The Nature of Spiritual Gifts

MANIFESTATIONS OF GRACE. Attempts have been made to categorize the gifts here. Broadly speaking, all gifts can be divided into speaking gifts and serving gifts. These NT lists are not comprehensive since the Spirit gave other abilities to people in the OT, such as artistic workmanship, literary and musical expression (Exodus 31:3-5; 2 Samuel 23:1-2).

In the above passages the Greek word carisma (charisma) for gifts denotes extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their life by the Holy Spirit. If we define charisma precisely, it means “manifestations of grace.”

DIVERSITY AND UNITY. Since there is no competition among the persons of the Trinity in giving of grace manifestations, there should be no jealousy between gifted believers in the body of Christ. Complementary harmony of purposes and cooperation should
prevail. The most important characteristic of the body is unity, but diversity is essential to that unity. Unity and diversity are not
rivals, but partners in God’s redemptive program. Even the body’s duplicated parts are unique and function differently. We have two arms and two legs, but we are either right-handed or left-handed. Yet, there is cooperation between similar members—each foot
must move in step with the other in order to walk. No part is complete and perfect of itself—we can never say to another Christian, “I
have not need of you.” The tension between members and the total organism can only be solved by maturity. There is no hint of superiority in the body of Christ. Each member functions for the benefit of the whole body. Interdependence is to mark the members of the church, not independence. The famous lines from Invictus, “I am the captain of my fate; I am the master of my soul,” express the heart of fallen man—his great desire to be his own god!

Every believer should have all the traits of the fruit of the Spirit, but not every believer will have all gifts of the Spirit. The above gifts come to members of the body of Christ from the Holy Spirit. He chooses who gets which gift, and He dispenses them at His good
pleasure. However, we read, “But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). Though the
Spirit distributes gifts as He wills, this does not prevent men earnestly seeking by prayer, self-control and cultivation of their faculties, the greatest gifts.On the other hand, by “greatest gifts,” Paul probably means to desire, “the way of love” (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:1). This love includes both “faith” and “hope (1 Corinthians 13:7), and bears the same fruits (1 Corinthians 13:1-13) as the ordinary and permanent fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).

Another possibility is that Paul, by “greatest gifts,” means the gifts of the Spirit instead of manifestations of the flesh or Satan’s counterfeits. Anything God does, Satan counterfeits. So, the spiritual gifts are counterfeited. For example, Paul had the gift of preaching; he could have preached in the flesh, but he did not let his spiritual gift become a counterfeit.

When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:1)

My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and power (1 Corinthians 2:4).

The true exercise of spiritual gifts will always unite the body, not divide it. Hence, whenever so-called spiritual gifts create division, they are not spiritual, but counterfeits. All gifts of the Spirit are to build the body; some are sign gifts; and they are distinct from the fruit of the Spirit.

PURPOSE OF THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT. We have no responsibility for the gifts that He has not given us; however, believers are held accountable for the manifestation(s) of grace given to them. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers will receive rewards
or loss for the deeds done in the body (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Paul states that the purpose of spiritual gifts is “for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). These gifts are not for personal gratification, but are given for what is beneficial for the common good of the
body of Christ, the church. One gift is not to be stressed over another gift, nor are we to covet gifts we have not been given. Gifts are like tools or instruments to be used, rather than a piece of jewelry or decoration to be admired.

Consider the God-given ability of those who constructed a beautiful Tabernacle, which typifies Christ, the believer and the church.

Bezalel, Oholiab, and all the skilled people are to work based on everything the LORD has commanded. The LORD has given them wisdom and understanding to know how to do all the work of constructing the sanctuary (Exodus 36:1).

As the Spirit of God bestowed these gifts to make the Tabernacle beautiful, so He bestows gifts to believers to make His sanctuary, the church of Christ beautiful.

Many of the Spirit’s gifts are quite similar to natural abilities or talents people may have, although others are clearly spiritual in character. Certainly, we know people with a special talent of music, but it is not listed among the gifts of the Spirit. One may have the talent of making beautiful crafts or things, or other talents of one kind or another. It appears the Holy Spirit can take a natural talent
and transform it into a spiritual gift. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the two.

The apostle Paul presents the correct doctrine of Spirit baptism.

For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Baptism by the Spirit is both the basis of the unity of all believers in the body and the ground of the exercise of spiritual gifts in the body (1 Corinthians 12:14- 31). Ironically, 1 Corinthians 12, one of the most interesting, important and controversial sections of
Scripture, has resulted in divisions rather than unity.

TEMPORARY GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT. Obviously, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers and teachers are the offices of gifted believers. The apostle was a gifted believer at the beginning of church history. When the apostle John died at the end of the first century, this office died with him.

The apostles had no successors; there are no apostles today!

So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-20).

Since the church can have only one cornerstone and one foundation, we must logically conclude that the office of prophets has ceased to exist also. The prophets were present in local congregations in the NT. They were the source of divine, doctrinal revelation,
giving practical wisdom to the church prior to the completion of the Bible. Today, the ministry of God’s Word resides with evangelists,
pastor-teachers and teachers.

Christ performed miracles to prove that He is God. He performed miracles for only a short period— three and one-half years.

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31).

The apostles and few other early church leaders also performed miracles as confirming signs of the Gospel message. If we trace miracles that God performed through men in the Bible, we discover that there are only three short periods where miracles were
performed. In each instance, God was authenticating new revelation in the days of Aaron and Moses, Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus and His apostles. Miracles accompanied God’s Word for only so long as He was revealing Scripture. When the Bible was completed, the working of miracles stopped. Therefore, the gifts of working healings, miracles and speaking in tongues ceased with the apostles and
completion of God’s Word.

Early in Paul’s ministry, the Jews publicly maligned the Way. To authenticate the message and messenger, the Holy Spirit worked healings through the apostle.

God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, so that even facecloths or work aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them (Acts 19:12).

Paul had the gift of healing; he even raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9-12). Near the end of Paul’s life, the apostle left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20) and he resorted to giving medical advice when he wrote to his beloved son in the faith
instead of sending him a facecloth or apron.

Don’t continue drinking only water, but use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23).

Paul apparently had a physical infirmity that would not go away—“a thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Dr. Luke, his traveling companion, most likely took care of his medical needs. Some Charismatics believe that it is the will of God to heal everyone. If this were true, why is anyone ever sick and why do people die? Christians are sick for a wide range of reasons, among them are (1) God allows them to be sick; (2) sickness comes from Satan; and (3) sickness can be a chastising for sin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *