1 Corinthians 12:11
But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
I. CHRIST PROMISED THAT HE WOULD BE PRESENT WITH HIS CHURCH UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD (Matthew 28:20). And this is that which differenceth His Church from any other society. If Christ be not present there is no Church. The foundation is wanting; and where there is no foundation, the higher the building, or the more glorious its appearance, the sooner it will fall.
II. CHRIST IS THUS PRESENT WITH HIS CHURCH PRINCIPALLY AND FUNDAMENTALLY BY HIS SPIRIT (John 14-16). Christ hath no vicar but the Spirit. Some say that Christ is no otherwise present than by outward ordinances. I grant that these are pledges of His presence, and instruments wherewith, by His Spirit, He doth effectually work. But make them Christ's whole presence, and we have no better Church state than the Jews.
III. THIS PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT IS PROMISED, AND GIVEN UNTO THE CHURCH BY " AN EVERLASTING COVENANT " (Isaiah 59:21).
IV. IT IS FROM HENCE THAT THE MINISTRY OF THE GOSPEL IS "THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT" (2 Corinthians 3:6-8).
1. There were never but two ministrations, the one the ministration "of the letter and of death," the other "of the Spirit and of life"; the one of the law, the other of the gospel. Any other is antichrist's.
2. The ministration of the Spirit must signify —
(1) That the Spirit is the efficient of the ministration, giving spiritual gifts to the ministers of the gospel, to enable them to administer all gospel ordinances to the glory of Christ and the edification of the Church.
(2) The communication of Him, and so the effect of the ministration (Galatians 3:2). Then it follows that, so long as there is the preaching of the gospel, there is the communication of the Spirit.
V. THE GENERAL END, WHY THE SPIRIT IS THUS PROMISED UNTO THE CHURCH. God hath promised unto Christ a kingdom and Church in the world for ever (Psalm 72:17; Isaiah 9:7; Matthew 16:18). The accomplishment of this promise must depend upon the Spirit. If He should cease as to either of His operations, either in working internal saving grace or spiritual abilities for gospel admimistrations, the Churh must cease.
VI. THE HOLY GHOST THUS PROMISED AND GIVEN FURNISHES THE MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL WITH SPIRITUAL ABILITIES IN THE DISCHARGE OF THEIR WORK; and without it they are no way fitted for it.
1. Read Matthew 15:14-30. Note in this parable —
(1) That wherever Christ calls and appoints a minister in His house, He gives him spiritual abilities for that work by the Holy Ghost. He set none at work, but He gave them talents.
(2) For men to take upon them to serve Christ who have received none of these spiritual abilities is a high presumption, and casts reflection on Christ, as if He called to work and gave no strength, as though He called to trade and gave no stock, or required spiritual duties and gave no spiritual abilities.
(3) Those who have received talents or gifts of the Holy Ghost are to trade with them.
2. Read Romans 12:4-8. Note here —
(1) That this discourse concerns the ordinary state of the Church in all ages.
(2) That gifts are the foundation of all Church work.
(3) That not only does work depend on the administration of gifts, but the measure of work depends upon the men, sure of gifts (Ephesians 4:8-13).
VII. AS SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE BESTOWED UNTO THIS END, SO THEY ARE NECESSARY FOR IT. The way whereby the world lost the spiritual ministrations of the gospel was by the neglect and contempt of spiritual gifts, whereby alone they can be performed.
VIII. THAT THERE IS A COMMUNICATION OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN ALL GOSPEL ORDINANCES we know by experience. This is derided by scoffers, but we plead the experience of humble Christians who have a spiritual acquaintance with these things.
(J. Owen, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.