First Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson
"The Holy Spirit and The Gitfts of the Spirit"
February 25, 2017
As this week's lesson identifies, the fruits of the Spirit are not the same as the gifts of the spirit. All men may bear as equally and as fully as another the fruits of the Spirit, but not all men receive of the same gifts. The Spirit is "dividing to every man severally as He will" "to profit withal" (1 Cor. 12:11,7).
There is also a difference between talents and the gifts of the Spirit. A man may have talents, but he may not have the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are only present in an individual when the Spirit is present in that individual, because the gifts of the Spirit are the "manifestation of the Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:7). These gifts were given to benefit the church of God – the body of Christ. But the body of Christ "is not one member, but many" (1 Cor. 12:14). Therefore, because the gifts are "to profit withal", we see that there is an obligation upon the individual to permit the Spirit to abide in him and manifest His gifts through him.
That being the case, every member is personally responsible for the unity of the church, because the gifts of the Spirit are given for the "edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12). All true members of the body of Christ will manifest the gift of the Spirit because "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man" (1 Cor. 12:7), "every man" being every member of the body of Christ. But they will not manifest them for selfish, self-exalting purposes, but in a way which will be to serve the good of others and to benefit the body as a whole.
Connect 1 Corinthians 12:29 with Ephesians 4:11. "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers."
Notice here that the Apostle has arranged the gifts of the Spirit in an apparent "hierarchical order". While it is true that our God is a God of order, He does not despise the "small things" (Zech. 4:10). Those in responsible positions must always "let this mind be in [them] which was also in Christ Jesus" that esteemed others better than Himself (Phil. 2:3-5). "The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary" (1 Cor. 12:21,22).
"God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). An individual does not receive any particular gift through any merit of their own. They are the gifts of the "Spirit of grace" (Heb. 10:29). He distributes the gifts "as He will" (1 Cor. 12:11), i.e. according to what He sees best for the accomplishment of God's purposes. It has nothing to do with one individual being more "special" than another. The bestowal of one gift, or more, is the bestowal of a sacred responsibility and not to be taken lightly, and neither is it to be used according to our own will.
Considering that the gifts of the Spirit are given to the members of the church for the "edifying of itself in love", and that love "vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up... seeketh not her own" (Eph 4:16; 1 Cor. 13:4,5), then we can see that the true gifts of the Holy Spirit can never be used for self-exaltation. For it is "the same God that worketh all in all" and that God that works in all is "love" (1 Cor. 12:6; 1 John 4:8).
And "this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments" (1 John 5:3). When the gifts of the Spirit are truly appreciated as God intends, and exercisedas God intends, then Christ can present "to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but... holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27).
To this end, then, should the ministry be of every member of the body: "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." While the members themselves remain unsanctified, the church itself will never be sanctified. Therefore, there is a grand obligation upon all teachers, pastors and evangelists to ensure that they themselves follow the counsel of their own Prophet and aquaint themselves with the message that "invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God" (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 91).
What unites a church is unity of truth. Presently we are "children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Eph. 4:14). Now, more than ever, should we speak "the truth in love" that we all "may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Eph 4:15).
But what is the truth? Jesus is "the truth" (John 14:6). Can we say with Apostle Paul, "We see Jesus" (Heb. 2:9)? or need we say with the Greeks, "We wouldsee Jesus," (John 12:21) because we have not seen Him? Do we see Jesus in the church today, or do we see confusion? What is it that we hear? The words of John the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world"? or, "Lo, here is Christ," and another "Lo, there is Christ" and "Behold, He is in the desert"!? But what saith the voice of God in our generations?
"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world" (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 91, emphasis supplied).
Unity comes through the truth – the truth as it is in Jesus, for He is "the truth". And it is the Spirit that will "guide us into all truth" (John 16:13); therefore, He will guide us into Christ! When Jesus "ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men" (Eph. 4:8). These gifts are the gifts of His Spirit: "unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph. 4:7). To what measure has Christ been given to every one of us? "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). What then are the gifts of the Spirit? The manifestations of Jesus Christ, who has been given unto us, for "[the Spirit] shall receive of mine and show it unto you" (John 16:14,15).
Therefore, only as we receive Christ can we truly receive the gifts of the Spirit. Only as Christ and His own righteousness (right-doing) is manifested in us will the gifts of the Spirit be manifested in us, for it is God that "worketh all in all" (1 Corinthians 12:6). And only when we have received Christ in His fulness will we reach the full potential of the manifestation of the gift individually imparted to us; and therefore only when we as individual members of the body have received Christ in His fulness, which is "all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:19) – "for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead boldily" (Col. 2:9) – only then will we all come "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). In other words, only when God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and every single thing which pertains to them as members of the Godhead, are abiding in each one of us individually and we in them, and they are manifesting themselves in our lives, then and only then, will "the whole body [be] fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth" (Eph. 4:16), because the purpose of God is that the church is to be nothing less than the "fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph 1:23).
Think of this. Our beloved church might be the "fulness of Him that filleth all in all". What does this mean? It means the centre of the universe. The centre of dominion, of glory, of power. Not of man, but of God Himself. This is why God will bring heaven down to earth and dwell with us here forever. Because he has given us everything. We were lost in sin. Like Adam, we would run away from Him and so He did everything to convince us of His love – He gave us everything. He packaged Himself and all that pertains to Him into His Son and then sent Him to this earth to become perfectly united with the human race; thus uniting Himself and all that pertains to Him to the human race. Everything is in Christ, and if we are in Christ, then we have everything – "everything" in God's definition of the word.
Can you understand this? No? Then get off your comfortable pew and study the Bible for yourself, and then you will be able to contribute your part to the body of Christ. What part, you say? Nothing less than the fulness of God Himself. Do you have that to contribute? No? Then you had better get your priorities in life right and find Jesus Christ and hide in Him; because that is the only place you will ever find it and the only way you will ever contribute to your church's prosperity. And don't think your minister can supply what you don't provide.
~Camron and Heladia Schofield