Variety in Unity
1 Corinthians 12:11
But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.


1. "Every good and perfect, gift is from above." Bezaleel and Aholiab were filled with the Spirit of God even as Moses and Aaron. The tact of the man of business, the fancy of the poet, the skill of the scientist are all from Him.

2. So in the spiritual sphere. Spiritual life is His gift; that life is preserved by His renewing, and all its progressive developments must be referred to Him. All aspirations after purity, all high purposes of consecration are from Him. In whatever way we are able to strengthen the Church and bless the world, the gift is a talent entrusted to us by Him.

3. There is great comfort in this thought. Men who have done eminent service pass away, and sometimes the anxious inquiry will arise, Where shall the host of the Lord find its leaders? Fear not! His gifts never fail, and His Church can never be abandoned. Moses died, but Joshua conducted the people to the promised land. Stephen fell a martyr, but the gap in the ranks was more than filled by Saul. Our Lord told the disciples that it was good for them that even He should be taken away, that the Comforter might come.

II. THE CHARACTERISTIC OF HIS WORKS. Variety in unity. Variety is everywhere a condition of strength and beauty.

1. We should soon weary of landscapes in which the same features were ever reproduced. There would have been little beauty in the firmament if star had not differed from star in glory.

2. Intellect has been able to render humanity real service because it has had "diversities of gifts." We want men of science and men of action to reduce their thoughts to practice; some to give strong and noble impulses, and others to apply the check of caution and experience; some to bear us aloft to the world of fancy, others to detain us among the hard realities of life.

3. So in the highest region of all.

(1) The ages of the Church's story have been marked by different characteristics. There have been missionary ages, ages of defence, ages of quiet building to which we owe the great works of our theology, ages of pulling down so as to reform, to purify, to revive, and ages of suffering — heroic times. Here is variety, and the wise observer will see the presence of God's Spirit in all, and admire the wisdom that has made all contribute to the prosperity of the Church.

(2) So is it with the various sections into which the Church has been divided. Men formed with different powers and temperaments, trained amid diversified circumstances, are sure to arrive at different conclusions. As to questions of Church polity, some will be sticklers for authority, while others will be concerned to maintain the rights of the individual Christian. In ritual some will attach importance to external beauty, others will refuse to depart from primitive simplicity. Some may be moved by an irrepressible enthusiasm, others will adhere to a mere formal service. Some may state truth in a way which may be offensive to men of culture, while others may seek to present it philosophically and disgust men of earnest heart. Yet everywhere we may feel that the work of the Church is more thoroughly done as the result of the diversified agencies enlisted on its behalf.

(3) The same manifoldness is seen, too, in individual character and experience. The story of no two souls is exactly alike.

(a) There are varieties of agency. Always the same truth must be the power of God unto salvation, but there are many avenues by which it obtains admission to the soul, and gains power and dominion there. In one the conscience is awakened to agonising convictions of sins; others are led by soft and gentle hands into the ways of peace. Lydia and the jailor were converted in the same city by the agency of the same apostle; but to the one the Spirit came in the "still small voice"; to the other He spoke in the terrors of an earthquake. Some are brought to enter the kingdom through a great "fight of afflictions," and others are drawn as " by the cords of love." Here the work is instantaneous, there gradual. One is converted by the appeal of the preacher, another by solitary meditation on the truth, another by the artless words of a little child.

(b) There are diversities in the result. In all there is faith in Jesus, but with innumerable points of difference. In some there is a burning enthusiasm, in others holy quiet. One is all activity and daring; another, like Mary, loves to sit at the feet of Jesus. One is a Boanerges, another a Barnabas. These, then, are the phenomena, and they are just such as we might have expected. "The wind bloweth where it listeth." Sometimes its music is soft and sweet, anon it is clear and shrill, and again it is deep, solemn, and sad.Conclusion:

1. We have here a rebuke of intolerant exclusiveness. There is a strong tendency in most men to expect that piety should be cast in one mould, and fashioned after one pattern.

2. We have a call to earnest diligence. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. Whatever gift the Spirit bestows on any man — by whatever impulse He stirs the soul, the design is that the talent should be used for the advancement of Divine glory.

(J. Guinness Rogers, B.A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

WEB: But the one and the same Spirit works all of these, distributing to each one separately as he desires.

The Work of the Spirit
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