Spiritual Gifts

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another various kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: (1 Cor.12:8-10)

When we were given the gift of salvation, we were also given spiritual gifts. There is a responsibility that goes along with every blessing. I Cor. 12:8-11 lists nine of these spiritual gifts that are given by the Holy Spirit:

  • WISDOM - Greek LOGOS : the mediating principle or personification of God's will ; the accumulated sum of all information ; insight, sagacity, and the intelligent application of knowledge.)
  • KNOWLEDGE - Awareness, cognizance, perception,comprehension, understanding; the fact or condition of knowing something.
  • MIRACLES - The ability to perform miracles was a specific gift given to certain members of the early church because something totally new was happening. Just as Moses had been given the ability to perform miracles so that the Israelites would believe, so some of the early church were given this same ability, and for the same reason: to demonstrate that it was God who was at work here. Contrary to what some television evangelists would have you believe, the gift of miracles was a sign to that generation only.Now we have God's word, which we believe by faith, not because of signs or miracles.
  • PROPHECY Prophecy may consist of either foretelling, or forth-telling. The N.T. prophet was not ordinarily a foreteller, but rather a forth-teller, whose gift enabled him to speak "to edification, and exhortation, and comfort" (1 Cor. 14:3) Fore-telling was almost exclusively in the Old Testament when God instructed the prophets to tell the people what He was going to do. Christ also foretold the future, when He told the disciples what was going to happen to Him However, that "foretelling" was finished with the death and resurrection of Jesus. All the prophecies of the future have already been given in Scripture. Since then, prophecy consists of forth-telling, or proclaiming the word of the Lord.
  • TONGUES and INTERPRETATION of tongues - There are some denominations still today who insist that proof of salvation is having the ability to speak in tongues. Their "tongues" include unintelligible babblings, often by much of the congregation at one time, which serves to edify no one. This is very contrary to Bible teaching, which is very clear: if tongues are spoken, it should only be two, or at the most by three, each in his own turn, and there must be an interpreter, otherwise, they should remain silent. (I Cor. 14:27-28)

You'll notice that these spiritual gifts coincide with the members of the body (the church) that Paul refers to later in verse 28: apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, helpers, govenors, and speakers of tongues. Each one requires a different skill set, or spiritual gift. Some offices may require more than one gift.

Romans 12:3-8 lists some of these gifts as well. There, it lists prophecying, serving, teaching, encouraging, and contributing to meet the needs of others, or charitable works. And Ephesians 4:11-13 lists the roles of various members of the body: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers, whose job is to prepare God's people for works of service. Each spiritual gift is necessary to build up the church, discipling the members and reaching the lost for Christ.

The church at Corinth was filled with people just like us. Some were convinced that certain gifts were far more important, and so they desired those gifts in particular. But it doesn't work that way. Each gift is given by the Spirit, for the common good of the entire body of Christ. (vs. 7) And no one gift is of more importance than another.

Paul wrote that while there are many different spiritual gifts, they are all from the same Spirit. And all these gifts may be administered in different ways, but it is the same Lord who administers them. These gifts even operate differently in different people, but it is the same God that works in all of them. We don't choose our spiritual gifts, they are given to us. God gives each of us gifts according to our individual personalities and abilities, and expects us to use them wisely.

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but it is the same God who works all in all. (1 Cor.12:4-6)

We, like the Corinthians, need to realize that each gift is equally important in the furtherance of God's kingdom. That's right---- it is just as important to serve as it is to preach, to govern as it is to teach, to help as it is to run the show.

Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helpers, administrators, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet I show unto you a more excellent way. (1 Cor.12:27-31)
Paul told the church at Corinth to earnestly desire the best gifts--- best in the sense of being the right gift for each individual. Then he went on to tell them in the next chapter, if he had the gift of tongues, but did not have love, all his utterings would just be a loud, jarring noise to God. And if he had the gifts of prophecy and knowledge, and had faith that could move mountains, but didn't have love, he would be nothing. And even if he gave everything he had to the poor, and surrendered his body to the flames, if he lacked love, he would gain nothing. Seems pretty clear that without love, any of the spiritual gifts are pretty useless, aren't they?
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Cor.13:1-3)

So what is your spiritual gift? Don't be like the Corinthians, who all desired the same gift. Not everyone is intended to be a prophet, or a healer, or a teacher. Instead, ask God to reveal to you what your spiritual gift is, and to help you develop it to the fullest. Don't waste your time and energy trying to do what you aren't good at or aren't called to do. Concentrate your time and energy on the gift or gifts God has given you. Look around your church, talk to your pastor, and see where your gift may be needed.

And don't procrastinate--- do it NOW, not later! It is your responsibility to use that gift for the furtherance of God's kingdom. Remember the parable of the three men who were given talents? (Matt 25:14-30). The unprofitable servant who wasted his talent was cast into outer darkness. We know that "talent" in this verse, refers to money, but this same biblical principle can also be applied to our spiritual gifts. Have you ever heard the phrase "Use it or lose it"? These gifts are for our own benefit, that's true----but if we've been helped, then it's our turn to help others. If we don't , then we're just wasting the spirituals gifts that God gave us, and we may end up losing them altogether.

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