UNDERSTANDING SPIRITUAL GIFTS: (Rom 12:1-21; Eph 4:1-16 and I Cor. 12:1-14:40)
No study of the Holy Spirit is complete without considering the subject of spiritual gifts. For the next several sections, I am going to include material from a spiritual leadership workshop I taught over two decades ago. Enjoy!
A biblical study of spiritual gifts is vital for every Christian and every local church committed to having a huge impact for the glory of God. It is important to note that in each of the three passages listed above, the context talks about the body of Christ and how God equips believers to work together for the advancement of the Kingdom.
Unity of vision requires diversity of skills and God provides mature leaders as the catalyst to bring the two together. Spiritual gifts are Gods way of providing the diverse abilities needed to pull off a God sized calling. Gifts are given to fill the gaps in our lives!
TRANSITION: Before we begin our discussion of the three kinds of spiritual gifts, I would like to take a moment and dispel a few misconceptions.
A. Salvation is based exclusively on faith in Jesus Christ and not the presence or absence of a certain spiritual gift. I Cor. 3:10-15; I Cor. 15:1-5, Rom 5:1-9
B. No individual believer possesses all of the spiritual gifts! They are distributed within the body of Christ, but most believers have more than one spiritual gift. I Cor. 12:11-26
C. No one gift is held in common by all believers or intended to be proof of salvation or the filling of the Holy Spirit. I Cor. 12:11; I Cor. 12:28-31
D. The fruit of the Spirit and not spiritual gifts are the measure of maturity and usefulness within the body of Christ. I Cor. 13:1-13; Gal. 5:16-24
E. Many of the gifts are not unique to Christianity and therefore care must be taken to test the spirit behind the gifts. I Cor. 12:1-3; I John 4:1-6
F. Spiritual gifts must be nurtured and developed just like natural abilities and talents or they can be dormant, harmful and even carnal. I Cor. 1:4-9, Eph 4:7-16
G. Carnal and immature use of spiritual gifts can cause confusion and discord within the local church and therefore should be exercised in an orderly fashion. I Cor. 14:26-40
H. God is sovereign in both the giving and operating of spiritual gifts during this present age of grace. The Holy Spirit can manifest any spiritual gift through any Christian as occasion requires. Romans 12:6; I Cor. 12:11; Eph. 4:7
II. THREE CATEGORIES OF GIFTS: The teaches that there are different categories of spiritual gifts given for different purposes. I have found the following three categories very helpful in studying this subject. I Corinthians 12:4-7
Motivation Gifts: Romans 12:3-9
Key Verse: I Cor. 12:4 “varieties of gifts.”
The term “Motivation” summaries the Greek word “Charisma” which stands for a “grace gifting.” The above context in the book of Romans lists seven basic motivational gifts. Every believer has one motivational gift. These “graces” help shape our core personality and greatly influences the way we see and approach life. Our motivational gift becomes the lens through with we see the world around us, and the way we approach our life circumstances. Becoming familiar with these seven gifts will help us understand one another better and greatly enhance unity within the body of Christ.
Ministry Gifts: Ephesians 4:11-12
Key Verse: I Cor. 12:5 “Varieties of ministries.”
The term “Ministry” summarizes the Greek word “diakanion” from which we get our English word “deacon.” This seems to relate to a specific ministry or office bestowed on us for leadership or service. These are to function in or through the local church. There are five ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11-12. Some share the same title as a motivation or manifestation gifts, but this is to be understood more as the ministry itself.
Manifestation Gifts: I Cor. 12:4-11
Key Verses: I Cor. 12:6-7 “varieties of effects”
The term “Manifestation” summarizes the Greek word “energema” from which we get or English word “energy”. These are the various ways the Holy Spirit can manifest His power through a given believer. There are at least nine of these listed in Scripture and they seem to relate to the supernatural enabling or outworking of the Holy Spirit through a believer. Every believer has at least one dominant manifestation gift that is most common to that person, but the Holy Spirit may manifest any gift at any time as He wills and occasion requires.
Over the next three sessions, we will briefly study each individual gift in the three categories.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global