International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday May 10, 2015
Purpose: To identify spiritual gifts in the service of the community
Bible Lesson: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 12: (7A) demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (CEB)
(1) Brothers and sisters, I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts. (2) You know that when you were Gentiles you were often misled by false gods that can’t even speak. (3) I want to make it clear to you that no one says, “Jesus is cursed!” when speaking by God’s Spirit, and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (4) There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; (5) and there are different ministries and the same Lord; (6) and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. (7) A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good. (8) A word of wisdom is given by the Spirit to one person, a word of knowledge to another according to the same Spirit, (9) faith to still another by the same Spirit, gifts of healing to another in the one Spirit, (10) performance of miracles to another, prophecy to another, the ability to tell spirits apart to another, different kinds of tongues to another, and the interpretation of the tongues to another. (11) All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit who gives what he wants to each person.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Today’s text comes from the writings of Paul to the Church at Corinth. For the past several weeks we have been studying the writings of John. Both John and Paul are considered two of the best thinkers of all the New Testament writers.
Paul in this letter quickly points out the difference between the gods that those in Corinth had worshipped and the Lord God Jesus the Christ that they now were to worship. There was a sure sign for Paul, if someone is cursing the Lord God, they do not have the Spirit of God within them. Cursing Jesus is a sure sign the Spirit is not in that person. Conversely, claiming Jesus is Lord means the Spirit abides in them. Without the Spirit testifying within us we cannot make such a bold statement.
You might notice, although the doctrine of the trinity had not been established, but Paul references all three in our lesson. In verses 4-7 “diversity of gifts” one Spirit, “different ministries” one Lord, “diversities of activities” one God. The doctrine of the Trinity would come about 300 years later. But clearly Paul understood the three were one. Notice how Paul uses the mystery of the Godhead to demonstrate that just as there is a Father, Son, and Spirit and all are God. The church is much the same, just as there is diversity in the Godhead, there is also diversity within the church. Diversity should encourage growth and maturity within the church, but too often it leads to division among the brethren.
Gifts that promote self, are not from God. God’s gifts always promote unity, comfort, peace and love and the other fruits of the Spirit. Paul list wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discernment, prophecy and tongues as gifts of the Spirit. Notice there is a difference between the fruits and the gifts All of these, when used to promote the body (the church), can be given to different people within a congregation. When they are used to glorify a person other than Jesus the Lord, they are not of the Spirit of God. When God’s Spirit abides in us we should be able to discern the difference between God’s Spirit and the spirit of man.
Diversity is not a bad thing, God himself has given us a pattern for diversity. When diversity does not lead to unity and the overall good of the church, it is not from God. But diversity can create an opportunity, or mission that is hidden from some. Within a congregation passions for ministry should vary. It is the diverse church that accomplishes the most for the kingdom of God.
God expects diversity, but we can never forsake the basic truth, Jesus is Lord. “He is Lord.”