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Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 127

The Gifts Part 32

Prophecy

As we proceed with our discussion on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we come upon the gift of prophecy, by far the most controversial, misunderstood, polarizing, and doubted gift. Since the gift of prophecy is next on the list of gifts as outlined by Paul in Corinthians, we will, for the foreseeable future be discussing this great gift, which he likewise said we should desire to receive.

For those who diligently study the word of God, they soon realize that most of the teaching on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and especially prophecy is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Yes, Ephesians has a few verses on the offices within the body of Christ, but the overwhelming amount of writing concerning the gifts themselves are addressed to the church at Corinth.

In Paul’s day, Corinth was the most important city in Greece. It was by all rights a wealthy city since it was a bustling hub of worldwide commerce, but it was also a city steeped in idolatrous religions, and its culture had degraded to such a level that it was a constant struggle to keep the newfound church tethered to Christ and pursuing righteousness.

There was a soft spot in Paul’s heart for the church at Corinth since he is the one who founded it, and as any man who pours himself into his calling, and sacrifices of himself to build up a body of believers, Paul’s concern for the brethren in Corinth was evident in all that he wrote to them.

I have said often enough that one of the things I appreciate and respect about the word of God is that it doesn’t air brush away the wrinkles and the boils. Whenever we are presented with a body of believers, or an individual believer, the Bible does not go out of its way to make them look holier or more righteous than they are, but reveals the inward truth of the heart, however jaded or stained that heart might be.

God does not whitewash sin, He does not sweep it under the rug, and neither does the word of God. Much of Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth reads like a ‘what not to do as a believer’ manifesto. Paul addresses a variety of problems in the lifestyle of the Corinthian church, from factions, to immorality to questionable practices, to lawsuits to abuses of the Lord’s Supper, and of course to the abuses of the spiritual gifts found therein.

Yes, the Church at Corinth was a church that was called out of a pagan society, it had its problems its struggles and its pressures, but because they lived in the midst of a pagan society it did not mitigate their responsibility toward God, nor did it nullify God’s command that His children be holy and righteous and upright.

At least the believers at Corinth were sincere enough of heart to ask for guidance, to desire the truth even if that truth turned out to be painful to receive and rebuking in nature, so they sent a delegation of three men who brought a letter to Paul outlining all the questions they had concerning certain matters, and asked his judgment on them.

The answers to the questions that these three men presented to Paul were all written in a letter, which today has come to be known as Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. This letter covers a wide array of topics, it also covers many of the rebukes that Paul leveled against the church at Corinth, but it likewise covers the most beautiful writing contained within the word of God on love, as well as much wisdom on the power of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

One of the most grievous things that Paul points out, and rebukes the church in Corinth of, is the fact that they believed as long as spiritual gifts operated in the church, then their day to day lives didn’t matter, nor did their return to the sinful ways from which they had been saved.

Long before getting into the gifts of the Holy Spirit, their operation, and the importance of prophecy among the gifts, Paul reminds the Corinthian church that they were washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of God. As such, their lives ought to imitate the life of Christ, their conduct the conduct of Christ, their thoughts the thoughts of Christ, and their works the works of Christ.

Before we even begin to explore the edges of prophecy there are certain things that we must clear up because they will aid us in the long run, the first of which is the fact that a life of righteousness and holiness must be coupled with any gift of the Holy Spirit in order for it to be true and sovereign. Living a life in accordance to the will of God is not an option for those who desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit it is a necessity, for they are inseparable.

We cannot hope to receive the Holy Spirit and the gifts thereof while still clinging to the things of this life, while still allowing the world to have sway over us, while still dividing our hearts in such a way wherein they are not wholly God’s.

‘Well, I know I’m not living the way I ought, I know I’m not doing the things I ought, I likewise know I am doing things I ought not to do, but I still speak in tongues, so I must be alright with God.’

Do not deceive yourself! The temple of the Holy Spirit is holy, and He remains in the temple for as long as the temple remains holy. You were washed, you were set apart, you were sanctified, and you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, not to return to your old sins, not to return to your old life, but to live a life of holiness and devotion to the One who washed you sanctified you redeemed you and justified you.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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