What we Believe
Foundations for Christian Life
No.8 - Spiritual Gifts
Study verse: 1 Corinthians 14:12
"Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try
to excel in gifts that build up the church."
The church is God's masterpiece and His master plan in
restoring a lost world. The study verse shows that God has not ordained
uniformity but endless variety. No-one has all the gifts and no-one is without
some spiritual gifting, ability, talent or task. There are no omissions or
exceptions; no matter how insignificant, weak or obscure, each one is essential
to the growth and spiritual health of the whole body.
There are three main areas of gifting and function;
however each of them is sourced in God. They are:-
THE MINISTRY GIFTS - given by Christ to his church.
THE SUPERNATURAL GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT - given by the Holy Spirit - they are
THE ANOINTED NATURAL GIFTS - natural talents
quickened by the Spirit.
1. The Ministry Gifts - Ephesians 4:7-16 There
are four or five functions, depending on your persuasion, that these men fulfil
and are Christ's gifts to His church either locally or in a wider sense.
a) Apostle - The Greek word is 'apostolos'
which means 'one sent forth'. The disciples were named apostles (Luke 6:13).
Paul is designated so (Acts 14:4, Rom.16:7). Generally the apostle fulfils a
church-planting, building or structuring role.
b) Prophet - One who
speaks forth openly the mind and counsel of God. He has the ability to
foretell, but more importantly, to foretell the will of God, with reference to
past, present or future. See references to Agabus in Acts 21:10-11 and Acts
c) Evangelist - "A messenger of the gospel, a preacher of
good news". The evangelist breaks new ground preaching the gospel with the
obvious success of people being converted. Philip was an evangelist in a city
in Samaria (Acts 8:4-8), preaching one to one in Acts 8:26-40. He was well
known as an evangelist (Acts 21:8).
d) Pastor - One who is a
shepherd, specifically involved in feeding and caring for the flock, his
position being one of help, support and counsel. In many churches the pastor is
looked upon as the senior leader, but really any authority he may have in the
leadership of the church is by virtue of eldership not ministry gift.
Teacher - Some say this gift is part of the pastoral gift, i.e.
pastor/teacher. However, for the purpose of this study, we will look at it
separately. The teacher is a gift to give instruction to the body concerning
personal character (1 Cor.4:17) and to expound the doctrine of scripture
(Col.2:6-7). Within the church we look to see all these ministry gifts released
according to the measure of the gift, into the body of Christ for preparing
God's people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up
until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
and become mature.
2. The Supernatural Gifts of the Spirit - 1
Cor.12:7-11 The Greek words here are 'pneumaticus' meaning 'inspired' and
'charismata' meaning 'grace' or 'gift-wise'. Given to individuals by the Holy
Spirit for the good of the whole, they are completely supernatural. The
ninefold manifestation - here is a brief outline.
a) Gifts of revelation
1. A word of knowledge - a
supernatural revelation of the divine mind, God-given facts (knowledge) not
from the mind of man.
2. A word of wisdom - a supernatural revelation of
the divine purpose, God-given wisdom in what to do with the facts (knowledge).
3. Discerning of spirits - a supernatural insight by revelation into the
spirit realm, the ability to discriminate whether a super-natural work or word
is of the Holy Spirit or by deceiving spirits.
b) Gifts of demonstration
1. Faith - a
supernatural trust in God - a manifestation of divine faith and sovereignty.
2. Working of miracles - a supernatural manifestation of divine immanence
and omnipotence seen as acts of power, often described as signs and wonders.
3. Gifts of healing - a supernatural power over disease, a manifestation
of divine life (health and peace).
c) Gifts of inspiration
1. Prophecy - a
supernatural utterance in a known language that brings comfort, strengthening
and encouragement, thereby building up the church.
2. Other tongues - a
supernatural utterance in an unknown tongue (a language unknown to the
3. Interpretation of tongues - a supernatural showing forth of
the meaning of the utterance in tongues, not to be confused with translation.
The gifts are diverse but this does not mean there are
diverse spirits. They work by one Spirit, who gives them to each one as He
determines. Just as the ministry gifts are for the building up of the body, so
are these supernatural gifts of the Spirit and 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 relates
these gifts to the body. In verses 15-20 Paul gives a rebuke to the
disgruntled. An ambitious person may consider their gift inferior and moan or
complain and be disposed not to contribute. But the gifts are not for
individual glory but for the good of the whole.
In verses 21-26 Paul gives a reproof to the superior.
Our dependence is mutual. No member, however superior or gifted, can dismiss
another as useless. Each is in debt to the other. The result is mutual care as
shown in verse 26. Paul also reminds us that love is the only motive for the
use of the gifts and love is the necessary ingredient to make the gifts
effective (1 Cor.13:1-3).
3. The Anointed Natural Gifts - Romans 12:7-13
This is when a natural gift or talent or ability is quickened by the Holy
Spirit to a new realm in building up the body of Christ. Here are some Old
Spirit-filled craftsmen - Bazalel, Ex.31:3, 36:1 - a
skilful engraver whose talent was lifted to a new realm by the anointing of the
Spirit-filled administrator - Joseph, Gen.41:38
(contrast his interpretation of dreams which was entirely supernatural by the
gift of the Spirit).
Spirit-filled musicians - 1 Sam.16:23 and 1
When one in the providence of God has acquired a
natural (?) talent, then it is lifted into a new realm by the anointing of the
Holy Spirit. The New Testament gives us other examples but these are seen in
the context of the body of Christ: 1 Cor.12:27-31 - This is not just another
list of the gifts of the Spirit, but a selection from the three groups.
a) Ministry gifts - apostles, prophets, teachers.
b) Supernatural gifts of the Spirit - miracles, healings, tongues,
c) Anointed natural gifts - administration, helps.
In Romans 12:3-13 Paul is not giving yet another list
of the supernatural gifts of the Spirit. But in relation to his body picture
(verses 3-5) he shows the variety of functions as necessary and again makes a
selection from the three groups. Here, however, he enlarges upon the anointed
a) Ministry gifts - teacher.
gifts of the Spirit - prophecy.
c) Anointed natural gifts - practical
service, encouragement, giving, ruling, practical charity, hospitality.
We are seeking here to illustrate the many different
ways each body member may be gifted, and may function to the benefit of the
whole. Ministry function is twofold:-
1. The Ministry Gifts - they must function; an example
in Acts 2 - Peter, an apostle, is functioning. He is declaring to the crowds
and as he functions the body operates in prayerful support.
2. The Body Ministry - all must function; an example
in 1 Cor.14:26, "When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of
instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be
done for the strengthening of the church."
During this function ministry gifts and elders
oversee. In a healthy New Testament type church there will be balance and
harmony. Opportunity will be given for both to function. We as a church seek to
recognise and honour ministry gifts, yet by our structure present opportunity
for body ministry to function and develop. Finally, it is for each of us to
find our place, gift, function, ability in and to the body. And then to wait on
our ministry by prayer, consecration and application. We must not take our gift
or ability for granted. We must give ourselves to the function He has given us,
doing all as to the Lord, for the benefit of the whole body, for His glory.