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August 29, 2022

Our Initial Gifts Need to Grow (1)

1Cor 1:4 I thank my God always concerning you based upon the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus, 5 That in everything you were enriched in Him, in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 So that you do not lack in any gift… 3:1 And I, brothers, was not able to speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to fleshy, as to infants in Christ.

[Part 1 of 2] For years I was troubled by verses 4 through 7, especially by the meaning of the word gift in verse 7. I wondered how Paul could give thanks for the church in Corinth when the saints were in a poor situation, divided and confused. Eventually I began to see that in verse 7 we have what we may call the initial gifts, the gifts which came out of the grace we received when we believed in the Lord Jesus. In verse 7, gift refers to the inward gifts issuing from grace, such as the free gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23) and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) as the heavenly gift (Heb. 6:4), not the outward, miraculous gifts, such as healing or speaking in tongues, in chapters twelve and fourteen. All the inward gifts are parts of grace. They are the initial things of the divine life received of grace. All these need to grow (3:6-7) to their full development and maturity. The Corinthian believers were not lacking in the initial gifts in life, but they were desperately short of the growth in life. Hence, however much they were initially enriched in grace, they were still infants in Christ, soulish, fleshly, and even fleshy (2:14; 3:1, 3). The growth of a plant from a seed to a mature plant illustrates the growth and development of the initial gifts. First, a seed is sown into the ground. This seed is the initial plant. As the seed grows, it develops until it reaches maturity. The Corinthian believers all had the initial gifts; they all had the divine life and the Holy Spirit sown into them as seeds. If we understand these verses not only by the context but also in the light of our own experience and the experience of other believers, we shall see that here Paul was telling the Corinthians this: "You believers in Corinth have received the Lord Jesus. When you believed in Him, you received the initial gifts--the divine life and the Holy Spirit. The problem is that you have not allowed these gifts to grow and develop." For this reason, in chapter three Paul points out that the Corinthians need to grow. He says, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God made to grow" (3:6). The Corinthians, still infants with respect to the initial gifts, desperately needed to grow. [Continued tomorrow] (c) Living Stream Ministry.

Bible verses are taken from the Recovery Version of the Bible and Words of Ministry from Witness Lee, Life-study of 1 Corinthians, pp. 17-19. Both are published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA. Please visit us at www.emanna.com. Send comments to: comment@emanna.com.

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Life-study of 1 Corinthians