Theology: The Holy Spirit – 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 the Spirit.

 

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 the saints.

 

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.” 1 Peter 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. (1 Corinthians 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 a church.

 

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.)

 

The Spirit gives the gifts both sovereignly and specifically. 1 Corinthians 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. (1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 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.

 

1 Peter 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 (Ephesians 4:11ff)

 

There were some gifts that seem to have been for the beginning of the church. Hebrews 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 1 Corinthians 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. Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; Ephesians 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;….” 1 Corinthians 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. (1 Corinthians 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. 1 Corinthians 12:28 indicates that there are levels of gifts as well.)

 

There are some authors that see the Ephesians 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 pastor-teacher present.)

 

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. (Ephesians 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 could.

 

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.

 

APPLICATION

 

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 world.

 

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 gift.

 

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 believers.

 

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 teaching.

 

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.[1]

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

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