THE SPIRITUALS: THE PROVISION OF GOD
THE SPIRITUALS is a comprehensive summary of the provision of God for the church. In writing to the Corinthian Church, Paul set forth the interrelationships between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the operation of the church:
Now concerning spiritual gifts [pneumatikos], brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts [charismata], but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations [diakonia], but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations [energema], but it is the same God which worketh all in all (1 Cor. 12:1-6).
Paul continually emphasizes the fact that he wants the church to understand the things of God. In the beginning of his discussion concerning the operation of the Spirit, he says, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant." The word translated "spiritual gifts" is "pneumatikos"--an adjective. Therefore, we must find the noun or nouns which the adjective modifies. In the following verses Paul mentions three spirituals--gifts, ministries, and operations. Therefore, we may say that Paul does not wish us to be ignorant concerning the gifts of the Spirit, the ministry gifts of Christ, or the operations of God.
In this scripture passage, Paul makes a most important statement when he declares that we serve a God who speaks by His Spirit. He tells the Corinthians that at one time they were Gentiles carried away unto "dumb" idols--gods who could not speak, but now they serve a God who speaks to and through them by His Spirit. The Christian serves a God who speaks to him and through him by His Spirit. There are those who argue that God does not speak to men today. Paul's answer is that if we serve a god who does not speak, we must be led away unto a "dumb idol." He also declares that no man can say that Jesus is "accursed" if he speaks by the Spirit of God, and it is only if one speaks by the Spirit that he can truly say that "Jesus is Lord." The Christian serves a God who speaks; He speaks to His people through His people by the Holy Spirit. This is the emphasis of the following chapters of the Corinthian letter, since all of the gifts of God are primarily actualized by men or women speaking by the Spirit. We speak a word of wisdom, we speak a word of knowledge, we speak a word of faith, we speak a healing, we speak a miracle, we speak a prophecy, we speak in tongues, we speak an interpretation--we speak these things by the Holy Spirit.
Also, Paul discusses the interrelationship of the Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--in the work of the church. He points out that there are diversities of spiritual gifts, but the Holy Spirit manifests each of them; there are diversities of ministries, but the Lord Jesus Christ sets each of them in the church; there are diversities of operations, but God energizes each operation in each individual in each situation. Therefore, there can be no conflict in the manifestation of spiritual gifts or the operation of the ministry gifts because God oversees and energizes the entire work of the church. God is not the author of confusion.
JESUS CHRIST: THE GIFT OF GOD TO MAN
THE SPIRITUALS presents a very simplistic chart of God's provision for the church. The first provision is God's gift to man: the Lord Jesus Christ. God gave His only begotten Son and, with Him, God has given everything that pertains to life and to godliness. All of the provisions of God's grace are bestowed upon us through Jesus Christ. Two scriptures form a sure foundation for our faith--
John 3:16 and Romans 8:32:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32).
The gift of God was His Son, and with Him God freely gives us all things. Jesus said to the disciples that when the Holy Spirit comes:
He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you (John 16:14-15).
Paul echoes this concept in writing to the Colossians about Jesus Christ:
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell (Col. 1:19).
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9).
So all that God is, and all that God has, is in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; He is the fulness of God. This is the relationship between God and His Son. Then Paul makes an amazing statement about the relationship between Christ and His church:
And gave him [Christ] to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:22-23).
John agrees with Paul's concept:
And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace (John 1:16).
Jesus is the fulness of God, and the Church is the fulness of Christ, who
fills all in all, and Paul says that
We are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:10).
In summary, we might say that everything God is, everything God has, and all that God has done is in, and for, and through His Son Jesus Christ, and in the same manner all that Christ is, all that He has, and all that He has done is in, and for, and through His church, His bride, His beloved. Therefore, God's perfect gift is Jesus Christ "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3), and concerning whom the Apostle Paul could say,
My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).
It is by Christ Jesus that God has provided a complete, perfect salvation. The reason God must provide such a salvation is that every mouth must be stopped and all the world become guilty before God. If there is any lack, if there is any area of life in which God has not accepted responsibility and made provision, then man or Satan can accuse God of being unjust. However, if God has assumed the responsibility for the needs of man, then man cannot gainsay God. As I meditate upon this great salvation, I am convinced that God has made a complete provision, and the only reason for failure or lack is that we do not avail ourselves of the grace of God. In each situation of life I recognize that Jesus has provided a fulness. If I am tempted, He reminds me that He was tempted in all points even as I am, and He has provided a way of escape that I may be able to bear it (I Cor. 10:13). If I am distressed, He reminds me that the "chastisement of my peace" was laid on Him (Isaiah 53:5). If I am ill, He would point me to the cross where He was "wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
and John said,
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
Jesus did not come to show us the way--He is the way. He did not come to teach us the truth--He is the truth. He did not come to give us a new life style or tell us how to live--He is the life. Paul said,
For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).
Jesus is not just our savior, He is our salvation: "He that hath the Son hath life" (I John 5:12). Jesus is not just our healer--He is our healing. It is His life flowing through us that makes us whole, physically and spiritually. All that Christ is to us and all that He has provided for us may be summed up in the words of the Apostle to the Colossians:
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him (Col. 2:9-10).
We are complete in Christ. This is God's gift to us--a complete, perfect salvation in Jesus Christ.
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