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Spiritual Bodybuilding

• Greg Boyd

This week begins a sermon series discussing the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, or those gifts often referred to as the supernatural gifts. Before discussing each gift individually, today we discuss two pieces of information needed to understand the gifts. We’ll discuss listening to the Spirit and using our gifts to build up the body of Christ.

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This week we begin a sermon series about the charismatic gifts of the Spirit. These gifts are discussed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12, and can often be surrounded by confusion or controversy. Woodland Hills Church has always been of the belief that these gifts are for the church today, but haven’t talked about what this means practically for quite some time. We will examine and discuss each of these gifts in detail throughout the following weeks, but for today we will begin with some introduction to the theology behind the giving of these gifts to the church.

Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit throughout our daily lives is the first step in understanding how to use the gifts we have each been given. Our days are made up of choices, some of which we do instinctively and some of which are done with more intentional thought. As disciples of Christ, it is our responsibility to serve Jesus as our Lord in the choices we make throughout our day. For a person to confess Jesus is Lord, but to not make any daily choices that are brought upon by his Lordship means we are lacking something in our relationship with him. In order to allow Jesus to lead our lives and the choices that make up our lives, we must begin by listening to him. While this practice of listening to the Spirit takes time, we all experience these nudges whether we are aware of it or not. The Spirit does not scream to us, but rather he whispers. The voice of the Holy Spirit is that intuitive nudging we feel in our own spirit or the quiet voice we hear prompting us to act. Becoming aware of these sensations is the first step the disciple must make to begin living a Spirit-led life.

Along with knowing how to actively listen to the Spirit, we must also understand why the Spirit is at work within us. The Spirit that is within each of us is the same Spirit that is tasked with uniting all of us. As followers of Christ, we must always be aware that we are part of a bigger whole and within that bigger whole we have been assigned a purpose. There are many gifts given by the Spirit, both supernatural and natural. It is up to us to determine what gifts we have been given and how we can use them to benefit the whole body of Christ.

The Apostle Paul tells us that the Spirit gives gifts to each one of us. We are each recipients of a gift. If we have been given a gift by the Spirit, but choose not to use that gift, we are failing to give thanks for that which we have been given. Your gift shouldn’t be thought of as the thing you use to impress others, but the thing you use to uplift others. It is when we begin to actively listen to the Spirit’s promptings in our lives and apply the gifts we have been given by the Spirit to build up the body of Christ that these gifts will produce fruit for the whole church.

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Topics: Community, Holy Spirit, Spiritual Gifts

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Focus Scripture:

  • 1 Corinthians 12:1,12:4-14

    1 Corinthians 12:1

    12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.

    1 Corinthians 12:4-14

    4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

    12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

    14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.

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8 thoughts on “Spiritual Bodybuilding

  1. Jesse Niemetschek says:

    I was trying to sign up for this and it wouldn’t let me. Is this full? Thanks

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  3. Peter says:

    While this series of messages on the gifts of the Spirit is welcome, we can sometimes focus in on the trees and not see the forest.

    As Greg indicates, we can incorrectly look at such gifts individualistically and not for the true purposes for which they are provided by God.

    Often we fail to appreciate that gifts come from a giver and in this case, God. As believers, we need to understand the nature of God as giver, as man is designed to be both a recipient and giver of those gifts. Where fallen man lacks this understanding, he considers these gifts with unjustifiable pride and lacks thanksgiving. However, where he understands God as Giver, he is free from pride and free to use God’s gifts and life in thanksgiving. This way man can then be a true reflection of God, as he is both used by God and uses the gifts in service to man and God.

    When we say that God is Giver, this aspect is also reflective of the Divine Community (Trinity) with the Father giving (Jn 3:16, Rm 8:32 and others), the Son giving (Mk10:45, Gal 2:20 and others) and the Spirit giving (2 Cor 3:6 and 1Cor 12:4 and others as Greg described). We effectively see the main themes of God’s giving in Creation, Redemption and the final Restoration/Regeneration. All human beings living in the present age have a moment by moment existence dependent on the gift of grace (charisma) of God.

    The charismata described by Greg are both unique and have their origin in Christ, they are given to His people/His Body/The Church; post resurrection, under the sovereign choice of the Spirit, to achieve His will.

    Rightly understood, these gifts are part of love and pointless without it; but assist building up the Body and to fulfil God’s plan for Creation both through the proclamation of the Gospel and overcoming the powers of evil, leading to the final restitution of all things.

  4. M85 says:

    1:54-55 Talking about topics that Greg hasn’t addressed in a long time: I was recently looking for some material on fasting and the last full message that I found on the subject by Greg was from 1998! I would love to hear him talk about this again. Blessings and thanks.

  5. M85 says:

    I loved the part on how to listen to the Spirit, there is so much confusion in this area.

  6. Dave Pritchard says:


    Not wanting to devise any controversy here, Ha! I’m wondering Pete if the way in which we understand and experience “The Gifts” [As the Whole Body of Christ] has drifted somewhat to the “Left” over the centuries? It seems that as the tree of Christian faith has grown, so has the intense diversity in its expression. Each branch adding its own distinctive style and mode of communication with the Holy Spirit. He never comes in one format or particular flavor, but He always comes to us in Love!

    Some would claim periodical outpourings and or movements at certain times or events, while others hold His work [ceremonially] complete at Pentecost. Our brethren within the Pentecostal ranks often emphasize “An Anointing in the Spirit”, or “Resting in the Spirit”, as well as being “Slain the Spirit” and of course being “Baptized by The Holy Spirit” – all potentially being understood as intrinsic and functional to the Christian faith. Some groups would go as far to say these are essential for one’s Salvation, Sanctification, Justification, Glorification, etc…….and that’s a lot of “Haitians”! Ha!

    However, as most of us know and have personally experienced, it is in some ways, a whole different territory of Ecclesiastical and Ministerial language and practice employed by Pentecostal leaders and their followers. Traditionally, the more unrestrained “Gifts of the Spirit” have been somewhat subdued in their expression in the Reformed and Mennonite practices but yet with a lot of interpretive latitude within denominations.

    But what I’m wondering here is, that “if” (and that’s a big IF…) there has been an overall external subsidence in church history since the initial events described in Acts 2:2-4, whereas now the Holy Spirit is working more internally in the hearts and minds of Believers; we shouldn’t feel disappointment or be made to feel spiritually inadequate when we don’t “Speak in Tongues”, Have Visions or Feel that Massive Rush of Wind and Power. And I ‘m not saying it’s an “either/or” kind of thing, but rather, a “both/and” situation.

    For me, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 lays it all out clearly but doesn’t speak directly about limitations, corporate contexts and the “administration” of those gifts – some churches handle that last one very, very delicately and for good reasons!

    Being neither a Cessationist or a Pentacostal, but rather an “OBC” – an Open-But-Cautious kinda guy, I’ve always admired those who appear to have a much more spiritually visceral and physically demonstrable encounter with our Savior during worship.

    Some have argued though that if every believer in Christ was equipped with the ability to perform signs, wonders, and miracles, then those signs, wonders, and miracles could in no way be the identifying marks of an “Apostle” (in an early sense). Hummmm?

  7. Dale says:

    I believe that we have a harder time hearing the holy spirit because our pineal glands are calcified. Stop drinking tap water with fluoride in it. Stop watching TV.

  8. Dave Pritchard says:

    Fascinating! Wasn’t it René Descartes that believed that the “Pineal Gland” was the seat of Intelligence and of the Soul in the mind? Although current research and knowledge clearly doesn’t bear this out, I think he was definitely onto something! Brain chemistry does have a correlation on how we are wired emotionally and then perhaps how we respond to the Spirit’s calling. Excessive ingestion of calciums, fluorides and even chocolates can cause cerebral dysphoria! Bring on that last one though! God made some things to represent our encounter with Him in delicious ways! Ha!

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