First Corinthians 12.4-11



1. Itís D Day, 1944. Commander of the Allied forces in the Atlantic theater of operations, general Dwight David Eisenhower, has just launched the Normandy invasion.

2. Europe is in enemy hands. Though it is not owned by, it is certainly possessed by, and occupied by, Hitlerís Nazi Germany.

3. For the purpose of repossessing Europe and bringing to an end Germanyís cruel domination over its neighbors, Eisenhower has formulated a plan whereby Allied might can be brought to bear to achieve a significant victory in the war.

4. Folks, in much the same way, we can look at the Christian mind as a battlefield, much like Europe was during World War II, or in the Pacific theater of operations.

5. If you draw that kind of a parallel, and if you remember your history about World War II, then you might liken the mind of a spiritual Christian to Great Britain during the Battle of Britain.

6. Attacked? Yes. Just as Great Britain was under a terrible siege by the German Luftwaffe and suffered through the hail of V-1 buzz bombs and V-2 rockets, so the mind of the spiritual Christian is also under a constant siege from our spiritual enemy Satan. Attacked? Yes. Invaded? No.

7. But if you look at the mind of the temporarily carnal Christian a different parallel is properly drawn. Already dominated by that which is opposed to God, the temporarily carnal believer lives under the oppressive hobnail boots of worldliness and spiritual compromise. His mind parallels Europe in 1944.

8. The goal of the man of God? To, much as Eisenhower did in World War II with the Normandy invasion of Europe, establish a beachhead in the carnal believerís mind.

9. Almost as if the Corinthians were like fortress Europe circa 1944, the apostle Paul made his three-pronged move to retake the minds of those carnal believers. The Cherbourg Peninsula, Utah and Omaha beaches. This was First Corinthians 12, verses 1, 2 and 3.

10. Paulís objective in verse 1, the first prong of his attack? Recognition. Paulís goal was to make the child of God aware of his own profound ignorance in the broad realm of spiritual gifts . . . that he might teach the child of God some things about spiritual gifts.

11. Verse 2, the second of the three-pronged attack. Here Paul sought to remind his readers of their own past. This so he might lead them to avoid the old proverb which teaches us that past is prologue.

12. You see, as they had idolized in the past, Paul meant to take steps against that pattern of behavior occurring in the present arena. Whether it be the gifted man or the gift of tongues, Paul wanted no idolatry now. Is there something more important to you than God, and serving God? It may be spouse or career. It may be leisure or a particular day of the week. With the Corinthians it was an abnormal fondness for a spiritual gift and an unhealthy attachment to spiritual leaders other than their own pastor.

13. Verse 3. In this last part of Paulís attack the goal is a renewal of mind, a spiritual understanding of the Holy Spiritís goal through a believer, namely, to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ in his life.

14. But thatís last weekís news. The newsreels from the front have already told us of the landing. We know that the three-pronged attack has gained a foothold. What comes next?

15. What was next for Eisenhower at Normandy, what was next for anyone, for that matter, moving inland from a beachhead, whether it be Normandy or Iwo Jima, was to consolidate.

16. Consolidating isnít nearly as hard as the initial landing on the beach, but it is important. And as Paul seeks to consolidate his newly won position in the minds of the Corinthians he doesnít teach anything particularly earth shattering.

17. Nevertheless, so that Eisenhowerís troops would not be driven into the English Channel by a counter attack, and so Paul would not once again lose the minds of the Corinthians to worldliness, consolidation is absolutely required.

18. What is consolidation? Itís to bring something together to make it harder and more solid. At Normandy, consolidation involved the drawing together of three beachheads into one united front against the enemy. With Paul it is the bringing together of certain facts to get some important truths firmly established in the minds of his readers, who are, after all, truly converted people.

19. People who are like the Corinthians Paul wrote to want unity, but being carnal, they tend to strive for unity in the wrong way. And what do they end up with when they try to achieve unity in the wrong way? Usually, it will be conformity to external things without real unity.

20. Have you ever seen that? Have you ever seen a group of Christians coerced by a powerful personality into being outwardly similar, hoping that outward conformity will enhance or produce unity? Ever seen that in a Church? I have. There are several Churches not far from here that come to mind in this regard right now.

21. But you know something? Christians arenít supposed to conform outwardly to each other. They are supposed to conform inwardly to the image of Christ. As a matter of fact, outwardly we are supposed to be an extremely diverse group of people.

22. In todayís text we see this very clearly. Turn to First Corinthians 12. When you find chapter 12, letís stand and read verses 4-11 together:

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.


23. There are two causes for the great diversity which can be seen in Christians.


Last week, you will remember, we examined Paulís declaration of the goal of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individual believers. In verses 4, 5, and 6 we see that Christians are, of necessity, diverse or different from each other because of the role played in each Christianís life by each Person of the Godhead. To state it differently, there is one true God Who exists in the form of the three Divine Persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Notice the specific role each of the Persons of the Godhead plays in your Christian life.

1B. The Role Of The Holy Spirit In Your Life Relates To Gifts

By this I mean spiritual gifts in the narrow sense, such as the gift of serving, the gift of teaching, the gift of ruling, and so forth.

1C. Verse 4 states what might seem on the surface to be a contradiction: "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit."

2C. The word "diversities" simply means differences. There are differences in the spiritual gifts that Christians have. Not all Christians have, or are supposed to have, any single spiritual gift. Yet we see that it is still the same Holy Spirit back of it all.

3C. Do you see something here? Do you immediately see a contradiction between what some so-called Christians believe and what the Bible teaches? Some so-called Christians believe that every Christian ought to have a certain spiritual gift. Verse 4 does not seem to support that view, does it?

4C. What view is supported? This one: The Holy Spirit is that Person of the Triune Godhead Who is responsible for what spiritual gift or gifts you do have. And though it is the same Spirit of God behind each gift a believer has, the gifts that He gives to us will be different. Thatís the role of the Holy Spirit. But since itís one Spirit, unity should still be the result.

2B. The Role Of The Lord Jesus Relates To Administrations (5)

"And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord."

1C. "Administrations" simply refers to ministries. This would indicate that the Lord Jesus Christ places each of us in the congregation and in the specific ministry He wants us to serve in.

2C. And this is substantiated by Ephesians 4.8 and 11, which shows that Christ places the gifted men, such as pastors and evangelists, into their place of service. Please turn there and letís read those two verses together: "8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men . . . 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." Ephesians 4.8 and 11, then, is just a specific example of what is taught in this verse.

3C. In light of the Lord Jesus Christís role, when a Christian seeks to live or to serve outside that calling Christ wants him to serve in he is overturning or denying the lordship of Christ in his life.

4C. Notice again, though Christ may have different ministries for each and every one of us, whether it be Sunday School teacher, choir member, usher, pastor or missionary, when we are serving in a Scriptural way we are all serving the same Lord. Amen? Folks, unity ought to grow from that.

3B. The Role Of God Relates To Operations (6)

"And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."

1C. Notice that word "operations." It comes from a Greek word that gives us the word "energy," and for those of you who have taken some science courses, the word "erg," which is a unit of work, is derived from the word.

2C. I am of the opinion that the role of God the Father in a Christianís life is to sovereignly determine the magnitude that a personís ministry reaches.

3C. That is, some peopleís efforts always produce big, while others of equal quality are just smaller. And remember from First Corinthians chapter 3, it isnít quantity that God judges in a personís life, but quality.

4C. Can this be a reason for disunity? Sure it can be, if you forget that God sovereignly determines the size of a ministry and holds the individual responsible for the quality of the ministry. Decisionists are always looking to the size of a ministry as a means of evaluating a personís spirituality, or even his worth.

5C. But what will the spiritually minded person do? He will rejoice in the working of God in his life, he will make sure that his life and his ministry are of the highest quality, even if his stuff isnít the biggest, and he will foster unity among the brethren because they serve the same God who are obedient to His Word.

6C. So, because of the different roles of the divine Persons in each of our lives, there will be great diversity among believers, while in no way adversely affecting unity.


In verses 7 through 11, Paul expands on what he taught in verse 4, when he pointed out that the diverse gifts that Christians have come from the Holy Spirit. Remember, although he slowed down to tell us about the role of Christ and the role of God in this subject, he is really intent on explaining more fully what the Holy Spirit doles out to each believer. So, getting back to the Holy Spiritís involvement in each of our lives, letís see how what the Holy Spirit doles out to each of us contributes to this great diversity we have.

1B. In Verse 7, The Spiritís Generosity

"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal."

1C. Praise God, at least one gift, or manifestation, as it is referred to here, is given to each and every genuinely converted believer.

2C. That means, when you trusted Christ to the saving of your soul, if you trusted Christ to the saving of your soul, and when you simultaneously received the Holy Spirit of God to seal and indwell you, you were immediately given a capacity to serve Christ that you never had before.

3C. And although some Christians have that same capacity, that same gift that you have, not every Christian has that gift. Now, it may take time, knowledge, and maturity before you will actually realize that you have a gift, and what that gift is, but this verse tells you that itís there.

4C. And the gift is given to profit withal. But donít be confused about this comment of Paulís on profit. Itís the cause of Christ which benefits from the gift which you have been given, not always obviously you. This is because Christianity is not self-oriented, but Christ-centered. Amen?

5C. People who think their spiritual gift has been given to them to benefit themselves, or to make them feel good, are maladjusted Christians, if they are converted at all. They do not understand the goal of the Spirit of God in their life, which is to glorify Christ, not benefit self. This is why Christians demonstrate a spirit of willingness to sacrifice, so they might inconvenience themselves in order to more effectively worship and serve God.

6C. Isnít the Holy Spirit generous to give each and every one of us at least one spiritual gift each? I think so.

2B. In Verses 8-10 The Spiritís Diversity

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.

1C. Do you get the idea, here, that we all come from the same cookie cutter? No way! How can anyone miss the fact that there is great diversity in the gifts which are given out by the Holy Spirit?

2C. And if this be so, why do so many so-called Christians clamor to get the same spiritual gift? Instead of trying to conform and each pretend to have the same spiritual gift, why donít we rejoice in the differences?

3B. Finally, The Spiritís Sovereignty (11)

"But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

1C. Anyone who doesnít see Godís sovereignty throughout the Scripture is a near-sighted nabob. That God is sovereign is abundantly clear from Godís Word.

2C. So why does Paul stress the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit in dispensing spiritual gifts? An opinion: Because they idolized the gift more than the the Giver of gifts, the Corinthians tended to all want to idolize Jack Hyles, or Chuck Swindoll, or John MacArthur, or Chuck Smith, or Bishop Jakes. Or perhaps they all insisted on having the gift of tongues, and insisted on others also having the gift of tongues.

3C. But folks, everyone being like a certain man, or everyone having the same spiritual gift, is just conformity. But the Holy Spirit doesnít want conformity. He wants diversity. And that at no expense to unity.

5C. The result? The Holy Spirit gives what He wants to give, to whom He wants to give it, and that had better settle it!


1. My unsaved friend, let me say something to you related to this message Iíve preached to Christians. You donít have to be afraid of being a Christian. It should be quite clear from the eight verses weíve studied this afternoon that God simply does not want robots. Each and every child of God is different, and God wants it that way.

2. But though you donít need to be afraid of being a Christian, you do need to be afraid of being lost. You see, the lake of fire awaits those who do not know Christ. The lake of fire awaits you, my unsaved friend. Youíre crazy if youíre not concerned about that.

3. Christian, why donít you relax? Why donít you realize that with different gifts, different administrations, and different operations, there is no way two different believers are going to be the same. Conformity, beyond some very obvious and broad practical necessities, is not only unnecessary, itís impossible!

4. So why do we have so many Churches, so many pastors, so many people, who think that conformity is Godís will? I think itís because there are so many who are actually lost, and because they are lost they mistake conformity for unity. But the two are not the same.

5. And why are so many Christians afraid that being godly or serving Christ will result in them being little clones? I guarantee that it wonít. I guarantee that itís not possible.

6. So go ahead and let yourself be different. Go ahead and let other Christians be diverse, understanding that diversity doesnít mean condoning attention getting weirdness and clamoring for attention. God wants us to be truly diverse, without being clowns. And why would God want Christians in a Church to be so very diverse, truly diverse in personality and gifts? Strength.

7. You see, with every spiritual gift there is a potential corresponding weakness. And if everyone in a congregation were to have the same gift, the Church would be very strong in one aspect, but very susceptible in another.

8. With diversity, however, there are always Christians who have strengths to compensate for the weaknesses that the others in the Church might have.

9. Christian, letís talk. On this subject of diversity, how are you? How are you as a Christian and as a parent? Set aside, for now, the cultural, ethnic, racial, economic, linguistic, educational, and other differences people have which make them slightly different from one another.

10. When you add to those things different gifts, different administrations, and different operations, and each of these sovereignly bestowed by God, how in the world can anyone expect even Christians in the same family to not be extremely diverse individuals?

11. The question is, have you tried to conform and be like others, when God wants you diverse? Have you concerned yourself more with conformity to others externally and ignored conformity to the image of Christ internally?

12. Parents? Have you tried to make each of your children the same, not recognizing how different they must be, according to Godís plan?

13. God wants us different. But though there be differences in our lives that God wants to exist, there are some things God desires for us all: Salvation, Baptism, Church Membership, Growth, Commitment.

  Home   Who Is God?   God's Word   Sermons   Tracts   Q & A   Feedback