Greatness in Spirit - RR274K19b
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission.|
Let us pray. Almighty God our Heavenly Father we give thanks unto Thee that day after day Thy mercies are new every morning. We thank Thee that we move, live and have our being in Thee. So that there is nothing strange or ungodly that ever can befall us. For Thy hand is always upon us. Thy purposes are always revealed in all the experiences of our life. So that in Christ Jesus we are more than conquerors, ever victorious in the face of all adversities. Great and marvelous are Thy ways oh Lord and we praise Thee. Bless us this morning as we give ourselves to the study of Thy word, grant us Thy peace. Teach us to know Thee in everything. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Let us turn to First Corinthians 12:26-31. Our subject: Greatness in the Spirit.
“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
As we have seen, Paul stresses earlier in this chapter the unity of Christ in his body. Unity in diversity. The body of Christ is His new human race. It is His redeemed humanity. The church as Christ’s body is this new humanity. Basic to Paul’s outlook and to the body is the fact that there are two human races, the first of the old Adam and the second of the last Adam, Jesus Christ. Now, the church does not represent Christ’s deity because no human agency can do so. The council of Chalcedon in 451 was emphatic. Christ’s deity is unique, marks only himself, not any Christian, not any church. And it has been a heresy over and over again in the church. To deify the church, to say when one speaks of it as being Christ’s body that it shares in his divinity. But it doesn’t! In the circles of Greek and Russian and other Orthodox churches, theosis, deification is presented as salvation and still other circles the church is the deified body. But this is impossible. Since Chalcedon it has been ruled heretical by all who will pay attention to it. [00:05:38]
So we must insist the church, the Christian, the believer...
So we must insist the church, the Christian, the believer represents the new human race in Christ, the new Adam. Christ’s deity is his unique nature. The new human race is not divine but it witnesses to the Lord’s deity. As against the old and fallen humanity of the first Adam the last Adam Jesus Christ is the head of a redeemed and regenerate human race. This concept of the one body united in faith and purpose is asserted in Christian faith and life. The individualism and archaic isolation of the Greco-Roman culture was unhappily carried over into the early church. They saw hermits and Acolytes living a solitary life as a higher way. Few people as they read about the movement into the desert of individuals living in caves or in shacks to live a holier life are aware of the fact that that was an essentially pagan movement. As Rome became more and more degenerate more and more people within the Greco-Roman culture fled from these, fled from all the degeneracy all around them, went into the deserts and became hermits, monks, nuns, living a life in isolation from others. Seeking a higher way spiritually. And of course it was false. A higher way is not abandonment of the world and of the body but the redemption of it! It’s a sad fact that the desert fathers, so called, led that movement which has a profound influence on the whole history of the church. Has made the spiritual life something in isolation from the problems of the world. Now this is a fallen world! We feel the effects of the fall, all of this, we Christians, it’s all around us, it impacts us, it’s within us! This is why we have ailments, why our bodies grow old, why we have sicknesses and problems. [00:09:24]
But! As members of the new human race death no longer has any power over us. We belong to the new human race, the new humanity of the last Adam. Therefore our destiny is victory in time and eternity. Oh Death where is thy sting? Oh Grave where is thy victory, Paul says. True we suffer these things, true we go through these things, because we are part of an army and this world and everything it represents does not want to see the triumph of Christ. But we are in that battle, materially and spiritually. This is what Paul is talking about in Corinthians. The totality of the victory. In your marriage, in your flesh which culminates in the resurrection, in your relationship with everyone around you, so this is why Paul as he goes through this letter hits hard on one issue after another. Because he knows that impulse to say that well, I’ve arrived, is strong in all of us. The pagan desert fathers went out into the desert and thought that now we’re rid of all the problems of Rome, all that degeneracy, all the perversity, but they weren’t! They carried themselves into the desert, so they were their own torment! So what does Paul say in Corinthians? You are going to have to confront and conquer this sphere and in that and your whole life is going to be a battle but it’s a battle unto victory! There is no place for coasting. And for those who might feel that well of course since you’ve done so much for the Lord, Paul, you’ve been particularly spared some of the problems. Paul proceeds to list all he’s been through. Tossed to the lions but surviving, shipwreck, beatings and so on. It’s a battle! That’s what this world is about. [00:12:37]
And we as members of the new humanity have a calling...
And we as members of the new humanity have a calling and we are to be warriors for Christ. Battling against the world, battling against sin and death, with the absolute assurance of victory. In verse twenty one, err twenty six, Paul again stresses the unity of Christ’s body. When one member suffers all the members suffer with it or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Those who are indifferent to the sufferings of the persecuted churches are indifferent to Christ. Again those who rejoice at the churches triumphs anywhere are truly a part of Christ’s new humanity. To drive this point home Paul reminds the Corinthian church now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular, verse twenty seven. The various members Paul has already pointed out, differ in their function and importance. But the health of the body is the health of all its members. If some particular members see themselves in isolation from all the others they are then also in isolation from Jesus Christ. There is a unity in the body of Christ. Now this carries over, this is Paul’s point again and again in to all spheres of life. It carries over into the family. If a child suffers the parents suffer. If a husband or a wife be ill both suffer. And this we need to remember. It’s not only the sick person who is suffering; both are in their separate ways equally as much. Because we are, Paul says, members one of another. So that our life, our experiences are not in isolation. Members in the family of Christ, the church of Jesus Christ. [00:16:91]
In verse twenty eight Paul lists some of the callings...
In verse twenty eight Paul lists some of the callings of people in the church, apostles are messengers of the King, prophets who are preachers who speak to God, that is the literal meaning of prophet, one who speaks for God, because of our curiosity about things we tend to stress the future foretelling by a prophet. But that’s a very, very minor aspect of the life of the prophets of the Old Testament, they speak for God. Then teachers are cited, men who expound the word of God carefully. Some puritan churches would call two men, one as a pastor and another as a teacher. Then Paul cites the gift of miracles and also healings. Healings is more restricted then miraculous powers. Helps refers the diaconate and the ministry of mercy. Then Paul speaks of governments, literally of Pilates, men who are able at giving directions so the church needs leaders who have diversities of tongues. Various kinds of tongues. Each gift is given for service to others. There are diversities of gifts in the one body. No one man has all the gifts, Paul notes in verses twenty nine and thirty. He adds interpretation of tongues as a gift. There should be no envying of another man’s gifts. In as much as they are the gifts of the church, of the body, they are also our gifts. So we can rejoice in one another’s gifts, they are part of ours even though someone else in our church or family possesses them. Therefore covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet show I unto you a more excellent way. There is a greater gift that unlike here cited is available to all. Paul will go into that in First Corinthians 13. Faith, hope and love. In Galatians 5:22 following Paul cites this same common gift also. But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace and long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law. [00:20:25]
Now that’s important to remember because for the purposes...
Now that’s important to remember because for the purposes of speaking to the Corinthian church he confines himself in the next chapter to faith hope and love. But in Galatians he makes clear that the gifts of the spirit include love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, and all these things. The fruit of the spirit is a great charismatic gift, Paul says. So that the idea of the Charismatics, that because they can do certain things or believe they can do certain things whether they do them or not, theirs is a special and a high gift is nonsense. Paul tells us what the greatest gifts are. It is not now normally taken to be a charismatic gift but Paul stresses as the greatest gift, faith, hope, love. This tells us how warped our current outlook is both within and outside the charismatic movement. The greatest gift is the spiritual one which is not held hermit like in isolation but in community. The gifts, the activities and works of faith are very necessary but they must be governed by these gifts of the spirit. In First Corinthians 13 three of these spiritual gifts common to all are stressed, faith, hope and love, and in Galatians 5:22-23 nine are cited. These are the works of the Holy Spirit in us. For the various functional gifts cited First Corinthians 12:28-29 to have any validity there must be spiritual gifts motivating them. Paul as an apostle certainly had many gifts in his ministry but it’s greatness was the faith, hope and love he always manifested and sometimes in rebuke as in First Corinthians. Not all men can have these spiritual gifts but all can manifest faith, hope and love even if the special gifts are lacking. Greatness in the kingdom is not manifest only by the great gifts but above all by greatness in the spirit. Over the centuries men have recognize that First Corinthians 13 is one of the greatest chapters of scripture because it sets forth the way of greatness in the kingdom which is open to all. Very humble believers as well as important ones can manifest this power and greatness. The gifts are diverse; the unity is in Christ and the Holy Spirit. Let us pray. [00:24:50]
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word...
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word. We thank Thee that Thou hast made us members of this new humanity, has blessed us with the gifts of the spirit. And has told us where Thy greatest gifts lie. Teach us to exercise them, teach us to manifest them, teach us to more than conquerors in Christ. In His name we pray, Amen.
Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?
[Man speaking] Rush, which of the gifts that are mentioned here do you consider apostolic and limited therefore to that era and which do you consider to be permanent features of the church?
[Rushdoony] Yes, that’s been a great controversy over the generations, the apostolic and the permanent. Well of course the apostles do not continue. Then prophets well that can be anyone who speaks for God, who proclaims his word. Teachers, that’s still a valid, and always will be, gift. After that, miracles and gifts of healing, those there are many who question if they continue in the same sense as in the apostolic era, also the diversities of tongue. Helps and governments here still continue. Now, what Paul is concerned with stressing is the greatest gifts of all. So that I do not feel that we have to be dogmatic here and absolutely exclude what charismatics want included, what we have to do is stress what is the greatest gift, the gifts that are open to all of us. Can we feel as some do that these charismatic gifts of a special kind of healings and tongues represent a better faith? No. We’re going against the plain meaning of the text. So that Paul says there is a more excellent way and I would contend that more important than trying to prove that the charismatic gifts that are claimed by some groups are important and indicate a greater development in the church is wrong because the more excellent way lies elsewhere. And it is the more excellent way that we must cultivate. So that Paul is saying that even the legitimate ones such as teachers, prophets, pastors who speak for God, do not rank as high then those who manifest the spiritual gifts. Faith, hope and love above all else. Yes? [00:29:37]
[Man speaking] Is verse twenty five a warning against...
[Man speaking] Is verse twenty five a warning against multiple denominations?
[Rushdoony] That there should be no schism in the body, that the members should have the same care one for another. Now the reference there is not to groups that break away in terms of say, modernism, or false teachings, false doctrine. It means here literally what the Greek word denotes, divisions. Divisions in the church over none-essential things. Paul in one of his letters urge two women in a particular church to make peace with each other, in other words in contending for leadership among the women in the church perhaps they were creating a problem there. So that’s the kind of schism or division that Paul is talking about. The church split into two groups because two men or two women have differing ideas about how things should be done. It’s a sad fact but I’ve seen very, very fine churches where the whole congregation is divided right down the middle because two elders have differing ideas about the life and future of their congregation and the pastor is caught between the two of men and it is a perpetual nightmare. That’s the kind of division or schism that Paul has referenced to. Does that answer your question or didn’t I?
[Same man speaks] You were getting there, but I mean within the protestant faith there are many different denominations, is that what Paul is warning against, I mean it has already happened in effect.
[Rushdoony] No, I’m not saying Paul approves of that but I’m saying that Paul is not warning about that but within a congregation, the divisions that exist. Within Protestantism the divisions are really theological, they are Arminian versus Reformed and within the Armenian circles in particular you have the vast number of divisions, that’s where most of them are. Almost all the various protestant groups are Arminian. If you go into the Reformed or Calvinistic side the divisions there are theological rather than personal and given to minor issues. Yes? [00:33:27]
[Man speaking] In verse twenty eight ...
[Man speaking] In verse twenty eight “then gifts of healings, helps, governments.” On those three points I think we can observe people having those gifts both inside the church and outside the church. And there are people who are pilots, who are given to giving direction. And there are people who are given to giving help in whatever they are involved with.
[Rushdoony] Yes, these gifts are in the church and outside the church, they are to impact the world which is inclusive of the Christian community. So that their gifts are to be applied across the board, universally.
[Same man speaks] Then where it finishes ‘diversity of tongue’ are we to relegate to that, can that be referring to speaking different languages with a great deal of skill as opposed to tongues in a charismatic sense?
[Rushdoony] I’m not sure I…
[Same man speaks] Well diversity of tongues, just as you apply to people who are given to leadership everywhere, you have people who are given to languages and people who don’t. Is it diversity of tongues here, can we give that away properly?
[Rushdoony] Here it meant more specifically the ability to speak to other peoples in their language. It was an apostolic gift limited to the apostolic age. As far as we know after the fall of Jerusalem it ended. So that before the fall of Jerusalem the covenant peoples of the old covenant received a mighty witness that Jesus Christ was still alive. That was a great testimony, that Jesus who ye crucified is alive! In his name and power I command you, get up and walk or do this or that. So the purposes of the gifts of the Spirit in certain areas was as a witness to Israel, he’s not dead. He’s alive, He’s present. These gifts stop of that variety after the fall of Jerusalem. Now the church goes to all the world and it witnesses but the witness is now to Christ whom they did not know. To Israel it was a Christ whom they know, who had walked among them is alive. Well if there are no further questions let us conclude now with prayer. [00:37:14]
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for Thy word, for...
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for Thy word, for Thy plain speaking, for the requirements Thou dost make of us. For apart from Thee and Thy word we will go astray. Give us the spirit of obedience and faith; make us joyful in what Thou ordaineth. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.