Let’s have a conversation about the spiritual gifts and what role they have in our churches today, and this could be a real doozy depending on a few dynamics. I have seen some pretty nasty fights in the comments section on Facebook. And I surely do not want to go there at all. (In fact, that is not the place to vent one’s opinionated opinions. If you have something to argue about please don’t drag the rest of us into it.)
But I am willing to open up to express what I have come to learn, and it could possibly step on someone’s toes, maybe even yours. I’m sorry in advance if it does. It’s important to me to bring it up because this subject was so hidden in meaning and understanding in the churches that I attended in the past. Who the Holy Spirit is and how amazing He is in our life, is a big deal to me now. Therefore the subject of spiritual gifts is one of my favorite topics.
The church is designed to function in harmony like a symphony;
this is how spiritual gifts blend to create a glorious environment for the manifest presence and glory of God to be on display. Ringing out for all the world to see, hear, and experience. The incredible overflow of God’s love through us and then to one another.
The Greek word ‘charisma’ is translated gift and defined as a divine gratuity or endowment, favor or grace. These gifts are freely given by the Lord just as He determines. There are many facets to the types and reasons for how these gifts operate and function.
Many Christians and even churches lump all of the gifts together as if they are of the same caliber and for the same purpose. There must be some reason though why they aren’t lumped together in the Bible.
So after further study and my own personal experience, I believe the Bible describes the gifts in three distinct passages in scripture and that each of these sections defines a different type of gifting.
First, God has given each believer at least one of the seven ‘motivational spiritual gifts’ mentioned in Romans 12:4-8. The seven gifts include prophecy, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, administration, and mercy. These gifts of grace are not innate natural talents per say but they are in us, we possess them, and they are a built in part of us. We can choose to use our motivational gifts, or we can put them aside. However, God would not command us to use something we can’t exercise or bring forth. They provide the motivating force for each of us individually and the building up of the Body of Christ and are intended to extend the Kingdom of God throughout the world.
Second, unlike the previous set of gifts, this next grouping is not necessarily related to a specific position or role. Notoriously this is where the majority of disagreements arise. And usually, the reason is that they are manifestations or operations given to demonstrate God’s supernatural presence and power. There are nine ‘manifestation gifts’ listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10; word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues. The Holy Spirit can manifest any one of these nine supernatural power gifts through any believer at any time, and they flow directly from Him. Being filled with the Spirit stirs up a desire to operate in these gifts. As we spend more time with the Lord hearing His voice, we will develop the ability to recognize the promptings and leadings of the Spirit. In any given moment in our daily life, as we step out in Him, we can bring forth the visible glory of God.
And third, Ephesians 4:11-13 are the verses the Apostle Paul employs to describe the leaders God has provided to oversee His church. The ones which give rise to a more in-depth maturity and Christ-likeness. Five offices are referred to as the fivefold ministry; apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Unfortunately, some members of the body can appoint themselves to these highly anointed positions for their own interests and power. Also, there are some in the church who think that this was just for the Apostolic Age. I believe that these offices have relevance in the church today and are essential for the development and governing of healthy and functioning churches. As with any office, visibility affords greater accountability. Those truly called will have been tested and proven genuine displaying humility. To them, it’s not about seeking position but a beautifully motivated desire to honor the Lord with their service.
There are different ‘gifting’ tests out there. You can take one to find out your gifting. The problem occurs, as I mentioned earlier, that if that quiz was put together by someone who lumps all of the gifts together you may be taking a test that says for example, that you have the gift of discernment. I have been around the church for many years, and occasionally I’ve had to chuckle when I hear people say they have this ‘motivational gift.’ Instead, what I think they could have is lots of judgmental-ness, and of course, it sounds better if you call it discernment. What the Bible says about it is that it is discerning of spirits. And only the Holy Spirit has the capacity to reveal that to anyone.
However the gifts are described, it is important to note what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:40 “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” All of these gifts bring forth a symphony of God’s love and contribute to the overall design of the church.
His people are resounding instruments to create the beauty and awe-inspiring wonder of the great and mighty moves of God.