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LESSON 9 - ONE BODY, MANY PARTS -- ONE CHURCH, MANY MEMBERS
(1 CORINTHIANS 12)

Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984
International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations
from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes
the teacher uses a blackboard. This lesson can be found at:
<URL:http://www.cameronlaw.com>

INTRODUCTION:  This week we begin the first of three lessons on
spiritual gifts. Let's dig in!

I. POWER SOURCE

     A. Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. Do you think that the
     Corinthians had asked Paul his opinion about spiritual gifts?
     (Sure looks like it. "Now about spiritual gifts," sounds like
     the beginning of 1 Corinthians 8: "Now about food sacrificed
     to idols...." This is yet another topic in a series of Paul's
     answers.)

     B. Does Paul seem surprised that these Corinthians used to
     worship idols? (Yes. In verse 2 he says, "Somehow or other."
     He also mentions the idols were "mute," to add to the logical
     oddity that something that could not speak had influence over
     them.)

     C. Note that v.3 starts with, "Therefore." How does the
     message of v.3 follow from the first two verses?  In v.1 he
     says "don't be ignorant," in v.2 he says, "you were led astray
     by idols." THEREFORE, v.3....?? (It was difficult at first to
     understand this. He seems to be making a contrast. Even mute
     idols had their influence. Now, the power of the living Spirit
     of God influences them as Christians.  Since that influence
     must be present in every Christian, you can tell if it is
     present by what the person says.)

          1. Verse three tells us that a Spirit-led Christian will
          not say, "Jesus be cursed."  The Greek word is
          "anathema," which is now part of our English vocabulary.
          What does anathema mean? (Something that is detestable to
          you is "anathema.")

          2. The Greek word for "Lord" is "Kurios" which, according
          to Barclay, is the word used to describe the Roman
          Emperor!  With this sense of the word, what kind of an
          attitude would a Christian have who said, (v.3), "Jesus
          is Lord?" (That Jesus was the supreme authority!)

          3. Are all who say, "Jesus is Lord," led by the Holy
          Spirit?  Is Paul saying these words tell us the person
          has the right spiritual credentials? (I don't think so.
          Look at verses 2 and 3 together. An idol worshipper is
          influenced by the idol. Christians are influenced by the
          Spirit.  Therefore you can look at a person's attitude
          and get a good idea of whether he or she is Spirit led.
          If you detest Jesus, you are not Spirit led. If your
          attitude is that Jesus is the supreme authority in your
          life, then you are Spirit led. He is saying that the
          attitude creates the words, rather than the words
          demonstrate the attitude.)

II. UNITY IN DIVERSITY.

     A. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.  Young people like to be
     different. I like to be different. One of the struggles of
     Christian life is to determine which differences are
     acceptable and which are not. What does Paul say can be
     different in these verses? (Gifts, service, working.)

          1. What will always be the same? (Same Spirit, Lord and
          God.)

          2. Do you see any logical link between this "sameness"
          and v.3? (Paul stresses that the "common denominator" in
          spiritual gifts is our Lord.  If the person claiming to
          have the "gift" has an attitude that Jesus is anathema,
          you can be sure that the source of this gift is not God.)

               a. I think v.7 tells us that something else will be
               "the same?" What do you see in v.7 that is the
               same? (EACH ONE is given a "manifestation" of the
               Holy Spirit! This manifestation, that everyone has,
               works for the common good.)

          3. Let's go back to what is different for a minute. Paul
          states that our gifts, service and working can be
          different. What do you think he means when he refers to:

               a. Different kinds of "working?" (v.6) (What is
               "produced" can be different. The "method" can be
               different.)

                    (1) Can you give me a specific example?
                    (Different worship styles. Different
                    approaches to evangelism. Different Christian
                    music.)

               b. Different kinds of "service?" (v.5) (The Greek
               word for service is the one from which we get
               "deacon." Our work, our jobs can be different.)

                    (1) Can you give me a specific example? (Some
                    teach, some sing, etc.)

               c. Different kinds of "gifts?" (v.4) (Spiritual
               gifts. We are going to discuss this next.)

III. GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT

     A. Have you ever seen these contests where they tell someone
     that they can be in a store for 15 minutes with a shopping
     cart and anything they can load into the cart in those 15
     minutes they can have?

          1. What would be your strategy if someone offered this
          to you? (Get the best stuff, in the least amount of time,
          right?)
 
               a. What if you had this "liberty" for a whole
               lifetime?  Every time you walked in the store you
               could take whatever you wanted? Would you like
               that?

          2. I look at this next area like that. We are about to
          see a whole "storehouse" of different gifts that may be
          given to us. Let's find out how this happens so we can
          form a "strategy!"

     B. Read 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. Does this sound like the "store
     giveaway" I was talking about a few moments ago?  Would you
     like one of these gifts that Paul mentions?

          1. How do you get these gifts? Do you just pull off the
          self the one you like the best? (No. The picture is not
          of us "grabbing." Rather, it looks like we are given a
          specific gift. Instead of being let loose in the store,
          the parallel that comes to mind is Santa handing out
          specific gifts to specific people.)

               a. Who does v.11 says determines who gets what gift?
               (The Spirit!)

     C. We need to rethink our "strategy!"  When we were pulling
     the best stuff off the shelves we knew what we were getting.
     When the Spirit hands you a gift, how do you know what gift
     you are given? Is it obvious? (The Pastor would beat me if I
     failed to mention his "Discovery" class.  He has a very smart
     and interesting plan. Our church has all sorts of "jobs" that
     need to be done and we are, according to Paul, all running
     around with at least one spiritual gift. The Pastor's
     Discovery class helps you to determine your spiritual gift. He
     then plugs you and your gift into the church job that best
     fits.)

     D. Let's skip down and read 1 Corinthians 12:28-31. Read. Does
     our will have anything to do with the gift that we are given
     according to these verses? (Notice v.31: "But eagerly desire
     the "greater gift." This leaves little doubt that our desires
     can have a role in what gift we are given.)

          1. Will someone read 2 Timothy 1:5-7?  What added
          information does this suggest about how we acquire gifts?
          (1. That some gifts may tend to be "inherited;" 2. That
          other individuals may help spark the gift in us: and, 3.
          That we need to take an active role in "fan[ning] into
          flame [our] gift....")

          2. What does Paul mean when he refers in 1 Corinthians
          12:31 to the "greater gifts?"  Why does Paul rank these
          gifts? (The "Teacher Comments" section of the lesson
          (p.105) says, "When Paul lists spiritual gifts, as he
          does in several places, he does not have a fixed order in
          the listing. This shows us that it is wrong to regard
          some gifts as more important than others." This comment
          is inaccurate. Paul generally does have an "order" to his
          listing of the gifts. See, Ephesians 4:11 and 1
          Corinthians 12:28-31.  Paul's general discussion of gifts
          in Romans 12:6-8 is not a "ranking.")

IV. THE GREATER GIFTS

     A. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. How does this long discourse
     "fit in" to Paul's mention of the "greater gifts?"

          1. When, in vv.22-24 Paul speaks of "special honor" and
          "special treatment" to those body parts that are "weaker"
          or "less honorable" what do you think he means?

          2. In that same line of thinking, what do you think he
          means in v.24 when he says that "presentable parts need
          no special treatment?"

     B. How does the discussion of "special treatment" for certain
     "parts" and Paul's statement that some gifts are "greater"
     (v.31) paint a picture that all the parts are equal?

          1. Does 1 Corinthians 12:18 & 25 help answer this
          problem? (It seems that Paul is weaving together a
          picture of cooperation. First, some gifts are "greater,"
          and we should desire to increase our work by having
          greater gifts. Second, this cannot be a matter of pride
          because "God arranged the parts" (v.18), not us. We
          cannot claim credit for having a "greater gift." Third,
          every gift is necessary for the body to operate.  In that
          sense all are "equal" in an operational sense. Last,
          human nature being what it is, the idea of "greater
          gifts" will always be a potential problem. Therefore, we
          should strive to be sure that those who have gifts that
          may be considered to be "lesser" are honored and
          encouraged n those gifts. People naturally compliment
          those "limelight" gifts. We need to have "concern" (v.25)
          for all parts equally so that the "background" gifts also
          get praised and not neglected.)

     C. Is your church a "coordinated body?"  Are some people
     obviously ill-fitted for their "job?"  How can the church
     ensure that everyone is using his or her gift to the best
     effect so that the "body" of the church is strong?

V. NEXT WEEK: "HIGH PRAISE FOR LOVE," 1 Corinthians 13. Study! dinated body?"  Are some people
     obviously ill-fitted for their "job?"  How can the church
     ensure that everyone is using his or her gift to the best
     effect so that the "body" of the church is strong?

V. NEXT WEEK: "HIGH PRAISE FOR LOVE," 1 Corinthians 13. Study!