The Best Gifts

The Best Gifts I. The O.T. church was provided gifts for that economy. A. They were given circumcision as an outward token of covenant inclusion. JOH 7:22. B. They were given political/geographical nation status. 2SAM 7:23. C. They were given a king like the nations. HOS 13:11. D. They were given prophets with signs to prove their calling. PSA 74:9. E. They were given deliverance miracles and manna for forty years. ACT 7:36; JOS 5:12. F. They were given the adoption, glory (ark of the covenant), service of God, etc. ROM 9:4. 1. The service of God included a teaching priesthood. MAL 2:7. 2. This office, like that of the king, was hereditary, not keyed to merit. G. Their best gift was the scriptures. ROM 3:1-2. II. The church at Corinth is a case study in N.T. gifts of the Spirit to the church. A. They came “...behind in no gift...” (1CO 1:7) yet they were carnal. 1CO 3:1. B. The most detailed information about the gifts is in 1CO 12. C. There were abuses of some gifts, like the gift of tongues. 1CO 14. D. The ministerial gifts to them were being used for factionalizing. 1CO 3:3-5; 4:6. E. Corinth had plenty of spiritual gifts but lacked edification and order. 1CO 14:26, 33, 40. F. There were gifts distributed severally (individually), not generally. 1CO 12:4-11, 28-30. 1. The several gift of faith (v. 9) is not the common faith of believers (TIT 1:4) but special faith to do great things. ACT 6:8; MAT 17:20. 2. A risk of these gifts because of human nature was an assumption of superiority. 3. Power trips are not conducive to spiritual harmony and mutual edifying. Hence, the warnings against such. MAT 20:21; LUK 10:20; ACT 8:19. G. Of the spiritual gifts, Paul encouraged the pursuit of the best of them. 1CO 12:31. 1. Prophesying (revelation or teaching) was one such gift since, unlike the gift of tongues, it facilitated common edification. 1CO 14:39. 2. There were common gifts which all believers in the church had: a. The gift of eternal life and a heavenly inheritance. JOH 5:24. b. The new birth by the Spirit of God. TIT 3:5. c. The gift of a place in the Spirit-indwelt church of Jesus Christ. 1CO 12:12-13. d. The gift of the common faith because of the new birth. GAL 5:22. 3. In the absence of any of the special and particular gifts, the common gifts could still hold a church together and make it spiritually prosperous. a. The miraculous gifts of healings, tongues, etc. were only for a season, even as such supernatural expediencies were given to Israel of old for a season. MIC 7:15. b. The revelatory gifts of prophecy, wisdom and knowledge would similarly terminate in favor of the scriptures of the apostles. 1JO 4:6; 2PE 1:19-21. c. Even where a church lacked a resident minister, it could survive. ACT 14:21-23; TIT 1:5. d. Since genuine faith must be in accord with the word of God, a church could even identify faulty ministers and mark them as such. ROM 16:17-18; REV 2:2. 4. Thus, temporary gifts are inferior to permanent gifts and particular gifts are (with qualifications) inferior to common gifts in the church. a. The best gifts (like prophesying) edify all. The Best Gifts 2-4-24 Page 1 of 2 b. The best gifts survive the end of the apostolic era. c. Paul had not specifically magnified the common gift of faith in 1CO 12, but the last verse leads into it (and others) as “...a more excellent way.” III. 1CO 13 is renowned as the “charity chapter” since it sets forth charity as the greatest of the “more excellent way.” A. charity: God’s love to man; Man’s love of God and his neighbour, commanded as the fulfilling of the Law, Matt. xxii. 37, 39. esp. The Christian love of our fellow-men; Christian benignity of disposition expressing itself in Christ-like conduct: one of the ‘three Christian graces’, fully described by St. Paul, 1 Cor. xiii. B. 1CO 13:1-3 shows that other spiritual gifts are only legitimized by charity. c/w 1CO 8:1. 1. Miracles, revelatory, super-faith, martyrdom, etc. may not benefit a ministry. 2. On the other hand, charity is not a substitute for discernment and righteousness. REV 2:19-20. C 1CO 13:4-7 underscores the above with qualifications. 1. Charity is not about self but neither does it gloss over iniquity, bear with known sinners, believe lies, etc. REV 2:2; 1CO 5:1-2. 2. Charity should lead (1CO 14:1) but not to the exclusion of truth 3. Charity covers a multitude of sins (1PE 4:8) by containing it through private reproof where possible (LEV 19:17) or passing over a personal offense where such does not embolden folly. PRO 19:11. 4. Charity is the bond of perfectness (COL 3:14) in that it is not self-promoting nor sin-promoting. IV. “Charity never faileth...” (1CO 13:8). Above all other gifts it endures into eternity. A. The temporary revelatory and sign gifts would fail (end) in deference to the completed body of knowledge we now have in the scriptures, and which was implied in JAM 1:25. B. As the temporary props to the perfected revelation would pass, so the temporary state of limited understanding of the child of God shall one day pass. 1CO 13:11-12. C. The three things of “the more excellent way” (1CO 12:31) continue this theme. 1. Faith is of things unseen and thus a temporary prop. HEB 11:1; 2CO 5:7. 2. Hope is of things unseen and thus a temporary prop. ROM 8:20-23. 3. Charity is of things seen: our brethren and neighbors now (1JO 4:20; GAL 6:9-10) and the redeemed family in eternity whom we will see with our own refreshed eyes, per JOB 19:25-27. c/w 1TH 4:16-17. 4. Charity is the most excellent of the more excellent. V. 1TI 1:5; 1CO 16:14. The Best Gifts 2-4-24 Page 2 of 2

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