Thursday, November 30, 2017

1 Corinthians 1:3-9 Celebrating God's Grace-Gifts


KEY TEXT: 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

KEY THOT: Paul thanks God for His grace demonstrated in the Corinthian church in the form of utterance and knowledge and spiritual gift to confirm their testimony of Christ. What is interesting is Paul's time frame regarding the existence and exercise of these gifts: "you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.7). The "revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ" refers to His second coming. In other words, spiritual gifts will be around till then. This contradicts the cessationists' claim that spiritual gifts disappeared with the apostles or when the NT scripture was formed. 

Spiritual gifts are expressions of God's grace. If God's grace is still in operation today, then spiritual gifts (charisma, gifts of grace) will continue to be poured out among us who believe. These spiritual gifts were given to confirm our testimony of Christ: "that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift" (1 Corinthians 1:5-7). Spiritual gifts are not optional extras but basic battle equipment for a church engaged in spiritual warfare.

Just like the rifle and hand grenades, no soldier should go into battle without some basic training in the use of these weapons. Similarly, spiritual gifts are not for our spiritual welfare but for spiritual warfare. A church that is missional and evangelistic must have spiritual gifts as essential tools for engaging the enemy to set his captives free. Those who are far from the battle lines can afford to debate the virtue or vice of these spiritual weapons. But for those at the frontlines, these gifts are not theological discussion point but basic to their ministry of life over death.

Clearly, there has been some abuse in the exercise of spiritual gifts among the Corinthians, particularly in the exercise of the gift of tongues. Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 14 is best understood as a correction to this abuse, not as a ban on the exercise of spiritual gifts, especially tongues: "Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues" (1 Corinthians 14:39). God's gifts are always good gifts. To ban something suggest it is evil, and this can never be said of God's gift of tongues. Paul himself is neither abash nor apologetic about this gift: "I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all" (1 Corinthians 14:18). Neither should we. But we do need to exercise spiritual gifts in an orderly and non-disruptive manner. However, to denigrate or forbid the use of tongues either personally or corporately would be a violation of Scriptural command.

Abba-Father, may You continue to pour upon us Your grace-gifts, so that our testimony of Christ may not be lacking its confirmation. Thank  You Jesus, Amen.1

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