Occupy Until I Come Part – 2 :: by Jack Kelley

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines” (1 Cor. 12:7, 11).

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others faithfully, administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

Most born-again Christians have heard something about the gifts of the Spirit, but some things we’ve heard are not consistent with what the Bible teaches. The enemy must know what powerful tools these gifts are because he has pulled out all the stops in his efforts to neutralize them.

In some parts of the Church he has used false teaching to convince people the gifts are no longer being distributed, while in others he has used counterfeit manifestations to turn religious gatherings into circus sideshows. The result is a Church that has become what Paul said we’d be; a people having a form of godliness but denying its power.

The truth is we’ve all been given at least one spiritual gift, so in this study we’ll review what the Bible says about them and get some accurate information straight from the source.

What Are They?
Paul spoke about the gifts of the Spirit in his letters to the Romans, the Corinthians, and the Ephesians. He wrote 1 Corinthians first, and 1 Cor. 12:7-11 contains his first description of gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes to believers as He determines, for the common good of the Church.  In these four verses he listed nine gifts.

Wisdom … The application of biblical truth to everyday life situations.Knowledge … The ability to understand the deep things of God and the mysteries of His Word.
Faith … The ability to believe in the power of God to provide without limit.
Healing …  Applying God’s power to cure human ailments through prayer.
Miraculous powers … Performing supernatural acts in the power of God.
Prophecy … Declaring God’s purpose by foretelling future events. Discernment … Intuitively understanding whether something is from God or not.
Tongues … Speaking a human language one has not learned.
Interpretation of tongues … Translating a human language one has not learned.

In 1 Cor. 12:28 Paul repeated some from the first list and added some others.

Apostle … One who has been sent forth with orders, a delegate.
Prophet … One who can foretell future events pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Teacher … One who teaches concerning the things of God and the duties of Man.
Miracle worker …  One who can manifest God’s supernatural power to accomplish the impossible.
Healing … One who can heal diseases, ailments, etc. through prayer.
Helps … One who skillfully renders support or assistance to those in ministry.
Administration … One who can organize and steer others toward the achievement of goals.
Tongues … One who can speak a human language he or she has not learned.

Romans 12:6-8 includes a list of 7 gifts, and again there are some duplicates.

Prophecy … Declaring God’s purpose by foretelling future events.
Service … Ministering to the needs of others.
Teaching … Providing instruction concerning the things of God, and the duties of Man.
Encouraging … Offering exhortation, encouragement, or consolation.
Giving … Offering material support to those in need.
Leadership … Presiding over something, as a protector or guardian.
Mercy … Caring for the sick or afflicted.

And in Ephesians 4:11 five gifts are listed, most of them duplicates from the other lists.

Apostle … One who has been sent forth with orders, a delegate.
Prophet … One who can foretell future events pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Evangelist … One who brings the Good News of the gospel.
Pastor … A shepherd, one to whose care others have committed themselves.
Teacher … One who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of Man.

From various other passages we find the following additional gifts identified.

Celibacy 1 Cor. 7:7-8 … The ability to abstain from sexual relations.
Hospitality 1 Peter 4:9-10 … Cheerfully providing comfort and sustenance to guests.
Martyrdom 1 Cor. 13:3 … Surrendering one’s life for the faith.
Missionary Ephes. 3:6-8 … Going among the unsaved, sharing the Good News.
Voluntary poverty 1 Cor. 13:3 … Living at the minimum sustainable level to help the poor.

Since these are all gifts from the Holy Spirit, it’s important to apply a supernatural component to their descriptions. Exercising our gifts for His purpose will result in performance that exceeds normal human capability in a way that’s obvious to others. Whether it’s teaching, caring for the sick, making others feel comfortable, or seeing to it that things run smoothly, the power of the Holy Spirit will be an obvious enhancement to our capabilities, producing an outcome that exceeds normal expectations.

Why Are We Given Them?
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Cor. 12:27).

In 1 Cor. 12:12-27 Paul compared the Church to a human body. He said a human body has many parts, each one of which has a unique purpose. The body needs all of its parts to achieve their purpose in order for it to function properly.  If it had too many of one part or was missing some others it wouldn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

The Church is a spiritual body, the Body of Christ. It also has many parts and needs them all to achieve their purpose in order for it to function properly. We are the parts in the Body of Christ. Each of us has a unique purpose. Since the Church is a spiritual Body, the Lord has given us spiritual gifts which empower us to achieve our purpose so the Church can function properly.

Who Gets What?
“All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Cor. 12:11).

“This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Hebrews 2:3-4).

Paul said the Holy Spirit distributes His gifts to each believer by His own determination, and the writer of Hebrews confirmed it.   But Paul also said we should eagerly desire the greater gifts (1 Cor. 12:31) and specifically mentioned the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:1).  Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense for everyone to have the same gift, but Paul didn’t say anything about us being limited to just one.

From their descriptions, you can see that many of the gifts have a secular application as well as a spiritual one. In fact one of the clues to pursue in discovering your gift is to look at what things on these lists you like doing most or are really good at. You could be catching a glimpse of your spiritual gift. If so, putting it to work for the Lord will add the power of the Holy Spirit to something you’re already good at.

The Holy Spirit does not gift us in areas where we have no aptitude or interest, so whether we’re  working to earn a living or working for the Lord, we will be more productive and more fulfilled when our responsibilities fall within the area of our gift. And when we’re applying our gift to His work it will often seem like our natural aptitudes and interests are being enhanced to a supernatural level.

It’s important to remember that like our salvation, our gift is something we don’t deserve and didn’t earn. Whatever we accomplish with it is the Lord’s doing not ours. Paul’s advice that we should eagerly desire the greater gifts (1 Cor. 12:31) cannot be taken solely for the purpose of  drawing attention to, or elevating ourselves, but must be in pursuit of the purpose for which they are intended, the proper functioning of the body of Christ, to His glory.

Does The Holy Spirit Still Do That?
“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 and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears” (1 Cor. 13:8-10).

Today, some parts of the church teach that the gifts of the Spirit were withdrawn after the time of the Apostolic Church, using the passage above as their justification. In my opinion this an incorrect position, based on a misinterpretation of the passage.

Those who deny that the gifts are still being given say that 1 Cor. 13:8-10refers to the completion of the New Testament canon. They say the gifts were for the time when the Church didn’t have the completed Word of God and the apostles had to rely on their spiritual gifts to build the Church.

But Paul went on to say that now we see only a poor reflection, then we shall see face to face.  Now we know in part, then we shall know fully even as we are fully known (1 Cor. 13:12). The first time this statement will be true is just after the Rapture when we’ll be standing before the Lord in our perfected bodies. That’s the time when John said we’ll be like the Lord for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). That’s when perfection will come and, since we’ll no longer need them, that’s when the gifts will cease.

Think about it. How many of us, having the complete New Testament in our hands, have seen the Lord face to face, and know everything about His plan for Man, just as He knows everything about us?  Insisting the gifts have ceased is a position without merit, and strangely enough was never heard in the Church before the early 1900s just as the Pentecostal movement was being born and the gifts of the Spirit were re-emerging.

How Can I Discover My Gift?
Recently a visitor to the site asked, “Why do we have to discover what our spiritual gift is? Why doesn’t God just tell us?”

Earlier I said that one of the clues to pursue in discovering your gift is to look at what you like doing the most or are really good at. We’ve also seen that God had the New Testament writers  include a list of Spiritual gifts in the Bible. So if you compare the list of gifts with a list of things you are really good at or enjoy doing, you’ll have a clue as to what your Spiritual gift might be.  So in that sense, God has given you some direction.

But the real path to discovery lies in Romans 12:1-2:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship [service].

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Once we abandon the spiritually bankrupt ways of the world and turn toward God, He initiates a renewal process in our minds, opening them up to His way, and helping us see what He really wants for us. This doesn’t require a radical shift in our current circumstances, just in our perspective. God will meet us right where we are. He knows we have responsibilities and obligations, but He never intended for us to be one kind of person six days a week and another kind on the seventh.

In other words, He knows we’re in the world, He just doesn’t want us to be of the world. He hates to see us locked up in a prison of our own making, pursuing our empty dreams, when He’s standing right beside us holding the keys to real freedom and fulfillment.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving”(Colossians 3:23-24).

Simply by changing our perspective about who we’re really working for, we can begin to see ways to serve him no matter where we are.  As we turn toward Him, He will turn toward us (James 4:8) and begin to show us all the wonderful things He wants for us, including the special gift He’s given us to help us along the way.

It’s no coincidence that Paul’s list of Spiritual gifts in Romans 12 immediately follows His admonition to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. The gifts are given for a purpose and until we’re ready to achieve that purpose we really have no need for them. That’s why He doesn’t just tell us what they are.

If you are a born-again believer you have at least one spiritual gift. Now you have a better understanding of what the spiritual gifts are, and if you don’t already know what yours is, you have a way to discover it as well.