Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Spiritual gifts are whenever the Spirit of God comes on you for the accomplishing of his purposes. It's Jesus using you as his hands or feet or mouth.
It can be temporary, lasting for just a few moments, or it can be more permanent, lasting for a lifetime. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.
As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch, and we are so glad that you're back with us this week. According to the apostle Paul, God didn't establish his church as a collection of individuals, but as an interconnected body. I need you. You need me. So where do we see that interconnectedness the most? According to Pastor J.D., it's found in our spiritual gifts. None of us can truly flourish until we know our gifts and share them with others. And in God's community, everybody has a special role to play.
Everybody, including you. We know you don't want to miss a single message here on Summit Life, so if you're a little behind, you can always catch up at jdgreer.com. But for now, grab your Bible, take some notes, and let's join Pastor J.D. 1 Corinthians 12, as we continue our march through Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. I have loved the study of this book. Have you not?
I hope so. Our cardiac surgeons in the house probably recognize the name of Dr. Alfred Blalock. In the 1940s, Dr. Blalock essentially created modern cardiac surgery and bypass operations.
He was nominated for several Nobel prizes in medicine. Yet by Dr. Blalock's own admission, none of that would have been possible were it not for a man who worked at his first hospital, Vanderbilt Hospital, as a janitor, a man who had never been to medical school. That man's name was Vivian Thomas, a black man, a carpenter by trade, with an incredible knack for mechanical engineering. Dr. Blalock noted Thomas's ingenuity and his skill, and he hired Thomas to run his lab. Thomas began to suggest new surgical procedures and then develop tools to implement those procedures. He became so pivotal to Dr. Blalock's work that when Dr. Blalock moved from Vanderbilt to Johns Hopkins University, he did the unheard of thing, and that is he brought with him Vivian Thomas, the janitor, to come work alongside of him. Eventually, Thomas would go from merely helping with these groundbreaking surgeries to actually training other surgeons from all over the nation at Johns Hopkins University, hundreds of them. Sadly, when people talk about breakthrough cardiac surgery and when the Nobel Prize gets brought up, only Alfred Blalock gets mentioned.
But as is often the case with great breakthroughs like this, behind Dr. Blalock were a lot of others whose work enabled his success. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul explains why the body of Christ is like that. God has set up the church, Paul explains, so that it is one body with many members, with no one member being complete without the others, and with each one's success dependent on the others.
If one's unhealthy, it's going to make all of them unhealthy. It's a profound concept, even though it's simple, it's profound, and one that will fundamentally change your attitude toward the church if you understand it. 1 Corinthians 12, 1, Paul says, now concerning spiritual gifts.
Brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. Now concerning is Paul's indication that he is turning to the next of the Corinthians' questions. Remember that Paul's letter to the Corinthians is basically organized as his response to five sets of questions.
Five sets of questions that either they have asked him or things that he's heard that are going on among them. And you can break down those five sections like this. Part one were questions about divisions in the body. That was chapters one through four. Part two was questions about sex and singleness. That was chapters five through seven. Part three was questions about how to navigate controversial topics. That was questions eight through 10. Part four, that's questions about church service stuff.
That's what we're in now. Chapters 11 through 14. Part five is going to be questions about what's important about the resurrection, and that's the last couple of chapters. We're going to be looking at spiritual gifts.
This is going to be a lot of fun. I don't know if you know this, but there can be a little bit of controversy around spiritual gifts. Did you know that? Y'all, one of the things I love, love, love about this church is how diverse we are in our backgrounds. We don't all come from the same church tradition.
Some of you have discovered that in your small groups. We've got some who grew up Baptist like me. We've got some who grew up Presbyterian. Some of you grew up Catholic. Some of you grew up Pentecostal. Some of you were charismatic. Some non-charismatic. Some, I'm not sure what any of this means, addict.
And then some actual former addicts. We got all kinds of people here, a hodgepodge. I consider myself a little bit of a theological hodgepodge. I grew up very, very Baptist, but then married a girl who was very, very Presbyterian. Our first year of marriage was basically me baptizing her, making her stop drinking, and convincing her that it was all predestined to happen. One of the biggest spiritual influences on me early on in ministry was Pentecostal.
By the time I came to this church, I had Baptist, Presbyterian, and Pentecostal all in my blood, which my friend Clayton King says means I am predestined to speak in tongues at a potluck dinner. But what it has given me, I believe, is an appreciation for how different traditions approach these questions. Now, I'm not saying everybody's equally right.
That would be ridiculous. But I do think we can all learn something from each other. And so here's the deal we'll make. Let's ask God to open our minds and look into his word with clear eyes and expectant hearts because what his word teaches is always best, whether it goes with what we are familiar with or not. Amen? Amen. Again, verse one, now concerning spiritual gifts.
Brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. The word translated spiritual gift there is the word pneumoticon. Spiritual gifts is honestly probably not the best translation because there's another word that Paul could have used that actually means gifts.
This word pneumoticon is a bit ambiguous. It basically just translates as spirituals. It would be like saying spirit stuff. Verse four, regarding the spirit stuff, there are varieties of gifts. There's your word for gifts right there. In Greek, the word charismata, that's the word for gifts, but the same spirit. And there are varieties of service, but the same Lord. And there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all and everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the spirit for the common good.
Now watch, look at this. Paul uses four different words to describe the spirit stuff. Four different words.
Gifts is one of them, charismata. That's one of the words. But then there's three other words. He says empowerment for service.
That's the word diakonia, where we get our word deacons from. There are varieties of energies, energema, where we get our word energies from. And then he says spiritual manifestations. Then in verses eight through 11, Paul's gonna list out a handful of examples of these things. Prophecy, utterances of wisdom and knowledge, miracles, healing, the discernment of spirits, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. That is not supposed to be an exhaustive list of spiritual gifts. There are, in fact, six different lists in the New Testament of spiritual gifts. They combine a total of 22 different gifts that Paul lists out.
No one, Paul and Peter, no one list contains all of them. And each list has ones on it that are left out on the others. What all of that shows us with the ambiguous wording and the hodgepodge list is that spiritual gifts are not like some catalog of items that you get one or two of, like an assigned spiritual Enneagram number or a profile on a strength finder's desk. I point that out because a lot of people see spiritual gifts only this way, and it's just the wrong way of looking at them. They think of spiritual gifts like something that you discover that is now an inextricable part of your personality that defines who you are and what you do for the rest of your life. They can include that.
I will show you that in a minute. But the ambiguous way that Paul talks about them shows us that a spiritual gift is simply when the spirit of Jesus comes on you to accomplish something he wants done in the world, which leads me to my first point. Number one, spiritual gifts are how Jesus continues his ministry on earth. Jesus promised that after he was gone, he would continue to build his church by his spirit through his disciples. It's not that when Jesus was physically here on earth, he did the work by his power, and now that he's gone, we do the work for him.
No, just like Jesus was doing the work when he walked around Jerusalem in a physical body, so now he's doing the work through us, his physical body, by the spirit. Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, makes this point in a very interesting way in his opening to the book of Acts. Acts, you might recall, if you remember when we studied it a few years ago, Acts is the second volume of a two-part work that Luke wrote about the life of Jesus. The first was the Gospel of Luke itself, which is basically Luke's biography of the three years of Jesus' ministry. Luke then opens the book of Acts, volume two of his anthology.
He opens it this way, and I love this. In the first book, that is the Gospel of Luke, Old Theophilus, some dude he addressed the books to, I have dealt with all that Jesus, see this word, began to do and to teach. You see the word began, right? The first volume, the Gospel of Luke, is about what Jesus began to do and to teach, which means that the second volume, the book of Acts, is about what Jesus continues to do and to teach. The only deal is, Jesus leaves in Acts chapter one, and from there on out, it's the church. So in other words, it's not that when Jesus was physically here on earth, he did the work, and now that he's gone, we do the work for him. No, the same power, the same power that was at work in the physical body of Jesus is now at work through us. And whenever Jesus, through this spirit, empowers you to do his work in the world, that's what we call a spiritual gift, manifestation, a pneumatic cone, you know, spirit stuff, empowerment for service and energy, which leads me to number two. A spiritual gift can either be a lifelong calling or it could be a temporary empowerment.
It's also verses four through seven. Like I said, the ambiguity in how Paul talks about spiritual stuff is intentional. The spirit stuff, the spirit manifestations, Paul is showing you that he's not only talking about life callings, personality-defining life callings. Sometimes, y'all, they're just energies for the moment.
And here's why I am at pains to point that out for you. When you think of a spiritual gift only in the lifelong calling category, you might miss out on something Jesus wants to use you for in a moment. The gift of prophecy, for example, is where God speaks through someone in the moment to somebody else. That can happen to you without you feeling like you got the permanent gifting of prophecy. In fact, some of the most dangerous people in the church can be those who think they have the gift of prophecy, who feel like everything they think is what God says. Sometimes God just puts something on your heart and you're supposed to say, listen, I'm not sure that this is from God or not. You need to prayerfully discern this. And then you tell them what's on your heart. I do this all the time.
That's called a pneumonic cone. It's a spirit manifestation. I have this sense when I'm praying or when I'm studying scripture.
This is how this applies to you right now. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. For more information about this ministry, visit us online at jdgreer.com. We'll return to our teaching in just a moment. But first, I wanted to highlight our featured resource for this month. It's called Cutting Through the Noise, 14 Five-Minute Studies in First Corinthians. This resource complements our current teaching series, and we designed it to help you take what you're learning here on the program and really personalize it, drive it deeper into your heart and soul. And the beautiful part is that this would also make a fantastic resource for anyone that you know who wants to grow in their faith. The Bible is so relevant today, and this study will simply remind you of God's truth and how it applies even right now, whatever your situation is.
Get your copy today by calling us at 866-335-5220 or visiting jdgreer.com. Now, let's return to our teaching here on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. I want to take the gift of faith. The gift of faith that Paul refers to is where somebody perceives what God wants to do in a situation, and then they pray that back to God in faith, believing Jesus for it. That can happen to any of us in prayer. When the friends of the lame man in Mark 2 lowered the lame man through the roof to Jesus' feet, Mark very clearly says that it was when Jesus saw their faith, that is, the faith of the friends that were lowering down the man to Jesus' feet, that's when he healed the guy. He said, I'm doing this because of your faith. They had been given the gift of faith in that moment, perceiving that Jesus was ready and willing to provide that healing.
That can happen to any of us when we pray. Now, if those two things occur in your life repeatedly, fulfilled words of prophecy or the bestowal of an unusual faith, you might see those as part of your personal life calling. But I want you to see that spiritual gifts are not only that. Spiritual gifts are whenever the Spirit of God comes on you for the accomplishing of his purposes. It's Jesus using you as his hands or feet or mouth.
It can be temporary, lasting for just a few moments, or it can be more permanent, lasting for a lifetime. Paul talks about the spirituals, the pneumatic cone, not just as gifts, energies, manifestations, and empowerment. You got it? Number three, here's your third conclusion. You got one. You got one. Verse seven, to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To each, to each what? To each believer. Who in here is an each?
Raise your hand if you're an each. If your hand is up, you have a spiritual gift. God has given you something for the common good of his body.
He's got a special role in the church for you. In verse 14, Paul explains that because of that, if you don't use your gift, the whole body suffers because of you. For the body, he says, verse 14, the body does not consist of one member, but many members. If the whole body, verse 17, were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?
The eye cannot say to the hand, hey, hand, I have no need of you, nor again the head to the feet, I've got no need of you. On the contrary, verse 22, even the parts of the body that seem to be weaker and smaller are indispensable. Verse 26, if one member suffers, all suffer together.
If one member is honored, all rejoice together. If my little toe says, well, I'm not as glorious as the tongue. The tongue of this body speaks such wonderful things to the summit church every weekend. The tongue is kind of famous.
So many are blessed by that tongue. It's not me, though. Nobody ever even sees me. I always have shoes on me. JD's embarrassed of me. I've got no importance at all.
Okay, fair enough. But what happens when your pinky toe is hurt? Y'all, when I get up at night to go to the bathroom and somehow my pinky toe finds that edge of the dresser every single time, it's like it has a homing beacon in it, I swear. That brings my whole body down and causes my tongue to say all kinds of non-wonderful things.
Am I right? It's always funny to me when you're watching football and some 300-pound lineman gets taken out of the game because his pinky toe gets hurt. You football fans know this is a really bad year for toe injuries in the NFL.
Julio Jones and AJ Green and eventual Super Bowl winner Matthew Stafford all taken down this season by toe injuries. Every part is connected to the whole. Listen, every week there's a group of people who love and serve our church by taking care of our kids. Not only do they disciple them, they enable us to experience what we experience in here. I think of our kids department like the liver of this church.
Nobody sees it, nobody thinks about it, but if it stopped working, this mouth up here wouldn't have a chance to speak because those ears out there wouldn't be able to hear, right? So everybody's got a part. Number four.
Number four is a big one. You want to know God's will for you? Discover your gift. Y'all, if God's given you a part to play in this body, then isn't it fair to assume that you will never really know his will for your life until you know what that gift is?
The way that you discover his will is by looking at the gift that he's put in your hands. I love the scene in C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, where Father Christmas, a kind of mysterious figure that you never really hear from again in the entire Chronicles of Narnia that I can remember, shows up and gives each of the four children a mysterious gift from Aslan, who is the lion that represents Jesus in the Chronicles of Narnia. The gifts are mysterious, and all the time the children are getting these gifts, they can't figure out why they've been given these mysterious gifts, but in the midst of their battle with the White Witch later, Lucy realizes that her gift, which was a healing ointment, had been given to her so that she could bind up the wounded in battle. Peter realizes that he'd been given a sword so that he could lead an assault on the forces of the White Witch.
And what C.S. Lewis was trying to communicate in his usual creative way is that one of the ways that you and I figure out what Aslan wants from us is by looking at the gifts he's placed into our hands. So it's a fair question for me to ask, do you know what yours is? I would go so far as to say that you cannot walk with the Spirit if you are wholly unfamiliar with the gifts that he's given you for service in his kingdom. How could you? You say, well, this sounds great, Pastor JD, but how do I figure out what mine are?
There are lots of angles we could come out from this and talk about it for several weeks, just this. But the best practical counsel I could give to you is just to get in there and try stuff out. And as you're obeying, you will find that there are certain things that just fit you.
And I want you to start to feel natural. And other people recognize that God is in you in those things, and he's using you, and they'll start telling you that. This, by the way, was how I discovered that I had the gift of exhortation and teaching. People told me, they're like, when you teach the Bible, I understand things I've never understood before, and my life changes. It's one of the reasons that you and I need to speak encouragement to each other and call those gifts out, because I know that God is in you. Call those gifts out, because usually you are the last person to recognize a spiritual gift. Other people see it first.
It's also one of the main benefits of being in a small group. It allows people to be up close enough to you to see those things and call them out. Here is a tool that I have found helpful over the years for discerning your gift. It's a Venn diagram with three circles. First circle's ability. Ability just means what you're good at, what you're naturally good at. Affinity is what you're passionate about, what you get up thinking about, what's your mind and your heart go to in prayer. Affirmation, the third A, is whatever people in the church tell you that God is using you in. Where all three of those circles converge is typically the place of a spiritual gift.
Ability, affinity, affirmation. Often spiritual gifts are going to coincide with natural abilities you already have. A lot of times God just takes some natural talents you have and he supercharges it for his purposes. For example, my gift of exhortation coincides with a natural ability that I have for public speaking and persuasion. Evidently Paul was a great thinker and a leader before he became a Christian.
We know that because he had been selected to apprentice under Gamaliel, which was like going to the Campbell University of his day, going to the Harvard of his day. The point is Paul's special calling as an apostle, it coincided with his natural abilities to think and to write. So often spiritual gifts coincide with natural abilities we already have.
But, but there are exceptions. Sometimes God bestows spiritual gifts that have nothing to do with natural abilities. For example, I know a young lady in our church who is terribly shy around people. Yet God has given her an incredible ability in evangelism. She's one of our most effective evangelists here. It makes no sense, naturally speaking.
Since you see her in the room, you never even notice her. But God has just anointed her so that when she shares Christ, people get saved. Sometimes God does it that way just to demonstrate that the power comes from him and it's not owing to our natural talents at all. So my point is start with your natural talents, but don't limit it to that. Okay?
Right? So number five, the gifts are for service, not for show. The gifts are for service, not for show. Again, verse seven, to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Why are they given? Not for others to admire how spiritual you are, but so that you can work or be used by Jesus in somebody else's life for their good. One of the many problems the Corinthians had is that they felt proud about their spiritual gifts, using them as a reason to think of themselves as spiritually superior to others.
I see and experience things that you don't experience, so I'm on a different class than you. They thought of spiritual gifts like Christian Marvel superhero powers. I got tongues. I'm prophecy man. I got, you know, Jesus' spidey sense about your needs.
What do you have? Oh, you only got the gift of administration? That's boring.
Doesn't feel very spectacular. I'm clearly more important in the body of Christ than you are. I'll pray for you not to be depressed about what a loser gift you have, because luckily for you, I got a powerful notion of the gift of faith too. And Paul just shakes his head. He's like, what is there to be proud of when it comes to a spiritual gift?
It's not your power. It's God's. So how are you doing at not only discovering your spiritual gifts, but putting them to work for Christ's kingdom? That's a healthy reminder for us today from Pastor JD Greer here on Summit Life. You know, the farther we get into this study, the more it seems like the apostle Paul is wanting the Corinthian church, as well as us today, to understand that a strong personal relationship with God is what helps you cut through the noise of the world and live the way that God wants us to live.
That's why we are offering a resource called Cutting Through the Noise, 14 Five-Minute Studies in First Corinthians, this month to practically help you cut through your own noise and keep your eyes on Jesus. We'll be glad to send you this set of devotionals to express our gratitude for your financial support. When you give a gift to Summit Life, you make it possible for us to deliver this daily Bible teaching to your radio station, along with all of the other resources on our website. You're giving a college student gospel-centered messages of hope to strengthen their faith on a secular campus.
You're likely giving the gospel to someone daily who has never heard it before, and you're helping them come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. You can give today and join our mission to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. Donate by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or you can always give online at JDGrier.com. That's J-D-G-R-E-E-A-R.com. I'm Molly Venovich inviting you to join us tomorrow when Pastor JD continues today's teaching on the Holy Spirit. We'll see you right here on Tuesday for Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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