God gives gifts and ministries for two reasons


“To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
—1 Corinthians 12

giftJohn Piper, in a sermon, “Living in the Spirit and in the Body for the Common Good”

I think the main point of this passage is verse 7: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” There are four words I want us to look at.

  1. The first is the phrase “each one.” “To each one is given . . . “—that’s you, all of you who are Christians and each of you individually.
  2. Second, the word “Spirit.” “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit . . . “—that’s God, the same God that brooded over the waters of Genesis 1:2 and joined in the creation of the universe.
  3. Third, the word “manifestation.” “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit . . . “—that’s the connection between you and God. God is manifested in your life. God, the Spirit, becomes visible through you. You are to show the Spirit. Professor Don Carson of Trinity Seminary wrote a whole book on just these three chapters (12–14) and he titled the whole book on the basis of this one verse: Showing the Spirit. To him that is what the whole section is about. I would say that is what the whole Bible and all of life is about—showing God, making God as seen as an invisible God can be seen.
  4. Fourth, the phrase “common good.” “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” That’s a result of the manifestation of God the Spirit in the life of the church—good comes to people. It is good for people to see God. It is good for us to see the manifestations of God’s Spirit in each other’s lives.

……Finally, the Spirit is manifest for this purpose: the common good. The Spirit does not give gifts and ministries so that we can boast in our spiritual prowess. He gives gifts and ministries for two reasons: to manifest himself and to help us do good to each other in the church. Gifts are for the glory of God and the good of the church.

This is right at the heart of our understanding of biblical theology: the pursuit of God’s glory and the pursuit of what is good for us are not two separate pursuits. If you want to do good for people, you try to manifest God to them. If you want to manifest God and make him known for who he really is, you make it your aim to do good to others.

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