As I have studied this chapter, I discerned the Holy Spirit removing the veil that the Church had placed over my spiritual eyes. I do not pretend that I have it all figured out, or that I have perfect discernment, but I am enjoying the new revelations that come from stripping away "religion" and perceiving God's will in this important passage of His Word.
First of all, let me say that so much of what God wants us to understand is clearly communicated in Paul's letter to the Corinthian church, which scholars estimate to have numbered between 40 and 150 people. I find it interesting, that the very first sentence, Paul tells the Believer is, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be misinformed". Apparently, these early Believers struggled with the same issues we have confronted. He finishes up that first paragraph by making sure they understand that "no one can say, Jesus is Lord, except in the Holy Spirit". In other words, if we are going to have a relationship with [and know] Jesus as our Lord, then we must have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, too, because it is He who makes the Lord known to us. Furthermore, our relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is dependent on our acceptance and acknowledgment of God, the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth. And that brings me to the core principle of 1 Corinthians 12 and the basis of Kingdom Dynamics in the Body of Christ.
Read verses 4-11: Now there are varieties of 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 in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
Do you see it? Paul makes it clear that there is a variety of spiritual gifts available to the Body of Christ, but they are all administered [or "apportioned" as Scripture says] by the Holy Spirit. Simplifying it even more ... many gifts, but only one Spirit who distributes each gift to a particular person for a particular purpose. The Bible says that it is "as he [the Holy Spirit] wills". But if we rightly understand the relationship between the Father and the Holy Spirit, then we know that it is the Spirit that brings every work that God wills to its ordained completion. In other words the Holy Spirit is involved in bringing God's will [in the lives of individuals] to God's desired fulfillment.
It is essential that we grasp the truth that each of us was created for a divine purpose in the Kingdom of God on this earth. We are all designed to accomplish individual jobs, so to speak, to secure and advance the Kingdom until Christ returns. There is much work to be done, and that is why we all may have unique assignments, BUT they are all for a common cause. We serve our God both together [as the Body of Christ], and separately in our spiritual gifts and capacities, taking upon ourselves the mantle assigned to us. So, to put it simply, again, it is just as Paul writes ... we are one body, with many members. And God arranged the members, as He chose.
Which leads me to another conflict that many of you have probably encountered. How many of you have been given the Church "test" to determine what your spiritual gifts are? And how many of you instinctively felt whatever the committee or your denomination chose for you just wasn't a good fit? That's because it is the Holy Spirit who manifests God's will for your life, not Man!
So let me extend a word of encouragement to those who find that their Kingdom assignments are outside what their Church family finds acceptable. Do not despair! I also know what it is like to be called by God to walk towards Him on a path that diverges from the path of comfort and contentment. With that comes the excitement of new revelations and seeing God in a new light ... His light. And it can be a lonely place. All of a sudden, your spirit is awakened to a view of God that is exhilarating as He shows you His glory and character and power in ways that you've never seen or understood before. And He is revealing who He made you to be! In addition, the Bible is opened up wider and your understanding reaches new heights that are almost dizzying. And you want to share it all with your fellow Christians.
Then you discover that God is not showing them the same things -- or they are unwilling to receive it. And, at first, you may have doubts that what you are discerning is correct, because your church family doesn't see it, and they have Scripture to back up their warnings. But when you go to the Father in prayer, the Holy Spirit convicts you that He is, indeed, calling you to a greater and higher understanding. And it's all according to your unique assignment and apportionment of spiritual gifts. And you cannot turn back, because you recognize that it is all in service to God's Kingdom.
But what do you do when those Brothers and Sisters in Christ admonish you to be careful of being deceived by the new revelations that your spirit KNOWS are from God? All I can tell you is this ... when you are called by God to a Kingdom assignment, you will learn that being a true Disciple of Christ is an exciting journey, but it can also be a lonely road. But when you willingly and obediently go where the Lord takes you, you probably will no longer look like your fellow Christians or meet with their approval. But neither did Jesus or the Twelve. And that's pretty good company, from where I sit.
And remember, your gifts and your assignment may be unique to you, but it is in conjunction with others who are doing [in obedience] what they have been called to, and together, you all serve the will of God. It takes the family of God honoring and respecting each other's assignments to accomplish His will for the redemption of mankind. We are to be ever alert to the wisdom and counsel of God's Holy Spirit, so that we might complete our responsibilities on earth to the glory of our God Almighty.
And that brings me to a last word of encouragement, and it comes from the Bible: "The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands". (Psalm 138:8). In other words, pray that the Lord will finish the good work He has begun in you, because it is for His glory. And know that you will never be alone. He and the Holy Spirit will always be with you, and along with the saints in Heaven, they are interceding for you and praying before the Father on your behalf. Remember, you are part of a holy and consecrated remnant; set aside and called for holy purposes. Rejoice that you stand out as different among the multitudes of the faithful. You are not alone! I share in your identity and count it joy that you have joined God's ranks of faithful servants. Blessed are we who have been entrusted with hearing God's heart for these End Times, and whose Word is a Light for the path we are on.
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Ephesians 4:15-16 "But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ. From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love."