3. The Holy Spirit Ministers Through His Enabling Gifts

It is important that the body of Christ be cognizant of the gift ministry of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1).

Charisma basically means “gift.” Among its various usages in the Pauline letters is the one for the special gifts which are to be exercised in the service of the Church (Romans 12:6-8); 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30).

Charismata (gifts of grace) comes from God’s grace and can never be achieved, attained or possessed by a man’s own effort.

These special endowments are granted by the direct action of the Holy Spirit. They are not simply innate or natural abilities. However, such abilities could become gifts if the Spirit energizes and elevates them to a supernatural level of usefulness.

Every true believer is endowed with one or more gifts to minister through the Church (Ephesians 4:7-8, 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11). The Holy Spirit may choose to use any believer and may exercise through him any of the spiritual gifts as the need arises. The Holy Spirit is given to empower the church, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are bestowed for edification of the believers (1 Corinthians 14:31).

The church must understand that the members are to be the extension of Jesus’ ministry in the world. Christ gave power and authority to minister in His name and thereby fulfill the great commission (Matthew 28:19,20).

Paul warns the readers about how necessary it is for each one to think modestly of his own gift (Romans 12:6ff). He is to use it faithfully within the sphere that God has assigned. One is not to desire the spectacular gifts to exalt the human ego, or to mystify the brethren, but to edify the “body.”

The Apostle Paul explains the variation in the gifts of grace (Romans 12:4ff, 1 Corinthians 12:12ff). Paul emphatically makes it clear that the dispensing of the gifts is determined by the free will of God. The Holy Spirit distributes the gifts to each person according to His holy will, and each person must be thankful for the gift he has received.

However, Paul encourages the believer not to remain passive in the matter of receiving gifts (Romans 12:3 NEB). The believer is encouraged to desire the best charismata or it will be lost through neglect (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6). Any striving for such charismata is to be done with the right motive–to serve the congregation. The Holy Spirit knows which gifts we need, and when and where. The church cannot prosper unless those needed are functioning in their place.

The gifts of the Spirit differ from the fruit of the Spirit. The gifts are Spirit-given abilities for Christian service, The fruit of the Spirit is the character and nature of Jesus Christ and is shown in the life of the believer (Galatians 5:22,23).

Prior to our listing and defining the various gifts, note that the writer in 1 Corinthians 13 wants to remind his readers that love is the badge of the believer. Love should be the atmosphere of the gift ministries.

Spiritual gifts are listed in several passages: 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28, Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11, and I Peter 4:10-11. The first nine are itemized in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (the reference is in parentheses if the gift also appears in other than the above named passages).

1. Word of Wisdom. The ability to apply knowledge and insights to the specific situation at hand.

2. Word of Knowledge. The insight which manifests itself in the thorough understanding of the subject it treats and the conduct determined thereby.

3. Faith. A special bestowal to face anything. It goes beyond the principle of faith by which every believer lives (Romans 1: l7b). It might be considered a gift of “vision,” for it is the ability to see something that needs to be done and to believe that God will do it even though it looks impossible.

4. Gifts of Healings (also vs. 28). The power of God to heal at every level of human need: bodily, emotionally, and spiritually.

5. Effecting of Miracles (also vs. 28). The work of the power of God in a supernatural way, which supercedes natural processes of nature.

6. Prophecy (also vs. 28, Romans 12:6, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 4:11). Prophecy is not necessarily foretelling future things, but telling forth God’s message to build, stimulate, guide, and direct His people.

7. Distinguishing of Spirits. The ability to distinguish between truth and error, and know the spirit of the individual himself. This enables the making of right decisions.

8. Kinds of Tongues (also vs. 28). The ability to speak supernatural utterances and/or languages never learned by the speaker and possibly not understood by the mind of the speaker.

9. Interpretation of Tongues. The power to give a full explanation of what was uttered by the gift of tongues to the enlightenment and edification of the hearers (1 Corinthians 14:5).

The order of the next four gifts of the Spirit is revealed in 1 Corinthians 12:28.

10. Apostles (Ephesians 4:11). “Apostle” means one sent out or sent forth. The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). Apostles were empowered to declare the foundational body of truth concerning Jesus Christ. Upon that truth the universal church rests. The apostolic gift is still being given today, though in a secondary sense. The body of truth which we have is to be taken by those who have an apostolic gift and imparted to new churches wherever they may begin. It is part of the apostolic gift to start new churches.

11. Teaching (Romans 12:7). The ability to communicate truth that will be translated into Spirit-filled living by the hearers.

12. Helps (give assistance). The ability to assist whenever there is a need. It is done in such a manner that others are spiritually strengthened.

13. Administration (governing). The gift of organizing and guiding the church to accomplish its mission.

Now, in Romans 12:6-8, there are five more spiritual gifts that have not been discussed.

14. Service (ministry, 1 Peter 4:11). The word for “deacon” is the same as that of “serving.” It is ministering or rendering some service on behalf of the church. This is much like the gift of “helps.”

15. Exhorting. The encouraging, comforting, strengthening, or giving reassurance to another.

16. Giving. Freely giving without considering whether much can be afforded because of the confidence in the knowledge of God’s provision. The giver uses wisdom and experiences joy and blessing.

17. Leading (rulership). The gift of spiritual leadership. One who uses authority responsibly to the end that others are helped.

18. Showing Mercy. The special aid given to those who cannot help themselves or seem undeserving.

The last two gifts mentioned are found in Ephesians 4:11. There is no special significance to their order of enumeration.

19. Evangelists. Every believer should evangelize, but not all are gifted evangelists. The evangelist effectively explains and proclaims the plan of redemption in Jesus Christ which results in the new birth.

20. Pastors and Teachers (Pastor-Teacher). The “shepherd” placed over a flock of believers to maintain the life of the body, by feeding and correcting it and preserving its life in vigor and vitality.

It must be remembered that wherever the real exists, the counterfeit makes its appearance. It is imperative to distinguish the genuine from the false by the tests of doctrine and works.

The Scriptures do not give us a definite hierarchical ranking of graces, although they do seem to place apostleship, prophecy, and teaching above miracles, healings, helps, governments, and tongues (1 Corinthians 12:28). However, the Apostle Paul in the Corinthian letter definitely rates prophecy superior to speaking in an unknown tongue in the pubic assembly, unless the tongue is interpreted. It seems that any apparent ranking of the spiritual gifts is based according to their greater or slighter value in the instructions and strengthening of the congregation (1 Corinthians 12:28, 14:1-5, 12:26; Ephesians 4:12,16).

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