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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 12 - Ephesians 4:4, 8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 - The One Spirit and the Many Gifts Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The One Spirit And The Many Gifts.


"There is one Spirit...He gave gifts unto men."-Ephesians 4:4, 8.


     "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."-1 Corinthians 12:4-6.



     Let the above passages be read together; or rather, the whole of the two chapters of which they are part. In the fourth of the Ephesians we may be said to have the fountainhead, and in the twelfth of Corinthians, the stream an ascended Christ the fountainhead the Spirit, with all His diverse gifts, the stream. We take the two chapters together, dwelling more upon the latter than the former.

     Ezekiel's 'wind,' or 'breath,' is represented as shaking the whole valley of dry bones, moving over the face of dead Judaism, as it shall do in the latter day. So the Pentecostal 'rushing, mighty wind' shook, first of all, Jerusalem, and then went from city to city over the earth, shattering the dumb idolatries of Greece and Rome. Of this Pentecostal Spirit and His gifts (specially in reference to Corinth), the apostle begins to speak fully in connection with the circumstances and history of the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 12:1).

     Gentile idolatry was lifeless and voiceless. The gods of Greece were 'dumb idols;' yet by these dumb idols these Corinthians were swayed hither and thither, without reason, or conscience, or knowledge (by these idols, and to them). Heathenism was a silent, speechless system. What a contrast between this and the never-silent voice of the living God and His ever-moving Spirit! Dumb priests, dumb altars, dumb sacrifices, dumb temples, dumb worshippers,-of these was Paganism made up.

     With Pentecostal life and power came the Spirit of speech into Europe, and went over all the earth. The living God was not dumb. He was lifting up His voice everywhere, and speaking in every city. In the hearts and through the lips of believing men He spoke, and spoke with irresistible power; and the soul or burden of His speech or testimony was, 'Jesus is the Lord.' Among Jews it was, 'Jesus is the Christ;' among Gentiles, 'Jesus is the Lord.' Should any one, then (he says), after professing to be a Christian, be led to pronounce Jesus accursed (to renounce Christ), the Spirit of God is not in him; and whoever confesses Jesus as Lord (turning from his 'lords many'), gives evidence that he speaks by the Spirit. There was no dumbness, nor routine, nor frozen uniformity and monotony in the worship of the living God, as exhibited in the Church of God. It was no flat, icy lake, but a boundless sea, with its bright living waves, its 'endless smiles.' Variety there was, yet oneness also; speech there was, yet well-regulated; power there was, yet divinely controlled and directed. Let us mark the apostle's statement as to this, for it introduces, in a most striking way, the three Persons of the Godhead; just as in Ephesians 4:4-6, where we have (1) the Spirit; (2) the Lord; (3) the God and Father.

     I. Diversities of gifts, yet the one same Spirit.-Innumerable branches, blossoms, fruits from one tree. The one same Holy Spirit has been in the saints from the beginning,-from Abel downward; a living Spirit, a speaking, energizing Spirit. Not one Spirit for the Old Testament, and another for the New; not one for patriarchs, another for prophets, another for apostles, and another for individual saints; but one Spirit always and everywhere. It is into one Spirit that we have been baptized. This one Spirit is, properly speaking, the gift,-the one great gift. But this one divine gift subdivides itself into innumerable others; all of them true, spiritual gifts, flowing out from the Spirit, who is their Author; each gift differing from the other, yet all of them bearing marks of their parentage, and all contributing, each in its own way, to the building up of the body of Christ. All these gifts may not be needed in every age, or in every Church, or in all circumstances; but here is the mighty storehouse, or arsenal, divinely full of all that the Church needs, and at her disposal,-at the disposal of each saint. It is 'like the tower of David, builded for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.'

     II. Diversities of administrations, yet the one same Lord.-The 'administrations' refer to the channels through which the gifts flowed out and were distributed over the Churches (what we call now 'organizations'),-the various servants, and services, and helps, and workmen of every kind, as well as assemblies, smaller or greater, where these came into play (see Ephesians 4:2; Romans 16:1-12). These were the agencies, or instruments, through which the various gifts unfolded themselves, and were daily employed in the edification of the whole body, and of individual members. All these, however many, were under the regulation, and by the direct appointment of Christ Himself. Each member had some gift which he was to exercise; not one was to be idle, or dumb; and all these issued forth from their common Head and Lord, Christ Jesus, in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, and out of whose fullness there comes forth continually, through all ages, the supply that the body needs,-'grace for grace,' or 'grace upon grace,' like wave upon wave. Yes; one Lord and Head; Jesus, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood; ever full, ever watchful, ever tender, ever loving, ever liberal with His gifts. We are 'complete in Him.' As, then, we connect the gifts with the one Spirit, so we connect the distribution or dispensation of these gifts with our one Lord. We go to Him for constant supply. We realize, in all that is said or done in the Church through His instruments or agents, Christ Jesus Himself speaking, and acting, and ruling, and counseling,-Christ sowing the seed (Matthew 13:37), or walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and fulfilling His promise, 'Lo, I am with you alway.' One Church, one body, one living temple, one Lord and Head; yet out of Him flowing an infinite variety of gifts, administered in diverse ways, according to His pleasure; for all power is given to Him in heaven and on earth; and His one Lordship, one Headship, one Kingship is that to which we must trace all blessing, whether for the Church or for the world. He is our one Prophet, our one Priest, our one King, from whom all these ministrations come.

     III. Diversities of operations, yet the one same God.-The ultimate Fountainhead of power or 'energy' is God, the Father, of whom are all things, and to whom are all things. It is He who worketh all these things through all these instruments. How forcibly would words like these concerning oneness come to a Greek, who, in his former days, had known what it was to have 'gods many;' a god for every place, and for every work, and for every house; Jupiter, or Mercury, or Mars; the gods of the woods or hills, or the household gods of time family! Yes; one God working all in all. The King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only wise God. To trace every motion, every action, every word to Him! 'Every good gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.' It is with one God that we have to do; on Spirit, one Church, one God.

     How this simplifies and elevates religion! How it dignifies all worship, concentrating our whole devotions and acknowledgments in, and connecting them with one infinitely great and glorious Being.

     What, then, has our service, our worship, our religion been? Has there been in it a direct dealing with this one God-Father, Son, and Spirit? Is this the aim and the substance of our prayers, our praises, our whole religious life? Is that life a constant series of reverent yet happy and satisfactory transactions with a God whom we know and trust, and in whose free love we repose? How this thought lifts and humbles.

     He wishes to be thus transacted with by sinful men. He presses His friendship on them. 'Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace.' He truly desires to bless; He bids us welcome at any time; He opens the doors of His divine storehouse to us; He entreats us to avail ourselves of its fullness and variety; He wishes to be approached for blessing, and that by time most sinful of the sons of men. The fullness of the Spirit is for us, without money or price; without previous fitness or worthiness. In this bestowal of the Spirit, He shows Himself the Lord, merciful and gracious, saying to each empty child of Adam, 'Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.' An empty heart and an open mouth is our only qualification.

     In dealing with Him for blessing, we take for granted His free love. We accept His estimate of the great propitiation, on the footing of which we draw near. Our perception of that sacrifice, and of our need of it, is imperfect; but, taking His estimate of it, and of our own need of it, we proceed to transact with Him. That sacrifice, whose value transcends all conception as much as it exceeds all guilt, avails for us. Under its protection, with it as our recommendation, we go to this gracious Giver; all misgivings as to our own demerit quieted and satisfied by the knowledge of this precious offering; all doubtings as to our obtaining what we need removed by the thought of Him whose grace is as free as it is boundless; the grace of Him who is able to do for us exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.