Saturday, 6 May 2017

Things of the Spirit

"...there are differences of ADMINISTRATIONS but the same Lord. And there are diversities of OPERATIONS, but it is the same God which worketh all in all" (I Cor. 12:5,6).

Administrations, operations, manifestations (verse 7).

Some things can be the same in general, but not the same in particular.

Like: durian ice-cream, chee cheong fun, and a market stall operator. They're the same in general - things you can find at a night market. But they're not the same in particular - because one includes raw fruit, another is a processed and cooked grain, while the other describes a personal role.

Or a sedan; ute; SUV; vehicle manufacturer; vehicle salesperson; vehicle driver; cylinder block; connecting rod; and engine bearing - they're each the same in general: they all belong equally in a list of things broadly relevant to the automobile industry. But they're not each the same, considered particularly - because some are types of vehicles; while others describe personal roles; and still others are components of internal combustion engines.

It's the same with "spiritual [gifts]" (KJV) - "spiritual things" (YLT). Paul didn't want them to be ignorant about things pertaining to the spirit. All things pertaining to the spirit are alike in a general sense and could be listed together, even though in a more particular sense they aren't all alike in function so some of them are considered in separate lists.

The word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues is one list or group (I Cor.12:7-1-). It's a list of nine manifestations of the Spirit considered in the public gathering. A list of types of manifestations - which could be given to any person, as the Spirit wills, for public expression.

The discussion that ensues (chapters 12-14) isn't about what a believer may do privately; nor about which experiences can or can't be common to all Spirit-filled believers - it's about the public expression of them. In that scenario, nine manifestations of the Spirit exist. But those nine public manifestations of the Spirit aren't the only level of gifts, or functions which the Spirit gives or which aren't also valid. For example, a believer may pray privately in tongues, without an interpreter. Four signs shall follow them that believe: casting out devils, speaking with new tongues, picking up snakes or drinking deadly things being unhurt, and laying hands on the sick and the sick recovering. He also gave some apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
The Spirit makes some overseers, elders, bishops, presbyters. Some were to be appointed as deacons, servers. Some also exhort, help, or show mercy. All of these are "spiritual things" (I Cor.12:1 YLT), and belong in the same category generally considered - but they're not all in the same category particularly considered. On the day of Pentecost, all were filled with the Spirit and spoke with tongues (and that was likely the case at Samaria, in Cornelius' household, and with the twelve disciples at Ephesus too) - but that didn't mean everyone became recognised for a public role of addressing a congregation in an unknown tongue. Not everyone becomes recognised for a public ministry of doing that. Similar with prophecy. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, Joel predicted. But that doesn't mean they all stand in the office of Prophet. The simple gift of prophecy doesn't necessarily equate to a person being a Prophet. Every time Luke made a point of mentioning accompanying manifestations when a group were filled with the Spirit, the one common denominator he mentioned each time was speaking with tongues. So at the very least, we can say speaking with tongues ought to be quite common, when people initially get filled with the Spirit - if not always. The fact that not all become known for a regular public role of addressing a congregation in tongues, with interpretation, doesn't necessarily mean all believers can't desire to speak with tongues.

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