THE HOLY SPIRIT'S MINISTRY THROUGH THE GIFTS
It is obvious that the gifts have been misused from the beginning. This
is seen in the epistle to the Corinthian church. This has been true for
most of history. The other extreme is also true. Many have completely sidetracked
the gifts due to the fear of being mistaken for the "other guys." Fundamentalists
and Evangelicals have often over reacted to problems others have with the
Holy Spirit, by ignoring all aspects of the Spirit.
This is true in almost any area where we want to refrain from identification
with problems others have. A current example is the contemporary music.
Many want to refrain from the use of the Charismatic inspired choruses
and music. Yes, it is good to reject much of this music. Some of it is
doctrinally in error. Yes, it is good to reject the music, because in purchasing
it you are furthering the propagation of false doctrine. HOWEVER, you need
not refrain from all choruses. Many are from an age past, long before the
Charismatic movement started into the music business. There is much good
music that is being rejected because it looks like the wrong stuff.
Another point might be made at this point. Why are fundamentalists not
producing some good music?
SPIRITUAL GIFTS DEFINED:
Pache states, "It is a certain qualification given by the Spirit to
each individual believer to enable him to serve within the framework of
the body of Christ." (Taken from: "THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT";
Pache, Rene; Copyright 1954, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press.
Used by permission. p 180)
I'm not sure what he means by "a certain qualification". Qualification
seems to indicate an attribute or certain thing that the person has, rather
than the thought of ability.
Ryrie tells us that "A spiritual gift is a God-given ability for service."
(Taken from: "A SURVEY OF BIBLE DOCTRINE"; Ryrie, Charles C.; Copyright
1972, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission.
p 79) This seems to be the better thought - that of an ability given by
Might we combine the two definitions to bring about the better ideas?
A spiritual gift/gifts are special abilities given to the individual by
the Holy Spirit, for use within the local church for the building up of
We cover the gifts themselves in ecclesiology so we will just take a
quick look at the gifting of the saints at this point.
A gift is not an office, nor a special supernatural ability to tell
others off, nor a geographical location. (Some pastors think that they
should be given pastorates only in Southern California and the Pacific
Northwest, but never in the Midwest Especially Nebraska and Wyoming, and
ESPECIALLY IN THE WINTER.)
A gift is not just any ability that a person may have. Some mention
that a good painter has the gift of painting. They may have, but it isn't
a spiritual gift. The gifts are listed in the scripture and they are fewer
than many believers believe them to be.
I trust that I won't burst anyone's bubble but there is no gift of writing,
nor gift of youth work, nor gift of janitor, nor gift of gab, nor gift
of talebearer, nor gift of pastoral critic, nor gift of ...... .
Some suggest a gift is an ability that the Lord has enhanced through
the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This might be suggested in some cases,
such as teaching, however it is certainly not true in all of the gifts.
Consider the sign gift tongues. No natural ability was needed prior to
the speaking in tongues. Indeed, there is no real indication that any natural
ability is involved in the gifts. "If any man speak, let him speak as the
oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ABILITY which
God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen." I Pet. 4:11 This
would indicate the ability is given. They are not natural abilities or
they wouldn't be gifts.
Walvoord goes one step further, and rightly so, and states that they
are not natural abilities enhanced. His thinking is of interest. The old
person is of the natural birth as are all natural abilities. The new birth
brings with it a new person and new abilities. The spiritual gift is new!
"Spiritual gift must not be regarded, then, as an enlargement of natural
powers, but a supernatural gift bestowed in keeping with the purpose of
God in placing that individual in the body of Christ." (Walvoord, John
F., A.M., Th.D.; "THE HOLY SPIRIT"; Grand Rapids: Dunham Publishing Co.;
1958, p 167)
He mentions earlier that the gift is bestowed at the point of the baptizing
of the believer into the body of Christ. However, this idea of giving at
the baptism contradicts the seeking of the better gifts that Paul mentions.
(I Cor. 14:12; 12:31)
As to time - I'm not sure at this point when they are given. There is
indication to me that gifting is a result of a person's walk with God.
If God wants a person to become a pastor teacher, and the person goes into
training, then the gift would be given. However, if the person did not
follow God's call there would be no need for the gift to be given.
The gift may go with an office or position yet not necessarily. The
gift of pastor teacher is one that normally goes with being a pastor yet
the gift would work well in ministries like Rescue Missions and in some
cases where the person is shepherding a group of people that are not necessarily
The gift of teacher does not have to be at Most Important Seminary,
but it may be teaching in a Sunday School class, a rescue mission, a Bible
study, or in the pulpit. The gift of pastor teacher requires both the shepherding
and teaching. Teaching can go on in any geographical location. (There is
a section in ecclesiology on the gift of Pastor Teacher - topic D06800.)
The Spirit gives the gifts both sovereignly and specifically. I Cor.
12:8-11, "For to one is given, by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another,
the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another, faith by the same
Spirit; to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another,
the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, discerning of
spirits; to another, various kinds of tongues; to another, the interpretation
of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the very same Spirit, dividing
to every man severally as he will."
As He wills, shows the sovereign action of the Spirit, and the multiple
types of gifts are listed thus showing that they were specific gifts.
It would be interesting to know if there is any basis upon which the
gifts are given other than by The Spirit's sovereign choice. Does He know
that a person will enjoy that gift as well as using it? Does He know that
a person will use that gift effectively?
Every believer has at least one gift, but may have more than one, while
not necessarily having all of the gifts. (I Cor. 12:7; I Cor. 12:11) I
have known several people that have two or three gifts but very seldom
are more than three evident at a time.
It is not uncommon for a gift to surface after several years of ministry.
I have felt for many years that my main gift was teaching while I have
other gifts that are not of the public nature. In recent days I am beginning
to see the gift of administration coming to the forefront. Not only do
I find that I function well in areas of administration, but I also enjoy
that sort of work.
I Pet. 4:10 mentions, "As every man hath received the gift, even so
minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace
of God." The clear message here is that the gifts are for the help of others,
rather than for the one gifted. The gifts are for the edification of the
church (Eph. 4:11ff)
There were some gifts that seem to have been for the beginning of the
church. Heb. 2:3,4, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation,
which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto
us by them that heard him, God also bearing them witness, both with signs
and wonders, and with diverse miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according
to his own will?"
The fact that Paul at one time in Acts was healing people with cloths
that he had touched and then later could not heal himself and a couple
of others would indicate that the gift of healing had passed away in Paul's
own life time.
The text which many use to show that the gift of tongues and prophecy
have passed away is I Cor. 13:8-13. Some say that it proves that they passed
away and others disagree. There is no proof acceptable to the Charismatic
to show that the gifts have passed away, be it I Corinthians, any other
text, or even logic.
This text mentions when the perfect is come then the sign gifts will
pass away. The charismatic will say that the perfect is referring to Christ
and His return so the gifts are still here. The non-Charismatic feels that
the Perfect is the Canon of Scripture, or the completion of Revelation.
It will be interesting to see if the kingdom theology people don't shift
the "perfect" into being the kingdom restored.
The list of gifts is found in three different locations. Rom. 12:6-8;
I Cor. 12:8-10; Eph. 4:11. The list includes "apostleship, prophecy, miracles,
healing, tongues, evangelism, pastoring, ministering or helps, teaching,
faith, exhortation, discerning spirits, knowledge, showing mercy, giving,
administration." (Taken from: "A SURVEY OF BIBLE DOCTRINE"; Ryrie, Charles
C.; Copyright 1972, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used
by permission. p 81. There are also some listings of the gifts in different
arrangements in ecclesiology - topic D06750)
There is a verse which tells us to covet the better gifts so we must
assume that our desire must have something to do with the Spirit's distribution
of gifts. ("But covet earnestly the best gifts;...." I Cor. 12:31) It would
also indicate that they are given at different times. You may have some
of the lesser gifts, but you can seek after the better gifts and evidently
receive if it be the Spirit's will. (I Cor. 14:1, 39 both show that prophecy
in Paul's day is one of the gifts to be desired. The term desire in 14:1
is the same Greek word that is used in 12:31 and 14:39. I Cor. 12:28 indicates
that there are levels of gifts as well.)
There are some authors that see the Eph. 4:11 passage as a presentation
of gifted men rather than gifts. This is true in a sense. They are men,
yet they have the specific spiritual gift that is mentioned. The Spirit
gave the gifts to the men and then lead them to minister in the particular
church. If I am a pastor teacher, pastoring in Cheyenne, WY, I am in a
sense a gift to that assembly of believers, however I am nothing special,
because He could have lead many men with the proper gifts to minister to
that assembly. The gift is what is given to the assembly not the person.
It is the gift that is of importance, rather than the gifted.
Some hold to what they call a primary, secondary gift possibility. For
example your primary or main gift may be the gift of teaching. You may
have other gifts that are manifest and used at other times but are not
as well used as the teaching. You may have the gift of helps along with
teaching. These often seem to go together.
Is it wrong to not use your gift if you know what it is? Since all gifts
are given to build up the church, and you are a part of that church, then
if you are able to use your gift and have opportunity to do so, but refuse,
then it would be wrong. You would be limiting the overall effectiveness
of the assembly.
Does every congregation have all of the gifts present? No, for at times
some congregations are without pastors. (Unless there is a non-practicing
If you look at the finances of the churches you may wonder where the
gifted people are that have the gift of giving.
Does the individual congregation have all of the gifts present that
are required to run the church adequately? There is no verse for this,
but it seems logical that if the Lord has raised up the church to do His
work that He would supply all the gifted people needed for that job. This
is not to say that some non-functioning, or non-attending believers wouldn't
short the local congregation at times. If I as a teacher was the only teacher
a church had then, if I decided to take a month or two off during the summer
- I would be wrong and they might well be less effective than the Lord
desires for a time.
Are all of the gifts present and functioning at all times during the
church age? No. There were some gifts that were foundational and used to
bring the church into existence. (Eph. 2:19-22 mentions that the apostles
and prophets were foundational to the church.) There is no indication that
there are any apostles left. If there are, they should be on Social Security
by now. They would be almost two thousand years old.
I might mention that some in Fundamental/Evangelical circles feel that
the gift of prophecy has become the gift of preaching.
Were the Old Testament saints gifted? As such, no. The times when they
were given special abilities may have been similar to the gifting of the
New Testament, but there was no indwelling Spirit, and no indication that
there was a gifting of all believers.
Can a gifted person that is not filled by the Spirit use his spiritual
gift? I don't think that the Scripture tells us anything about this. I
would assume so. The effects of the judgment by fire upon anything that
arose out of that ministry might be questionable. The effectiveness of
the gift might also be in question. The Spirit may well limit the effect
when He is not in control.
Will the gift be used as effectively as it could be if it is used when
you are not filled with the Spirit? I would assume not. Example: If you
had a gift of giving and you were not attending on a regular basis and
your giving was on the slide. You are still giving but not as much as you
Can you have a gift and not use it to the fullest? Yes. You may use
it a little or a lot. The emphasis should be on the lot however, so that
you are as big a benefit to the church as possible.
1. The emphasis is not to be on "Which one do I have?", but on the use
of the one I have.
2. The emphasis is not to be on which one do I have, but on what can
I do to find out what I can do.
3. Every Christian has a gift. This demands an answer to the believer
that comes to church and sits doing nothing.
True, the gifts can function outside the church, however there should
be some fruit from that ministry without, which benefits the within of
the church. The gifts are for the benefit of the church not the outside
If a person does nothing outside the church and does nothing inside
the church, then there is error. It may be his, in that he does nothing,
or it may be the churches, in that they do not allow him to exercise his
4. Since the gifts are for the betterment of the church it would seem
that the pastor of a given church would be encouraging his members to find
out what their gift is and to begin to practice it. This would indicate
the need of seminars on gifts now and then, especially for relatively new
5. Since some may have more than one gift you might encourage that person
with helps to scratch around and see if he might also have the gift of
6. If you are short of a teacher, might it not be a proper time to mention
that the Lord normally supplies each church with enough of each gift to
maintain the church and encourage the folks to see if they aren't the one
that is gifted. If nothing comes up from this then you should begin to
pray for a new member with that gift, or reevaluate your need of a teacher.
I have seen times in churches when teachers would move away and within
days a new family would begin to come and guess what - yes, a new teacher.
7. Now, if you know that you are the person to fill the teaching position,
that is great and you can be overjoyed about it, but don't you ever feel
that you are God's gift to that church! It is your gift that is God's gift
to the church and NOT you!