Welcome to Throwback Thursday with Dr. Zodhiates. Here is the third installment of this radio sermon on 1 Corinthians 12.
Consider the heavens, think of the numberless worlds above us, how different they are, yet as far as we know there is one great law that governs them all. The force of gravitation crossing and recrossing the heavens, holding every planet in its place and urging each along in its orbit. This is the one so called law to which God subjects all worlds amid their infinite diversity of condition. And yet, in spite of their endless variety, there are certain features common to them all.
As far as we know God has not made one cubic world. Every world is a globe. That is a divine pattern. Even the dew drops supplies to us the model of worlds. Have you ever noticed its shape? Thus we see that amidst endless varieties, there are certain principles at the basis of all creation upon which God has worked. And His Spirit behind all, and in all, and through all.
Look at the landscape, and its varieties of growths. From the blade of grass, up to the mightiest tree, God has breathed life into all alike. It is the same life-giving power that sustains all that rich variety of verdure.
So it is in the Christian church. There is endless variety. But the great inspiring and invigorating power imparted to each is the same Divine Spirit. We are all alike, dependent on the Holy Spirit. How wrong it is to entertain the notion that as evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit all Christians must possess the same gifts. As for instance, speaking in tongues.
This would hold true only if every member of the body could perform the function of every other member of the body. But it is only the eye which sees. Not the foot, or the hand. Thus, there are divisions of gifts, but the same Spirit.
One comforting conclusion that no Christian, no matter how insignificant his position may be, need be possessed with a feeling of uselessness or inferiority. He’s a member of the body and the body would be incomplete without him.
God administers His gifts differently not only in individuals, but at different times in history. Because God wants His work done in a certain way, it is not necessary for Him to repeat His actions in order to prove that He is the same God.
As you read the epistle to the Hebrews, you will see that God has His own chronological schedule of action. It is not uniform, but as diverse as the various parts of our body. The saints of the past had their own glorious experiences, we have ours. They did not have everything, nor do we. They received promises that they did not live to see fulfilled. God graciously reserved the fulfillment of some of these for us. That’s the meaning of the expression in Hebrews 11:40:
“That they without us should not be made perfect.”
Perfect here is τέλει, meaning, to see the end of all of these promises. Τέλει comes from τέλος, end all purpose.
God did not confine all His gracious purposes to one generation. Every generation has found its niche in the same way that every Christian must find his. Thus, God has made each age contribute its part to universal history. There is a sphere for each age and each individual in God’s service.
Let us not try to relive the first century but fulfill in the century in which God’s providence has placed us. A part God meant for each one of us. God has a timetable, and we shall do well to study it to find out what part each age has played, is playing, and will play in it, and the part of each one of us as individuals.
There was only one Pharaoh, there was only one Moses, there was only one Pentecost, and there will only be one glorious second coming of Christ. There is a finality in many of God’s actions. If He wants to, He can repeat them, but He does not have to do so to prove that He is the same, unalterable God of the ages.
Because he heals the ailment of one or many, that does not mean that he has to heal all, or a certain number. Because God enabled Paul to make a scoffer blind, that does not mean He will confer that same power on me. There is no doubt that he is able to do it, but we cannot know for sure that He is going to do so again. We can wish it were so, but that does not mean it will happen.
Let us allow God to place the pieces of the great puzzle of time and space together to make the whole picture of His eternal plan. No two pieces may be cut exactly the same, but the same God did the cutting. He produced variety in the full knowledge of what unity He could get out of His diversity.
We ourselves would find it impossible to fit all of the pieces of the puzzle together because we lack the elements of eternity and infinity. Those are the elements in which God moves even while He condescends to act in time and space. His plan, His timetable, His act of division are all perfect viewed from His side though they may seem fragmented and imperfect viewed from ours.