Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 12: 1, 4, 7 – 11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues and to another the interpretation of tongues, but one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

I wrote to you last week about the power of God and how it seems to be minimally operational in our culture today. We read 2 Corinthians 2: 4 which says, “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” This is not the claim, unfortunately of many Christians today, and sadly not even of many ministers. We need to change this.

A couple of years ago I undertook to find every scripture in the Bible which refers to the Holy Spirit. As I looked them up I created a spreadsheet indicating what each verse was about. I also used a keyword for many of the scriptures because I began to notice recurring themes. One of the words which repeatedly occurs in tandem with the Holy Spirit is the word “power”.

In the beginning the Holy Spirit was hovering over the surface of the deep and when God spoke, the power of God through the Holy Spirit manifested and created everything we see and know. He, the Holy Spirit is the power of God. That is why today’s verse is a good response to “The Power is Out.” If we wish to see the power of God manifesting in our lives and in our cities then we must tap into the source. Paul teaches us that these manifestations come through the Spirit of God and they take the form as described in today’s verse. From the word of wisdom to the effecting of miracles, all this is ours in the Spirit. Paul goes on to teach that these manifestations are given to every one of us. They all operate through the Holy Spirit of God; they are His gifts but he is not the one who effectuates the manifestation in the earth. We are the hands and the mouth of God in the earth. The Holy Spirit works in harness with us to bring the power of God to effect in the earth. Miracles, healing, words of wisdom and knowledge are all gifts of the Holy Spirit given to each one of us. You have the ability to prophesy if you have the Holy Spirit because all of the power of God and all of these spiritual gifts are in him.

The conclusion is that the power of God isn’t being seen in our lives because we are integral pieces of the dynamic. Once we understand that the power can and should flow through us then we have the opportunity to step in the realm of manifested gifts. You don’t have to be someone special. You don’t have to be a minister. The gifts are already available through your Father’s Spirit.

Ignorance of these gifts and our operation of them has crippled the body of Christ but we can change that. In fact, in just reading this Word of the Day devotional we are collectively moving towards a renewal of the spiritual energy that is ours through Christ our Lord. I was thinking, it takes a bit of courage or perhaps bravado to move forward, to challenge the status quo and importune God for the operation of these gifts in your life. It is much easier to sit in the stands and watch for someone else to step out. However, on the heels of that thought came another. It truly only takes one person to start and the whole body of Christ can begin to grow in the power of God. It’s like the wave cheer at a football game. It begins with just a few but only is fulfilled when others join in. None the less, someone must begin.

Let’s you and I determine not to be afraid but rather to embrace God’s Word, Paul’s teaching and step out into the things God has made available. God gave us power when He gave us His Spirit. Let’s walk in that power and move some mountains.

Caught Unaware

1 Corinthians 12: 1

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.

Here we find Paul writing to the church, which he established in Corinth. He had a pastor’s heart towards the people in Corinth. He wrote them letters in order to encourage and instruct them. This statement from him makes my pastor’s heart grieve though, for one thing is sure, we are unaware concerning spiritual gifts. Many people who are Christians, even people who attended church for 30 years or more are not even aware that there is such a thing as spiritual gifts much less what they are and how they operate in the lives of believers. In truth, they are not operating in the lives of believers because we are predominantly unaware of even their existence. There clearly is not enough time or space in a devotional to explore this topic at any depth but at least we can make ourselves aware.

Paul lists nine gifts of the Spirit in this chapter. The first important point to notice is that these are gifts of the Holy Spirit of God. Not one of us has to be a special saint in order to exercise these gifts. The Holy Spirit simply manifests his gifts through each one of us. The nine gifts are: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, effecting of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, a variety of tongues and interpretation of tongues. All of these work through individual believers and every single believer is qualified in the Spirit of God. They have been given to the body of Christ for our edification. Isn’t that great?

Jesus told us when he was about to leave the earth that he was going to send the Holy Spirit to us who would be with us forever. Obviously, the Spirit of God IS God. He is part of the Holy Trinity. He was with God in the beginning and when God created the earth. The Holy Spirit has specific roles which are described throughout the Bible but most specifically in the book of John. One of the words which often accompanies any Biblical discussion of the Spirit is “power.” He is the creative power of God. This is most clearly observed in Genesis where the Spirit was hovering until God spoke the word. Then the Spirit manifested what God envisioned. That is powerful imagery.

The Holy Spirit has come to manifest God’s presence in the earth. These gifts, Paul writes about, are part of that manifestation. One of the key concepts that seems to elude us modern day Christians is that they are “gifts.” They are presents from God to us. I mean, “Happy Birthday! Have a gift!” I am all for gifts and presents. I love them. Even the simplest gift brings me pleasure. Maybe some of you are like me. How is it, then, that we have allowed gifts from God to go unnoticed? It is a little frightening when I contemplate it.

The most amazing thing to me in this chapter is that Paul spends no time explaining these gifts. He does not write a treatise on what they are and how each one is distinguished or used. He seems to expect his audience to understand their uses. How far I feel we have fallen. If you are hungry for a good Bible study, researching the gifts of God’s Spirit would be a great one. Send me a copy when you are done, please!