1 Corinthians 12:4 NIV There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.
Because we read from the NIV we will use NIV as our groundwork for understanding. But know this, I do not value the NIV except for moments of clarity it may bring.
When I am trying to gain understanding I compare versions and I look up the origins of words . The NASB is tied in with the Strong's reference numbers and so I begin there.
- “Now there are R1varietiesG1243 of giftsG5486, but the sameG846 SpiritG4151.”
R1 is referencing: Romans_12:6; 1Corinthians_12:11; Ephesians_4:4, Ephesians_4:11; Hebrews_2:4. We may come back to this momentarily.
Varieties is the Greek word diairesis, phonetically pronounced dee-ah'ee-res-is and means a distinction or (concretely) variety: - difference, diversity.
Romans 12:6 Moffatt NT Our talents differ with the grace that is given us; if the talent is that of prophecy, let us employ it in proportion to our faith;
Here, instead of using the word varieties Paul uses the term diaphoros; phonetically pronounced 'dee-af'-or-os,' and means varying.
This usage of the word variety intrigues me as it makes me think of identical twins. Anyone who knows them would know that there is a world of difference between them and that it might not be seen externally. The differences may, in some cases, only be found in knowing their personalities, comprised of their nature, and character. But we are not talking about humans here, are we. We are talking about the triune God we serve.
While it may seem logical and easier to understand God by identifying Jesus and the Holy Spirit as merely some aspect of God, But Jesus is not just some aspect of the Father. God has always identified Himself as one but with many names. Names which convey the character and nature we long to see. [We find an example of this is found in John 10:30 where Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.”]
Jesus told the crowd listening to Him, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” And yet, even Jesus said, “no one has seen the Father.” So which is it? Jesus, with characteristics that we could not readily see without paying attention, carries all the attributes of the Father. So, as I began those years ago, to look at Jesus I found myself lost for words to describe all that I saw; but, certainly, the predominate aspects that stood out are Mercy, Grace, and the creative power of His words.
That's great, but aren't we talking about the Holy Spirit and the gifts He brings? Sure, and He is no less an aspect of God than Jesus is, but there is something different about the aspects of God the Holy Spirit represents. Jesus defines these in John's gospel; Luke's, and the book of Acts.
John 16:12-15 NASB "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13) "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14) "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15) "All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
- “He will guide you into all the truth; for”
- “He will disclose to you what is to come.”
- “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
“He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears (from the Father,) He will speak;”
Luke 24:49 NASB "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
- “ I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
So, while I may be able to see the nature and character of the Father in Jesus, the Holy Spirit, who is more like the wind, is only tangible because of the effect it has. An example can come from nature in that we may see the effect of the wind on the trees long before we feel the breeze on our skin. All this has to do with microclimates, and every area has them. We, on the other hand, are similar, reacting similarly and yet we are so distinctly different.
Because Jesus laid out how the Holy Spirit works, we can know that He works the same way in all of us. The only way I can explain how differently we respond would have to be something comparable to microclimates, aspects of our lives that make us so distinctly different.
Oh, the things we balk at. Truly, the desire of the Father's heart was to clothe us with power from on high. Since it is the Holy Spirit that was sent from on high, then we are to be clothed with Him, and, He is power.
So many spin their wheels trying to tell you what the Holy Spirit is not, all with the motivation of controlling you. Why would they need to do that? Because some people are prone to get out of control, just like alcohol spins others out of control, and I think that is rather obvious. It is their choice, not God's, but He still loves them.
The disciples had already lost him once and yet here He is walking among them. Now He is leaving again, but this time with some answers and an admonition.
Acts 1:6-8 NASB So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" 7) He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8) but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
The thing I focus on here is that they were to receive power. What most people don't consider is the number and mixture of people in that room, which we read, was filled with disciples. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was there, along with many others. Obediently they waited, and it came. Like cloven tongues of fire and the power fell on them all. Out of this Peter ends up in the street prophesying and over three thousand were saved the first day the Spirit fell.
While some might say that this was for those disciples only and served a particular purpose, but consider how long it takes for a message to be diluted, distorted and forgotten. Israel, in their wanderings through the desert, quickly forgot the God of Jacob and built god's called Moloch and Rephaim. The point here is that all of us, at every turn, need to be filled with power and the fire of God. And, contrary to popular opinion, it is still intended for us today. We can know this because the results of empowerment were seen in Peter, on the day of Pentecost, acting outside of his typical character, when he not only boldly, but prophetically addressed the crowd; out of which three thousand were saved.
The words Peter quoted were right out of Joel's prophesy of horrific end times. Guess what? We are there; and, if that does not give you some freedom, then the fact that Peter, over two thousand years ago, said, this day, this is fulfilled in your ears. Joel's prophecy, repeated out of Peter's mouth, has been in a state of partial fulfillment for over two-thousand years. And yet, we still have the audacity to deny and reject the power and fire that comes with the Holy Spirit.
What's our takeaway from this?
I would hope you can see that God is the one doing the dispensing, and, that it is through God's Riches At Christ Expense, that we have these gifts. Just because you are not moving in a particular gifting today does not mean you have been restricted from moving in it tomorrow. Many would say, then why do I not have that gift, like so-and-so on television? Ask yourself a simple question, do you recognize God's voice? If not, why not, because Proverbs tells us that wisdom (God's voice) cries out in the streets, so it is not a matter of God not speaking.
If you do not have confidence that God speaks to you, then how do have the courage to talk to others in Jesus name. That sounds rather limiting, but when you consider the somewhat permanent calling we have placed upon our lives, and that is to be constant and ever ready evangelists, what is it that empowers you to do that? It is the same Holy Spirit. So, at that moment you are exhibiting faith in and for one gifting while refusing the other. Where is the logic in that?
And, you are not restricted to serving tables at the church picnic like we saw Stephen doing in the book of Acts. He was a willing servant with a great attitude, and he performed his tasks as unto the Lord. What did that get him? Yes, I am aware he was killed (most do not see this as a job benefit), but he was, however, murdered because he spoke out boldly as an evangelist for Jesus, while using his gifting as a servant to the body. Stephen declared that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the final sacrifice for sins. (There was more to it than that, but you should get the point.) If it was initially thought that Stephen had the gift of service, then it may well be he desired a greater gift. If God is honorable, and He is, then He granted Stephen's request and gave him many other gifts, like the gift of knowledge, prophecy, faith, and evangelism, which became an integrated part of his daily life.
As a young man, I remember reading about Moses and how Miriam and Aaron were grumbling about him. God's voice came rumbling through and said, If a person thinks themselves to be a prophet then these things will have happened in their life. As I thought about that I said, God, those things have happened in my life. He responded back to me with, And I have called you to be a prophet and a watchman upon the walls. One might have expected the effect of that calling to flow me through like a river. I can tell you, it has not, but at times, for a few brief minutes. As a result, there has such been such joy and tears out of respect for a God that chose to use me.
Enjoy what God gives you. Allow Him to use you freely, and you will experience this joy that comes from His presence as well.