God’s Spiritual Gifts to Believers at the Beginning of the Church Age
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
A. Now we get to a very strong gift in the early Church – it was the gift that lead to the writing of the New Testament (Eph 2:19-22) – through prophets and apostles (2Pet 1:21).
B. Critical note – no book of Scripture is given by any woman, or by anyone other than a Jewish man (Rom 3:1,2)
C. Biblical Principle:
1. We need believers to both know their gifts, and use them in this church
2. But they need to make sure that the gifts they have are not talents, and not natural abilities (no matter how special), but they are actually gifts that God said He would give His Church
3. In other words, Not for Christians to convince themselves that they have a set of gifts that just don’t exists today
D. 1Cor 12:1-10 lists Sign Gifts – special Holy-Spirit given gifts to people for the purpose of winning the Jews and starting the Church
1. Word of wisdom
2. Word of knowledge
5. Working of miracles
7. Discerning of spirits
9. Interpretation of tongues
E. These have passed away since the end of the first century (1Cor 13:8-10)
F. But there is much to learn from these gifts, and to always remember that our God is a supernatural God!
G. Christianity is based on the certainty of God's Word, the Bible. It is the only religion in which prophecy plays such an important role. If God's prophets were not 100% true, then the Bible itself is not true. The attacks on the Bible over the past hundred years have all side-stepped the issue of prophecy. The fact stands, that God has built into the Bible a sure way of knowing whether it is true or not - which simply is its ability without fail to tell us the future.
H. A general definition of prophecy is, "A message from God, supernaturally delivered by a person, that reveals a future event, and is 100% always accurate."
1. Many people make prophecies - politicians, religious leaders, astrologers, etc - but none are 100% accurate.
2. Only God has that ability, and He has limited it to only the words and warnings of the Bible.
I. If we neglect the Bible, then we are opening our-selves up to one of the most powerful deceptions of all time that is currently at work - the deception that Jesus never came to begin with, and that the world's "true saviour" will soon arise bringing world peace and justice through something called "a new world order."
J. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many." (Matthew 24:5,6,11)
II. Last Week - Prophecy – Part 1 (vs. 10)
A. There are two types of Prophecy used in The New Testament. Fore-telling, and Forth-telling
1. Fore-telling – which is a passing gift - This gift of prophecy had to do with foretelling future events never before revealed in the Scriptures. (Acts 11:27,28; 21:10,11)
2. Forth-telling – which is a permanent gift - There are some aspects of prophecy still in use during the church age. Each believer has "the spirit of prophecy." Prophecy in this sense is the means of speaking unto men to “edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” (1Cor 14:3-5) Rom 12:6 is dealing with preaching what God has already said – that’s what I do every time I am behind this pulpit, and every time I witness!
B. The Exactness of Prophecy (fore-telling) (Dt 13:1-5; 18:22)
1. Isa 8:20 – all words that claim to be from heaven have to match and fit in with the words already spoken and written down – none of the previous words are ever done away (Mt 5:17)
a. The Law - Pentateuch – sets the standard
b. The Psalms
c. The Prophets
d. The Gospels
e. The Epistles
f. The Revelation
2. Each had to match what had previously been written down – prophecy was never a stab in the dark, but an exact science, and if ever wrong it disqualified the prophet forever, and should have resulted in his death!
III. Message – Prophecy – Part 2
A. The Superiority of Prophecy (2Pet 1:19-21)
1. Because it is the word of God, and not of man or “angel” (1Thes 2:13)
2. Because it meets the need of the hearer
a. It is understandable – not unknown to people around (1Cor 14:5)
b. Speaking in tongues meets the need only of a foreign hearer, and only if it is when speaking the Gospel
c. Prophesying meets the needs of the un-believer (1 Cor 14:24-25)
d. Prophesying meets the need of the believer – feeds him – preach the word – all of it!
3. Because it proves the Bible – no question!
a. Fulfilled prophecy proves the divine origin of the Bible to unbelievers and increases the faith of believers. Thus, prophecy must be studied, understood, and taught by Christians both to believers and to unbelievers. Also, for it to be an effective evidence, prophecy must be fulfilled and interpreted literally.
b. The Christian will enjoy the blessings spoken of in O.T. prophecy, including the millennial glory of Christ (Col. 3:4; Re. 2:26-27; 3:21) and the renewed creation (Ro. 8:18-25). There are also hundreds of prophecies directly related to the Christian's future
1) Imminent Rapture (1Thes 4)
2) Mansions in heaven (John 14:1-3)
3) Physical resurrection (1 Cor. 15)
4) Rewards based on selfless life of a Christian (1Cor 3)
5) Judgment of the sins of this world (2Thes 1,2)
c. The Bible Prophecies of the First Coming of Jesus
1) One of the most important proofs that God wrote the Bible is the fact that almost 1,000 of its prophecies have been fulfilled to the letter. These prophecies were predictions made hundreds and even thou-sands of years before their fulfilment.
2) There were 33 specific prophecies describing just how, when, and where Jesus would die. The odds of someone predicting just those 33 exactly as the Bible did are astronomical! Only God could have done such a thing. Some of the prophecies relating to Jesus' first coming 2,000 years ago include:
a) The birthplace of Jesus being revealed 750 years before the event in the Book of Micah chapter 5 verse 2, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, … out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
b) Jesus would be born of a virgin, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (750 years BC - Isaiah 7:14).
c) Jesus would be rejected by His own people, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him" (750 BC - Isaiah 53:3).
d) Jesus would heal people, "The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped… The lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing" (Isaiah 35:5,6).
e) Jesus would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver "Give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver" (500 BC - Zechariah 11:12,13).
f) Jesus would be whipped and spit upon, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting." (750 BC - Isaiah 50:6).
g) His hands and His feet would be pierced by nails, "They pierced my hands and my feet." (Psalm 22:16), "and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced" (500 BC - Zechariah 12:10). Normally, criminals were stoned.
h) Jesus would be in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40). The Book of Jo-nah was written 850 years before Christ.
i) Jesus would rise from the grave, "But God will re-deem (resurrect) my soul from the power of the grave" (written 1000 years BC - Psalm 49:15)
3) Not one detail failed! In Deuteronomy 18, God promises that everything His prophets speak will be fulfilled, and if not, then the prophets were false prophets, and should die! No human-authored book would dare to make so many predictions, so far in advance, and therefore subject its authenticity to such chance - yet God did to prove He wrote it and the we need to heed it!
d. The Bible Prophecies of the Second Coming
1) Just as people were prompted to expect and look forward to Christ's first coming as Saviour, the whole world should know that he is most assuredly coming again! Only this time, He comes as KING! Everything that is happening in world events is a constant, and planned build-up towards this arrival!
2) Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him … And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, ... And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 1:7 & 19:11,16)
e. But those only refer to the coming of the Messiah - There were hundreds of other prophecies
1) About the downfall of Babylon (Isa 13:19) And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
2) The destruction of Nineveh (Zep 2:13) And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness.
3) The captivity of Israel. 2Ki 20:17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
4) The return from captivity (Jer 29:14) And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
5) The coming of four world empires before the messiah – Babylon, Persia, Greece, and then Rome (Daniel)
6) The destruction of the Jewish Temple (Matthew 24)
4. Because it encourages the Christian (Rev 1:3)
a. Thrills the Christian (Lk 21:28)
b. Thwarts the devil – he can’t break God’s plan
B. The Use of Prophecy by Christians Today - Why every Christian should study prophecy
1. PROPHECY IS NECESSARY FOR SPIRITUAL PERFECTION (2 Ti. 3:16-17). We are told that ALL Scripture is given by God and is profitable and necessary for the building of the mature Christian. Is prophecy not a large part of Scripture? Indeed, prophecy is woven into every page of the Word of God. The study of, understanding of, and obedience to prophecy is seen as essential for a strong Christian life.
2. PROPHECY IS DEPENDABLE (Is. 25:1; 2 Pet 1:19-21). According to the Apostle Peter, in the first chapter of his second epistle, the written prophetic Word is more dependable than visions (v. 16), than voices (v. 17), than great spiritual mountaintop experiences (v. 18).
3. IT IS A RESPONSIBILITY TO STUDY PROPHECY (Lk. 24:25-27). The Lord Jesus Christ firmly rebukes the disciples for not believing prophecy. At the judgment seat of Christ every Christian will be held accountable for whether or not he studied and believed the prophecies of the Bible. In light of this warning, we must reject the tendency by so many to treat prophecy lightly. Not only will the Christian be held accountable for his attitude toward prophecy, but the unbeliever will be, as well. In Lk. 16:29-31, Abraham told the rich man in Hell that his lost brothers on earth would be accountable for whether or not they believed the prophets.
4. BIBLE PROPHECY HAS POWER TO SANCTIFY MY LIFE (1Jn 3:2,3).
a. It gives hope in a hopeless world (Ro. 15:4).
b. It gives joy (Jn. 8:56).
c. It gives comfort (1 Th. 4:18; Is. 40:1,2).
d. It gives understanding in the midst of confusion (Da. 9:1-2).
e. It produces diligence and purity (Ro. 13:11-14; 1 Jn. 3:1-3).
f. It produces patience and endurance in the midst of trials (2 Co. 4:16-18).
g. It stimulates Christian labour (1 Co. 15:51-58).
h. It brings time and life into proper perspective with eternity (Ps. 73:1-3,12-17; Is. 26:20; 29:17; 54:7-8).
i. It stimulates Christians to abide in Christ (1 Jn. 2:28).
IV. Conclusion and Application
A. Use what has already been prophesied – don’t look for more prophecies
1. To strike the fear of God into hearers – they are warnings
2. To encourage the believers – they are promises
B. Look forward to the future – don’t fear it – it will come out just fine!
Bible Baptist Church
Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland