The goal of this series is to increase our comfort level with the Holy Spirit so that we can relate to Him daily in a personal and powerful way. When we have a close relationship with a friend, we feel comfortable around them and can relax. The Holy Spirit is our best Friend who wants to empower us and stand alongside us. Today, we will explore the wonderful gifts He has for the church.
- Read I Corinthians 12.1–11.
Several places in the New Testament address the subject of gifts. Romans 12 describes motivational gifts, Ephesians 4 talks about ministry gifts, and here in I Corinthians Paul talks about spiritual gifts—gifts of God’s grace that He has given to help the church operate. In many of his letters, Paul writes to correct things that are happening in specific churches. In this case, he is responding to questions and confusion the Corinthians had about what was happening in their meetings.
Before we look at the gifts of the Spirit, let’s look at the two main gifts that the Father has given us. The first is Eternal life.
- Read Romans 6.23.
We are supposed to pay for the sins we have committed, but God provided His Son, Jesus, to pay our bill. Hell is not a place where God sends people He is mad at; it is a place where people are paying the debt for the sins they committed. The problem of sin has already been taken care of by Jesus’ sacrifice, but the problem still remains that many people do not accept His free gift of salvation.
Question: Have you accepted God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus? If so, when did you take that step? What led you to put your faith in Him? If not, what is holding you back?
The second gift of the Father is the Holy Spirit. He is the gift that keeps on giving.
- Read Acts 1.4–5.
At different points in His ministry on earth, Jesus talked to His disciples about the Holy Spirit (see John 14–16 and Luke 24). Before He ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Gift, and then in Acts 2 the disciples are flooded with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This was a separate experience from their salvation. In John 20.21-22, Jesus sends out His disciples with the same equipment and capacity that God gave Him. Then “He breathed on them and said, ‘receive the Holy Spirit.’” We could call this their salvation experience.
This makes what Jesus is referring to here in Acts 1 a separate experience. The filling with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that the disciples experienced was for a different purpose. The gift of eternal life—salvation through Jesus Christ—is for our own benefit. It is also the only thing we need to enjoy eternity in heaven. But the second gift—the empowerment of the Holy Spirit—is for the benefit of others. God grants us the Holy Spirit so that others can be blessed through our service.
There is a lot of confusion about spiritual gifts. Some churches even preach that these gifts do not exist anymore and are not available today. They would argue that these gifts were exclusively for the era of the apostles and died out when the apostles died. The problem with this teaching is that it’s not what the Bible says.
Read Acts 2.38–39.
The Bible teaches that God has given His church spiritual gifts in order to build and edify His church so that we can expand His kingdom. His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, so it needs spiritual ability.
There seems to be a certain amount of controversy and debate about spiritual gifts in the church today. Yet nobody ever argues about the gifts of mercy, faith, exhortation or giving. In reality the debate centers around just one gift: the gift of tongues. Interestingly, this is the only spiritual gift that isn’t found in the Old Testament. It only shows up after Jesus’ ministry in the New Testament. In our day, there are two erroneous extremes that are often preached in regards to tongues.
The first extreme is anti-tongues. This is the belief that speaking in tongues is never ok. People in this camp even go as far as to say that tongues are from the devil.
The second extreme is the idea that tongues are required for salvation. Some people argue that if someone doesn’t speak in tongues, they don’t have the Holy Spirit and cannot go to heaven.
Both of these views are incorrect. The gift of tongues is something God has given to encourage the whole church and also for the individual believer’s personal edification. Satan has created confusion about this gift in order to divide the Body of Christ and keep us away from our main mission. He wants to use small matters like this to keep us from proclaiming the Gospel.
Question: What other minor issues does Satan use to divide the church? How can we practically focus on God’s main mission when we find our beliefs in conflict with another Christian’s beliefs?
When it comes to spiritual gifts, they should be neither avoided nor abused. Instead, we should desire and appreciate all our Friend has to offer us and seek a healthy balance. “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit” (I Corinthians 14.1).
Four Characteristics of the Holy Spirit’s Gifts
His gifts are unique.
- Read I Corinthians 12.4.
The greek word for gifts, charisma, means a grace gift or endowment; an undeserved favor; a unique divine ability. Nothing we can do will make us more or less eligible for these “grace gifts.” We can recognize our unique gifts by what comes naturally to us. In any group of people, we can see the different gifts at work.
Question: What spiritual gifts can you identify in your own life? What gifts can you identify in the members of your family? Your CABLE group?
His gifts are needed.
- Read I Corinthians 12.27.
We cannot effectively accomplish our God-given mission as His church without each one of us knowing and functioning within our God-ordained spiritual gift-set. We haven’t been gifted to just sit idle!
His gifts are fulfilling.
As we come to know and understand our spiritual gifts and begin to function in them, we will find that serving in that way is enjoyable and even addicting. The people who are the most fun to be around are those who have discovered why God made them and are living in line with their gifting.
- Read John 15.8 and 11.
Jesus is saying that we will not experience fullness of joy in our lives until we are doing something that is making a difference for eternity.
Question: When in your life have you felt the most fulfilled?
His gifts touch other people’s lives.
- Read I Peter 4.10.
A lot of the time people connect with the gifts of the Holy Spirit because of the way it makes them feel. But personal entertainment was never the intended purpose. We are granted these gifts to influence people’s lives for eternity.
Someday when we stand before God, we will be given a two-question test. The first question will be, “What did you do with My Son?” He will want to know if we accepted Him as Lord and Savior of our lives. The second question will be, “What did you do with my gifts?” Our faithfulness in using those gifts for eternity will have influence over the eternal rewards we receive.
A spiritual gift can be defined as a special and supernatural ability that God gives to each of His children so that together they can advance His purposes in the world.
Question: How is God using your spiritual gifts to advance His purposes? What are His purposes? In what ways can you allow Him to use you more?