Last week we spoke on the gifts of the Spirit. We learned what each gift was designed for. We learned that there were temporary gifts meant for authentication as well as permanent gifts meant for edification. Tonight, we are going to focus on the importance of edification and how the gifts interact.
Ask congregation what edification is.
Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.
The Greek word used for edification is oikodomeo. It literally means to build up or to erect. The verse above is telling us that we are to help build up others and not just please ourselves. It implies a selfless act of love. In fact, the connotation of the above verse even implies a sacrificial act.
1 Corinthians 12:6-11
There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
First, let’s recap the temporary and permanent gifts.
1) word of wisdom
2) word of knowledge
4) distinguishing of spirits
Healing, miracles, and tongues were all used to authenticate the apostolic message. We saw they were limited in many ways and were even spoken of in the past tense of the later-written epistles as if they had already ceased to exist. However, we also saw the permanent gifts seemed to have a very different purpose. While the temporary sign gifts were for the unbelievers benefit, the permanent gifts seem to have a further reach within the Church.
What good is a building if its walls are falling down? Structural integrity and support are vital to a building’s strength and longevity.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
We can see the primary purpose of Spiritual gifts is for building up the body of Christ. They are for the edification, the oikodomeo of the body of Christ.
I spent a great deal of the last lesson speaking on tongues and helping to explain how their use was as a temporary sign gift toward unbelievers. As stated last week, many Charismatics make the claim that tongues is a private prayer language that is to be sought after. One of the verses they use to make this claim is 1 Corinthians 13:1a.
1 Corinthians 13:1a
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels
The claim is that Scripture clearly states there is a special language of angels that we can speak in. Some have made the claim that this is not only a private prayer language but possibly even the very basis of tongues. I showed last week how every instance of tongues in Scripture was a known language. This alone should rule out the theory of angelic languages. Furthermore, every instance in Scripture of an angel speaking was in the native tongue of the people in whom they were speaking to. To top it all off, the surrounding verses in 1 Corinthians 13 paint a very different picture.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Paul knew there was no way to know all the mysteries of God or have all knowledge. This is why he wrote, “we know in part and we prophesy in part.” Despite this, he still wrote about knowing all mysteries and having all knowledge as an option. He writes of moving mountains with faith. While this one may seem legit since he is referencing a quote by Jesus, further study of the text in Matthew 17:20 shows that it was not literally saying a mountain would move. Jesus was using those words to make a point. It is also safe to assume Paul would not really give all he had to the poor as he needed things to survive on his own. He traveled a lot. Same goes for him offering his body to be burned. That is an absurd thought. Paul was using hyperbole to make a point. If every other point Paul is bringing up is clearly hyperbole, doesn’t it stand to reason that the tongues of angels is hyperbole as well? To throw one real thing among a list of exaggerated points doesn’t make any sense. The reason it doesn’t make any sense is because this is not the case. Paul is not condoning speaking in an angelic tongue. In fact, he is doing the exact opposite.
The Corinthians were selfish. They loved showing off. They desired the sign gifts so that they could show off to one another. This is evident by Paul’s writing to them.
1 Corinthians 12:11, 18-22 & 30-31
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills………But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;……… All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.
It is no secret that the Corinthians were seeking sign gifts. They thought highly of the sign gifts because they were visible. They thought less of the other gifts because they appeared to be less honorable. However, Paul tells them to seek the greater gifts. This says 2 things. One, the sign gifts were not the better gifts after all. Two, God grants them as He pleases so seeking after them is futile. Paul telling them to seek the greater gifts was yet another form of sarcasm that you can find all throughout his epistle. His point was not for the people of Corinth to seek gifts but rather, to accept what God has already blessed them with because they all have a purpose in the kingdom of God.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Paul spends much time speaking against the misuse and counterfeiting of the sign gifts that was taking place. However, his primary goal is not to belittle the Corinthians but to build them up. This is why he spoke so much on love and edification. The Corinthians were lacking greatly in this area. They had selfish desires, sought after attention, mixed pagan beliefs into their faith, and thought less of any gift that appeared to be less honorable.
1 Corinthians 14:26
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
If we continued to read, we would see Paul lays out the proper guidance for tongues. Remember, at the time 1 Corinthians was written, tongues was still an active gift. The problem was the misuse and even counterfeiting of this gift in the Corinthians church. In their services, they were all speaking at once, all speaking different things, and not interpreting any of it. It was utter chaos. There was no edification. This is why Paul says, “Let all things be done for edification.”
A few weeks we spoke on legalism vs. liberty regarding meat sacrificed to idols. Strong Christians knew that it was perfectly fine to eat this meat as the idols had no power because they were false gods. However, newer Christians would see this and, because they had just gotten out of these pagan practices, thought it was sinful to eat the meat.
1 Corinthians 8:1 & 7-13
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies………However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
1 Corinthians 10:23
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.
Edification is key. There are many things we have liberty to enjoy in Christ. However, there are a few things that we should take into account.
1) Will it cause another to stumble?
2) Will it distract from our focus on God?
3) Will it edify another?
If we are tearing down others at their own expense while building ourselves up using Christ as a covering, we are wrong. All things are lawful but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful but not all things edify.
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
1 Corinthians 10:24
Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
The only way to properly build up one another is in love. When Paul ends chapter 12 with, “And I show you a still more excellent way” it is love that he is speaking of.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 & 13
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;………But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Ask congregation what they think love means.
In English, we are very limited as we only have one word for love whereas the Greeks had four.
1) Agape – selfless, sacrificial, caring, enacted
2) Eros – romantic or sexual
3) Philia – close friendship or brotherly love
4) Storge – affection of family (i.e. parents toward their children)
The Greek word used in the passage above is agape. We rarely practice agape love. It just isn’t in our nature to do so. We often feel philia, eros, or storge but agape normally isn’t in the picture. This alone is the answer to many of our problems. We often hear 1 Corinthians 13 read at weddings. It is referred to as the Love Chapter. Unfortunately, most brides and grooms at the altar have no idea what it is they are really pledging to one another.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
In all things, practice agape love toward one another. It is not just saying the words but requires acting it out. Do not seek gifts that you wish you possessed. Instead seek the gifts God has already blessed you with so that you can better serve His church. In all things seek to edify as this is agape love enacted.