1 Corinthians 12:2
You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, even as you were led.
I. THE LESSON WE ARE TO LEARN, to say. "Jesus is the Lord."
1. It is but short, but it is the whole gospel. Here is Jesus, "a Saviour" and "the Lord," and as they are joined together in one Christ, no man must put them asunder. If we wilt have Christ our Saviour, we must make Him our Lord: and if we make Him our Lord, He will then be our Saviour. Had He not been the Lord, the world had been a chaos, the Church a body without a head, a family without a father, an army without a captain, a ship without a pilot, and a kingdom without a king.
2. What it is to say it. It is soon said: it is but three words. The devils themselves did say it (Matthew 8:29). And if the heretic will not confess it, saith Hilary, "what more fit to convince him than the cry of the devils themselves?" The "vagabond Jews" thought to work miracles with these words (Acts 19:13). To say it taketh in the tongue, the heart, the hand, i.e., an outward profession, an inward persuasion, a constant practice answerable to them both.
(1) We are bound to say it (Romans 10:9; 1 John 4:15).
(a) But if to say it were sufficient, there needed no Holy Ghost to teach it. We might learn to say it as the parrot did to salute Caesar. And indeed, if we take a survey or the conversation of most Christians, we shall find that our confession is much after the fashion of birds.
(b) Some dare not but say it for very shame, lest those they live with should confute them. Yet the voice may be for Jesus and the heart for Mammon. "It is a voice, and no more." Thus they may name Him who never name Him but in their execrations.
(2) As there is "a word floating on the tongue," so there is the word of the heart, when by due examination we are well persuaded that Jesus is the Lord. We call it "faith," which as a fire will not be concealed (Jeremiah 20:9; Psalm 39:3; Psalm 116:10). Sometimes we read of its valour (Hebrews 11:33); its policy (2 Corinthians 2:11), its strength; but that faith should be idle, or speechless, or dead, is contrary to its nature. Now there are many who maintain the truth, but by those ways which are contrary to the truth (2 Timothy 3:5); crying, "Jesus is the Lord," but scourging Him with their blasphemies, and fighting against Him with their lusts. Therefore —
(3) That we may truly say it, we must speak it to God as God speaketh to us; who, if "He saith it, will make it good " (Numbers 23:19). And as He speaketh to us by His benefits, so must we speak to Him by our obedience. For if He be indeed our Lord, then shall we be under His command.
II. THE TEACHER. As the lesson is difficult, we must have a skilful master.
1. Good reason that the Holy Ghost should be our teacher. For as the lesson is, such should the master be. The lesson is spiritual; the teacher a Spirit. The lecture is a lecture of piety; and the Spirit is a Holy Spirit. It is not sharpness of wit, or quickness of apprehension, or force of eloquence, that can raise us to this truth.
2. "Christ dwelleth in us by His Spirit" (Romans 8:11). Who teaches us —
(1) By sanctifying our knowledge of Christ; by showing us the riches of His gospel, and the majesty of His kingdom, with that evidence that we are forced to fall down and worship.
(2) By quickening, enlivening, and even actuating our faith. For this Spirit "dwelleth in our hearts by faith," maketh us to be "rooted and grounded in love," enableth us to believe with efficacy (Ephesians 3:17).
3. A teacher then He is. But great care is to be taken that we mistake Him not, or take some other spirit for Him. And it doth not follow, because some men mistake and abuse the Spirit, that no man is taught by Him. Because I will not learn, doth not the Spirit therefore teach? And if some men take dreams for revelations, must the Holy Ghost needs lose His office?
4. But you will say perhaps that "the Holy Ghost was a teacher in the apostles' times, but doth He still keep open school?" Yes, certainly. Though we be no apostles, yet we are Christians; and the same Spirit teacheth both. And by His light we avoid all by-paths of dangerous error, and discern, though not all truth, yet all that is necessary.
III. HIS PREROGATIVE. He is our "sole instructor."
1. "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." And there are diversities of teachers, but the same Spirit.
(1) The Church is "the house of learning," and "the pillar of the truth."(2) The Word is a teacher: and Christ by open proclamation hath commanded us to have recourse unto it.
(3) We are taught also by Christ's discipline.
2. All these are teachers; but their authority and efficacy is from the Spirit. The Church, if not directed by the Spirit, were but a rout or conventicle; the Word, if not quickened by the Spirit, "a dead letter"; and His discipline a rod of iron, first to harden us, and then break us to pieces. But the Spirit bloweth upon His garden the Church, and the spices thereof flow (Song of Solomon 4:16); He sitteth upon the seed of the Word, and hatcheth a new creature, a subject to this Lord; He moveth upon these waters of bitterness, and then they make us "fruitful to every good work." Conclusion: Wilt thou know how to speak this language truly, that "Jesus is the Lord," and assure thyself that the Spirit teacheth thee so to speak? Mark well then those symptoms of His presence.Remember —
1. That He is a Spirit, and the Spirit of God, and so is contrary to the flesh, and teacheth nothing that may flatter or countenance it, or let it loose to insult over the spirit.
2. That He is "a right Spirit" (Psalm 51:10); not now glancing on heaven, and having an eye fixed and buried in the earth.
3. That He is a Spirit of truth. And it is the property of truth to be always like unto itself, to change neither shape nor voice.
(A. Farindon, B.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.