For a number of years renewal has been occurring in the church. This renewal is taking place across denominational lines. The church is once again turning its attention to the Gifts of the Spirit. This is demonstrated by the phenomenal interest in Rick Warren’s best selling book The Purpose Driven Life. One of his main emphasis’ is the idea that “God has given each Christian a Gift of the Spirit to aid us in accomplishing God’s purpose for our lives. The churches that seem to be growing are those who recognize and invite the Holy Spirit to implement the various Gifts of the Spirit.
Most of the conversation has been good. However there are occasions when the discussion has been divisive. This division occurs when a group tries to argue that particular gifts of the Holy Spirit are necessary to prove ones salvation. Some have unwittingly imposed some sort of spiritual caste system that maintains certain gifts are more important than others. On the other hand there have been individuals or groups ridiculed or even ostracized because they have experienced certain miraculous gifts such as speaking in tongues. The result has been confusion, embarrassment, even fear.
There are individuals in this room who want to know more about the Gifts of the Spirit but have been led to think that the topic is off limits to “main line churches” such as the United Methodist Church. The result? We have kept our questions to ourselves and the church misses out on some really neat gifts.
I have a special delivery message for you this morning: The “Last Will and Testament of Jesus Christ” has been probated and as a Christian, your name is in it. You have a gift, an inheritance, that has been given to you. It is yours whether you claim it our not.
What is my objective this morning? For some it is to ease your fear about “Spiritual Gifts.” To assure you that it is not about “voodoo” stuff. For others it is to spark an interest in learning more about the spiritual gifts and to motivate you to learn what your spiritual gifts are. My goal for all of us to realize that God has given each of us a special part of himself and we must make that “spiritual gift,” and all those Holy Spirit anointed talents available to the church.
The approach I am going to take is sort of a Q & A approach to the Gifts of the Spirit. We will address some of the questions that often come up about the Gifts of the Spirit.
What is meant by the term “Spiritual Gifts?
The only way I know to answer this question is by saying that spiritual gifts are special abilities given to the Christian by the Holy Spirit. As the term "gift" emphasizes these special abilities are given to us freely. They are not something that we earn. We receive them as a part of our salvation. The Holy Spirit decides who will get which gifts. He gives them out at his own good pleasure. We do not suddenly decide that we are going to have a certain spiritual gift like we would choose cereal from the grocery store. The Holy Spirit in his own wisdom and by his own choosing decides which gift we will or will not receive.