Summary: Investigating the use of Spiritual Gifts
I’ve Got What It Takes 7-22-07
New Series: The New Me – Pt. 3 1 Cor. 12:7
Intro. How do you think you’d react if you found out this morning that you have super powers? Maybe you could fly, or one of you could become invisible or somebody else was super strong. That would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? But how would you feel if you found out that you’d had those powers your whole life long, but you weren’t told about them until today? If you’re like me, I bet you’d feel a little frustrated and cheated. You’d probably look at your super powers and then think back about all the situations in your past where you could have used those powers to make things right or to even change someone’s life. But because you didn’t know what you had, you lost those opportunities. There’s an old cliché that says, “Ignorance is bliss”. But we all know that’s not the truth. When it comes to spiritual truth, ignorance is the worse thing you can possess. That’s why the Apostle Paul begins one of the most famous chapters in the bible, 1 Cor. 12 with these words, “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.”(NIV)
The word Paul used here gives us our English word agnostic. It literally means “not knowing, living with uncertainty, struggling with doubt, being unaware and misunderstanding the truth”. Why do you suppose Paul says I don’t want you to be that way that is unaware and ignorant, when it comes to understanding your spiritual gifts? I’ll tell you why. It’s because the church cannot function properly w/o using the gifts God has provided for us. Now there’s a very practical application to that statement. If you and I as individuals don’t begin using our gifts then The Mount will never be able to fulfill the vision of loving God, connecting with people and serving the world. But the flip side is just as true – if we begin using our gifts then we could all say, “I’ve got what it takes”. Go ahead and turn to your neighbor and say – “I’ve got what it takes”. Now here’s the big question. I’ve got what it takes…to do what? You’ve got what it takes to help this church grow in physical size, deepen in spiritual maturity and broaden its community influence. In other words, you’ve got what it takes to help this church become GREAT in God’s eyes. Let me show you why every Christ follower can legitimately say, “I’ve got what it takes”.
On white board – 1 Cor. 12:7 Read it out loud, in unison. If you were new to the bible and you were looking for information about spiritual gifts, most people would probably send you to 1 Cor. 12. Although this chapter isn’t a comprehensive analysis of spiritual gifts it does cover a lot of territory…more territory that we could possibly cover in a single sermon. That’s why I’ve chosen to focus our attention on a single verse. In V.7 Paul gives us a panoramic view of what spiritual gifts are all about. So what we’re going to do this morning is dissect this verse; to take it apart phrase by phrase, so that we can figure out how our gifts can be used to further the vision of our church.
[A spiritual gift] – The Corinthian church didn’t have to be told about the existence of spiritual gifts…they were already using them in a variety of ways. Their problem was a misuse of the gifts. That’s why Paul begins this chapter with the assumption that spiritual gifts didn’t have to be defined, they only needed to be understood. But for many of us here today, the notion of a spiritual gift may sound strange and even a little bit scary. That’s why it’s so important for us to let God’s Word speak for itself instead of letting conjecture and speculation be our rule of faith.
It may surprise you to know that the bible never gives a specific definition for spiritual gifts. So what we must do is look at what the bible says about these abilities and then come up with a working definition. The best one I’ve found may also be the simplest to understand. Peter Wagner defines a spiritual gift as, “a special attribute given by the Holy Spirit to every member of the Body of Christ according to God’s grace for use with the context of the Body.” There are a couple of GK terms we need to look at in order to better understand the concept of spiritual gifts. The first word may sound very familiar to you, it’s charismata. Years ago the church talked about the charismatic movement, referring to those churches that allowed the operation of the more spectacular spiritual gifts such as tongues and healings. Charisma basically refers to a gift given by God’s grace; that means you don’t deserve the gift you’re given and neither can you lobby for a certain gift. The second GK term refers to a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It’s a word that carries the basic idea of making things known, of revealing and making things clear about the HS’s presence. This is the word we find in v.7. So a spiritual gift is a special ability we’ve been given to reveal the Spirit’s work in our life to those who surround us and who are constantly looking on.