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No Guesswork

We can be sure. 1 Corinthians 12.1-3

1 Corinthians 12 (1)

Pray Psalm 25.4, 5.
Show me Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

Sing Psalm 25.4, 5.
(Festal Song: Rise Up, O Men of God)
Make me to know Your ways, teach me Your paths, O LORD!
My Savior, all day long I wait and seek You in Your Word.

Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 12.1-3.

1. Who confesses Christ as Lord? Who does not?

2. How did Paul describe the idols of the Gentiles?

These three verses are a curious way to introduce the subject of spiritual gifts, which will dominate the rest of this chapter. What was Paul thinking?

Note his motive: He was getting ready to explain to the Corinthians about spiritual gifts—what they are, where they come from, how they operate in the church, in short, why they matter so much. He, speaking for the Lord, would explain the dynamics of God’s Spirit, how He works in and through each one of them to realize the fellowship of Jesus together.

Idols can’t do that. Idols don’t teach people about caring for one another and building up the community of faith to be more like the idols. Idols are “dumb”—they have nothing to say about anything! We must not act as if our God has nothing to say. Rather, by the power of the Spirit acknowledging Jesus as Lord, we eagerly hear and submit to whatever He says. Because Jesus is not silent. And we will hear Him as Lord if, indeed, we have the Spirit of God—Who, it turns out, not only enables us to acknowledge and submit to the Lordship of Jesus, but also gifts us in unique and wonderful ways so that we might do so!

Probably none of the Corinthians would have said aloud, “Jesus be cursed!” But would they not be doing the same, and thus showing that they did not really possess the Spirit, if they refused to hear what Jesus was speaking to them and to do what He says? Paul to the Corinthians: Don’t curse Jesus by failing to hear what I’m about to tell you from Him.

Thus Paul indirectly set the stage for his teaching on spiritual gifts: If you have the Spirit and know Jesus as Lord, then you will hear what the Spirit says through Paul and use the gifts He gives you for building others up in love.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
“But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them” (Pss. 115.3-8; 135.15-18).

Paul did not want the Corinthians, nor us, to be ignorant. And we are thankful for that.
I like the way he parsed his thoughts out:
No one speaking by the Spirit of God can call Jesus accursed.
No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
To both of those thoughts we can agree wholeheartedly, thus we know, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. And being filled with the Holy Spirit, we anticipate eagerly the gifts waiting for those thus filled.

We don’t need to guess about our status in the Kingdom. We are assured of salvation because we “know whom [we] have believed and [are] persuaded that He is able to keep what [we] have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1.12). And we are “persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8.38, 39). And we are “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” (Rom. 1.16). No guesswork needed.

Thank you, Paul. We know through the power of the Holy Spirit that we will never say nor think that Jesus is accursed. That is a settled fact. And we know that Jesus is Lord through the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we are ready to accept the gifts needed to be useful vessels in the Kingdom of God, ready “for building others up in love”.

Dumb idols are incapable of any activity at all—merely hunks of mass lacking attributes or gifts. But our God is in heaven, majestic in power, seeing us, hearing us, and speaking words of love and encouragement to us. Ready to gift us with His Spirit, to minister in our Personal Mission Field.

Ready we are—of this, we are sure.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
(Fanny J. Crosby, 1873)

For reflection
1. How do you experience the assurance of knowing that you belong to Jesus and the Father?

2. How would you explain this assurance to a friend who doesn’t know the Lord?

3. Whom will you encourage today to rejoice in the assurance of knowing the Lord?

Those who confess Jesus Christ to be Lord and God must necessarily possess these gifts. Those who blaspheme Christ Jesus and subject him to cursing do not possess these gifts. This is what those deceived people were doing who were following blind and mute idols. And this is what the Corinthians would now do if the grace of the Holy Spirit did not shine on them.
Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples (1460-1536), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12.1

Pray Psalm 25.8-13.
As you pray, reflect on your daily reading of God’s Word. What specific guidance, instruction, or commands has He spoken to You? Call on Him to make clear how you must follow Him this day.

Sing Psalm 25.8-13.
(Festal Song: Rise Up, O Men of God)
Upright and good are You, You lead us in Your way.
The humble You instruct in truth and guide him day by day.

The paths of God are all of love and faithfulness.
All they who keep His covenant the L
ORD will surely bless.

For Your sake, L
ORD, forgive. All they who fear You, LORD,
shall know Your blessings day by day and follow in Your Word.

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available by 
clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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