THE BASIC FEATURES OF GIFTS
BETH HAVEN CHURCH CHESTER A. McCALLEY, PASTOR
Two problems have always risen in relation to spiritual gifts.
A. The problem of ABUSE
Some of the wildest excesses in church history are found in relation to gifts. I Corinthians 14 is written against such a background. The passage exhorts the Corinthians to correct the misuse of gifts particularly that of tongues,
B. The problem of NEGLECT
It is impossible to serve profitably until one's gift is discovered. Discovery is impossible when ignorance of the concept exists.
I. Definition of SPIRITUAL GIFT
A. Taken from words used in the Bible
1. I Corinthians 12:1 speaks of "spiritual gifts".
This is one single Greek word pneumatikon which places emphasis on the Holy Spirit as the source.
a. This indicates that spiritual gift is not the same as talent. Talent is related to physical birth; spiritual gift is related to spiritual birth.
b. I Corinthians 12:1 indicates that spiritual gift finds its source in God.
2. 1 Corinthians 12:4 speaks of "gifts" which is charisma in Greek. This word places emphasis on the basis of the grace. Spiritual gift is not related to merit, but to God's grace.
B. Taken from the illustration used in the Bible
1. I Corinthians 12:13--14 indicates that all believers form one body, Note the word "body"--not "society" or "organization," ~why does the Holy Spirit select the word "body"'?
2. "Body" implies:
a. Oneness (our physical bodies can exist in one location at a time because the body is one).
b. Diversity (food is placed in one's mouth not one's ear...--they are both part of the body, but their functions are different).
c. Life (the body is not merely a mechanistic arrangement--it is an organism).
3. All these body parts function for the harmony of the whole body.
C. A Spiritual gift is: GOD--GIVEN ABILITY FOR SERVING IN THE BODY OF CHRIST.
I I. Factors in SPIRITUAL GIFTS
A. The distribution of gifts
1. Every believer has at least one. I Corinthians 12:6----"it is the same God which worketh all (gifts) in all (believers)," I Corinthians 12:7, 11, and I Peter 4:10 refer to a gift as the possession of "every man,"
2. The distribution is based on God's sovereign choice. I Corinthians 12:11 says he distributes gifts "as he (God) will." I Corinthians 12:l8 is even more emphatic. The issue is never seeking a gifts but recognizing a gift that is already there. I Corinthians 12:31 does not mean seek to obtain certain gifts; it refers to giving the important gifts the correct place rather than exalting the minor ones as the Corinthians were doing,
B. The variety of gifts
1. Note the words "diversities", "differences", and "diversities" in I Corinthians 12: 4, 5 , 6.
2. This means that each believer has a unique function and no one can take his place.
a. There is a function in the body of Christ that will never be performed unless you perform it.
b. Christian service is not to be stereotyped----every believer's place is unique.
C. The goal of gifts
1. 1 Corinthians 14:12 says that zeal for gifts is to result in the "edifying of the church."
2. The purpose of all gifts is to make the body of Christ function properly.
3. The ultimate test of the exercise of spiritual gift is not what it does for you but what it does for other believers.
D. The value of gifts
l. All gifts are not equally important---but all are necessary.
2. I Corinthians 12:28 lists gifts in order of importance. "... first apostles, secondarily prophets, ~ teachers, after that miracles" esc.,
3. I Corinthians 12:31 speaks of the "best gifts."
4. 1 Corinthians 12:21--22 indicates that though some parts of the body are more feeble, they are still necessary.
E. The function of gifts
1. 1Corinthians 1:5--7 clearly states that the Corinthians "come behind in no spiritual gift," At the same time, I Corinthians 3:1 labels them "carnal" and "babes in Christ."
2. This shows a spiritual gift may function without the person using it being a Spirit filled believer.
F: The classification of gifts
1. Some gifts are extensions of abilities possessed by all believers.
Examples: James : promises wisdom to all, while I Corinthians 12:8 makes it the gift of some, I I Corinthians 5:7 indicates all believers are to walk by faith while I Corinthians 12:9 states it is a special gift for some,
2. Some gifts listed in the New Testament are temporary; some are permanent.
a. The gift of apostle is a good example~
(1) The purpose of this gift is stated in Ephesians 2:20 where we are told the church is built on the "foundation of the apostles and prophets..."
(2) A foundation can only be laid once----with the completion of the purpose of the gift, the gift itself ceases.
b. Before the completion of the canon of Scripture, God selected certain men to be his mouthpieces. When the Scriptures were completed, the gift, as that of apostle, was withdrawn,
c. In Acts 19: 11--12, Paul had an amazing gift of healing. By the close of his life, it was phased out (see I I Tim. 4:20, Phil. 2:27).
G. The identification of gifts
The principles are taken from the concepts mentioned in the preceding outline. There is no passage that deals specifically with this concept.
1. Desire in a certain direction of service.
2. Blessing & in a certain direction of service.
3. Recognition by other believers of the gift.
4. Opportunity for service in a certain area.