Every true Christian has the gift of the Holy Spirit. That gift comes from the Father Himself.
But the New Testament also speaks of gifts, given by the Spirit to all men and women within the Body of Christ. What are these gifts? Is the Spirit still giving what He gave, for example, to the early church? What were they? Are they valid today?
Spiritual gifts are the different capacities given by the Spirit to each member of the Body of Christ to fit that member for particular service within the Body. A gift of evangelism, of course, is for use beyond the Body, and it may be that other gifts (such as mercy or helping) are to be used in that way also. But basically these capacities for service are given to be used for the benefit and blessing of the Church and not merely for the personal benefit of the believer involved.
How many gifts are there? About 28 are listed in the New Testament, but the Holy Spirit is infinite and may have many others. No two believers need to have the same gift. Part of the emphasis of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12 concerns the variety of these gifts of the Spirit to believing men and women.
One suggested division of the lists of these gifts in the Epistles (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and 1Peter 4) is ‘speaking gifts’ ‘serving gifts’ and ‘sign gifts’.
No lists could be final, but if we divided the gifts mentioned in the above chapters the lists would look like this:
Speaking or support gifts: Preaching, teaching, pastor evangelist, knowledge, wisdom, counselling, exhortation.
Serving Gifts: Administration or organizing, serving, helping, giving, mercy, hospitality.
Sign Gifts: Tongues and interpretation, healing, miracles, exorcism.
Some gifts are clearly seen today, such as pastoring, teaching (or the gift of speaking wisdom and knowledge) encouraging, evangelising, helping, administration, leadership and faith.
The ‘sign gifts’ or ‘miraculous gifts’ are those which cause the most difficulty and division. A few Christians may today have a genuine gift along these lines, but that does not mean that everyone must have the same gift. Part of the wonder of the Body of Christ is its diversity yet it’s marvellous unity.
Each gift given to each member is part of the whole, and we must clearly understand the teaching of 1Corinthians 12 on this point. Read and study it for yourself.
How do you discover your gift?
First accept that every Christian has at least one gift, therefore you must have one. Then ask the Lord to show you what it is. Ask your friends who know you best what they have observed. Ask your church for opportunities to test what they have said or what you believe you might do for Christ. Be available. What do you enjoy doing? Is that your gift? Listen to what your church may say about you and what it thinks you can do.
Remember, gifts are to be used. And they are to be used to help others, not to bring glory to yourself. Nor should their use create either jealousy or pride.
We will all be held accountable to the Lord for our use of these wonderful spiritual tools and also how they are used. They are to be used in line with the character of the Giver- the Spirit of love and peace.
(to be continued)
Come and find out more at Bible study at 7.30 pm Tuesdays. Sunday Service: 10.00 a.m. at Glenorie Mission Church 1409 Old Northern Rd.