Serving God’s People - 1 Corinthians 12:1-26

(Display a Mr. Potato Head toy with all the parts in their proper place. We will move them around later.)

1.      What are some common misunderstandings people have about spiritual gifts? (Spiritual gifts are a thing of the past. Only certain people, like pastors; music ministers; etc have spiritual gifts. If I have one, I don’t know what it is. People don’t have them today like they used to in Biblical times.)

2.      What are some things that foster misunderstandings about spiritual gifts? (Some people might feel that acknowledging the fact that I have a spiritual gift and actually using it is bragging about your own special ability. They are misunderstanding the fact that God chooses who gets what gift and you cannot exercise your gift effectively without the Holy Spirit’s leading. Your gift is not for your edification but for that of the Church or Body of Christ!)

Our spiritual gifts are to be used most effectively in love and humility, giving God all the glory!

3.      How can we use Mr. Potato Head to illustrate some truths about spiritual gifts?

We will see today that every Christian has received at least one spiritual gift! In today’s study, we will see how Paul corrected the misunderstanding and misuse of spiritual gifts in the church at Corinth!

(Read 1 Cor. 12:1-3. One sure test we have to see if a person was of God or not was what came out of one’s mouth. The Spirit of God would not say “Jesus is cursed”! No one can say with assurance that “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwelling in a person also gifted that person with special gifts.)


Diverse! Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-6


1.      What words follow the word “different” in each verse? (Gifts; ministries; activities.)

2.      What words follow “same” in each case? (Spirit, Lord, God.)

Spiritual gifts are the special abilities from the Holy Spirit to each believer. While ministries are the specific offices (such as teacher, pastor, and so on), activities are the works of God through different believers.

The same Spirit gives gifts, but those gifts might manifest themselves through various ministries in the church and also through a broad range of activities that equip and edify God’s people.

3.      What are some different areas the gift of proclaiming the truth of God’s Word might be evident? (Pastor; SS teachers at all the different age groups; those in jail ministry; music ministry; etc. The gift is just demonstrated in a variety of ways, none superior to the others but all are important!)

In the body of Christ, not all have the same gifts or assignments, but they do share the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God! The three different references to God in these verses clearly represent the Trinity, or God’s three-in-oneness. Recall the old hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” by Reginald Heber, which is based on the reality of the Trinity!

To help the church at Corinth begin to function with unity in service to God, Paul wanted them to see that spiritual gifts were given by God to them and for them to all work together in unity!

4.      What would help a divided church begin to function with unity in service to God? (Recognize the spiritual gifts others have and appreciate the way God has gifted us differently. Don’t get upset when someone does not have a passion for the same ministry you are passionate about. They are gifted differently and minister in another area of the Body!)

All believers are gifted to fulfill a God initiated role in the ministry of the church. The Holy Spirit initiates and determines what gifts will be given to what believers. In the next section of verses, Paul identified specific spiritual gifts.


Specific! Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-10

            (Handout kit item 8—Paul’s List of Spiritual Gifts)

There is no one place in Scripture that gives a comprehensive list of spiritual gifts. There are lists in several letters Paul wrote for us to use. But there may be other gifts than those listed.

1.      Why would it be important to know that every believer receives a spiritual gift? (Every member of the Body is important for the Body to function properly. The Holy Spirit manifests the gifts within each believer for ministry. They should not be used to compete against one another. In fact, we should rejoice when any part of the Body grows or demonstrates success in their area of ministry!)

The list Paul gives here is representative rather than exhaustive.

--The Message of wisdom most likely refers to declaring how the gospel applies to a particular situation.

--The Message of knowledge may mean knowledge that comes from direct revelation or the ability to teach correctly.

--The gift of Faith is distinguished from saving faith, which all Christians have. Perhaps it reflects the strong conviction that God will act in a particular way in a specific situation.

--The Gifts of healing may refer to the many miraculous examples found in the Gospels and Acts. There may be different kinds of healing, medical, mental etc. Perhaps even through the miracle of medicine.

--Performing of miracles refers perhaps to supernatural intervention in situations other than bodily healings, like the feeding of thousands with a small amount of food; calming the storm and those recorded in Acts.

--Prophecy is foretelling as well as forth-telling. Paul later taught that prophecy builds up believers gathered for worship!

--Distinguishing between spirits is telling the difference between true prophets of God and false prophets.

--Different kinds of tongues. Paul makes two points later about this gift which are important to note: not all Christians have this gift (12:30) and those with this gift are to control when and how they use it (14:27-28). (Unfortunately I have seen people who claimed to have this gift and looked down on those who didn’t.)

--Interpretation of tongues. If a person gifted in languages did not understand what they were saying, then it was important for a translator to be provided. Paul later taught that in public worship there must be no more than two or three people who spoke in a different language, each in turn, and that a translation or interpretation must be provided. (14:27-28.

2.      Why do you think Paul mentioned the Holy Spirit so frequently in this passage (five times in vv.7-9)?

3.      How should that emphasis impact the way we view spiritual gifts? (Much the same way we should view our salvation, it is only by the grace of God and nothing we deserve!)

4.      What are some ways in which a person might use a spiritual gift to benefit himself or herself rather than the church? (Exhibit pride in what God had done through them.)

5.      How can we guard against those tendencies?

We must humble ourselves before God. The exercise of our spiritual gifts will soon become like second nature and we don’t think about using it when we are following God’s will for our lives.

6.      How does knowing that it is the Holy Spirit who gives the gifts create confidence in a believer to exercise his or her gift?

7.      How can receiving and using a spiritual gift be part of our stewardship?


Every spiritual gift is important to the church and strategically intentional in its placement. Just as the human body must function as one unit, so too must the body of Christ. God knows exactly what each church needs and “gifts” individuals to meet those needs. When one part isn’t functioning as it should, the Body is crippled! See 12:18


Intentional! Read 1 Corinthians 1211-12, 21-26


1.      What is the likely result when believers don’t use their spiritual gifts? (Paul used the human body as a metaphor to describe the workings of the spiritual gifts within the church. Each part of the body has a specific function to the life of the body, just as each member in the church has a specific function to the life of the church. When that function is left undone the whole body or church suffers!)

2.      We’ve been talking about how we should regard our spiritual gifts to this point. How should we regard the spiritual gifts of another Christian? (We should never allow pride to get in the way of allowing others to use their spiritual gifts. All spiritual gifts should be recognized for their significance in the church. Believers should care for one another because they are all part of the same body.)

3.      How does the variety of gifts in a church give greater value to the giftedness of an individual? (I’m the one God has chosen to do this task. I need to take it seriously and do the best I can in God’s strength.)

4.      Why might a person devalue the role or gift God has given him?

5.      How can a person protect himself from devaluing his giftedness?


Summarize and Challenge!


A quick review:

·         All believers are gifted to fulfill a God-initiated role in the ministry of the church.

·         Believers receive specific gifts given at the Holy Spirit’s discretion.

·         Believers add value to the church when they use their God-given spiritual gifts in kingdom work.


1.      How can we as believers come to know and understand what particular spiritual gift we have been given?

2.      How can we help each other discover and exercise our gifts?


Seek to identify the spiritual gift(s) God has given you. You can find a spiritual gifts inventory in the downloads under the resources tab at


3.      Are you using your gift to build up your church?

4.      What action do you need to take to be more effective?


Thank God for each believer’s special gift from God.

Pray that we will use our God-given spiritual gifts to build God’s kingdom!