Lesson 6

Unlimited Possibilities

(1 Corinthians 12, Matthew 25)
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Introduction: What, exactly, does it mean to witness? Does it have to be an explanation of the gospel? If so, is it really true that every Christian has an obligation to witness? What about diverse spiritual gifts? How does that fit into this discussion about witnessing? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1.         Spirit Directed

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. Is there an education problem in the Corinthian church? (Yes, some were “uniformed” and Paul wanted to fix that problem.)

  1.         Is this still a problem today in our churches?

  1.         If you are an idol worshiper are you “uniformed?” (The text says idol worshipers are “led astray.” That suggests that they are informed, but by bad information.)

  1.         Let’s focus on 1 Corinthians 12:3. Is education a gift of the Holy Spirit? Do we choose the Holy Spirit rather than idols because we have better information? (The idea that this is just a matter of good information is not Paul’s point. Yes, idol worship reflects bad information. But, saying that “Jesus is Lord” reflects the power of the Holy Spirit. It does not reflect good information - as important as good information is.)

  1.         Does this mean that everyone who says “Jesus is Lord” is filled with the Holy Spirit? (I don’t think Paul is making that point either. Instead, Paul’s point is that when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will say the correct things. This is not the result of good information, it is the result of “speaking in the Spirit of God.”)

  1.         Is there a point in here about witnessing? (If you are speaking in the Spirit, you are not going to say the wrong things.)

  1.         Spiritual Diversity

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. We have three different things: gifts, service, and activities. Do you see that among your co-workers? Do you see that among your fellow church members?

  1.         Do you think that your gifts, service, or activities are inferior or superior to others?

  1.         What is the source of those gifts, service, and activities? (The Holy Spirit.)

  1.         If the gifts, service, and activities are made possible by the Holy Spirit, can any be inferior or superior? (No. They are just different.)

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 12:7. Why are we given spiritual gifts? Why do we perform spiritual services? Why do we engage in spiritual activities? (For the common good.)

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 12:8. Are wisdom and knowledge the same? (Recall that in the beginning of this chapter ( 1 Corinthians 12:1) Paul tells us that he does not want us to be “uniformed.” Paul is providing us with knowledge right now.)

  1.         Remember that we discussed that a Spirit-filled Christian cannot say the wrong thing? Could you make a statement that is “informed” but not wise? That is, could you say something that is true but not the best thing at the moment?

  1.         Could you say something true but not wise while filled with the Holy Spirit? (If they are different gifts, that seems possible.)

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 12:9. Is faith like the gift of healing, only certain Christians have it?

  1.         Read Hebrews 11:6. How can this be true when not all Christians are given the gift of faith? (To reconcile these two texts, we must conclude that all Christians exercise faith, but some have a greater abundance of it.)

  1.         Let’s revisit our discussion about knowledge and wisdom. Is that like faith, meaning does every Christian have a certain minimum level of wisdom? (I think so. Otherwise, we must accept as normal harmful statements that are true. Worse, we would conclude that a Spirit-filled person was doing the harm.)

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 12:10. Does this mean that some church members will have certain gifts and others will not have the same gifts? (That is the plain meaning of this.)

  1.         How does that work with the idea that we all witness?

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 14:3. Prophecy here refers to building up, consoling, and encouraging people. Can you witness without those abilities?

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 12:11. As you look back at the list of gifts we have discussed, are many of these gifts missing from your church?

  1.         Spiritual Growth

  1.         Look again at 1 Corinthians 12:11. What do you understand about the distinction between education and gifts? What is the distinction between natural talents and gifts?

  1.         Read Matthew 25:14-15. We have two distinct things mentioned in this parable - talents (what the master hands out) and ability (what the servant already possessed). What does this suggest about the distinction between natural talents and spiritual gifts?(This continues our discussion about keeping distinct the power of the Holy Spirit and our natural talents. In the parable, if the master represents God, then both natural talents and spiritual gifts come from God.)

  1.         Does this parable teach that those with greater natural talents (abilities), are given more spiritual gifts (talents)?

  1.         You are welcome to read Matthew 25:16-23. In summary, the servants who were given either five or two talents doubled them, were commended by the master, and given greater responsibilities. Read Matthew 25:24-25. What did the one talent servant fear? Failure? Capitalism? The master?

  1.         Was this servant looking for a “safe space” where he would not be challenged?

  1.         Is there a lesson here about spiritual gifts?

  1.         Can we fear spiritual gifts? Can we fear failing with our spiritual gifts?

  1.         Can we think that witnessing, evangelism, is a bad idea?

  1.         Can we fear God, meaning that we think He is a “hard man?”

  1.         Read Matthew 25:28. What do you think about taking the one talent from this servant and giving it to the servant who has the most talents?

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 12:28. Is the parable of the talents an appropriate illustration of spiritual gifts?

  1.         For example, are “apostles” the equivalent of the five talent servants, and so forth going down the list?

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 12:29-30. Should we be insulted by being given gifts that are lower on the list? (We skipped over 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. It tells us that all of the gifts are essential to the church, and none should be considered less honorable.)

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 12:31. We previously saw in the parable of the master and the servants that the master determined the number of talents given. In our study of spiritual gifts, we read in 1 Corinthians 12:11 that the Holy Spirit decides who gets what gifts. What new information about receiving gifts do we find here? (That we can have a role in the spiritual gifts we are given. It would make no sense, in fact it might constitute envy, if we were to “earnestly desire” the “higher gifts” while having no ability to secure them. This must mean that the Holy Spirit will give us higher gifts if we want them and use them.)

  1.         Friend, our discussion of spiritual gifts reveals that witnessing is not just one thing that we all do. Rather, we do it in different ways. We have different natural talents and different spiritual gifts. When we witness as a joint effort we bring all of our talents and gifts to bear in the most effective way. Will you use the spiritual gifts given to you and “earnestly desire” more?

  1.         Next week: Sharing the Word.

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Lessons on Witnessing: Making Friends for God

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