Please find below my notes to Part 1 of my new teaching series: “Gifts- What are the Gifts of the Spirit and how do they help the church facilitate it’s mission?” Part 1: Gift Getting! (c) 2012, Terry Broadwater, Grace Community Church. For personal use only. All other uses contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to our new teaching series for June- GIFTS! Did you ever get a gift and you had no idea what it was or how to use it? Or, you acted like you knew what it was, but misused it? Still worse, you maybe did know what it was but used it for the wrong purposes?? This mostly happens to us “older” folks when someone gives us the latest, greatest tech device!
As followers of Jesus, we’ve all been given some gifts or “special abilities” by the Holy Spirit, and perhaps we don’t know what our gifts are, how to use them, or maybe we’ve misused them. There are three lists of gifts in the Bible:
Motivation Gifts- Rom. 12. Serving, Leading, Giving, Encouraging, etc.
Ministry Gifts– Eph. 4. Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher.
Manifestation Gifts– 1 Cor. 12. Bring all 9 up and give you a def…
Gift of Wisdom. Ability to make decisions and give guidance that is according to God’s will.
Gift of Knowledge. Ability to have an in-depth understanding of a spiritual issue or situation.
Gift of Faith. Ability to greatly trust God and encourage others to trust God, no matter the circumstances.
Gift of Healing. The miraculous ability to use God’s healing power to restore a person who is sick, injured, or suffering.
Gift of Miracles. Ability to perform signs and wonders that give authenticity to God’s Word and the Good News.
Gift of Prophecy. Ability to proclaim a message from God that always aligns with His Word.
Gift of Discernment. Ability to determine whether or not a message, person, or event is truly from God.
Gift of Tongues. Ability to speak in a foreign language you did not have knowledge of in order to communicate with someone who speaks that language; can also be a “heavenly” language.
Gift of Interpretation. Ability to translate tongues and speak it back to others in your own language.
This is the list we’re going to look at in this series. Beginning next week, I’ll teach on three of them at a time. But before we go there, we need to get some GIFT getting! We need to “get it about the Gifts” because many people don’t, and it has caused way too much confusion and division. And it’s the first thing Paul says, in 1 Cor. 12:1 “Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit give us. I don’t want you to MISUNDERSTAND this.”
Paul says, “You just don’t get it about the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us and we need some gift getting here!” He’s talking about spiritual gifts and you don’t get those gifts in a class, at church, online; but from the Holy Spirit! These gifts are spiritualities- charismata, gifts of grace.
Paul had to correct the Corinthians confusion and their ignorance about these gifts and that’s still applicable today. There’s two ways we don’t get the gifts: MISUNDERSTANDING and MISUSE…
The deal in the Corinthian Church was that they had “got the gifts” but didn’t “get it when it came to the gifts!” They were guilty far more of misuse than misunderstanding. Still, ignorance or a lack of knowledge about the gifts certainly led to their gross misuse.
Ignorance and misunderstanding sadly exists today in the church as much as it ever did. Much of that misunderstanding comes from the fact that many in the church today simply don’t believe or don’t know that they can “get the gifts!” They don’t accept that the gifts are for today! Let’s look at some of the misunderstandings about the gifts today:
The Apostles got the gifts and that’s it! God quit giving the gifts at the close of the apostolic age. In other words, when the last original apostle died off, no more gifts of the Spirit! They say, “God only gave these gifts to get the church going… “ And they quote 1 Cor. 13:8 “Love will last forever, but prophesy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will disappear.” Those who use that verse to support that viewpoint, don’t “get it!” It also says knowledge will disappear. I hope not! Anyway, who’s to say the apostolic age died out with the last of the original apostles? Eph. 4:11 includes apostles!
In 1 Cor. 13:8 Paul isn’t talk about an “apostolic age” or a “church age”, he’s talking about when this present “age”, earth will pass away and the new “age”, heaven, eternal life, will come when Jesus returns! We’ll have Jesus Himself in all of His perfection and we won’t need all that other stuff! GET IT?? Paul himself said in 1 Cor. 1:7 “Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
History proves no one else gets the gifts… The fact is, the gifts have always been in operation. There have simply been times when it was more obvious that at other times. Even the great John Wesley, a non-charismatic, said, “Because of the love of almost all Christians has waxed cold. This is the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost are no longer found in the Christian Church.”
Many today in the Christian Church, and throughout history, simply do not get the gifts, not because they don’t love God, but because they have come to believe that the gifts aren’t for today! There has been so much false teaching and interpretation, as well as no teaching at all when it comes to the gifts! Let’s just take “miracles”- do they still happen today?
We have the NT; we don’t get gifts… This view says that the early church didn’t have the NT like we do therefore they needed these special abilities that were given by the Holy Spirit. But now that we have the NT, we don’t need them.
This is stupid! If you think this way you are really unaware of what’s going on in the NT regarding the gifts. Take prophesy and tongues and interpretations- they were never, and are never, to be treated on the same level as Scripture. In fact, they’re all subject to judgment by others in the church! We’re told to “test the spirits” to see if it’s from God or not.
Nowhere are we told to test the scriptures to see whether it’s from God! When the early church faced a problem that needed an authoritative answer, they didn’t go to one of the prophets, they went to the OT scriptures they already had (note Acts 15). So, even with the OT scriptures, the words of Jesus and the apostles, the gifts were in operation to help build up the church.
Getting the Gifts isn’t necessary… If there was ever a time and ever a culture that needed the gifts, it’s today! Perhaps more than ever we need spiritual power and giftedness to advance the cause of Christ!
Apparently not all Christians get gifts… This is not a good case for stating that they aren’t for today. Rather this is more of an indictment against the Church for not fully functioning in the spiritual power and abilities that are available to us! That’s like saying we don’t need food because not everyone has a garden!
The gifts are something you’ve already got naturally… The Avenger movie that came out a month ago about humans with these special abilities… well, it’s just dumb! But the point is, not everyone can do that! Miracles are not just some natural ability! But neither is the wisdom, knowledge, faith, etc., that the Holy Spirit gives! They are supernatural!
Now, what we just talked about, misunderstanding of the gifts, could also be diagnosed as “charisphobia” or fear of the gifts. This next area, the one that was more prevalent in Corinth, and is seen today so often, can be described as “charismania!” This is to be so caught up in the gifts that we get off balance and into this whole area of misuse!
The Corinthian church was not a group of charisphobiacs, but a bunch of charismaniacs! They had “got the gifts” but they didn’t “get it” about the gifts! So what is Paul dealing with and how does he correct it?
Spiritual Competition… The Corinthians were out of line, especially with the gift of tongues; which they seemed to think made them ultra spiritual. People were evidently trying to outdo each other on this one- everyone had a “message”, and they were obviously comparing themselves to each other as to who was more spiritual!
The fact is, whether you are talking about these nine gifts or the gifts listed in Eph. 4 or Rom. 12, no one person has all the gifts! Only Jesus expressed all the gifts (tongues and interpretation could have been part of his prayer language?). The gifts are distributed in the “Body” and it is the “Body” that fully expresses Christ!
God decides who is to get what gifts. The gifts are to be complimentary not competitive! You need to seek the gift God has for you- that’s the best gift! And when each of us manifests our gift at the right times and in the right ways it’s a beautiful, harmonious experience that other people want to be a part of! Some people sing and some run sound…. And it’s beautiful!!
The Gift isn’t wrapped in Love… 1 Corinthians 13 as you know is sandwiched between the two chapters (12 AND 14) on the gifts because love should be the most important thing. When people only want to run around and do their thing, show off their gift, love is not involved and they’re just a showoff! Again, here’s where the Great Commandment is our formula for ministry- love God and love others! No gift is effective or properly used unless it is wrapped in love!
Getting Out of Order… Paul spends a lot of time correcting the Corinthians talking about the “proper order” of things. There was an obvious great state of confusion in their worship services because everyone wanted the service to be their personal spiritual platform. People were getting up at the same time and speaking and exercising their supposed gift and it was out of control!
Jesus is “free for all” but he doesn’t want his church to be a “free-for-all!” We certainly don’t see this at GCC, as tongues and prophetic messages don’t happen often. That’s not to say they should or they shouldn’t- it’s more about how the Spirit of God is directing a church, if people are coming to Christ, growing spiritually, and reproducing. God is at work in all those things even if there aren’t tongues and prophetic words! This is still about the “Spirit being in control!”
The part of this teaching when I share about “tongues” will hopefully explain to those of you who don’t know what that is, those of you who just don’t understand it, or those of you who may misuse it.
Inappropriate Evaluation… The members of the Corinthian church were obviously placing a premium on uninterpreted utterances of tongues. Paul basically tells them that this is of no worth to the congregation at all! Rather, he says, if you’re going to do that then you better have the interpretation or you’re just building yourself up! He also says, it’s better to prophesy in that case. Now it’s important to note that we don’t want to quench the gifts. But we do want to be sensitive to the appropriateness of a gift in a given situation, etc.
Confusing a Spiritual Gift with Spiritual Maturity… The big mistake of the Corinthian church was that they apparently thought that because they had a spiritual gift it made them really spiritual. You know what I mean; like those people who always preach when they pray or say God like this “Gawwwwwwdddddaaaaa!”
Having a gift is not a barometer of how spiritual you are. People can have great gifts and little spirituality! The true indication of spirituality is not the gift, but the expression of the fruit of the Spirit!
No one person can have all of the gifts; but every person can have the fruit of the Spirit! You don’t go to Gal. 5:22-23 and say, “Hey God, give me joy, peace, and gentleness, but I don’t want self-control! Thanks! And wrap them up in some nice gift wrap!” The Spirit of Jesus Christ is a complete personality. The Bible says, “By their fruit you will know them”, not by their gifts! Jesus will even tell some people who come to him and say, “Hey, we did this and that in your name.” But he’ll say, “So, I don’t know you!” (Mt. 7:22-23) How’s that possible? Because they had a gift but not the fruit!
There may be some people who don’t even know what gift or gifts they have. Pray and ask God to help you with that. Look at the list; which ones do you most relate to? Also, we be ramping up our Discipleship Paths this September and will have some classes/groups that will focus on spiritual gifts, etc.
The Gifts are for today. You have at least one spiritual gift. Don’t misunderstand or misuse your gifts. Expressing the fruit of the Spirit is what makes you spiritual, not the gift! Further, we do need the gifts to facilitate and further the cause of Christ! We can’t continue his cause without spiritual power and spiritual gifts!
The first gift Jesus has given is eternal life. Do you need that today? Receive that gift first. Do you need more of the Spirit of God or the fruit of the Spirit in your life? Receive that today!