This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.
Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 14
— What is the purpose of spiritual gifts?
— What are spiritually immature and mature attitudes about spiritual gifts?
— When could the use of spiritual gifts harm the church’s mission? When can the use of spiritual gifts advance the church’s mission?
Food for thought:
As citizens of the United States, we value our freedoms and the privileges associated with them. Much of the world envies us for those freedoms and desires them for themselves. Yet there is an irony to our freedoms. Our freedoms only work because we are willing to give up other freedoms, to be bound by certain laws, regulations and standards.
We agree to limit our freedom to driving on the right side of the road so we can all traverse our country with relative order and safety. We accept leadership from elected officials we do not vote for, so we might maintain the freedom to vote for those we prefer in the next election. Our democracy works only because we accept limitations and work within parameters.
So it is within the church and God’s design for the use of spiritual gifts. God endows all Christians with spiritual gifts as He deems best, but He grants those gifts with certain guidelines for their use. Used appropriately, the spiritual gifts of members of a single body of believers mesh together to spotlight the grace and wonder of God. Misappropriated spiritual gifts lead to the kind of chaos experienced by the church at Corinth who found themselves divided into factions and behaving unseemly toward one another.
Ken Hemphill, an author, former pastor and former seminary president, explores Paul’s guidelines to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 14. Paul accepted that spiritual gifts have been given for the purpose of edifying or building up the church, rather than for one’s own enjoyment or personal gain. Paul launched into a comparative debate over prophecy and tongues. Tongues, Paul said, under certain conditions and with necessary considerations, can enhance the body. Prophecy, on the other hand, because it is intelligible to all and more clearly conveys the message of God, is to be preferred.
The value of gifts does not rest on how mundane or spectacular they are, or on how broadly they are recognized or affirmed. Rather, the value of spiritual gifts rests upon whether they benefit and strengthen brothers and sisters in Christ.
MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.lifeway.com/masterwork.