The Manifold Wisdom Of God
The Holy Spirit in The Whole Gathering - 1
(FOR THE BUILDING UP THE BODY FOR THE GLORY OF THE FATHER)
"... the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the benefit of all," 1 Corinthians 12'7.
"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit ...," 1 Corinthians 12'4.
"Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the Saints that you seek to excel," 1 Corinthians 14'12.
When God's People gather together it's basically to worship our heavenly Father which reflects Jesus life and purpose. And He did say that ...
“... the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth," John 4'23-24.
And wherever they worship, the Holy Spirit is present. He is "the Spirit of Jesus" (Philippians 1'19) and He highlights Jesus' desire to glorify the Father.
But more than that happens as we worship our heavenly Father because ...
"... when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord," 2 Corinthians 3'16-18.
The veil that Paul is referring to is firstly the spiritual veil that came upon Israel at the time they shied away from God's word Moses brought to them. It's also the veil that sinners have before receiving Christ.
So he says: "But we all", referring to those true Believers, Jew or Gentile, who have turned to the Lord by repenting.
They can come to their heavenly Father with open face, that is, hiding nothing, open to hearing His word and seeing Christ in it. The result is spiritual change and growth into His image.
When He was on earth Jesus said He would build His Called-Out People:
"I will build my Called-Out People (Ekklesia) and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it," Matthew 16'18.
When His People gather together Christ is present and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, manifests Himself. Now He is building the Body of Christ by His Spirit. Of course, the Holy Spirit works in other ways too.
Jesus had also told His disciples that:
“... when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth ... He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you," John 16'13-14.
Peter would be the first to be guided in this way, before and after the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost.
Before, He led the process of replacing of Judas Iscariot. Then on the Day of Pentecost he preached "by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven" (1 Peter 1'12).
Thousands were saved then and in the days following. The partnership between God and man had begun.
Later, Jesus added Paul to the number of disciples (Acts 9'1-31). Led by the Spirit, he explained more fully how Jesus would build His Ekklesia:
"He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ -
from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love," Ephesians 4'11-16.
The scriptures of Acts 2'1 to Revelation 3'22 show the various aspects of living out these Kingdom things in everyday life.
DON'T BE IGNORANT!
"Concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant" (1 Corinthians 12'1-12). When Paul wrote that, he was serious. He wanted the Lord's People to know.
God wanted the Corinthians, and all Believers, to be fully informed, to really understand and have the right thinking about the spiritual things they are experiencing in contrast to the Corinthian culture.
Overall he wanted them to know these things were "... the manifestation of the Spirit" and that manifestation "... is given to each one for the benefit of all," 1 Corinthians 12'7.
However, Paul knew that the enemy will deceive in any way he possibly can.
Back in chapter 10, verses 20-21, he warned them about keeping themselves entirely separate from demons and from any involvement in demonic activity.
Now he is telling them that they can be absolutely sure that the spiritual experiences happening in their meetings are all from God, by His Spirit, in Jesus' name.
He understands that God's People are participating in ministry with the Holy Spirit in the building of the Body of Christ. He lays it out:
1. "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:
2. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.
3. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
4. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.
6. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
8. for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
9. to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
10. to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
11. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
To clarify further about the Corinthian idea of idols and demons Paul points out that these things are God at work in three areas:
diversities of gifts (v4), differences of ministries (v5) , diversities of activities (v6).
And he is emphatic, these things are from "the same Spirit" (the Holy Spirit), "the same Lord" (Jesus) and "the same God" (our heavenly Father).
"For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit we were all immersed into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." (verses 12 and 13).
All those who are born of the Holy Spirit are placed by Him into the Body of Christ. When they come together in Jesus' name with their hearts lifted towards the Father, He will be present.
The Lord builds His Called-Out Ones using them through the Holy Spirit. Paul was very aware of this:
"For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established - that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me," Romans 1'11-12.
Some time later he exhorted all Believers:
"Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.
Abstain from every form of evil," 1 Thessalonians 5'16-22.
Changing the subject of spiritual gifts slightly, another thing to notice about 1 Corinthians 12'1 is that the word "gifts" is in italic type. This is because it is not in the Greek text. That leaves just the word "spirituals".
The translators thought some clarification was need and added "gifts" in italics to indicate their thinking. And it's the same in 1 Corinthians 12'1, 14'1, 14'12.
Taking the word "gifts" away they would read like this:
"Concerning spirituals, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant," 1 Corinthians 12'1.
"Even so you, since you are zealous for spirituals, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel," 1 Corinthians 14'12.
"Pursue love, and desire spirituals, but especially that you may prophesy," 1 Corinthians 14'1.
"Desire spirituals", Paul urges. But, although in the context turning "spirituals" into "spiritual gifts" is acceptable, 14'1 makes the point that "spirituals" include more than gifts. Nevertheless, it could be "spiritual things".
Interestingly, Paul makes this statement earlier, in 1 Corinthians 2'13-14:
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual".
This is a wonderful understanding to have. But in the phrase "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" the word "things" is not in the text. It should read, "comparing spirituals with spirituals".
But just as appropriately another "things" could be added like this to clarify, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual things". So what are they? First to answer must be the apostle Peter:
“... this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy," Acts 2'16-18.
All the activities of the Holy Spirit are Spiritual things, that is, things of the Spirit. One major thing of the Spirit, as Paul says, is that "the Holy Spirit teaches". The apostle John agrees:
"... the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him," 1 John 2'27.
The New Testament Greek word for "spirituals" is "pneumatikos" which, according Strong's concordance, means ...
"... the human spirit, or rational soul, as part of the man which is akin to God and serves as his instrument or organ".
Jesus declared, "... that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3'6). Therefore, truly born again Believers are spiritual and therefore have a part "which is akin to God and serves as His instrument or organ".
It would seem that this is the organ or instrument through which the Holy Spirit manifests Himself. Spirituals are the stirrings of the Holy Spirit and the Saints express them.
Interestingly, from time to time Believers talk about being "prompted" by the Holy Spirit.
The Corinthian Believers were zealous for spirituals; fervent, ardent, passionate, enthusiastic for them. Again Paul urged them to prioritise prophecy because "he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort".
In his letter to the Roman Believers he shows that the scope of spiritual things is extensive:
"Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness," Romans 12'6-8.
Paul was in no doubt as to the reality and value of Holy Spiritual things.
A MORE EXCELLENT WAY
Paul intended to explain a lot to these Corinthian Believers about Holy Spiritual things. Chapters 12 and 14 are extensive.
But at a certain point it seems he had a very significant thought. So he broke off and said:
"But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way," 1 Corinthians 12'31.
Paul felt the need to remind, them about a way that was top priority: love. They are to make sure that love underlies everything.
However, he does not want to dampen their eagerness. At the beginning of the letter Paul says:
"... you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge,
even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift,
eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1'5-6.
So he wants to be encouraging not condemning when he is showing them God's "more excellent way":
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails," 1 Corinthians 13'1-8.
Finally, he reminds them: "... now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love," 1 Corinthians 13'13.
Then he brings them gently back to spiritual things once again, saying: "Pursue love, and desire spirituals, but especially that you may prophesy" (Chapter 14, verse 1).