Read: Matthew 28: 18-20; John 7:38-39; 14:16-18, 26; 15:26; 16:7
Spiritual Gifts are alive and well both in the Church and in the world. They are not from a bygone era or only for certain Denominations or individuals; they are for you and your church! God considers them very important, and essential if ministry is going to be effective! For you to be your best for Christ's glory, you must take Spiritual Gifts seriously. You must learn about them, be aware of which ones you have, and determine how you can put them into practice. If you neglect to do this, you might well live only a partially effective Christian life, missing key opportunities and essential ministry. Others will be left out of the care and love you and your church were called to give.
1. To deny the existence of Spiritual Gifts is to deny the work of the Holy Spirit! It is comforting to deny Gifts, because then we do not have to respond to His call and duty; we can be lazy and conceited in our outlook to others instead. Of course, this thinking is straight from a source other than the Bible and God's call!
2. Fruits and Gifts are not the same. We must not confuse the "gifts of the Spirit" with "fruit of the Spirit."
a. "Gifts" are services to be performed for others to benefit the church.
b. "Fruit" speaks of the graces and character traits of Christ we all are to emulate as Believers, to cultivate Holiness (Galatians 5:22-23).
c. Both the Fruit and the Gifts are essential. Both are manifestations of the indwelling Spirit within us.
3. What is the difference between a gift and a talent? Most Bible teachers say that we are born with certain talents or natural abilities, but when we are "born again" we are given Spiritual Gifts. This may be true, but it is interesting that talents being natural and gifts being supernatural are not separate distinctions in Scripture! Therefore, your pastor and a secular professor may be teaching from the same talent/gift that could be used either in a church or in a secular classroom. However, the purpose is the distinction! The secular aspect of talent is to function in society to build a community. If we all had the same talents, we would not have a variety of services and resources in the community. It is much the same in the church. However, the purpose is completely different; in the church, a Gift is to glorify Christ. A secular talent does not do this! The Spirit empowers us further--beyond just the "natural talent" (1 Corinthians 2:14-15; Galatians 1:15-16).
a. Spiritual Gifts also help us grow in vitality and maturity (1 Peter 5)!
b. What Gifts are more important? 1 Corinthians12:28 tells us, And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
i. All the Gifts are needed, all are essential because they all are designed to edify the Church and glorify God. The church is a body, and while all parts of the body are important, some are more essential, like the brain versus a foot. The Corinthians had trouble distinguishing the importance of the Gifts, hence Paul's letter to them (1 Corinthians 12:31; 14).
i. Leaders and teachers are the most important--those who clearly present the truths of the Christian faith, which the Apostles (church leaders) give from the Word. Because we are first called to make disciples over all else in the Church (Matthew 28: 18-20). This means training and instruction on the work of Christ and the exercise of our faith. This is to be continual throughout our Christian life. Discipleship is not something that only happens to new Christians it is to happen to us all, all of the time! Teachers are to teach and apostles are to administer to make sure this happens. And good teaching can only happen if the rest of the gifts are functioning properly! They all work together!
ii. A prophet is someone who keeps the church on God's path of truth, and makes sure we do not slip into false teaching. This is not the same as an OT prophet!
iii. Tongues and miracles may seem great! However, they do not meet the basic and eternal needs of the Body of Christ like teaching does. To think they are would be like putting the cart in front of the horse! The Bible does not make the case that they have ceased, although they are not considered important. They are like milk for a baby versus the meat of teaching for maturity (1 Corinthians 14:1-25). Those who put the emphases on the "signs and wonders" miss the point of Scripture and the call of God. It is like saying the hotdogs are more important than the ball game!
iv. The most important and needed Gifts are those that focus in on the Word of God, that disciple the Believers, because without them the church would fall down (Matthew 28). The teaching and preaching of the Word of God must be more valuable to you than any material or emotional thing!
c. A key aspect to learning about your Gifts is to hook up with someone who is older and more experienced to help you through it!
d. Satan does not want you to discover your Gifts; he wants you to ignore your responsibility and nurture of one another. So, does Satan have your attention, or does Christ?
1. Why is the function in ministry to glorify Christ? How do you glorify our Lord? How can you do a better job?
2. With the above questions in mind, how can you display the attributes of Christ's character, Fruit and Gifts in a specific function that strengthens the church?
3. What can you do, as a leader or pastor, to motivate the congregation from the pulpit and boardroom to find and use their Gifts? As a church member, what can your pastor do to better motivate you and the church?
4. How can you help others discover their Gifts?
5. What can you do to find a mentor, one who has the same Gifts as you but with more experience, to show you the ropes?
6. How can you set a schedule for accountability with your mentor?
7. What can you do to continue indefinitely the exercise and growth of your Gifts?
8. How can you explore possibilities of using your Gifts of Grace?
9. What can you and your church do to experiment with as many Gifts as you can?
10. What can you do to help your church work together in love and cooperative unity with the Gifts?
11. How can the Fruits make the Gifts work better?
12. What will you do now with your knowledge of your Gift(s), even if you do not yet know what they are?