As followers of Jesus, we’ve been entrusted with an incredible calling: to live on mission with Jesus, extending God’s influence into every nook and cranny of our world. That’s exciting, but it’s also intimidating. It’s easy to feel like we don’t have what it takes to pull it off. But we do. You do. God has equipped you – and all the followers of Jesus together – with powerful, world-changing gifts. Join us as we learn together how to be the world-changers God has equipTed us to be.
1 Corinthians 12:1-3
God has gifted each member of His church so that we are equipped to be on mission with Jesus. We exist as a church to help people become like Jesus and join him on mission…and in this series we’re going to explore what God says about how he has gifted and equipped us…equipted us…to be on mission with Jesus.
Craig: Well, welcome to all of our locations. So glad you’re with us. We’re launching a new series today called Equipted and just in case you’re wondering, no, that’s not a mistake. We did that on purpose. We had a bunch of people call this week and say, ”Hey, I hate to be the ones to tell you this, but, well, you guys goofed actually. You misspelled the word equipped.” We didn’t actually. I’m not saying we’re like above the possibility of making serious grammatical or typographical errors. It happens. Just a couple of weeks ago we did a baby dedication service and we kind of had a perfect storm honestly because we had a lot when people come in than we expected. And so we had to move in at the last minute to a bigger auditorium here on the Littleton campus. And when we did that, our tech people had to like scramble to get everything. And so we had one poor tech guy. He was like typing frantically to get all the slides in.
I was trying to help out. So this is all on me too. I was watching over his shoulder because I knew he was moving fast and he might easily make mistakes. And I allowed one to slip through, which meant that at a certain key point in the service, we as missionaries were thanking all the parents and the grandparents and all the families. And so we put up this big slide that said, hey, basically, thank you for allowing us to join you in your journey of tasing your children. Yeah, so it happens. We’re certainly not above making those kinds of mistakes, but this is not one of them. Okay. This is not one of them. We actually did intend to call this the Equipted Series.
And the reason is pretty simple. When God laid this series on my heart almost a year ago, I put it in the working title. I called it Equipped/gifted, figuring we’d either settle on one or the others or the worship team…the creative team had come up with another way to talk about it. But the way that we kept talking about our planning team, every time we talked about it, people kind of scanned those two words equipped/gifted and smooshed them together. They’d say, so for the Equipted Series, I mean, I’m sorry. I mean the equipped or the gifted or the equipted…what? What is it? Everybody kind of wanted to just say equipted. It’s just the way it came out. And I’m not saying the Holy Spirit led us to this, but maybe he did. We just decided to push it and we’re gonna call it the Equipted Series because it reminds us of two very important truths, which is this. If you’ve said yes to Jesus, if you put your faith in Jesus, God has given you new gifts to equip you for your new mission. Do you understand that? If you’ve said yes to Jesus, then God has given you new gifts for your new mission. Because when we say yes to Jesus, we don’t just get forgiven of our sin. I mean, that’s amazing enough by itself. When we say yes to Jesus, we don’t just get adopted into the family of God. That’s amazing enough. But when we say yes to Jesus, we also get invited into a new mission with him. We get invited to participate in the mission that Jesus himself had and that he calls us to, of extending God’s influence into the world. And that’s exciting, but it can be a little bit as well. We might feel like, who am I to be on a mission with Jesus? How could I possibly have what it takes to really be doing that in the world? And on our own, we wouldn’t, but when you said yes to Jesus, God gave you new gifts to equip you for this new mission. Okay?
And so we’re gonna be talking about in this series. We’re gonna be talking about all kinds of gifts, but in particular, we’re gonna spend a lot of time talking about something we call spiritual gifts. How many of you have heard about spiritual gifts? It’s totally okay if you haven’t, we’re gonna get you caught up real quick. But even those of you who have heard about spiritual gifts, let me ask you this. How many of you are not quite exactly sure what a spiritual gift is? Can we be honest? Yeah. Some hands there. How about this? How many of you would say, I know exactly what my spiritual gift is? How many of you are like, I do not know what my spiritual gift is? Okay, got questions there. How many of you would say, I’m not even sure how to go about figuring out my spiritual gifts? I’m not even sure how to know what it is. How many of you would say, I don’t know how to know my spiritual gift? A lot of questions.
We’re gonna deal with all those questions in this series. And so whether you come from a background where you’ve heard a lot about spiritual gifts or this is a brand new concept to you, we’re gonna unpack the answers to those questions. Why don’t you go ahead and grab your Bible and start making your way to the book of 1 Corinthians. We’re gonna be in chapter 12 but the key idea is this, God has equip-ted you, God has equipted you for mission, okay. That’s the key idea we’re gonna explore. So, why don’t we just do this? Why don’t you look at somebody next to you and say, God has equipted you for mission?
So the question is how? What kinds of gifts has he given? What does it look to use those gifts for the purpose that he’s called us to? And that’s what we’re gonna explore. Now, let me just say this, the very kinds of spiritual gifts, if you’re familiar with and you may not be, and again, that’s totally fine, we’ll catch up. But if you’re familiar with the concept of spiritual gifts, the concept may actually have some baggage for you. And you may have come from an environment that really emphasized spiritual gifts, maybe even over emphasized certain gifts and made you feel like maybe you weren’t quite as good a Christian because you didn’t have a certain spiritual gifts or maybe you came from an environment that was just really skeptical about spiritual gifts in general. And so if you felt like you had a spiritual gift, maybe you kind of were feeling a little bit sort of out in the wings and ostracized because of a spiritual gift God had given you. And so the content of spiritual gifts can actually create a lot of anxiety for people depending on the background they’re coming from.
So let me let you know, here’s how we’re gonna go at this. At Mission Hills, we’re a Bible-driven church. And to be a Bible-driven church means that we don’t figure out what we think and then slap a Bible verse on it to justify what we think. And we don’t have experiences that dictate what we think that we put a Bible verse on top of. But we’re compelled by the powerful truth of God’s Word. That’s what it means to be Bible-driven. We’re compelled by the powerful truth of God’s Word, and, so we go to Scripture to figure out what to think and how to think. Scripture, it shapes and it drives our thinking.
And so what we’re gonna do in this series is we’re gonna work verse by verse through a section of the book of 1 Corinthians that pushes into the topic of spiritual gifts in-depth. There’s other passages that we could go to in the Bible that talk about spiritual gifts, but none of them deal with it in as much depth as
1 Corinthians: 12-14. So we’re gonna work through that verse by verse. And Paul starts us off with a foundational truth about spiritual gifts. He says this. ”Now, about the gifts of the spirit,” about the gifts of the spirit or we could also translate, now, about spiritual gifts, which tells us immediately the spiritual gifts come from who? Came from the Spirit. They come from the Holy Spirit. What that means is that a spiritual gift comes to us by the Holy Spirit. We don’t learn it over time. It’s not built into us when we’re born, okay? It’s something that came into us the moment the Holy Spirit came into us. That’s what we mean by spiritual gifts. They’re empowered by the Holy Spirit. Apart from the Holy Spirit working in our lives, we wouldn’t have this ability. We wouldn’t have this gift. Spiritual gift comes from the Holy Spirit.
Now, that’s not the only kind of gifts we have. I think it’s really important that we understand that God actually gives us three different kinds of gifts. Everybody listening to this has three different kinds of gifts that God gave you so that you could be on mission with him. We can talk about natural gifts, we can talk about learned gifts, and we can talk about spiritual gifts. We’re gonna be talking a lot in this series about spiritual gifts, but I think it’s important that we understand that we all have natural gifts and learned gifts as well. Natural gifts are abilities that we have that we are born with. Natural gifts are abilities that we have, that we’re born with. Some people are just born with the ability to do certain things. I’m not talking about like babies who can play the grand piano or those kinds of things, but I mean sometimes people are just born with an ability to do music and it develops over time, but that core gift was in them from the moment they were born. Some people have the gift of languages. They’ve been really good with languages from the moment that they were born. Some people were born with the gift of patience. Maybe, maybe, it could happen. Anybody have like incredibly patient children? No, okay, well, I could be wrong about this one then. Maybe we’re not born. But the point is that a natural gift is something that we kind of were formed in the womb with. As God knitted us together in our mother’s wombs, he gave a certain kind of abilities that we realize over time, but they’re kind of baked into us from the beginning. Those are natural gifts.
We also have learned to gifts. Learned gifts are abilities that we develop over time and through experience. They are things that we learn how to do because of experiences that God allows us to go through. We’re not born with these abilities, but because of experiences we’ve had and over time, we learn to be able to do things we couldn’t have done otherwise. I had an opportunity just this past week to meet with two different Christians that were struggling to sort of see eye to eye on something significant to both of them. They’re kind of missing each other and there was misunderstanding. They thought the other one was seeing something, and saying something, and feeling something very different and it was kind of creating an issue.
And so I had the opportunity to kind of mediate that and try to draw them a little closer together. And one of the things that became clear as I talked to them was, part of the problem was it was a clash of cultures. They were looking at the same issue through two very different lenses. One of them was Asian and the other was Anglo. And what I realized was that God had gifted me, through experience, to be able to speak in that situation because I grew up in Asia, and so I kind of got the Asian cultural view. But of course, I am Anglo. I mean, look at me, right? Like, there’s no question that I am Anglo, right? But what I was able to do is I have to go, hey, because I was raised in Asia, I sort of understand that, you know, here’s what’s happening from the Asian perspective. But because I’m Anglo, I was able to go to the Asian, here’s what’s happening from the Anglo perspective. And that helped them to make some steps towards each other and reconciliation. And God allowed me to do that. It was a gift that God gave me, but I wasn’t born with that. It was an experience that I had that gave me the ability to speak into that particular situation. So those are learned gifts and we all have those kinds of things.
And then of course, we have spiritual gifts. Paul is gonna be talking a lot about spiritual gifts in this section, but spiritual gifts are abilities that came into our lives when the Holy Spirit came into our lives, right? We weren’t born with them. We were born again with them. You can say it that way. We didn’t learn them over time. They were abilities that were brought into us, implanted within us, that came to us when the Holy Spirit came into our lives. And of course, that immediately raised the question, well, when does that happen? When does the Holy Spirit come into us? When do we get these spiritual gifts as believers? And I just wanna acknowledge that there’s some division in the Christian Church on this particular subject. Some Christians believe the Holy Spirit comes fully into our lives the moment we say yes to Jesus. The moment that we say yes to what Jesus did on the cross and we put our trust in him, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and is fully there in all of his power to begin changing us from the inside out and giving us access to these abilities that we wouldn’t have apart from his presence in our lives.
So some Christians believe that that happened from the very moment we said yes to Jesus. But there’s another side of the spectrum and that is there are some churches that teach that the Holy Spirit applies forgiveness when you say yes to Jesus. And so you’re forgiven, and you’re free, and you’re destined for heaven at that moment, but the power of the Holy Spirit doesn’t fully come into your life until some secondary experience. At some point after your trusting in Jesus moment, the Holy Spirit comes into you through what they call the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but it comes later.
And what I wanna say, no matter which background you come from, is that I believe that we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ on this issue. That whether you believe the Holy Spirit came fully into your life the moment you said yes or that he comes in fully at some other moment, we’re all still followers of Jesus, okay? We’re all still brothers and sisters in Christ. But I also wanna be honest that where I believe based on Scripture and what the leadership of Mission Hills believes is on that first side, we believe the Holy Spirit is fully present in our lives the moment we say yes to Jesus. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are present in our lives the moment we say yes to Jesus.
Now, there may be moments as we go along where we have a more powerful experience with the Holy Spirit or we’re yielding ourselves to be completely filled by the Holy Spirit. And that’s an ongoing process. Since we have may have different experiences over time, but the power of the Holy Spirit is present with us the moment we say yes to Jesus. So the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, which can be called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit according to Scripture, the moment that we say yes to faith in Jesus. So if you are a follower of Jesus, if you’ve said yes to Jesus, the Holy Spirit is fully present in your life. The power of the Holy Spirit is fully present in your life, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are present in your life, just waiting for you to use them, okay?
But we have three gifts. We have natural gifts, we have learned gifts, and we have spiritual gifts. Here’s what I wanna say before we get into the spiritual gifts business that Paul’s gonna really focus on. I wanna make sure that we understand that all the gifts have some similar truths that apply to them, whether we’re talking natural or learned or spiritual, here’s what I want you to understand. Number one, every good gift is from your good Father. Every good gift is from our good Father, whether it’s natural or learned or spiritual gifts, they’re all from the same source. They’re all from God. This is what James says. He says, ”Every good and perfect gift comes from above. It comes down from the Father of Heavenly Lights.” So every gift, natural, learned, spiritual, they’re all from God. And there’s a reason why God has given these gifts. Natural, learned, spiritual, every gift that’s given from our good Father is given for good purpose. Every good gift has a good purpose.
God doesn’t give gifts at random. He doesn’t go, well, I don’t know, try this. In other words, God does not give gifts to us the way that men give gifts to their wives, right? Let’s be honest, we’re not good at it, guys. In around Christmas time, you’re gonna see guys wandering through the mall going, I’ll try that. How about this? Because we’re not quite sure. We’re not good at it, but that’s not our God, okay? Our God doesn’t give random gifts. Our God gives gifts that are very specifically tailored for the part you’re to play in his mission. Do hear me on that? God gives gifts for the specific part that you’re to play in his mission. And so he gives you gifts to enable you to play the part that he’s custom designed for you to be on mission. He’s equipted you for mission and the gifts are what allow you to do that.
Now, by the way, that means something I think very significant. This is kind of a bonus. You want a bonus today? Here’s your bonus. Understanding what God is providing often points to where God is guiding. I get this question all the time. It’s probably the most common question that I get asked. What’s God’s will for my life? What is God leading me to? What does God want me to do? What’s my part to play in the mission? Like, I understand, I’m called to be on mission, I’m called to become like him and join him on mission, but, well, what part do I play? Exactly how do I do that? How do I extend God’s influence? What’s my unique part or what’s God’s will for my life? And I get that question from every season of life.
You know, right around now when we’re doing graduation time, I have all kinds of high school people wanna say, ”Hey, what is God’s will for my life?” College graduates are asking, “What’s God’s will for my life?” But I’ve had 89-year-olds ask me that question, what’s God’s will for this season of my life? And what I’ve discovered is that easiest way to begin to understand where God is guiding is to ask the question, what is he providing? Because God gives gifts that are tailored to the part that he’s called us. Imagine that you’re a soldier and your commanding officer calls you up and says, ”Hey, I’m sending you on a mission.” You’re like, ”Okay, great, where is it?” ”Oh, you’ll figure it out,” because that’s kind of where we are, right? God doesn’t usually set things on fire and then speak out of them. We know we’re called to be on mission but he hasn’t necessarily told us exactly what that mission is. But see, if you’re being sitting off on a mission and the CO said, you know, you’ll figure it out. We’re gonna send you some equipment, pay attention to the equipment, that equipment would give you some pretty good insights, wouldn’t it? I mean, if you unboxed the first thing of equipment and you found that you were being given sandals, you’re probably not being sent to Antarctica, right? If you opened the box and you’re getting a down parka, probably not being sent to the Middle East, right? The equipment that you’re receiving is giving you some insights into the particular place where you are to be on mission. And so in the same way, paying attention to what God is providing often gives us insight into where God is guiding.
So if you wonder what’s my part to play, here’s what you do. I’m gonna give you some homework. Now, most of you are not gonna do this homework, but a special few among you are gonna do this. And the special few who do this are gonna find that this series is that much more powerful in your life. If you do this, you’re gonna find that God speaks to you very specifically throughout this series in a very powerful way. So I wanna encourage everybody to do this homework. Here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna ask yourself this question. What gifts has God given me? Natural, learned, and spiritual. What gifts has God given me? And then what do those tell me about my part in his mission?
So here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna go home, so set some time this week. Get a piece of paper and make three columns. At the top of the first column, you’re gonna put natural gifts. Top of the second column, you’re gonna put learned gifts. Top of the third column, you’re gonna spiritual gifts. And then you’re gonna fill in those columns. You’re gonna spend some time reflecting, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you. And say, you know, what has God given me as a gift that I was kind of born with, a natural innate ability? And you’re gonna write those down in that first column. Second column, you’re gonna think through your experiences and what God’s taught you to do over time and through experience and you’re gonna list down those learned gifts.
Now, if you know what’s your spiritual gift is, some of you said you do, great. You put that in that column. If you’re not, that’s okay, don’t worry about it. Because oftentimes, even those natural and those learned gifts begin to really point us and then you’re gonna step back from that list, you’re gonna go, “God, what does this tell me about where you’re guiding me? What does this tell me about the particular part that I’m called to play in your mission?” And if you do that, you’re gonna find that the rest of this series really pushes you further and further into being on mission with Jesus. So I wanna encourage you to do that.
Paul’s speaking here primarily about spiritual gifts, but a lot of what he says applies to all gifts. Some of what he’s gonna tell us though, is unique to this third category. Here’s what he says ”Now, about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed,” which is Paul’s way of basic… Well, actually it’s not Paul, it’s the New International Version. They’re cleaning Paul up just a little bit. They’re making it really polite and kind. What Paul literally said was, I don’t want you to be ignorant, which is insulting, right? He says, I don’t want you to be… About spiritual gifts, I don’t want you to be ignorant. And there’s two reasons for that.
Two things that happen when we’re ignorant about spiritual gifts. Number one, ignorance about spiritual gifts leads us to ignore them. You hear me, church? Being ignorant about spiritual gifts leads us to ignore them. If we don’t know what they are, if we don’t know how they function, if we don’t know what ours are, then we’re not gonna look to them to accomplish the mission that God has called us to. And it means we’re gonna be engaging in mission without the tools that he specifically provided to enable us to accomplish it effectively for his glory. I mean, imagine somebody tells you, “Hey, I want you to go dig a hole.” And they hand you a shovel, but you don’t know what a shovel is. And we’re also gonna imagine for the purpose of this illustration, you’re not that bright. They give it to you and you don’t know what it is or how to use it, so you start with the handle end and you’re like, “Well, this is stupid. I’m not getting anything done.” So what are you gonna do, you’re gonna set it aside and you’re gonna go to digging it with your hands, right? And you’re not gonna be nearly as effective because you don’t understand the tool that you were given. And in the same way, being ignorant about spiritual gifts can lead us to ignore them, which means that we are not as effective in the mission that God’s called us to as we could be. And that’s no good. So Paul says, I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.
Now, there’s another way that ignorance about spiritual gifts causes a problem. And here’s how I’d say it. Ignorance about spiritual gifts can ignite conflict in the Church. Ignorance about spiritual gifts can ignite conflict in Church. People who don’t understand what spiritual gifts are, can get kind of weirded out when people are practicing their spiritual gifts or people start using spiritual gifts as a way of elevating their superiority. Well, I’m more spiritual than you because I have this gift and, you know, I understand what it is and you don’t. And all kinds of things can begin to happen because we don’t understand spiritual gifts. It happens around the world. It happens in this country. It’s happening in our community right now. Churches are being divided because of what I would call ignorance over spiritual gifts.
So ignorance about spiritual gifts can ignite conflict and division in the Church, which is ironic because that’s the exact opposite of what spiritual gifts are intended to do. Spiritual gifts are intended to multiply the mission of the Church. Spiritual gifts are intended to help us do what God’s called us to do. And here’s what we’re gonna see time and time again in this series. The way that we think about spiritual gifts either divides the Church or multiplies its mission. The way we think about spiritual gifts either divides the Church or multiplies its mission. And so there’s a lot at stake here and Paul says, ”I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.” He says this, ”You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other, you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.” And it feels like an abrupt shift. But if we break it down, I think it’ll make sense. He says, I want you to know that when you were pagans, in other words, before you had a relationship with Jesus, before you said yes to Jesus, before you had faith in Jesus. He says, before that was true, you were somehow or other, and that’s such an interesting phrase. Well, what he’s saying is basically, there was some force at work. You couldn’t necessarily put your finger on it. You couldn’t point to exactly what it was, but there was some forced at work, some way that it was influencing you and it was doing something. It was leading you astray to mute idols. And that’s such an interesting phrase, to mute idols.
There’s some irony in what he’s saying because he’s talking about idol worship. I don’t mean idol worship the way we often talk about it in the modern world. We wanna say things like, well, you know, anything that you are giving worship to or giving your time and energy and attention to besides God, that’s an idol. And that’s true on some level, but Paul’s talking about literal idols here, actual stone, or wood, or metal statues that represented spirits. And they worshiped not the idols, they worshiped the spirits that they thought were associated with those idols. And Paul calls them here mute idols. And the irony is, he’s saying, well, of course, they’re mute. They’re chunks of wood, or stone, or metal. They don’t have the power of speech. But he’s just said somehow or other, there was power leading you to these things.
There’s more going on here than just chunks of wood and stone. But there’s a spiritual force at work here. And really what Paul is doing is he’s building on something he said a little bit earlier in the Book of Corinthians, if you wanna look there with me, it’s 1Corinthians 10. 1 Corinthians 10:19, he said this. He said, ”Do I mean then that an idol or that food sacrificed to an idol is anything or that an idol is anything? Am I saying that those chunks of wood and stone, am I saying that they’re gods or goddesses?” ”No, of course not. ”He says, verse 20, ”No, but,” and this is so important, church, “But the sacrifices of pagans that were offered to idols are actually offered to,” what’s that word? Demons. He says, there’s a real spiritual force. There are real spiritual creatures associated with his idols. The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.
Here in Chapter 12 when he talks about somehow or other you were influenced and led astray. He’s saying, the idols themselves might be mute, but there are spiritual powers associated with those things. There are spiritual forces associated with those things. And before you were followers of Jesus, you had experience with them. He says, you know what this was like. And to really understand what Paul is saying, we’re gonna have to get just a little bit uncomfortable. Are we comfortable with getting uncomfortable, church? Yeah? What had happened before they came to Jesus when they were worshiping idols is what happened a lot in the ancient world. In fact, it happens in the modern world when idol worship is happening, that is when people are worshiping idols, weird things happen, strange things happen, supernatural things happen. People go into ecstatic trances or frenzies and they speak in strange languages or strange voices. They have information they shouldn’t have and they’re giving prophecies and all kinds of things that are going on.
And this is so important to understand. Paul’s not saying they were faking it. He is not saying the people worshiping idols are making it up or inventing it themselves. But what Paul told us is they are spiritual forces, they are supernatural forces causing these things, but those supernatural forces are what, they’re demons, but they’re real spiritual forces. It’s not all faking, real spiritual forces are at play in the worship of idols. And he says, and you knew that. You were familiar with that. You experienced it yourselves.
And now here’s where it’s gonna get really uncomfortable. You’re ready? Some very similar kinds of things were happening at the church in Corinth. In Christian worship services, people were speaking in strange tongues. People were delivering prophecies. People were going into ecstatic frenzies. People were delivering messages to others that seemed to involve information that they shouldn’t have access to, words of knowledge and wisdom, all things Paul’s gonna talk about. But of course, the church in Corinth said, but it’s not demons, it’s the Holy Spirit doing it. It’s the power of God moving through us. What’s uncomfortable for some people, I think is that Paul never says they’re wrong. He never says the Holy Spirit doesn’t do that. He never says God would never do that. But he says, understand this guys, you had similar experiences outside the church and that was demons. Now you’re having some experiences sort of like that inside the church and you’re saying it’s the Holy Spirit and that might be true, but you gotta remember this, never forget this, the Holy Spirit is not the only source of supernatural phenomenon. The Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon.
The devil counterfeits that outside the church. He’s not that creative. Do you understand that about the devil? He’s not that creative. He didn’t come up with his own ideas. He takes God’s ideas and he twists them and he tries to imitate them. Says, yeah, it’s not all that surprising you’d see that kind of stuff outside the church because the devil’s an imitator, but just because you see it inside the church doesn’t necessarily mean it’s from God because the Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon. So what do we need? We need a way to tell the difference, right? We need a way to seek the source. That’s what Paul’s getting at here. We need a way to seek the source. We need a way to tell whether something is God or whether it’s not. And not even just for supernatural things. Because you know what? There’s so many things that claim to be able to speak into our lives, right? There’s so many things that claim to be able to tell us, this is what you should do. This is how you should live your life. This is what you should devote yourself to. This is the mission you should be on. This is the part you should play. There’s so many different voices and some of the voices claim this is from God.
How do we know if it really is? It’s not just how we evaluate supernatural phenomena, it’s how we evaluate every voice that claims to be able to speak authoritatively into our lives. How do we seek the source? We need a way to seek the source. So how do we do it? This is what Paul says. 1 Corinthians 12:3. ”Therefore, I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says Jesus be cursed. And no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” That’s where he says is the criteria. That’s the way that we seek the source. He says, these are the two things, these are the things you look for. He says, no one, one side of it, no one speaking by the Spirit of God says Jesus, be cursed.
Now, understand, he’s not just talking about saying the words out loud, okay, because you understand, I just said the words out loud. The Spirit of God does live in me. So people are perfectly capable of saying those words. Even demons can say the words Jesus is Lord. He’s not just talking about saying the words, he’s talking about the trajectory that they set us on. He’s talking about the path that those words put us on. He says, nobody’s speaking by the Spirit of God can cause you or tell you or lead you to live in such a way that takes glory, and honor, and authority away from Jesus. You hear me?
No demonic spirit, no human being faking it can actually set you on the right path. And nobody who is filled by the Spirit of God can set you on a course that dishonors Jesus. Because here’s what happens, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus up. The Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus. The Holy Spirit always gives honor to Jesus. The Holy Spirit always draws attention to Jesus. The Holy Spirit always gives authority to Jesus even though the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible is very clear. There’s three persons who make up God, Father, Son and Spirit. They’re all equally divine, they’re all equally powerful, they’re all equally worthy of worship, and yet the Holy Spirit says, don’t look at me. Look at Jesus. Pay attention to him, gives glory and honor and authority to Jesus. The Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus up. And so nobody empowered by the Holy Spirit can cause you to live in a way that takes glory and honor and authority away from Jesus.
He says the other side of it, the flip side is that no one can say Jesus is Lord, apart from the Holy Spirit. And again, we’re not just the words, but nobody can actually teach you to live in such a way that gives Jesus honor and glory and causes you to bow down to him as the Lord, unless they’re being empowered by God. No human being can set you on a path to give Jesus honor and glory in your life. No demon’s gonna set you on a path to give glory and honor to Jesus and lead you to obedience because the Holy Spirit always leads us to bow down to Jesus, right? The Holy Spirit always leads us to bow down. The Holy Spirit always causes us to live in a way that we give glory and honor to Jesus, and we bow down to him as Lord. That we give authority to him, that we live in obedience and submission to him.
So really, what Paul is saying is, there’s two sides of it. He says, the Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus up and leads us to bow down, right? There’s your criteria. There’s your key. There’s the way that we seek the source. We ask, does it lift Jesus up and lead me to bow down to him? That’s the key question. This is the important question, friends. Whatever the thing is, whether it’s seeming to have a supernatural origin or whether it just seems to be a voice that’s speaking with some authority, whatever it is, this is how we evaluate — as we are gonna see later in the book of Corinthians, this is how we evaluate somebody who claims to have a word of knowledge, or a word of wisdom, or to speak in tongues, or to give a prophecy, or whatever it is.
This is also how we evaluate that Bible study that everybody’s going after. This is the voice of God. You should listen to this Bible study. You should listen to this preacher, you should listen to this podcast. You should go to this church. The way we evaluate all of those voices, is that we ask this all-important question, does it lift Jesus up and lead me to bow down? And if the answer is it doesn’t lift Jesus up, it takes glory away from him, or it draws attention to a human being, or to some other thing other than Jesus, and it’s not leading me to live in submission and obedience, it’s not the Holy Spirit speaking. On the other hand, if it lifts Jesus up, draws attention, glory and honor to him, and it leads me to live in greater and deepening obedience and submission, then that very well might be the voice of God. But that’s how we seek the source.
And Paul starts this entire set of instructions on spiritual gifts with this one key truth. This one all important question because he says, the Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon. And you might see something and go, “Well, how could that not have the power of God? I mean, did you see the crazy things that are happening? Did you see the supernatural power that’s evident?” And then Paul says, “Yeah, but remember, the Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon.” Or we listen to a podcast, or a teacher, or read a book and we go, “But it sounds so good. It sounds so right. I mean, it’s using Bible verses all over the place. It must be the power of God.” Maybe, but this is the question, does it lift Jesus up and does it lead me to bow down to him? Before Paul goes into any more instruction, he says, you’ve got to learn to ask this question. This is the filter that we put everything through. This is the test that we use for every voice trying to speak authoritatively into our lives.
And so, I just have one question for you today because we launched this series and this is the question, what in my life do I need to apply this question to? What in my life do I need to apply this question? I’m wrestling with this right now. You need to wrestle with it. What in our lives do we need to apply this question to? The reality is that we’re often undiscerning. We allow things to speak into our lives that we have not evaluated. Books, and TV shows, and preachers, and churches, and podcasts, and so many different things, we allow them to influence our lives and we’ve never subjected them to this test. Is it lifting Jesus up and leading me to bow down? And what happens is, you know, we often go, well, it doesn’t really matter because it’s not really…it’s not having much of an impact on me. So does it really matter where it comes from? Because we look and we go, “Well, yeah, I mean maybe it’s not exactly speaking truth and maybe it’s not the voice of God in my life, but I mean, it’s not really impacting me.” But the problem is that what happens is sometimes the impact, it’s really small. You know, we’re only a half a degree off a plum. We’re only a half a degree off of going straight. And it doesn’t seem like much of a big deal until you get farther down the line, right? And that one degree off over the course of weeks, and months, and years, and decades, can very well lead us to places that we look around and go, how on earth did I get here? How did I get so far from Jesus? How did I get so far off of the Christian faith? How did I get so far off from that place where I’m recognizing the authority of Jesus and bowing down? How did I get here and the answer is because we allowed a voice to speak into our lives that got us just one degree off and we allowed it to keep speaking, and didn’t subject it to this all important question. So I challenge you this week spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to lead you. What in my life do I need to apply this question to?
Let’s just pray right now. Jesus, we thank you for your goodness. As the followers of Jesus, we thank you that you have saved us. You demonstrated you love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, you died for us. You forgave our sin and in rising from the dead and inviting us to put our trust in you, you not only eliminated the debt of our sin, but you adopted us into the family of God and you invited us on mission with you. You allowed us to come into a new life of meaning and significance where we get to work with you, Jesus, extending the influence of our good father throughout creation. And not only did you call us to that mission, but you gifted us, you equipted us. You equipted us with gifts from your Holy Spirit.
Lord, we ask that you’d bless this study, that you bless this series, that over the next few weeks as we unpack what you teach us in your Word, you would help us to not be ignorant about spiritual gifts, to not allow them to divide our mission, but to multiply our mission. Lord, would you help us start out right this week by causing us through your Holy Spirit to ask this all-important question of all those voices speaking into our lives. Does it lift Jesus up and lead me to bow down? But would you show us each place in our lives that we need to apply that filter, that we need to seek the source, so we would be on the right path, pure of heart and of mind, and clear of those things that would encumber us from being on mission with you.
Now, if you’re follower Jesus, would you continue praying? I wanna ask you to do me a favor. Would you start praying for the people around you, the people watching online, all over the world? Because I believe in all of our campuses, there are people who can’t apply this truth. Even the concept of a spiritual gift is ultimately meaningless because they don’t have a spiritual gift, because they don’t have the Holy Spirit, because they don’t have faith. They don’t have a relationship with you, God. And if that’s you, I just wanna speak to you for just a moment wherever you happen to be. Because we were all in that same place at one point, maybe we’re trying really hard to please God by doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things, and so frustrated we can never seem to do enough right things or avoid enough bad things, always seem like we fall short. And maybe for you, faith is really religion. It’s just about trying to check the right boxes of the dos and the don’ts. And yet, that’s not the essence of Christianity. That’s a powerless version of Christianity. And if you’ve bought into it, I wanna speak to you right now.
This is true Christianity. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God loves you so much he sent his own Son to die for you. All those wrong things you’ve done, he took the weight of them on his own shoulders. He died on the cross to pay them off, to cancel your debt. Three days later, he rose from the dead to prove that he had accomplished it. That’s not a matter of faith. Those are facts of history.
Here’s the matter of faith. The risen Jesus is offering you forgiveness. He’s offering you adoption into the family of God. He’s offering you power through his Holy Spirit to come into your life to begin changing you from the inside out, to allow you to become the man or the woman that God designed you to be, that you’ll never get there on your own, but by faith in Jesus, you will be transformed. Faith comes in when we decide to accept his offer. And if you’re listening to this and you realize, I don’t have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus, I’ve never said yes to his offer. But if you’re ready to say yes, if you’re ready to put your trust in Jesus to see forgiveness and adoption and the power of the Holy Spirit, would you just lift your hand up right now if you’re ready? That’s awesome. Fantastic. If you’re watching online, just click the button right below me and wherever you are, you just have this conversation with God. In your heart, say this to him. Say, God, I’ve done wrong. I’m sorry.
Jesus, thank you for dying in my place. Thank you for paying the price of my sin. I know that you rose from the dead and that you’re offering me new life, forgiveness, adoption into your family, power through your Holy Spirit. I need all those things, Jesus, and so I’m ready to accept your offer. Right now, I’m saying yes to you, Jesus. Right now, I’m putting my faith in you, putting my trust in you. It’s all about you. Jesus, come into my life, be my Lord and my Savior. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.
In all of our campuses this week, we’ve had a lot of people say yes to Jesus. Can we just welcome them into the family of God? That’s so awesome. Hey, if you made that decision today or this weekend, I’m gonna encourage you to do something really simple, just text the word ”Jesus” to 888111. You’re gonna get back a link that’s gonna tell you five things that are true about you now that weren’t true before you said yes to Jesus, including this power of the Holy Spirit that you have in your life to begin becoming the man or the woman that God designed you to be. So we’d love for you to text ”Jesus” to 888111. It’ll also give you the opportunity just to get some free resources to help you begin living out this new relationship with Jesus and being on mission with them.
Hey, right before I wrap up, if you grab your worship card, I just wanna highlight a couple of things. Neil talked about them, but I really wanna make sure that nobody goes out here and missing that two new experiences. We encourage you, if you said yes to Jesus recently, maybe even today, we have a Discovering Faith experience. It’ll help you figure out, you know, what is this Christianity thing? What does it look like to walk with Jesus? What are my next steps? Love for you to join us. It’s gonna be for the four weeks of June, starting next weekend. You can sign up online or at the Mission Hills’ Welcome Center or you can do it through the church app. Love to have you be part of that Discovering Faith. And the other one is the Discovering Mission Hills. Whether you’ve been coming to Mission Hills for one weekend or for 30 years, Discovering Mission Hills is an all new experience where you’re gonna figure out who we are as a church and what it looks like for you to understand the gifts that God has given you and what it looks like for you to be on mission with Jesus here as part of Mission Hills. Wanna fill that place up because I want everybody getting off the bench, getting onto the field, and being on mission with Jesus. And Discovering Mission Hills will help you do that. That’ll be all four weeks. At 11:00 in M3, starting next weekend. So you can also sign up for that online, in the app, or at the Welcome Center today. God bless. See you next time.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
This week we continue our “EquipTed” series, looking at how God has gifted + equipped us to live on mission with Jesus. Join us as we learn how we can be empowered to discover the Spiritual Gifts we’re each endowed with and uncover how we can use those gifts to change the world around us.
Craig: Well, welcome to all of our locations. So glad you’re with us for week number two of our Equipted series. If you’re just joining us, you can always catch up on the messages online. But I’ll give you a quick little snapshot. Here’s what we know so far. Number one, we know that God has created and redeemed us for mission, so God created us for mission, he made us in his image and called us to partner with him and to extend his influence all to creation. We rebelled against that, kind of did our own agenda thing. But Jesus came and redeemed us not just from our sin, he didn’t just forgive us for our sin, he didn’t just invite us to be adopted into the family of God by faith, but he actually redeemed us for our mission and so he said to his earliest followers here’s what he didn’t say, he didn’t say, “Hey, come follow me. I booked some rooms at the Marriott. We’re gonna hang out, we’ll have a good time.” He said, “Now, come follow me, I’ll make you fishers of men.” In other words, you’re gonna go on mission with me, you’re gonna be part of extending God’s influence in the world.
So God created and redeemed us for mission, okay? So we know that. Second thing we know is that God has provided. Where God guides, he provides, right? If he’s gonna guide us to mission, he’s gonna provide what we need to be on mission with him. God’s never going to send us on a mission that we’re not geared up for. He’s never gonna call us to do something that he has not given us what we need in him to be able to accomplish. And so where God guides God provides and what we know too from last week is that God has provided in three different ways. He’s provided natural, learned, and spiritual gifts. Natural gifts are abilities that we have from the moment that he knit us together in our mother’s womb. So we know we’re born and we’re hardwired to be able to do some kinds of things. Some things we can do now we have learned abilities, which they developed over time with their experience and then we have spiritual gifts.
Spiritual gifts are things that we suddenly are able to do because the Holy Spirit is in us. Now, that’s only true believers. If you’re not a follower of Jesus, you also have natural gifts. You also have learned gifts, and God has given you those because he has a mission that he’s calling you to. But if you’re not a follower of Jesus, you don’t have a spiritual gift. That’s true, only a follower of Jesus…because the spiritual gifts are ability we have because the Holy Spirit is in us. And so the moment we say yes to Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into us and begins to work through us. And one of the things that spirit does is gives us these things we call spiritual gifts. Now, how many of you have heard about spiritual gifts? Okay, almost everybody. How many of you would say with confidence I know exactly what my spiritual gift is? Not nearly so many hands, which is not surprising.
I think that there’s a lot of ignorance about spiritual gifts. And I know that’s a harsh sounding word, but that’s what Paul said. He said it back in 1 Corinthians 12. When we looked at last week, he said about spiritual gifts. I don’t want you to be ignorant, because when we’re ignorant, spiritual gifts, it either causes us to ignore our spiritual gifts or it ignites conflict within the church. And so what Paul wants to do is he wants to erase our ignorance. And so that’s what we’re gonna do today. I want you to go and grab your Bible, start making your way to 1 Corinthians 12. We’re gonna be picking up in verse 4. I think there’s a lot of ignorance about spiritual gifts in the church. I think there’s a lot of churches that are ignorant in ways that cause them to overemphasize particular gifts. I think there are a lot of churches that are talking about spiritual gifts in a way that causes them to not pay any attention to spiritual gifts. And because of that, and really on both sides of the aisle there we have our churches that are not able to be on mission with Jesus in the way that they’re called to be.
And so we’re going to raise some ignorance today. Paul begins in chapter 12:4 and says this, he says, “Now, there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working or different kinds of ministries, we could translate it as, but in all of them and then everyone it is the same God at work.” Now, I want you to notice it is emphasis there is yes, there different kinds of gifts, but they all come from the same source, right? He says different gifts, one Giver. That’s his big emphasis there. And that’s foundational. It’s important that we realize that no matter what the gifts are, and there’s a lot of different kinds of gifts, we’re gonna talk about several varieties today. But all the gifts come from one source. So different gifts, one Giver. This is so, so important. It’s foundational. And what he’s really telling us is this, that the Giver is more important than the gift, okay? The Giver is more important than the gift and when we forget that, what happens is we can easily get fixated on particular gifts or just the gifts in general and forget about the Giver. And that’s kind of what was happening in the church in Corinth.
They were focused on, they were fixated on, they’re obsessed with the gifts and the Giver was somehow being pushed behind the scenes. And Paul says, when that happens, we’re gonna have problems. And so he says, “You gotta remember, the Giver is more important than the gift, so here’s what we need to do. We need to focus on the Giver, not the gifts. Focus on the Giver, not the gifts. That’s what Paul’s trying to get us to do. That’s foundational. And then on top of that foundation, he builds this truth, verse 7. Now, to each one, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. And if you have the ability to highlight that in the Bible, or if you’re using the digital version, you can somehow mark that. I actually, I know this is going to sound sacrilegious on some level, but you might even do this with your page. You might even like bend the page. I know you’re not supposed to do that to a Bible, but that’s how important that verse is.
So each one is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. What Paul’s doing there is Paul is giving us hands down, there’s not even a close second, hands down the clearest definition of what a spiritual gift is. He says it’s a manifestation of the Spirit. It’s not just an ability that we have, it’s an ability and when we practice that ability, the spirit manifests. Now, manifestation that’s a that’s a big word, right? That’s five syllables. Like that’s a big word. So let me break it down. I gave you some other other ways to translate it, to get a handle on it. He says, not each one is given we could say it this way. Now, each one is given a revelation of the Spirit, okay? That’s another way you can translate it. We can also say not each one is given a demonstration of the Spirit, we could say each one is given an announcement of the Spirit. Here’s my favorite way to translate it. If I was in charge of translation, here’s what I would have said, that each one is given a showing up of the Holy Spirit because the word that Paul’s using is a word that basically means to make clear to others.
When I was in Peru a couple weeks ago, we were at the base of Machu Picchu, we’re in a little town down there. And we were at a hotel, we were there kind of late, and we were waiting to get all checked in. Took a while we were big group. And one of the members of our group kind of was wandering and she came back and said to Coletta and I, “Hey, I found something really cool. Do you wanna see it?” And we’re like, “Well, yeah, of course we do, right?” So she took us to the back of the hotel, which kind of got into the jungle, and there were these really old steps there like Inca kind of steps. And they like headed up the mountain into the jungle. She’s like, “Do you wanna see where they go?” And I’ll be honest, my first reaction was no, it’s a jungle. Like there’s jaguars, and like almost every Indiana Jones movie begins with something horrible happening when you walk steps like these into that…but Coletta was always game and even though she just had surgery on your foot, she’s like, “Okay, let’s do it.”
And so they start one of these steps and very quickly we’re in the dark and we can’t even see what the steps are. And so me being the problem fixer, I was like, I pulled out my cell phone, I turned on the flashlight app and I was like, this is not a good idea. But okay, come on. And what I was doing is I was highlighting each one of the steps so they would know where to take it and that’s kind of what Paul’s talking about here. He says, to each one is given away the Spirit shows up, to each one is given away that we as believers have a way of saying, there’s the Spirit. Here’s God, he’s at work, and here’s what he’s doing. It’s illuminating, it’s revealing, it’s showing people that the Holy Spirit is in the work in our midst.
By the way, I know a bunch of are going like, where did the stairs go? Yeah, no idea. We stopped. Because even the adventurous woman that were like totally wired up for this pretty soon they’re like, “It’s really dark. We should go back.” And so we went back. I have no idea where they went. Probably nowhere good honestly though. This is what Paul’s saying. He says, “Each one is given a showing up of the Spirit and the ability we have, it’s not just something we can do, but something that when we do it, the Holy Spirit kind of comes in sort of rides the wave of that ability and does things that only he can do. So it’s not just something we can do, it’s a way the Holy Spirit shows up through us. Does that make sense?
Now, that’s pretty cool, right? He says, “To each one to every follower of Jesus, if you put your faith in Jesus, then you have a spiritual gift.” And here’s what he says a spiritual gift is. Let’s put it in everyday English language. A spiritual gift is the main way that the Holy Spirit shows up through each believer. That’s what a spiritual gift is. It’s the main way the Holy Spirit shows up through each believer. Now, we might have more than one spiritual gift. There might be different ways the Holy Spirit shows up in each of us as individuals, but there’s always at least one main way and this doesn’t mean that every time you do that thing the Holy Spirit shows up in the same way or to the same degree, but there’s a main way that the Holy Spirit shows up through each and every one of us let’s put our faith in Jesus. That’s really exciting news, right?
So now the question is, what’s that way? We need to know it, right? We need to know what it is because listen, you might be sitting here going well, I know that person has a spiritual gift. Craig, I know you have a spiritual gift. I’ve known these people have spiritual gifts, but he really, really told me that I have a spiritual gift, that I have a way that the Holy Spirit says here I am. Yes, it’s exactly what I’m saying. Listen to me, this is so, so important. If you’re a believer, if you are a believer, God has a main way that he wants to show up through you. So important you understand this. If you’ve said yes to Jesus, if you put your faith in Jesus, God has a main way that he wants to show up through you. And our job as a Church, partly, our job as the body of Christ is to help you discover that gift and then to deploy on mission with that gift.
How do we do that? I’ll say how we don’t do it. I’m gonna step on some toes here. We don’t do it through spiritual gifts surveys. There’s like personality test. I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered these, but there’s like, you know, you got the Myers Briggs and StrengthsFinder. Well, the Christians have a version of that, too. We’re always like, follow like, me too, me too. I’ll build one too. And we built spiritual gifts surveys. I don’t like spiritual gift surveys. And I’ll tell you why. Part of the reason I don’t like spiritual gifts surveys is because you know how to game the system. When you read the question, like I know exactly what spiritual gift they’re talking about. And I really liked that spiritual gifts. So I may answer yes to that question. And then a whole bunch of people, like I have the gift of teaching, I have the gift of this or this or this, whatever it is, we go, that’s the gift that I want. But that’s not necessarily the best way to figure out what your spiritual gift is. The other reason I’m not a big fan of surveys is because I think they take such an important element out of the process of discovering your spiritual gifts. They take the people of God out of the process.
And here’s the thing, sometimes, in fact, I want to say most of the time, the way that God shows up isn’t necessarily discernible to the person that God is showing up through. It’s the other people who are in impacted by it, it’s the other people who are affected by what God does that most clearly see that God is working in someone. I’ll give you example my own life. When I was in college I really thought where God was leading me was music ministry, I was a decent musician. I thought God was using me, He had used me in some ways. And so I thought, that’s my spiritual gift. That’s where I’m headed to. So I was involved with a campus ministry called Campus Crusade for Christ, which they now call it CRU, which I think was a very good decision. Like whoever decided let’s put the word crusade into a Christian organization, because people only have positive associations with the word crusade, right? How could that possibly go wrong? Yep, Campus Crusade for Christ. Nobody’s going to think badly. They finally was like, maybe not the best idea that we renamed CRU. But I was involved with this ministry when I was in college, and I was a worship leader for them, and I was a Bible study leader for them.
And at a certain point, the guy was disciplining me, helping me become like Jesus and join him on mission. He came to me one afternoon, he said, “Hey, I need you to go to one of our expansion campuses next week, and I need you to do the talk.” Now, what we had was we had staff on our campus as a Kent State University, a big university, we had to have a full time staff, but they had expansion campuses that didn’t have full time staff, but they would go like on Wednesday nights and the staff would volunteer at one of those campus and they do a program basically a church service. And he said, none of us can do it. I need you to go give the talk. And I was like, “I don’t do that. That’s not what I do. I play guitar and I sing songs.” He’s like, “Well, you can do that too. But I need you to give a message.” I was like, “Okay.” I don’t even know why I said yes. But I said yes.
So I went and I did what I did. I played music, we led some worship. I thought that went really well. At a certain point I put the guitar down and I stood up, I was like, okay, and I didn’t know how to give a talk. I didn’t know how to teach. I wasn’t a Bible college student. I was actually an audio engineering major. Nobody ever taught me how to develop a talk. Certainly no one ever taught me how to deliver a talk. So what I basically did was I just told a crazy story of something that happened while I’d been on tour with a band in Europe that summer. I told this crazy story about what happened. And then I was like, you know, and that kind of reminds me of this verse from the Bible. I don’t even remember which verse it was, I don’t even know if it was a good connection. But I was like that reminds me of this verse. I was all backwards is my story and then God’s Word all kinds of broken. And I was like but, you know, here’s what it reminds me of. And here’s a couple of thoughts that I have around sort of putting that into practice. And I was like, okay, I’m done. My guitar will sing other song. Okay.
And when it’s over, an interesting thing happened. Several people came up to me, not the whole crowd, but several people came up to me and they gave me some encouraging words. And I remember the words because they were all kind of the same sort of words. And nobody came up to me and said, that was awesome. Didn’t happen. And they’re right. It was not an awesome talk. Nobody came up said you’re an awesome speaker. That didn’t happen. But what almost every one of them said was that really impacted me. I was like, “Really?” He said, “Yeah, that really spoke to me.” And several even said, you know, when you said this or that, it’s like a light bulb went on. And I felt like God was saying, this is the area that in my life I need to deal with, and your insights actually helped me figure out like, what do I do with that? I was like, Huh, okay.
I went back to my dorm that night and I prayed. Hey, God, thanks for showing up. Appreciate it. I’ll get back to music now. I graduated college, Coletta and I took a job as…I was a youth pastor for a small church. It was a temporary gig, we were in the process of raising money to go on staff with CRU with a band. But I took this youth ministry job for about a year was the plan and I found myself having to do a whole lot of teaching. And I kept having similar responses from people. People would say, that really impacted me. A light bulb went on. God spoke to me through that, including part of my job was a youth pastor. I don’t know why it was my job, but part of my job as a youth pastor was to do what they called the kids sermon, the children’s sermon, anybody know children’s sermons? If you’re not familiar, in some churches, what happens is they want as many people as possible in the service during the worship, so they let the kids stay in there, that whole service up to that point, and then they want to get the kids out of there before the message starts. But they want to be spiritual about it. So they have them all come up front for this little thing called the children’s sermon and somebody gives a little to three minute message that was my job as the youth pastor.
And so I would do weird stuff. I’d get up there like a tube of toothpaste and I’d squish it all out and I’d share a proverb about the power of words because like words like that, once it goes out, you can’t get it back in. You gotta be careful about words, blah, blah, blah and just silly little things. But almost every week, people would come up to me after the service, mostly adults, who would look around for the pastor. He can’t hear me now. And they would say, “That really impacted me.” There was a light bulb that went on like God spoke to me and I was like, “What? Okay.” And every time I’d go home, and I go, God, thanks for showing up. And I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes. Nobody ever came up to me after a song and said God showed up. People would come and say, “That was a great song. You’re a gifted worship leader. Ah, that’s really good I enjoyed that.” But when I taught, people would come up to me and say, “God seem to show up.”
It took me a while to get a handle on that. I was saying, God, thanks for showing up before I just finally sense that Jesus was going…I was like, oh, that’s my spiritual gift, that’s the main way that God shows up through me. It doesn’t mean I don’t have other abilities and it doesn’t mean every time I teach God shows up in exactly the same way, but that seems to be the main way that God shows up to me. It took me a while to figure that out. Spiritual gifts survey would never reveal that because I didn’t even like teaching. And I hadn’t done enough of it for me to be able to talk about whether or not I was effective. The people of God helped me to see that. I don’t like systems of discovering spiritual gifts that take the people of God out because the reality is often like I’ll finish a message, this still happens, I’ll finish a message and I’ll go, “That was not good. Man, that was the worst message.” This happened to me this weekend. You guys get the second round, actually you’re the third round. The first time I delivered this one, I sat up here afterwards like that was man, uh. And then I went out and several people went, “Boy, that was really impactful. That was super impactful. God showed me this.” And I’m like, “Okay, thanks, Jesus.”
It’s not necessarily an ability that we can sense, it’s a question of what the people of God, the Holy Spirit showed up, God showed up. And see our job as a Church is to make sure that you understand this is so, so important that every one of us who said yes, every follower of Jesus has a main way that God wants to show up to us. And so the question is, how do we go about discovering and developing? It’s so important that we do because here’s the thing, when we work together, when we discover our gifts, and when we live out those gifts, when we deploy in those gifts, what happens is we advance the cause of Christ, we advance the mission of God so much more powerfully than we could ever do on our own. But then I have a picture, we have a picture. That thing, can we get that picture up here? The lighthouse? Yeah, it’s a lighthouse, right? Now, let me ask you this question, which is more important the light or the house?
The natural response is the light and that’s true, right? Because I mean, the house itself by itself is not gonna protect any boat from, you know, wrecking on the shores of the reef or whatever it is, right? The light is the most important thing, but without the house, the light can’t do its job. The lights are gonna lay down on the ground and it’s not gonna shine in the darkness, and it’s not gonna make its difference, bigger difference as it’s supposed to do. What happens is that we’re like the bricks that make up the lighthouse. And when we’re operating in our gifts, with our natural gifts, and our learned gifts, as well as our spiritual gifts, we’re putting them all in Jesus hands. And when we’re living in those on mission, what happens is all of us individually come together as the bricks and we build the house up and we lift up the Gospel, we lift up the Good News of Jesus for all the world to see.
And when we don’t do that the light stays lower down. And it doesn’t accomplish the purposes of God in the same way that it’s supposed to. And so we’ve gotta come together, we gotta build ourselves up so that we’re holding the light of the Gospel up high. And so Paul says, to each one is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. I’m actually not a huge fan of that translation. But it’s the last part, the common good, that I’m not crazy about because the word that Paul uses really talks more about a common purpose or common mission. He says each one is given a showing up of the Spirit for the common mission. In other words, we’re accomplishing what God has called us together to do to hold the light of the Gospel up high for the world to see. It says we need to know what our spiritual gifts are. And so he goes on and he gives a list of some spiritual gifts so that we know what he’s talking about.
Now, I want to tell you two things about this list before we unpack it. Number one, once you understand that this is not an exhaustive list of all the spiritual gifts, okay? This list does not give all the possibilities, you don’t need to go which one of those do I have? This is not an exhaustive list. There’s several other places in Scripture where there’s other lists of spiritual gifts and some of those lists have items that are not on this list. And some of the items on this list don’t show up in those other lists, okay? I don’t think those lists are exhaustive. And I also don’t think that if you put all the lists together, we have an exhaustive list, because the point isn’t to say, here’s all the different ways that the Holy Spirit might show up, figure out which one of these is and push yourself into that. No, no, his point is simply to illustrate that there’s a vast variety of ways that the Holy Spirit shows up. God is infinitely creative. There’s lots of different ways that he might show up through you. But he kind of illustrates with a list, here’s some examples.
Secondly, I want you understand what the list of all gives us here is this is it. The Bible doesn’t define these lists. It doesn’t define these particular items. It doesn’t tell you this is what this gift means, here’s how you understand and the reason for that is the focus is supposed to be on the what? On the Giver. So, so important. There’s some things in this list that are immediately obvious. We know exactly when we saw them. He talks about the gift of healing. Listen, if you pray for somebody to be healed, and they’re immediately healed, okay, that’s the gift of healing. We get that, there’s no question about that. But he mentioned some other things that are not so clear. He talks about message of wisdom, or word of wisdom, or word of knowledge, and there’s nowhere in the Bible that explains exactly what that means. Now, I’m gonna be honest with you that has not kept preachers and Bible study leaders from inserting their guesses. Sometimes they’re honest about it, here’s what I think. Other times they come across real definitive like this is what it is like, oh, I didn’t know that. Yeah, because we don’t know that.
They’re just guesses the Bible doesn’t define it. I’m not gonna put words in God’s mouth. I’m not gonna try to find these. Because again, I think what Paul’s saying is not, here, you need to understand exactly what each gift here means. You need to understand that it’s all about the Giver That’s where the focus is. Listen, he says this, to one is given through the Spirit, a message or a word of wisdom. To another word or a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit. To another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit and he distributes them to each one just like he determined. You see the rhythm of it?
Over, and over, and over again, it’s about the Giver, not the gift. Now, part of the reason that he’s doing this is because this was the problem in the Church at Corinth, they were fixated, not on the Giver, they’re fixated on the gifts, and particularly on a very small subset of the gifts that we might call the charismatic gifts are sometimes called the sign gifts. Every list, every item that’s on this list that Paul mentions here is part of the sign gifts. These are the kind of in your face really obvious, showings up of the Holy Spirit. And these are the ones that the Church in Corinth was obsessed with. And so he chooses his list of examples from this particular list is not an exhaustive list. And again, he doesn’t define them because that’s not the point. His point is to go hey, it’s about the Giver.
In other words, what makes the gift significant isn’t how spectacular it is, or how obvious it is and always, what makes a gift significant is the source. Listen, source determines significance. That’s what Paul’s saying. Who it came from is so much more important than the particular gift. Source determines significance. I’ll share something with you. I’m gonna be super vulnerable right now. Here’s the vulnerability. This is not like you’re like oh, he brought one of his kids toys. No, this is mine. This is Blinky Bill. I searched on eBay, he’s worth like 10 bucks. But I’ve kept him since I was like two years old. He hangs out in my music studio at home. He’s special to me. He’s significant to me. It’s not because of his monetary value. It’s because of where it came from. It came from my dad. When I was about two, three years old, my dad went on a trip to Australia, he came back with Blinky Bill.
Blinky Bill’s significant to me not because, you know, like I don’t think this is koala fur I think its probably fake fur. He’s lost both eyes at this point. He’s missing…he’s not all that valuable from the worldly perspective, but he’s significant to me because of who he came from. He came from my dad. So the source determines significance. Or if that’s a little touchy feely for you, let’s try this. Can I have that picture up here. This is a sketch. It’s not a polished painting, it’s not a finished work of art, it’s a sketch, $16 million. You know why? The source, it’s Leonardo da Vinci. Recently discovered sketch from Leonardo da Vinci, $16 million. Because of the source, the source determines significance. And so Paul says, that’s the same truth when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit. It’s the Spirit who’s, you know, it’s God at work, who’s significant.
You gotta remember that source determines significance. When you don’t, here’s several things that happen and they’re all bad for the church. The first thing that happens when we forget that source determine significance is that we start to value some gifts more than others, because will that’s the really valuable gift. That’s really important gift When that happens, we begin to go, I wish I had that gift and we become envious of people who have that gift. We start to devalue the gifts that we have, we fail to understand that their significance is rooted in the fact that God shows up through these things. But we start to devalue, and when we devalue in our own lives, then we don’t practice it. And then God shows up less among his people. All because we forgot that source determines significance.
Now, which gifts we value depends a little bit on the church, honestly. And there’s some sides of Christianity that value different sets of gifts than maybe we would tend to value in Mission Hills. In Mission Hills, I’ll tell you the gift that we tend to value a lot. It’s the gift of teaching. That’s the gift that we do, that’s the best gift. That’s the most important gift. It’s not. As someone with the gift of teaching, let me tell you, it is not the most important gift. There is no most important gift. When we value teaching, if we don’t have the gift of teaching, they go well, then somehow, you know, I fell short. Somehow, I’m not as important, I’m not as significant. It happens in other churches too. Sometimes they value different things. I dated a girl in college that was part of a more charismatic kind of church. And in that church, the gift of teaching isn’t necessarily the one they value, the gift of tongues or prophecy. Those might be the gifts that they really value.
Different churches value different gifts, but it’s so easy, because when we forget that source determines significance, we go well, I’ll decide the most significant and so we value this or this, but not these and those in that, that creates division in the church. And it creates a context in which the gifts are not operating the way they’re supposed to. Second thing that happens when we forget that source determine significance is that we start to value some gift-havers more than others, not just the gift, but we start to divide the people who have that gift more than others. And the charismatic church that this girl was part of that I was dating. One of the gifts they really had was the gift of tongues.
It was my first really encounter with that. And so I you know, I asked her a certain point, like, you know, how did you get the gift of tongues? Like what was that like? And she said, something I will never forget, so interesting. She said, “Honestly, I didn’t have it for a long time. And it was hard because our church valued that gift. And the people who had it so much they were the more spiritual, they were the ones that God was really blessing. I always felt like an outsider because I didn’t have that gift. And then she said this, she said, so I started faking it. She said, I faked it for a long time, I faked the gift of tongues.
Now, please, please hear me. I’m not saying that’s true of everybody. I’m not saying everybody who has the gift of tongues is fake. I don’t believe that. I believe it’s a genuine legitimate manifestation of the Spirit. We’ll talk in this series a little bit about the parameters that God gives us for understanding what it is and how it functions. But I don’t think that her was, you know, the story of everybody was a gift of tongues, but I also know for a fact, because I’ve heard the same story multiple times. It’s not a unique story. So when a church values that gift and then they value the haver or that people who have that particular gift. Then people who don’t have that gift, they feel devalued, and they’ll end up doing some very strange things. It can happen in the Evangelical Church and evangelical we value teaching.
It’s really easy for somebody who has the gift of teaching to start suddenly feeling like, I’m a big deal. I’m not, I’m not a big deal. And I don’t believe that my gift is more important than any other. It has a particular operation. It’s important I need to use it. Because I want God to show up through it. But it’s not more important than other gifts I’ll be I’ll be honest, I have been ministered to by people that have the gift of encouragement that God shows up when they’re encouraging. That minister to me more than any sermon I’ve ever heard. I have a tremendous value that I placed on the gift of encouragement. I don’t have it, but it’s powerfully impacted my life. But when we forget that source determines significance, we begin to look at certain people and go well they have this gift, therefore they’re more important and that creates division. It creates jealousy, it creates a lack of unity in the Church fails to hold the light of the Gospel up as high as it supposed to.
Because we forgot that source determines significance. Third thing that happens, unfortunately, is that we start to value how a gift advances us rather than how it advances the Gospel. When we value certain gifts, and certain people have them, it’s so easy to begin with people who have those gifts to go, well, yeah, then my gift actually, it pushes me into the spotlight, it pushes me forward. It gives me notoriety, and fame, and influence, and honor, and esteem and all those kinds of things. And it’s so easy to get that because we’re we’re valuing how it advances me rather than the Gospel or the God who gave me the gift. And it certainly can be true of teaching in the Evangelical Church, can be to have the gift of prophecy, or other kinds of things like that in other kinds of churches. But let’s face it, guys, there’s no gift that’s been given so that people look at us and go, you’re awesome.
And I get that sometimes, and I know that when it’s given, it is given as a compliment. I know it’s given as an honor and I get that. But it makes me intensely uncomfortable. And so always my response is. No, I’m not. I’m so glad God’s using me, I’m so glad God’s showing up. But we can’t allow gift to advance us rather than the God who gave it and the Gospel that he’s given us to share. Every one of us has a gift. If you remember nothing else from today, this is this is the truth that I want you to grab a hold of and I want you to go out of here wrestling with God wants you to discover and to deploy your spiritual gift. God has a way that he wants to show up through you. If you are a follower of Jesus. God has a way that he wants to show up through you. God wants you to discover it, he wants you to deploy it. How do we do that? Let’s get practical. Step number one, you need to make sure that you have a relationship with God.
Because the spiritual gifts we’re talking about, they’re different than natural gifts. They’re different than learn gifts. These are abilities that come to us by the Holy Spirit. Now, sometimes the gift does involve a natural gift or learn gift. Sometimes God takes that and starts to show up through that. But the gifts that we’re talking about here these ways Holy Spirit show up, they only happen because the Holy Spirit is in us. And Holy Spirit is only in us when we have put our faith in Jesus Christ. God loves you so much he sent his Son to die for you. On the cross, he paid the price for every sin that you’ve ever committed. Three days later, he rose from the dead to prove that he had paid off the debt of sin and to offer you the new life that he has. When we say yes to Jesus, we get forgiven of our sin, we get adopted into the family of God and the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. And when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, he brings this way that he shows up through us.
If you don’t have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus, you don’t have a spiritual gift, but you can. But you have to have that relationship will give you the opportunity to do that before the day is over. Make sure you have a real relationship with Jesus. It’s not just a matter of, well, I’ve gone to church my whole life, or I’ve tried really hard to be a good person, none of that’s going to do it. Jesus didn’t die for good people. He died because we could never be good enough. He died to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves, you gotta have faith in him. You can do that today if you don’t have it. But that’s the first step. Second step is this. You need to check your motives. You need to ask yourself the question, why do I want to know what my spiritual gift is? Is it about advancing you about gaining honor and respect? Is it just because that would be really cool to know how God does that? None of those are sufficient motives. Why do you want to know what your spiritual gift is? Why do you want to know how God shows up through you? Check your motives. Third step is this, pray and pray specifically for a more missional mindset. Pray that God would make you the kind of person who wants to be on mission with him. As we say at Mission Hills. We’re here to help people become like Jesus and join them on mission two sides of the same coin.
And I’m convinced that one of the reasons that a lot of people don’t know what their spiritual gift is, is because they don’t have a missional mindset. So they’re not looking for it to be more effective in their mission with Jesus. They’re looking to know what their spiritual gift is for different reason. And I think that’s one of the reasons why people don’t know their spiritual gift is God will reveal your spiritual gifts when we are moving more and more into that place where we’re going to use it for what it’s intended to be on mission with him. So pray for a missional mindset. Fourth step is this, this is so important. You don’t take a spiritual gifts inventory survey, you ask. You ask other believers, when they’ve seen God show up through you. This is how we do it. You ask other believers, when they’ve seen God show up through you, by the way that the question you ask is not Hey, when I did this, did you see God show up through me? Okay, because you’re going to be talking to nice people they’re gonna be like, of course I did. Yes, absolutely.
That’s not the question. There’s some other questions that we’ve published a list of questions there in the Mission Hills app. If you don’t have it, get it free. Go to Mission’s app, you’re going to find a list of questions that we develop that you can ask other people that will help you get at this issue where have you seen God showing up through me? This is how we discover it friends. so important. I was in Zimbabwe, a few years ago, I was part of a nonprofit, one of my staff was there with us. And at a certain point in our trip, I remember, we were sitting on this wall waiting for our van to come and take us to something and some of the issues spiritual gifts came up and she said to me, she said, yeah, I’ve been following Jesus for like, 25 years and I don’t have any idea what my spiritual gift is. And my response was, what are you talking about? I said, you have the gift of hospitality. And she goes, I hate potpourri.
I, like Martha Stewart is on my hit list. I was like no, no, no that that’s that’s not that’s the American modern hospitality. I said. I said hospitality is it’s the ability to make people feel so comfortable with you, making you feel at home with you that they just they lay it all on the table and then they’re willing to let you into their lives and you’re able to minister to them in ways that other people can’t because they let the walls come down. And she goes, really? I said, yeah, I said, how many times when you’re in a coffee shop, do people, random people just stop by your table? Go? What are you studying, sit down and talk to you. And they’re there for two hours. And they’ve shared their entire lives with you. She goes all the time.
I said, yeah, how many times a year on the on the airplane, and you’re going to try to get some work done. But somebody random sits down next to you. And they go, hey, what are you talking about? And they don’t even listen to answer, then they start telling you what their lives are like, and what they’re struggling with where their points of pain are. They lay it all on the table, and you’re able to speak the Gospel into that maybe they come to Jesus, maybe they don’t, but you have a relationship, and they keep speaking to you and God’s extending his influence into their lives. How often does it happen? She goes every time. It’s like, yes, that’s the gift of hospitality. And she went, I had no idea.
So I wish you had asked that question to somebody sooner. Because everybody around and we were all like, how do you not know this? Because we’d all seen it. We need to ask people where we see God showing up. We developed some questions help you do that. And then the fifth step is this, you need to try different kinds of serving. Try different kinds of serving. Because when we don’t try different kinds of serving, we don’t give people the opportunity to see where God might show up. But sometimes we don’t try them guys to serve because like, well, I didn’t like that, or I wouldn’t be good at that. That’s okay. We’re not gonna put you in charge of it. But maybe subbing. I can’t tell you the number of people that I know who are children’s pastors now. They only work with kids who got into children’s ministry kicking and screaming, because they said, I don’t like kids.
I’m not any good with kids. But we got guilted. The pastor gave the message that we don’t have enough kids workers, we need somebody and said, like, okay, I’ll do it for couple of weeks. And the most remarkable thing happened. They were like, this works. Like, I’m impacting these kids. My group’s listening me that group is insane. They’re crazy. And that guy’s losing his hair because they can’t…and what’s different? Do I just have a really good kid? No, no, God’s showing up through you. And they began to see that and then they began to love it. Sometimes we come to love the way God shows up, not necessarily we love it before God shows up. I didn’t love teaching. But I love the fact that God shows up even when I feel like this was not a good message. People go, yeah, but the light bulb came on when God showed up. That’s awesome. I love that now.
We need to try different kinds of serving. And when we refuse to try different kinds of serving, we might very well be missing an opportunity to let other people around us see whoa, God showed up then you step out of our comfort zone, so we try again serving and then we need to circle back to number four, and ask those questions. God has a way he wants to show up through you. He has a main way he wants to show up there he wants you to discover and to deploy your spiritual gift. We need to get at it. The mission of God that he’s given us is at stake. Will we hold the light of the Gospel up as high as it should be? Or keep it down on the ground, bright as always, but unable to be seen from the distance that it should be. We gotta get at this. Would you pray with me? Jesus, it’s ridiculous. You died on the cross for us. You died while we were yet sinners, we were sinful, we’re in rebellion against you. And yet you came and you paid the price for our sin on the cross that love, that grace. It’s unbelievable. But you didn’t stop there. When you rose from the dead, you didn’t just offer us forgiveness. You adopted us into the family of God, you gave us new life that goes on forever and ever with our Creator. That’s ridiculous. But even that wasn’t enough for you. Beyond that you gave us your Holy Spirit.
The third person that turned to God himself in our lives, looking to show up through us. That’s ridiculous, but it’s so cool. Thank you. For those of us who know what our spiritual gifts are we say thank you, Lord, help us to value the Giver and not the gift. Help us to use it to advance your cause not ours. For those of us who don’t know what our spiritual gifts are Lord, but asked for powerful movement, your Holy Spirit, give them the courage to try new things. Give them the courage to to ask those questions of others. And Lord, would you speak to those around them so that you can speak through those to them about the ways that you want to show up to them because we want you to show up. We want to be the kind of Church that’s filled with people where you show up through us and draw attention and glory and honor to yourself and help us to get after it.
To discover and deploy our gifts. As the followers of Jesus, we say thank you. If you are a follower of Jesus, just give me a favor. Begin praying for the people around you. The people watching online at all of our locations that don’t know God, they don’t have a relationship with him because I want to speak to you for just a moment. Maybe there’s something in this message has made you go. Well, I wish that were true of me. I wish I had God in me. I wish had a way that God was showing up through me. Well, God wants you to have that too. But it starts with the relationship. Not a religion, it’s not something you don’t earn the right for God to show up through you because you did enough good things and avoided enough bad things. You don’t you don’t convince God to show up through you because you attended church long enough, or you were in this Bible study or whatever, all that stuff. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about a relationship.
If you don’t have a relationship with God, you need to understand how desperately he wants it. God loves you so much, he sent his own Son to die for your sins. Jesus rose from the dead and he’s offering you forgiveness. He’s offering your relationship with your Creator that goes on forever. And he’s offering you the power of God coming into your life to change you from the inside out, and to begin showing up through you in such a way that you can be a part of the mission of God. And if you came in today and you realize I don’t have that relationship with something in the message that he said, that’s where I need to start, I need that relationship. And if you’re ready to say yes to Jesus to put your faith in him, you just slip your hand up right now. If you’re ready to say yes to Jesus, that’s awesome. Fantastic. If you’re watching online, just click the button right below me. And wherever you are, you just have this conversation with God.
In your heart, say, God, I’ve done wrong and I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying in my place. I believe that you rose from the dead, that you’re offering me, forgiveness and a new life. I need both of those. And I know you’re the only source of them. So right here right now, Jesus, I’m saying yes to you. Putting my trust in you. Putting my faith in you. Come into my life. Be My Lord my Savior, for now and forever. Amen. All of our campuses we have a number of people this weekend make that decision to join the family of God. The family of Jesus. Can we just welcome them into the family? So awesome.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
We are continuing our series on how God has equipped + gifted us to be on mission with him. This week we look at how the church is made up of unified elements – one body – and diversity – the parts/people who make up the body of Christ. Now here’s the big question: which is more important: diversity or unity?
Craig: Welcome to all of our locations including those of you who are joining us Church Online, so glad you’re with us. We are three weeks deep into our Equipted Series, taking a look at all the ways that God has equipped and gifted us, equipted us to be on mission with him. Here’s what we know. We know that God created and redeemed us for mission. The Garden of Eden, I don’t know if you know this, the Garden of Eden was not a day spa. Anybody? It wasn’t a retreat center. The Garden of Eden was a mission training facility. And basically, what God did was he planted the garden. He put Adam and Eve in it, and he said, ”Hey, you see what I did here, you’re gonna do this out there. You’re gonna rule and subdue all creation. You’re gonna bring order to it.” And so really, they were made to extend God’s influence in creation.
That’s what our calling was, that’s what our mission was, our purpose was. We rebelled against that. We went AWOL, but God loved us so much that he sent his own Son and he paid the penalty for our rebellion in his blood. But Jesus didn’t just die to forgive us for our sin. He also died sort of to bring us back into our mission. And so Jesus said to all of his followers, go into all the world, preach the Gospel, the Good News to all creation. That’s mission. And so we were created and redeemed for mission. And we also know that where God guides, he provides. God’s too good a Father to call us to do something and not equip us to be able to succeed in that calling. And so God has provided what we need to carry out the mission that he’s guided us to.
Now, we also know that there’s three different ways that God has provided. There are natural gifts, abilities that we have because we were born with them. God wired us from the start with them. We have learned gifts. Those are abilities that we have because we developed them over time and through experience. And then we have spiritual gifts. We talked about these last week. These are gifts and abilities we have because the Holy Spirit comes into us the moment we say yes to Jesus, and he brings with it these new abilities. And as we saw last week, what’s great about spiritual gifts is they’re not just a new ability we have, but it’s actually the way that God shows up to us, is the way the Holy Spirit announces his presence through us, to the body of believers and to the world. So it’s really important that we understand our spiritual gifts as well.
If you missed the teaching last week, I really wanna encourage you to get caught up in that content. You can do it through the Mission Hills App or through the website or through a podcast because every follower of Jesus has one of these main ways that the Holy Spirit shows up through them and we wanna know what they are. And in the last week’s teaching, we talked about some very practical steps to help discover what that spiritual gift is. But today, we’re gonna add a fourth category of gifts. We’ve talked about natural and learned and spiritual gifts. Today, we’re gonna talk about the gift of other people.
I always like to just get a feel for the room because there’s always some people who are like, do we have to bring other people into this? Because other people may think so much harder and they do, right? You know what? When I was single, there was no division or conflict in my apartment. My apartment was a place of perfect unity and peace. I always understood what I was saying. I always saw things with the same set of priorities. We were perfectly unified. And then Coletta and I got married, and suddenly, two things happen. Number one, we got better. We are definitely better together. She brought things to the table, ways of seeing things, gifts and abilities that I didn’t have. All of that made me better. I brought gifts to the table she didn’t have, so I made her better. Together we were better. And honestly, I think together we were better at being on mission with Jesus, together we were better at extending God’s influence in the world, not only than we were as individuals, but really than we were even with just the two of that’s the, you know, the two of our abilities and gifts and stuff coming together. We were better together, but at the same time we got better together, things also got harder, right?
You added another person into the mix and there’s always a new potential for conflict and division. And what I realized was the more people you add to the mix, the division and the conflict or the potential for that grows exponentially. It’s not just a one to one kind of a deal. See, where it’s just Coletta and I, there was only one possible conflict configuration, right? She and I could have conflict and division with each other. It was just one. When we added our oldest daughter into it, I realized we didn’t just go from one to like, you know, two or three, it was an exponential increase because here, check me on the math on this one. Okay. Here’s the potential conflict configurations when there’s three of us, I could have a conflict with Coletta. Okay. I could have a conflict with Rochelle. I could also have a conflict with Coletta and Rochelle together. Right, because they could be together with each other but not with me, right? That’s a new conflict configuration. But, Coletta could also have a conflict with just Rochelle and not me, or she could have a conflict with Rochelle and me. That’s we’re at five.
And there’s still one other potential conflict configuration as Rochelle could have a conflict with Coletta and I together. Six. We went from one to six by adding one person. And the math, by the way, this is factorial math for those of you who are like what kind of…it’s factorial math. It’s a little bonus. A little freebie for those of you who like that kind of thing. Here’s what it means. It means when we added our fourth daughter Lynae, we went from six possible conflict configurations to 24. If you have a family of five people, 120 possible configurations of conflict. Remember that show ”Eight is Enough?” Yeah, it’s way past enough. Eight people in your family, I kid you not, 40,340 possible configurations of conflict and division.
So what happens in the church when we go way beyond eight, when we talk about hundreds or even thousands? Just for fun, I was like, you know, Mission Hills, we estimate conservatively is about 7,000 people who come on a regular basis to Mission Hills. 7,000 people call it home. I just said, ”Hey, let’s work out the potential conflict configurations if we choose the 7,000 people.” So I put it into Excel and Excel was like, nope. I kid you not, it like didn’t give me an answer. It was just like I can’t calculate that. And I was like, wow, that’s bad news, right? Because you see here’s the problem, right? See, when we put more people together, things get better because no one person has all the gifts. And so by bringing different people together, we bring different gifts. And so here’s the central truth and I want you to understand this, God has equipped us for mission through the gift of other believers. We’re better together. But the more people you put into the mix, the more potential conflict and division that happens, right?
And so here’s the big question for today. How do we get the promised benefits of diversity without the potential conflict, without the potential division? How do we do that? And it’s an important question, not just for the Church. I think it’s an important question for marriages because the reality is when you get two people together, they’re better together, but it’s also harder, right? I’m not gonna, please just look straight at me. No, don’t look around. We’re not gonna do any hand raising, but I think a lot of people, they got together and at first, it was like, oh, this is good. We’re better together. Then things got a little bit harder and sometimes people begin to go like this would be a whole lot easier if I were single again. It would be easier, but it wouldn’t be better. We’re better together, but more people we put together the more potential for conflict and division. And so how do we get the promised benefits of all these different gifts and stuff coming together? Because no one person has all the gifts, right? And so we need multiple people to get all the gifts assembled. How do we get the promised benefit of those gets without the potential conflict and division? That’s the question we’re gonna push in today. It would be useful I think not only in the church but in marriages and in working with your friend group and in work, in your neighborhood. Anytime you put a bunch of people together, things get better, but they also get harder. So how do we get the promised benefits without the potential conflict?
Why don’t you go ahead and grab your Bible, start making your way to the book of 1st Corinthians Chapter 12 and pick up where we left off last week. We’re in verse 12 which says this, ”Just as a body though one has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” And we said, so it is with Christ, what he means is, so it is with the body of Christ is kind of a shortened version of that, and the body of Christ is kind of code for the Church. So he says just as it is with the human body, so it is with the Church. And his point’s pretty easy to understand, it’s a very simple analogy. He says, you know, the body has many parts, right? You know, head, shoulders, knees, and toes, right? Nobody got to come back with the knees, okay? Lots of parts, one body, one body, many parts. He says, so it is with the Church. You know the body has many parts but it’s one person. The Church has many people, but it’s one Church.
And he introduces us here to two very important themes that we’re gonna see over and over today. On the one hand, he says the Church depends on diversity. The Church depends upon all these different parts coming together. If the parts don’t all come together and if we don’t have all the different parts represented, then you have a weaker church. In the same way that a body missing parts in some ways is weaker. It struggles a little bit. So the Church depends on diversity, but at the same time, he also says the church depends on unity. The Church depends on unity. It’s many parts, but it’s one body. They’ve gotta be focused on the same goal. They’ve gotta be moving together towards the same purpose. So it says the Church depends upon diversity and the Church depends upon unity. These are the two rails of the train track that the Church is the train that’s moving forward towards the horizon of extending God’s influence in the world of lifting the light of the gospel high for all the world to see, of making an impact around the world for all of eternity. That’s where we’re headed. And the two tracks that we run on are diversity and unity.
Now, I recognize that that word diversity leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths. And the reason for that is because the world has tried to emphasize diversity in a way that it’s often caused harm and frustration and confusion. And the reason for that is very simple. The world doesn’t understand diversity. The world doesn’t get it. God gets it. He invented it. God invented diversity and there’s a reason why he invented it is because it allows us to succeed in the mission that he’s called us to. The world doesn’t get it, but the world has to get us to focus on diversity, but without some very important missing ingredients.
And so I recognize the word diversity may raise some red flags and I wanna ask you to do something for me. Do me a favor. Just set aside any past conceptions you have with that word diversity. Please set aside any preconceived notions, and I want us to think about diversity from a biblical perspective today. And when I use the word diversity, here’s what I mean. Biblical diversity is different gifts working towards the same goal, so, it’s so, so important. It’s different gifts working towards the same goal. It’s not different for the sake of different. You know what different for the sake of different is? It’s a recipe for division. It’s only when we have a same goal, that diversity actually becomes a meaningful thing that we can truly value. See, the world tries to teach about diversity, but without the common goal, without the common mission, without the common purpose. And so of course, divisions never going to do anything other than divide because we’re not using it in service of our higher calling of a larger purpose.
So when I say diversity this is what I mean, it’s different gifts working towards the same goal. And Paul says, ”Understood that way, diversity in unity are the two tracks that the Church runs on.” And he’s gonna emphasize those over and over again. Verse 14 he says, or 13 ”For we are all baptized by one Spirit, so as to form one body. Whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free, we were all given one Spirit to drink.” That’s unity, right? He says, doesn’t matter what your background is, doesn’t matter if you’re Jew or Gentile, those were the two big racial divisions of the day. We could say today, doesn’t matter if you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian, it doesn’t matter, right? Racially, it doesn’t matter where you come from. We’re all part of the same Spirit. He says, it doesn’t matter if you’re slave or free, those were the two big socioeconomic divisions of the day. Says, it doesn’t matter what your background is, we are all baptized into one Spirit and we all drink one Spirit. And that seems like strange language, right? You might be going like, what does it mean to drink the Spirit? Are we gonna become one of those kinds of churches? He’s like, he’s just making a really, it’s kind of a cool analogy actually because see when we’re baptized physically, we go into water, right? Symbolizes dying with Christ and being buried, and then when we’re brought up, we’re rising from the grave. And he says, we all were baptised, we’re all immersed into one Spirit, but in the same way that you can be immersed into water, you can also put water into you by drinking it. He says, it’s kind of like that with the Spirit. We’re all in one Spirit and one Spirit is in each one of us, but the point is it’s one Spirit which makes us one body. It’s an emphasis on unity. He says, even so, even though it’s one body, he says, even so, the body is not made up of one part, but of many. That’s diversity.
The Church depends on diversity. It says ”Now, if the foot should say because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body, it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say because I’m not an eye, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.” That’s unity. Regardless of how we think about it, regardless of our attempt sometimes to go, well, I don’t really belong and I don’t really fit in, I’m not really part of, he says you can say that all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re baptized into one Spirit. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re baptized into one Spirit, the Spirit is inside you. You are a part of the Church. We’re all one body. That’s unity. He says if the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? That’s diversity. Different gifts. He says the church depends on diversity. Without it, we would be a weaker body. But in fact, God has placed the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? That’s diversity,
But as it is, there are many parts, but there is one body. That’s unity, right? I mean, you just see it. It’s just over and over and over again. It’s the two tracks the Church runs on. We know the horizon and we know where we’re headed. We’re called to extend God’s influence in the world. We’re called the lift the light of the Gospel up high, to shine in the darkness for all to see, and the two tracks that take us there is diversity and unity. Over and over again, the Church depends upon both of them. The problem, of course, is that we struggle to be unified and our diversity often divides us rather than propelling us forward. And so he says this verse 21. He says, ”The eye cannot say to the hand, must not say to the hand, I don’t need you. And the head cannot say to the feet, I don’t need you.” Why not? Because they do need each other. Right, I mean the eye might recognize something that needs to go into the body. The eye might see, you know, a tall glass of cool water, but without the hand, the eye can’t get it into the body. So the eye can’t say to the hand, I don’t need. You know, the head might, you know, kind of look around and go, you know, we’re standing in the hot sun and we’re baking, we should get into the shade. But without the feet, it can’t accomplish it. It can’t get there. So the head can’t say to the feet, I don’t need you. The reality is we do need all of those parts. They all work together.
And so he says this, ”On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” Those parts of the body for whatever reason and may have to do with, you know, we see other parts through our particular lens and we tend to think that our lens is best, then we look at the other parts and go, well, that’s weaker. Or maybe it’s a cultural thing. We grew up in a culture that emphasizes these things and not those things. As we look at those things and go, well, that’s not as important, there’s all kinds of reasons why we do it, but we have this tendency to look at different parts and go, those are less important. And Jesus says, you’re wrong. You could not be more wrong. They’re indispensable. There’s so important. He says, ”And the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty.” Well, our presentable parts need no special treatment. I don’t know about you. When I was growing up, that verse made me so uncomfortable. I was like, what’s the special modesty? And like, are we talking about the naughty bits here with like why is that in the Bible? Why are we having this conversation? But what I’ve come to understand is what he’s actually talking about is the internal organs. He’s talking about parts that are out of sight.
And he’s saying just because they’re out of sight doesn’t mean they should be out of mind because even though they’re out of sight and the temptation is to think, well, those things are unimportant., the reality is they actually are…they have special honor because there are way more important, right? I mean they don’t get the attention. I mean we put a lot of attention on ears. I mean we decorate them. Nobody decorates the small intestine, right? How gross would that be? Because this is the small intestine, you know what, they are? They’re unpresentable like nobody wants to walk around with their intestines. They’re unpresentable he says, but they’re treated with special modesty, but they’re also given greater honor because the reality is you can lose an ear, but you can’t lose your small intestine. You understand what he’s saying? He’s saying, and this is so important, the amount of attention that something attracts is no measure of the value that it actually has. That’s all he’s saying. The matter of attention something attracts is no measure of the value that it actually has.
No guy has ever looked at a woman and gone get a load of those intestines. But those intestines are indispensable, right? Just because something attracts attention, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any more valuable than anything else. He says all the parts are indispensable. And warning us to get a handle on this, he says this, ”But God has put the body together.” He has put all the parts together giving greater honor, meaning greater importance to the parts that lacked it. Nobody honors the internal organs, but they’re actually far more vital than most of the external ones. So that he did this for a reason. Listen, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. He says, ”God gave greater importance to the ones that are less obvious, ones that attract less attention so that there will be no division.” And we’re seeing a couple of things here.
Number one, we’re seeing something that’s really important about God’s heart, and here’s the way I would say it, God hates division in the Church. Because of course, he’s not just talking about the physical body, he’s talking about that as an analogy for the body of Christ. He says, yeah, there’s upfront parts, there’s roles that attract a lot of attention, but those parts aren’t inherently any more valuable than the ones that are operating behind the scenes. And God has arranged the body in the physical body, but he’s also arranged it in the body of the Church in the same way so that there would be no division because God hates division in the Church.
In fact, if you read the Bible carefully, what you’re gonna find consistently is God’s strongest words, his harshest criticism, his most alarming judgments honestly. They’re against not the people outside the Church, but apparently against the people inside the Church that are causing division in the Church. God calls sin what it is, no matter where it is, but honestly, the reality is we don’t expect redeemed behavior for unredeemed people outside the Church. But when people who put their faith in Christ come into the body of Christ and then begin to cause division, God gets really upset. God hates division in the Church.
The second thing we see here is that he tells us what we’re supposed to do to begin playing our part in keeping that division from happening and says he’s done this so there’ll be no division in the body, but that its part should have equal concern for each other. So you see, he’s given important to even the behind the scenes pieces so that we would have equal concern. And what he’s telling us is this, we do our part by having equal concern for each other. We do our part by having equal concern for each other. The moment we stop doing that, the moment we start valuing some people, some gifts, some perspectives, whatever it is more than do we do others, what happens is we create division. So we do our part by having equal concern for each other.
So he says, ”If one part suffers, every part suffers with it because we have equal concern for each other.” If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it because we have equal concern for each other. And he says, ”You are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.” You know, English doesn’t have a plural “You” unless we go south, right? What he literally says here, now y’all are the body of Christ. All of you together, you’re all the body of Christ and each one of you individually is a part of it, but only a part of it, but a really important part of it because there are no unimportant parts of it. He says, ”You’re all the body of Christ.”
And what he’s saying very simply is this, he’s saying that the success of our mission, it depends on our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. If we’re gonna succeed in doing what God’s called us to do as a church, as a family, as a group of friends, anything, our ability to succeed in the mission that God has given us, it depends upon our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. To say that’s valuable and that’s valuable and that’s valuable and not that’s more valuable and that’s less valuable, none of that, our ability to succeed depends on our ability to give value to all the parts.
I’m a rock climber. And it’s interesting to me that, you know, when it comes to equipment for rock climbing, the rope is what typically attracts the attention. Like a lot of times people will find out that I rock climb and they go, ”Oh do you climb ropes.” And I’m like, ”Well no. Like, that’s like middle school gym stuff, right?” No, I climb rocks. But they’re like, oh, but you know, but you use ropes. Yeah. And then that’s… it’s just all the attention’s on the rope. But you know what’s interesting is like the rope all by itself is really kind of useless. Like, if I just start at the bottom with the rope tied to me and I climb up and that rope, doesn’t get clipped in anywhere. If I fall, all that rope’s gonna do is make a pretty design around my body. Okay. For the rope to do its work, there’s a whole bunch of other pieces of equipment that are involved. And as you climb up, what you’re looking for is opportunities to put pieces of, they’re called pro or protection to find places in the rock where you can add these things in so you can clip the rope to. And there’s a bunch of different kinds of pro I usually carry with me. These are some of the…my favorite ones, they’re called cams. They’re mechanical. And so what happens is you find a crack and you pull this and it kind of gets narrow, your stick it in the crack and you let it go and it starts to expand. And honestly the harder you pull in the other direction, the more it tries to expand. So it locks into place.
So I find a crack and I stick that in there. And then I clip the rope onto it and now suddenly the rope has some use. Till that point, it was just decoration. Now it’s actually got some use though. But you know, sometimes the cracks aren’t that big and so I have to have a variety of these kinds of things. You know, I’ve got slightly smaller ones and then really small. How many of you feel really comfortable like putting your life on that little guy, right? I’ve fallen on this one. I’m still here. It works. Sometimes you can’t do that though. Sometimes you have to use some other kinds. Like this is a passive caming device. The idea here is you put it in like this and as you pull down on it, it does that. It kind of rocks and locks into place. Sometimes that’s the only thing you can work on. Sometimes, honestly, you just get these tiny little cracks and no piece of gear works except these things called nuts. Yeah. How about that one? How about this? This is my favorite one. And the reason I like this one, this one saved my life actually. It’s bent that way because I fell on it. I just had this tiny little crack. I got this thing in there. I climbed three or four feet above it and I fell and this thing caught me. It helped me.
Now let me ask you a question, which is most important? The rope, this guy, this little guy? I mean you understand it. It’s a meaningless question, right? There’s no such thing as more important, most important. They’re all indispensable. And I have to value all of these equal to when, you know, when I start off, I don’t necessarily know what I’m gonna need to accomplish the mission. I mean there’s a very clear mission when it comes to rock climbing, right? It’s to get from the bottom of the cliff to the top and then back down in one piece.
And when I start off, I have to rack up going, I’m not sure exactly what I’m gonna encounter. And so I need a variety of things and I have equal value on these and these and these. See, I value meekly and that’s what allows me to succeed in the mission because when I get there and I need one piece, I’ve got it. That’s what Paul’s saying. He says, ”The success of our mission depends upon our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts.” As a church, we have a much bigger vision, a much bigger mission than just getting to the top of something. Extending God’s influence in the world, bringing the lost to know the love of Christ, shining the light of the Gospel for all to see, that’s so much bigger a mission, but our ability to succeed in it depends on our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. And unfortunately, what often happens is rather than valuing diversity, diversity actually divides us. Instead of driving us towards our purpose, diversity often drives us away from each other, right? It’s such a sad reality, but it is a reality. Instead of going, oh, we’ve got all these different gifts. They can get us so much further than we’d ever get without all those gifts, what we find that the diversity actually drives us away from each other. And it happens politically, it happens generationally, it happens with the way we value some spiritual gifts over others. It happens with racial, I mean all those things. Rather than going, hey, wait, there’s a lot of here and when we put it all together, we’re so much better together. What will happen is that division often drives us apart, so what do we have to do? How do we get the promised blessing of diversity without the potential division?
Let me give you a couple of thoughts. The first one is this, is that we keep the mission front and center. You may wanna jot this one down. Because it’s true not just in the Church, it’s also true in your family. It’s true in your marriage, it’s true in your friend group. We keep the mission front and center. See the reason that the world can’t teach us about diversity in a way that really makes any difference is because the world doesn’t have the mission. And the mission is the lens that allows us to see the value in all the different pieces coming together, all the perspectives coming together, all the gifts coming together, all the people coming together. But without that mission, there’s no way to see the value of all those things. The world doesn’t have that mission, so it’s left going, well just appreciate the fact that you’re different from each other. Difference is hard, difference is complicated. Without the mission being front and center, difference is just gonna lead to division. We have to keep that mission front and center.
Second thing we do is this. We have to decide that we’re gonna refuse to confuse. We’re gonna refuse to confuse, and the world’s taught us some very confusing things about diversity and about differences and those kinds of things. And so honestly, sin has taught us different things and we’ve gotta set aside all that then we go, I’m gonna refuse to make those mistakes. I’m gonna refuse to confuse and let me give you a couple of examples.
Number one is we refuse to confuse visibility with value. We’re just gonna say no more. I’m not doing that anymore. Just because something’s more visible, just because something attracts more attention, I am not gonna say that it’s more valuable and I am not gonna seek after it if that’s my gift and I’m not gonna only elevate people and lift people up and value them if they have these particular gifts or perspectives with it. No, we’re gonna refuse to confuse visibility with value because they’re not the same thing. I mean, I have to check this out, so I mean it’s really easy. You come into a church and you think, well, you know the most important things that happen are the teaching and the worship leading, that’s just the most visible stuff that happens. It’s not the most important stuff.
Did you know many studies have confirmed that most people who visit a church decide whether or not they’re coming back in the first 10 minutes? Do you know that? If you’re new, you walk into Mission Hills, you know whether or not you’re gonna come back for week number two within the first 10 minutes of setting foot on this campus. And you need to understand that is before they’ve heard the message. It’s before they’ve even heard a worship song, but it’s not before somebody there smiled at them or ignored them. It’s not before somebody made them feel welcomed or made them feel like they didn’t belong. It’s not before somebody saw that they had kids and didn’t know where to go and walk them down to the kids’ ministry so they didn’t have to wander around confused. It’s not before any of that happens.
So let me ask you this, which is more important, the preaching, the worship leading or the guest services team? It’s a trick question. They’re all indispensable. We’ve gotta stop confusing visibility with value. Or how about this? We refuse to confuse comfortable with compelling. See, we have a tendency to value some things because we’re comfortable with them because and then comfort becomes like, you know, well, that’s the best way, right? You know, my way is always the best way, right? My level of comfort determines the level of value or something in there. No, not really. We got to stop doing that. We have refused to confuse comfortable with compelling.
I still can’t believe this is true, but it is true. There are thousands of churches across the United States of America, that are continuing to fight the worship wars. By which I mean, are we gonna just do hymns or are we gonna do modern worship? Like we’re past that as Mission Hills. I honestly, when I came here three years ago, I was blown away that as a church that was over 70 years old, successfully navigated that transition. The leadership and so many of the people went, you know what? If we’re gonna reach the next generation, we probably need to embrace some music that a lot of us actually don’t really like. It’s not comfortable, but we understand that it’s compelling and it’s part of reaching the next generation. I love the fact that Mission Hills made that transition. There are churches all over the country that are still fighting, they’re dividing over which songs to play and what style of worship and that is so sad. Because they’ve lost their mission. That’s the first thing that’s lost. They failed to keep the mission front and center. And they failed to understand that what I’m comfortable with isn’t necessarily what’s compelling.
I don’t get any complaints that I wear jeans when I preach. I should say I don’t get any complaints anymore. When I got here, I did. I got notes. In fact, my youngest daughter was given a note second week we were here. Somebody said, ”Give this to your dad.” She read it. Of course, she did. It wasn’t closed up and she was hopping mad. And I understood why when I saw because they basically said, hey, you’re the pastor of Mission Hills now, you can afford a nice pair of pants. I was like, actually, I paid way more from my jeans than any pair of dress pants that I’ve ever owned. They weren’t comfortable with it. But you understand that there’s a compelling reason why I typically wear jeans. I understand that we don’t live in a culture that understands church. They’re typically not churched anymore. That’s not the background that came up. In our particular part of the country, that’s not people’s common background experience. And so one of the big struggles is the people tend to go well, church and spirituality. That’s like an off to the side kind of thing and part of the reason I dress the way I do is to try to communicate from upfront. Christianity is an every moment of every day for everybody kind of a thing. There is no separation
The people who aren’t comfortable with that aren’t here anymore. I wouldn’t have shared that if this individual was still here. But they couldn’t get past thinking that comfortable was the same thing as compelling. They’re just not. You know, what kinds of things are we comfortable with and we tend to get grumpy when they don’t happen or we get grumpy when something else is happening and we’re not asking the question, you know, is my problem that that’s not comfortable is my problem that that’s not compelling to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We gotta refuse to confuse comfortable with compelling. We have to, we have to. Or we have to refuse to confuse opportunity with obstacle because sometimes we have opportunities to learn from each other in a way and we see them as actually obstacles instead of opportunities.
I mean we talk about even thinking about spiritual gifts, the section of 1 Corinthians, we’re gonna get into this really detailed next week. It’s a lot about spiritual gifts. And, you know, there are divisions in the Church over that. You’ve got what we already call the charismatic side of Christianity that tends to value certain things. Then you got the little bit more non-charismatic side than values other things. And rather than learning from each other, rather than seeing certain value in what other people are bringing to the table, their strengths, we tend to go, no, that’s an obstacle and we separate. You know, the charismatic side of things, honestly I would argue doesn’t value theology enough. And I say that as a seminary professor. I work with students from all different backgrounds and I think often the more charismatic side of Christianity doesn’t value theology as much and it sets them up to fall into heresy and doctrinal error that’s bad for the Church.
But you know what, the non-charismatic side doesn’t value worship even close to as enough as we should. I mean in worship, we are allowed to come in to the very presence of God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, the flinger of the stars, and we’re told that he inhabits the praises of his people. And we often just kind of go through the motions when it comes to worship. That’s not true in the charismatic side, we can learn a lot in terms of worship in the charismatic side. And they can learn something from us in terms of theology so we could be better together. But instead, we see opportunity as obstacle. We got political divisions, we’ve got racial division.
You don’t understand. Sunday morning is still the most racially segregated hour of the week. You know, different races, different cultures, different ethnic backgrounds. Look, we have stuff to learn from each other, but instead of seeing it as an opportunity, we see as an obstacle and we have to refuse to make that confusion anymore. We took generational separation. Can I just be honest? I am so sick. I am so sick of being at pastors’ conferences and hearing this, millennials are driving me crazy. I’m so sick of that. People like, they love to say like, you know, millennials, they’re just, they think they have it all figured out. They’re so entitled. And I’m like, do you know where millennials learned that? Gen X. You wanna talk about a group of people that thinks they have it all figured out and is entitled, that is Gen X. And you know where we got it? Baby Boomers. I don’t think that’s a generation. I think it’s an age and stage thing honestly, but you know there’s genuine difference in some of the ways that millennials approach things and we need to learn from that, the Church will be weaker if we don’t. But instead, we see an opportunity as an obstacle and so if we’re gonna really get the promised blessings and benefits and not the potential divisions we have to go, I refused to confuse.
The third thing is this, we celebrate. We celebrate what moves us towards our mission. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it doesn’t matter who it is. If it’s moving us forward and extending God’s influence in the world, we celebrate it. We don’t grumble about it, we don’t ignore it, we celebrate it. Let me ask you a couple of things. Number one, how can you put your mission front and center this week? Ask yourself that. How can I put my mission front and center this week? Because that lens is so important. Without it, difference will lead to division. With it, difference will propel us forward. Diversity will propel is forward. How can I put my mission front and center? And by the way, you might think, you know, in terms of not just of the Church, but in your marriage even, and you go, wait, my marriage doesn’t have a purpose. Yeah, that’s the problem. That’s the problem. Your marriage absolutely has a purpose.
When God made Adam, he said it is not good for the man to be alone. And that’s not just because he was gonna eat TV dinners. And he said he can’t succeed in his mission without the woman. And so he made literally an alongside one and together they move forward in mission. Your marriage is the bringing together of two different people so that together you can be better than you’d ever be individually. But most people don’t have any concept that their marriage is missional.
And so, of course, the differences create head budding and division and conflict. How do you put your mission? If you don’t know what your mission is, maybe that’s the conversation you have with your spouse. How are we looking to advance the cause of Christ together? How are we moving forward in mission together? We gotta keep our mission front and center. How are you gonna do that this week? You might also reflect on this question. I think this is important. Where am I most likely to be confused? Where am I most prone to getting confused? Is it visibility with value, is that something you struggle with? Maybe it’s comfortable with compelling tending to look at what we’re comfortable with and go, well, that’s the best thing. Or maybe it’s the confusing opportunity with an obstacle. That can create a lot of resistance. And so where are you most likely to be confusing? Just pray that God would move in your life in that area, teach you to refuse to confuse there.
And then the third one is this, who can I celebrate this week for being on mission with Jesus? Who can I celebrate? And honestly, the greatest power is when you can celebrate somebody who’s different than you, who has a different set of gifts but is using them to God’s glory. Who can you celebrate? Who can you encourage and go, I saw that and I was really encouraged by it myself. Good job, way to be on mission with Jesus. One of my favorite things to say to people, “Way to be on mission with Jesus.” And I love to say it to people who are doing things like I would never have thought to do that. I would be so bad at that, way to be on mission with Jesus. When we celebrate that we celebrate what we’ve become. Have we become what we celebrate? When we celebrate people on mission with Jesus, especially when they’re on mission in different ways than we were with different gifts, we’re moving towards thinking about diversity in a way that God does. Our success as a church depends on our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. Would you pray with me?
Jesus, thank you so much for your diverse gifts. Lord, in our heads we recognize that if everybody was exactly like us, if everybody had all the same gifts, whether natural or learned or spiritual, we wouldn’t get very far as a church in doing what we’re called to do. We wouldn’t be able to lift the Gospel very high. We wouldn’t be able to advance your cause very far. So, Lord, we thank you for these two tracks that you’ve given us unity and diversity and we ask that you would allow us to come to value the diversity of gifts that you’ve given in such a way that allows us to reap the benefits as a church, as families, as individuals, as friends, as coworkers, as neighbors.
And Lord, we ask for your forgiveness because we’ve all fallen short in this area, we’ve all come up short. We’ve seen obstacles where you called us to see opportunity. We put value in things that were valuable, but they were no more valuable than the other things that didn’t draw our attention. And we ask for your forgiveness of that. And for all the ways that we have mistaken being comfortable with what actually advances the cause of Christ, we ask for your forgiveness and we thank you that we have it in the blood of Christ. Teach us, lead us.
If you’re a part of the body of Christ, if you are one of those parts, if you’re a follower of Jesus, I’m gonna ask you to do something, would you just keep praying? Would you begin praying to the people around you, of other people watching online at all of our locations because I believe that all of our locations, there are people who are not part of the body of Christ and you know it, and I’d like to speak to you for just a moment. If you’re listening to this and you’re not a follower of Jesus, you have not put your faith, your trust in him, my guess is that you’re listening to this because God is doing something in your life. He’s drawing you to himself. And it may be that you’re resisting that and maybe one of the reasons you’ve resisted, maybe one of the reasons you haven’t said yes yet is that you have this honestly this false idea that saying yes to Jesus means you have to become one part of a cookie cutter operation and maybe you’ve looked at the Church and you’ve gone, I’m not like them.
Maybe the color of your skin is different than the color of the skin a lot of the people that sit on the chairs in that church. Maybe the things that drive your heart don’t feel like they’re on display in the Church. Maybe your politics don’t seem to match up with what you think is true in the Church. I want you to understand something. There’s greater true diversity in the Church than there is outside of it because in the Church, real diversity can be honored and valued because it moves us forward in an incredible mission that God’s called us to.
And if you’ve never said yes to Jesus because you feel like I don’t belong, I want you to understand that you do. That God’s custom designed you for a place in his body and a part in his mission. And he loves you so much, he sent his own Son to die for you, to pay for your rebellion, to pay for every wrong thing you’ve ever done. Three days later, he rose from the dead. He is right now, he’s offering you new life, he’s offering you forgiveness and he’s offering you a proper place in which everything that he’s made about you to be unique can actually be used for the purpose it was intended. And if you’re ready to join that mission, to join that family, if you’re ready to say yes to Jesus, to trust in what he’s done for you, would you just slip your hand up right now? That’s great. Awesome.
If you’re watching online, just click the button right below me. And wherever you are, you just had this conversation with God in your heart, you say this. Say, God, I’ve done wrong, I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. I’m gonna call it what it is. I need your forgiveness. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross in my place. I believe you rose from the dead and I understand you’re offering me forgiveness, new life, a place in the family of God and a part in your mission. And you’ve customed designed me to play a special part. I wanna put my gifts and my abilities and everything that you’ve made me have, I wanna put them in your hands. So Jesus, right here, right now, I’m saying yes to you. Jesus, come into my life, be my Lord and my Savior. I trust you. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.
That several people made that decision today in all of our campuses, can we just welcome them into the family of God? That’s awesome.
1 Corinthians 12:28-31 + 13:1-13
We continue looking at how we have been gifted and equipped by God to be the body of Christ. This week we look at how we have been presented with gifts we can use to help the church accomplish its mission. These gifts are indispensable, each in its own timing and working together as a whole.
Craig: Well, good morning. Welcome to Mission Hills in all of our locations, no matter where you are, how you’re joining us, we’re just glad you’re with us. If you’re just joining us, let me catch up real quick. We’re in the midst of our Equipted Series, where we’re taking a look at all the ways that God has gifted and equipped us to be on mission with him in the world.
Last week, we learned a couple of really important truths. And probably right there in the middle of the whole thing is this idea that the Church runs on two rails. We run on the rail of diversity and unity. You gotta have both or the Church can’t move forward in its mission. If you have unity without diversity, then you might be facing in the right direction, but you don’t have all the parts you need to actually make any progress.
Think of a car that’s may be missing three wheels, and an axle and a steering wheel, it might be facing in the right direction, but it’s not gonna get there, right, because you need the other parts to be brought together. On the other hand, if you have diversity without unity, what you actually have is division because everybody’s going in their own separate directions. So we need diversity and unity. Those are the two rails the Church runs on. The problem, of course, is that diversity and unity don’t coexist easily.
Can I get an amen from all the married people out there, right? I mean, we’re better together, but we also have a lot more potential for conflict together. Because even though we bring different gifts that could make us move forward together in our mission, those different gifts often cause conflict and division. And so unity and diversity don’t coexist easily. We have to be very intentional about keeping them together. And so the real question is, what’s the secret sauce, right?
And that’s not just true in the Church. We’re working through a section of 1st Corinthians where Paul’s talking about unity and diversity in the Church. But a lot of what he has to say applies in marriages. It applies, you know, in your fraternity or sorority, with your friend group, in your neighborhood, with a group of work, fellow laborers and work. I know that came out weird. I don’t know. But you know, whenever you get a group of people together, their different gifts, hopefully, can propel you forward. But that doesn’t happen automatically. That diversity can actually cause division. So the question is, what’s the secret sauce in all those relationships?
Why don’t you go and grab your Bible. Start making your way to the book of 1st Corinthians. We’re gonna be taking a look today at what Paul says is ultimately the secret sauce for getting the benefits of diversity without losing the unity that drives us forward. And here’s what he says, starting in chapter 12:28, picking up where we left off last week. He says this, “And God has placed in the Church…” We’re talking primarily about the Church, even though these lessons apply in other places. He says “God has placed in the church, first of all, apostles, second, prophets, third, teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance and of different kinds of tongues.” So this is a list of gifts that God gives the Church. But the important thing is, they all came from who? God. He says that right up front, right? And God places, God gave these they’re there on purpose, which means that we’re supposed to see all these different gifts as gifts, right, because that’s what they’re intended to be. That’s not how we always see them. Sometimes we see all these different things coming together as obstacles rather than opportunities, right? Because it’s harder when we have all these different pieces coming together. But he says God gave them, God placed them in the Church we’re supposed to see them as gifts. That’s so, so important.
Now, he does an interesting thing here. And if you’ve been with us throughout this series, you might find that little surprising, because what Paul said over and over and over again, up to this point, is that all the gifts are necessary. Just because one gift is more visible doesn’t make it more valuable. Just because one gift is behind the scenes doesn’t mean that it’s dispensable. In fact, he said, even those things that are out of sight shouldn’t be out of mind, because they’re indispensable. They’re so, so important. And yet, in spite of that very clear teaching here, he numbers, the first three gifts. He says the first gift is apostles, the second one is prophets, the third is teachers. And that feels on the surface like he’s ranking those gifts, right? But I want you to understand, that’s not what’s happening. This isn’t a rank of importance. This is a sequence of appearance. This isn’t a rank of importance, it’s a sequence of appearance. I’m gonna have one of these days. I can tell.
In other words, he’s not saying that these gifts are more important, this isn’t the first, and the second, and third gifts in importance. He’s saying this is the first, second, third, gifts in terms of when they appeared in the Church. He said the first gift that appeared in the Church was the apostles because that’s what an apostle is. An apostle literally in Greek means “a sent one.” Because when Jesus rose from the dead, he sent the apostles out with that news, with that Gospel. And he said, “You go and you go to places that have not heard about the resurrection.” And so they came with the message of the resurrection. That was the first gift that each of these churches saw.
The second gift was the gift of prophets. They brought the word of God. This is in a period before they had the Bible, and so they didn’t have the written word of God. And so prophets were how they got the word of God. And in fact, in the book of Ephesians, Paul actually says he says that, “Every local church is built on the foundation of…”, get ready, “the apostles and the prophets.” Because they arrived first. That was the first appearance.
And teachers come after that. He says they’re third because they used what the apostles and the prophets have given, and they help people understand it, understand the significance, what it looks like to put into practice. And so without what the apostles taught, what the prophets taught, the teachers don’t have anything to work with, and so this is a sequence of appearance, okay? Now, he only mentioned the first three, because this isn’t, again, he’s not trying to rank all the others he’s saying after that all these other gifts came.
But the point is, they came in a sequence. Now, why is he telling us this? Because here’s the point that he’s telling us. He’s saying, God gives us what’s needed when it’s needed. It’s really important to understand. God gives us what’s needed when it’s needed. He’s not gonna give us a gift that we have no use for yet. He’s gonna give us the right gift at the right time. Now, it’s Father’s Day. How many fathers do we have in the house? Awesome. How good a gift giver are you?
Like, Dad’s gonna be, like, “I’m the best,” right? But the reality is, as dads we’re kind of mixed on that one. My dad is a great dad. He was a great gift giver. But every now and then he was just, like, yeah, that probably was… like, when I was… I just had this one little tuft of like hair growing right here, and he gave me my first electric razor. And I was, like, “Yeah, I can actually just scratch that off with my finger. I don’t really… You gave it a little bit early.” So human fathers are not necessarily perfect in their timing, but our heavenly Father is perfect. He gives the gifts exactly when they’re needed, you know, and I see this.
But here’s what happens. Sometimes we get fixated on the order something appeared and we think, well, that’s what’s most important, right? But the reality is, it’s not necessarily. In fact, here’s a lesson we have to understand. What was most important yesterday may not be what’s most important today. What’s most important today may not be what’s most important tomorrow. This is the thing that the Church was really struggling with in Corinth because they were going, “Well the first gift that appeared were apostles, therefore apostles are most important therefore we need apostles.” And guess what? You had a bunch of people step up and going, “I’ll be that apostle.” I have the gift of apostolicity or however you say it. Actually, I think that was right. You’re laughing, but I think I actually nailed that one. And so actually, we see in 1st and 2nd Corinthians there’s a little bit of a battle going on people claiming, “I’m an apostle because that was the first gift that must be the most important gift right?” And they’re actually even challenging Paul who really was an apostle. “Well, you’re not as much of a possibility as I am.” And Paul’s, like,” What is wrong with you?” What was wrong with them was they didn’t understand that, you know, what was most important yesterday may not be what’s most important today, what’s most important today may not be what’s most important tomorrow.
You know, when I was in a much smaller church, I did all the administration. It was a church of about 400 or so and there just wasn’t that much administration. I could totally do what needed to be done. Mission Hills, that’s not the case at all.
And so God has given a gift. We have John Roberts. He’s my executive pastor over ministry operations, which is fancy church talk for administration. He’s incredibly gifted. He’s an amazing gift of God. And that’s a gift that I need today so that I can focus on preaching and some other kinds of things. But I didn’t necessarily need it yesterday. Does that mean that the administration wasn’t important? No, I just didn’t need somebody who had that particular gift at that day. And it’s important today. But God gives gifts as they’re needed. It happens in our individual lives as well.
But our temptation is to go when the gift first appeared, that’s what must be the most important gift. And Paul’s going,, “No, no, no.” You’re assigning value in another broken way. Last week, we saw that people tend to assign value based on visibility. Now, he’s saying you’re tending to sign value on the basis of when it first appeared, but that’s not the way it works. He says this, he says, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” And of course, the answer is, “No,” obviously not.” He’s emphasizing the importance of diversity. He’s saying stop assigning value to some things based on the order in which they appeared. That’s not the way to do it. And then he says something very surprising. He says, “Now eagerly desire, the greater gifts. And yet, I will show you the most excellent way.” Which feels like a contradiction, doesn’t it? He’s just over and over again, he’s going to stop assigning value based on human motivations, stop assigning value based on this or that because, you’re messing the Church up, and you’re creating division and conflict. No, no, no. All the gifts are equally valued. It doesn’t matter when they appeared. It doesn’t matter whether they’re visible and upfront or not. He says they’re all equally valued. And he says but desire the greater gifts. And you’re, like, “Wait, what?”
As a couple, let’s think about this. One possibility is that what he’s talking about is seek the greater gifts in a particular context. And in chapter 14, we’ll get there next week, he speaks about the context of church worship services. And so he may be saying, you know, not all the gifts have the same value in that particular context in the church worship service. So for instance, you know, if you break your foot, you want an orthopedic surgeon, right? You don’t need an ear, nose, throat specialist at that moment. Does that mean the orthopedic surgeon is more important than the ENT? No, it just means in that context, that’s the gift I need. You know, if you got a sore throat that’s going on and on, you don’t want an orthopedic surgeon, right? You want an ENT specialist.
So he might be saying in the context of the church worship service, there are certain gifts that are more important at that moment. But it doesn’t mean they’re more important across the board. That’s one possibility. The other possibility… and I’m sorry, we’re gonna get in the weeds just a little bit. Some, you’re gonna be so, so happy. And some of you are gonna be, like, “What just happened?’ We’ll move through it. Just stick with us.
In Greek, you can tell whether a word is a command or a statement based on the spelling of the word. We use a couple of other words around that to kind of communicate that. In Greek, just the spelling of the word tells us it’s a command, so do this or it’s a statement. you are doing this. And that’s true in, like, 99% of the cases. This word here for desire or earnestly seek or different translations deal with it differently. That word is a weird word in Greek, and we actually can’t tell the difference.
In Greek, the command and the statement are identical in form. And so he could be saying, “Now seek the greater gifts” in this church context, church worship service, or he could be saying, “Now you are seeking the greater gifts.” In which case what he’s doing is he’s exercising his spiritual gift of sarcasm. Do you know that was a spiritual gift? I really believe it’s a spiritual gift. Paul had the spiritual gift of…. So what he would be saying, in this case, is but you… he’s already said, “All these gifts are equal. All these gifts are important, yes, God gave the right gifts at the right time. But what’s important today may not be what was important tomorrow. And what’s important today may not be what’s was important yesterday. But you know what you guys are doing, you’re so zealous… ” This will be an alternate translation. You’re so zealous for the, air quotes, “greater gifts,” the ones that you think are greater.” That’s the other possibility.
So he’s either talking about greater in the local context, or he’s talking about this is what you’re doing, but he says, I will show you a much better way. I lean a little bit in that direction. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter all that much. But notice what he says next. Chapter 13:1. He says, “If I speak in the tongues…” and by the way, that was one of the gifts that the Church in Corinth was chasing after, they were zealous about, they considered it a greater gift. He said “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” By the way, I want you to be real clear on something. Paul isn’t saying we can speak in angel languages, okay? Some people have read it that way. In fact, I’ve heard people say, “Well, that’s what the gift of tongues is, it’s speaking in the angel language.” I’ve actually seen there are correspondence courses, you can get, I kid you not, for learning how to speak in the tongues of angels because Paul said we could right? No, he didn’t.
What is Paul doing? Again, details some of you will be very happy. The rest of you just stick with me. He’s using a figure of speech. It’s called a merismus. Merismus is a figure of speech where we describe a whole package of things by naming just the outside ends of it. So for instance, we do it all the time, we say, hey… you know, we fall in love, right? And we go, “I’m thinking about you night and day.” In other words, I’m thinking about you all the time, right. You name the outside ends, but it’s describing the whole package.
We go, you know, “I would move heaven and earth for you. I’d do anything for you.” It’s the whole package. Or let’s modernize it, right? From Ant Man to Professor X. Anybody that help drive to that home? Or from the Avengers to the Justice League, right? All the superheroes but we just name the outside ends. That’s what a merismus is.
What Paul’s doing is basically saying, “Hey, if I could speak in every possible language you can imagine, but I don’t have love, it’s just noise,” right? That’s what he’s saying. Without love, anything we say is just noise, which we’ve all experienced, right? We’ve had people who’ve told us things that honestly turned out to be true, but the way they told it to us made it really hard for us to receive it. Anybody had that experience? It’s the worst, isn’t it?
Someone might come up to you and go, “Can I tell you what’s wrong with you,?”right, and you’re, like, “Would you please? Would you?” And then they tell you something and honestly, your defenses are up. If it doesn’t connect you’re, like, “Whatever.” And then, like, years later, you’re, like, “Dog gone it, they were right.” But you didn’t hear it because of the way they said it, right? Without love everything we say is noise.
Our parents… You guys have had this experience. You’re telling your kids something over, and over, and over, and over again. Stop looking around. Some of you are, like, looking at your kids. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. We tell it over and over and over again so it would really help them, it would benefit them. And then their friend comes along or worse yet their girlfriend or their boyfriend and they say it and your kid’s, like, listening and they’re paying attention. And you’re, like, “What? I’ve been saying that and you just said it one time.” You’re, like, “Yeah.” Because something about the way we said it failed to connect, right? And it doesn’t mean that we said as parents without love, but what we might have failed to do is to say it with the love that they could hear. And that’s on us. We have to pay attention to that.
Here’s a really important question we need to be asking. Paul’s very clear. He says, “without love, everything we say is just noise.” So what do we have to do? We gotta ask number one, is this motivated by love? We gotta do a heart check. Why am I saying this? Is it really motivated by love?
And then number two, it’s just as important. Is that love obvious? Is that love evident? Am I communicating that love in a way that they can hear? Because otherwise, what we say is gonna come across as noise no matter how good what we say might actually be, right? He says, ” without love, everything we say is just noise,” Anything we say is just noise. And not just anything we say. He goes on and says it’s also stuff that we do. It’s the sacrifices we make. He says verse two, “I have the gift of prophecy, and I can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but I do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor, and then give over my body to hardship that I might boast. But I do not have love, I gain nothing.” So it’s not just what we say, it says also the skills we have and the sacrifices we make. He says, “Without love, our skills and our sacrifices, have no traction. They don’t move us forward, we’re just spinning our wheels.”
And so, you know, we have to ask the same question of the stuff that we do that we have to ask of the things that we wanna say. First question is, is this motivated by love? Is love driving me to do this? And if the answer is yes, then the next question is, is that love obvious? Is that love evident? Is that love being demonstrated in a way that they can receive? Because otherwise we’re not gonna get any traction from what we do. So you might as well sit down and shut up. He says love is so, so important.
And of course, we go. “How do I know? Because I think it’s motivated by love. I think everything I say, you know, it really comes from a heart of love. Everything I do it comes from a place of love, but I think it does. How do I know?” He says well, let me tell you. And he gives us a checklist, kind of a heart check list, we might call it. By the way, what I’m about to read here is super, super, super familiar. Maybe you’re in church for the first time, maybe it’s the first time you’ve ever opened up the Bible, or even heard any teaching from the Bible. But I guarantee you’ve probably heard a couple of things that I’m about to say
It is all over Pinterest. You can’t scroll through Instagram and not see pieces of it. Hobby Lobby has about 900,000 items with pieces of this printed on it. Even Michaels, which is, like, the non-Christian version of Hobby Lobby they got a bunch of this stuff with these words printed on and it. They’re super familiar. But what’s happened is that you know, we use it in weddings, whether they’re Christian or not, but we don’t understand the context for it. We always sort of kind of get it all out by itself and sort of make it into something else then.
But what Paul’s doing is he’s going, “Hey, love is the secret sauce,” right? Love is what make what we say not be noise. Love is what gives our skills and our sacrifices traction. How do you know if you’re actually being motivated by love? Here’s a checklist. So he says, check it list, he says, “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud.” How are we doing? “It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs….” Doggone it, I was doing pretty well. “Love does not delight in evil but it rejoices with the truth. It always protects, it always trusts, always hopes always perseveres.”
He says, “Here’s your checklist.” He says, love is the secret sauce. What he’s really basically saying is this. He’s saying love is the tie that connects unity, diversity. That’s what he’s dealing with diversity, all these gifts and talents, and skills, they can make us better together. But without unity, we’re not actually moving in the same direction. But unity and diversity don’t naturally coexist. So we gotta have something that holds them in the right place so that the train can move forward.
And what’s the tie that connects unity to diversity? The tie is love. And can we pop that picture up here? I mean, if it helps to think about like this, you know, one of those tracks is unity, one of those tracks of diversity. What’s keeping the tracks exactly in the place they need to be so the train doesn’t go off the rails? And the answer is those ties. He says love is the tie that connects unity to diversity. And here’s your checklist to see whether or not you’re being driven forward and motivated by love.
And he says such an interesting thing. He says, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease, where their tongues they will be stilled, where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” Become a very controversial passage for the Christian Church. But we need to understand in its context, is love is a tie that connects unity to diversity. And what he says here is “Love never fails,” which is really to say, love has no expiration date, right? But some of the spiritual gifts do.
He mentioned three spiritual gifts. He mentioned prophecy. He mentioned tongues and he mentioned knowledge, which is probably word of knowledge that he mentioned a little bit earlier on in the Book of Corinthians. These were a few of the gifts that the Church in Corinth was really fixated on. He says, “Hey, stop fixating on those because love has no expiration date, but those things do.”
Now, there’s a couple of questions that happened here. And the first question is this, is Paul talking about all the spiritual gifts or is he talking about what we call the sign gifts? It’s the first question. He says love has no expiration date, but at least some of the spiritual gifts do and the question is, he talking about all the spiritual gifts is that little sample there those three, do they represent all the gifts or do they represent something called the sign gifts? And if you’re not familiar with that term, let me just explain it real quick.
1st Corinthians 12:7 Paul gives the definition of spiritual gifts. He says spiritual gifts are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. So to every believer, there’s one way that the Holy Spirit primarily shows up through them, that’s a spiritual gift. Now some of those gifts when the Holy Spirit shows up, it’s really obvious. Think you’re driving down the freeway and you see a big billboard and you can’t really miss it, it’s so big. You’re, like, “Whoa, there’s a sign.” That’s what the sign gifts are. They are ways the Holy Spirit shows up that nobody can miss. And so prophecy would be one of those. Healing would be one of those. Word of knowledge, somebody gets information they couldn’t have had by natural means. It’s really obvious. There’s no way to explain that apart from something supernatural happening. And so we often call those the sign gifts. But there’s other gifts with the Holy Spirit still showing up, but they’re not necessarily quite as obvious or in-your-face that it’s happening.
So the question is, is he talking here about all the spiritual gifts or just those kind of in-your-face, obvious, spiritual, supernatural kinds of things? Now, one option is to say that it’s all the gifts. The other ones to say, well it’s just a limited subset of the gifts. I tend to think that he’s probably talking about all the spiritual gifts. He’s fixated on the ones that the Corinthian Church was focused on obsessing over. But he’s basically saying, “Hey, guys, all the spiritual gifts are gonna go away.”
And part of the reason I say that is a little bit later, he says “But there’s a day coming, when we’re going to know even as we fully known, we’re gonna see face to face.” And that’s Jesus coming back language. He’s talking about the day that Jesus comes back, and honestly, when Jesus comes back, the spiritual gifts just aren’t gonna matter anymore, right? We’re not gonna need them anymore at that point.
I mean, like my spiritual gift is teaching. Like, I’m gonna be out of a job. Like, what would be the point of a preacher, right? I’m trying to get an audience over Jesus is over there, and I’m like, “Hey, come talk to me.” I mean he’s good but you know, right. Let me explain to you what God was saying here like, “Well, I’m just gonna go ask him.” And honestly, if the line is long and be like, I just go talk to Moses, talk to Paul thought of the guy who actually God used to write. Like, I’m gonna have no… see that that spiritual gift was gonna leave prophecy, it’s just not going to be necessary when Jesus returns.
Some people think that there’s something else going on. That’s really the second question, which is this, what exactly is that expiration date? And then there’s basically three options. I’ve already given you one. Let’s walk through each of the three options together. When will these spiritual gifts stop mattering? What’s the expiration date? The first option is this, the expiration date could be the writing of the Bible, the completion of the Bible, which makes a certain amount of sense, because, you know, before we had the Gospels, we needed the apostles to go and talk about the resurrection. But once we have the four Gospels, you don’t necessarily need somebody to share the news of the resurrection, because we have it written down in a reliable account. The prophets delivered the Word of God. But once we had the Word of God completed, you didn’t necessarily need somebody to deliver the Word of God, because we already had it, and we could circulate it that way. And so that makes a certain amount of sense. And some people believe, yeah, once the Bible was done all the spiritual gifts, or at least the sign gifts stopped.
Another option is the expiration date could be the return of Jesus. That’s what I’ve sort of suggested. I think in the context that makes a certain amount of sense. There’s a third option, though, and I think it’s this, it’s that the frequency of the gifts of all of the gifts, the frequency of the gifts will vary as God determines that they’re needed. Now, one day, they’re gonna expire when Jesus returns, but in the meantime, I think the frequency of these different gifts will vary depending on the needs of the Church as God determines.
In fact, early on in the Book of Corinthians, we saw this couple weeks ago, he says very explicitly that God gives each of the gifts to the Church as he deems them necessary. I suspect that’s what Paul’s getting at here. And here’s the thing. See, when I read through the Bible, one of the things that becomes clear to me is that the miracles, we tend to fixate on all the miracles in the Bible. All these miracles were always happening. That’s not really true.
You know, the miracles are actually clumped. You know, we see a lot of miracles at certain times when God’s doing something new, but then the frequency of those miracles tends to kind of fade away a little bit. So you know, we go well, you know, when God took the Israelites out of Egypt, there was all these crazy miracles going on, you know, fires falling out of the sky, and then food. So I mean, just crazy miracle after miracle. Well, yeah, but then after they got into the promised land, honestly, we don’t have a lot of reports of miracles. It seemed to kind of decline in frequency.
But then in the ministry of Elijah, which was really anticipating the coming of Jesus, the miracles kind of kicked up a bit, and then they sort of died down. And then when Jesus came, and when the Church was moving into new territory, they had a lot of these miraculous signs, because they’re confirming that God was in this. It wasn’t human knowledge, it wasn’t just a new philosophy, it was the power of God at work. And they saw confirmation of that. And yet, then after that, it began to fail.
But in fact, when you read the books of the New Testament, the earliest books, of the New Testament, talk a lot about these miraculous sign gifts. But then the older books don’t talk about them nearly as much. It’s almost like the frequency died down. And again I see the same thing in history. I’m always a little leery about looking to history to understand things because I wasn’t there. We weren’t there, you know. How do we know exactly what’s true or not? But it’s interesting, I see a very similar pattern.
When the Gospel goes into new places, there seems to be an uptick in these miraculous signs. And then after the Gospel is established, the frequency seems to go down a little bit. I mean, I have friends who’ve taken the Gospel into parts of the world that they’ve never heard the name of Jesus before, and these friends had no background in miracles. They weren’t part of charismatic churches. They weren’t looking for any kinds of miraculous signs. They were just carrying the Word of God. And yet they moved into these places in the world where they’d never heard the Gospel, they never heard about Jesus and they saw miracles. They weren’t looking for them, but they saw them happen. Because there was a confirmation, “This is something people need to pay attention to. The power of God is at work here.” And then after the Gospel was established, the miracles seem to decline a little bit.
So I see a pattern in Scripture, and then I seem to see it repeated in history. And so here’s what I would ultimately say… I get this question a lot. Like, you know, “Should the Church still be seeing all these things or have they all stopped?” And my answer is, I’m not sure either one of those is right. There’s a little bit more of a middle of the road where we say, the frequency it gets will vary as God determines their need. And when God’s doing something new, we might see an uptick in them. But then we can rely on the other things that God has given us like Scripture and teachers, in other times, and that’s okay. And I reckon this is a middle of the road position, and the best thing about the middle of the road is you can be hit by traffic going both directions. The potential to make everybody mad with this. But I believe biblically and historically, this is probably the safest position.
Here’s what I would ultimately say. Here’s a little pastoral advice. We should be open, but cautious when it comes to the sign gifts. I don’t think I can find in Scripture really clear evidence that they all stopped the moment that Scripture stopped. But I also don’t think we can say confidently that every church is supposed to be seeing these all the time. So I think we should be open. We should be cautious, and we should never obsess over particular gifts. That was the problem in the Church. They were obsessing over apostolicity the apostle. They were obsessing over tongues, obsessing over prophecy. And Paul’s not saying, “Hey, none of that’s true anymore.” But he’s saying all those things have an expiration date. So instead of focusing and obsessing on these, what should you focus on? Have we lost it already? But it said we should focus on, we focus on love.
He says, “Listen, for we know, in part…” And he’s probably talking about the gift of knowledge there miraculous knowledge is given. But it says it only gives you part of the picture. “And we prophesy in part,” It’s not the whole picture. “But when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” He says this the reason that these spiritual gifts all have an expiration date because they’re only giving you part of the picture. And when we have the whole picture, I believe, when Jesus returns, all the individual pieces just aren’t gonna matter that much. So maybe we shouldn’t be obsessing over them now.
It’s like, you know, you’re putting a puzzle together and what’s the most important part? It’s that corner piece, right? And when you’re putting the puzzle together, that corner is piece so, so important. This is the most important piece, but then honestly, when the whole thing is done, you don’t pay any attention to that particular piece because you see the whole thing. It doesn’t mean that it goes away, and it’s no longer of any significance whatsoever, but the parts disappear in light of the whole.
And he says all those spiritual gifts, they only give us a part of the picture. And then he says an interesting thing. He says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” And that feels like a strange shift. But it’s not actually because you know what the number one characteristic of childish thinking is? Children confuse the part for the whole. They go “I’ve got the part, so I know the whole thing.” No, no, you don’t.
He says this, he says “For now, we see only a reflection is in a mirror, but then we shall see face to face…” We’ll see clearly. “Now I know in part, then I shall know fully even as I am fully known.” What he’s saying is basically hey, you get it, we’re all children right now. And the thing about children is they tend to confuse the part for the whole and that’s not always a healthy thing to do. In fact, it’s probably never a healthy thing to do.
When of my oldest daughter, Rochelle, was three or four years old, we went to Breckenridge and we rode the ski lift up. We were gonna take the Alpine Slide down. And we got in and I put the safety bar down. She wanted to know what the safety bar was. I was, like, “Well, it’s a safety bar. It keeps us from falling out.” She’s like, “Okay” And so we headed up, and like she kept leaning way over the bar, and I kept having to haul back. She’s trying to look underneath the bar, and I’m hauling her back. And I finally went, “Rochelle, like, you just do not have enough fear,” and she goes, “Yeah, I gotta get me some of that.” And I was trying to feel like what’s going on, and I realized that I had actually caused the problem, in part, because I told her, it’s a safety bar. She’s, like, oh, is there to keep us safe therefore we are safe. Well, no, it’s just part of the picture. We also have to not get over the bar or under the bar, right?
But that’s childish, thinking. You confuse the part for the whole. There was a safety bar, so she thought we must be safe. And I realized something interesting that day. I realized that a lot of our job as parents is to keep children from making mistakes that will haunt them when they’re adults. To keep them from making mistakes when they’re only seeing part of the picture that will haunt them when they’re all grown up, right? See, if she’d fallen out of that, assuming that it didn’t kill her, she would have been deeply, badly wounded in a way that probably would have haunted her the rest of her life. She would have made a horrible mistake that harms her for the rest of her life, based on thinking that didn’t understand the whole picture.
And that’s what Paul’s saying here basically. He’s saying, “Hey, guys, as smart as we think we are, we’re still children.” Don’t make mistakes as children that will haunt us when we’re all grown up. When will that be? I think he says when Jesus returns when we see face to face. And when Jesus returns and the blinders is taken off and we’re given the whole picture, we look around and go, “Oh, that’s what you mean. Oh, that’s what was happening. Oh, I’m sorry, yeah, I caused division and I broke fellowship, and I caused problems.” And the churches do this all the time, over the stupidest of things. Like, I’ve seen churches that divided over the color of the carpet. They couldn’t decide what carpet and it turned into this massive… and you think I’m making this up, I am not. Like, that’s a mistake made as children that will haunt us. That moment we stand in front of Jesus and go, “Yeah, I divided the Church and I kept the Church from moving forward in its mission because, seriously, red?” He’s gonna look at us, and we’re gonna go, “Man, I cannot believe I did that.”
And Paul’s doing this, of course, he’s applying it to spiritual gifts. He’s saying, “Hey, whichever side of this you’re on don’t make mistakes as children that will haunt you at that moment you stand in front of Jesus, and you really see how things really are.” Instead, he says, here’s what you do while you wait, recognize that you’re children. There’s a day coming, when your childhood thinking is gonna pass, you’re gonna stop making the same mistake of mistaking the part for the whole, you’re gonna see things for how they really are. And while you’re waiting for that moment, here’s what you do.
“And now these three remain faith, trust.” Trust that God is gonna sort this out. Hope. That God is at move. He’s gonna work something by bringing us all together that we could never accomplish on our own. And then finally, what’s the last one? Love. He says “The greatest of these is love.” I think there’s irony there. He says, all the gifts are equally important. But you guys are fixated on certain gifts. You’re so zealous about them. Let me show you a better way. Love is better, right?
This is gonna be super cheesy. But hopefully, this will help you grab a hold of what God’s saying here. He’s saying this, he’s saying, “Love never goes out of style, and it ties the whole ensemble together.” Love never goes out of style. And it’s what ties everything… unity and diversity is what holds them together so that we can move forward as a church. So let me just give you a couple of questions. Number one, where am I assuming the part I see is the whole thing? He’s talking about spiritual gifts and maybe that’s an issue, but it might be something else in your marriage, or in your family, or in your community, or at work, or your small group or in the Sunday school class. Whatever it is, where am I assuming that the part I see is the whole thing? Where do I need to seek more understanding? Maybe the next step is not to say something harsh, maybe the next step is not to have a confrontation. Maybe the next step is to go, “Help me understand.”
What I often find in my own life is that I thought I got it until I started asking questions, and I realized I did not see what was actually happening here. I’m so glad I didn’t act on what I thought was happening because what was actually happening wasn’t what I thought.
And so where am I in danger of assuming that the part is the whole and where do I need to seek more listening? Where do I need to have a conversation with somebodyand say, “Help me understand?” Where’s the lack of love causing me to create division? Where’s the lack of love causing a division in my relationships? And as God reveals that the harder question is, where do I need to ask forgiveness? Who do I need to go to and say, “I’m sorry?”
The third is this. Where am I at risk of making a mistake based on a limited understanding that will haunt me later on? I guarantee you there are people here that are contemplating a conversation or a decision or something based on what you think is the whole picture, but it’s potentially a very, very costly decision. And maybe a decision that will haunt you later on. Better make absolutely sure before you make a decision with those kinds of consequences, that it’s a decision that’s really based on a full understanding. So I think we really need to wrestle with this question, where am I at risk of making a decision now that will haunt me later on?
Let me pray. God, for those of us who are followers of your Son, who have a relationship with you through faith in what Jesus did for us, we come before you and we ask for humility, and we ask that you would enable us to receive the word that you’ve given us through your Apostle Paul. To recognize that we are still children, that what we see is not the whole story. Lord, would you guard us from mistakes that will haunt us later. And especially as this passage Jesus would you guard us from mistakes that would divide the unity of the Church that it would drive away diversity in the Church. That would keep us from moving forward in our mission because we will be haunted by those later on, and we don’t want that. So that we receive your Word that love is the tie that binds these together. And we ask that you give us love. Reveal to us the places that we have not acted with love and forgive us. Give us the courage to make amends to say we’re sorry, and to seek reconciliation.
If you’re a follower of Jesus would you do something for me? Would you start praying for the people listening in all of our campuses, watching online, that don’t have a relationship with God. Because I believe they don’t in all of our campuses. There are people listening that, honestly, you’re not a follower of Jesus and a lot of this you’re just like, “I don’t get this, prophecy and tongues and, like, what is that about, none of that connected.” But my guess is this love business did. Love is the secret sauce. It is the tie that binds everything together. If you’re not a follower of Jesus, I want you to hear how much God loves you. We’ve all done wrong, and our sin separates us from God. But God loves you so much, he sent his own Son to die on the cross to pay for your sin in his own blood. Three days later, he rose from the dead. That’s a fact of history.
Faith comes when we decide to trust what he did for us, and when we do that we receive the love of God. Make no mistake, God loves you. But to fully experience that you have to accept the forgiveness that Jesus bought for you. It’s so easy to do. And if you’re listening to this, and you know that you don’t have a relationship with God through faith in what Jesus did, but you’re ready to make that decision, you’re ready to say yes to Jesus, wherever you are you just have this conversation in your heart.
You say to God, “God, I’ve done wrong, and I’m sorry. Thank you for loving me, in spite of my sin. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross. I believe that you rose from the dead, and I understand that because of your love, you are offering me forgiveness, new life, eternal life with God, my Creator. I’m ready to say yes, I’m ready to put my faith in Jesus. So Jesus, I’m saying yes to you. Come into my life, be my Lord and my Savior. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.”
In all of our campuses, we’ve had a number of people make the decision to come into the family of God. Can we just welcome them to the family? It’s so great. Hey, if you made that decision today I’m gonna ask you to do something very simple. Just text the word Jesus to 888111. You’re gonna get back a link that’s gonna tell you several things that are true about you now that weren’t true about you before, before you made that decision, and get you some resources to help you begin walking in this relationship with the God who loves you so deeply. God bless.
1 Corinthians 14:1-20
We wrap up our series on how god has equipped + gifted us to be on mission for God. Join us for this week’s message on how we can pursue bringing our heart and mind together in worship focusing on making it a priority to work together to strengthen the whole church.
Craig: Well, welcome to Mission Hills, all of our locations, wherever you are, and however you’re joining us. We’re just glad that you’re with us today. We are wrapping up our Equipted Series. If you’re just joining us, real quick, let me catch you up. For the last five weeks, we’ve been walking verse by verse through a section of the book of 1 Corinthians, which is a letter written to a church in the ancient world of Corinth where they were really struggling with how to bring the diversity of gifts that God had given them as a church together in a unity of purpose. And so we’ve been talking about, what are the diversity of gifts and how do we bring them together to accomplish the reason that God has given them to us? We’re gonna be wrapping that series up today. Wanna let you know next week, I’m really excited to bring you a teaching from 1 Samuel 4, which may not be a story you’re familiar with. It’s not one of the ones that I ever heard growing up in Sunday school, but it is a really powerful story of something that God did and taught his people that I find myself coming back to like multiple times every year because it speaks really powerfully to me. So I really wanna encourage you to make sure that you don’t miss that next week.
Also, I wanna let you know that would be a great series to invite an unchurched friend to. Hopefully you have somebody in your life that you’ve been thinking about inviting to church. Well, this would be a great week to take the plunge and go ahead and make that invitation because the message next week will be very easy to understand, whether you have a church background or not, but I believe it’ll speak very powerfully to your friends. So I just encourage you to take the opportunity to do that. Before we do that though, Paul has one more principle to teach us about, how do we bring together this diversity of gifts that God’s given us in our mission?
Now, what we learned last week was that love is the secret sauce, right? Love is the tie that connects the diversity of our gifts to the unity of our mission. What we’re gonna see today is Paul kind of apply that love principle to two very different gifts. He’s gonna talk about the gift of speaking in tongues and the gift of prophecy, and everybody goes, hmm. Right, right. Those may not be familiar terms. It might be a little hard to figure out like, “How do I engage in that?” Maybe they’re unfamiliar terms. Honestly, they might be uncomfortable terms and that might be because you grew up in a church that you felt like over emphasized those two particular spiritual gifts, or maybe exact opposite into the spectrum. Maybe you grew up in a church that never talked about those at all, and so you’re just not even sure how to deal with them. Honestly, no matter where you’re coming from, the principle that Paul is gonna give us here is very easy to understand and apply, not only in a church context, but in any context where we have a group of people coming together, bringing different gifts to the table.
So why don’t you go and grab a Bible. Start making your way to the book of 1 Corinthians picking up in chapter 14:1 where Paul builds on what he said last week and he says this, he says, “Now, follow the way of love and eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit especially prophecy.” He says, “Follow the way of love.” Literally, you could translate that as pursue love. It’s a command. Go after it. You all get a hold of it. And then he says, “And be passionate about, or eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit.” So he says two things. Basically they’re two commands. Pursue love and be passionate about spiritual gifts. But I want you to notice the order in which that happens, right? The first thing is to pursue what? Is to pursue love. So just turn to somebody next to you and say, love comes first. Okay.
And the reason he wants us to make sure that love comes first, because here’s the deal. Love is the lens that gives clarity. Love is the lens that gives clarity. Without the lens of love, what’s gonna happen is we’re gonna get a distorted view of things and we’re gonna over emphasize some things that people bring to the table, some gifts they bring to the table, and de-emphasize others. And that’s going to create division rather than driving us towards our goal. And so he says the lens has to be love. If you think about this, I know we don’t usually do this in church, but I’m gonna give you permission to have this moment right now. I want you to think of somebody that you’re having a hard time loving.
Go ahead. Just stare straight at me. It’s really important right now that you do that, okay? Stare straight at me. But I want you to think of somebody that you’re struggling to love. Maybe even honestly, if we’re completely honest, that you dislike. Okay? And you get that person in mind. Now I want you to do this. Now I want you to think about something they’re really good at. And it can’t be annoying you, that’s not the thing they can be good at, okay? Like what are their gifts? What are their talents? What really great things do they bring to the table? My guess is that for a lot of us, that’s a hard thing to do. And here’s the reason, is because when we dislike somebody, we tend to devalue their gifts, right? When we dislike somebody, we tend to devalue their gifts. We look at what they’re good at and we’re like, “Yeah, but it’s not that important. Yeah, but that’s not really all that helpful. Yeah, but I don’t really need that,” because the problem is not necessarily what you think about the gift, it’s what you think about the person who has it, right? When we dislike somebody, we tend to devalue their gifts. Now you flip it around. When we love someone, we tend to elevate their gifts, right? And so you fall in love and you’re like, “Oh, she’s great. She, you know, she’s good at this and this and this, and I’m not good at those things, and that’s awesome. And now we’re better together. It’s awesome.” So we tend to elevate those gifts in the people that we love.
And what Paul is saying is that’s why we got to pursue love. Love has to be the lens that we’re looking at everybody and everybody’s gifts through. Otherwise, we’re gonna have a distorted view of their value, right? So he says, love is the lens that we need to look through. Now what he’s gonna be dealing with very specifically here is two specific gifts, right? He says, “I want you to pursue love,” put your lens first, make it love, “And then be passionate about spiritual gifts.” And then he says, “And especially prophecy.” Now, the reason he’s saying that is because, as I suggested or others, there’s two gifts that the Church. in Corinth was kind of fixated on. Two particular gifts that they were almost obsessed about. And that was the gift of prophecy and the gift of speaking in tongues. And it’s not that these are the only gifts that matter, but he’s basically going, “Hey, since you guys are so obsessed with these gifts, let’s use those two gifts as an illustration. Let’s use them as a, kind of a test case. And what I want you to understand is that of those two particular gifts, the one you really should be focusing on is prophecy.”
Now, he means that in the context of a worship service, and that’s really important to understand. He doesn’t mean across the board. He doesn’t mean in every single situation. He means when we come together as the Church, of those two gifts that you’re really fixated on, there’s particular value to prophecy that speaking in tongues doesn’t have. Now before we explain why that is, we should probably define those two terms, right? Because I think there’s a lot of confusion around what exactly is prophecy. And, you know, if you grew up in a church, you might have one idea. If you didn’t grow up in a church, maybe you think Nostradamus or some kind of like fortune cookies or palm readers or something like that.
Well, here’s the definition so we’re on the same page. A prophet or a prophecy is delivering God’s Word to his people, okay? That’s what a prophet was in a biblical sense. It was somebody that got a message from God and then they delivered it to his people, okay? Now, sometimes it involved telling the future, but that was actually a very minor part of biblical prophecy. Very, actually, rarely did prophets predict the future. It did happen, because God knew the future so he could give them to that, but it’s kind of a verification for the message almost more than anything else, but the core of it was God had something to say, something that would strengthen or challenge or encourage or comfort. There’s a direct message from God to his people through a prophet. That’s what a prophecy is. God’s Word to his people.
Now, speaking in tongues is audible speech that results from the Holy Spirit’s presence, okay? It’s kind of a big picture definition. It’s some kind of speaking, it’s some kind of speaking out words that everybody else could hear that resulted because of the Holy Spirit’s presence. It wasn’t regular conversation or speech. It was something that resulted because of the Holy Spirit. And here’s where it gets a little bit confusing for a lot of people. The Bible is not 100% clear. It doesn’t answer every one of the questions a lot of us have about spiritual gifts, and especially the Bible doesn’t answer everything that we might want to know about speaking in tongues. And I’ll be honest with you, I have some confusion about speaking in tongues. I have never practiced speaking in tongues. I didn’t grow up in a church that talked about it, so I don’t have any rollback on it. But I’ve got some friends that, you know, I don’t doubt their sincerity or their sanity, and they practice speaking in tongues in a particular context. And I don’t fully understand it, but what I try to do, because I think this is what God calls us to, is I try to understand it in light of Scripture first, and then I try to make sense of other people’s experience in light of what the Bible says.
Now, when we look at what the Bible says about speaking in tongues, the Bible seems to talk about two particular types, okay? So tongues type one would be this. It would be the supernatural ability to speak human languages, okay? Some people seem to have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak a language they didn’t learn any other way. The classic instance of this is in Acts 2, is a festival called Pentecost. The followers of Jesus had gathered together. And it was after the resurrection, but Jesus had ascended into heaven and he’d said, “Hey, wait in Jerusalem until power from the Holy Spirit comes on you.” And while they’re in Jerusalem at a festival called Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they began to speak in, as the Bible says, different tongues. And it’s very clear that that was languages, because there were other Jewish people that had gathered in Jerusalem from all kinds of other places around the world. And what they did, and they came together because they heard the disciples speaking in tongues, and they said, “What’s the deal? We hear these people speaking in our own languages,” their own dialects and languages from the different countries. And they’re actually pretty insulting about it because they basically said, rough translation, like, “What’s the deal with these country bumpkins knowing all these different languages?” Because they weren’t like the educated and the polished of society. You wouldn’t expect them to have access to education that would have allowed them to know all these languages, but they said, “We understand them speaking. How did they get this ability?” And the answer is, “They got it through the Holy Spirit.”
And so they were speaking other human languages empowered by the Holy Spirit. And a lot of the places in scripture where the word tongues shows up it clearly means that, but that’s not the only category. The Bible also seems to describe a second category of tongues. So tongues type two would be this, an incomprehensible speech. Is incomprehensible both to the speaker, the speaker didn’t know exactly what he or she was saying, and other people listening didn’t know what he or she was saying. It’s an incomprehensible speech. Sometimes it’s referred to as ecstatic speech, because there seems to be an element of emotion, kind of almost overwhelmed by the presence of the Spirit and what comes out in response to that isn’t comprehensible either to the speaker or the listener. That’s the second category.
That second category is what Paul seems to be primarily dealing with here. And what he says is, “Of the two gifts of prophecy and tongues that you’re so fixated on, in a church worship service, you should be passionate about prophecy.” Okay? In fact, he says this, and here’s why. Verse 2, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people, but to God. Indeed no one understands them, they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to the people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” So why is he giving a priority to prophecy? Because basically he says, tongues people don’t understand. He is not saying it’s bad. He’s not saying it’s wrong, but he says, people speaking in these incomprehensible tongues, nobody knows what they’re saying. And in the church worship service, we wanna focus on what actually is of benefit to the rest of the people. And he says prophecy beats out tongues in that respect. So he says, basically prophecy is understandable and it’s useful to everyone. Makes sense?
In the church worship service prophecy is understandable and useful to everyone. And that’s why prophecy has the priority when we come together as a worship gathering. He says, listen, verse four, “Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the Church. Let me just say this, I think if you devoted your life to it, you would never find a more churchy word than edifies. Has anybody ever heard the word edifies outside of a church context? Maybe you don’t even know what it means. Edifies means builds up. Now you’re like, “Why didn’t you just say that?” I have no idea. There’s an old English word, an edifice is a building that’s coming together, and so edifies is to build up. I mean, so what Paul basically says is, listen, the one who speaks in a tongue builds up him or herself. And I don’t think he’s being negative about that. In fact, a number of people that I know who have this spiritual practice of speaking in tongues, the gift of speaking in tongues, they say that it has strengthened them and their relationship with God. It’s added some benefit to them. I don’t think Paul’s denying that, but he says in the church worship service, prophecy has priority because prophecy builds up who? Builds up everyone one. It’s understandable and useful to everyone, and so it has priority. He says, “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues. I’m fine with that, but I would rather have you prophesy. When you gather together as a Church., I would rather have you prophesy.” The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues. Not across the board, but in the context of the worship service, the one who prophesies adds more value to the whole body of the Church. He says, “The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets so that the Church may be edified. Unless somebody has an interpretation of what’s being said in this incomprehensible speech, there’s really no value for the church gathering.” He says, “Now, brothers and sisters. If I come to you and I speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction.”
Again, he just is saying, “Listen, the priority in the church worship service is what is understandable and useful to everyone.” He’s not denying any value of tongues at all, but he says in the context of worship service, the priority is in what’s understandable and useful to everyone. He says, “You know, in the case of lifeless things, even the case of lifeless things that make sounds such as the pipe or the harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there’s a distinction in the notes?” Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? And what he’s saying is that this incomprehensible thing that is speaking in tongues, is there’s no distinction. There’s no meaning to it. And if everybody’s doing that, nobody has any idea how to respond to it.
My first experience with any group of people speaking in tongues, I was in college and I was with a band, and we’d been invited to do a concert at a very charismatic church somewhere in Ohio. And I’d never been in a church like that. And so we were playing, and I was really enjoying the level at which they were engaging even emotionally with the worship. I was like, I had never experienced this, and this is great. We’re all worshiping God, it’s awesome. And then midway through one of the songs, like this guy stood up and he started like talking, and I had no idea what he was saying. Like nothing he said made any sense to me, I couldn’t figure out what language it was. And then somebody next to him stood up and started doing the same thing. And then somebody else stood up, and pretty soon the whole congregation, they were all doing this. And like I had never seen anything like that. So we just stopped playing, and they went on for awhile, completely incomprehensible, all speaking different kinds of things, but no clear discernible language of any sort. They were speaking in tongues, and then they stopped. And we just had this awkward moment together where we stood there like looking at them and they’re looking at us and I had no idea what to do. So I finally went three, two, one. And we were back into the song. I didn’t know what else to do. And that’s the kind of thing I think Paul’s dealing with here.
He’s saying, “Honestly, that probably doesn’t belong in a worship gathering because there’s no distinction. There’s no meaning that comes from it.” So I mean, he says with the illustration of the musical instruments, like if I run my fingers up and down the keys of a piano, you’re gonna get all the notes, but it doesn’t call anybody to do anything, there’s no meaning to it. As opposed to if I went do, do, do, do, do we want some big Mac, right? That’s the McDonald’s theme song. There’s a battle cry to it, right? Go to McDonald’s, right? Because there’s a distinction in the notes and there’s a meaningful progression to them. He says, yeah, tongues, especially in, you know, church worship service, it doesn’t have that ability. So he says, “So it is with you.” Unless, you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you’re saying? You’ll just be speaking into the air.
Now, undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying. I’m a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker is a foreigner to me. Well, so it is with you. Now, since you’re eager for, or you’re passionate about gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the Church. And in the context here where he’s kind of comparing speaking tongues to prophecy, the priority is on what? Is on prophecy because prophecy is understandable, and it is useful to everyone. So he says, in that context, that’s where you need to focus. He says, “For this reason, the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.” And he’s describing here, I think probably the private practice of speaking in tongues. He says, you know, if you’re speaking privately to God and there’s something in the Spirit that’s moving you to this incomprehensible speaking in tongue speech, you know what you should do, you should pray that God would help you understand what it is that the Spirit’s prompting you to say. Because if you understand it, and only if you understand it, can you share it.
And there may be some real value in sharing with somebody what it is that God has moved you to pray. But he says, “Otherwise, my mind is unfruitful.” And it’s an interesting word that he chose there. He could have just said, you know, otherwise my mind is unengaged, but he said it’s unfruitful meaning it doesn’t produce fruit. And his point is it doesn’t help anybody else. It doesn’t encourage them. It doesn’t strengthen them. It doesn’t comfort them. It doesn’t build them up. He says, otherwise, you know, my spirit might be involved in this, but my mind is not functioning in a way that is building up the group as a whole. So he says, what shall I do then? I will pray with my spirit. But I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. And what he’s basically doing there is he’s pointing out an important truth that I think we lose track of a lot, and that is that God has made us with both an emotional side and an intellectual side, right? He says, you know, it’s good to pray in the Spirit and there’s a sense in which that’s an emotional thing. We’re responding to God with our emotional side that he’s given us. That’s good.
But he says, also I wanna pray with my understanding of my intellectual side. He says, I wanna sing with my spirit. I want to sing emotionally engaged in my worship, but I also wanna sing with my understanding, with my intellectual side. What he’s basically saying is that God calls us to engage with him both emotionally and intellectually, right? God calls us. He wants us to engage with him both emotionally and intellectually. The problem is that we tend to, almost all of us, lean in one side or the other, and whatever side we tend to lean on, we tend to go, “Well, this is the most important side.” And so I think we have to ask ourselves this question both as individuals and as a church, “Which direction do I tend to lean in, and what can I do to develop in that other side?” Right? Because Paul says we wanna sing, we wanna speak, we wanna pray with our spirit, but also with our minds.
So which side do you tend to lean on and what can God do, as you cooperate with him, to help you develop in that other area? I mean, I’ll tell you, for me, I definitely lean on the intellectual side of things. Like all things being equal, that’s the direction that I’m going to naturally kind of move. But years ago I realized, you know what? Well, God has also made me emotional. That’s not a curse. It’s a kindness. It’s a gift. And I wanna engage God with my whole being. So I realized, I need to take some steps to begin learning how to worship God a little bit more emotionally. So I did a thing that was almost unheard of in my particular church. During worship times I would start to do this, just a little bit. And over time, I got…and now when I’m really carried away in the Spirit, two hands, right? Wow. But I did that intentionally, because there’s something in that posture that’s engaging more than just my head. It’s beginning to engage in my heart, my emotions. And I began to go, “I need to do some things to move in that direction.” It wasn’t necessarily comfortable to start with, but I need to because God calls me to engage with him both with my head and my heart, both with my intellect and my emotions. And I’ve taken other steps along the way, small ones. It’s been a long spring and I found myself in need of a break. And so about a week and half ago, on Wednesday afternoon, I flew out to Portland, rented a car, drove to the coast, and I just spent all day Thursday walking up and down the beach. And God began to speak to me and I began to feel like I needed to respond to that. So I walked far enough down the beach that no one else was there, that was really important to me. And I started to sing out loud. Yeah. All by myself. Like, “Ooh, getting a little weird there, Pastor,” right? But, you know, we sing a song here a lot that says, you know, my fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand on his love.
I actually began to sing that out loud and there was some power in that. I was acknowledging emotionally something that God was speaking to me intellectually, but I was trying to respond with both. In other words, I take deliberate steps to engage that other part of me that may not be as natural, but I think it’s part of the package that God’s given us. You know, maybe for you it’s the other direction. Maybe for you, you lean more towards the emotional side and that’s easy. But maybe for you, you know, it’s to take a step in, like maybe starting to read the Bible every day. Maybe even join a Bible study that studies and tries to understand God’s word with our minds too. In other words, whatever side we lean on, figure out, “What’s a step that I can take to begin developing in that other area?” Because when we engage God with all of who we are, it’s a powerful, powerful thing. And that’s what Paul is calling them to here.
Now, they leaned in the direction of the emotional side of things. And so he says to them, otherwise, unless you engage your mind, when you’re praising God in the Spirit, the emotional side of it, how can someone else who is now put in the position of enquirer, they’re inquiring like, “What are you saying?” How can they say amen, which just means truly? How can they agree with your thanksgiving, since they don’t know what you’re saying? He says, you’re giving thanks well enough, but no one else is built up. And he’s saying here basically that, you know, if in your worship you’re moved and you begin to go, you know, “Wow, God is kind and he’s good and he’s done this for me and this for me,” and that moves you to speak out. But he says, if you speak that truth out in an incomprehensible tongue, nobody else can agree with you. Nobody else can say, “You’re right, God is good. God is faithful, and you’ve just reminded me of how God has been faithful and kind to me, and now I’m praising him too.” But he says, that can’t happen if you’re in a worship gathering and what you’re responding is entirely incomprehensible. Again, the focus is on what is gonna build up, what’s gonna strengthen, what’s gonna bring along everyone.
He says an interesting thing. He says, you know what? “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the Church, I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than 10,000 words in a tongue. I’d rather speak five intelligible words.” And then he gives us the punchline. It’s really kind of the punchline for this entire section of the book of 1 Corinthians, verse 20 he says, “Brothers and sisters stop thinking like children.” What dominates childish thinking? We’ve already talked about a couple of pieces. They mistake the part for the whole, they think the piece they have is the whole package and it’s not. And also, emotion tends to dominate childish thinking. To the Church that was really struggling on the more emotional side of things, he says, “Stop thinking like children. In regard to evil, be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” He says, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus said, you know, little children should come to him because little children, they’re not aware of evil. They’re not involved in it. They’re kind of innocent of it.” He says, “Yeah, in regards to evil, have nothing to do with it. Be as though you’ve never even heard of it, be that far away from it. But in your thinking, grow up. Grow up.”
He says, “Love.” Love is what leads us. And what does it lead us to do? Love leads us to prioritize what’s understandable and useful for everyone. In spite of all the perhaps unfamiliar language like speaking in tongues and incomprehensible, and clanging gongs, and prophecy, it all boils down to pretty simple to understand truth, right? Love leads us to prioritize what is understandable and useful to everyone. So what does that mean? Well, I mean, as a church, this is a principle that Mission Hills follows every time we plan a worship service, our priority is what is useful and understandable to everyone. And we do that primarily through two things that we emphasize in all of our worship gatherings. Worship and teaching of the word. Worship leans a little more on the emotional side, by the way, especially if you can get this going. Worship often engages the heart more than the head, but we also wanna make sure that the head’s mixed into that too. And so we evaluate the songs. We wanna make sure that the theology is solid, because those things get stuck in your head, right? We’re gonna make sure what stuck in your head is truth. Maybe a little bit more on the emotional, but we make sure that the head has its place in there as well. We also teach the Word, we teach Scripture. That’s a little bit more on the head, but I always work hard to figure out, how do I engage the heart on this as well?
By the way, sometimes people will ask this question, they go, you know, “Paul here says that the priority is on prophecy. So does Mission Hills put a priority on prophecy in your worship services?” And you know what the answer is? Yep, we absolutely do. I’m seeing some puzzled looks. Yeah, maybe a little different than you think, but it’s rock solid theology. Here’s the deal. The Bible is the Word of God. And what’s prophecy? It’s delivering the Word of God to his people. Now, God delivered the prophecies that are scripture through, guess who? Prophets. Prophets are the ones that God used to write the Bible, which means that the Bible is by definition, what? It’s prophecy. So by emphasizing the teaching of the Word of God, we’re emphasizing prophecy. Now, I’m not a prophet. Let me just be very clear about that. That’s my spiritual gift. What a teacher does is he unpacks the prophetic word, which again is a lot more than just foretelling the future. It’s God’s Word to us. A teacher unpacks, helps people understand and helps people apply the prophetic word that is Scripture. But in the church, we absolutely emphasize prophecy.
Sometimes people will say, “Well, what would you do if an actual prophet showed up?” And I’m like, “Well, an actual prophet has, but I know what you’re saying. If somebody had a prophecy they wanted to deliver in a worship service, or what if somebody wanted to speak in tongues in the midst of a church service at Mission Hills, how would you respond?” And my answer is, basically there’s three things that we do. The first thing is if that were happening in the context of a worship service, if it was disrupting the orderly worship service, I would ask them to stop. That’s the first thing I do. Second thing I would ask them to do, I would ask them if they were speaking in tongues. I say, you know, is there someone who feels like they have the gift of interpretation of that message? And if there was, I would ask both of those people to head to the back and to meet with some of the elders who oversee Mission Hills as a whole or some of the pastoral staff here who would evaluate that message. Scripture tells us we’re supposed to do that. And if they came to the conclusion this was a message from God for everyone, then they would let me know and we would share that. That’s how we’d handle anybody willing to speak in tongues or have a fresh prophecy. I’ve never seen that happen, but I don’t wanna ever shut down what God might wanna do. But the Bible gives us some very clear directions on how to evaluate that, and that’s how we handle it. But the emphasis in our worship service is following this principle that Paul gives us, which is that love leads us to prioritize what is understandable and useful to everyone.
There are times that speaking in tongues is perfectly appropriate, I think. I shared with you one experience where I honestly don’t feel like it was all that appropriate because I think it probably violated Paul’s commandment here. But, you know, just a couple of weeks ago I had a very different experience. I was in India with three other Mission Hills pastors and we had an evening, we were working with pastors and church planners, and we had an evening where we were asked to pray for all of them. And so, you know, we kind of separated in the room and they made four different lines and they came up and an interpreter would help us understand what it is that they were looking for prayer for. And so I would pray for that individual. And for many of them, as I was praying, they were also praying kind of quiet and not super loud. They were kind of giving deference to my prayer. But they were praying, and I didn’t understand a word they were saying, which I just thought was because they were speaking Hindi and I don’t speak Hindi. But what I found out later was they were actually speaking in tongues. They were sort of praying along speaking in tongues and I didn’t know that. And I’m also not particularly bothered by that. Again, I don’t have that gift for that practice, but I think that fits well. It wasn’t disruptive and it wasn’t about, you know, keeping other people from getting the benefit of what would be understandable and useful to everyone. So I’m okay with that.
But in the church worship service, Paul says, the priority, because of love, is on what is understandable and useful to everyone. Now, the big question is like, so what does that mean for you? And that’s fine. That’s how you plan worship services. That’s how a church sort of structures itself, but how do you apply this principle in your own personal life? Where’s the heart issue for you? Here’s what I think it is. Each of us together make up the body of Christ, right? The Church isn’t a building, it’s not a set of programs. It’s the people of God on mission with him, right? It’s people of God coming together. So here’s what happens, is each of us together makes up the body of Christ. So what we have to do is we each look for ways that we can strengthen the whole Church. We each individually look for ways that we can strengthen the whole Church.
Well, let me give you a few suggestions. Number one is prayer. Your prayers for the Church strengthen the whole Church. There are several ways you can do that. You can be part of something very formal. We have a Mission Watch Program where you can sign up for a one-hour slot once a week and, you know, it’s 24/7 prayer that’s going on. All the people of the church using that thing so that we’re praying for what God’s doing in and through us in the world. You can join us Thursday nights, we have a prayer gathering here in the evenings. Can find out more details about both of those online or on the Mission Hills app. But even if you don’t do something formal like that, you can still be praying in a way that strengthens the whole Church. Just set a reminder on your phone that, you know, every morning at 9:00 a.m., just take two minutes and pray for God to be moving in power among us and through us to making a difference for the lost in our community and in our world. That’s one of the ways that you can strengthen the Church, one of the most easy and most powerful ways.
Another option would be you can join a serve team. We have serve teams in a number of areas that they don’t help the staff do ministry, the staff helps them do ministry. So we have Next Gen serve teams that are ministering to our next generation of kids and students. Serve Team makes that happen. They speak the Word of God and they encourage and equip those kids to be on mission with Jesus. We have Worship Tech and Worship Arts serve teams that help lead our services. We have Guest Services serve teams that help people find where they need to be and greet those guests coming in and help everybody connect. We have all kinds of different serve teams. The best way to get connected to a serve team, and we plugged in that way, is to actually attend our Discovering Mission Hills experience. It runs for four weeks. It happens every month. We are taking a break in July, but starting the first weekend in August, there’ll be another round of it. And in that thing, you’re not only learning who Mission Hills is and a little bit more basics about like our mission and our values, but we also help you figure out what’s the best serve team for you to connect with and get plugged in. And so that’s a great way to strengthen the whole Church.
You can give. Giving is an important way that we strengthen the Church. You notice we’ve already taken the offering, so there’s no guilt implied in this. But I believe, and my own and my wife are committed to giving financially because we believe that’s one of the ways that we strengthen the ministry of the whole Church. And if you’re not giving or not giving regularly, maybe that’s a way that you can take a step forward in strengthening the whole Church. And then there’s groups. You know, Mission Hills is a pretty large church with thousands of people who gather on any given weekend. You might look at that crowd and go, “How on earth can I strengthen all of those people?” And the answer is, you can’t strengthen all of those people at once, but you can be part of strengthening a small group of them. And as we do that in all of our groups, what happens is the whole church gets stronger together. And so if you’re not part of a group, you know, we have men’s groups and women’s only groups. We have hope groups. We have Sunday school groups, we have Life Groups, all kinds of ways for you to get together in a smaller group of people, get to know them and begin to love each other. All of our groups do three things. They love each other, they challenge each other to become more like Jesus, and they challenge each other to join Jesus on mission. And when that’s happening in a small group, that group is stronger. And when all of our groups are stronger, are moving in those directions, guess what? The whole Church is being strengthened. So if you’re not part of a group, I really wanna encourage you to join one of those. You can find out about them online, in the app, or you can visit the Next Steps room in the lobby.
But here’s the big question for you this week, just very simple. What next step can I take this week to strengthen the whole Church? I’ve given you four examples, but God may lead you to something entirely different. But what next step can you take? Because what Paul tells us is very clear, the priority, because of love, is on what is understandable and useful to the whole Church. So what step can you take this week to move towards strengthening the whole Church?
You know, as we wrap up the series, I wanna draw your attention back again to a verse. We went past it pretty quick, and that makes sense because what Paul is saying there is pretty simple, but what he’s saying there really, it resonated with me in a unique way this week. And I find myself coming back to it time again. In verse 19 here and chapter 14 he says, but in the Church, I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than 10,000 words in a tongue. And what he means, we already said it, just that it’s better to say five things that people can understand than 10,000 things that people don’t, right? Pretty simple. And I know this isn’t exactly what he meant, but I found myself coming back to that over and over again this week. You know, I’d rather speak five intelligible words. And what I found myself wondering was like, “If I could only say five words, what five words would I wanna make sure everybody understands?” And it was really clear to me immediately what those five words would be. God loves you so much. Amen.
Well, if you remember nothing, yes, we can definitely, we can get excited about that. And I know, yeah. For those of you are really on the intellectual side, like I know that’s not, he speaks Greek. I get it. And in Greek it actually takes a few more words than that, or maybe less depending on how you do it. But if I could only five things to everybody, God loves you so much. Hands down, that’s it. And really too, as the Church, those five words are what we exist to share with the world. This is the reason why God has given us all these gifts that come together to build the lighthouse that holds up the light of the Gospel so that everyone in the world can understand that God loves you so much, right?
What a powerful truth that is. And of course, the proof of it is that Jesus came and died in our place. He did it for our sin, because every wrong thing we’d ever done that separates us from God permanently separated us from God. We’re facing an eternity apart from him, but God loved us so much he sent his own Son who took our sin on his shoulders. He died on the cross to pay off our debt. Three days later, he rose from the dead and he offered us new life. He offered us forgiveness and freedom and a part in his mission that starts now and goes on forever. Why did he do all that? Because God loves you so much.
Many of you are here today and you’ve received that. You’ve said yes to faith in Jesus. You’ve received forgiveness and new life. Some of you are listening on all of our campuses. If you’re honest, you realize you don’t have that relationship with God because you’ve never said yes to his offer, and you need to hear that God loves you so much. And in just a moment I’m gonna give you an opportunity if you’ve never said yes to Jesus by faith, to say yes to his love. But before we do that, I’m gonna invite everyone, wherever you are, stand up. Because these five all important words, God loves you so much, they’re worthy both our heads and our hearts. So let’s celebrate that fact today.