Friday, September 9, 2016

Faith-building Reminders

This morning I felt the need to remind myself of the God-centeredness of spiritual gifts.[1] Our sarks want us to keep limiting God to what WE are able to do, while the Spirit is working to convince us of what HE is able to do.[2]

What should we expect? That God will do something Beatitudinal in us to break our dependence on our sarks (along with all the limitations faith in our sarks produces), and that he will identify something he is doing, and what that requires of us to join him in his work.[3]

Here are the God-centered elements of spiritual gifts that are aimed at stirring us up to fully use our spiritual gifts right now because God is fully able to lead and enable us to do so. These are found in I Corinthians 12:1-11.

·         Our experience of spiritual gifts is all about what we are able to do in the Spirit of God”, or, “in the Holy Spirit” (vs 3). This means that our gifts are not given for us to use independent of God, or isolated from God, but to operate “in the Spirit” every time we are using them.
·         It is God who empowers them all in everyone” (vs 6). This means there is no demand on us to empower ourselves, but constant requirement that we do what is empowered by God to do.
·         Spiritual gifts are “the manifestation of the Spirit” (vs 7). We are not looking for what we can manifest ourselves, or in our own strength, but what the Spirit manifests through us at any given time. The focus is not on being able to label the gift that is in use, but to recognize that the Spirit is manifesting himself in the body by what he moves each member to do to participate in the work of God.
·         Whatever the Spirit is doing in us individually, or throughout whatever gathering of the body of Christ is in place, is “for the common good” (vs 7).
·         The thing that matters is what each individual “is given through the Spirit” (vs 8-11). It is not about what we would like to do, what we are good at doing, or what we are comfortable with, but what the Spirit gives us to use for the glory of God and the good of his people.
·         All the spiritual gifts “are empowered by one and the same Spirit” (vs 11). This has nothing to do with our own strength or power, or some unique ability or courage we add to the mix. It is only about looking for what God is doing in each individual through the empowering of the Spirit doing within and among us whatever is according to the Father’s good pleasure for his children.
·         The Holy Spirit apportions” the spiritual gifts “to each one individually as he wills” (vs 11). This removes any grounds for comparison or contrast with other believers. The Holy Spirit has a “will” about our place in the body of Christ, and the spiritual gifting we need to fulfill our place in the church. He is able to look at us “individually”, and determine what we need for our place in the body without any limitations because of what someone else needs to fulfill their place, or how anyone else in the body is doing. And, the Spirit “apportions” the gifts, portioning them out based on the placement of the individual, not any rationing of the gifts because of lack in the supply.

The conclusion is that we are to hunger and thirst for the righteousness of being so filled with the Spirit that we become more like Jesus in the fruit of the Spirit,[4] more productive, like branches bearing much fruit because they are abiding in the vine (being filled with the Spirit),[5] and more effective in knowing and using our spiritual gifts for the good of the body of Christ, and the glory of Christ our head.[6]

Everything comes back to what God will do through his Spirit, not what he will do through us. Our participation is clearly involved, but it is not the starting place. We begin by seeking to be filled with the Spirit, and then doing everything in the Spirit. And, because our hope of bearing fruit in other people’s lives originates in what God will do by his Spirit, we have every reason to present ourselves to God as the members of the body of his Son, and watch him build up the body of Christ as each of us do whatever God has given us to do.

© 2016 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Working out of I Corinthians 12:1-11
[2] Our “sarks” (Greek) refers to our “flesh” (English); that drive to rely on ourselves and live independent of God.
[3] When I speak of what is “Beatitudinal”, I mean the blessing of God leading us to poverty of spirit, mourning our condition, meekly accepting we can’t fix ourselves, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness, which then transforms us into the merciful who have pure hearts in love relationship with God and his people, and who so seek to bring people to have peace with God that they become the peacemakers who are persecuted for the sake of the righteousness of God’s kingdom (see Matthew 5:1-12).
[4] Galatians 5:16-16. Here the fruit of the Spirit is contrasted with the fruit of the sark (flesh). It is not difficult to know which fruit anyone is producing.
[5] John 15:1-11; Ephesians 5:18
[6] Matthew 5:14-16; I Corinthians 12:7; cf I Corinthians 14:1-40, where Paul commands us to “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (vs 1), and then speaks of the effect of prophesy on outsiders, where they would be “convicted by all… called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (vss 24-25).

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