July 10, 2020
1 Corinthians 12:4-14 (NIV)
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy,to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people (i.e., us):
I will always remember the late Ed Robb Jr., a great man of God an an evangelist, from Marshall, Texas. There are many reasons to remember him, but the thing that stands out in my mind is the way he began every sermon I ever heard him preach. He probably began all his sermons this way. He would stand up in the pulpit, look out at the people, and in a deep, bold, declarative voice, say, “Jesus is Lord!” Then he would proceed to preach the gospel with a gifted anointing like few preachers I have ever heard.
Jesus called him to be an evangelist and the Holy Spirit gifted him for the work of preaching the gospel. I remember one occasion after he preached, the entire church gathered at the altar; literally hundreds of people—everyone there. The Holy Spirit gifted him with the gift of prophecy, which we will get to in a few days.
Today’s text helps me better understand what was going on with the extraordinary ministry of Ed Robb. Paul begins on the topic simple enough. Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. Then he addresses the Corinthians former ways of worshipping idols as pagans. And then this turn:
Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
The work of the Holy Spirit will only occur under the authority of Jesus Christ, who alone is Lord, and to call Jesus, Lord, inescapably identifies ourselves as being subject to his authority. There is a tendency with respect to spiritual gifts for people to claim special status because of them, which will ultimately lead to some form of idolatry. That’s what the Corinthians were doing, both the pagans and the Christians. Paul would not have it; hence this clarity about lordship.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are all about the demonstration of the Holy Spirit whose work is to inhabit human beings in such ways as to glorify Jesus Christ. Remember how Paul put it back in chapter 2?
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Cor. 2:4-5 NIV)
That’s what Ed Robb Jr. was doing in his ministry of preaching by declaring at the outset, “Jesus is Lord.” From there he would unashamedly preach the gospel and let the chips fall where they would fall. This was not his show. He would not be responsible for who responded or who did not respond. This was the Holy Spirit’s work. This was the ministry of Jesus. This was the power of the gospel, period. And it was powerful.
Sometimes I confuse the empowerment and gifts of the Holy Spirit with my own abilities. How do I know? Because I find myself anxious about how well I’m doing (or not). I connect the outcome to my performance and the approval of others.
Lesson 1: The gifts of the Holy Spirit are manifestations and demonstrations of the first and last creed of the church: Jesus is Lord!
Jesus is Lord! It’s a comprehensive, all-encompassing claim, not only on our lives, but on all of creation. If I never heard another word Ed Robb said, that would have been enough. I suspect somewhere in the communion of saints, he’s joyfully declaring those words today.
Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. I confess it with joy—Jesus is Lord! I want to mean it with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. There are gaps. Come Holy Spirit and fill in the gaps in my own character and maturity. Thank you for grace in the meantime. Train me to be so gracious with others. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- It’s one thing to mouth the words, “Jesus is Lord,” and another thing to truly mean them. Where are you with that?
- How about saying, “Jesus, you are my Lord” as a way of defining yourself and your reality? Say it aloud now to Jesus, so your own ears can hear you say it. What effect did that have? What does that mean to you?
- What if our experience and exercise of the gifts of the Holy Spirit can never exceed our humble submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ? What might that say about the anemic experience of so many Christians today? What might it say about the chaotic and sometimes crazy ways many Christians carry on in the name of the gifts of the Spirit?
For the Awakening,