|Posted on October 4, 2014 at 10:55 AM|
Alrighty, can you believe that this going to be the last post pertaining to 1 Corinthians? I feel like time has just completely flown by. We went through humility and coming to God, living as a legitimate Christian, being a part of the Church family and the apathy that can creep into our lives when we’re not paying attention. I want to close off with reaching out to people, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Today, I want to talk about the best way that we can fight back in this war.
We’ve already acknowledged one of the many ways that Satan attacks the Church and the souls around the world, but we are not helpless. We have the full armour of God available to us and He has equipped us with ways to be active in this war. Now, we don’t go running around with light swords slaying demons, however in our day-to-day lives our actions have spiritual lasting effects. This is why we’re called to bear fruits of the Spirit and why we’ve been blessed with spiritual gifts.
Bob Deffinbaugh gives a fantastic definition of a spiritual gift: “A spiritual gift is the God-given capacity of every Christian to carry out his function in the body of Christ.”
If you are a Christian and think that you don’t have a spiritual gift (or two or three), then I’m telling you right now that you do – you just don’t know what they are yet. I’ve heard spiritual gifts described this way; they are talents that are used to glorify God and build up the church. They can be used anywhere and everywhere to bring glory and honour to God and they are unique to each person. Everyone who comes to Christ is gifted in ways that will: serve to lift God higher, make an impact in the spiritual realm and fight in this spiritual war.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT
To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.
Romans 12:6-8 NLT
6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
There it is, plain out there for all to see. These gifts exist, they have purpose and they are to be used. But there are so many Christians who do not know what their gifts are and, therefore, are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Or, there’s jealousy over someone else’s gifts and a feeling of discontentment with one’s gift. When that begins to arise in us, we have to remind ourselves of these truths:
1 Corinthians 12:18 NLT
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.
Ephesians 4:26 NLT
16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
The gifts we are given and where we are placed in the body of Christ are chosen by God for a reason. He puts us where He wants because He sees how it will all come together. If we were all given the same gifts, there would be a significant lack and the body wouldn’t be functioning properly. These verses show us that we need to trust God with the gifts and use them instead of grumbling about them.
Then Paul continues to say what matters even more than these gifts, what is really the best thing in our arsenal.
1 Corinthians 13:2 NLT
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
We could be given all the spiritual gifts listed, but without love? There’s no point. The purpose of these gifts is to glorify God and edify the Church. How can that be done without love? Love is the foundation of Christianity, so how could we think of using the gifts given to as Christians without love? It just doesn’t make sense.
In every part of our lives, we need to be living out the love that saved us. It’s what makes up the two commandments (Love God with everything we are and love people) and it is powerful. Love is the greatest game plan of all time.
1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Quick recap time:
We all have spiritual gifts that serve a purpose and we walk out these spiritual gifts with love; adhering to the two commandments given to us.
Now, we have to make sure that we don’t use our gifts selfishly. You have probably noticed that I’ve said “edify the Church” or “build up the Church” a few already in this post – that’s because it’s very important. We don’t use our gifts to serve ourselves or make ourselves look like amazing/superstar/VIP Christians. Our gifts are meant to help the Church grow and thrive. The Corinthians all wanted to exemplify the “showy” gifts, like speaking in tongues. They were thinking selfishly instead of thinking of the body as a whole – and Paul addresses.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4 NLT
But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.
1 Corinthians 14:12 NLT
And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.
Let’s live out these verses, using our gifts selflessly with the purpose of strengthening the Church and helping both believers and non-believers.
That sounds beautiful, eh? It gives a picture of people walking around all in white, with flowers everywhere, and birds chirping. Every Christians gracefully glides around the peaceful meadow using their gifts as they encounter different people. And every time a gift is used for His glory and for the Church, a ray of light shines on the individual, a butterfly suddenly appears and the person smiles knowing that they are living out their calling.
I could barely type that out with a straight face.
Now don’t get me wrong, serving the Lord is beautiful. There is an unbelievable peace that envelops the believer and a warmth in the soul that accompanies us walking in His will. But it is not a peaceful meadow with flowers and birds; it is a battlefield.
If you’ve the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian; I want you to picture the scene where they went into battle. They were dressed in gorgeous and practical armour, they were all in a tight formation each knowing their place and their role, and they advanced together in a way that looked like a dance.
The scene is beautiful.
I want to focus on a key character in the Chronicles of Narnia series now: Susan. She is gifted in archery, we are gifted whatever spiritual gift God gives us. Susan understands her role and performs it gladly because it plays into the overall game plan and that’s what we do as Christians once we realise and walk in our gifts. Susan is using her gift to further the cause of the Narnians and we use ours to glorify God and the Church. Are y’all seeing the parallel that I’m drawing here?
And here’s the last thing that we have in common, Susan faced crazy opposition and we will too. As Christians, we will be persecuted. Paul talks about it many times and Jesus Himself told us that we would face trouble in this world – it’ll happen. But we are called to still stand firm in Him and fight even in the midst of it all – like Susan did.
Fast-forward a bit and you see each of them fighting their enemy. One second she’s shooting arrows left and right and then the next, she’s stabbing an enemy with one of her arrows. The scene is still beautiful but it shows something new, it shows a fraction of the reality of being on a battlefield facing opposition wherever you turn. That’s the life that we live as Christians.
1 Corinthians 15:31 NLT
For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you.
1 Corinthians 16:9 NLT
There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.
There are ways to handle persecution though; ways for us to stand firm in Him.
1. Go to God.
So many times, whenever something bad happens to us we run away from God. That’s the worst thing that we could. He is our strength, He is our shield and most important: He is our Father. We run to Him and we have comfort, peace and everything we need to continue on in the storm. We must go straight to Him, even if it’s to vent. Even if it’s just to cry. Even if all we can say is: “Lord, I don’t understand.” We must go straight to Him because He’ll take care of us.
2. Remember what Christ experienced.
Christ knew every form of pain that man can experience: physical and emotional. This is significant for two reasons: 1. This is how He understands exactly how we feel whenever persecution comes. 2. He only experienced this because He loved us. When we remember how His incredible love for us lead to His pain, we are given to strength to endure our pain to glorify Him.
3. Focus on eternity.
1 Corinthians 15:42-43 NLT
It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.
1 Corinthians 15:51 NLT
But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!
1 Corinthians 15:55 NLT
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
When we focus on the fact that we will be with God forever in Heaven, that we will be transformed, that we will be raised to life, glory and strength and that death holds no power over us anymore … doesn’t the situation seem smaller? When we can pause and think about what His word says will happen in the future, what we’re going through right now in the present pales in comparison.
There's a lot more that can be said about spiritual gifts, love and spiritual warfare because they are layered and intense topics. I'm only beginning to come to terms with the tip of the iceberg of it all. So, all I’ve tried to do is present this basic battle strategy, the starting point from which we begin to actually live for Him and take upon all that being a Christians really means.
Here are a few verses that I think end this post perfectly:
1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.