Equipped to Serve

This subject - Equipped to Serve is addressed to the Corinthians, who, it seems, lacked proper information about these gifts, and were, therefore, running into problems.   So Paul wrote to combat their ignorance and to show them (and us) how the charismata should function within a local church.

The strife at Corinth did not come from uncertainty about the existence of the charismata.  On the contrary, the Corinthians were overly aware of the gifts and too exuberant in their use of them.  Paul saw an urgent need to correct that abuse of sacred privilege.  But to avoid any risk of his readers misunderstanding him and of accusing him of scorning the charismata, he decided first to stress their unique value.

More on Equipped to Serve

This subject - Equipped to Serve concerns the operation and gifts of the Holy Spirit, these are old questions, asked since the days of  Paul who gives us some clear direction.   "Now concerning spiritual gifts, my friends, I do not want you to be ignorant."

With that blunt sentence, Paul begins a discourse on the charismata  - that is, the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit that were part of the life and worship of the early church (1 Co 12:7-11).  Paul here mentions nine of them, and in the familiar words and order of the KJV, they are:

  •  a word of wisdom
  •  a word of knowledge
  •  the gift of faith
  •  gifts of healing
  •  working of miracles
  •  prophecy
  •  discerning of spirits
  •  the gift of tongues
  •  interpretation of tongues.

What is the value of these gifts?

They provide the church with access to an extraordinary dimension of worship and ministry.  Paul highlights this in a striking way:

  • he begins by contrasting their new supernatural potential in Christ with the characteristics of their old pagan life;
  • then he shows them how to tell true charismata from those that are false;
  • then he provides a list of various spiritual gifts, comments on the way they are distributed around the church, and gives a set of rules to govern their use in the church.

Paul's opening words were “Now, concerning spiritual gifts...” The phrase "spiritual gifts" is a translation of the Greek word "pneumatika", which means literally "spiritualities".  It can be given either a neuter or masculine sense:

  • if neuter, it means "spiritual matters, experiences, or things"; or (because of the context, vs. 8-10) "spiritual gifts";
  • if masculine, it means "spiritual persons", or "people with spiritual gifts".

We gain at the outset a vision of the real calling of the church: we should live freely in a realm that remains unknown to unbelievers, a spiritual realm, a supernatural realm, where the ordinary rules and limitations of nature no longer hold supremacy.  This is a dimension where the transcendent becomes normal, where answered prayer is taken for granted, where miracles are commonly expected, and where divine supply and heavenly strength are always anticipated.  It is a level of life where the believer dwells in conscious union with heaven, where, in fact, "as God is, so are we in this present world" (1 Jn 4:17b).  Here we can live as Jesus did, drawing continually upon all the resources of the Father.

Now, this spiritual realm exists, and every believer is invited to step out of the confines of ordinary earth-bound living and to step up, and into, "the heavenlies" (Ep 1:3; 2:6; etc) where divine riches abound.

This book is now also available as an ebook from Smashwords  Equipped to Serve

All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work.  (2Ti 3:16-17)


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