The gifts of the Holy Spirit

We are in a time historically in the church where I believe the gifts of the Spirit are both over- and underemphasized. By this I mean there has been such an explosion on the emphasis on gifts in the Charismatic church (even those which do not exist today) which has continued into some mainstream churches, many interdenominational churches, and even some evangelical churches. The problem with this is that they often emphasize gifts to the point of making theological errors, ignoring statements which limit some gifts (i.e. tongues, prophecy, pastor-teachers as women) while also turning the realization of these gifts into a questionnaire. Is there any value in this? If there is it is only in causing believers who have not considered they might have a gift to consider this finally. But there is grave danger. If we are selfish as we take this test, or if we are immature, our gifts may not come out, they may not be realized, or we may plug in using a “gift” we do not really have, but feel compelled to do so regardless, for a piece of paper told us it was our gift. On the other side of the fence, are those who nearly disregard the gifts of the Spirit completely. A great example was given me recently by a woman in our church. As she was being taught that the Spirit gives gifts to believers, she stated, “I think too much is made of gifts, it doesn’t really matter anyway. You just do what needs done and don’t worry about it.” Certainly she was showing a servants heart, but she also showed the problem facing many fundamental churches today – too many are serving in areas God has not gifted them to serve. How often has a person sat in a Sunday School class only to notice what most of the class already recognizes – the teacher has no gift to teach. And yet there are times where we do have to do the work of something other than our gifts, nevertheless the Spirit does gift us, and when we are using the gifts He has given we are much better off. But what are these gifts? Does every believer receive one? In his book The Holy Spirit and You, Dr. Bernard N. Schneider gave a simple definition of spiritual gifts, “A spiritual gift is the Holy Spirit’s gift of special ability for the performance of Christian service within the Body of Christ (130).” In 1 Corinthians 14:12 Paul notes this is exactly the purpose of spiritual gifts when he states, “So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.” Paul also pointed out actual gifts to the body in the form of men were for the same purpose when he stated, “And He gave some for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11).” Because these gifts are given to believers by the Holy Spirit, it is to be noted that they are not natural talents but supernatural gifts. If they were simply natural talents then they would not be bestowed for most of these are developed and given from natural birth. An unbeliever with amazing musical talented has a natural talent, this is not a spiritual gift, as some Pentecostal pastors have suggested to me.  Paul also tells us that spiritual gifts are given to every believer when he states, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11).” Notice the each is given at least one gift. There is no suggestion that we earn this gift, but that they are given as the Holy Spirit desires to give them. Peter tells us that because each believer is given a gift from the Spirit they are to use them. “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10).” That we are not all given the same gifts is evident from 1 Corinthians 12:4, which states, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” But what are these gifts? How can we know which we have? The second question is probably easier to answer than the first. If you believe you have a gift and the Bible is clear that it is possible for you to have it then try. Test it. Between you and the body of Christ you are ministering to it will become clear whether this is the gift God gave. In relation to these gifts the Bible gives a list of some of these gifts, which I do not believe is necessarily a complete list for no one passage has all the gifts listed in one place. These gifts are: the gift of the apostle (Ephesians 4:11) – no longer for today, the gift of prophecy (Romans 12:6) – no longer for today, the gift of evangelism (Ephesians 4:11), the gift of the pastor-teacher (Ephesians 4:11), the gift of exhortation (Romans 12:8), the gift of knowledge and wisdom (I Corinthians 12:8), the gift of administration (Romans 12:8), the gift of serving (Romans 12:7), the gift of giving (Romans 12:8), the gift of mercy (Romans 12:8), the gift of faith (1 Corinthians 12:9), the gift of discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10), the gift of miracles (1 Corinthians 12:28) – no longer for today, the gift of healings (1 Corinthians 12:28) – no longer for today, the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:28) – no longer for today. These last three are sign gifts and were used by God to show who his apostles were as well as to show that He was beginning his church. (Note: this last statement will be discussed more fully at a later time)

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About Thomas

My purpose in life is to bring glory to my Lord - Jesus the Messiah. I have been a Christian since 1978. I am an artist and have written some professionally. However my life's work is as an elder in the church - I was ordained by the Conservative Grace Brethren Churches International in 2006. I have done two short-term missions trips to India have been involved in planting churches, and am currently leading worship and a Bible study in Galion, OH through the Galion Grace Brethren Church. Below are a few more facts about me. RECENT WORK: Church Planter South Burlington, VT 2009-present Pastor Ankenytown Grace Brethren Church 2002-2009 Sports Editor Galion Inquirer 200-2002 EDUCATION: B.A. in Art with conc. in Photography/Printmaking Asbury College M.Div. CGBCI Schools of Theology

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