1. The Holy Spirit is the source of spiritual gifts
- 1 Corinthians 12:11 – ‘All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each man, just as He determines.’
- 1 Corinthians 12:4 – ‘There are different kinds of gifts but the same Spirit.’
The Holy Spirit distributes gifts according to His will. Spiritual gifts are not something gained by our efforts. Each believer in Christ is placed (baptized) into the body of Christ and is meant to serve a useful purpose as a gifted member (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 22, 27; Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:16; 1 Peter 4:10). Recognizing the Holy Spirit as the source of spiritual gifts reveals several other facts.
a. Spiritual gifts should function as a outworking of the filling of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Evidence of a Spirit-filled life, is objectively measurable in the fruit of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23. Emphasis should be placed on our need to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:15-17).
b. Originating from the same Spirit, spiritual gifts should result in unity. Although the Corinthian believers had every spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 1:7) because of a failure to walk by the Spirit, they were disunited. They were filled with confusion and disorder (1 Corinthians 14:33,40). This misuse of spiritual gifts implies that spiritual gifts can be abused and even counterfeited for selfish purposes (see: Exodus 7:8-13).
2. Spiritual gifts are not for self-edification
- 1 Peter 4:10 – ‘Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.’
- 1 Corinthians 12:7 – ‘Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.’
Spiritual gifts were intended to function based on love for others (1 Corinthians 13:1-8a). The problem that with the Corinthians was their attempt to use gifts without love (based on selfish motives). The Apostle Paul emphasized the need for spiritual gifts to be used for building up others (1 Corinthians 14:5b, 12, 26; Ephesians 4:11-12). While it is true that the individual using his gift will profit with the church, it is not proper to claim private gifts for private edification. Spiritual gifts are corporate in their purpose.
3. All believers are spiritually gifted
Every believer is in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit and gifted by Him to build up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). Some believers have a combination of gifts. Timothy evidently had gifts of prophecy, exhortation, teaching, and evangelism (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
4. Spiritual gifts can be developed and neglected
Although the Holy Spirit is the source of spiritual gifts, the believer is sometimes called to have a part in developing the use of his gift. For example, the gift of teaching is one that will involve diligent preparation. The Holy Spirit sovereignty distributes the gifts, but He works through the receiver of the gift for its development. It appears evident that a believer could also have a spiritual gift and neglect it (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).
5. Spiritual gifts have time limitations
Ephesians 2:19-20 ‘Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.’
The offices of apostle and prophet were provisional for the beginning of the Church age based on foundational gifts. This does not mean that such offices and gifts are not profitable to the whole church in every generation. As in other times of history, God confirmed His message and messengers with special signs. These signs were never intended to be the norm for God’s children, but served special purposes at specific transitional times (Exodus 4:17-11:10; 1 Kings 17:17-24; John 20:30-31 with Acts 2:22; Acts 5:12-16; 14:3; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4).
6. Spiritual gifts are sometimes distinct from natural gifts
Natural abilities are often used by God but should not to be immediately identified with spiritual gifts. God often uses people with little natural talent for great spiritual purposes (1 Corinthians 1:26-29; 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Spiritual gifts are manifestations of what God’s grace can do through the power of the Holy Spirit. God delights in confounding the wisdom of man by using sources man doesn’t expect.
7. Spiritual gifts do not guarantee spiritual maturity
The Corinthians did not lack any spiritual gift, yet they lacked greatly in spiritual maturity. A person cannot claim a level of spirituality solely on the basis of a particular gift God has given to him.
(See also: 14 Spiritual Disciplines)