Kingdom Principle: The Signs of the Kingdom are given to God’s people (His bride) for the Glory of God.
|Isaiah 62:1-5||Psalm 36:5-10||1 Corinthians 12:1-11||John 2:1-11|
15 years ago this week – I opened more gifts at one time than at any other event in my life. My wife & received so many wedding gifts it took us hours to work through it – some we have used and continue to use every day – out kitchen dishes… others remain valued but rarely used – the kitchen aid mixer. God has always used the metaphor of the bride and a wedding banquet to connect with His people. This metaphor is consistent in both the New and Old Testament as well as the faith of the bride not being so consistent. God has chosen Israel to be a light to the nations… and His faithfulness and unfailing love is enough to sustain the bruised and restore the broken. The salvation of God now extends far beyond a single people group and has always been more simple survival and mere existence in the world. God has an abundance of grace to bestow upon his people and his mercy never ends. Our God is a gift giver. For us to experience this gift of grace and trust in this mercy is an act of faith. When we unwrap this gift we see the Glory of the Most High God displayed in our lives. This Glory is seen as the Signs of the Kingdom and in the Gifts of the Spirit. The concept of the Bride of Christ – deserves its own post and I hope to write it soon, today we will focus on the gifts which are given to the bride and their relationships to the Sign of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus began his ministry full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1), being led into the wilderness to be tempted and to overcome the Devil. In the Gospel of John, we find Jesus’ first act of ministry taking place in Cana where he turns water into wine. This was the first sign of Jesus which revealed his glory, and as a result of it – his disciples believed in him. Later in the Gospel of John, Jesus is clear that when the Holy Spirit comes upon his disciples (his bride) they will do even greater things than He did. (John 14:12). In the Letters of Paul to the Church, we read the manifestation of these gifts of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of these gifts is to build up the body and bride of Christ for the good of all. However the reality exists that God’s people have mis-used and mis-undertsood this gifting such that is has become divisive and a distraction to the Glory of God.
Below we will look at the passages of Scripture were Paul teaches about the Gifts of the Spirit. There I will share my understanding of the three unique expressions of the gifts which draw us further into our full identity as the Bride. A few points of clarification first – 1. The gifts are not limited to the New Testament. Meaning they were performed prior to Christ in the Old Testament (think of Moses & Elijah). They are always used to demonstrate and confirm the presence of God, and they continue to be performed today for the very same reason. 2. While gifts are a sign of the Holy Spirit, they point to the Signs of the Kingdom. Healing, Miracles, and wonders confirm the primary sign of the Kingdom which is the proclamation of the gospel and gifts of the Spirit are given such that these signs are demonstrated clearly for the Glory of God. 3. Finally – a gift is an expression of the gift giver. Our focus is never to be the gift, nor the person who is blessed with the gift. A person cannot own or possess a gift of the Spirit, it possesses us and is given by God.
God has placed his treasure in us through the work of his Holy Spirit. God is our treasure (Matt. 13:44) and in discovering this – everything else fails to have worth…. The discovery of this treasure unveils the glory of God in our lives. Below are the three passages of Scripture that teach us about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We will look at the lists in Romans, 1 Corinthians then Ephesians, in that order.
In Romans 12 we find that all are given according the grace of God given one of these gifts. Either the gift is redeemed in and for the Kingdom of God or remains at work for the Kingdom of darkness. These gifts are called redemptive gifts, and motivate us much like a personality or character trait. The 7 redemptive gifts listed here are as roles we fulfill: prophet, servant, teacher, exhorter, giver, ruler, mercy. (These titles and roles are expanded upon greatly by Arthur Burk.) In 1 Corinthians 12 we see that the body is uniquely designed to use these gifts in the power of the Holy Spirit, there is a great diversity in the manifestation of such gifts but one Spirit. It is at the discretion of the Spirit as to when and to whom these gifts are distributed, but in all of God’s people, when he is at work in them it is the Spirit which is at work. The list of gifts here are works and expressions of the body; wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, speaking in tongues, and their interpretations. Finally in Ephesians 4 we see that some are given gifts of mobilization, to equip the body to greater works. The list in Ephesians 4 is clearly limited and not given to all believers, some have called these leadership gifts; apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
In Summary here: There are motivational gifts (Romans) that bring to light the very impulse of God within us. As we discover the God imprint on our lives we discover his workmanship and embrace our uniqueness as His creations. There are manifestations gifts (1 Corinthians) that bring to light the very inspiration of God within us. As we open our lives to the work of the Holy Spirit, he makes himself known to the world through us. Finally there are mobilization gifts (Ephesians) that bring to light the very influence of Jesus within us, to lead the Church as he is the head of the Church. To those whom much is given, much is expected. These gifts are much like the shiny jewels and adornments of a bride on her wedding day. The bride remains the bride regardless of the jewels and adornments, but in pure white and spotless gown all stop and marvel at a bride in her wedding dress. God has called us to be pure and holy and it is only by his blood that we are washed and made new. If you desire to discover God’s imprint on your life, begin by asking the Holy Spirit to open your hears to hear what He has to say… He is the gift giver, so ask, and then begin to listen. (Luke 11:10-13)
Let us embrace the Signs of the Kingdom in our lives, and may the world see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.