The truly committed Christian will want to appropriate all that God has in reserve for his or her life. We have received God’s grace through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we should be open to receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit; we should “earnestly desire” them (1 Corinthians 12:31).
We need to be careful, however, not to be presumptuous in claiming any gifts, but rather trust the sovereign Holy Spirit to give “to each one individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Many people claim to be possessors of certain gifts, but their lives and ministry do not give evidence of such possession. Spiritual gifts are not to be thought of as making any one believer or group of believers any more holy or more spiritually advanced than others. Spiritual pride can nullify the effectiveness of any gift.
Some Christians obviously possess the more “public” gifts, such as preaching, teaching, or evangelizing. This does not mean that they are “super-Christians.” They are merely exercising the gifts God has given them. The Christian who exercises the quiet gift of faith is just as important to God and to the building up of the body. Nowhere in the Scripture is it indicated that we are to seek the same gifts. All gifts are not the same, but they all have the same goal: They are all meant to contribute toward the uniting and building up of Christ’s body, the church (Ephesians 4:12–16).
Two Scripture portions enumerate the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
“To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:8–11, NIV).
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11–12, NIV).
1. Stay within the guidelines of the above “Background” when discussing the area of the gifts of the Spirit. It is possible to be diverted by some who would make the gifts something they were never meant to be.
2. Make it clear that one must be a born-again Christian in order to appropriate the gifts of the Spirit. Contrary to the insistence of some, this order cannot be reversed. Ask the inquirer if he or she has received the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. If not, share the gospl – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD.
3. If your inquirer is a believer who is sincerely seeking the fullness of the Holy Spirit and identification of a gift, encourage prolonged and careful study of the Scriptures that deal with the gifts, including the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul, where we see the gifts being exercised. Careful and thoughtful prayer should accompany such study, as spiritual discernment and wisdom will come to guide the seeker away from excesses.
4. Advise him or her not to be unduly influenced by people or groups who insist on a kind of standardized approach for the receiving and exercising of any gift or gifts, or who insist that all believers must possess certain gifts. Each one must trust the Holy Spirit to distribute as He wills (John 3:8; 1 Corinthians 12:11).
5. Remind the inquirer that along with the gifts of the Spirit we should constantly seek to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23, NIV). Fruit and gifts must go hand in hand. We are known by our fruit (Matthew 7:16, 20).
6. Pray with the inquirer for a demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit in his or her life, and for increased and effective service to the body of Christ and to the world through the exercise of his or her gifts.
Study 1 Corinthians 13 in relation to other Scriptures for perspective on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996