The Miraculous Gifts of the Spirit

1 Corinthians

The Miraculous Gifts of the Spirit

November 27th, 1955 @ 10:50 AM

1 Corinthians 12:4

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Corinthians 12:4

11-27-55     10:50 a.m.


In our preaching through the Word, we are in the twelfth chapter of the first Corinthian letter.  And if you will turn to it, you can follow the sermon, the twelfth chapter of the first Corinthian letter.  And whether I can make it meaningful to anyone else or not, the preparation of it was one of the most meaningful times that I have had in my study of the book.  The message today is entitled the The Miraculous Gifts of the Spirit.   Now we begin reading in the twelfth chapter of the first Corinthian letter at the fourth verse:

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

There are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge . . .

To another faith . . . to another gifts of healing . . .

To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

But all these differing gifts are given by the one and the selfsame Spirit, who divides to every man severally as He will, as the Spirit chooses.

[1 Corinthians 12:4-11]

Then follows the passage about the body of Christ, which is the church, that he likens to the human body that has many members, but all the members work together to make one living entity [1 Corinthians 12:12-26].

Now we pick it up again at the twenty-seventh verse after he talks about the body and the many members all making one body, so we being many are one body in Christ.  Now the twenty-seventh verse:

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

And 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.

Are all prophets?  are all apostles?  are all teachers?  are all workers of miracles?

Have all the gifts of healing?  do all speak with tongues?  do all interpret?

[1 Corinthians 12:27-30]

Now that is a reading of the passage.  In this passage Paul has listed two groups, two listings of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.  One list is in the twelfth chapter, the eighth through the eleventh verse [1 Corinthians 12:8-11].  The other list is in the same chapter, the twenty-eighth through the thirtieth verses [1 Corinthians 12:28-30].  Now there are two lists in there of the gifts of the Spirit, and they are not the same, the lists differ.

All right, this is one difference.  Your list in verse 28 through 30, he lists the gifts of the Spirit by the order of their importance [1 Corinthians 12:28-30].

  • The highest gift of the Holy Spirit of God is to be an apostle [1 Corinthians 12:28].
  • The second is to be a prophet.
  • The third is to be a teacher.
  • The fourth, to work miracles.
  • The fifth to be a healer.
  • The sixth, helps.
  • The next, governments.
  • The next, diversities of tongues [1 Corinthians 12:28].

Now he lists those gifts of the Spirit in the order of their importance.

Now, in the eighth through the tenth verses, he lists the gifts of the Spirit in the order of their frequency; one, the word of wisdom, another knowledge, another faith, another the gift of healing, another the working of miracles, another prophecy, another discerning of the [spirits], another all kinds of tongues, and another the interpretation of tongues [1 Corinthians 12:8-10].  You will notice the gift of tongues is last in importance over here in 28 [1 Corinthians 12:28], and it is last in frequency over here in 8 to 10 [1 Corinthians 12:8-10].

Now there is another way that, as we look at that, we can divide those gifts of the Spirit.  Some of them are natural gifts, and some of them are supernatural.  Here are the natural gifts.  And by a natural gift, I mean the uninspired have them also.  It is something that is common in humanity, but the reason Paul calls them gifts of the Spirit is because under the hand of the Holy Spirit, these natural gifts are elevated.  They are lifted up until they become something special and something different.

Now these are the natural gifts.  To be an apostle was to be a man chosen of God at that time in which those men lived [1 Corinthians 12:28].  We do not have any apostles anymore.  We do not need them.  We have the Bible.  They did not have this New Testament.  We have it now, so we do not need an apostle, and there will be no more apostles.

All right, another one is a teacher [1 Corinthians 12:28].  That is a natural gift, but under the power of the Holy Spirit can be greatly elevated and inspired.  Some people have the gift of making others know things.  They have the gift of teaching.

Another natural gift is the gift of healing [1 Corinthians 12:28].  Our physicians have that, and that gift of healing can be greatly elevated if the physician will give himself to God, if a man will pray before he operates.  However good a surgeon he may be without God, if he would take God into his heart and into his operating room, he would be a far better healer and physician.  And he could do miraculous things in the power of God if he would dedicate his gifts of healing to the Lord.  But it is a natural gift that can be greatly elevated.

Another one is help [1 Corinthians 12:28].  By help he means the people who are in the organized life of the church.  Some of them are deacons.  Some of them are administrators.  Some are on the church staff.  Some are in these organized classes.  They are in Training Union; they are in Brotherhood; they are in the WMU; they are in the denomination.

Another one is governments [1 Corinthians 12:28].  Some people are born leaders.  They just are.  You put them in any kind of a group, and they immediately stand out.  They start leading, and other people just almost unconsciously are obedient to their will.

Now those are the natural gifts.  You find them in other men.  You find them among the uninspired.  You find them among unbelievers.  But under the power of the Holy Spirit, they can be greatly elevated and enlarged.

Now these are the supernatural gifts.  One is miracles, another is prophecy, and a third is speaking in tongues [1 Corinthians 12:10].  Now we are going to look at those supernatural gifts.  One is miracles [1 Corinthians 12:10].  The Holy Spirit bestows upon some the working of miracles, but that’s a rare, rare, rare, rare thing.  It is most rare, rare, rare.  Elijah raised one from the dead [1 Kings 17:20-23; Acts 20:7-12].  Elisha raised one from the dead [2 Kings 4:32-37].  Peter raised one from the dead [Acts 9:37-41].  Paul raised one from the dead, but that is all.  All the other prophets, all the other apostles never raised anybody from the dead.

The only time that God ever works miracles is when there is a definite purpose and reason for it.  God just doesn’t go around working miracles, not like this means miracles.  He just doesn’t.  There is an economy of God in running His universe that is manifest everywhere in all the things that you see God do.  And so it is with miracles.  I have seen missionaries who have described; they were eyewitnesses of miracles that God had wrought.

There was a reason for them.  If God would have let me work miracles, let me do some fantastic, unbelievable thing up here in the pulpit, the people wouldn’t come here to hear me preach.  They would come here to see me do a miracle.  I couldn’t preach the truth of God.  They would be here like so many curiosity gazers on a big fat man at the Ringling Brothers, Barnum-Bailey combined circus.  You would get out of religion into the idolatrous and the fantastic and the unbelievable.  That’s not religion.  The only time God works a miracle is when there is a reason for it, such as His imprimatur upon the great ministry of the Son of God or upon these marvelous apostles who launched this faith into the world.

And let me say this before I go on, if it were necessary and if it were in the economy and wisdom of God for us to work a miracle here, a marvelous miracle to raise somebody from the dead, God would give us that power if it were purposeful, if it were in the economy and choice of God.

So, there are some who had the gift of miracles [1 Corinthians 12:10].  Elijah did!  Elisha did!  Simon Peter did!  Paul did!  There are others who have worked miracles, but I say it is in the keeping choice of God, and it is very, very rare, very, very, very exceedingly rare.  I’d like very, very much to impress that upon your hearts.  Don’t go around here thinking, “Well, God is not among us.  I’ve never seen a miracle.”  The point is the purpose of a miracle is to do a work for God.  It is economy.  It is to impress a thing.  It is to bring a thing.  It is to do a thing for which God has purposely chosen it, and we just don’t need it, and it would not be good for us to have it and to do it.  So it is rare, I say.

Now, the second one here is the speaking in tongues [1 Corinthians 12:10].  That is a supernatural gift of the Spirit.  There are three times in the Bible where it says the gift of tongues was bestowed upon those who possessed that miraculous visitation.  One is in the second chapter of the Book of Acts at Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit came upon them, and they all spake in different languages.  And the Medes, and the Parthians, and the Mesopotamians, and the Cappadocians, and the Romans, and the Greeks, and the Elamites, and all the sojourners from different parts of the world, every one of them heard the gospel in his own native tongue [Acts 2:4-11].  Now that was a gift, a miraculous gift at Pentecost.

The second time the gift of tongues is mentioned is in Acts 10:46 when the household of Cornelius was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and they all magnified God with tongues.  And the other time is in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts when those twelve Ephesian disciples who were followers of John the Baptist received the anointing power of the Holy Spirit, and they magnified the Lord with tongues [Acts19:1-6].

Now the one at Pentecost was plainly a language.  It was a spoken language because all those different people understood it and heard in their own native tongue the message of God [Acts 2:6-11].  The other two seems to have been ecstatic utterances.  The men were so filled with the joy of the salvation of God that ordinary human speech could not contain the adoration and glory they felt in their souls, and it overflowed into an unintelligible adoration of God that was beyond what the ordinary mind could understand.

Now, that gift of speaking in tongues was very prized by this Corinthian church.  It was much sought after.  After all, they were humans just like all of us are humans.  Anything that is exceedingly rare and different that sets a man apart, we like to pant after, to seek after.  We like to be different from our brethren, from our fellow creatures, “You see, I have this gift, and it sets me apart from everybody else because you don’t have it.  All you hoi polloi out there, you have not got it.  You, you just common folks, all of you out there, but I am separate and apart.  I have this unusual gift of the Spirit!”

Well, that is the way the Corinthians were.  Now, Paul, in writing to the Corinthian church said just the opposite ought to be the truth.  The gift of the Spirit that you seek for and pray for ought to be the gift of the Spirit that will bind you close to your brothers, that will put you with your people.  The gift, for example, he says, “Covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way” [1 Corinthians 12:31].

Then he has the thirteenth chapter there talking about this speaking in tongues, the gift of love, and of humility and of charity and of the diaconate, the service, the ministry [1 Corinthians 13:1-13], even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister [Mark 10:45].  And he speaks of it as he carries it on in the fourteenth chapter:

Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God . . .

But he that prophesies speaketh unto men to edification, to exhortation, and to comfort [1 Corinthians 14:1-3]. 

Yet in the church, he says, I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue [1 Corinthians 14:19].

If we prophesy, and there come in one that believe not, or are unlearned, he is convinced of all. . .

The secrets of his heart are manifest.  He falls down on his face and worships God, and he says God is here among you.  All of you prophesy, that all may learn, and all may be comforted [1 Corinthians 14:24, 25, 31].

Now, what he is talking about is this: that Corinthian church sought after the gifts of speaking in tongues.  It sets this man apart.  He had an ecstasy in his soul; he had a glory in his heart that so filled his life that he couldn’t contain it in the Greek language in which he spake, so it became a great overflowing in some other tongue, in some other language that only God could understand.

Now my dear people, that’s all right.  If a man got so happy, and the Lord so moved his soul, and the glory of God came upon him, and he couldn’t contain himself, and he couldn’t describe the unutterable happiness and joy fell upon him in the English language, and he, and he praised God with, with words that only God could understand; I would say that’s all right.  Why, certainly!  The elevation of that man’s soul and the glory that came upon him, that’s fine.  That’s good!  That’s excellent!  But Paul says it’s kind of foolishness to other people.  It doesn’t do them any good.  It doesn’t edify the other people.  It doesn’t comfort them.  It doesn’t give them strength and encouragement.

Now that man is greatly elevated.  He is wonderfully lifted up.  The glory of God is in his soul, but in the church, in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue [1 Corinthians 14:19].  Paul says you ought not to seek that gift.  And that’s right.  Let’s leave that for others.  If they want to seek that gift, and I don’t believe they have it, they are just fooling me with a lot of jargon that they call speaking in an unknown tongue.  I don’t believe it.  But I do say that the gift exists, and they had it back there in the day of Pentecost [Acts 2:4-11], and they had it in Ephesus [Acts 19:1-6], and they had it in Caesarea [Acts 10:46].  But Paul says it is not to be sought.  It is not a gift for the church.  It does not edify the people of God.  It just edifies the one lone soul that receives it.

So he says let’s seek another gift, and what would it be?  Now, that’s the third supernatural gift.  The third one here is the gift of prophecy [1 Corinthians 12:10].  Paul says seek that gift.  Well, what is that gift?  First of all, look at Paul, how he writes of it.  I have just spoken of it.  “Desire spiritual gifts, but most of all, the gift of prophecy . . . [1 Corinthians 14:1].  He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, to exhortation, to comfort” [1 Corinthians 14:3].

 Then again, in prophecy, the unconverted comes and they listen, and they are convicted, and they fall down before God and report that God of the truth is in you [1 Corinthians 14:24-25].  All of you prophesy that all may learn, and all may be comforted [1 Corinthians 14:31].

There is an identical thing like that back here in the book of Moses.  In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Numbers, there is a story of Moses and the seventy elders coming upon whom the Spirit of the Lord fell,

The Lord came down in the cloud . . . and took the Spirit that was upon Moses, and put it upon the seventy elders: and it came to pass, when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied . . . .

Now there were two men over here in the camp that were not out there in front of the door of the tabernacle, and their names were Eldad and Medad.  Now there came one young man running to Moses, and said, Over there in the camp, Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.  Forbid them.

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, tell them to stop.

[Numbers 11:25-28]

“Tell them to stop, for the spirit of prophecy is just for you and for these elders upon whom God has chosen to bestow His Holy Spirit!”

And Moses said, Enviest thou for my sake?  would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!

[Numbers 11:29]

That’s what Moses said: “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and the Spirit of the Lord was upon all of them” [Numbers 11:29].  And that’s what Paul says here: “Oh, that all of you might prophesy [1 Corinthians 14:1].  He that prophesies speaketh unto men to edification, to exhortation, and to comfort” [1 Corinthians 14:3].

Well, what is this thing of being a prophet?  What is this supernatural gift of prophecy?   All right, it’s two things.  One, it is supernatural knowledge imparted from God.  Man received it from the Lord.  For example, in the seventh chapter of the Book of Luke, the Lord Jesus is sitting down at dinner, and a street woman comes in and washes His feet and bathes them with ointment and dries them with her hair.  And the Pharisee, in whose house Jesus is a guest, the Pharisee looks at that, and he says, “If Jesus were a prophet, He would know that this woman was an outcast streetwalker, and He would not let her touch Him” [Luke 7:36-39].  See what a prophet is.  He would know.  God would tell Him who that woman is.

Again, in the same Book of Luke when Jesus was bound in the presence of Pontius Pilate, they took their hands and slapped Him.  Having blindfolded Him they slapped Him and said, “Prophesy, who was it that smote Thee?” [Luke 22:63-64].

You see what the word prophesy means there?  It means with blindfolded eyes the Lord could tell which man among them, and call his name, that hit Him in the mouth, supernatural knowledge.  Now that is what most of us think about prophecy and a prophet.  He can see things and he knows things that ordinary human people do not see and do not know.  That’s one definition of a prophet.

But the common definition of a prophet and the common use of that word in the Bible is like the definition of the apostle Paul here in the fourteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians.  A prophet, and one who prophesies, is one who is so filled with the Spirit of God that with an impassioned eloquence he pours out the truth of God to edification, to exhortation, to comfort [1 Corinthians 14:3].   And it is a sign to the unbeliever as he listens to the impassioned flowing of Word and testimony of the great power of God.  His heart is convicted.  The secrets of his heart are made manifest, and he falls down and worships God [1 Corinthians 14:24-25].

Ever see a prophet like that?  Well, let me say too that some of you have seen.  I have talked to men who heard Spurgeon preach.  I talked to several men who heard Spurgeon preach.  When I was a boy, a book was placed in my hands of the life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and in that book that I saw so long ago was a picture of a carpenter, and he had a big plank in his hands, and he was taking it up to nail on the side of a house he was building.

And while that carpenter was walking towards the building with that long plank in his hands to nail it in the wall, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in such power that it struck him to the ground, and in conviction he cried out to God to save his soul.  And the Lord saved him.  And Spurgeon baptized him.  I remember that.  That comes of the great prophetic ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Another man of that same prophetic gift was B. H. Carroll.  I heard a man describe to me a service down there in the First Baptist Church in Waco, Texas where B. H. Carroll had invited some infidels in the city that were much outspoken against God and His Christ.  He had invited them to come to church.  He had challenged them to come to church.  And in the old way, and I presume maybe still, the study of the First Baptist Church in Waco is right there.  As you come out of the study, you come in front of the congregation.  It is right there.  And Carroll stayed before the Lord, and he prayed before God, and he believed in His intercession.

And when he came out, the fellow told me, and several have, he was about six feet four or five inches tall, a tremendously big man with a long, long flowing beard; they said B. H. Carroll came out, and he looked as though the glory that shined in the face of Moses [Exodus 34:29-35], was shining in the face of that stalwart man of God.  And he strode to the pulpit and took his stand and began to speak!  And they said in the middle of his sermon before he was done, one of those infidels stood up and said, “I can bear this no longer.  I believe.  I believe.  I believe!”

That is the gift of prophecy.  It is speaking in a way, in a manner so elevated, so impassioned, so filled with the Spirit of God that even unconverted sinners listening are convicted and say, “The Lord is God indeed!”

Now when I talk about that, how about you and me?  We are so dulled.  We are so sodden.  We are so earthy.  We are so weak.  We are so poor in our testimony that when we talk, nobody believes!  Nobody senses the great moving, passionate Spirit of the living God!

And that’s what is the matter with us.  That’s what is the matter with us!  That’s what is the matter with you.  That’s what is the matter with me.  We are so dull in our souls; we are so leaden in our spirit that there is no power of prophecy in us!  There is no moving of the Spirit among us!  There is no great baptism of the Holy Ghost upon us!

That’s what Paul said to seek.  Don’t seek after tongues.  Don’t seek after miracles.  Don’t seek after these strange things.  That’s in the hands of God and His choice.  But you seek after prophecy [1 Corinthians 14:1, 3, 5], the thing that edifies and comforts and lifts up the church of Jesus Christ and convinces the unconverted and brings them unto God [1 Corinthians 14:24-25].  Seek that; pray for that, the moving of the Spirit of God upon the people.

Now, may I make two observations from the Book as we read this passage?  The first observation, that a man had the gift of prophecy, that a man could speak marvelously for God was an altogether different thing than that the man be faultless, that he be infallible.  Spiritual prophecy did not make a man humanly infallible.  The prophet was not pure and unmixed.  He also was human and mortal.  He also had the weakness of the human flesh in him.

That a man has the Spirit of God upon him does not mean that he may not also have an overweening self-estimation.  He may be falsely ambitious.  He may have feet of clay.  And that is the reason that Paul gave rules here and controls here for the prophets when they spake.  When they spake in the church, and there were many people in that church that were able to prophesy who had the gift of wonderful exhortation and appeal; when they were to make appeals, the spirit of the prophet ought to be subject to the prophet [1 Corinthians 14:32].  Then again, let the prophet speak two or three, and let the others judge [1 Corinthians 14:29].  And over here in that twelfth chapter, to one is given this gift, and to another, and to another is given the gift of the discerning of spirits, whether the man is speaking in the truth of God or not [1 Corinthians 12:10].  And in the fourth chapter of the first letter of John, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” [1 John 4:1].

One of the tragedies of life is that thing right there.  Here is a man that has marvelous and unbelievable gifts from the Holy Spirit, but he is the most personally ambitious man you ever saw in your life!

When I was a kid, when I was a student, when I was going to school and I looked upon these men with great prophetic gifts as gods, then when I found out, as I went to school and began to study and to know and to look, when I found out they were like diamonds that had great big pieces of coal on the inside of them, they were idols with feet of clay.  They had tremendous weaknesses like other men.  Well, my feet collapsed then.  Well, I had to get over that.  And I did.  We all get over it.  We all get over it.

Paul says here, because a man has the great gift of prophecy, he is to speak subject to the prophets [1 Corinthians 14:32].  They are to look at him and to judge by what the man says and what he is and how he acts as to whether or not the thing he says is the revealed truth of God.  Because we have these gifts does not mean that we are infallible or removed.  We are just sinners, all of us, like everybody else, no matter what gifts you have.

Now the other observation is this; in these many gifts of the Holy Spirit, there is a unity in our summation, in the gathering of us all together; there is a unity.  “All of these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He wills” [1 Corinthians 12:11].  And then he speaks of that unity which is the unity of the body [1 Corinthians 12:12-26].

Now just summing it up the briefest I know how, this is what Paul is saying in this twelfth chapter here.  There are gifts of the Holy Spirit that are common to all of us.  We all have them!  The gift of regeneration, every child of God has it [Titus 3:5].  All of us who are Christian have been touched by the Holy Spirit [Romans 8:16].  The fact that the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ, all of us have experienced that! [1 Corinthians 12:13].

The Spirit makes us a part of the body of Jesus.  All of us have the Holy Spirit dwelling in our bodies, some of us more some of us less, but insofar as we permit, the Holy Spirit dwells in our bodies, the temple of the Spirit [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].

All of us are comforted by the Spirit; we are guided in the truth by the Spirit; we are taught by the Spirit [John 14:26].   All of those things are common to all of us.  But there are gifts of the Spirit that the Spirit severally divides to each one [1 Corinthians 12:7-11].  For example, he says, “Are all apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Are all workers of miracles?  Have all the gift of healing?  Do all speak with tongues?  Do all interpret?” [1 Corinthians 12:29-30].  No!  The Holy Spirit has given you a gift and you a gift and each one of us a gift, and those gifts are different.

Now, we are not to seek to be all alike.  The unity of the church, of the body of Christ, is not the unity of a sameness, of an alikeness among us, but it is a unity of a living principle.  It is like our bodies.  There are different members of the body, but the body is all one because of its living, animating, life-giving, life-directing principles [1 Corinthians 12:13].

So it is in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord gives to each one of us severally.  He gives to each one of us a gift.  All of us can do something.  And these gifts greatly differ, and we are not to be alike.  Not all of us are under any conditions.  If all of us were preachers, we would all starve to death.  Somebody has got to feed me and clothe me and get a house for me to live in.  And if all of us were preachers, may the Lord pity us if we were all preachers.  And if we were all anything, it wouldn’t be good.  It’s not good.  The thing that makes us one is not that we are all alike, but that each one has his gift.  And when you put them all together, it makes possible the great animating, pulsating organism that we call the body of Christ.

Now, God works like that.  In His world He has all kinds of things.  I don’t know how God could have made it, but He made it different.  In water, lead will sink.  In water, wood will float.  Why, you say, that is the, no, that is the same thing.  It is just the law of God, the gift of God manifested in opposite directions.  So with us!  Our unity is of the Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:4-6].  Our unity is inward and not outward.  Our unity is the great animating principle that actuates us and gives us life and destiny.

If we were all alike, if we were all alike, it would be just like pebbles on a seashore.  They are all alike, every one of them alike.  But there is nothing to make them cohere to one another, and nothing grows.  Even the seaweed dies on the beach.  That is a sameness.  That is a wonderful unity, all of those pebbles on the seashore. But that’s not what God does. He doesn’t even make two leaves alike. He doesn’t make two snowflakes alike.  Everything God makes is different.  And that’s the way with God in His church.  Each one of us has a gift.  God puts upon each one of us an ability.  He gives each one of us a peculiar thing that is just you.  And nobody is like you, nobody.

I read a little old cartoon, Aunt Het. Have you ever seen that in some of these newspapers?  Aunt Het says “I know I am a mighty poor imitation of something else, but I am the best example of Aunt Het in the world.”  And that’s right, that’s right.  Don’t be somebody else, and don’t strive to do a thing that God never called you to do, but be yourself.  You be you, and you be you, and you be you, and you be you, and you pick the part that God has given you.  And you do the things that God has given you the ability to do.  And when you put it all together, are all apostles? No. Are all prophets? No.  All teachers?  No.  All work miracles? [1 Corinthians 12:29].  No. I wish I could be Elijah, but I am not Elijah.

 Have all the gifts of healing? [1 Corinthians 12:28].  I wish I could have been a doctor like my mother wanted me to.  I would have prayed to God to make me a Christian doctor to do marvelous things. But He didn’t ask me to do that. I have never spoken with a tongue, and I don’t seek to.  And I don’t think we ought to seek it.  But I do say that all of us has some kind of a gift like Paul intimates here, all of us [1 Corinthians 12:28], and we are to seek to elevate that gift into the glory and usefulness of Jesus Christ.  And when we do, the Lord is magnified.

There where you are, somebody is doing what God wanted you to do, and nobody could do it but you.  And where you are and you are and you are, and put us all together all together; Dr. Roddy over there preaching to those deaf people; he has got a gift like that.  God gave it to him.

Some of you men out here just working and making money, and taking God as your partner, and loving the Lord, and coming down here and supporting these missionaries and supporting this church: some of you faithful women visiting, knocking at the door, some of them who listen to me over this radio, they are confined to their beds.  And all they can do is to say pastor, “By day and by night do we lift up your hands in prayer; do we love the church and pray for it; all of us, all of us with the several gifts of the Spirit.  And when we dedicate our highest best to God, our usefulness in His gracious hands, and look what He does; look at His favor upon us; and look how the body lives and breaths, and is quickened and animated.  That’s God.  That’s the Lord, and those are the gifts of His Spirit.

Now we sing our song, and while we sing the appeal, somebody you this morning, give his heart to Jesus, somebody you, come into the fellowship of this church. While we make appeal and while we sing this song, into the aisle and down here to the front by my side, “Here I come, pastor, and here is my family, why, all of us are coming this morning.”  Somebody who has trusted Jesus as his Savior, “and the Lord added unto the church those who were being saved, every day, every day” [Acts 2:47].  This week you have decided to give your heart in trust and faith to Christ, you come; you come.  As God shall lay the appeal upon your heart in any way; however God shall say the word, you come and stand by me, while all of us sing the song together, standing and praying.


Dr. W.
A. Criswell

Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-30


I.          Introduction

A.  The
“ministry gifts” of the Spirit named twice

1.  Listed
in order of importance(1 Corinthians 12:28-30)

Listed in order of frequency(1 Corinthians

B.  Natural
and supernatural

1.  Natural
– those capacities originally found in human nature, elevated by the gift of
Holy Spirit

a. Apostles, teaching, healing,
helps, governments

These gifts exist among unbelievers; but under power of Holy Spirit they can be
greatly elevated and enlarged

Supernatural – created, called into existence by the Spirit

a. Miracles, prophecy,

II.         The supernatural gifts

A.  Miracles
– rare in frequency; for needed, special purposes

B.  Tongues,

Listed last in importance, last in frequency

2.  Three
times in New Testament this gift bestowed(Acts
2:4, 8, 10:46, 19:6)

At Pentecost was plainly a spoken language; other two seem to have been
ecstatic utterances

Gift of tongues prized and sought after in Corinthian church

But Paul said value gifts that bind us to one another(1 Corinthians 12:31; 13; 14:1-4, 19)

C.  Prophecy
– Paul encouraged all Christians to seek the gift (1
Corinthians 14:1, 24-25, 31, Numbers 11:16, 25-29)

1.  Used
in two senses, meanings

Speaking with supernatural knowledge(Luke 7:39,

Paul’s definition – to speak with such power of God that even unbelievers
convicted, fall down before God(1 Corinthians
4:3-4, 24-25)

III.        Observations from the Scriptures

A.  Possession
of a spiritual gift was not accompanied by spiritual faultlessness

1.  Paul
established rules of control(1 Corinthians
12:10, 14:29, 32, 1 John 4:1)

B.  Unity
in diversity(1 Corinthians 12:11)

1.  Not all have all, but each
has one or some