To make a fabulous fudge cake, one needs shortening, unsweetened chocolate, water, sugar, vanilla, cake flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, and buttermilk in the prescribed measurements. If one ingredient is missing or mismeasured, the cake loses some scrumptiousness. When one blends the nature of God with an understanding of the gifts of the Spirit, one can experience supernatural unity and love in serving Christ through the opportunities He provides.
About the Apostle Paul
To understand spiritual gifts, one must look to the person primarily responsible for laying out the various gifts to humanity through his letters and preaching. Paul, formerly called Saul, was born into a Jewish family raised in Tarsus. He was a Roman citizen trained under rabbis. His education took place in Jerusalem. The Mishnah’s structure held that one was ready to learn the Scripture at five years old. (The Mishnah is a collection embodying the oral tradition of Jewish law.) They were ready for the Mishnah at ten years old, and one could study the Talmud at thirteen. (The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law and theology.) Acts 22 mentions that Rabbi Gamaliel I, a high-ranking Sanhedrin, trained Paul. Paul was steeped in the Jewish culture. However, Saul mentions in Galatians 1:14 that he advanced beyond his contemporaries in Judaism and became zealous for the traditions held by his ancestors. This zealousness led him to persecute Christians until, in 35 A.D., on the Damascus Road, Christ appeared to him, resulting in a salvation experience. He was baptized into the Christian faith and followed God’s call to preach the gospel and travel from area to area, which became known as his three missionary journeys. During these journeys, Paul traveled from city to city, prison to prison. It was during this period that Paul wrote multiple letters to the churches. It is through these letters or visits that he shared about spiritual gifts. Paul’s single status is debated in many scholarly writings due to 1 Corinthians 7:7, where Paul states, “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.”
Paul wrote to the Christian congregation in Corinth during the first century after receiving some unwelcome news of division and sin in their congregation. The best source to answer the following questions comes directly from some of the most famous Bible verses on Spiritual Gifts.
What are Spiritual Gifts?
Ministry Tools Resource Center defines a spiritual gift as “a special divine empowerment bestowed on each believer by the Holy Spirit to accomplish a given ministry God’s way according to His grace and discernment to be used within the context of the Body of Christ,” i.e., teaching,
Moreover, we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. Let each exercise them according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith, if service, in his service, or he who teaches in his teaching: or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness (Rom. 12:6-8).
There are various gifts but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of ministries and the same Lord. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and other gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and another the distinguishing of spirits, to other various kinds of tongues, and another the interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 12:4-10).
And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, and third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues (1 Cor. 12:28).
Who Gives Spiritual Gifts?
But none and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11).
And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons (1 Cor. 12:6).
Why are Spiritual Gifts Given?
For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).
How are Spiritual Gifts to be Used?
If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I have nothing . . .
But now abide faith, hope, and love but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13: 1-13).
1 Corinthians 13 is commonly known as the love chapter; it makes a claim to fame in many wedding ceremonies. Separating it from 1 Corinthians 12:31 would be unfortunate since it sets the context that love is a pivotal point and the “greatest” attribute connecting with one’s spiritual gifts.
This love chapter contains three major sections. First, Vv. 1-3 declares that if one speaks but does not have love, it sounds like a “clanging symbol,” which refers to the famous bronze products made in Corinth. Second, Vv. 4-7 describes an agape love, the self-sacrificing love God desires from His children. Third, Vv. 8-13, Paul stresses love in relationship to spiritual gifts and concludes by stating in the last verse in the chapter—”But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
American theologian and author Richard L. Pratt said, “If there is any similarity between the modern church and the ancient church, it lies in our failure to love. In fact, by most accounts, we are often worse than the Corinthians. At least the Corinthians had managed to remain united as a single church. They had not split their fellowship, even though they had abused it. Most Christians today tend to be self-centered. They do not place others first, and they certainly do not commit themselves to living the love of which Paul spoke.”
To be continued. . .
Spiritual Gifts, Part 2 – Coming Next: Categories of Spiritual Gifts and Definitions
Prayer: Heavenly Father, as I learn more about spiritual gifts, please open my eyes to see what you have given me to be used for your glory. I want to honor and serve you. Thank you. Me
This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. For the full annotated paper and bibliography, please get in touch with me through the comment section of this article.
3 PRAYER JOURNALS – 3 BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLES AND A BOOK ON CHRISTIAN CAREGIVING.
- Awaken Me – Devotional Workbook
- Anchor Me – Devotional Workbook
- Answer Me – Devotional Workbook
- Christian Caregiving
BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES
- Bible Word Search Puzzles: The Gospels, Volume 1
- Bible Word Search Puzzles; Acts and Epistles, Volume 2
- Bible Word Search Puzzles: Epistles and Revelation, Volume 3