In 1986 I produced a brochure on the subject of spiritual gifts that I honestly forgot about until someone recently showed me a copy. I agreed to a request to reproduce the resource but only after doing a bit of editorial work. I am making it available here as a series of blog posts. The entire series can be accessed here.
The Church, spiritual gifts and Christian maturity
The Bible clearly teaches that the church is the body of Christ and that each person who places faith in Jesus Christ is a member of His body. The Spirit of God baptizes us into the body of Christ at the moment of salvation and is the seal of our standing with God (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14). The New Testament also teaches that each believer in Christ plays a unique role in the growth of the body (Ephesians 4:16). The function of each part of the body of Christ is carried out through mutual ministry reflected in the ‘one anthers’ of the New Testament and through the use of spiritual gifts. When the members of the body of Christ (gathered as local Churches) function as God planned for them, churches will experience growth in maturity, unity and stability in truth and love (Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
The purpose of this resource is to help us understand spiritual gifts and identify the gift, or gifts the Spirit of God has given to each member.
The Importance of Spiritual Gifts
Before focusing on spiritual gifts, we must be clear about salvation. In Ephesians 2:8-9, we learn that salvation (our forgiveness and reconciliation with God) is the work of God not man (see also – II Corinthians 5:17-21). All boasting is excluded from salvation because we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ and not by our efforts. Those who have been saved by grace are also identified as God’s ‘workmanship’ and even good works done after salvation are “prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Boasting is excluded and God is to receive all honor for the work He has done in and through us.
As for spiritual gifts, the subject has been troubled by two extremes throughout the history of the church. On the one hand, the church has witnessed a lack of appreciation for the purpose and function of spiritual gifts in the building up of its ministry. On the other, (as happened in the Church of Corinth) there has been a tendency to misuse spiritual gifts, resulting in a false sense of spiritual pride.
If the church is to experience the ministry of the Spirit of God through spiritual gifts, members must give attention to the purpose of them. Mutual ministry of believers in the fellowship of local Churches is partly related to the way God has gifted each believer. But spiritual gifts must be approached based on clear guidelines for all ministries in the Church.
Seven standards for spiritual gifts
1. Source and Power: The Holy Spirit – I Corinthians 12:11 “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (cf. Ephesians 5:18-21).
2. Perspective and Attitude: Sober humility – Romans 12:3 – “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
3. Goal and Motive: Praise to God – I Peter 4:11 “…so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (cf. Matthew 6:1).
(Next – Seven facts about spiritual gifts)