Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 28
I CORINTHIANS 12:1 – 14:3
Continuing on in I Corinthians Chapter 12, and verse 3, in the last half of the verse where it says:
I Corinthians 12:3b
“…and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”
In other words an unbeliever may say it, but it doesn’t amount to anything because there is no genuine belief in his heart. The only person that can genuinely claim Christ as Lord is the believer. Come back to Romans Chapter 10 and look at a Scripture that goes with this verse.
“But what saith it? (that is, the Scripture) The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,…”
Now that’s where the term comes into its full meaning. That as a believer, now we know that Jesus is Lord. He’s in control of our life, He is the One in Whom we eat and sleep and move and without Him we are nothing. So that is what Paul is referring to back here in I Corinthians Chapter 12:3b. Now back to I Corinthians to continue the study. So only a truly saved, born again individual, a believer, can make the statement with all sincerity of the heart, because the Holy Spirit is the One that is the evidence that indeed Jesus is Lord.
I Corinthians 12:4a
“Now there are diversities of gifts,…”
Later on in this chapter Paul is going to introduce now for the first time in his writings this concept of the “Body of Christ.” That invisible from the human element, that invisible make-up of all believers who have been baptized (spiritually) into that Body of Christ, and we’ll see it laid out in more graphic terms beginning with verse 12. But here he’s just saying, `That in the Body of Christ every one of us has a particular role.” Every one of us have been saved for a particular place of service. It may be some dear lady who never is able to get out of her house, she is very seldom seen by the public at large, she may be a busy housewife and mother, but she can be a prayer warrior. She can accomplish more for God without being seen than many evangelists who go from pulpit to pulpit. And so we have to remember that every believer has that unique capability of serving God as He intended it. Now I’m going to make a point here in a moment that we are not to beg for a particular gift. We are not to ask for it because that has to be discerned and given as the Holy Spirit wills it and not as we determined it, and we’ll be getting to that in a couple of verses.
I Corinthians 12:5
“And there are diversities of administrations; (absolutely, and in dispensations – the other word for administrations) but the same Lord.”
God is the same over all. In fact I’ve broken it down this way. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden, they were under a certain set of circumstances. The only thing they had to concern themselves with was “Don’t eat of that tree,” and that was it, because everything else was there for them to enjoy. There was nothing that would be disobedient to them, they knew nothing of sin, but they were not to eat of the tree. Well you know what happened, they disobeyed and they ate. Now the point I’m trying to make is that when they came out of the Garden of Eden, was everything still the same? No! It couldn’t be. Sin and death had entered. They had been separated from that daily walk with God, and so there was a whole different set of circumstances. They were then under the curse, they had to work by the sweat of their brow, they were no longer under the easy existence of Paradise, and Eden. So it was all different, but had God changed? No, God didn’t change, but rather Adam and Eve did.
That leads all the way up to the flood, and Noah and his family go into the ark. Now when they come out of the ark after the flood, again, is it like it was when Adam and Eve came out of the Garden? No way. Everything was different again, God laid other responsibilities upon them as they could kill the animals and eat the meat. Before the flood they couldn’t do that, so it was a different administration. Then comes along the Tower of Babel, and you know what happened there. All the people around Babel were scattered by virtue of their languages now, and they all went to different parts of the then-known world. Different than before? Absolutely! Had God changed? No!
And then God raised up Abraham and does something totally different, and promises this one man a Nation of people, a different set of circumstances? Absolutely. The same God? Absolutely. And then God brought in Law, and He says to the Nation of Israel, “Keep the Law.” We had never had anything on the planet like that before, but now Israel was under the Law. Then comes along the Age of Grace, this great Gospel that you and I proclaim that anybody, black or white, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile can now enter into God’s salvation by just simply believing the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) this had never been on the planet before. So it’s a different administration, but has God changed? Not a bit. So this is what Paul is referring to in verse 5. A change of operations? Absolutely, but it’s the same God. Verse 6:
I Corinthians 12:6,7
“And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” Now verse 7 is the verse that I was referring to a few minutes ago about asking for gifts. You take the gift that God has given you, and you be content with it. Look what he says.
“But the manifestation (putting it in the spotlight) of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” Now let’s just go down to verse 11 and you’ll see the same thought repeated.
I Corinthians 12:11
“But all these (the things that he has listed up there in verses 8, 9 and 10) worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally (differently) as he (the Holy Spirit)will.”
Do you see that? So it’s not for you and me to go and say, “Oh I want this gift, or that gift,” No, you just take the gift that God has given you. Now I think the greatest thing we can do is just simply say, “Lord here I am, I’m available, use me.” And let Him direct you where He want to use you. I’ve told people this for years that I don’t wait for God to say something out loud, He’s never spoken to me out loud, but I’ll tell you how He talks to me, and that’s with open and closed doors. He gets us just exactly where He want us. If something doesn’t fly and the door closes, don’t push against it, you just take it that God doesn’t want you in that direction. You will find another open door someplace else so just take that one.And then from the Word, His Word can just impress you so much. Another one is by prayer, and that’s some of the ways that we can find what God wants. But just to simply go to God and say, “I want the gift of such and such, no I don’t think this is what the Bible permits. We are to leave that up to the Holy Spirit. Now I don’t want to skip any verses or I’ll get a call saying, “Well, you copped out.” Now verse 8:
I Corinthians 12:8
“For to one (believer in the congregation) is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; (that’s a gift to have wisdom) to another the word of knowledge (but it’s going to come) by the same Spirit;” See, these were things that the Church needed, and God is providing then with these particular abilities. Now verse 9:
I Corinthians 12:9
“To another faith by the same Spirit; (now whether you know it or not, if you’re a believer where did you get the wherewithal to believe the Gospel? From the Holy Spirit, because it’s a gift, and as we exercise that gift of faith we respond by believing. Also some have greater faith than others and there’s nothing wrong with that.) to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;”
There’s no doubt they exercised this gift in the early Church. We know that even Paul himself exercised this gift in the Book of Acts as he performed miracles. But by the time you get to his later letters there’s not a word about these kind of miracles, and he doesn’t perform them himself. One of his best friends, and fellow laborers in the work was sick on the island of Miletus, and was nigh on to death, but could Paul heal him? No. So what did he admonish the believers to do? The same as we do today; pray for him. And we know that Timothy evidently had a stomach ailment, and we know Paul didn’t heal him, he gave him a remedy for it, but he didn’t heal him. And it was the same way with many of his own catastrophes in his life experience. Did he get healed? No. The Lord brought him through them, but no sign of any miraculous healing. In this area of Scripture, remember, that it’s only in the letter to this carnal Corinthian Church that he deals with these particular gifts. Now let’s finish verse 10:
I Corinthians 12:10
“To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; (to determine whether it’s true or whether it’s false) to another divers kinds of tongues;(languages) to another the interpretation of tongues: (or those languages)“
Go to Ephesians Chapter 4, one of his prison epistles. It was written several years later, and he now has that revelation that I think he was referring to in I Corinthians Chapter 13. Now the steam has been wiped off the mirror, and he now has the complete revelation, and he is teaching here in Ephesians the position of the believer in the Body of Christ. If people would only look at it this way. This is where we are today! This is like coming out of 3rd and 4th Grade arithmetic, and ending up in higher mathematics. The electrical engineering that puts all our computers and everything together takes a lot of smarts. They didn’t forget simple mathematics, but they have put all that behind them. That is exactly where I put the Book of Ephesians. Ephesians is like somebody with a PH.D. in mathematics or physics.
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” (not three, as a lot of people are depending on, and that’s not what the Book says now as you can see. We’ve moved on into another administration or dispensation) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us (from the greatest to the least He has given these gifts of the Spirit that He lists here.) is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, `When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Absolutely He did.) [Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended (that of course was in His three days and nights that He was in the tomb) is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.]'” Look at the gifted men he gives to the Church in verse 11.
“And he gave some, apostles; (and they even faded off the scene after the apostolic age ended. We don’t have apostles in the Church today, but they were part of it even when he was writing Ephesians.) and some, prophets; (they also faded away because we now have the printed Word. Once the Word came into print there was no longer a need for gifted men to speak forth the Word, but even so, Paul still lists them here in Ephesians. Now here’s where we are today.) and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”
Those are the three basic gifts that the Church needs today. Men who are evangelists and can preach salvation, and probably going from place to place, we all understand the role of an evangelist. And then there’s the man who is the gifted person to be a pastor. We know that not all of God’s men can be pastors, and not all can be teachers. But these are the three basic gifts that are explained here in the Book of Ephesians, and now look also at verse 12. Why did God give the Church these three categories of people?
“For the perfecting (the maturing of believers, getting away from the milk bottle, and learning to eat the meat of the Word) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of(not for the evangelist, pastors, and teachers, but for whom?) the body of Christ:”
Now I’ve maintained for years that the primary purpose of the Church (and I don’t care what denomination that is), is to so feed its members that those members can go out and become soul winners among the world in which they live. That’s the way they did it in the early Church. They didn’t have great evangelistic campaigns, they didn’t have great coliseums full of people, but oh listen, they turned the Roman Empire upside down. And how did they do it? By just simply every believer being taught from the Word that he could be a living testimony to the world around him, and this is the criteria for us today. Oh, to be so taught in the Word that you can be a testimony wherever you go, whoever you are. I don’t care how little education that you have, you can be a gifted person in God’s program for today.
Now back to our study. So we did have these gifts in Corinthians that Paul doesn’t mention again in the Book of Ephesians. And just come to your own logical conclusion. For the same reason that you don’t go back and use 3d & 4th grade arithmetic books when you’re up in higher mathematics. It’s the same way here, because these things are now left in the background and we move on to the greater gifts that Paul brings out in Ephesians and other prison epistles. Now verse 12, and here in this verse, even though the Body of Christ as a doctrine is brought to its fullest forte in the prison epistles, it doesn’t mean that Paul knew nothing of it because here he introduces us to it. Here we have the description of the Body of Christ. Now I know there are a lot of people who do not understand this concept that every true believer is a member of the Body of Christ. As I’ve said before, Jesus never once mentioned the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is a term that you cannot find in the Four Gospels. You can’t find Peter using this term either, because that term was only given by revelation to the Apostle Paul in this Age of Grace. Now here it comes.
I Corinthians 12:12
For as the body (this human body from which he’s going to draw a comparison or allegory) is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” (“so also is Christ” is referring to the Church or Body of Christ)
Here we are with a human body of ten fingers and toes, our ears, and eyes, and all the functions of this physical body, but where is the control of these fingers and toes? Up in our brain. So also is the Body of Christ. We are now members of the Head Who is in heaven, and that’s why that’s where our citizenship is. That’s where the Head is, that’s where the nerve center is. So Paul says by inspiration that we believers are members of that one Body of Christ. How did we get there?
I Corinthians 12:13
“For by one Spirit (the Holy Spirit again, as it’s a capital `S.’) are we all (notice that says all. Not just the most spiritual, not just the ones that have had an emotional experience, but every true believer regardless of where he is or how great experience he’s had, we are all members of the Body of Christ because the Holy Spirit has) baptized into one body, (Now you see there’s not a word about tongues here, and yet I maintain this is the only time that Paul teaches a baptism by the Holy Spirit. When we are saved the Holy Spirit immediately places us in the Body of Christ, it’s a baptism, and there is no water involved. But rather the Holy Spirit did it, and that of course is our guarantee that we are Christ’s and He is ours. Now reading on:) whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
Remember that a believing Jew is a member of the Body of Christ, and they will be taken out at the Rapture of the Church just like the Gentiles will. And that’s what so unique about it. Everyone who has become a believer of the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) has been made to drink into that one Holy Spirit. And then Paul goes on to say:
I Corinthians 12:14
“For the body is not one member, but many.”
We are part of the many into the one whole, and that’s the whole picture of the Body of Christ. That’s why you can go from here to Timbuktu and if you get into a fellowship of believers you’re never a stranger. Anywhere Iris and I have gone, when we go into a home of believers, we don’t feel strange for a moment, because there’s a oneness we have in Christ. Then Paul goes through and uses all the bodily members to show the example, and he’s belaboring the fact that:
I Corinthians 12:15,16
“If the foot shall say, `Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body;’ is it therefore not of the body?” Of course not, just because the foot is not the hand that doesn’t take it away from the body, it’s exactly where it belongs. It’s a place of function.
“And if the ear shall say, `Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body;’ is it therefore not of the body?”
Now I know the apostle is on the edge of being ridiculous, and I sometime teach the same way, because that’s what gets people attention. If you can get ridiculous enough it will make them think, and that’s what he is saying here. Every part of the body functions together for the purpose of using and energizing the body. Now reading on:
I Corinthians 12:17-22
“If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And 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.’ (I like the next verse) Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:”
And you know the one I’m going to refer to? Your little toe. Oh, your little toe almost seems insignificant doesn’t it? But if you ask someone who had one amputated they’ll tell you they miss that little toe almost as much as a complete hand. Why? Because that which is the most feeble is sometimes the most important.