Lesson 41


Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 12:28 God has set some in the assembly: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, and various kinds of languages. 12:29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all miracle workers? 12:30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with various languages? Do all interpret? 12:31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. Moreover, I show a most excellent way to you.


Today's Lesson 

The Corinthians were using the very gifts of God to divide themselves. Like many (all?) of the congregations of the early church, the gifts of the Spirit were plentiful. God poured out His Spirit on the church in those early days to fulfill prophesy and to build up the body of Christ. God still pours out this same Spirit on the church today for His own purposes and reasons. But, instead of using the gifts of the Spirit of God to grow nurturing the spirit of Christ, the Corinthian church responded with envy and divisiveness.

 

Paul begins to try to heal the wounds in the Corinthian church by first calling them all together and then teaching them the true purposes of the gifts of the Spirit. You are all, he tells a divided church, the body of Christ. You are not separate individuals competing for place and status. You are all part of one body. Each person is a piece of the greater whole.

 

To this body God has given gifts. To some in the body God has made apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers and healers just to name a few. God gives these gifts for His own reasons. Each gift is given so that the whole may prosper. Moreover, each gift is to be used so that the body may be built up. None of the gifts of God are for the profit of the one on whom the gift was bestowed.

 

God wants us to desire His gifts. As we use the gifts of God appropriately, we draw closer to Him and His purposes. God wants to reveal Himself to us and He does this through the gifts that He gives us. God's greatest gift to the world was the revelation of Himself that He gave us in Jesus Christ. Each of the gifts of the Spirit is a further revelation of His divine nature and person.

 

Desiring the gifts of God should be motivated by the desire to know God. We should desire the best gifts because we should desire the best that God has to reveal to us. But, our desire should also be tempered with wisdom. There is also a price to be paid for drawing close to God. The apostles and prophets that God has chosen have not faired well by human standards. As we get closer to God, we draw further from man. We can't pay for the gifts of God through sacrifice and service, but understanding God's nature leads us to sacrifice and service in our own lives. As God reveals Christ in us, we are conformed ever more closely into His image. And ... you know what happened to Him!

 

The gifts that Paul has written about here are not the only ones though. God reveals Himself to us in so many ways. In the next lesson, Paul promises to explain the most excellent way that God chooses to reveal Himself.

 

If you could have any of the gifts the Paul lists, which would you chose to receive? What price are you willing to pay for these gifts? In what way are you willing to serve?

 

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