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Facing Spiritual Gifts in the Context of the Church

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First Corinthians Chapters 12–14

Facing Spiritual Gifts in the Context of the Church

David Gooding

Synopsis

Dr Gooding spoke many times on the subject of gifts in the church, but the emphasis here is on facing up to those gifts and asking about their implications. Every believer is a member of the Body of Christ; indwelt by the Holy Spirit himself and given a gift chosen by the Lord. The end and object of all gift is to glorify the Lord Jesus and the motive for the use of gift is love. Why is there a diversity in the gifts? Why are some greater than others? Where are the gifts to be exercised and is this important? The greatness of any gift is determined by its spiritual benefit to others. What we say must itself be clear and in a language that is understood, so that everyone is able to say ‘Amen’. We are to ‘test the spirits’ and not ultimately to be content with anything that does not say explicitly ‘Jesus is Lord’.

Gifts should be used in the context of love, and chapter 13, which forms the link between these chapters, asks us to face more questions. The transient gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge will cease and pass away when the perfect comes. What is ‘the perfect’? When shall we ‘know fully’? We’ll walk by sight, but shall we not need faith in heaven? Love is the greatest, but do faith and hope abide only while we are here on earth? There is also a warning to face. It is an offence against love to divide the Body of Christ by our variance of understanding in verses like these. Let us respect the good faith of our fellow believers and be careful with their consciences.

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