Today’s selected reading continues in the first epistle of the apostle Paul which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first eleven verses of the twelfth chapter. When you come to the twelfth chapter of the first epistle of the apostle Paul which was written unto Corinthian congregation you will find the apostle speaking of and addressing something that was mentioned at the very outset of the epistle. When you transition to the twelfth chapter of this first epistle written unto the Corinthians you find the apostle having concluded speaking of the Lord’s table and the Lord’s supper and now speaking of spiritual gifts within the church. This far within and throughout the epistle we have found the apostle writing concerning divisions, strife, and contentions that existed within this particular congregation. Thus far we have found the apostle writing unto this congregation concerning the fornication that was present among them as one among them was going in unto his father’s wife. Within this epistle we also find the apostle writing and speaking of the congregation taking brother and sister to court among the Gentiles and not dealing with their offenses among the brethren. What’s more, is that we find the apostle Paul writing unto this congregation concerning further divisions which were present among the body around the table of the Lord. At the helm and center of all of this was that while this congregation might have indeed been gifted in all manner of gifts, they were a Carnali congregation. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul wrote unto this congregation stating that he could not speak to or address them as spiritual, but carnal, and as babes in Christ. The apostle Paul went so far as to declare unto them that he fed them with milk from the word of God for they could not handle the solid meat of the Word.
When we come to the twelfth chapter of this particular epistle we find the apostle writing unto this congregation concerning the manifestation of spiritual gifts. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find within this chapter is the apostle seeking to address the reality and manifestation of spiritual gifts which were present within this congregation. The question I can’t help but ask is why this congregation appeared to be the only congregation to which the apostle wrote of spiritual gifts. When writing to the congregation at Rome the apostle did indeed write about Christian ministry and service unto the Lord, but concerning these nine individual and specific gifts, the apostle Paul wrote of them within this particular epistle alone. A smilies case might be made concerning his epistle which was written unto the Galatian congregation, for it was to the Galatian congregation that he wrote of the fruit of the Spirit. Two distinct and unique epistles written unto two different congregations, and within the one epistle the apostle Paul wrote about the nine manifestations of the Spirit as evident by these gifts, as well as the nine manifestations of the Spirit as evident by the fruit that is produced. Why to one congregation would the apostle Paul wrote about spiritual gifts given by the same Spirit, and to another congregation the apostle Paul would write about spiritual fruit. I have long believed that while the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit are found within two different epistles, they are two sides of the same coin.
I find it abs lately incredible how the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation concerning spiritual gifts, and unto the Galatian congregation concerning the fruit of the Spirit. It is absolutely imperative that when we seek to understand and know the Holy Spirit of God, we don’t seek to know Him simply as a Spirit of gifts without and apart from fruit, and vice versa. We get into trouble and play an incredibly dangerous game when we seek to isolate and separate the fruit of the Spirit from the gifts of the Spirit. In all reality, I am convinced that within and through the life and ministry of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord we see both fruit and gifts in action. If you study and examine the life and ministry of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord, you will clearly see both the gifts of the Spirit, as well as the fruit of the Spirit completely and fully manifested in the presence and company of those with whom He interacted. In Jesus the Christ we see both clearly and perfectly the incredible harmony that can exist between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, and how both are necessary manifestations and evidences within the lives of the brethren. While walking upon the earth in the form of human flesh Jesus made the declaration that it would be our fruit that we would be known, and that men and women would know that we are truly His disciples by the fruit we bear. With that being said, Jesus also spoke about and declared that signs will follow the preaching of the word of God, and that greater signs than even that which He did would we do. If you want to understand the life of Christ, if you want to understand the life of the apostles who walked with Christ, and if you want to understand the apostle Paul who followed Christ, you must understand that within each of their lives was this tremendous union and harmony of both the gifts of the Spirit, as well as the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, I would dare say that one cannot truly have an accurate and full picture of the Spirit of the sovereign Lord if the gifts and fruit are separated. I am convinced that any congregation that would seek to separate and segregate the gifts of the Spirit from the fruit of the Spirit is that congregation that would present unto others a divided Spirit.
I am convinced that it is at this juncture where we must consider both the gifts of the Spirit, as well as the fruit of the Spirit—both of which were written by the apostle Paul in two distinct epistles. Within the first eleven verses of the twelfth chapter of this first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation we find the words of the apostle concerning spiritual gifts and the manifestation of those gifts among the brethren. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote within these first eleven verses of the twelfth chapter of this particular epistle—“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 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 worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
In the fifth chapter of the epistle written unto the Galatian congregation we find the words of the apostle concerning the fruit of the Spirit—words which followed immediately after writing and speaking of the works of the flesh. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Galatian congregation concerning the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit—“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, sedition’s, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:19-26).
It’s quite remarkable and interesting that when writing and speaking of both the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit, the apostle Paul sets forth and lays out the same number of gifts as he does fruit. If you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation you will find that there were indeed nine gifts of the Spirit, which are as follows: word of wisdom, work of kn owledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues. When writing unto the Galatian congregation we find the apostle Paul writing of the fruit of the Spirit which were nine in total: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. The more I consider this reality the more I am convinced that it not by coincidence that the apostle Paul sets forth nine distinct gifts of the Spirit, as well as nine fruit of the Spirit. In all reality, I am convinced that the picture we see of the Spirit is one of perfect balance and perfect unity, for as surely as the Spirit is a Spirit of gifts, He is also a Spirit of fruit. Could you imagine if the apostle Paul had set forth nine gifts of the Spirit and only seven fruit of the Spirit, or eight fruit of the Spirit and six gifts of the Spirit? What would happen if we read the sacred Scripture and noticed an imbalance that existed between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. Could you imagine what would happen if the apostle Paul had set forth a greater number of gifts than fruit, and how countless men and women would take that to heart and take it to town? I am convinced that had the apostle Paul set forth a greater number of gifts than fruit men and women from that time on would have sought to emphasize the Spirit as a Spirit of gifts more than a Spirit of fruit. Conversely, had the apostle Paul set forth a greater number of fruit and a lesser number of gifts men and women from that time on would have gone the opposite direction stating the Spirit is a Spirit of fruit rather than gifts.
THE BALANCE OF THE SPIRIT! THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT! THE HARMONY OF THE SPIRIT! I have to admire that I absolutely love reading of both the gifts of the Spirit, as well as the fruit of the Spirit, for I am convinced that while they are indeed written in two distinct epistles written unto two different congregation, they work together to paint an incredibly powerful picture concerning the divine and Holy Spirit of Almighty God. I am convinced that there have been countless men and women who have not only preached a divided Spirit among the churches and congregations, but there have also been men and women who have preached an imbalanced view and picture of the Holy Spirit of God in heaven. I believe we play an incredibly dangerous game when we seek to portray—not only a divided Spirit, but also an imbalanced Spirit. I believe with everything that is within me that we tread on incredibly dangerous ground when we seek to convey the Spirit of God as being divided within Himself—i.e. a Spirit of gifts rather than a Spirit of fruit, or conversely a Spirit of fruit rather than or above gifts. What’s more, is that we allow ourselves to tread on thin ice when we seek to portray the Spirit of Almighty God as an imbalanced Spirit by emphasizing certain gifts of the Spirit, or perhaps certain fruit of the Spirit. As surely as I am sitting here right now I am convinced that what we read within the epistles written unto the Galatians and the Corinthians is a powerful picture of a perfectly balanced Spirit, and one that is in completely harmony and union within Himself. There is not a doubt in my mind that had there been a greater number of gifts than fruit men and women would have preached the Spirit as being one of gifts, and would have completely ignored and/or minimized the fruit of the Spirit.
THERE IS NO TIPPING THE SCALE WHEN IT COMES TO THE GIFTS AND FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT! Picture if you will a scale that is before you and on the one side of the scale we find the gifts of the Spirit, while on the other side we find the fruit of the Spirit. Now, imagine if you will nine gifts of the Spirit on one side of the scale while only seven fruit of the Spirit on the other side of the scale. The scale would obviously be tipped on the side of gifts and the equation would be completely and totally out of balance. I am convinced there are a lot of out of balance churches and out of balance ministries present among us within this generation, as there are churches, ministries and congregations that lean so heavily on the side of gifts that they don’t give as much weight and significance to the fruit of the Spirit. What’s more is that I am convinced there a number of out of balance brothers and sisters who would not only seek to divide the Spirit of Almighty God, but would also seek to portray the Spirit as being one who out of balance. I would dare say that this is a very dangerous game that we play with the divine and Holy Spirit of God, for there are churches, congregations, ministries, and perhaps even entire movements that are incredibly out of balance before the Lord. There are churches and ministries that are so wrapped up and consumed with the gifts of the Spirit that they completely ignore and neglect the need of the fruit of the Spirit. IN all reality, I am convinced that that church, that congregation, that ministry, that organization that overemphasizes one aspect of the Spirit over another is a tremendous danger to all those around them. You would think that a church, or ministry, or congregation that has the gifts of the Spirit in operation among them would be a blessing to those around them, and yet I would dare state that such ministries and assemblies might very well be an inherent danger to those before and around them, for they are preaching a divided and imbalanced Spirit, and one that cares solely and purely on the manifestation of the gifts. I am convinced that if you study and examine the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, you will find a perfect harmony and union of the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit, as Christ not only administered healing and miracles, but He also partnered such realities with the manifestation of holiness and righteousness before a just and holy God.
Consider if you will the account of Jesus as it’s recorded in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the ninth chapter of this gospel and continue reading through to the eighth verse of the chapter you will find the following account that emphasizes this reality of a united and harmonious Spirit who is perfectly balanced within Himself. “And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city. And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith saith unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men” (Matthew 9:1-8).
If you turn your attention to the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark you will find another account within the life and ministry of Jesus concerning this union and balance of the gifts and fruit of the Spirit within the life of one who was brought unto Jesus for healing. Beginning with the first verse of this chapter you will find the following account of Jesus as He entered into Capernaum: “And again He entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised thatHe was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and He preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only. And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy Sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, and took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion” (Mark 2:1-12).
There is another passage that is found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke, which concerns Jesus being invited into the house of one of the Pharisees. Within this passage we find the account of Jesus being invited into the house of a Pharisee, and a woman entering into the house uninvited, and perhaps even interrupting the flow of what was taking place in the midst thereof. Consider if you will the account as it unfolds according to the beloved physician Luke—“And one of the Pharisees desired Him that He would eat with him. And HE went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping,k and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden Him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering and said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most. Simon answered and said, I supposed that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned too the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the Harris of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said unto the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Luke 7:36-49).
There are certain passages found within the four gospels contained within the New Testament that help illustrate the powerful connection between the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit. If you direct your attention to the twelfth chapter of Matthew’s gospel you will find the following words—“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be bovine unto men: but the blasphemy against the HOly Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthews 12:31-37). If you turn and direct your attention to the seventh chapter of the same New Testament you will find the following words spoken by Jesus in His famous Sermon on the Mount—“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every three that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20). These words reach a peak and culminating point when you come to the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John when Jesus speaks concerning the vine and the branches—“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.l Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it sxhall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:1-10).
When you come to the conclusion and end of the New Testament gospel of Mark you will find words which speak directly to the concept of signs and wonders being performed by the disciples upon Jesus’ departure from the earth and ascension and return unto the right hand of the Father. Beginning with the fourteenth verse of the sixteenth chapter we find the following words recorded by Mark—“Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after He was risen. And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but He that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:14-18). I can’t help but to also be reminded of the words which we find in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John when Jesus was speaking unto His disciples after He had partaken of the Passover supper with them. Beginning with the sixth verse and continue through the thirteenth verse of the fourteenth chapter you will find the following words spoken by Jesus—“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him…Have I been so long time with you, and yesterday thou hast not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believes thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, HE that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:6-14).
What I so love about the words which the apostle wrote in this particular chapter within his first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation is that he first began by speaking of their departure from being carried away by dumb idols which could neither speak to nor respond to them. The apostle Paul continued by writing that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. It is at this juncture and this moment the apostle then goes on to speak concerning the Spirit in direct connection with diversities of gifts, differences of administrations, and diversities of operations. What is so absolutely incredible to read and consider, however, is that before the apostle Paul even begins speaking of the nine manifestation of the Spirit according to the gifts evident among the brethren, he sets forth the reality of “the same Spirit,” the reality of “the same Lord,” and the reality of “the same God.” THE SAME SPIRIT! THE SAME LORD! THE SAME GOD! Despite the fact that there were diversities of gifts, there was one and the selfsame Spirit, thus suggesting and indicating that the Spirit is united within Himself and is therefore not divided. Despite the fact that there were differences in administrations, there was the same Lord who was over and above each and every administration that was found within the church of Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that despite the fact that there were diversities of operations, it is the same God which worketh all in all. There is absolutely no division between the Spirit, and there is furthermore absolutely no division between the triune Godhead concerning gifts, operations and administrations. It is the same Spirit, it is the same Lord, and it is the same God who is over and above all, and who works in all without partiality. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the words which the apostle Paul writes within this passage of Scripture, for the gifts of the Spirit did not perish with the apostles, nor were they only for the days of the early church and congregation in the book of Acts. There is within our churches and congregations a tremendous need the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, and there is present within the streets of our cities the same great need. With that being said, we must understand that the Spirit has never been, will never be, and should not be divided within Himself, nor separated from our God and our Lord.