Summary: The message deals with the basic instruction of spiritual gifts as found in I Corinthians 12:7.
The Gifts of the Spirit
Many believers differ as to the acquiring, importance, the application of gifts. Unfortunately, there are only three main passages relating to spiritual gifts. Scriptural references are found in Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-13, and I Corinthians 12-14. The passage that best summarizes spiritual gifts is in I Corinthians 12:7. It says,
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
"He gives them to each one, just as he determines" I Corinthians 12:11
"Each man has his own gift from God." I Corinthians 7:7
Paul clearly states that each believer is given a spiritual gift. If you have received Christ as Lord, you have also received that Spirit and you have received a spiritual gift. The problem is that many have ignored or misunderstood gifts and have not sought or desired to know and use them. Peter states the same truth in his writings. I Peter 4:10 states,
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
Manifestation Is Given
Every believer has been entrusted by God with a gift. It has been imparted to Him through the Holy Spirit. It is a gift, not a talent that is "given". The difference between the two is simple. A talent can be learned. Talents are worked for through education, formal training, and diligence. Yoyoma the great cellist has a tremendous talent. He practiced thousands of hours on his cello to become a great musician. Great musicians, artists, and athletes have spent hour upon hour training in their field to become who they are. Not so with spiritual gifts, they are given to the believer.
Gifts are given, not earned. Scripture tells us it is through the power of the Spirit that we are enabled to use our gift. Acts 2 tells us of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The apostles were not educated men for the most part. However, on the day of Pentecost, each one of them began speaking in a foreign language. It says,
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
It was absolutely amazing that these men were speaking in a foreign tongue. The Greek word, ãëþóóáéò (glossais), means tongue. While there may be an argument over the interpretation of the word, here it definitely means foreign or other language. The other possible spiritual occurrence is the fact that the individuals could hear what was said in their own language. The crowd must have been enormous, in the thousands and yet, they could hear the message in their own language. All of us know how hard it is to hear the person next to you at a sporting event. Imagine 12 men shouting different instructions on stage; would you be able to hear? Perhaps it was another empowerment of the Spirit. These men were examples of a spiritual gift, not a talent that was learned.
The purpose of these spiritual gifts is to serve others. Paul says they are for the "common good". Peter simply states, they are for "serving others". This would agree with the words of Jesus when he said, "I have not come to be served but to serve others". If the Holy Spirit’s purpose is to glorify Christ it follows that the gifts of the Spirit will help us to carry out the life and works of Christ. There are several questions that will help to determine if someone is using or exhibiting a spiritual gift.
1. Do their (or my) actions resemble the person and work of Jesus Christ? Spiritual gifts are for carrying out the work of our Lord. The Spirit does not glorify himself but Jesus.
2. Do their (or my) actions and words benefit the people of God? Is it helpful or divisive in the church? Spiritual; gifts are for the building up of the body of Christ (the church). If they are doing something that is hurting others as well as causing divisions in the church it is almost guaranteed that it is not the Holy Spirit at work. There are exceptions but only in cases of doctrinal error.