May 23, 2016
I have a book that is titled 27 Spiritual gifts which can be confusing unless you take into account James’ words in James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with who there is no variety or shadow due to change.” The gifts from the Son and the gifts from the Spirit all come from God.
The gift of the Father was simply and profoundly the gift of His Son and His Spirit. The verse we all know John 3:16 tells us that so simply. Gods so loved the world that he gave his only son that we should not perish but have eternal life. Regarding the giving of the
Jesus has taken on the task of building His Church (Matthew 16:18). On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. So he gave the church gifts to do this. Ephesians 4:10-13. In verse 8 of Ephesians 4, Paul writes, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives and gave gifts to men. What were the gifts he gave to men? Ephesians 4:11-13. “And he gave the Apostles, the Prophets, the shepherds (Pastors) and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the full, to the measure and the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Jesus gifts to the Church were persons to help build the church. He has given us all to the Church and through His Spirit given us gifts to build his church.
The greatest gift that Jesus gave us is the Holy Spirit himself, for the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son. John 15:26. John 14:23-26. John 16:7. Acts 2:32-33. Acts.2:38-39. The Spirit’s gifts were for the Church, for the situation it found itself in and for its ministry. There is a ministry to the church and there is a ministry to the world –sign gifts. So it is true that The Bible talks about there being at least 27 Gifts.
There are basically two sorts of gifts when we talk about a person being gifted we may be talking about his having natural human talents, like being a gifted pianist or sportsperson, but when we talk about spiritual gifts we are usually thinking of what are called supernatural gifts: Gifts that go beyond men and women’s natural, created giftedness. Paul when he introduces his discussion of these gifts calls them the Spirituals, 1 Corinthians 12:1. The Word gift is not in the Greek, and a more correct translation is, “spiritual persons”. Most Bibles translate the Greek as spiritual gifts because this is what Paul is talking about, the gifts that these spiritual persons have received. As we look at the supernatural gifts we must keep James word in the back of our mind, that being all good gifts, natural and supernatural come from God. In this study we are going to focus on the supernatural gifts.
The gifts of the Spirit and Jesus were given for the building of the church and the witness of the Gospel. Paul tells us that the Spirit gives what ever gifts he gives as he decides. Seeing they are given for ministry, then the Spirit surely only gives us the gifts that we need for the ministry he has planned for us.
The gifts of the Spirit are given entirely for Church ministry. 1 Corinthians 14: 12 What then of Paul saying he will pray in tongues and so edifying himself. (1 Corinthians 14:4, 27-28) This self edification is to build ourselves up in Christ so we can minister. Do we not get built up ourselves when we seek to build others up.
1 Corinthians 12:1. Now concentring spiritual gifts- technically as I have already said it means spiritual persons – those who have shown they are gifted with supernatural gifts. The first point Paul makes in this chapter is that if they have a real spiritual gift they will always bring glory to God. No one can say Jesus is Lord is more than simply saying the words. No one can knowingly say this and believe it in their heart until the Spirit has come upon them. He is also pointing out that as pagans they experienced ecstatic , mystical things, which were real to them but seeing they were not from the Spirit they then came from Satan or demons. We must not presume that spiritual things always come from God. Even today there are those who exhibit spiritual phenomena but we can suspect they are not from God as they seek to glorify themselves and not Jesus. They use the name of Jesus, but do not glorify him. We must base our peace about the Love of God on the Cross not the gifts. For Satan can counterfeit the gifts, but he has never died for us.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 Now there are varieties of gifts but the same spirit, and there are varieties of service but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
The Spirit gives to us gifts that we, the church, need. I would suggest that one of the reasons that the gift of casting out demons was not seen as much in the Western World is because demon possession became less prevalent. When our society became Christianized there was less playing around with the occult. Satan got to us through our materialism and human philosophy (humanism).
It might be assumed that at times the gift of tongues are to be private, when Paul said that is we have no interpreter that we should speak to himself and God. (1 Corinthians 14:28) But this does not mean that a person should keep his tongues speaking always private. After all we are urged to pray in the church and to pray in our own “closet.” Privately. Of course if the church as a whose does not use tongues in their worship then it is more caring for those who have the gift of tongues to keep this private, Above all we must see to administer the gifts with love ,as Paul bursts out in middle of his discourse on the gifts. Chapter 13.
There are Christians who argue that the supernatural gifts, especially gifts like tongues have not been given to the Church for many centuries. These brethren are called Cessationists, meaning the God has ceased giving many of these gifts They claim that the gifts were given only for the foundation of the church and when the Bible was complete we no longer needed them. They base their ideas on two things.
They were put off the legitimacy of gifts for today because there are so many obviously false manifestations of the gifts.
On a wrong understanding of 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 this verses tells us, that tongues prophesy, and knowledge will pass away when “the perfect has come” They claim that the perfect to come is the finished Bible. But if we look at verse 12 Paul talks about his knowing fully, as he has been fully known. Even with God’s Word no one knows fully. This will not happen until we are with him.
1 Corinthians 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
The first thing we should look at is the word manifestation. What does the word manifestation mean? When something is manifested it is shown clearly to the eye and mind; displayed. So there is a sense in which the gifts are given to persons to encourage them that the Holy Spirit is working through them. But the gifts are shown for the common good, so all should see them, and be encouraged by them. The gifts are not meant to be private. Even though there is a sense in which the gifts are given to show the Spirit’s presence to the individual, they are given chiefly for the common good, the church as a whole.
Galatians 5:25 says that If we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit. We have been clearly told that God has planned the good works he wants us to do for him. Most of these good works will be done automatically as we live, as we are told we should live. We will love each other, and our non-Christian neighbours. We will pray for each other, give to those in need, share the good news as it is the normal Christian walk. In our walk at times we will be called upon to do things that we don’t think we are naturally gifted to do. We should ask the Spirit what he wants us to do in the church. In the world and when he reveals a new job to us, trust Him that He will give us the gifts we need to do that job.
There is a place for the church, especially the elders to recognise that a person has been gifted and to encourage them. Timothy is told by Paul not to neglect the gift that was given to him by the prophecy and the laying on of the hands of the elders. 1 Timothy 4:14 He is also told by Paul to “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” 2 Timothy 1: 6. The picture being of a fire that is dying out and we fan it so it catches alight again.