ONE CHURCH – One Spirit
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (p. 799) June 19, 2016
What kind of bond would unite an anarchist, a government tax agent, a doctor, blue collar workers, lawyers, and professors of religion?
I mean come on!!! If you put these folks in the same room and they started talking about politics and religion…there’s no telling how long it would take before the arguments escalated into bloodshed.
But think about it, Simon was a Zealot (an anarchist committed to overthrowing Rome with any means). Levi, called Matthew, was a tax collector for that Roman government. Luke was a doctor, James and John, Peter and Andrew were blue collar fishermen…from a family of fishermen. Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He studied the Mosaic law and taught others this law. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were wealthy. Mary Magdalene was demon possessed…Nathaniel was a skeptic.
It would make an exciting dinner party to put this group together…but not many of us would think to put them on the same team. They’re just too different. That’s never gonna work!
But there was an even greater divide than anarchist and government worker in existence in the early church. All the Apostle’s were Jews…Jesus was a Jew. The earliest believers on the day of Pentecost were God fearing Jews from every nation.
The Apostle Paul…you guessed it…Jewish!!! But God sets him apart to be “an instrument to proclaim Jesus’ name to the Gentiles and their Kings and to the people of Isaiah.” (Acts 9:15)
Whoa! How in the world are these two groups going to be made into one? God’s Covenant people and pagans…becoming part of the same family. How can that happen?
I. THE HOLY SPIRIT PROVIDES A NEW BIRTH AND A NEW LIFE
Jewish people had the history. They had God’s plan…and His Word through the law of Moses…and through the prophets. Every Jew understood that there was a promised “Messiah” who would come. This King would be even greater than “King David.” His throne would last “forever.” One of the saddest comments in the New Testament is where John the Apostle writes…“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not recognize Him.” (John 1:11)
Gentiles, on the other hand had no such history…no precursor to predict a coming Messiah…“Paul writes in our text: “You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.”
As Jesus told the woman at the well…a Samaritan…half Jewish, half Gentile…probably more hated by the Jews than even pagans.
JOHN 4:22-24 (p. 742)
Jesus is saying…”God’s plan for salvation came through the Jews…His Word pointed toward a Messiah through Abraham’s seed…but this plan isn’t just for Jews in Jerusalem or Samaritans on this mountain…God’s seeking “true worshipers.” And the only way people can really worship Him is in the Spirit and truth.
As He told Nicodemus… “You must be born again.” (John 3:3) “Flesh gives birth to flesh…but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit.” (John 3:6)
Whether you have a heritage that involves God or one with ignorance of who God really is…Jew or Gentile there is no difference when it comes to salvation…Both require “a new birth and a spiritual transformation.”
Let me give you a personal example…
[I grew up always going to church…I grew up with a mom and dad that believed in Jesus, the Bible and the importance of church. I had advantages spiritually that many did not…I knew the stories of David and Goliath, Noah and the flood, and Jesus dying on the cross and resurrecting. But I chose a life which ignored all this information and knowledge…I’d say I even believed in God…but that belief didn’t change my heart or my lifestyle. My idols were “mute” but I worshipped them anyway…I had more advantages than the Jewish people of Jesus’ day when it came to scripture and God’s plan, but was soooooo lost.
…Until God came seeking. His Holy Spirit began to reveal Jesus to me…and the consequences of my sin…the Father began to pull me towards His Son…I believe He does that for everyone. Peter tells us “that God doesn’t want anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
I repented and was baptized into Christ…All that information meant nothing until I accepted God’s grace through faith and was born again spiritually. How could you tell if it was real? Well the same Holy Spirit who brought me to the cross…led me from it with a resurrected life…Immediately He began to work within me…and thankfully He still is.
When the Apostle Paul writes “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.” (1 Cor. 12:3)
Paul’s not saying “You can’t physically do this” He’s saying, “The Holy Spirit doesn’t send mixed message…The Lordship of Jesus is not something which we discover by ourselves…This Lordship is something which God, in His grace reveals to us through His Spirit.
You cannot be God’s child or the instrument He uses to fulfill His purposes unless you are transformed and influenced by His Spirit…Its God’s Spirit that calls us from our sin, both Jew and Gentile alike, and it’s His Spirit that continually transforms us to think, act and move like Christ…Faith is our response to God’s call.
GALATIANS 3:26-29 (p. 812)
God’s law could teach everyone what was right…but had no remedy for when it was broken…and everyone, Jew and Gentile…informed and uninformed has broken it…God provided the remedy for all who have sinned by the sacrifice of His Son…That’s the gospel…This is what the Holy Spirit convicts and convinces the world about…our response isn’t just to believe…it’s to act upon it…with repentance and baptism…and there’s new birth and new life for those who do.
But there’s an important question…
II. WHY DOES SCRIPTURE SAY WE ARE GIVEN THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Paul starts out, “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.”
I don’t want you to be uninformed either. So let me share with you all why Jesus gives us His Spirit…who in turn enables us to serve God and others with different gifts.
“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.
Verses 7-10 of 1 Cor. 12 describes some of the gifts the Holy Spirit enables God’s family to do…for the common good…so we can be one.
These aren’t talents people use for their own satisfaction and glory…They are spiritual gifts, to build up the body of Christ…and share the gospel powerfully…Satan would have us use our talents and gifts for our own enjoyment and personal glory. God’s Spirit will call us to use them for a much greater purpose…God’s purpose…To strengthen and grow people in Christ..and make disciples in the world.
Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”
Paul tells the Ephesians “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast, for we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:8-10)
I firmly believe every person is made by God…for God. He has a plan, He has a purpose for our lives. I also believe, like Mark Twain, these are the two greatest most important days in our lives…but we find out why we were born on the day of our spiritual birth. “To do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do.”
The Holy Spirit makes us “A family committed to loving Jesus and others, so our neighbors, community and world can experience good news.”
Whether your gift is preaching, teaching, hospitality, discernment of tongues, interpretation, healing, wisdom, leadership, evangelism or serving.
“All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one of us just as He determines.”
[We have about 200 spiritual gift inventories to give you as you leave…maybe this will help you discover why you were born again…and how you can fulfill your purpose more effectively. It’s not the end all…but maybe it will help you get started and plugged into the body of Christ.]
How can anarchists and tax collectors become one? How can older people and younger people be united? How can different personalities with different talents and gifts be focused together on a common goal?
It’s only possible if they share the same Spirit…The Spirit of Christ who changes rebellion into boldness…greed into generosity…age into wisdom…and reveals His plan and purpose for each person He dwells in. Listen to Jesus’ promise about this Spirit.
JOHN 16:13-15 (p. 753)
Jesus says, “It is from me that He will receive what He will make known to you.” (v. 15)
1. The Holy Spirit’s message will always put a priority on seeking and saving the lost…it was Jesus’ number 1 priority and why He left the Holy Spirit to us.
2. The Holy Spirit’s message will never go against the Word of God…He will never tell you sin is OK. (no matter how you “feel”)
3. The Holy Spirit’s message can be validated affectively when sought through prayer and affirmed through Spirit filled leaders. He will not send mixed messages to Spirit filled people…(He unifies not divides)
4. And please know sadly the scriptures say we can resist, grieve and sin against the Holy Spirit…He speaks truth…and many times we don’t want to hear the truth.
[You remember the story about the guy trapped on his roof during a flash flood. He prayed, “God, help me!” And then a helicopter showed up…but he shouted “No thanks, God’s gonna help me.” Then a rowboat floated by to offer help…he shouted “No thanks God’s gonna help me.” Finally a guy in a canoe come by and He got the same reply. “No thanks, God’s gonna help me.” When he drowned and ended up in heaven he asked God why He didn’t help Him. And God said, “I sent you a helicopter, canoe and a rowboat.”]