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Doctrine of the Holy Spirit - The Work of the Spirit in the life of the Church Print E-mail
Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

I.  Introduction:

 We listed four statements last week concerning the Spiritís work in the life of a believer.  The last statement was this: ĎThe Spirit empowers us to worship the Lord and minister to others.í  We noted that the Spirit unifies us (Ephesians 4:1-7) and calls us together (1 Corinthians 12).  Likewise the Spirit equips us with gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4ff).  Tonight, I want to look at the Spiritís work in the life of the Church and particularly focus on His work through spiritual gifts.  As we said last week, my goal is to summarize what we have seen in the text and identify some points of practical application along the way.

II.  Summary Statements:

 A.  The Spirit gives us gifts to encourage and build one another up.  Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12-14 that our gifts are to be used to edify the Body.  Particularly in his comparison between tongues and prophecy, Paul points to the value of prophecy due to its ability to encourage the Body (1 Corinthians 14:3-4, 12, 19).  Likewise in his conclusion on spiritual gifts he states: Let all things be done for building up (14:26).  The work of the Spirit through the gifts is to build up the Church.  Again, as we said last week, this Ďbuilding upí is part of the Spiritís work in sanctifying us and making us more like Christ.  Thus, as we use our gifts to build each other up, we are being used by the Spirit to conform each other into the image of our Savior. 

 B.  The gifts continue to function and should be pursued.  We have considered the arguments that the gifts have ceased and have concluded against them.  The abuses of the gifts were great in Corinth, particularly in regards to the gift of tongues.  Yet, Paul does not forbid this gift or any of the gifts.  In fact, he commands them to not forbid tongues and to earnestly desire to prophecy (14:39).  Thus, we are called to be a Church that earnestly desires and expects the Spirit to work in our midst through the gifts.  I have encouraged you before to spend time praying for the gifts.  This study has encouraged me to do that.  I have confessed that I often fear what this might look like, but I want to fight against that fear and trust in the Lord and His Word.  I want us to be a people who pursue the gifts for the building up of the Body.

 Let me add one more idea to this call to pursue the gifts.  I think one of the best places to start in our pursuit of the gifts is learning how to love each other.  Paul tells us that we can speak in the tongues of men and of angels and have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and even remove mountains, but if we do not have love then we will gain nothing.  Thus, our pursuit of the gifts must begin with a pursuit of love.  And if you think about it, pursuing love will go a long way in helping us foster the gifts among us.  By loving each other, we will be more open to the exercising of gifts.  We will be more trusting of one another and not so suspicious.  Likewise, if we truly love each other, then we will be open to correction and instruction concerning our use of the gifts.  So then, let your pursuit of the gifts begin with the pursuit of love.

 C.  The corporate use of gifts should be orderly and intelligible.  The argument that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 14 is that people will only be edified if the gifts are used in an orderly and intelligible way.  He requires interpretation for tongues for the purpose of intelligibility.  He prefers prophecy due to its intelligibility.  Likewise, he concludes that all things should be done decently and in order (14:40).  Being open to the gifts and pursuing them, does not mean that we are open to chaos and confusion, for God is not a God of confusion but of peace (14:33).  We can all possibly give examples of abuses, but we need not let these abuses keep us from encouraging one another with our gifts.  Rather, these abuses should remind us of the importance of making sure that we are following the biblical pattern in exercising our gifts.  This leads me to my last summary statement.

 D.  The Spiritís work should not be quenched by unbelief or unbiblical practices.  This is my combination statement to try and bring B and C above together.  We are not to let unbelief quench the Spirit in our midst (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).  We need to follow the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and not answer abuse with disuse.  There needs to be a place for spontaneity and participation in our corporate gatherings.  We need to encourage the use of our gifts.  Yet, at the same time, we are not to give ourselves over to chaos and confusion.  No, we are to maintain order and intelligibility.  Our practice of the gifts must be in line with the Scriptures, otherwise we will be disobeying the Spiritís revealed instructions.  We cannot expect to be pleasing the Spirit if we disbelieve the gifts that He has revealed or if we disobey His revealed directions.  Rather, we want to bring these ideas together.  For sure, we will not always do this faithfully.  We will struggle to not fall off on either side of this horse.  Yet, I think our goal should be faithful obedience to the text.  When we make mistakes, we need to be quick to repent and correct those.  However, we cannot allow the correction to simply be disuse of the gifts altogether.  My hope and my prayer and my expectation is that God will grant us grace as we seek to use our gifts to encourage one another in this place.

III.  Conclusion:

 The work of the Spirit in the life of the Church goes hand in hand with His work in our lives as individuals.  Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12 that all the parts are necessary.  Thus, if we are going to be a Church that is growing, maturing, becoming more like Christ, then we should welcome and pursue the gifts of the Spirit.  Does this mean that we should all show up next Sunday ready to speak in tongues or have a healing service?  No, it does not.  Again, if you are like me and you struggle with the fear of what this might look like, then look to Christ.  Look to the people that he has given you hear to serve with and grow with and learn with.  Look to His Word which gives us clear instructions about how to incorporate the gifts and how to avoid abuses. 

Instead of showing up next week looking for certain things to happen, letís show up expectant of the Spiritís presence and blessing whatever that may look like.  Letís show up longing for the Spirit to move on us through the preaching and praying and singing.  Letís show up with hearts burdened with love for one another, burdened to see each other mature in Christ, burdened to use our gifts however we can to encourage them in that goal.  Letís show up having fervently prayed over all of this.  Indeed, may the Spirit use us and the gifts He has given us to make us all more like our Savior, for His glory and our good.  Amen.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 July 2009 )

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