By John H. Currier, Pastor
Before we get into examining "spiritual gifts" let's understand what a "gift" is. According to Webster's Dictionary a gift is "a present; a thing given; a donation; natural talent; faculty; power to endow; to present with; to bestow".
These are pretty good definitions, but there is a great deal of difference between an earthly gift or natural talent and a spiritual gift that comes from God. Although, someone may possess some natural talent, it is God who gives an increase through the inspiration of His Spirit. God can also bless someone with a gift or talent that the person had none of before. I have seen very shy people become good teachers and preachers through the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit indwelling in them. People who would have never considered getting up in front of a crowd of people to speak will now speak with power and conviction, due to the gift that God has given. I have seen the gift of healing and the gift of prophecy given to people. And these gifts are not always given to the people that we feel should have them, but are given as God decides who should have them. Every Christian in every congregation is given a spiritual gift. If you don't know what your spiritual gift(s) is(are) then work with your pastor and deacons through prayer and petition to God to determine what it is that God has given you. And once you have discovered your spiritual gift, then ask God for guidance, help, and strength to use it to His glory.
Turn in your own Bible to Romans 6:23 and read: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (New International Version Bible used throughout.) Notice that this is a gift. Remember, it's not something that is earned or even something that one already has, but it's something that is given by God as a result of one's acceptance of Jesus as Lord.
But there are other gifts that are given to people through the Holy Spirit. Let's look at 1 Corinthians 12:4-11,
4 "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all people. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."
This is, of course, not an all-inclusive list of the gifts of God. But let's look at these and see how they should be used and who receives them.
The first thing that we should notice is that all the gifts come from God. Once again we should understand that we do not already possess these thingsthey are gifts. In verse 7 it says that each person receives some gift. It doesn't say that only a small minority will receive giftsbut all! It doesn't say that these gifts are given only to men, but they are given to each person who is a Christian, man or woman, and who receives the Holy Spirit! Now look at verse 11, which says, "All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as He determines." In other words, it's not up to anyone here on this earth to decide what gifts you will receive and what gifts you'll not receive. Not the pastor, nor the board of elders, nor the congregation can determine what gift or gifts God is going to give you. We cannot say that this person will receive that gift or that person will receive this gift. It's not up to us! If a person has been given a gift by God to work in a particular direction and if that person allows it to be used in his/her life, it will come to fruition. We cannot say because this person is black, yellow, red, or white; or that this person is a woman or man; or that this person is short or tall; or that this person is old or young, that person cannot be allowed to function in a particular position in the church or to do the duty to which he/she is being called.
Unfortunately, years and years have gone by in which the leadership of the Church has used a couple of misunderstood scriptures to hold people backto keep them in their placesand not allow them to use the spiritual gifts that God has given them. I see this in two ways. One is that those who have not allowed the people to grow and use their spiritual gifts will one day have to answer to Jesus for this. And the second way is that those who did not use these gifts will also have to answer as to why they didn't!
Turn to Romans 12:4-8
4 "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a person's gift is prophesying let that person use it in proportion to his/her faith. 7 If it is serving, let that person serve; if it is teaching, let him/her teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him/her encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him/her give generously; if it is leadership, let him/her govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him/her do it cheerfully."
11 "It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
We can see now who is to receive the gifts, but how are they to be used? Simple. As a matter of fact, we've already read how they are to be used. Look once more at I Cor. 12:7 "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good."
Once again, we see that it is "he," that has given some to be this and some to be that. "HE"! The Almighty! It is He that decides who gets what gifts! If you have been told by your church, that you can't give Bible Studies, preach a sermon, teach the Word of God, witness before all people, baptize, heal, prophesy, etc., because of your race or gender, then your church isn't going by what the Bible says! (For further information on this subject check out the Women's Role section of our web-site. Of course, any and all of these things depend on whether or not you feel that you have discovered one of these gifts from God in your life. If you feel that God is calling you in a certain direction· then "go for it"! Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it!
There are those who believe that only a person that has been through seminary school should be allowed to teach or preach. This is not a bad idea. Or, at least it shouldn't be a bad idea. However, if the school teaches the same old "traditions of men," instead of the traditions of God, then this isn't good. On the other hand, if a person has been blessed by God and has been given the gift of discernment or prophesying or teaching or preaching, etc., then I had much rather listen to this person than all those who have attended a seminary!
Gifts from God! Let's think about that for just a moment. These gifts were not bestowed on a person because the person earned them. They should not be decided on by any clergy, priest, pastor, or minister, as to who will receive for instance the gift of teaching/preaching, and who will receive the gift of "pot-luck"!
We must realize that these gifts are more than ordinary gifts. These gifts are greater than the ordinary things we possess. We know that we should all have faith, but there are those who possess it to a much greater extent than othersa gift! We should all be able to pray for healing for those who are afflicted or ill, but there are those who have the healing touch of God moving through thema gift! We know that we should all be knowledgeable and have wisdom, insight, discernment to teach others about God's Word, but there are those who have all of these things more than a full measurea gift!
Will everyone receive all of these gifts, when one becomes a Christian? No. But everyone will receive at least one gift. Your gift may the ability to visit the sick or the elderly and to bring joy to them. Your gift may be to teach or preach or to evangelize. You may have the gift of healing or the ability to witness to others through your experiences and bring others to Christ, as God calls them. Some of these gifts are very powerful and some are very quiet. I know of one instance of a minister who has the gift of healing and this is very obvious and evidenced before witnesses. I also know of a man who has the gift of greeting people as they come to church and making them feel welcome. This is less noticeable. Is the one more important than the other? No. The apostle Paul addresses this very point in Romans 12:4-5, "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."
1 Cor 12:12-27
12 "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."
By now, we should see that the gifts of God could be very small or very large. We know that every Christian, whether male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, will receive a God-given spiritual gift. We should also realize that God expects us to use whatever gift it is that He gives us. Do you remember the story in Matthew, chapter 25 about the "talents"? If not, take the time to read it. It starts in verse 15. I know that I would hate to stand before the Lord and have Him ask me what I did with the gift He had given me and all I would be able to answer is that I had not used it because· (Choose one:)
Whatever it is that you receive as a gift from God, remember that it is from God and it's very special. Don't become prideful or boastful, but be humble that God has decided to use you in some way. Don't let others turn you from whatever it is God has blessed you to do. Don't be embarrassed, shy, or timidfor God has given to you a gift. At Freedom Ministry it has been a part of our goals to train our members with Matthew 28:19-20 in mind:
19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
And, also to practice among the members 2 Timothy 3:17,
17 "so that the person of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
If you are interested in following God’s ways and finding out how God can use you, then please contact us.
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