Spiritual Gifts

The Holy Spirit indwells every born-again believer enabling them to live a righteous life and become like Jesus. However, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is not just for individual edification. The sanctifying process requires the whole body of Christ working together. The Holy Spirit is the agent who equips individual members to serve one another in three ways (see 1 Cor. 12:4-6). First, each member has at least one gift of grace by which they minister to the body of Christ. Second, individual members are enabled to offer different kinds of service to the Church. Third, there are different kinds of workings within the Church. The latter indicates spiritual power in operation.

Paul argues that there is unity in diversity. All these manifestations of the Spirit have a unity in source. The “same Spirit” (vs. 4), “same Lord [Jesus]” (vs. 5), and “the same God works all of them in all men” (vs. 6). There is also a unity of purpose. These gifts, services and manifestations are not given for personal edification; they are given so that we may build up one another. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (vs. 7). Paul lists a variety of ways that the Spirit may manifest Himself among the believers (see vss. 8-10). “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines” (vs. 11).

The body of Christ is made up many parts and all are necessary. Some members may feel like they are unwanted or unnecessary when other gifts or manifestations of the Spirit seem to take on a greater prominence. “But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other” (vs. 24-25). As the body of Christ we should eagerly desire the greater gifts to be manifested among us for the edification of all (vs. 31). We should not desire a greater gift for ourselves in order that we may be exalted above the others. God gives as He chooses, and we should gladly accept what He gives us and use it to the glory of God. We will never be fulfilled trying to become somebody we aren’t or trying to acquire a gift that others have, or trying to exercise a gift we don’t have.

Paul gives no instruction for determining our own gifts. We should seek the Giver, not the gift, focus on being the person God intended us to be, and through love serve one another. In the process, our giftedness will become evident to all. Spiritual gifts are a means to an end, not an end in itself. The manifestations of the Spirit will come and go, but what remains is faith, hope, and love and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Dr. Neil

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