Summary: sermon on spiritual gifts
As we are now into the New Year, has the excitement and thrill of the Christmas season come to an end for you? Have you taken down your Christmas tree? Are your children already bored with their new Christmas toys they received? Have some of the new clothes become stained or damaged as you have worn them? Perhaps they became a little smaller after the first washing. The thrill and excitement of the Christmas gifts that you received is often short-lived. Our joy in material things is not a lasting joy. Once the newness wears off we tend to push them aside and find something else that captures our attention but that joy is also very brief.
There is, however, one gift you received at Christmas that does not fade, become stained, or damaged. It’s a gift in which our joy is not short-lived. I am of course referring to the gift of the Christ Child. God has given us the gift of salvation in his one and only Son. By the work of the Holy Spirit through the gospel, we are given the gift of faith in his Son. This morning I’d like to talk to you about some other special gifts God has given you. You can use these gifts in his service as a way of saying thank you for the gift of your Savior Jesus and I encourage you to Rejoice That You Are God’s Gifted People. Recognize the gifts God has given you and use these gifts to his glory.
How many times have you heard a fellow Christian say, “I’m not a very gifted person”? Perhaps you yourself have said this. I know that I have on occasions. Some of you may know more about your gifts than others do, especially if you filled out the spiritual gifts inventory survey that the Parish Assistance Team gave out. But whatever the case may be, if you are aware of your gifts or not, God has blessed each of you with spiritual gifts.
The first and greatest of all these gifts is the precious gift of faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. Without the gift of faith in Christ, we are lost in our sins and trespasses, under God’s wrath and condemned to spend an eternity in a very real place called Hell. This is the condition that everyone born finds themselves. By nature, we are without faith in Christ. St. Paul explained this fact to the Corinthian Christians when he wrote, “You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols” (1 Corinthians 12:2).
As pagans or unbelievers without the gift of faith, the Corinthians worshiped idols. The worst of this idol worship was performed at the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Worshipping this false god involved prostitution and sexual immorality. Paul wanted these new Christians to see just how they had been led astray by these false gods and how they had done shameful and harmful things in their service to them.
Now they were believers in Christ. They were given the gift of faith and there was only one place where this gift came from. It came from the Holy Spirit working through the gospel in Word and Sacrament. Paul says, “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
Only the Holy Spirit working through the gospel can make a soul dead in sins and trespasses alive again. The Gospel message says that God in his grace can come to us and make right all the wrongs we commit. The gospel tells us that Christ came to pay for all the wrongs that we are constantly guilty of: the gossiping and slandering we do to our neighbor, and how we are constantly criticizing and tearing down others instead of building them up with love. We, too, commit sins just like the Corinthians, where we fall into the sexual sins of adultery, of living together without the benefit of marriage, and fornication. In spite of knowing every sin that we commit in desire, thought, word and deed, God sent his Son to pay for the sins of the world. God’s beautiful gospel message creates the gift of faith in our hearts.
The gift of faith would be all we need, but in his grace, God did not stop there. God has given us other gifts and they like the gift of faith come also from the Holy Spirit. These gifts are to be used for his benefit and ours. Paul writes, “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. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).