Top Ten Foundational Truths about Spiritual Gifts (not in a particular order)
Note: For Part two of this post, Ten Foundational Truths about Spiritual Gifts (#6-10), CLICK HERE.
1.Everybody in the Body of Christ has a spiritual gift. Every saved believer in Jesus has been empowered with at least one special, supernatural ability to serve others and glorify God. (See 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, brick red color-coded portions, some of which are mixed with blue, which represents truth #2, below.)
2. These gifts are distributed by the Holy Spirit as He wills. Paul makes it very clear in 1st Corinthians 12, below, that these abilities from God are directly given to believers by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the giver of spiritual gifts AND is “active in them,” indicating that He is not only the initial gift-giver, but also the gift-activator, and the gift-sustainer. (See 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, blue color-coded portions below)
3. These gifts are given for the benefit of others. According to Paul, who repeats this truth multiple times in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, spiritual gifts are not primarily given for self-edification, but for the building-up of others in the Body of Christ/church. This is why Paul challenges the Corinthians, who were zealous for the operation of spiritual gifts, “So also you—since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, seek to excel in building up the church.” 1 Cor. 14:12 Note that Paul did NOT chastise the Corinthians for being interested in spiritual gifts – not even the controversial gifts like healing, miracles, prophecy and tongues. In fact, Paul says things like this, “ I thank God that I speak in other languages more than all of you.” 1 Cor. 14:18, and, “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and above all that you may prophesy.” 1 Cor. 14:1 Though Paul orders the Corinthians to have orderly parameters on the operation of spiritual gifts, he never disparages ANY of the gifts, and he implores the Corinthians multiple times to desire the operation of spiritual gifts among them, especially the gift of prophecy. See the RED color-coded section of 1st. Corinthians 12:7, below, to see that spiritual gifts are given for the benefit of the whole Body. It is NOT immature to be interested in spiritual gifts – it is actually commanded that we be desirous of these graces in our midst.
Primary Scriptural Foundation for Truths #1-3: 1 Corinthians 12:7-11: “7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial: 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of languages,to another, interpretation of languages. 11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.”
4. We are commanded in Scripture to eagerly/earnestly desire spiritual gifts, both as a group, and individually. This is especially true of the gift of prophecy: 1 Cor. 12:31-29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. AND: 1 Cor 14:1 1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. AND: 1 Corinthians 14:39, “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in other languages.“
5. We are ALL supposed to USE our Spiritual gifts – they aren’t supposed to lie dormant. 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.” AND ROMANS 12:6 “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith.” I note here that this command applies to ALL believers, at the very least, all believers who actually know what gift they have been given. This would seem to mean that one MUST use whatever gift they have regardless of opportunity or role in a fellowship. This is a tricky concept. In most churches, only about twenty percent (or less) of the people are actually actively serving in areas that line up well with their spiritual gifts. Often this is the fault of the leadership – the pastors, elders, deacons, etc. The buck must stop with them. When I read 1 Corinthians 12-14, and Romans 12, and Ephesians 4, I see the Body of Christ/church depicted as a group where multiple people speak, sing, teach, prophesy, exhort, encourage, etc.
Yet in the Western church, we have this artificial, wholly unbiblical division between “lay people” and “clergy.” With the “clergy” or professional ministers/pastors doing the vast majority of the ministry work. I myself serve as the “senior pastor” of a fellowship (not a biblical title…) and I decry the concept of a division between “lay people” and “clergy.” Indeed, I believe it is one of the weakest parts of the Western church. Yes – the Bible calls for leadership in the Body of Christ, but all are called to minister to each other and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so. There is not a special class of people in the church called to minister, and everybody else serves menially and watches. We are all called to minister, and church leaders MUST make room for all saved believers to minister in ways that the Holy Spirit has gifted them to. As well, those that are not in church leadership, but are saved by Jesus, need to realize and rejoice in the fact that they have been gifted by God to edify and encourage other believers, and they MUST use their gifts for that role.