We’re in the political season where quotes and clips are frequently taken out of context or emphasized in the wrong way. In the move “A View from the Top”, Mike Meyers says a now commonly quoted line when another character is saying something wrong. “You’re putting the wrong emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble.”
The idea of emphasizing the wrong thing or out of context is not new and it has resulted in significant confusion over the centuries. There are dozens of religions that report to use the Bible as their only text, yet they differ significantly on major points. Many of these significant differences come from taking parts out of context or over emphasizing one thing over another.
One of those events that is commonly over emphasized was part of my reading today, from Acts 2. Jesus had promised, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) And fifty days later, the apostles received the Holy Spirit in an amazing display of fire and wind and the gift of speaking in tongues.
And this is where the ‘out of context’ issue happens. All through out the New Testament, there is story after story where people received the Spirit, but there are really only two times when it was this graphic and publicly obvious.
The first time JEWS received the Spirit was this scene in Acts 2. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4) Then again when the first GENTILES received the Spirit. “And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.” (Acts 10:45-46)
A powerful sign like this was necessary to show the world that the Spirit was in them, but in all the other examples throughout Acts, it does not mention tongues in any other conversions. Yet there is an entire religion group that takes these two examples of proof of the Spirit and over emphasize that gift among all the others.
In fact, every time that Paul mentions Spiritual Gifts, he mentions them in different orders and sometimes doesn’t even include the gift of tongues. The most commonly quotes passage is this.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Cor 12:4-11)
All of the gifts are from the same Spirit. All are to be used for His Glory and none is higher or more important than another. The Corinthian church was creating division among themselves by ranking one gift over another and Paul was correcting them. Now today, we have entire denominations of churches all across the globe doing the very same thing that Paul corrected the Corinthians for.
Whatever gift God has given you, it is no better or worse that the gifts He has given His other adopted children. You are to use it for His glory, not to Lord it over others and claim your gift as higher than other gifts.
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