On today,Friday, Bob Kauflin talked on the topic Pursuing God’s Presence – How God’s Spirit works among us. The scripture reference for this topic was I Cor. 12:1-11 – concerning spiritual gifts. As I was turning to this passage, I began to “clam up” and had concerns about what Bob was about to speak on. Not that I believe Bob was about to speak the untruth or slant the truth, but my thoughts and concerns were the seemingly misuse and overuse of the gift of speaking in tongues, the gift of healing and the gift of prophecy. I immediately began to think, “do I know of anyone at my home church who uses these gifts to edify the body?”. I was anxiously and apprehensively awaiting what Bob had to say.
I Cor. 12:1-11
1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. 3Therefore 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. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 99to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another)gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10and to another the effecting of )miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the)interpretation of tongues. 11But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
(Here is a summary of what Bob shared)
How many of us approach God like the main character of a biography? We sing about God but don’t expect to encounter Him. The bible is not the biography of a distant and dead God, but He is alive. Scripture reveals a God who is active and can be encountered. Our worship is where we encounter and experience God. It is God Himself, the Holy Spirit who helps us worship Him. In vs. 3, Paul focuses on Christ – no one can say that Jesus is Lord apart from the Spirit. If when we gather the Holy Spirit is actively present to empower our worship for the Savior’s glory, what kind of heart does God want us to cultivate so that we can be aware of and respond to what He’s doing? There are 3 things that we can cultivate in our hearts: (1) A Desperate Dependence, (2) An Eager Expectation and (3)A Humble Responsiveness.
A Desperate Dependence – we need the spirit of God in our worship of God. Paul talked about gifts in vs. 4 (variety of gifts) and vs 9 (gifts of healing). The word for gift is charisma which means gift of grace. There are gifts of grace. It is difficult to acknowledge our dependency. We don’t like to think that we need God’s spirit for anything. We find it easy to rely on our experiences, knowledge and resources. How do we acknowledge our desperate dependant? We ask God for help. We are commanded to pray in the Spirit (Eph 6:18). Prayer is a sign that we are desperate and need to depend on God. Rm 8:26 – the Spirit helps us in our weakness as we pray. His strength is perfected in our weakness. How do we know that we are weak if we are never aware that we are desperately dependant on God? Prayer shows our need for the Spirit.
An Eager Expectation – In I Cor. 12: 6 and 7, Paul says that there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. A manifestation is something that we see. Paul is adamant that to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit of the living God. God tells us that the Spirit sovereignly empowers each one individually as He wills. Trusting in God’s sovereignty is not a reason to think that He won’t move in miraculous ways. In the early church (Acts 4:27), the Christians trusted God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty is the foundation for expecting His active presence. What does eager expectation for the Spirit active present looks like? It means listening and watching for the Spirits activities.
Humble Responsiveness – Paul is saying to the Corinthians is there is a variety of gifts and none of them are better than the other. They are all manifestation of His active presence. There is a reason why God tells us to test prophecy (I Thes 5:21). Gifts must be tested before they can be trusted. Unfortunately there is a lot of prophecy that begins with “Thus says the Lord”. Only our God, who wrote the book, can say that. Prophecy cannot replace abiding in God’s word. Scripture is the primary way in which God speaks to us. If you want to hear from God and what He is saying, read your Bible. Yet the Scripture says that the Spirit gives a variety of gifts. It’s hard to believe that the early church were the only ones who were supposed to receive these gifts. So how do we humbly respond? What ways does God want to work through you to build up the church? Romans 12 fills out the list of gifts.
Let’s not make the make the mistake of the 1 Corinthian church of exalting certain manifestation of the Spirit works over others. On the other hand, let’s not fail to recognize, appreciate or respond to the Spirit’s active presence in our mist. Let’s not fail to experience all that God has for us. The Spirit is actively working in our lives all the time.