appreciated.

a.   They are all given to build up the body of Christ.

b.   No one gift should be held in higher esteem than another one.

c.   Together they serve to strengthen the church.

2.   The Corinthian church had gotten hung up on a couple of the gifts and had denigrated the importance of other ones.

3.   No gift, even the smaller less conspicuous ones should not be unappreciated ... each is important, even the small ones!

a.   Many times the unseen smaller gifts are the ones that hold the church together more than some might think!


ILLUS:     General Eisenhower once rebuked one of his Generals for referring to a soldier as "just a Private."  He reminded him that the Army could function better without its Generals than it could without its foot soldiers.  "If this war is won," he said, "it will be won by Privates."  In the same way, the common, ordinary, one-talent Christians are the very backbone of the church.  We have our great evangelists, our super congregations led by dynamic elders, and our wealthy brethren who are able to finance great works.  But, if the work of the Lord is to be done, if the gospel is to be taken to the lost, it will be the "ordinary" Christians who will do it. – Source Unknown


b.   Each gift has its place and its purpose.

4.   While the gifts are different, it is the same Spirit working through them all for the same purpose ... to build up the body of Christ!




A.   Equipping    12:8-11

1.   There is a tendency for us to want to desire the flashier gifts, those gifts that might be more spectacular in nature.

a.   Certain gifts have the nature of awing us ... like tongues and prophecy and miracles, but we must be careful not to think of those gifts as being more spiritual than gifts of administration, or of helps, etc.

b.   The more outwardly spectacular gifts don't mean that the person used in those are more favored by God or more deeply spiritual either!

c.   Paul's list here may not be exhaustive either, he gives a few categories of gifts, but the Holy Spirit is not limited to these 9 gifts listed here or the few additional ones not listed here that are listed in Romans 12.

2.   We need to learn not to covet someone else's gift, but to find the gift God wants us to use.


ILLUS:      A thirty-eight-year-old scrubwoman would go to the movies and sigh, "If only I had her looks." She would listen to a singer and moan, "If only I had her voice." Then one day someone gave her a copy of the book, The Magic of Believing.  She stopped comparing herself with actresses and singers.  She stopped crying about what she didn't have and started concentrating on what she did have.  She took inventory of herself and remembered that in high school she had a reputation for being the funniest girl around.  She began to turn her liabilities into assets.  A few years ago Phyllis Diller made over $1 million in one year.  She wasn't good-looking and she had a scratchy voice, but she could make people laugh. – James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 232.


3.   These varying gifts are designed to INCREASE our need of each other, not make us independent from one another.

a.   Since I will not have all the gifts I will need those who have the gifts I don't have!

b.   The church thus operates as a unit much in the same way the human body does, although it has various parts that do very specific things yet the whole operates together as a single unit ... note that this is the very illustration Paul uses in this chapter.

4.   An ungifted church is a dull church that will not grow!!!

5.   The gifts are not given by God for us to admire and wonder over them, they are given to be used to build up His body!

a.   God is a very practical God!

b.   Together the function of all these gifts strengthen the church and give glory to God!

6.   Paul lists here several categories of gifts as examples:

a.   Gifts of REVELATION:

(1.  Knowledge

(2.  Wisdom

(3.  Discernment of spirits

b.   Gifts of POWER:

(1.  Faith

(2.  Miracles

(3.  Healings

c.   Gifts of WORSHIP:

(1.  Prophecy

(2. Tongues

(3.  Interpretation of Tongues

d.   Gifts of SERVICE:

(1.  Helps  (verse 28)

(2.  Administrations  (verse 28)

(3.  Leadership gifts ... (see Eph. 4 and Romans 12)

7.   It is the Spirit of God that determines how these gifts are given to each one, they are not of our choosing.

8.   When exercised properly, the gifts will tremendously build up the body of Christ.


B.   Empowering!    12:12-13

1.   Not only will the gifts properly exercised build up the body of Christ, they will also empower the church in its mission!

a.   What we cannot do in our own strength we can do as the Spirit of God uses individuals to minister in power in the name of Christ and His church!

b.   As the gifts are manifested, the world comes to see a church that is infused with supernatural power and not man made power!

2.   The church then is different from all other institutions on earth, our power and gifts come for the Spirit of God and as they build up the church it has a greater and greater power in the world!

3.   It is this union of all these gifts by the same Spirit that enables us to do God's work ... a work we could never do alone or without others who are gifted differently from us!


ILLUS:      Dr. Halbeck, a missionary of the Church of England in the South of Africa, from the top of a neighboring hill saw lepers at work.  He noticed two particularly, sowing peas in the field.  One had no hands; the other had no feet: these members being wasted away by disease.  The one who wanted the hands was carrying the other, who wanted the feet, upon his back; and he again carried the bag of seed, and dropped a pea every now and then, which the other pressed into the ground with his feet: and so they managed the work of one man between the two.  Such should be the true union of the members of Christ's body, in which all the members should have the same care one for another. -- 6000 Sermon Illustrations, Edited by Elon Foster, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), p. 309.


4.   Without the gifts of the Holy Spirit the church would certainly be severely handicapped and without power!

a.   This has happened to churches that have forbidden the gifts.

b.   God never intended His church to be without power ... or without "talent" or gifts!

5.   We all have the same source available to us, we are to "drink from it!"

6.   God has always wanted His church to be "CHARISMATIC" which simply means "gifted"  (the Greek word "CHARISMATON" is used frequently in 1 Corinthians, it is where we get our English word "Charismatic" from.  It is translated frequently as "gift" here)        

a.   There should never be a "NON-CHARISMATIC" church!!!!

b.   Paul states in 14:1 "Earnestly desire spiritual gifts" ... do you?


CONCLUSION:    There are many "gifts of the Holy Spirit" and all are given by God for a single purpose ... to build up the body of Christ!  The gifts of the Holy Spirit when properly understood and properly exercised strengthen a church and unite it to be a powerful force.  God desires to use all His people in some gifted way ... are you willing, by the Spirit's help you're able!