Summary: The Holy Spirit has gifted believers to serve in different ways.
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1. Spiritual gifts are God-given ABILITIES.
Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant (1 Corinthians 12:1).
a. Spiritual gifts are different from NATURAL or ACQUIRED abilities.
“Gifts” (Charisma) – a gift of grace.
In the English language, “gift” can mean either a “present” (Father’s Day gift) or a “talent” (gifted musician). A spiritual gift is both a present and a talent.
b. There are MANY kinds of spiritual gifts.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
God intends for there to be diversity and unity in the church. There are many gifts but one Giver. (There is diversity and unity in the Godhead: Father, Son, and Spirit.)
Four lists of spiritual gifts:
There are at least twenty gifts mentioned in the New Testament. And there could be more. Some of the spiritual gifts are:
· Interpreting tongues
What about the gift of tongues?
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known (1 Corinthians 13:8-12).
Christians are divided on this issue. Here are a few considerations:
· The gift of tongues on the Day of Pentecost was a reversal of the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). “That is why it was called Babel [Babel sounds like the Hebrew word for confused]—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:9). The multiplicity of tongues (languages) was not God’s original purpose for mankind. In the church, people of all nations have been brought together as one.
· Tongues “will be stilled…when perfection comes [when that which is perfect comes (NKJV)]” (1 Corinthians 13:8, 10). Some (cessationists) say that “perfection” means the completion of the New Testament; others say that “perfection” refers to Christ’s second coming.
· Many Christians believe there are two kinds of tongues in the New Testament: real languages (Acts 2) and ecstatic utterances (1 Corinthians 12-14). (The Greek word for “tongues” is glossa, which only has two meanings: the organ in the mouth and a language.)
· The gift of tongues is not mentioned in the other lists of spiritual gifts. It is emphasized in First Corinthians because the gift of tongues was being abused by the Corinthians.
· “In the Law it is written: ‘Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,’ says the Lord. Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers” (1 Corinthians 14:22; cf. Isaiah 28:11-12). In Isaiah’s day, the people of Israel did not listen to the clear word of God through the prophets. So God announced that He would punish them by allowing the Assyrians (“men of strange tongues”) to conquer them. In Paul’s day, tongues were a sign to unbelieving Jews had not accepted the word of God through Jesus and the apostles.
· Paul gives three restrictions for the public use of tongues: (1) only two or three should speak in a meeting; (2) they should do so one at a time; and (3) there must be interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:27-28).
· “Do all speak in tongues?” (1 Corinthians 12:29). The implied answer is, “No.” (Those who say that you must speak in tongues in order to be truly saved are wrong.)
c. Every believer is given at least ONE spiritual gift.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7).
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines (1 Corinthians 12:11).
d. Spiritual gifts are most likely given at CONVERSION.
2. Every spiritual gift is IMPORTANT.