Monday, July 17, 2017

1 Corinthians Chapter 13: Spiritual Gifts Psychic Gifts Speaking in Tongues

    1: Though I speak tongues[1] both of humans and angels and have not love I become as sounding brass (blasting horns) or clanging cymbals 2: And though I have the gift of prophecy[2] and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not love I am nothing 3: And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned and have not love it profits me nothing 4: Love is long-suffering and kind Love envies not Love boasts not of itself is not haughty [puffed up with pride] 5: does not behave itself unseemly seeks not its own is not easily provoked thinks no evil 6: Rejoices not in iniquity but rejoices in the truth 7: Bears all things believes all things hopes all things endures all things 8: Love never fails but whether there be prophecies they shall fail whether there be tongues, they shall cease whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away 9: For we know in part and we prophesy in part 10: But when that which is complete is come then that which is in part shall be done away[3] 11: When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child but when I became an adult I put away childish things 12: For now we see through a glass darkly but then face to face now I know in part but then shall I know even as also I am known 13: And now abides faith hope love these three but the greatest of these is love

[1] Paul used the word glossa (G1100 tongues t) not dialektos (G1258 language). The word tongues is the accurate translation in this verse—not language. Generally speaking, in the New Testament, earthly languages/dialects are referred to as dialektos, while heavenly languages are referred to as glossa/glossos. Paul uses the word glossa to reference both earthly and angelic languages in this verse.
[2] The gift of prophecy is still a blessing for the Church, today. We serve a supernatural God, so is it any wonder that he would bestow supernatural gifts on his people? The apostle wrote to the Romans, Corinthians, and Ephesians that the ministry gifts (which include prophet) are for the equipping of the saints and for the work of the ministry until Jesus comes. However, some covet the operation of this gift so much, that the psychic gift of divination (soothe-saying) often successfully masquerades—in the Church—as prophecy. The answer to falling for this counterfeit gift, is not to forbid the use of spiritual gifts altogether, but rather, call for God’s people to return to the simplicity found in Christ, to be content to walk in faith (the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen). Humility, faith (without faith, it is impossible to please God. The just shall live by their faith), and the gift of discerning of spirits is very much needed in the Body of Christ.
[3] From a human perspective, we see only partial glimpses of what, one day, we will understand fully. Just as when putting a puzzle together (for illustration sake, let’s says we do not have the original puzzle box with the completed picture to look at while connecting the pieces), until we find and connect all the missing pieces, we cannot get the full picture of what the puzzle looks like. We see only in part (partially). If even one piece is missing, we can only guess at what the puzzle will look like when completed.  But when that final piece is laid in place—when it is completed (made perfect)—everything partial disappears (is done away with). So it is with spiritual gifts, they provide the Body of Christ with pieces of the puzzle—but never the complete picture. The gift of tongues contributes partially to our knowledge of God, and to our communication with him Isaiah 28:11, Romans 8:26, 1 Corinthians 14:2, The gift of prophecy contributes only partially to our knowledge of God. It is the same with all the gifts. The apostle is not diminishing the importance of spiritual gifts, and the benefit to the Body of Christ that God intended them to provide. He is simply saying that love is far and above, more excellent than any gift. And even if we are so privileged to possess a Gift of the Holy Spirit, if we do not walk in love and grow in love, the gift is negated by our own sinful motives and behavior.

Additional commentary pending for this chapter… Questions and comments are welcome

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

1 Corinthians Chapter 12: Baptism of Holy Spirit Spiritual/Ministry Gifts Women Apostles

    1: Now concerning spiritual gifts brethren I would not have you ignorant 2: You know that you were Gentiles carried away to these idols which cannot speak even as you were led 3: Wherefore I give you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed and that no one can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost 4: Now there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit 5: And there are differences of administrations but the same Lord 6: And there are diversities of applications but it is the same God who works all in all 7: But to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit [of all] 8: For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit 9: To another faith by the same Spirit to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit 10: To another the working of miracles John 14:12 to another prophecy to another discerning of spirits to another different kinds of tongues to another the interpretation of tongues 11: But all these work that one and the selfsame Spirit distributing to every one individually as [She] [1] wills[2] 12: For as the body is one and has many members and all the members of that one body being many are one body so also is Christ 13: For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body[3] whether we be Jews or Gentiles whether we be bond or free[4]  Galatians 3:26 and have been all made to drink into one Spirit 14: For the body is not one member but many 15: If the foot shall say Because I am not the hand I am not of the body is it therefore not of the body 16: And if the ear shall say Because I am not the eye I am not of the body is it therefore not of the body 17: If the whole body were an eye where were the hearing If the whole were hearing where were the smelling 18: But now has God set the members every one of them in the body as it has pleased him 19: And if they were all one member where were the body 20: But now are they many members yet but one body 21: And the eye cannot say to the hand I have no need of you nor again the head[5] to the feet I have no need of you 22: No much more those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary 23: And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable upon these we bestow more abundant honor and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness 24: For our comely parts have no need but God has tempered the body together having given more abundant honor to those parts which lack 25: That there should be no division in the body but that the members should have the same care one for another[6] 26: And when one member suffers all the members suffer with it or one member be honored all the members rejoice with it 27: Now you are the Body of Christ [united to one to the another as a single organism] and members out of [it] individually 28: And God has set some in the church first apostles[7] secondarily prophets[8] thirdly teachers[9] after that miracles then gifts of healings helps governments diversities of tongues 29: Are all apostles[10] are all prophets Are all teachers Are all workers of miracles 30: Have all the gifts of healing Do all speak with tongues[11] Do all interpret 31: But covet earnestly the best gifts and yet show I to you a more excellent way

[1] In the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament), The Holy Spirit is consistently referred to in the feminine, as Ruwach. In the Greek New Testament, the Holy Spirit is referred to in the neuter, as Pneuma. There is no hermeneutical case for referring to the Holy Spirit as, “He,” but, there is a very strong hermeneutical case for referring to the Holy Spirit as, “She.” All the while remembering, that only one member of the Godhead (God is a being—not a person) actually has a physical human gender, and that is the man, Christ Jesus.  
[2] All the gifts of the Holy Spirit are authoritative, in that whoever God chooses to manifest his gifts through, as ambassadors of Christ, has the authority to use that gift. There is no historical or biblical evidence that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed according to sex. But there is abundant scriptural proof that God can and does use anyone he chooses, at any time he chooses, regardless of whether they are male or female. Now, this passage, which states that it is God who distributes his authoritative gifts to anyone he chooses, presents a dilemma for gender-divided hierarchal Christians. If women cannot speak or act authoritatively, as the Spirit leads and gifts, then this passage must be speaking only to men. But everyone knows that interpretation would be ludicrous, and no one has ever had the audacity to set it forth. The Bible is full of examples where women spoke and acted authoritatively. The only other option, exercised by many denominations, is to deny that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are for contemporary Christians at all. Getting rid of the gifts, neatly gets rid of the problem of the woman problem, the problem of functional equality inherent in the manifestation of the Gifts, which the Bible states are distributed to every Christian, individually—regardless of sex—as the Spirit wills. There is no scriptural basis for claiming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit were only for the early Church and passed away with the Apostles of the Lamb.
[3] This is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is not water baptism that baptizes a believer into the Body of Christ, it is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that translates a believer from the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. 1 Corinthians 12:13 clearly states that we are baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. This happens the moment we are saved. There are filings of the Spirit, which can happen any number of times in the life of a believer, in which any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit can manifest through any person the Spirit chooses to work through, but without being baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, we cannot be saved. And this occurs only once. Salvation occurs the moment our faith connects with Christ John 3:16, Romans 10:9-13. It is because of this verse, that some denominations teach that without the Baptism of the Holy Spirit one cannot be saved. They are correct. However, they err when they add an additional requirement for salvation by claiming the gift of tongues is the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. When that logic is followed, one is forced to conclude that without the evidence of the gift of tongues, one cannot be saved. Other denominations teach that the gift of tongues is not necessary to salvation, but is the evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. So, the question must be asked, if the gift of tongues is indeed evidence of being baptized into the Body of Christ (One God One Lord ONE baptism), and one cannot be saved without being baptized into the Body of Christ (this is a clearly stated biblical fact), then how can anyone say the gift of tongues is not required for salvation? What a conundrum! This writer believes what the apostle wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:13. We cannot be saved without being baptized into the Body of Christ by the Spirit of God. The gift of tongues is just that, a gift. The answer to Paul’s rhetorical question, in verse :30 of this same chapter, negates any claim that the gift of tongues is either evidence for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or a requirement for salvation. 1 Corinthians 12:30 leaves no room for argument; the answer to the apostle’s rhetorical question (Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?) is a resounding, No! All do not speak with tongues. How many Christians have been made to feel spiritually inferior because they do not possess the spiritual gift of tongues? God’s gifts are distributed as He wills—not as we will. Yet, some denominations continue to refuse perfectly qualified Christians positions in church leadership, simply because they do not possess a gift that the scriptures clearly state that all do not have. This is wrong.  
[4] The early Church was rife with class discrimination and prejudice of every ilk. The problem persists today. In the books of Acts and Galatians, we read where both Peter and Paul addressed this sin in detail.
[5] The word, “head,” generates all manner of debates among gender-divided, hierarchal, Christians and those who espouse essential and functional equality among all Christians, regardless of sex. The Church is “One Body,” yet it is claimed that males, humanly speaking, are the “heads”—as in leaders—of all females. And those making that claim, often Use the physical head in a body to illustrate hierarchy. As we will show, that is a preposterous illustration. And that is certainly not what this passage is doing. In fact, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, establishes just the opposite. It is an unequivocal statement on absolute equality between women and men. What is the head in a body? Is it the boss of the body? Does the head tell the body what to do, and lead it around? Impossible! The “head” is a house. And everyone knows a house, at its most basic, is a repository—a shelter for people or things. As such, the head is used by the body to store, support, and shelter the brain, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, (and much more) etc. But the head itself, is not capable of directing anything. It is nothing more than skull, tendons, muscle, and skin (an over-simplified description to be sure). Both men and women have heads. And the heads of women, serve the exact same functions as the heads of men. So, Paul’s analogies of the Body of Christ being “One” Body, with no part being more important than the other—but every member of the Body of Christ being one with every other member, is a clear portrayal of essential and functional equality among believers—regardless of sex.

[6] Verse :25 is an explicit statement of functional equality between all believers.
[7] To say that the Spiritual/Ministry gift of “apostle” was only for the early Church, is to contradict the passage in Ephesians, which states the ministry gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the edification of the saints and will be present within the Body of Christ until Jesus comes again. The gift of apostle, which is the pinnacle of leadership in the Church (Paul explicitly stated, “First”), was also the first gift listed in the Ephesian letter. Not only does the Church have apostles today, but from the earliest times, God called and gifted women to be apostles right alongside men. Consistent with this discourse, in his letter to the Romans Romans 16:7, Paul acknowledges one of his relatives, a woman named Junia**, as a “notable apostle.” The phrase in Romans 16, is translated by some, as reading, “of note among,” rather than the literal translation of “notable apostle.” This mistranslation (“of note” rather than notable), and translation supplement of the word, “among,” [which is not present in the text, nor even implied) is intended to deceive readers into believing this woman was merely someone the apostles “took note” of. That is not the case. But, even if that were, complementarian teaching dictates that Paul should not have acknowledged or set forth women as leaders in the Church—which he did. The writings of Paul are very much at odds with modern patriarchal/male-headship paradigms.

** Though the English translation does not always reflect it, the Textus Receptus (Received or Majority Greek Text) shows itself, in passage after passage, to be a friend of women. The editor of the Received/Majority Text (which was written in the Koine Greek—everyday language of the Greek speaking world—that underlies the New Testament of the King James Version and a few other translations), did not meddle with the original Greek by transforming Junia into a male by changing her name to “Junias,” but faithfully recorded the Koine Greek text that identified a woman as an apostle in the early Church. Some Bible translators—including those of the KJV—translated Junia’s name accurately. On the other hand, the editors of the Alexandrian/Egyptian Minority texts (written in the classical Greek of the academics), performed a sex-change operation. Junia became Junias. Even so, most scholars, admit that Junia was 1.) a woman and 2.) an apostle.  

[8] Prophets are also listed, in Ephesians, as ministry gifts which will be present in the Church until Christ returns. Both Testaments (Old and New) confirm that women are called and used by God as prophets. When God uses a woman as a prophetess, she is not restricted to speaking authoritatively to women only. All prophecy, is authoritative—whether the inspired utterance is a foretelling or the inspired preaching/ teaching of the Word of God. 1 Corinthians chapter 12, is a remarkable witness to the essential and functional equality of women and men in all aspects of leadership and service within the Body of Christ.
[9] No one argues the ministry gift of teacher is still present and operative in the Church, today. The contemporary argument is that God does not call women to teach, except as teachers to children and other women. However, scripture contradicts the false teaching of complementarianism. Priscilla, a woman, taught the great Apostle himself. He mentions her in more than one letter.
[10] This is a rhetorical question, and the answer is, No.
[11] The answer to this and all rhetorical questions in this passage is, No. Not every Christian will speak with tongues. So, to view a Christian who does not speak in tongues as lacking in spirituality, as not being Baptized in the Holy Spirit, or filled with the Spirit, is wrong.