Original September 19, 2022
Rev. Terry Goerz,
Redeemer Lutheran Church High Prairie, Alberta
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. . .All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12: 4 –7 & 11)
The above text contains a message of power for the church for all ages. When Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, that Spirit was connected to power. Scripture also indicates that the kingdom of God or the church was to come with power.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
And “I am going to send you what My Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24: 49)
This connection between the church, the Holy Spirit, and power is consistent in the New Testament. The last verse of our first text said: “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
There are a few thoughts in that sentence. The different gifts do not come from different spirits; they are all the work of the Holy Spirit. There is not a spirit of healing, and a spirit of miracles etc. There is one Holy Spirit who manifests these gifts in Christians.
The second thought is that the Holy Spirit determines who gets what gift. The gifts are given as He determines.
And the last thought is that He gives them to each one.
We all have the Holy Spirit in us through our baptism. That Holy Spirit works in each of us. We all have gifts from the Holy Spirit. It does not say that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to some and not to others. He is in all of us, and we all get gifts.
We need to understand why we get gifts. In the next section after our first text Paul compares the church to a human body. Each part has a job to do that lets the body do what it has to do. The body is not made up of a bunch of parts that are all the same. Each part is different and has its own job, and together they make up a body. They have to work together.
In the church the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to different individuals, and together they do the work of the church. The church Paul says is the body of Christ, or the way Christ works here on earth. One body, many parts is his theme.
So the reason we get gifts is so Christ can accomplish His ministry here on earth. That ministry is defined in the great commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28: 18 – 20)
So the ministry that the body of Christ or the church has is to make disciples of all nations, baptize them, and feed them with the word of God, or teach them.
The gifts are there so the church can accomplish this ministry. It is easy to see how wisdom, knowledge, faith, and even prophecy play a large role in accomplishing the great commission, but what do healing, miracles, discernment of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues have to do with the great commission? We call these manifestations of the Spirit the sign gifts. And they play an important role in the spread of the gospel.
Let’s look at just of few texts from the book of Acts that demonstrates this.
In Acts 9 Peter heals a paralytic. Then we read, “Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” (Acts 9:35)
Then Peter heals Tabitha. Then we read: “This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.” (Acts 9: 42)
Later Paul and Barnabas speak boldly for the Lord in Iconium and we read there “the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.” (Acts 14: 3)
There are many more texts from the New Testament that demonstrate that the sign gifts confirmed the message of the Gospel. So understand that the sign gifts are not for the church to try and create heaven on earth by healing everyone and removing all obstacles to life, but to confirm the message of the gospel.
So now understanding that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come with power, that we all have the Holy Spirit in us, so we all get gifts from the same Holy Spirit, as He chooses; that the gifts are there to help the body of Christ, the church, as each part works together to fulfill the great commission or we could say provide power to the church; and lastly that the sign gifts confirm the message of the gospel.