1 Corinthians 12:4-31 Message 9
II. Instruction for order in the church services.
Paul acknowledged the ministry of the Holy Spirit through them, yet divisions were seen in their –
–Allegiance (Paul, Apollos, Cephas, Christ)
–Attitudes (Disdain for the poor)
–Actions – (Misuse of the spiritual gifts)
He corrected their misunderstanding of the ministry and he continued to instruct them in the –
– Purpose of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:4-31
– Power in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
– Practice of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 14:1-40
A. We will begin by looking into the purpose of this ministry of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:4-31
I thought it would help us to have better understanding of what he is speaking of if we begin by reading the illustration that he used and then review the text.
The Lord Jesus Christ often used illustrations the people were familiar with in order to help them understand God’s truth. We can see this as he illustrated His teachings with stories about children playing in the market, seed being sowed in the fields, helpful travelers, and other everyday instances that the people knew in order to help them understand what the Lord was teaching them. In this same fashion –
The Holy Spirit used the Apostle Paul’s experiences and education to reason with believers and unbelievers alike, which included not only an intimate knowledge of the Scriptures and tradition as we know from –
Philippians 3:4-6 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Acts 22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
Which was well known among men –
Acts 26:24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
But also a broad knowledge of Greek and Roman literature –
Acts 17:27-28 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Such as the Roman writer –
Livy ii, 32 (Live e)
In the days when man’s members4 did not all agree amongst themselves, as is now the case, but had each its own ideas and a voice of its own, the other parts thought it unfair that they should have the worry and the trouble and the labour of providing everything for the belly, while the belly remained quietly in their midst with nothing to do but to enjoy the good things which they bestowed upon it; they therefore conspired together that the hands should carry no food to the mouth, nor the mouth accept anything that was given it, nor the teeth grind up what they received. While they sought in this angry spirit to starve the belly into submission, the members themselves and the whole body were reduced to the utmost weakness. Hence it had become clear that even the belly had no idle task to perform, and was no more nourished than it nourished the rest, by giving out to all parts of the body that by which we live and thrive, when it has been divided equally amongst the veins and is enriched with digested food —that is, the blood. Drawing a parallel from this to show how like was the internal dissension of the bodily members to the anger of the plebs against the Fathers, he prevailed upon the minds of his hearers.
And also the Greek writers they were already familiar with, such as mentioned in his letter to –
Titus 1:11-12 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
(This statement is attributed to the philosopher Epimenides (Epi me nee des) the Cretan says, ‘that all the Cretans are liars,’ but Epimenides is himself a Cretan; therefore he is himself a liar. But if he is a liar, what he says is untrue, and consequently, the Cretans are truthful; but Epimenides is a Cretan, and therefore what he says is true; saying the Cretans are liars, Epimenides is himself a liar, and what he says is untrue. Thus we may go on alternately proving that Epimenides and the Cretans are truthful and untruthful)
Xenophon (Zenafin) who died in Corinth in 354 BC
He wrote of two men who were quarreling –
“What if a pair of hands refused the office of mutual help for which God made them, and tried to thwart each other; or if a pair of feet neglected the duty of working together, for which they were fashioned, and took to hampering each other? That is how you two are behaving at present.
Paul took these familiar stories and applied them to the work of the Lord in supplying the church with every person necessary to bring glory to Him.
Notice the argument he developed to reason with the people –
1 Corinthians 12:14-25 For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
Notice the statements “…now hath God set the members in the body, as it has pleased him…” and “…God hath tempered the body together…”
The placement has been determined by God to accomplish His purpose for His glory! We, as they were, are to pray for the Lord’s leadership and serve Him, not ourselves, inbuilding one another up in the church in order to fulfil His will.
Every member is important in the church and should faithfully discharge their responsibilities to the glory of God and the good of all of the members. We begin with the ministry to others of faithfulness and obedience to the Lord. Do you realize how important your being in church each service is? When a member enters the meeting place and sees you in your place, they are encouraged. Just being faithful in attendance is a ministry of encouragement to everyone. From this ministry, we grow from ministry to ministry as the Lord leads and gives opportunities to serve. We are helping others as we obey the Lord –
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Paul has used this illustration to again rebuke divisiveness and pride and to encourage submission with a humble heart in serving the Lord, reaching out to the lost world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.