Matthew R. Perry

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

In church, spiritual gifts on May 7, 2009 at 8:39 am

This is a study given on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.

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“A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 1016).

Last week, we discussed the gift that God has given in leaders. Ephesians 4:11-12 says:

 

11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

Your leaders are not to receive authority because of who they are, but because on account of the who He is—he gave these leaders to the churches to lead them in Christ’s direction and to help them grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18) and to exercise their gifts.

What are these gifts that we are to exercise? They are simply called spiritual gifts: gifts God gives to individual members of his body.

(1) What is the purpose of these gifts?

Let’s continue on in Ephesians 4:13-16

13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

What can we cull from these verses?

    • Unity in the faith and Knowledge of the Son of God
    • …which moves toward maturity and the fullness of Christ
    • …so we may no longer be children easily deceived but anchored in the Head, which is Christ.
    • …so every member may be held together as it should
    • …so we are built up in love.

(2) What are these gifts?

Different passages outline various gifts.  Grudem offers this list (Systematic Theology):

1 Corinthians 12:28

Apostle

Prophet

Teacher

Miracles

Kinds of healings

Helps

Administration

Tongues

 

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

Word of wisdom

Word of knowledge

Faith

Gifts of healing miracles

Prophecy

Distinguishing b/t spirits

Tongues

Interpretation of tongues

Ephesians 4:11

Apostles

Prophet

Evangelist

Pastor-teacher

Romans 12:6-8

Prophecy

Serving

Teaching

Encouraging

Contributing

Leadership

Mercy

1 Cor. 7:7

Marriage

Celibacy

We must know these things:

  • God gives these gifts to each and every member of His body. None are exempt…and none are without excuse in regards to exercising that gift. God makes these gifts clear to us in a number of ways:
            • Instilling a love for doing or serving in various ways;
            • Spiritual gifts tests (although we must realize that they are man-made and risk having biases);
            • Confirmation from other Spirit-led brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • We must also realize that these gifts are developed differently in various Christians (Romans 12:6; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).
  • Not every Christian has every gift (1 Corinthians 12:28-31).
  • When you know what your gift is, use it!
  • Make sure those gifts are backed by love (since Paul, after listing those gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, said “I will show you a more excellent way,” after which he proceeded into the love chapter. 

Regardless, we must know that as Christians, we have gifts given by God himself that spread His glory from our neighbors to the nations—given to strengthen His people and share His gospel.

Question:

· What type of spiritual gift do you think you have?

· What is something that God has given you a love for?

· In what ways can you use that gift? In what ways will you use that gift?

· Do you ever envy another gift someone may have? Why?

If someone gives you a gift, and you fail to use it, you offend the one who gave that gift to you. However, many Christians fail to realize how we offend the holiness and direction of the Father who gives His sons and daughters gifts to exercise, yet never exercise them. And we must be content and thankful for whatever gift God has granted to us—without envying the gifts that others may have!

Yet, beware of taking this gift that God gives you and using it as a opportunity for pride. Remember, even with these gifts, Paul would show us a “more excellent way”—which leads us into 1 Corinthians 13, known as the “Love” chapter. You can have the gifts, but if there is no love to bolster those gifts, then those gifts are nothing. The gifts are not meant to point to the one who was given the gift—the gifts were meant to glorify and point to the giver.

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  1. I find it a bit disconcerting when no distinctions are made between gifts and ministries. Furthermore, we only have instructions as to how to fill two ministries: pastor-teacher (elder) and deacon. An apostle had to be appointed by the risen Lord Himself. And we have no record of the Biblical office of evangelist, where the evangelist was not appointed by an apostle.

    Also disconcerting is the practice of allowing Charismatics to define all the terms, leaving us with little to talk about. I thoroughly reject the Charismatic definition of the gift of prophecy. Off and on, I have spent 30 years in a study of Romans 12, and I do not end up with the picture of the gift of prophecy which is typically the starting point for the argument.

    Furthermore, a contextual understanding of Romans 12 should lead the student to the view that the particular seven gifts of Romans 12 are an expression of the divine nature. I have written about this, but no one is reading it.

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