Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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January 20 – Epiphany 2 – 1 Cor. 12:1-11 “Empowered By The Spirit [Doing What We Can]”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Epistle Lesson just read, from 1 Cor. 12.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • As I mentioned last week, “Epiphany” means “shining upon,” and the season of Epiphany is a time for reflection upon and rejoicing in the ways in which God makes sure that the glorious good news of His gracious forgiveness and salvation in Christ Jesus is shined out into the world, and also into the hearts and minds of people, so that we come to know and believe His great love for us in Christ Jesus.
  • If we were to think about this in secular worldly concepts we would identify this with “advertising.”  Yes, God has produced a product which He deeply desires all people to have and benefit from – and this “epiphany” is His concern with advertising and spreading this great blessing to all people everywhere.  So we also might think of the church as part of His great cosmic “advertising agency,” that it is our principle privilege, pleasure, and purpose within the church to “make known” His salvation to all people, to the very ends of the earth! 
  • This would be our “corporate” purpose as a congregation – and even as we are more largely organized into “church bodies.”  As members of the church it is also our “individual” and “personal” concern – indeed one of our great compulsions and purposes in life!  But thinking about this often causes great “angst” for us – for not everyone is a great “advertiser”!  Many of us are rather “shy” and perhaps even “introverted,” and not very good at getting up in a “pulpit” and “preaching,” or for that matter being vocal and loud about our faith, about the glorious blessings God has given to us and to all people in Christ Jesus. 
  • In addition, we’re well aware that there is competition “out there in the world.”  The evil one has his advertisers at work as well – so wherever the Gospel is being promoted there is conflict and competition.  Not all of us are eager to engage in this kind of “advertising” warfare! 
  • So what are we to do?  What can we do?  We can’t “not” be part of the church – God has called us to faith, to life and salvation!  So we may have further “angst” – over what we are to be doing as Christians, when “advertising” for Christ in our lives out there in the world – working as “sign sandwiches” may not exactly be our thing!  Well the good news is that there are many tasks within an “advertising agency,” and so also within the life of the church!  And even better, God has promised all of us, every member of the church, with “THE EMPOWERMENT OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT” so that we are prepared and enabled to do “some” part of the work of the church.  And this is what we are called to do, according to our text – that “EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT” we are doing whatever we can for the church, the body of Christ, God’s dear people of faith! 
  • For according to our text:


I.  To Each Christian Has Been Given The Manifestation Of The Spirit For The Common Good [regardless of whether we recognize this or not, in ourselves, or in others]


Text:  “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.  TO EACH IS GIVEN THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SPIRIT FOR THE COMMON GOOD.” 


Statement:  So none of us is to be worried or filled with angst in our life within the church, our life as children of God and disciples of Christ!  God is taking care of all of this – He is the owner, the manager, the trainer, and He is “hands on” with each of us individually, with each congregation, with the whole church!  This “epiphany” of the Gospel is His business, His great purpose and plan of love for mankind – and each of us has a part, some part, which He has prepared us for, blessed us to participate in! 


Application:  So let us “manage” what we can – which includes keeping in mind the larger picture, the larger cosmic purposes of God, His great love, and the life of His church!   None of this should cause us tension but rather give us great joy, that God would utilize us – giving us gifts and talents, manifestations of His Spirit in us – all for this great purpose of His love, the salvation of human beings! 


And we should understand and recognize that:


II.  The Greatest And Most Blessed Manifestation Of The Spirit Is Faith And Our Confession Of Christ


Text:  “No one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.”


Statement:  Now we may not want to be human “billboards” but in the face of the many people out there in the world who are saying “Jesus is accursed” – in a variety of ways, we can hardly agree with them or remain silent!  It is not that we are an argument waiting to happen – but you cannot hide the fact that you know and believe God’s great love for us in Christ Jesus, and you wouldn’t want to!  That means you are a negation of the “ad campaign” of the devil and wicked world – and are likely to be a “lightning rod” for their arrogance and hatred of God! 


Application:  Still, you are blessed by the Holy Spirit of God to know and confess that “Jesus is Lord.”  That is part of why we come together here, why we have a building, a pastor, worship, and all of our other activities.  We are asserting – in the face of a darkened world of hatred and violence, that “God is love” and “Jesus is Lord”!  And this is the greatest and most blessed “manifestation” of the Spirit, evidence of the reality and existence and power of God, and the power of His great love for us in Christ Jesus!  So keep it up – by the impulse and empowerment of the Spirit of God! 


Transition:  And the rest, well God is also taking care of all of that, for:


III.  The Spirit Also Grants Us Individual Gifts As He Wills – A Variety Of Gifts And Functions, But The Same God Working And Empowering Us All – For The Good Of All, Chiefly The Upbuilding Of Faith And The Confession Of Christ


A.  In Some, That Is Uttering Wisdom


B.  In Others, This Is Uttering Knowledge


C.  In Still Others, This Is Extraordinary Faith


D.  In Some, This Is Gifts Of Healing – Physical Healing By God’s Power


E.  In Some, This Is The Working Of Miracles – Accomplishing Things That Have No Natural Or Logical Explanation


F.  In Others, This Is The Gift Of Teaching And Proclaiming God’s Word


G.  In Some, This Is The Ability To Use Languages And Understand Languages


H.  And All Of This Is A Short List, Representative Of The Empowering Gifts Of The Holy Spirit – For He Gives All That The Church Needs


Text:  “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit Who apportions to each one individually as He wills – for the common good.” 


Statement:  So there is no need for us to get “wigged out” about any of this – it is all part of the natural flow and life of the church, of every congregation!  There is no “pressure” on you – you are able to be who you are, who the Spirit of God has blessed you to be, and to contribute what He has empowered in you – always for the common good!


Application:  Corporations often have to look for people with “specific skillsets and talents.”  Sometimes they even have to hire “headhunters” to recruit these people for them.   It is a rather amazing reality that the church has no such headaches – God the Holy Spirit is running the “personnel department” in the church, and obviously He knows what He is doing.  So our temptations to “micro-manage” are always misdirected, and also our fearfulness about having to “do something” that we are not qualified to do.  The Spirit is qualifying us for our “individual” tasks – and God is overseeing the operations here and throughout the church in all the world! 


Conclusion:  But let us remember the principle task of the church, and that important part of our life as disciples of Christ – that we are in the cosmic “advertising” and “information” industry, confessing in our words and with our lifestyles that “God is love” and that “Jesus is Lord.”  Knowing God’s love for us in Christ Jesus, and the blessedness of knowing His love, this is an easy and joyous task!  And there is no pressure – He is empowering us, so that we do what we can do!   Thanks and praise be to Him!  Amen.


Votum:  And the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.