We all know what we are don't we! You know the routine....Do you avoid the gifts or look for them...do you prefer the sermon or the worship time...being regular or spontaneous? Do you tend toward the objective or subjective...form or freedom...obedience or love...the intellectual or the emotional? Do you like to sing about God or to God? All of these represent a pattern of being either Word oriented or Spirit oriented. All of these can be really good things, but the reality is, most of the time, we all tend to be one way or the other. Obviously the goal is to be in a place where we are this wonderful mixture of both.
This week we are beginning a new series on the presence and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Our goals are to learn about the gifts, have an increased desire for them, and to experience more of the gifts in operation so that God would be glorified, the Church would be edified, the world would know that Jesus is Lord. What are the gifts? Gifts of the Spirit are actual manifestations or expressions of Holy Spirit’s power that are given at His discretion to Christians to enable them to contribute to the health of the Church and to enhance the Church’s witness.
The reality is that the Christian life is a supernatural life. It started for all of us in a supernatural way and it is sustained, whether we like to admit it or not, in a supernatural way. We cannot live the Christian life effectively without either the Word or the Spirit. It begins with both and is sustained by both. We are to be a people of the book, but the Cristian life is more than just reading, studying, and memorizing the Bible. The Holy Spirit produced the scriptures and makes them alive in our hearts. We don't want to simply try to balance the Word and the Spirit out, we want to mix them. More like a chemical reaction...a blending of both. The Word and the Spirit together produce the normal Christian life. One without the other is not the Christian life. To emphasize one and neglect the other is to live an abnormal Christian life.
It is interesting to note that here in 1 Cor. 12:1 the word 'gifts' is not in the original Greek. Paul didn't put it there. It should literally read "spiritual person" or "spiritual things/matters". In other words Paul is starting his teaching on the gifts by talking about the spiritual person. And for Paul the starting point of being a spiritual person is not a mystical understanding of the gifts, but a person's confession of Christ. Confessing that Jesus is Lord! Ron put it this way..."your spirituality begins with your view of Christ." This is the beginning for Paul in a discussion of the gifts of the Spirit and how they should be used. Is. 53 depicts a picture of Christ as demeaned or cursed. Rev. 1:13-15 reveals a picture of Christ filled with glory and majesty. People can see Christ either way...in a natural way, as either insignificant or irrelevant or in a spiritual way, full of glory and majesty. Only the Spirit can produce the spiritual view in a person's heart. Before you focus on the gifts and prophecy or tongues you must be truly 'spiritual' by seeing the "glory of God in Christ". This is the real basis for any ongoing study of the gifts of the Spirit. Without this we are asking for the gifts without love.
We all come to this subject with baggage. We all have a unique background we bring with us into this study...preconceived ideas. We are all a certain "mix" of the chemicals...of the Word and the Spirit. All of our mixtures need adjustment. We must, as Ron said, believe the Word, but also receive the Spirit. Where are you at? What kind of adjustment is the Lord wanting to bring in your heart? Ultimately, whatever God is doing in your heart, he is doing it so that you might bring greater glory to God!
This is why Community Groups are so important in this process. In the context of these small groups we can discuss these things and pray for each other as we pursue the grace of God though out this series. Here are some discussion questions that might help in this process:
1. What do you think the normal Christian life should look like?
2. What kind of "mix" of Word and Spirit do you see in yourself?
3. What are the dangers or benefits of each?
4. Why is your view of Christ so important in this process?
5. What kind of "baggage" do you come with?