Text: Ephesians 4:7-13; Romans 12:3-8; I Peter 4:10,11; I Corinthians 12:1-31
When the Holy Spirit enters the believer, He doesn’t come empty-handed! He comes bearing gifts. These gifts are God-given abilities to perform certain tasks necessary to the body of Christ. It is the existence and exercise of these Spirit-Gifts that lifts the Church out of the ordinary into the extraordinary, out of the natural into the supernatural.
If the ministry of the Church isn’t supernatural, it’s superficial.
Spiritual Gifts is one of the most marvelous and, at the same time, one of the most misunderstood truths of the Bible. Paul said he didn’t want us to be ignorant concerning spiritual gifts — but most of us are! We are engaged in a warfare against the spiritual powers of darkness and nothing less than supernatural weapons will suffice, therefore it is imperative we understand this vital truth.
When Paul says, “Now concerning spiritual gifts. .(I Corinthians 12:1), he uses a Greek word that signifies that which comes fromi the Spirit. So these gifts are from the Spirit.
I. THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT ARE SALVATION GIFTS
At the moment of salvation the believer receives one or more gifts. There is no exception —every Christian has a gift.
This means that gifts are bestowed regardless of the spiritual condition of the recipient. One of the gravest errors surrounding the Spirit-Gifts is the idea that they are given as rewards of spirituality or as visible proof one has been filled with the Spirit. Such an idea is built upon the sands of speculation rather than the rock of revelation. The Bible simply doesn’t teach it. To the contrary, the Bible teaches that even a carnal Christian can exercise spiritual gifts.
For example, look again at the Corinthian Christians. They had every gift in the book. “So that you are not lacking in any gift. . .“ (I Corinthians 1:7), yet Paul says to them, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh (carnal). For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly (carnal), and are you not walking like mere men (acting like lost people)? (I Corinthians 3:1-3).
The proof of the Spirit’s fullness is His fruit, not His gifts. You may speak in tongues, work miracles, win hundreds to Christ, but if you are rude, critical, selfish, touchy, irritable, unable to control your temper — you’re not filled with the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22,23).
If you’re saved, you have a spiritual gift. Why don’t you bow your head right now and thank God for it — even if you don’t know what it is
The Gifts of the Spirit differ. “And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. .(Romans 12:6). In I Corinthians 12, we read, “For to one is given . . . and to another . . .“ Just as there are different members in the same body, so within the Body of Christ there are a variety of gifts.
Here’s another point that is often misunderstood. Some pick out a certain gift and claim that all believers must have it. Nowhere is this taught in Scripture. Diversity is the mark of God. There are no two fingerprints alike, no two snowflakes alike, no two blades of grass alike.
That’s the way the Creator planned it.
Look at your own body, Paul suggests, as an illustration of this. What if all your members were alike, or had the same function? What if you were all thumbs? Chaos and confusion would reign. What if your toes were eyes? All they would see is the inside of a sock!
God isn’t the author of confusion and He’s planned and gifted everyone of us to bring the greatest glory to Himself and the greatest good to the Body of Christ. To covet another’s gift is to grumble against the goodness of God.
II. THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT ARE SUPERNATURAL GIFTS
The Gifts of the Spirit are not natural talents or abilities. A beautiful singing voice, for example, is not a gift of the Spirit. To be sure, it is a gift of God, but it doesn’t fit into the category of Spirit-Gifts.
The abundance of ability doesn’t qualify us, nor does the absence of ability disqualify us! This eliminates boasting and assures God of getting all the glory — and all the credit.
Don’t measure your effectiveness for Christ by your own resources. Whatever you have isn’t enough. God is saying, “I’d rather do it myself. . . through the Spirit- Gifts I have given you.”
No matter who or what you are, you are a gifted person! You are a SUPERHUMAN with a SUPERNATURAL ABILITY!
These gifts are sovereignty bestowed. “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as he wills.” (I Corinthians 12:11). Our part isn’t to seek or pray for a specific gift but to discover what gift we have and exercise it in the power of the Spirit.
We are neither commanded nor encouraged to seek a certain gift. The only thing we’re ever commanded to seek is “the Lord.” When a believer surrenders his will to seek an “experience” or a certain gift, he is giving Satan an engraved invitation to deceive and enslave with a false spiritual experience.
What about I Corinthians 12:31, where Paul says to covet the best gifts? There Paul is speaking to the church as a body, not to Christians as individuals. The Corinthians had magnified a minor gift to the neglect of others. Paul admonishes them, “But you must earnestly continue to cultivate your higher spiritual gifts, ‘ (I Corinthians 12:31 Williams) and every New Testament Church should do just that.
God doesn’t bestow His gifts in response to our desires or prayers. Hebrews 2:4 makes this clear: “God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
“God always gives the best to those who leave the choice with Him.”
III. THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT ARE SERVICE GIFTS
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (I Corinthians 12:7).
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (I Peter 4:10).
These gifts are for practical service, not personal satisfaction. They are never given for self-glory or self-seeking, but for the profit of the Body of Christ.
Jesus Christ intended that His Church be self-contained — by that I mean the church need never look to the financial world or the entertainment world or any other world in order to get along and stay in business. With the gifts of the Spirit operating, every local church has all it needs to fulfill the commission of its Lord.
Money? If every member with the gift of giving recognizes and exercises that gift, there’ll always be enough to do what God wants done.
Conversions? If every member with the gift of evangelism recognizes and exercises that gift, the Lord will add daily those who are being saved.
Miracles? If those with the gift of faith recognize and exercise that gift, the world will stand open-mouthed and wide-eyed before a power they can no longer ignore or explain away.
At His return, Jesus will judge and reward believers according to their faithful stewardship of God’s grace. Peter tells us the Gifts of the Spirit are a part of this stewardship. That means that God is going to hold each of us accountable for the use of our gifts. What a challenge for us to recognize that God has given us a spiritual gift and to exercise it in the power of the Spirit.
HOW MAY I KNOW WHAT MY GIFT IS?
1. By Personal Inclination. Simply by “doing what comes supernaturally.” Your desire will lie in the direction of your gift. A Christian with the gift of evangelism will want to witness and win people to Jesus. The gift of teaching will create within you a desire to share with others the truths you’ve discovered in the Word of God.
What do you want to do for God? Your personal inclination is the first clue to discovering your spiritual gift — but not the conclusive one. Your personal inclination may be nothing more than a carnal desire God has not yet refined and purified.
2. Public Recognition. This involves two things: the church will use it and God will bless it. God will see to it that you have an opportunity to exercise your gift.
The important thing is this: don’t worry if you don’t know what your gift is. Don’t sit down and say, “Well, I don’t know what my gift is, so I’m going to do nothing till God shows me.”
Just make yourself available to God, take whatever opportunities He sends, and in the midst of serving you will come to recognize your spiritual gift.
Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2003