When you trust in Christ, the Holy Spirit entrusts you with one or more gifts. Is your gifting being used for the common good of the church body by the power of the Spirit? John Elmore walks through 1 Corinthians 12 to remind us that we’re under new management and that the spiritual gifts we have been entrusted with are to edify and build up God’s church.
Standing Firm In A Fallen World | 1 Corinthians 16
The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts | 1 Corinthians 14
A Church Marked by Love | 1 Corinthians 13
How To Build A Church | 1 Corinthians 12
God's Design for Men and Women | 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Repentance, Allegiance, and Deference for the Glory of God | 1 Corinthians 10
Giving, Sharing, and Living for the Gospel | 1 Corinthians 9
Christians and Controversial Topics | 1 Corinthians 8
Being Single | 1 Corinthians 7:7-40
Fighting For Your Marriage | 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
Sex and Glorifying God | 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Conflict: An Inevitable Opportunity | 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Church Discipline: Sin, Grace, and Shepherding | 1 Corinthians 5
The Resurrection Is the Remedy to Our Hypocrisy | 1 Corinthians 15
The Purpose, Plot Twists, and Power of Christ | 1 Corinthians 4
Being a Healthy Church | 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
The Miracle of Spiritual Maturity | 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
The Miracle of Salvation | 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Priority, Preference, and Power | 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Called, Gifted, and Kept by Jesus | 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
God has given believers tools (spiritual gifts) that are used to build up the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit's power as we grow into maturity in Him. There are three things we can be sure of when we reflect on the spiritual gifts given to us by the Spirit.
We have a new owner. (1 Corinthians 12:1-3)
We have new tools with new power. (1 Corinthians 12:4-13)
We have a new vibe. (1 Corinthians 12:14-31)
Good morning, Watermark. My name is John. This past week, my family and I were on a road trip, and we stopped by this little tourist trap souvenir shop. I give the kids… I say, "Hey, you each have $10." So they scatter like mice. They go to try to find whatever they're looking for. Penny comes out, and she has a stuffed animal sloth. I didn't know they existed. I didn't know there was a big market for sloth stuffed animals. It would wrap around her arm.
She's like, "Daddy! I'm going to name it Slow Ann Steady." I was like, "That's incredible. Okay, great. What did you get, Judd?" Our 4-year-old. You know little green army men? He brought this multicolored cowboy playset, because he loves imaginary things. He brings me that. Hill, our oldest, walks up to me. I was like, "What are you going to get, Hill?" We're there at the cash register, and he's like, "I found this. I found this pocketknife. It has a lock blade." I'm like, "That's good. That's a good one. You have a good gift there."
So, we're checking out. The guy checks out the sloth, the cowboys, and then he gets to the knife and goes, "Hey, son, you'd better watch out. If you misuse that knife, this might happen." Except he wasn't doing that. No joke. He was missing two digits. My son is like, "Yes, sir. Yes, sir." I'm like, "Take the knife, buddy. I've got it from here."
I'm like, "What happened? I mean, you're a desk clerk at a souvenir shop. You sell a lot of knives or what?" He's like, "Well, me and my partner were chopping wood. I set down the wedge on the block of wood, and my partner was already in a full power swing." That's what he said. "And Boom! I thought I knew what pain was until that day. Now I really know." He's looking through half a hand at me. I was like, "Oh my goodness."
So, I turned to Hill and said, "Hey, you know what? That guy lost his fingers because he misused a tool. Now you have a tool, and you need to use this in a good way. When you cut something, you have to cut away from you. Never pull it toward you. You have to cut away. You never point this at someone. You never run with it open. That's a lock blade. When you're done using it, you fold that up. You have a responsibility now because you have this tool. You use it for good and not like that ax-slinging souvenir shop guy." He's like, "Yes. I understand."
I share that with you because today, in 1 Corinthians 12, we see spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are a lot like tools within a tool set. They can be used for a variety of purposes. They're to be used for good and for building, never to be used for harm; never for yourself but for the good of the body. That is what these spiritual gifts that are like tools to build up are for.
If you've trusted in Christ, if you're a believer and have placed your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, then you need to know and be reminded again today that you have a spiritual gift. You have been given a spiritual gift, having trusted in Jesus by the Holy Spirit, to now use for the building up of the body of Christ. The question isn't if you have a gift. The question is…Are you using your gift? Are you using the spiritual gift you've been given?
So, we're going to be walking through 1 Corinthians 12. Here's your outline. In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul writes and says, "I tell you these things so that you might know how to live and operate in the household of God." He calls it a household, that this church, this body of believers, is a family unit living in a house, and as such…
Here's your outline. Three things. First, you have a new owner. There is a new owner over your life, and he is a good owner. You also have a new tool with new power. It is a tool with power, but the power is from the Holy Spirit. It's a new tool. That's your new spiritual gift with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thirdly, there is a new vibe in this household. Now, if you're 50 or older and you're like, "Vibe. What is vibe?" lean over to a 20-year-old and ask them what vibe means. They'll tell you. But there is a new vibe in this household of God. It's altogether different than when we walked in the darkness of the world. So, new owner, new tools with new power, and new vibe.
He makes them. He hands them to me. He has three, as if I can grab three Blizzards. There's ice cream dripping down the side of it. I'm like, "Okay. All right. Hey, we're going to need some napkins." He goes, "We don't have napkins." I'm like, "What in the world? What's going on that… You're Dairy Queen. By necessity, you have to have napkins. You serve ice cream to children. It might be against the law to not have napkins." He's like, "We don't have napkins, man." Laura is getting wet wipes and making sure it's good for the kids.
The kids are like, "Those workers are bad" as we drive down. I was thinking the same thing, but we get a little farther down the road, and I'm like, "Oh, this is a teachable moment." I was like, "Hey, kids. You know how we thought those workers were bad? They're not bad. They're actually really hard workers. They made the Blizzards. Are you enjoying your Blizzard? You liked it, didn't you? They did a good job.
The problem was there's a bad manager. We didn't meet the manager. The bad manager didn't see the inventory of napkins going down and didn't order more napkins. He didn't order more M&Ms. I don't even know what else they're out of, but it's the management's fault." As it is with us. When we were under our former management… This is why restaurants say, "Under new management," because people know, "Their service is bad. Their food is bad." So new management means something.
We also, when we were under our old management, were given over to sin and darkness and death. We were hated and hating one another, it says in Titus, because we were under our old management. Now God is like, "No, now you have a new owner because of Jesus, and everything is different. People can see it and experience it, because you have a new owner who's using you in good ways."
As a recovering alcoholic, I was at my grandfather's house once when he passed, and we were collecting things to remember him by. As a drunk at the time, I grabbed a bottle opener. I was like, "This is awesome." It was this old, rusted, vintage 1950s bottle opener, probably like old-school Pabst Blue Ribbon or something. I was like, "That'll be great at parties."
I still have that bottle opener, but it has a new owner now, because I have a new owner now. What I used to use to get drunk with, like, popping tops for everybody… It's still in our silverware drawer, but now I'm using that thing for Topo Chicos, Fantas and O'Doul's at the max. (I thought more people would know what O'Doul's was. It means something to me.) There's a new owner over that tool, and because there's a new owner, it's now being used for good.
This is what the Scripture says in verse 1 of chapter 12: "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols…" He's like, "When you were unbelievers, you didn't have God. You were led astray." There's no neutral in the spiritual life. You're either following God or following sin and Satan. He's like, "You were led astray because of your old ownership, the old manager. You were led astray to mute idols."
We know from a previous chapter that an idol is nothing, but what is behind an idol is a demon. He's like, "The idols don't talk. They were mute. You were led astray as you were a pagan," but it doesn't end there. "…however you were led. Therefore…" Now there's the change and a turn. "…I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God…" So, you had mute idols. Now you have a speaking God by the Holy Spirit. "…ever says 'Jesus is accursed!' and no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except in the Holy Spirit."
What's going on here is Paul is like, "Hey, you've trusted in Jesus, Corinthians. The Holy Spirit has descended upon you. He has given you gifts. He's not a mute God. He's a speaking God. He's an acting God, and he's a living God. So he has given gifts of tongues, prophecies, wisdom, knowledge, healing, miracles, help, administration, leadership, and serving. He has given all of these gifts, and y'all are like, 'Whoa! What got into you, Bob? You act differently than you used to act. And, Lisa, what's with the new thing? You never had that skill or trait before.' It's because the Spirit now is in them and leading them and speaking through them."
Paul is like, the litmus test is nobody is going to say, "Jesus is accursed," which is what the pagans would have said, like, "You're worshiping Jesus?" And no one will say, "Jesus is Lord" except by the Spirit. He's saying you have different roles on the team. Everybody has a different position, but you're all wearing the same uniform. It's all the same Spirit. You have a new owner, new management…different and unique gifts but all the same uniform.
Then in Ephesians 4:12, he lists off some spiritual gifts and offices of spiritual authority with apostles, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers, and he says, "These are to equip the body for good works," to equip the saints for good works, for the ministry. Then he says the purpose: "…so that the body of Christ may be built up." These tools we've been given are all for the building of the church, the body of Christ.
Spiritual gifts are like tools in a tool kit. If you had a toolbox with a variety of tools, that's what the spiritual gifts are, and the sole purpose is for the building up of the church. Here it is in verse 4: "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God…" There you have a Trinitarian passage where he's like, "Spirit, Lord Jesus, God the Father." Trinity, all working together in unison for the body.
"…who empowers them all in everyone." These new tools are not power tools. They're tools that have a power of the Holy Spirit. As we yield ourselves, surrender, submit in glad submission to the Lord, he then gives us the power to use the gift for the body. Verse 7: "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit…" It says to each. It doesn't say to some.
Sometimes we think, "Well, I know that person clearly has a gifting, but I really don't." It says to each. Every single person who has placed their faith in Jesus has been given a gift by the Spirit. It says, "…for the common good." The gift you have been given is for the building up of the body. You've been given a gift for the common good of all, not to edify yourself but to edify others. Verse 8. Now he's going to give you a laundry list of gifts.
"For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits [evil and holy], to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills."
Throughout that passage (there are nine verses), he says nine times "Spirit," "The same Spirit," "According to the same Spirit," "The Spirit who empowers them all." The refrain is it's all the Spirit. You have a new owner, and the power of the gift, or the tool, is all coming from the Spirit. It says, "To each one individually as he wills."
I told you before I went to this prosperity gospel church. I was three months sober, baby believer. I walked into this church. They were asking people for seed money and all that stuff. At the end of the service, they were like, "And if anybody wants to have a closer relationship with God, come forward." I was like, "Of course. I'm going forward." I went forward, and they were like, "Have you received the gift of speaking in tongues?" I was like, "No."
They were like, "You can have a closer relationship with God. You'll have your own unique language," and this and that. "Would you want to receive it?" They were like, "Just pray." They were like, "Try harder. Try harder. Just keep practicing." I walked out of that church without the ability to speak in tongues and with a crushing weight that I didn't have enough faith or God didn't love me enough and that I was a subpar, JV Christian because I didn't have that gift.
As far as I can tell, when you're reading this Scripture, it says, "…who apportions to each one individually as he wills." Not as I will, but as the Spirit wills. He's the one who gives gifts, and I don't dictate to him, "I'd like this one, this one, and this one." He wills to give the gifts. "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body…" He's now giving an analogy of a physical body.
"…so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit." There it is again. Nine times, Holy Spirit empowered for the common good, apportioned as the Spirit wills. Now, if as I read through that you were thinking, "Man! I didn't hear my gift. As I hear that with knowledge, wisdom, tongues, interpretation, prophecy… I don't think my spiritual gift was listed there."
That's not an exhaustive list of spiritual gifts. This is 1 Corinthians 12. (This is easy to remember.) In Romans 12, you will also find a list of spiritual gifts. Also in Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4. There are four passages where you'll find spiritual gifts, that the body of Christ may be built up. Now, I've said built a lot, so let's get to building.
I have some stuff onstage here. I have some scraps of wood. This is my grandfather's toolbox. I have a saw. Just to show you, in case you're like, "Is that really your grandfather's toolbox or is this just part of the sermon illustration…?" Look at that. I mean, I don't know what a county collector does or is. If you are one, congratulations. You got elected. My grandfather… I pulled this out, and he had these bumper stickers in there. I'm like, "Okay. Cool. County collector. Let's see what we've got."
He used these tools… He was a World War II military guy. He could build anything out of anything. We would go to his house. He would have plywood and wires, and he would build a radio where he could talk to somebody in Australia. I mean, it was wild. So, I have his tools. Some of them I know what to do with, and some of them I don't know what to do with. I gave some tools to some people here in the front, and I'd like to ask you for them.
Sir, if you would, hand me the tools below your seat, because I need to build some stuff. All right. He has a carpentry pencil, and this is an angle finder. That's cool. I need something else. What do you have? I gave you some stuff. You have my grandfather's tape measure and a rasp or a file. I can't build with just those. I need more gifts. I have some other stuff over here. I don't know if you guys have looked underneath there yet. Cool. Thank you. I've got some nails and a hammer.
I'm going to use these to build something. The reason I gave them to them is because it's what God did with us. It says he has given the gifts, or the tools, to the body. They're in our possession, but he is the one who empowers them. So, if I'm going to build something, like God says he's going to, as he's going to build up the body of Christ, the household of God, to build up the church… We have to use the tools, the tools he has given individually to each one of us, but he is the one who empowers them.
I know what I'm building here… This is a five-foot spread across the base here, and I have a six-foot 2x4. Because of shrinkflation, 2x4s are not actually two by four. They're like one and change by three and change. But I know I need to take 12 inches off. (Some of you are like, "What is shrinkflation?" You're going to find out.) This measuring tape… Think about that. What could that be in relationship to spiritual gifts?
Here's what I would tell you. This lays forth knowledge. I need to take 12 inches off that, but I don't know where the 12 inches are, so I have to measure out. That could be called the gift of knowledge. In my Bible, no joke, right there, with a line drawn… Before he was our elder or lead pastor, there was a line drawn from the gift of knowledge that said, "Blake Holmes," because I saw it in him. He just knows the Lord, knows the Word, and knows how to apply it. The gift of knowledge.
But I need to mark that. Once the knowledge is laid forth, I need to know how to communicate it. I have a pencil here. The pencil could represent the gift of teaching so that we know what the knowledge laid forth. For that, I'll draw a line. I think that represents TA. He has the gift of teaching, to lay forth the Scriptures of God and say, "This is what the Lord says."
Then I have that angle finder. Once the knowledge has laid it out and I have this angle finder… I would call that the gift of wisdom. Wisdom is to take that and apply it to the board, to apply it to life. As I think about that, I think about our elder Kyle Thompson who has an incredible amount of wisdom. Wisdom in the Hebrew is chokmah. It is knowledge-skilled living. Like, taking knowledge and applying it to your life so that it's lived out.
So now I know, "Oh, that's how I'm going to apply that to what I need to do." You're taking that gift of wisdom and applying it. Again, it's not so Kyle Thompson can be wise and everybody be like, "He's so wise." He's using that as a gift for the body of Christ, that we can be shepherded and led, as one of our elders.
Now I need to cut this. Now that I've made the line and I have it there, I have to cut that. I thought about the saw, and I was like, "Oh, the saw is faith." I see it there, but I have some serious resistance with that wood. I'm not going to be able to get through it. I think the saw can represent faith, where it's like seeing what could be rather than what is.
When I thought about faith, I thought about my sister Callie Nixon. If you know Callie, you know that sister believes in a really big God who moves mountains. She will rally us and talk about her God and the miracles he does. As a result, as she's speaking, you're able to cut through the resistance of life. Whatever struggle you're facing, when you have someone who has the gift of faith, you know that if there's an obstacle in the way, with the gift of faith you can be emboldened to believe that with God you can get through. The gift of faith.
Then what you have here on the end… And you can see that. You're going to get splinters. It didn't make a clean cut, so you need a rasp or a file. I think this is the gift of mercy that can take whatever cuts you have in life, whatever rough places, whatever sharpness because of past regret, remorse, those deep cuts into your soul, the struggles…
The person with the gift of mercy can apply that to the cuts you have experienced and smooth it out so it doesn't have any more harm, as that mercy covers the cuts that have been given. When I think about my brother who has the gift of mercy, it's Leonard Bagdanov, one of our community directors, who is so full of the gift of mercy, and how he approaches people who have struggled.
Now I have to get this thing on here. I have my five-foot board, but I have to attach it and get it onto whatever it is I'm building. So, I think about these nails. The nails are a gift of service. Nobody looks at a building and is like, "Phew! Nice nails. Wow!" Yet the nails brought it all together. That's how they're stuck together. I think about that being the gift of service.
Do you know who brought all this together? I've been out of town, and I was emailing our teaching pastor coordinator Lois Wilkie, saying, "Hey, I need twelve 2x4s." She's like, "What's a 2x4?" She literally, in the text, was like, "What does that singular quotation mark mean? Does that mean feet?" I'm like, "Yes. That means six-foot 2x4s. I need an angle finder. I need a rasp." And she's on it. You'll never see her. She's working behind the scenes, like these nails, but holding it all together, because she has the gift of service.
Now, I know, because I was up here building this thing yesterday, that if I just try to nail this in, the nail is going to bend. I don't know what kind of poor nails we have here, or maybe it's user error, but if I try to nail those in, they're not going to go well. But my grandfather had this in his toolbox. You're like, "Is that an ancient syringe? That's horrible. That's how they used to do it pre-COVID?" This is a hand drill.
I could have brought out my cordless drill gun and put a hole in this, but then it would have the power. The analogy is that God has the power. The gift he has given is empowered by the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who makes the tool, or the gift, work. So, I have to put a hole into this so I can get the nail through. (Some of you are getting on Amazon right now. You're like, "I didn't know that existed. Oh my goodness!" I didn't know it existed either.)
That drill… Do you know what I would say that's the spiritual gift of? Help. Some of the gifts we don't talk about. We're like, "Oh yeah…teaching and preaching and shepherding and mercy and generosity. Yeah, those gifts." There's none of that in the Word of God, like, further elevation. It's Christ who's exalted.
One of the gifts nobody ever talks about, really… Here in 1 Corinthians 12, it's the gift of help. Helping is a gift. We don't highly regard it culturally in this world, but helping is a spiritual gift. When I read that, I immediately thought of a person who came to my mind. There's somebody in our Community Group. He was talking about life, and he was like, "Do you know the phone call I love?" We're like, "What? You won the lottery? What phone call do you love?" He's like, "When somebody needs something. I like the 911 calls."
We're like, "What?" He's like, "Yeah. I love it when my phone rings and somebody is like, 'Hey, you've got to get over here' or 'I'm stuck on the side of the road' or 'The pipe just burst in my house.' I love those calls." In reading this, I was like, "It's Mike Frizzell." He has the gift of help. I don't think he has ever put it to words, but that desire in him, like, "Yes! I got that call. I get to use the gift, the gift God gave me…"
Nobody has to tell you what the hammer is. The hammer is prophecy, because it just hits. It hits a little stronger than all of the others, and you're like, "You need a little more love in your prophetic speech." Let me get this other side nailed in here. I think it's so important, as you can see, that I needed all of those tools to put it together. I couldn't have just put it together with a saw. I would have done one step, but I couldn't have put it together. I needed all of the tools working in concert together.
These tools, now that I've set them down, are inanimate. They're not doing much. But when they're empowered by me with my design… I know what I'm building. Y'all don't yet, but I know what I'm building. So, if those tools will yield themselves to me and I can put the power into them with my design, I'm going to build something amazing. It's what God has done with each one of you.
I told you about my son's pocketknife. He buys it. We're there, and he has his little electronic game that he's playing, but the thing is kind of breaking. I'm like, "Hey, let me see that." I take it apart a little bit. I'm like, "Oh, we need an electronics screwdriver." Like, the tiny ones. You know the one I'm talking about, that you never use except the one time you need it? Like, not a big screwdriver. We have those lying around the garage.
I was like, "Oh! Hill, give me your pocketknife. Do you have your pocketknife?" He was like, "Yeah, I've got it right here." I take it out, because it has this tiny, tiny tip. I'm able to turn these little bitty screws. I think that's how a lot of us are. I think sometimes we have the gift. We've been given the gift by God, and sometimes we don't even know it. We're walking around, and the body of Christ is like, "Man! We could really use help right now or serving right now or leadership," or whatever it may be, and you have it. You've been given it. You just don't know yet that the Spirit has given that to you.
So, there are two things I want to point you to. First is watermark.org/serve. It's all of the serving opportunities here at Watermark, and there's an abundance. Sometimes you're like, "But I don't even know what my gift is. I would just show up." That's perfect. That's how you're going to find out what your gift is. You go to an area of passion, a ministry…maybe it's kids' ministry here or at the 5:00, if you want to serve there, but all of the different opportunities.
As you do, you're going to feel alive when you're doing that thing, and then the body of Christ is going to be like, "Dude, your hospitality gift is off the charts. Nobody even asks you. We show up, and you have tablecloths and napkins (unlike Dairy Queen). You have drinks. Your hospitality is crazy every time I come over to your house." Or your gift of help or serving. You come alive. You're just like, "Hey, what can I help you do? I don't want to do anything else. I'm here to help or to serve." You come alive when you do that.
Maybe it's when you show up, and things are kind of chaotic, and we have a ton of volunteers, and you're like, "Okay. Hey, everybody, everybody, come in. Welcome. Hey, tonight is going to be an incredible night. Who here wants to be a greeter? Awesome. Okay, great. You guys go there. Hey, who here would love to man the information desk? Great. You're going to be here." That's the gift of leadership. Sometimes you don't know you're literally carrying it, because the Holy Spirit has given it to you, because you haven't just stepped into that opportunity. Like, my son had it in his pocket, and I was like, "You have that tool. I need to use it, because I'm going to use it for good and for building up."
It says in verse 14, "For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand [I'm just a foot], I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body." So, there's self-degradation. Here's self-exaltation: "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'"
Like, I can use the saw to build a house. It's helpful. In fact, I can't build a house without a saw, but if I just have a saw, I can't build the house. So, there's self-degradation where you're like, "I'm just a saw." No, you're essential. What God has given to you is an essential part of the body to build it up. If you're like, "Well, I'm a saw; I'll build the whole thing," it's going to be a wreck then, because you need all of those pieces working together. There's no self-degradation and no self-exaltation. Instead, it's every part working together.
Samuel Brengle, who was one of the early officers within the Salvation Army, said this, which I think is so applicable to this passage on gifts: "If I appear great in their eyes [the ones he was serving], the Lord is most graciously helping me to see how absolutely nothing I am without him, and helping me to keep little in my own eyes. He does use me. But I am so concerned that he uses me and that it is not of me the work is done.
The axe cannot boast of the trees it has cut down. It could do nothing but for the woodsman. He made it, he sharpened it, and he used it. The moment he throws it aside, it becomes only old iron. Oh, that I may never lose sight of this." Samuel Brengle was saying, "Hey, I am only as useful as me yielding myself to the Master, allowing him to empower me for the work I was designed to do. It's not me (once he lays me down, that's it), but that my life is given over to him and that I would not receive glory but that he would get all of the glory."
It says something similar in Scripture in Isaiah 10:15. The Lord uses countries. He'll raise them up and lower them down. He'll use them as his tools over the entire earth. At this point in time, when Isaiah was being written, he had been using Assyria to rule the world and to create discipline, but Assyria, rather than being like, "The Lord is being kind to us right now. He's using us…"
Instead, they were like, "We're the best. We're awesome. Look at us." So, this is what he had to say to Assyria who self-exalted: "Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it?" He's like, "The ax can't raise itself. The hammer can't raise itself. It's only the person using it who gets all of the glory."
Verse 25. Here's more of the new vibe. It's not self-degradation. It's not self-exaltation. Here's more of the new vibe, which is unity. "…that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." So, whether suffering or honoring, every part is with the others, that there would be no division. We're marked by unity under Christ.
In John 17, he prays the great priestly prayer. He prays, "I pray that they would be one as you, the Father, and I are one." He's calling for unity, that we wouldn't strive or quarrel or be jealous or envious of giftings or anything else in life, that suffering would be met with compassion and help and kindness and sympathy, and that when someone is honored with a new job or a pregnancy, or whatever it would be, we would rejoice rather than being envious.
Right across the road here, literally across the road, Lakepointe Church is opening one of their campuses, right there by In-N-Out. Do you know we rejoice in that? We rejoice in any time the Word of God and the salt and light of Christ is being placed throughout the city. They're going to reach people in their sphere of influence that we aren't, so we rejoice in that. There's no division there. Praise God that more people will be reached for Christ. We're marked by compassion and celebration.
Then in verse 27, it says, "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" The implied answer is no. It's a rhetorical question. You each have individual things. "But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way."
The beginning of that passage starts off with a genitive, which is a possessive term in grammar. It says, "The body of Christ." Meaning, he is the one who possesses all of the tools of the body. We are under his ownership and surrender to him, because he's the head that's deciding, "This is what I'm building. This is what I'm doing." We belong to him, the head of the body, the church. It says we don't have all of the gifts. He's clear there. "Are all teachers? Are all prophets? Are all apostles?" The answer is no.
He says, "But eagerly desire the higher gifts." This means that as we're stewarding and exercising our gifts, we can desire even more gifting. Like, "Lord, I want to be faithful with the little you've given me, but I want to be faithful with more, so would you entrust to me what you determine for your will for the building up of the body? Not so that I can be greater and everyone be like, 'Wow! He's a really gifted dude.' That would be sin. But instead, 'Lord, I long to serve more for your kingdom unending.'" You can desire those.
Then he goes further and says, "And I will show you a still more excellent way." Despite all of the gifts that do all the building, there's something even better. He devotes an entire chapter to it in chapter 13. He says it's love. I used to have this European car back before. I just say that because it was nice. It was a nice car. I was so ego driven then…status, and all that.
That really nice car ran out of oil, and guess what. Boom! Highway, screeching halt. That thing was toast. A $10,000 engine, done, because it didn't have oil. No matter how nice the tools, the machinery, no matter how incredibly German engineered it was, without oil it was nothing. It's exactly what Paul will write in just a couple more verses. He says, "If you have tongues of men and angels, if you have the faith to move mountains, if you possess all knowledge, and you don't have love, you're a nuisance."
That is still the more excellent way. We have to keep ourselves under the headship of Christ, knowing that no matter what our gifting, if we lack love, we're annoying. We're a resounding gong. May we never be engines without oil of love, but that love would be flowing through us as we work in concert together. We are transformed by Christ to love like Christ.
Now, you have to be wondering, "What are you building? Tell me you're not going to forget that." Let me show you what I was building, what I worked on yesterday that I want to now show to you. I wasn't just building in vain. I had something in mind that I worked very hard on, and it's this. The church of Jesus Christ. We all know church isn't a building, but I wanted to demonstrate to you what God does with the spiritual gifts and the tools. He's doing something. He's building up the body of Christ.
Christ, rightly so, is always at the top, receiving all the attention, all the glory, all the power, all the renown. You have to see something. As I was building this yesterday, every other nail I did went right in, just like the ones this morning. I got to the cross. I'm right over there. I'm hammering in the nail, and it kinks and goes sideways. I try to pull it out, and it's jammed. I'm like, "I'm going to have to get a grinder. I can't believe this. Lord, you know I need this cross to be there."
I go for another one, and it kinks again. I try to straighten it. The more I hit it, the more crooked it gets. I drop in another one. Three times. As I'm literally trying to pull them out with my hammer, I feel like the Lord said to me, "Leave the nails. That's where the mistakes belong." That's where all of the mistakes belong. They've all been nailed to the cross.
So, I don't care what you've done wrong in your life, what your mistakes are, the litany of them…who you've been with, what you've done, what you stole, what you did, what you drank, what you smoked, last night or this weekend or 10 years ago. It doesn't matter, because if you're in Christ, all of the mistakes have been nailed to the cross, and they're no longer on you. They are on Jesus. It's why he came, the sinless Son of God, who laid down his life and took it back up again as evidence.
"I took your mistakes. They're on me. It's why I came. Now use that gift you've been given to build up the church, because others are trapped in their mistakes, and they don't know yet, so you make this place. Build it up by my power and fill it with love, that when they walk through those doors, their mistakes can be nailed there too, now and forevermore, for the glory of Jesus Christ." Let's pray.
Father, I remember so well the wretch I was, and looking at those banged-up nails… There were thousands because of my sin and thousands upon thousands more because of the sins of the people in this room. You took every one of them. The decree that stood opposed to us has been nailed to the cross. As a result, having placed our faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, we've been made new. We're under a new owner.
But you didn't just save us. You've sent us. You've given us gifts to now build up the very body of Christ, that with the gifts it would be built and the house would be filled with love, that others would come and know you too and be set free. So, Lord, may we steward them. May we not keep our gifts in our pockets, but may we steward the gift you've given us because we want to be found faithful. Lord, as we stand and sing, we sing to you with all our might, with all our voice, with all our soul, because you alone are worthy, Jesus. We stand and sing to you. Receive your praise. We love you. Amen.
Challenges believers to examine every area of life through the lens of the Gospel. Paul addresses divisions among believers, food, sexual integrity, worship gatherings, and the resurrection.