Time crunches, travel and other things have kept me delayed so let me answer some questions from the previous few studies from our Power On Series
Q: Are there lesser and greater gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31)?
A: Paul writes in that verse “But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” The more excellent way he is going to talk about in chapter 13 is love and how if we aren’t exercising the gifts or living life in love, then there is an emptiness to them. What does he mean to desire the “best” gifts though? The Greek word that is translated “best” in most translations (higher or greater in some others) is the word “kreitton” which means “more advantageous”, “more useful”, “more serviceable”. So Paul is not saying there are some gifts that are better than others but that there are gifts that are more useful or more advantageous at times than others.
Some examples: we will see this week in our study on Power to Speak gifts that Paul wishes all spoke in tongues but in the context of a church setting, that all would prophesy. Why? Well because without interpretation (which can be the case at times with the gift of tongues) a tongue is not going to minister to the assembled congregation as a prophecy would (by the way, come out to our service this Sunday or simply catch the podcast or listen online as we study what prophecy is). Paul doesn’t say tongues are lesser but they are just not as useful in a church service setting as prophecy. Or another example, you just had a horrific day and everything that went wrong could have gone wrong. Those days you want someone with the gift of exhortation or gift of mercy to minister to you at that time rather than just someone with the gift of teaching or giving. Helps is desired more than prophecy when work needs to get done. In your own prayer time, tongues will be more useful than prophecy.
So desire those gifts that are most advantageous at times when needed, yet at the same time, desire spiritual gifts as we are told Don’t put a qualifier or a limit to God in asking for Him to give you spiritual gifts.
Q: How would someone know whether something is natural or supernatural (like knowledge for example)?
A: Receiving a word of knowledge is something that you can only know by the Lord revealing it to you. It does not come through deduction and is not common knowledge. The examples we studied in Scripture show this. Wisdom can be trickier in the sense that there are wise people who have collected wisdom through life and life experiences (and the book of Proverbs tells us we should all seek to gain wisdom) and the word of wisdom that comes supernaturally at a time when it is needed. In either case, God is still the one who should be glorified, but the word of wisdom seems to carry with it something that goes above mere human wisdom (see Solomon in 1 Kings 3 or examples of Jesus wisdom we looked at in our study).
Q: Someone said if I had more faith, I would be healed or be able to do more – is there truth to this?
A: Often those teaching such things have a wrong view of faith in thinking that our faith is what commands God and many times these people put faith in faith. But faith is to be placed in God and His kingdom and whether He heals or comes through in the way we want Him to or not does not change our trust in Him. Everyone dies, even these who claim to have amazing faith. If it just took faith to heal, we would not see death.
However, faith does play a role in our Christian walks and works. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” the writer of Hebrews tells us (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus spoke of not doing works in towns because of lack of faith. But the false teaching that says you don’t have ______ because you don’t have faith is often wrong and very damaging. If it is followed by a plea for money to “show your faith”, then fully discredit the teaching.
Q: What gifts are appropriate to be exercised in a typical Sunday service?
A: We will cover that this upcoming Sunday – at least in how we see the “typical” Sunday service. But I will say this, God is unified and He does not interupt Himself. If gifts are being displayed that are interupting other functions or there is not decency and order in ways gifts are used, then something inappropriate is going on.
To listen to the teachings these questions were posed from, visit www.refugesanger.com/teachings or find us as a podcast on iTunes. This teaching series is called “Power On” and we have covered many of the spiritual gifts found in Scripture as well as God’s Blueprint for the Church.