Category Archives: sermon notes

Spiritual Gifts Rundown

Spiritual Gifts

This past Sunday at Ephesus in part 7 of our series “Supernatural” we looked at 6 of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit that Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 12. While Paul does not elaborate on each gift specifically, except for prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues, we can see how they function in the life of Jesus and other early Christians in the bible. I briefly described each one this past Sunday, but wanted to specifically add Scripture references so you could dig into each gift yourself. Always, at Ephesus, we encourage you to study the bible for yourself. Preaching is good for instruction, but it is the starting point of your own time in Scripture wrestling with theology and doctrine for yourself. That way we are all better prepared and gain an even deeper love for Jesus as we see Him revealed in His Word. So here we go, some spiritual gift action:

1. Word of Wisdom-1 Corinthians 12:8

  • The ability to apply biblical truth to situations and people’s lives so Godly choices are made and foolish mistakes are avoided
  • Luke 2:40-52: Jesus was filled with wisdom and grew in wisdom so that the scholars of the day were amazed “at his understanding
  • Mark 6:2-his wisdom is very evident as he teaches and the people were “astonished.” It’s also interesting to note that Mark equates this wisdom to the “mighty works” Jesus was doing. Wisdom and the supernatural works of God go hand-in-hand
  • Deuteronomy 34:9-Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom. Here we see the Holy Spirit at work in the Old Testament in the life of one of the greatest, most courageous leaders of the Jewish people.

2. Word of Knowledge-1 Corinthians 12:8

  • The ability to read, remember and make effective use of the information they gather to bring others to a deeper understanding of Jesus
  • A combination of biblical knowledge and a deep understanding of the nature of God with common sense and cultural understanding to bring others to a practical understanding of Jesus
  • The gift of the knowledge is sometimes confused with the gift of prophecy. Having a prophetic word for someone’s life (as seen in Acts 21:10-11) is sometimes mistakenly called a “word of knowledge.”
  • These are obviously two distinct gifts as evident in their separate listing in this passage and also Paul’s specific focus on prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14
  • 2 Timothy 2:15-“rightly dividing the word of truth.” Using the gift of knowledge to bring deep understanding of Scripture to the world
  • Acts 4:13-The Sanhedrin recognized a deep understanding of Scripture as Peter and John used the Old Testament to show them Jesus was the Messiah. They acknowledged these were uneducated men, therefore we see the gift of knowledge at work

3. Gift of Faith-1 Corinthians 12:9

  • Supernatural ability to see the enormous plans of God and believe God to accomplish them even when many others may not
  • These folks dream big, pray big and believe big because they’re gifted to have faith that God really is God.
  • Acts 6:5-8- Stephen was full of faith and did great signs and wonders
  • Ultimately his deep faith led him to be the first Christian martyr after preaching an incredible sermon on the truth of Jesus in Acts 7.
  • Many people of faith are listed in Hebrews 11
  • Luke 1:26-38-After being told she would have a child (even though she was a virgin) who is the Son of God, Mary’s response is to worship because of her faith in the word of the angel. That’s some serious faith!

4. Gift of Healing- 1 Corinthians 12:9

  • The ability to call on God to heal the sick through supernatural means so that God is revealed
  • Matthew 4:23-24 speaks of the many healings Jesus performed
  • Matthew 10:1-the Apostles had the gift of healing
  • Acts 5:14-16-Peter heals many, sometimes when only his shadow falls on them!
  • James 5:13-16-The elders of the church are directed to lay hands on and pray for the sick so that God might heal them

5. Gift of Miracles-1 Corinthians 12:10

  • The ability to call on God to do supernatural acts that reveal His power
  • John 20:30-31-Jesus did many miracles so that we would believe he is the Son of God
  • Acts 6:8-Stephen did great works, or miracles
  • Acts 19:11-God “worked unusual miracles” through Paul in Ephesus. And we all know what happened there!
  • In the life of Moses, Elijah and Elisha many miracles occurred. My personal favorite is Elijah and the false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18!

6. Gift of Discernment-1 Corinthians 12:10

  • The supernatural ability to perceive whether people, events or beliefs are from God or Satan
  • As evident by my rant on Sunday, this one is so important to me.
  • Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus discerns the presence of Satan
  • Luke 22:31-Jesus discerns Satan’s influence on Peter and prays for it to be broken. Encouraging to note is that Peter would go on to be an incredible leader of the early church.
  • 1 John 4-John’s exhortation to discern and test the spirits to know what is from God
  • Acts 16:16-18-Paul discerns the demonic work in the divinations of a young girl and prays for the bondage to be broken. What’s really fun is he and Silas are then thrown into prison for destroying her “handlers” financial livelihood. Tarot card reading is nothing new…

What needs to be repeated is that these gifts are still fully available and active today. As Christians, we should pursue the continued infilling of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-19) and the gifts that he chooses to bestow on us. The purpose then of using these gifts is that through their supernatural work, others will be led to Jesus. Not us, but Jesus will be lifted up. Good times!

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Afterword for May 3, 2009

I really like this method of doing a little follow-up to sermons from Sunday. Hopefully I’ll be able to do these on a semi-regular basis. This Afterword is for May 3, 2009. Enjoy…and check out the sweet face I’m making in the screenshot before you click “play.” Nice.

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Some Links for Message on April 18th

Tomorrow I’m going to rail for a while from Matthew 5:27-32. Here’s some links to help along the way…

Mostly for the ladies- http://www.thenewpornaddicts.com/

Mostly for the guys- http://relit.org/porn_again_christian/

Pretty much for everybody- http://xxxchurch.com/

Stop making excuses…

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Marriage, submission and all that fun

Today at Ephesus I’ll be teaching on Ephesians 5.22-33. This verse seems to stimulate a lot of thought and discussion as it speaks to wives submitting to their husbands. Often the reading stops there, everyone gets ticked off and says the bible is old-fashioned and out of touch. There’s much more to the story including the huge responsibility of the husband and the depth of the marriage relationship. I’ll be touching on all of this today, but I wanted to point everyone to a great, in-depth dissertation on marriage on all of its levels. Baker’s Dictionary of Biblical Theology provides this dissertation with all the Scripture references you could ask for. I challenge you to read through it all.

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The reality of the Cross

This past Sunday at Ephesus I touched on the physical realities of death by crucifixion. I want to give a little more of the details on this form of execution which was first practiced by the Persians and possibly learned by the Romans from the Carthaginians. The reality is that crucifixion, while horrific and violent, was fairly common during the Roman Empire. It was reserved for non-Roman citizens for crimes in which the government desired to make a very public mockery of the victim. While the crucifixion of Jesus is certainly the most recognized instance of this form of execution there are several other instances where execution occurred on a large scale. Notably the crucifixion of Spartacus and his followers during the slave rebellion of the First Century BC. There were upwards of 6000 crucified along a major Roman highway as so admirably portrayed by Kirk Douglas in the great man-movie Spartacus. The noted Jewish historian, Josephus, recorded many Jews were crucified following the failed Jewish revolt around AD 70. It is also tradition, although not with authoritative records, that Peter was crucified upside down. He made this request, because he felt he wasn’t worthy to die the same way as Jesus. All of this being said, crucifixion was a very horrific way to die, and very few survived crucifixion, and then only because they were shown mercy for some reason or another and taken off the cross or pole before they succumbed. Bottom line, either you died on the cross or the Romans very intentionally allowed you to live. No one ever accidentally survived. There has been some debate as to whether Jesus truly died on the cross or merely “swooned” or “almost died.” There is simply no historical evidence that this happened, nor is it realistic that it could have happened. Not only did the Roman executioners ensure death, because their own lives depended on them properly completing their job, but Jesus certainly was in a state of extreme trauma when laid in the tomb where he was wrapped in over 100 pounds of linens and without food or water for 3 days. You just don’t get up and walk out of a situation like that.

Next, I’d like to detail the physical realities of crucifixion. Much of this is taken from an article written in the March 21, 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

First there was flogging

  • A flog is a leather whip of braided leather straps with metal balls and small pieces of bone in them
  • These bits of bone and metal were used to rip open the flesh on the back of the victim often exposing the spine and internal organs
  • When whipped, these bits would grab hunks of flesh and tear them off the victim
  • After being flogged Jesus would most likely go into shock which correlates with his collapsing while carrying the cross and being thirsty due to blood loss on the cross.
  • This would lead to something known as hypovolemic shock. This is shock caused by the loss of large amounts of blood. It has 4 major effects
  1. The heart races to try and pump blood that is no longer in the body
  2. the blood pressure drops leading to fainting or collapse
  3. the kidneys stop producing urine so as much blood as possible can be maintained
  4. extreme thirst as the body needs more fluids to replace the lost blood

Next was the journey to the place of execution.

  • Jesus would have had to carry the crossbar of the cross which weighed between 75-125 pounds outside of the city to to the site of crucifixion
  • This rough hewn piece of wood would be resting on his ripped open back

Once at the site of the crucifixion:

  • There would be the upright portion of the cross already in the ground
  • Jesus would then be thrown to the ground which allowed dirt to get into his torn back with his arms outstretched across the crossbar
  • He would then be nailed through the wrists to the cross by 5-7 inch long metal spikes. These spike would go right through the median nerve in the wrist causing pain similar to, but far beyond, something experienced when we hit our “funny bone” in the elbow as this nerve was crushed by the spike.
  • The nail went between the two bones in the wrist to hold the victim to the cross.
    • traditionally it has been said that the nails went through the hands, but the palms would tear from the weight of the victim
    • At that time the wrist was considered part of the hand in common usage
  • Jesus was then lifted to the upright portion of the cross where his ankles were nailed to the cross again through the major nerve leading to the feet
  • At this point his arms would have been stretched an additional 6 inches and both shoulders dislocated
  • While on the cross Jesus’ back, still ripped open would be scraping across the rough wood of the cross
  • Then began the slow process of asphyxiation as the position of the body on the cross made breathing impossible except by pushing up on the nails in the feet to release the tension on the lungs and allow breathing again.
  • All the while the exposed back is tearing across the wood of the cross
  • To add to the insult of this act was that individuals were stripped naked and often times lost control of their bodily functions resulting in urine, feces, blood and sweat pooling at the base of the cross
  • Eventually the combination of all these factors led to exhaustion and an inability to lift up and breath.
  • At this point the victim would die.
    • those that did not die in the necessary timeframe would have their legs broken to quicken asphyxiation as the person could no longer lift themselves up.
    • This is why we read in the bible of the Roman executioner nearly breaking Jesus’ legs but realizing he is already dead.
  • The spear to the heart would have released pericardial effusion around the heart and pleural effusion around the lungs giving the appearance of water when punctured by the spear
    • These would have been caused by the hypovolemic shock and resulting cardiac failure
    • This would have only occurred after the death of the victim

The bottom line is Jesus died a horrible, gruesome death at the hands of experienced executioners. But the ending of the story is that 3 days later He was no longer lying in that tomb!
Additional reading :

Vintage Jesus” Mark Driscoll, & Gerry Breshears 2008

The Case for Christ” Lee Strobel 1998

On the Physical Death of Jesus ChristJAMA, Vol. 255, Number 11, March 21, 1986 Edwards, et al

“The Science of the Crucifixion” http://www.apu.edu/infocus/2002/03/crucifixion/

Vol. 255 No. 11, March 21, 1986