1 Corinthians 1:5, 6
The State Hermitage, which is the most famous of all Russian museums, is located on the banks of the Neva River in St. Petersburg, Russia. Within its walls is a huge collection of religious paintings that were collected from the time of Catherine the Great. This museum, the former Winter Palace of the Russian czars, is fabulous beyond description and attracts millions of visitors who come to view this world-renowned art collection and to see the opulence in which the czars lived.
The first time I visited the Hermitage was near the end of the Soviet Union; thus, communism and atheism were still dominant in the nations that comprised the former USSR. As I walked past the section of paintings by Rembrandt, I saw the painting of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus. The painting was so moving that it drew me nearer to observe the painting from up close. Then I read the plaque on the base of the frame, which said, “The Fairy Tale of Jesus Christ Raising Lazarus From the Dead.” I was stunned that Lazarus’ resurrection was referred to as a fairy tale.
But as I moved from that painting of Jesus to others that depicted scenes from Jesus’ life, I realized that they were all officially identified by State authorities as various “fairy tales of Jesus Christ.” Communists wanted to discredit the Gospel. By calling the works of Jesus “fairy tales,” they were attempting to put the Gospel on the same level as Peter Pan or as Little Red Riding Hood.
However, my experience in the museum that day caused my mind to start thinking in another direction. I began to consider how so much about Jesus Christ really is a fairy tale to many people, including Christians who read their Bible and love the Lord. When they read about the miracles He performed, they relegate His miracle-working power to a limited historical time frame that is long past and to a people who are no longer alive. They then conclude that they cannot expect such miracles today. Thus, the only thing they really know regarding Jesus’ power is what they have read in the Bible. Never having personally witnessed His miracle-working power, they can only fantasize and try to imagine what His miracles must have been like. As a result, much of what they know about Jesus is purely mental, imaginary, or speculative—similar to the way they might view the hero in a fairy tale or legend.
But God never intended for Jesus to be only a historical figure who did something in the past. Jesus is alive today, and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and His gifts, Jesus brings His supernatural reality right into the midst of the local church! This is why Paul told the Corinthians, “… In everything you are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you” (1 Corinthians 1:5, 6).
The Corinthian church was so abundantly endowed with spiritual gifts that Paul says they were “enriched” by Jesus with gifts of utterance and knowledge. “Utterance gifts” would include the vocal gifts, such as tongues, interpretation, and prophecy. Knowledge gifts would include the revelation gifts, such as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits. Prophecy could also fall into this category.
According to Paul, the Corinthian believers were loaded with these types of gifts. In fact, they had so many of these gifts in operation that Paul used the word “enriched” to express the extent to which these gifts were operating in that particular local church. The word “enriched” is from the Greek word plousios, and it means to make extremely rich (see January 23). It describes incredible abundance, extreme wealth, immense riches, magnificent opulence, and extravagant lavishness.
This Greek word denoted people whose wealth was growing so fast that they were never able to quite figure out how much fortune they possessed. With their wealth, they ruled and controlled society. Hence came the word “plutocrat,” which is used in today’s world to portray a person who is endowed with great wealth, opulence, fortune, and power.
When Paul uses the word plousios to express how many gifts of the Spirit were in operation in Corinth, he is telling us that this church was filthy rich with spiritual gifts and manifestations. In fact, Paul went on to say, “So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7). The words “come behind” are taken from the Greek word hustereo, meaning to fall short, to be inferior, to be left behind, to lack, or to come in second place. Paul uses this word to say, “In regard to spiritual gifts, you are second to none when it comes to the manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit. No one has more gifts of the Spirit in operation than you do.”
Paul told them that these gifts were vital, for they “confirmed” the “testimony” of Christ among them (1 Corinthians 1:6). The word “confirmed” is the Greek word bebaioo, which means to make firm, concrete, or stable; to authenticate; to verify; to guarantee; or to prove to be true. The word “testimony,” from the Greek word maturios, describes a personal testimony that is so strong it could stand up to scrutiny in a court of law. But when a “testimony” (maturios) is “confirmed” (bebaioo), it is extra powerful! Now we not only have a witness—that is, a person or a group of people who possess concrete knowledge and facts—but we also have confirming evidence brought forth to validate their knowledge and verify that their report is bona fide truth.
Now let’s connect this concept to the gifts of the Spirit in the Corinthian church. According to Paul’s account, the believers in that church were enriched, loaded, and mightily endowed with the gifts of the Spirit. These gifts, he said, confirmed the testimony of Jesus Christ in their midst. What did they know of Jesus Christ? What was the testimony they possessed and proclaimed about Jesus Christ? From a historical perspective, they had been taught and therefore knew that:
- Jesus was a Prophet.
- Jesus was a Healer.
- Jesus was a Miracle-Worker.
However, the Corinthian church didn’t just intellectually know these things about Jesus because of books they had read. They experientially knew Him in this way because the gifts of the Spirit literally energized and authenticated what they intellectually knew of Jesus.
By means of the Spirit’s manifestations, Jesus the Prophet operated before them all in their church services. They didn’t need to fantasize about what Jesus the Prophet was like, because Jesus the Prophet regularly operated in their midst through the gift of prophecy. They didn’t have to try to imagine what it had been like when Jesus healed the sick, because the gifts of healing mightily functioned among them, causing them to experientially know Jesus the Healer. There was no reason for them to speculate about what it must have been like to see Jesus’ miracles, for they consistently had the working of miracles operating in their church services, making Jesus the Miracle-Worker a reality to them. The gifts of the Spirit lifted Jesus right off the pages of history and brought Him into the midst of the Corinthian church services.
First Corinthians 1:6 could be translated:
“Everything you’ve heard and believed about Jesus Christ has been authenticated, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, verified, and guaranteed to be true because of the gifts of the Spirit.”
What does all this have to do with you and your relationship with God today? If there is no operation of the Holy Spirit’s gifts in your life or in the church you attend, an entire supernatural element of Jesus Christ is missing from your life. God never intended for your salvation to exist only on an intellectual level. He gave the Holy Spirit to the Church to bring the overflowing, abundant life of Jesus Christ right into the life of His people! There is a whole level of understanding Jesus—who He is and how He operates—that can only be comprehended by observing and participating in the working of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit wants to confirm everything you know about Jesus. He wants you to know Jesus the Prophet, Jesus the Healer, and Jesus the Miracle-Worker. When these gifts operate through you or on your behalf through someone else, they give testimony to the fact that Jesus is still alive, still healing, and still working miracles today. Thus, by means of these marvelous spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit both teaches you and speaks on behalf of Jesus Christ.
So are you ready for the Jesus of the Bible to step off the pages of history and into your life or into the life of your church? If the answer is yes, ask the Holy Spirit to start moving supernaturally in your midst. And if you sense an inner nudge to step out in faith and let God use you in spiritual gifts, don’t hesitate to obey. That’s the Holy Spirit talking to you! Perhaps it’s your turn to step forth and allow the Spirit of God to work supernaturally through you!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I thank You for the ministry of the Holy Spirit and for His powerful gifts that make Jesus so real to me. Help me understand my need for the Spirit’s gifts. Arouse a spiritual hunger inside me that makes me earnestly yearn to experience more of these gifts in my life and in my church. I know You gave the gifts of the Spirit because we need them, so today I am choosing to open my heart so I can experience more of Your power as these supernatural gifts begin to flow through me.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am a vessel for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts operate through me and bring the living reality of Jesus Christ to me and to those who are around me. I am not afraid to obey what the Holy Spirit prompts me to say. I am not hesitant to act when the Spirit prompts me to step out in faith. Because I obey the leading of the Spirit, God’s power mightily flows through me to others who are in need.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you ever thought that the miracles of the Bible were for a different time, not something you were supposed to experience on a consistent basis in your life or in your church?
- Can you ever recall a time in your life when the gifts of the Spirit operated through you? If so, what was that experience like?
- In order for you to become a more yielded vessel so the Holy Spirit can use you, what changes do you need to make personally in the way you think and the way you believe?