I'm Kickin' It with Spiritual Gifts
If you have read anything about spiritual gifts, you probably know everything there is to know about them. Today I just want to go through a few passages to remind you what spiritual gifts really are all about.
The kicker: When each part is working properly, the body grows, built up in love.
There are three major passages that give the listings of not just spiritual gifts, but gifts, services, and activities of the Godhead in a believer's life: 1 Corinthians 12 (and lesser 14), Romans 12, and Ephesians 4.
Number 1: The gifts (services and activities) are SPIRITUAL, which means they come from another realm and operate in the realm. These are not natural gifts, however natural gifts (like singing, artistry, etc.) can be used by God to bring about spiritual services and activities. In other words, our spiritual gifts can utilize the natural gifts to bring about God's purposes (say, healing, or encouragement).
Number 2: These spiritual activities are EMPOWERED BY GOD. They are not natural, we cannot make what God wants to have happen actually come about by what we do. However, we are told to USE the gifts. I believe this can only happen as we "gain in the apportionment" of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit, and learn to recognize God's activities in our lives. Since God is giving the gifts power, they will be bringing about what only God can and what God wills. Since Romans 12:2 tells we can learn to discern what God's will is, the gifts.
Number 3: There are NO RESTRICTIONS: No one operates in all of the gifts at one time, however, anyone can have any of the gifts at any given time. What? Let me say it this way: GOD CAN DO ANYTHING. And if we offer ourselves to God, to his service, to his activities, and He chooses to give us a gift, we are to use it.
Number 4: The gifts are UNIFYING. All of the passages state this profusely. All believers will have a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in their life because the Spirit is inside of them. But the gift is given for the COMMON good. It is not meant to edify yourself as much as others. We need each other. Ever since Genesis and the creation of humanity God has stated, "It is not good for man to be alone." This resonates within us so much that many psychological problems are relationally induced. And many problems are relationally healed. This is a part of God's purpose, which we learn about next.
Number 5: The gifts have PURPOSE. Paul teaches about the purpose of God-empowered gifts, services, and activities in Ephesians 4:11ff. Look at this passage. Here are some purposes:
1) To equip the saints
2) For ministry work
3) Building up the body of Christ
a) Faith unification
b) The knowledge of the Son of God
5) Maturity = the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
6) No longer be babies = tossed to-and-fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
7) Learning how to speak the truth in love
8) Joined and held together IN CHRIST as each member is equipped
Here is the kicker: When each part is working properly, the body grows, built up in love.
Number 6: The list is NOT MEANT TO BE EXHAUSTIVE. Even though the three passages have over 15 given gifts listed, there are many ways God uses His servants to bring about His purposes. We may not have a complete understanding of what each gift Paul writes about in Greek. However, when we witness the gifts within a believer, they will bring about what God's purposes are as given above in Ephesians 4. Romans 4 gives great advice in the use of your gifts: Use them passionately for God and the good of His people!
**Let's have a little TRUE or FALSE? pop quiz:**
1. Each believer is given a gift/service/activity.
2. Spiritual gifts are a manifestation of the Spirit in a believer’s life.
3. Gifts are meant to be for your own spiritual growth.
4. You get to choose which gift/service/activity you have.
5. Each gift may have degrees or level of how much it is manifested in a person.
A cumulative (yet not exhaustive) list of spiritual (God empowered) gifts, services and activities:
1) the utterance of wisdom,
2) the utterance of knowledge,
4) gifts of healing/healers
5) the working of miracles/miracle-workers
7) the ability to distinguish between spirits,
8) various kinds of tongues,
9) the interpretation of tongues,
15) shepherds-teachers (pastors),
20) acts of mercy.
Remember, these are spiritually empowered gifts by God and not generic; they are meant for the common good of Christ’s body; you cannot possess these gifts--they possess you; these gifts will not be manifested in you without being a believer and as you seek to connect and be a part of the body of Christ.
[Answers to pop quiz: T T F F T ]
Since God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, how should we then view one another? We should have the same care for one another = one member suffers, all suffer together + one member is honored, all rejoice. God is not a respecter of persons, and we are to follow the royal law and not judge or discriminate against anyone as being worthy or unworthy "for the better seats in our house" (James 2:1-13).
How would people with each of the 20 spiritual gifts respond to the following members:
Case Study A: one member suffers (from sin, another sickness, another relational loss)
Case Study B: one member is honored (good works, promotion, notoriety)
Remember the means: Faith & Knowledge.
Remember the results: Growing up (maturing), Joined together (unified), loved.
Question to think about:
How is this aspect of the church-family different than families of the world?