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Study No. 7     Public Worship (3)

 

BIBLICAL FOCUS:  1 Corinthians 12-14  

 

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Cor 13:4-7 NLT)    

 

INTRODUCTION:  

As with the last two studies, this section deals with a problem related to worship - the use and abuse of spiritual gifts.  

 

1.  THE DIFFICULTY  

 

The difficulty can be summed up in one word found in v. 1 "Ignorance".  Sadly this remains a key problem in many discussions about this subject today.  Some argue from the basis of experience (good or bad) while others argue from this reason or that; yet all too often the one factor that marks much discussion is ignorance - ignorance of Biblical teaching.  

 

Some would argue that the gifts (especially the 'sign' gifts) were given only for the apostolic days of the Church and are no longer operational. (The present day expression is seen by such folk to be either the devil's doing or the result of human self-inducement). This study pre-supposes that all the gifts (which includes considerably more than the 9 mentioned in 12:7-10) are meant for the Church today.  

 

The difficulty in this section deals not with the existence of gifts but in the attitude of the Corinthians towards them. The Corinthians were fortunate to have received all the spiritual gifts available (see chapter 1:7) and as a result, should have been an ideal church.  But, because of their selfish, carnal attitudes, they allowed certain gifts to become spiritual status symbols and this, in turn, created tensions within that local church!  

 

2.  THE DOCTRINE

 

Paul develops the doctrinal position around the figure of the Church as the Body of Christ.  In chapter 12, Paul looks at the Body of Christ from two points of view. 

a)  Its Unity   b)  Its Diversity.  

 

a)   Its Unity   (12:12,13)   In short, he says that there is only one body and the body is one.  Basic to this unity is that, through the new birth, we share in the life of Jesus.  This is the significance of being "baptised by the Spirit into the body of Christ" v. 13.  If we don't have the Spirit of Christ we don't belong to Him (Romans 8:9) and we have no basis for unity with other Christians.  

b)   Its Diversity(12:14-26)Within the unity there is diversity. The one body is made of many members and each one is necessary.  God has placed the many members into one body as He has chosen. Thus there can be no room for inferiority (vs. 15-17) or superiority (vs. 20-25) on the part of any of the members.
 

3.  THE DECISION

 

a)   Work at becoming informed in this matter (v. 1)

b)   Know the gifts and their function/purpose (vs. 4-11)

c)   Understand that unity and diversity are essential to effective operation of body. 

d)   Avoid extremes of superiority and inferiority.

e)   Be content with what you have - don't be jealous or boastful. This is God's choice (vs. 11,24,28).

f)   No one person has all the gifts (vs. 29,30) but everyone has at least one or a 'cluster' of gifts (v. 7).

g)   Don't expect others to have your gifts and function as you choose.

h)   Most of All...remember the superiority of love (chp. 13) without which there will be misunderstanding, tension and division.  

 

Note:  Because of the imbalance and emphasis of the Corinthians of the gift of tongues, Paul found it necessary to devote a whole chapter (14) to correct the imbalance in this specific area.  Our current series will not deal with this chapter, but it should be read in the context of chapters 12, 13.    

 

THINK TANK

1.  Obviously, many of the gifts which God has given to all believers are not being exercised to any large extent in Churches today.  Why do you think this is so?  

2.  How does a correct understanding of gifts.....  

a)  Avoid false humility?   b)  Reduce spiritual pride?   c)  Eliminate envy?  

3.   Have you identified the gifts God has given you?  Can you talk about them freely?  Why?      

 

HOMEWORK FOR NEXT WEEK.....READ CHAPTER 15  

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