1 Corinthians 12 v 12 - 31

There are times when reading a modern translation of the Bible can be very useful, and this is one of them. The New Living Translation which I have been using for all these studies gives clarity to what is a fairly controversial subject in some churches. Paul finishes the passage with a series of negatives...do we all preach, perform miracles, lead churches, heal or speak in or interpret unknown languages? The answer is ''no'' to all of them, so the idea in many charismatic fellowships that every Christian can and should speak in another ecstatic language is clearly unbiblical. I say this not because I am anti-tongues or the public use of them, it is because of the testimony of lovely Christians who tell me tales of being locked in rooms with church leaders who tell them they won't be let out until they speak in tongues! Wrong theology brings the potential for spiritual abuse!

Paul makes it clear in this passage that EVERYONE has their part to play in the Church of Christ, no one is without some God-given gift which can be used to bless and build up the fellowship of which they are a part. It takes a mixture of people, life experiences, types of living to build a good church and yes there are the more spectacular gifts, such as healing or miracles; there are the more public gifts, such as teaching and church leading; but there are many gifts which are just as important that are quiet and often hidden- these gifts, Paul says, are to be treated with special care and sensitivity. For example, one gift he mentions is the gift of helping others-or encouragement- and the person with this gift has to be particularly sensitive in the way he or she uses it as it can be used in a way which upsets rather than builds up.

Paul gives us this amazing reminder that, between us, we make up the body of Christ, so:

1. We ought to realise that we need each other. The isolated Christian is not a New Testament concept. There is no Biblical teaching directed at the Christian who decides to remain outside church fellowship.

2. Thus, we should respect each other. It is understanding that, without someone quietly doing the necessary jobs, church services cannot happen.

3. By extension, we should be sympathetic to each other. If one person suffers, the whole fellowship is affected, just as with the body if one small part is in pain.

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