Good morning, welcome to “Ghost Walk, Part 3.” I’m so glad you’re here with us for this series as we discuss walking in the Spirit. And today if you have your Bible, let’s open to first Corinthians chapter 12, because we’re going to talk about “Walking in His Gifts”. And this is important, because the Holy Spirit enables and empowers believers with spiritual gifts, these are individual gifts given by God to believers for the building up of the body of Christ. It’s a gift that naturally we could never do, could never understand, but will make a great difference in our circle of influence. A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability given to all Christians to make a difference in the church and then overflowing into the world.
Now as we look at first Corinthians chapter 12 we’re going to be studying the different gifts or ways in which the Holy Spirit would empower and enable us to do the ministry of Jesus on earth. You see, it’s all about you and I as the body of Christ, each one of us together, duplicating the works of Jesus. We are continuing the work, the ministry, and the legacy of Jesus. That’s what it means to be a Christian. To be a little Christ. It’s following the example of Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and on the same mission of loving, serving, and using whatever gifts and abilities we have for the building up of the church and the benefit of our community. It’s all about making a lasting difference in this world. But according to a national survey by the Barna Group, two-thirds of Americans (68%) who say they are Christian say they’ve heard of spiritual gifts, yet the percentage of people who said they could identify their gifts was minimal. As a matter fact, 16% of evangelicals and 24% of non-evangelicals said they had no gift at all. But the Bible says in first Corinthians chapter 12…
“Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant…” (1 Corinthians 12:1).
You see, Christianity is not about just coming to church and taking a seat. To be a Christian is to be a participant, you’re on the team. Every one of us is called to live a life that serves Jesus. So whether you’re a mom and part of your ministry is taking care of your kids, or if you’re a carpenter and part of your ministry is swinging a hammer, the remainder of your time is just another avenue by which you and I have the privilege of serving the Lord, representing him, and doing it in such a way that people are helped and Jesus Christ is glorified.
Now in this series we’ve been talking about the Holy Spirit and we talked about walking in his presence, walking in his power, and today I am going to talk about walking in his gifts. Spiritual, extraordinary, supernatural gifts that Christ gave to the church. These spiritual gifts are mentioned the first time in Romans chapter 1, at verse 11, where the apostle Paul said, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong, that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12).
These are gifts of the Holy Spirit as we walk in His power. Remember last week, Jesus told the disciples in Acts chapter 1, "Wait for the gift my Father promised… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Acts 1:4-5, 8). And in the second chapter of Acts, the Holy Spirit came in power at Pentecost, enabling all the believers to do supernatural works. In Acts chapter 19, God enabled Paul to do “extraordinary miracles, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them” (Acts 19:11-12). You remember Peter, he denied Jesus three times, yet the Holy Spirit gave him the gift of evangelism so that he could preach boldly, and Acts chapter 2, verse 41 says, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” One of the disciples named Tabitha died and so they sent for Peter. Acts chapter 9 tells us, when he arrived he got down on his knees, prayed, and said to her “Tabitha get up.” She opened her eyes, and Peter took her by the hand, helping her to her feet, he presented her to the believers alive from the dead. “This became known all over Joppa,” and the Bible says, “Many people believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:36-42).
Today, if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will empower you with a spiritual gift to minister to others and to make a difference in this world. You see, our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). And our God can and still does heal, perform miracles, and do many extraordinary things; because one of the cool things about being God is that you get to do whatever you want. Isn’t that a good definition of what it means to be God? That’s what the psalmist said in Psalm 115, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him” (Psalms 115:3). He can heal, he can raise the dead, he can do miracles, because he can do whatever he wants. And that’s why the psalmist said, “I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord” (Psalms 71:16).
And so, the apostle Paul continuing in verse 4, says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men… Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
Now here in verse four, the apostle Paul describes the fullness of God: he says there are different kinds of gifts, different kinds of service, and different kinds of working, but it’s the same Spirit. That’s the second point: it’s the same Spirit, it’s the same Lord, and it’s the same God who works all of them in all men for the common good. And so here we see here the Trinitarian character of God; as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each person of the Trinity is involved here, each one is paying attention to you personally, and that’s what the Holy Spirit is telling us.
And this is really amazing, because God is so busy; He’s got so much going on, but he’s actually paying attention to you and he says, “I want to give them this gift, because I have something important for them to do. I’m going to put them in this town, right here in Emmitsburg, I’m going to put them in this church and they’re going to serve me, they’re going to help these people, and so I need them to have this supernatural gift. And so the Holy Spirit comes and gives you this gift and all of a sudden you have the ability to do ministry like Jesus. God the Father is honored, because the Holy Spirit has now empowered you to do that very thing that God the Father created you to do. Now you have purpose, you’re re-directed to serving Jesus, your passion is to live your life like Jesus, and to continue the ministry of Jesus. And so we see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, each one involved in the giving of our gifts.
Yet for many, this gift is hidden and unused; maybe that’s what you’re doing with the gift that God is given you. You see, for many of you, you don’t even know what they are or how they’re supposed to work. And so your Father has given you a gift that’s hidden and unused like some lost buried treasure. Yet verse seven tells us, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). To each one …each person receives a spiritual gift, each spiritual gift is useful, but every demon of hell wants to keep your gift hidden and unused so that it can’t be used build up the body of Christ and to serve your community.
So this morning, you and I need to accept the fact that God loves us and has saved us for a purpose. The Bible tells us in Ephesians chapter 2, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10). And so God created you with a purpose. He has a gift for you, something very important, he’s given it to you, different kinds of gifts, different kinds of service, different kinds of working, but it’s the same God who works all of them in each of us. And therefore if God has given you a gift, receive it, embrace it, and serve God… serve the body of Christ with your gift.
Now for the remainder of our time together we’re going to look at some different gifts, because the Holy Spirit wants you to know. It’s not some great mystery and God reveals some of them to us here to give us a taste of the promise. You know, it’s kind of like getting a peek in mom’s shopping cart the week before Christmas. So let’s look at some of these gifts. Let’s read verse eight together.
“To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).
So Paul says that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit determine which gifts are given. Verse 11 says… “He gives them to each one, just as he determines.” So, whatever gift God gives you embrace it and receive it as God special gift chosen just for you. Know that that is what needs to be done and so when you serve in that capacity you’ll find yourself serving the most effectively, you’ll have great joy, because people will be blessed and the church will be better, because you’re doing your part.
Now let’s look at these nine gifts listed here… and remember this isn’t an all-inclusive list. These are just nine and there are many more, but Paul says in verse eight, “To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom…” This gift is the ability to have insight into people’s lives and situations as it is revealed by God the Holy Spirit. It’s the ability not only to see, but also to apply the Word of God to the practical matters of life. In Ephesians chapter 1 it’s called the “Spirit of wisdom” (vs. 17) and if you have the gift of wisdom, you’re a great blessing, and benefit to the church.
In addition, the last half of verse eight says, there is the gift of knowledge. This gift is supernatural insight into a situation or circumstance that couldn’t be known other than if God told you. If you have this gift people likely come to you, because you give great advice. It’s like you’re tapped into the mind of God himself. You have a whole different level of understanding, knowledge, and wisdom with this gift that God is given you.
And remember, the purpose of the spiritual gifts is so that we may be a healthy functional church that looks and acts more and more like Jesus. So Paul writes in verse nine, “to another faith by the same Spirit.” Now this is not saving faith; the gift of faith is the ability to envision what needs to be done and to trust God to accomplish it. It’s that "mountain moving faith," that will bring about a great move of God.
Last night I caught part of Rocky 3 on TV, and this is that person that seems to continually have the theme song from Rocky playing in their head. They’re like the battery pack that jump starts everybody else in the church. There the cheerleaders for Jesus. It doesn’t matter if we’re down by twenty points with three seconds remaining on the clock; they just believe it can happen… God can still show up… it’s that kind of faith that gets people to dream… to step out in faith… things could be different, because they know the Holy Spirit is here.
And in the second half of verse 9… “to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit.” Now "gifts" and "healing" are both plural in the Greek, meaning that God distributes each healing as a special gift… gifts given to the body of Christ… given to you and I… given to those who have the faith to believe that God answers prayers and that he can and does heal people. But it’s not a gift necessarily given to that person… it’s a gift given through that person, it’s a sign that God uses to reveal his power so that many will come to believe in Jesus. The point of healing is not just that people would be physically well, but that they would be completely well… and that they would see Jesus as our great physician who heals the whole person.
Now in verse ten it says, “to another miraculous powers…” This is the ability to call on God to do the supernatural. This is where God shows up in some miraculous way and there is no explanation other than it’s just God. And maybe you’ve never seen one, but that’s because miracles are, by definition, things that don’t happen very often. If they happened all the time, we’d call them Friday, right? But Friday’s not a miracle… that’s Friday… miracles are unusual… they don’t happen all the time. But people with the gift of miracles see God show up in miraculous ways. People with this gift expect signs and wonders. They don’t chase signs and wonders, they chase Jesus, and as they pursue Jesus, the Bible says this in Mark’s gospel… “These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well" (Mark 16:17-18). So God the Father did miracles through Jesus and today as we continue as Christians, as the body of Christ, sometimes God shows up and does the miraculous through us too.
Again in verse ten, “…to another prophecy. This is a gift where one is inspired by the Spirit to give God's message to the people. It is a gift that is available to all believers. Acts 2:17 says, “In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.” What’s often called Peter's "sermon" on the Day of Pentecost wasn’t a sermon as we’re familiar with, but rather, it was a manifestation of the gift of prophecy. Peter stood up and spoke out spontaneously by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Prophecy is a word from the Lord that touches our hearts, reveals secrets, brings conviction, encourages us, and leads us into worship and action.
Then… “to another distinguishing between spirits.” Sometimes the Bible speaks of the human spirit as well as the spirit of the devil or demon spirits and this gift will enable you to distinguish between them. 1 John 4:1 says, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." The spiritual gift of discernment is the ability to quickly perceive whether people, things, ideas, or events are from God, Satan, or the result of last night’s pizza. It’s in innate sense of demonic presence or activity. It’s a gift to guard the church, protecting it from false teachers, unrepentant sinners, and all forms of evil.
And “to another speaking in different kinds of tongues…” There is variety in this gift and it will be expressed in different languages, but it’s not gibberish, it involves communication with God. So speaking in tongues, often called a “prayer language” edifies the individual. Tongues are important in our individual worship and prayer, for in that experience, we actually collaborate with God... we partner with the Divine mind seeking the things of God. The Bible says in Romans 8:26-27, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.”
And the last gift listed here… “to still another the interpretation of tongues.” You see, when people speak in tongues it’s a mystery, yet there are spiritual truths that at times are revealed by God. We had a powerful message yesterday at the beginning of the men’s conference. God spoke and when interpreted, tongues like prophecy is a spontaneous, Spirit-led message that strengthens the church, builds us up spiritually, confirms our faith, encourages us, and comforts us. Paul says in chapter 14, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1 Corinthians 14:18-19). In other words, if there is no interpretation, we should speak forth in the church only that which understandable and edifies others.
So Paul lays out these nine gifts… not that they’re the only ones… but they’re just nine examples of the spiritual gifts, manifestations of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit's concern is that every believer would use their spiritual gift, not for their own benefit, but for the body, for the church. That’s the fourth point, they are for “The common good”.
It is God’s purpose that all of us "in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). And so the Apostle Paul goes on in verse 7 to say, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” The Holy Spirit gives us each a spiritual gift to serve others, to bless others, to benefit others, so that the whole church would be edified… that the whole church would be built up. And so God gives each born again, Spirit-filled believer a gift… to help you serve. So in whatever the capacity God has gifted you, he’s sent you here on divine mission with important things to do and we need you and we all need each other to become the church God has called us to be. We’re all in this thing together and we each have our part to play. And so if you’re a Christian and you’re here, every one of you is here on divine appointment by God. I want to get you plugged in, so that you have an effective, efficient and meaningful place to serve, so that Christ’s Community Church, so that Emmitsburg, is blessed by you and that you are blessed by others in the church, as we all work together for the common good.
And so I’ll close with this. Imagine this for a moment. You know, I have 6 kids and I love them so much; and as their father, I am going to hand pick specific gifts to give Matt, Megan, Joshua, Jacob, Jeremy, and Olivia. And so, Matt is my oldest and I’m going to give him this gift, because it can make the most difference in our family and the world. Megan, gets a specially chosen gift just for her. Joshua gets this gift, because God is going to use this to make a difference. Now just imagine as their father, if I give these gifts to all my children, and they don’t use them, but they ignore the gift that I had given them to make a difference in our family and this world. That is exactly what Christians around the world are doing. God has given you gifts, and there are many of you, you haven’t used your gift in the church ever. And the church, the family of God, is incomplete without your gift. God has given you a specific unique gift to use in the church and in the world.
Here’s what the Bible says, and we will close out with this. First Peter, Chapter 4:10-11, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10-11).
I could go on to say, whatever your gift, if it’s serving, if it’s prophecy, if it’s giving, if it’s encouraging, if it’s mercy; whatever it is, do everything you do, whatever you do, use your gift passionately. Don’t insult the giver of the gift, by leaving the gift unused. God has given all of you who are believers, spiritual gifts, to make a difference in the church, and throughout the world.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
October 18, 2015