Part 1 of the series Gifted Christians
You can listen to this sermon here.
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.... Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirits; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills" (1 Cor. 12:1, 4-11).
Some people are described as naturally “gifted.” (Mozart started composing at age 5. Shirley Temple won an Academy Award at age 7. Six-year-old Wayne Gretzky played on a hockey team of ten-year-olds.) Christians are supernaturally gifted.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed (v. 1).
A spiritual gift is a God-given ability for service.
Every Christian receives at least one spiritual gift (“everyone,” v. 6; “each,” v. 7; “each one,” v. 11). The gifts are most likely given at conversion.
The Greek word for “gifts” is charisma. When God gives the “gift” [charisma] of eternal life (Rom. 6:23), he also gives “gifts” [charisma] (vv. 4, 9, 28, 30, 31) for service.
We have “gifts that differ according to the grace given to us” (Rom. 12:6). Our spiritual gifts “may be enhancements of our natural talents or wholly supernatural endowments” (Mark Driscoll, Gerry Breshears, Doctrine, 385).
Peter writes, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
Gifts are given to some, but commands are given to all. (Some Christians are given the gift of evangelism, but all Christians are commanded to share the gospel.)
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone (vv. 4-6).
As there is diversity within unity in the Godhead (one God, three persons), there is also diversity within unity in the church (one body, many gifts).
There are many different spiritual gifts. Several spiritual gifts are listed in verses 8-10: “the utterance of wisdom,” “the utterance of knowledge,” “faith,” “healing,” “miracles,” “prophecy,” “the ability to distinguish between spirits,” “tongues,” and “the interpretation of tongues.”
Other lists of spiritual gifts are found in the NT (Rom. 12:6-8; Eph. 4:11; and 1 Peter 4:11). Since every list is different, it’s possible that not every spiritual gift is mentioned in the NT.
Many Christians believe that some of the gifts (e.g., healing, miracles, prophecy, tongues) ceased after the apostolic age. This position is called cessationism.
What the Bible Says About Spiritual Gifts
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (v. 7).
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills (v. 11).
Five truths about spiritual gifts:
1. Every spiritual gift is important.
The church is like the human body (vv. 12-26; cf. Rom. 12:4-5). Each part of the body has an important function. So does every Christian.
Nobody has all the gifts. We need one another. (The eye shows the hand where to throw the Frisbee. The hand stops the Frisbee from hitting the eye.)
2. Spiritual gifts are expressed in unique ways.
Having the same gift as another Christian does not mean that your service will be the same. (No two Bible teachers are exactly the same.) Don’t try to be someone else.
3. Spiritual gifts do not determine spiritual maturity.
Paul says to the Corinthians, “You are not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1 Cor. 1:7). But later in the same letter, he writes, “I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ” (3:1).
4. Spiritual gifts do not limit you to only one kind of service.
If there’s a pressing need, don’t say, “That’s not my gift!” If something needs to be done, and no one more qualified is able or willing to do it, don’t refuse to serve.
5. Spiritual gifts must be developed through constant use.
“Having gifts … let us use them” (Rom. 12:6). Paul said to Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift you have” (1 Tim. 4:14). And in another letter, he wrote, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you” (2 Tim. 1:6). (A gifted violinist will not develop her gift if she stops practicing.)