We are going to the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians. I believe the Lord wants to bring us a revelation from there. We will take it verse by verse, beginning with the first verse and go only as far as the Holy Spirit leads.
When our son was young, my wife and I would take him for walks. We lived in the country and our walks proved to be quite interesting. Anyway, we would take him by the hand and say, “Let's go see what we can see and see what we can find.” And that is what we are going to do in this twelfth chapter of I Corinthians. We are going to stroll through a few verses and see what we can see and see what we can find.
I Corinthians 12:1-2 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have
2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
Oh, I see something interesting here. First, let’s recall what the Lord spoke to the Israelites at Sinai in Exodus 19. Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey My Voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. Exodus 19:4-6. I call your attention to the phrase, “If ye will obey My Voice.” God does not say, “If ye will obey what I say,” but “if ye will obey My Voice.” We notice from this and from many other Scriptures that when the Lord speaks of His Voice, He is not merely referring to the information He is giving, but He is referring to a Word that carries His Spirit and life. If, for example, God gave you a command and you were obedient to the letter of the Word but you did not receive of His Spirit in that Word, then you were not really obedient to His Voice.
Another example of what is meant by His Voice is found in the first chapter of Luke. When Gabriel spoke to Mary saying that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would give birth to the Son of God (Luke 1:26-35), she responded, “Be it unto me according to Thy Word” (Luke 1:38). Then Mary went to visit Elisabeth, and when Elisabeth heard Mary’s greeting she was filled with the Holy Spirit and also the baby in her womb that would later become John the Baptist (Luke 1:39-45). Being filled with the Holy Spirit, Elisabeth prophesied. Verse 42 said, “She spake with a loud Voice.” Then in verse 44 Elisabeth said, “As soon as the Voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” The Voice passed from Gabriel to Mary, to Elisabeth, and to the baby John in her womb. They weren’t merely receiving information; they were receiving the Spirit of the Word – the Voice. Then later when John the Baptist began his ministry he was asked by the Pharisees, “Who are you? Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet?” And John answered, “No, I am the Voice of One crying in the wilderness” (John 1:19-24). They were obedient to the Voice, and for that reason they became channels for the Voice.
Now, how does all this relate to what we read in I Corinthians 12? Paul said, “Ye were Gentiles carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.” Well, they were still Gentiles, but they were becoming spiritual Israelites. The ministry of Paul was delivering them from the “dumb idols” and bringing them unto “the Voice.” In the Greek “dumb idols” would be more accurately translated “voiceless images.” The Corinthians had been carried away unto “voiceless images.” Now, what the Spirit pointed out to me was that the “voiceless images” are not referring merely to stone or wooden images. Anything that presents itself as the real thing is an image. So a voiceless image could be anyone that is preaching sermons that do not carry the Voice of the Lord. The Corinthians were carried away – led by spirits – to voiceless images. Everybody is led by something – the Holy Spirit, some other spirit, or even self. Many Christians today have been led to voiceless images. They are listening to sermons that do not carry the Voice of the Lord. They are led to voiceless images – sermons that sound right and often have correct doctrines, but they are Voiceless.
I Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by in the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by (in) the Holy Ghost.
Anyone can say the words “Jesus is the Lord.” So what does Paul mean when he says that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but in the Holy Ghost? He is not talking about the literal words “Jesus is the Lord.” He is talking about what your life speaks. Does your life say “Jesus is the Lord”? Is that what emanates from your being? That only happens when you are living your life in the Holy Spirit. It is the opposite of verse 2. There it speaks of those who are “voiceless images.” They are voiceless because they are not speaking in the Holy Spirit. They may be saying the words “Jesus is the Lord,” but their lives are not saying it. On the other hand, “the Voice” is coming through those who are in the Holy Spirit, and “the Voice” is saying, “Jesus is the Lord.”
I Corinthians 12:4-6 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
These three verses present three realms of ministry. Verse 4 is the Holy Spirit realm: There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. Verse 5 is the Lordship realm: There are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. Verse 6 is the God realm: There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. These are three realms of ministry of the one God and our relationship with Him determines the realm of His ministry. Therefore, it would be just as accurate to say that there are three levels of relationship.
There are different gifts, but the same Spirit. Those who receive the gifts of the Spirit are still rather immature in their spiritual growth. They have left the baby-stage and are entering a realm where spiritual growth can take place rapidly. At first the gifts operate sporadically. They function in their gift only when they sense the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon them. It takes time for them to learn how to draw the anointing at a specific time.
As an individual matures spiritually, the gift develops into a ministry. The cross works in his life and he becomes less self-centered and more focused on the Lord’s interest. He learns how to be subject to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Thus, he is moving into the realm where there are “differences of administrations, but the same Lord.” It is still the same God, but the individual’s relationship with Him has changed. Now that the Lord has greater control over his life the sporadic gift has developed into a flow of ministry. This is a higher realm than the gift realm, but it is still a learning realm. Continual spiritual growth will result in the “operations of God.” This is what Paul was talking about when he spoke of being “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
I Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
The next few verses indicate how the Spirit is manifested through man. These manifestations of the Spirit are not intended to glorify the one used. The purpose of the Spirit being manifested through any individual is to edify the Body of Christ. The moment the individual desires to be noticed as special, the anointing disappears and the Church is not edified.
I Corinthians 12:8-10 For to one is given by through the Spirit the Word of
wisdom; to another the Word of knowledge by through the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by in the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by in the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.
Verses 8 through 10 list nine ways in which the Spirit is manifested. These nine ways are usually thought of as nine gifts. However, these manifestations can function on all three realms. They can function in the gift realm of verse 4 or they can function on the ministry realm of verse 5 or they can function as the operations of God of verse 6. The determining factor is the individual’s spiritual relationship with God.
It is significant that Paul spoke of the “voiceless images” in verse two and then spoke of the Voice ministry that proclaims Jesus as the Lord in verse three. All true ministry comes through “the Voice,” for the Voice is the Spirit of the Lord. Regardless of what is said or how scriptural it is, if the Spirit is missing it is Voiceless. You will notice in chapter 14 that Paul emphasizes the ministry of Prophecy (another word for “the Voice”). Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. I Corinthians 14:1. Prophetic utterance is the vehicle for all ministry. All of the manifestations of the Spirit, regardless of which realm they are functioning on, come through prophetic utterance. Now, if you only understand prophecy to be when someone says, “Thus says the Lord, so and so,” then you are not understanding what I am saying. Let’s go back to what was said earlier. The word “prophecy” is another word for “the Voice.” When your life exhibits the Lordship of Jesus Christ, when what you are says “Jesus is Lord,” that is “the Voice” emanating out from you and it is prophetic utterance. When you speak and “the Voice” of the Lord (His presence) is riding on the words, that is prophecy. You don’t have to say “thus saith the Lord” to prophesy; all you have to do is function in the Spirit (verse 3).
The Word of wisdom is the wisdom of God; it is not man’s wisdom. It is significant that it says “Word of wisdom” and not merely wisdom. The Word of wisdom comes through the Voice and in order to minister a Word of wisdom you must be a channel for the Voice. It is likewise with the Word of knowledge. This is not knowledge you receive from studying a textbook. It is knowledge that only God knows; it is above the realm of man. It is knowledge that comes from the God-realm, and it comes through the Voice channel. Notice that verse 9 says that to another “faith in the same Spirit” and to another the “gifts of healing in the same Spirit.” These manifestations are “in” the Spirit and you must be in the Spirit to minister them.
What a wonderful walk we are having through these verses. Oh, the Holy Spirit has just opened my eyes to something new along our path that has to do with the “working of miracles” in verse 10.
When we think of some miracles we usually think of some miraculous happening in the natural realm like the opening up of the Red Sea or Jesus turning the water into wine or calming the stormy sea. But there are other miracles more important than those. We are learning that the greater works are not works done in the natural realm but works within that bring a change of nature. There is nothing more important than the life of the Lord coming forth in us replacing our sinful adamic nature. The miracles of the greater works will take place within us.
The Greek word translated “miracles” in this verse is dunamis. It is the word from which our English word “dynamite” is derived. This same Greek word is found in Acts 1:8 where it is translated “power.” Let’s take a look at that verse. I believe it will give us a better understanding of the “working of miracles.”
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power (“dunamis”), after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses (“martus”) unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
First, this verse says that we will receive power after we receive the Holy Spirit. Consequently, many Christians that have received the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues feel they have the power. It is not power to speak in tongues. In fact, many of those who have received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues still do not have the power. The verse says that ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you, but it doesn’t say how long after. Upon studying a little more fully we will see that the “power” or “working of miracles” is given to us as a provision when we receive the Holy Spirit. The provision is made but we have to appropriate it, and we do not appropriate it all at once. Our appropriation increases as we grow spiritually. Very immature Christians can receive the Holy Spirit – but can you imagine what would happen if immature Christians were to receive the fullness of “power”? For example, you can’t put a power saw in the hands of a child. He doesn’t know how to use it and he would probably injure himself. If immature Christians could work miracles, they would probably wreck the Kingdom before God could bring it forth.
Now, let’s see what else we can find in this verse. We saw that the Greek word for “power” was dunamis, from which is derived the word “dynamite.” Let’s also look at the Greek word for “witnesses” and we will begin to see why we need the spiritual dynamite.
The Greek word translated “witnesses” is martus, from which we get our English word “martyr.” You know what a martyr is. He dies for a cause. So, the word martyr has to do with death. A witness for Jesus Christ, then, is not one that tells people about Jesus Christ and how much God loves them. A witness of Jesus Christ is one who dies to self so that the life of Jesus Christ can come forth in him and through him. Do you remember John the Baptist saying, He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30)?
When you really become serious about growing spiritually and you start appropriating the life of the Lord, you will discover that there are many barriers in your self-life that are blocking out the presence of the Lord. That is when you find out what the spiritual dynamite is for. Those barriers will have to be blown up. Put a stick of spiritual dynamite to them and blast them out of the way. That is the “working of miracles” Paul was speaking about in I Corinthians 12:10.
Satan and his workers can perform miracles in the natural realm. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect…And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:24,11. Many people will be deceived by the signs and wonders performed in the natural realm. False Christs and false prophets can do those things, but only God can create His life in man. However, He doesn’t do it apart from His people. To some He gives the working of miracles, to some the Word of wisdom or the Word of knowledge, to some the gift of faith or one of the other manifestations of the Spirit. Those ministries are the channels He moves through to create the Body of Christ. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (verse 7).
We have walked through a few verses of the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Lord has honored our faith. We set out to see what we could see and see what we could find, and the Lord has blessed us with some tremendous truth. May this message whet your appetite for such a walk in the Scriptures with the Holy Spirit. It is not how long or how far you walk, but your desire to see what you can see and see what you can find that the Holy Spirit will respond to. He is the Teacher; He is the One that will guide you into all truth (John 16:13-14). Take daily walks with Him through the Scriptures and see what you can see and see what you can find.
Copyright © 2002 by Henry DuBose