Blessings to you on this lovely spring evening. I hope you have had a good week thinking about your spiritual gifts. We’ll look at the specifics of the gifts in this letter and if we don’t get done we’ll finish next week.
We’ve looked at the general division of the gifts—speaking gifts and ministry/serving gifts. We saw in 1 Peter 4:10-11 that we are to use our gifts, regardless of which kind of gift we have, knowing that they are from God and to be used for His glory and praise. Romans 11:36 reminds us that “of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen . Our prime concern is to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”, God’s grace that saves, “For by grace are ye saved…it is the gift of God.” Eph 2:8-9; that holds us, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. …..; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” John 10:28-30; that grows us “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”, Eph 2:10; and He keeps us “And being confident of this very things, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”. Phil 1:6.
With that in mind let’s look at the particulars of the individual spiritual gifts. There are 3 lists in the passages that we have been looking at: Romans 12:3-13, Ephesians 4:7-16, and 1 Corinthians 12:4-14. In each of these passages the focus is the body, and the fact that we are ONE body with many PARTS and the gifts are to work together as the physical body does. Romans 12:5-6 “5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us…” . Ephesians 4:4-7, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” And 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.” We know from nature that a body that doesn’t work together isn’t very productive, it is usually sick!! Why do we not realize that about the ‘body of Christ”? We are to work together as a body does, not as “hot-shots” seeking glory or fame for ourselves., even though we live in a “hot-shot” world and every one seems to be seeking his own good. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5-6 “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” We must exercise our spiritual gifts with “others” in mind, NOT just ourselves.
Let’s look at the specific gifts mentioned in each passage: Romans 12– Prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership/ruling, and mercy. 1 Corinthians 12– word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Ephesians 4- Apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers.
Let’s compile these into one list: Apostles, Prophecy, ministry, teaching/pastor teacher, evangelists, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, gifts of healing, miracles, discerning of spirits, kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues. As we consider these gifts we need to understand the Biblical order and priority of the gifts, their importance to the “body” in functionality. In Ephesians, Paul lists the 4 primary gifts as Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, and Pastor/Teacher. In 1 Corinthians 12:28-31, Paul lists gifts in order of importance to the “body” as –1st Apoltles, 2nd Prophets, and 3rdly teachers, then the other gifts (as mentioned in this chapter), miracles, healings, helps, governments, and tongues. We need to understand the unique ministry of the gifts and that besides being the manifestation of the “Holy Spirit” within each of us, they are for the edification(growth, building up and improvement) of the body. There is application to the whole of the body of Christ but more significantly for the individual local churches, to build up the believers in the local church body to function vibrantly within the kingdom and to reach out to the world with the gospel of Christ.
Let’s look now at the gifts themselves, what do they mean to me and you. We won’t be digging into the debates about some of the gifts but the general understanding of what each gift is and how it helps the body. Looking at these first four gifts, they are fairly easy to understand from the scripture: Apostles ; those sent with a message. Whether you believe that refers to only the original 12 or to those who now proclaim the truth of the Word of God as what we call “apologists” (those who defend the word of God, delivering the truth to the world) it is ‘one sent’. Prophets: those given the message to deliver by proclamation, which may include “foretelling” but is more focused on “telling forth” the truth. This would be preachers, and those who proclaim the word in all settings not an office. Pastor/Teachers: This would refer to those who shepherd and teach/instruct the flock, including but not limited to church pastors, teachers and those who instruct in the Word of God, usually in a church setting. Evangelists: those who take the gospel to people who need to hear. This would include full-time evangelistic preachers, missionaries and those who witness on the streets and in other non-traditional places with the gospel of Jesus Christ. These are the primary gifts but the others are just as significant in God’s economy and we are to use our gifts for His glory regardless of the supposed prominence. As we have seen earlier, God gives the gifts, and places us where we need to be to use them to the fullest. Whom do we trust? Me or God? Sounds simple but sometimes that is so hard to live out. Am I yielded to God’s work for me? His place? His timing? His heart? His gift?
All the gifts are important to the function of the church. As Paul’s example in 1 Cor. 12 , just because we aren’t ‘prominent’ doesn’t negate our responsibility to be good stewards of our gifts. We will look at the other gifts next week and hopefully gain more insight that will help us each to be that good steward of “God’s grace”. May we be diligent about the work that God has given us without regard to the gifts of others. Have a blessed week in the Lord as you pursue His work and His word.