Doctrine: Spiritual Gifts: An Introduction
Nowhere in the Scriptures do we find an injunction to find and discover our spiritual gift. A lot of people think that, a lot of people teach that, but the Bible never says that. That is because, as we grow up spiritually (which is where the priority is) these areas of giftedness will normally display themselves. So the issue isn't identifying our spiritual gift, the issue is spiritual growth. We don't ever need to know what our spiritual gift is and of we reach spiritual maturity we will be operating in maximum efficiency in the area of our spiritual gift. It will be the normal operation and the normal overflow of our spiritual advance.
Introduction to the doctrine of spiritual gifts (Cont.)
3) Spiritual gifts are unique to the church age. Even though there is a similarity of operation in the Old Testament it was not a spiritual gift. No spiritual gifts were given prior to the day of Pentecost and no spiritual gifts are given after the Rapture of the church. Does that mean there were no miracles before the day of Pentecost? No, and it doesn't mean there are no miracles after the Rapture; but there are no spiritual gifts per se because that is something that is related to the body of Christ.
4) Spiritual gifts are the direct result of the ascension of Christ, His current session and the purposes of God in the current church age. Remember, He is preparing you and me to rule and reign with Him in the future.
5) As with most activities what we see is that all three members of the Trinity are involved. 1 Corinthians 12:4, 5, 6 tie all three members of the Trinity to spiritual gifts.
6) Spiritual gifts are not earned or deserved. Tremendous confusion has existed about spiritual gifts since the Pentecostal charismatic movement came on the scene at the turn of the 20th century.
7) We have to recognize that there are two categories of spiritual gifts in the New Testament: permanent and temporary. The church age is actually divided into two sections. The first is the apostolic period or pre-canon period, the period that went from roughly 33-95 AD. It was the period before the New Testament was completed, that time period when the body of Christ was in its infancy because they didn't have a sufficient or completed canon. But by the time the apostle John had finished Revelation the canon was complete. Then came the post-apostolic period and the post-canon period where we now have a completed canon of Scripture. During the apostolic period there were certain temporary gifts, and some of these involved giving revelation because there was no completed canon at that time. Once that canon was complete then the temporary gifts no longer had a purpose. Temporary gifts are those gifts that were distributed to certain apostles and disciples to give them credentials during the time before the canon was completed. There were two types of temporary gifts. The first category were the revelatory gifts and were used in providing special revelation from God. Remember that this was the early stage of the church when there was no completed canon. Nobody had all the information available to them yet about living the spiritual life of the church age. Since there would be a local congregation in some placed like Derbe or Lystra or out on Cyprus and they would perhaps have one epistle from Paul, and that is it, there would be somebody in the congregation who would have the gift of wisdom or knowledge and they would be able to teach or inform that congregation relative to church age truth. These revelatory gifts would involve prophecy, word of wisdom and word of knowledge. Then there was another classification of gifts called sign gifts. These gifts were used to provide credentials for the user—apostle, disciple or missionary. These would indicate that they were qualified to communicate the truth that they were communicating. This would include the gift of healing, the gift of miracles, and these were specifically stated as authenticating the apostolic witness in 2 Corinthians 12:12—"signs of the apostles," and also in Hebrews 2:4. Tongues is a sign gift related to God's announcement of judgment on Israel.
8) The purpose of the permanent spiritual gifts is mutual ministry and service in the body of Christ. We are told to do these things for one another. We should note that many of these spiritual gifts are also areas of service for every believer. For example, if you do not have the gift of evangelism that does not excuse you from witnessing. Every believer is expected to witness, but some believers are going to have a spiritually enhanced ability to witness to people. Another example is the gift of giving. You may not have the gift of giving but that does not excuse you from financially supporting your local church ministry or other ministries. It is part of the ambassadorship of every believer and part of our responsibility. But we must emphasize that spiritual gifts are not the means of spiritual growth or church growth.
9) It is not necessary to identify our spiritual gift in order to use it. This runs completely contrary to what is popularly taught today. Many spiritual gifts can be used in many different ways. In fact, a person can have more than one spiritual gift, and as we will see, gifts are given in different proportions. The issue is not what is my spiritual gift? The issue is, how can I serve the body of Christ? And the primary issue is, how do I grow to spiritual maturity? As you grow to spiritual maturity you will begin to recognize your responsibility in a local church; that you have a responsibility as a member of the body of Christ to minister in that, to serve in some capacity.
10) There is a distinction between natural talents and spiritual gifts. Natural talents such as music are not spiritual gifts.
11) Spiritual gifts have their spiritual efficacy only when operating under the filling of the Holy Spirit.
12) The body of Christ is like a team, there are many different positions and each requires different abilities. Some of those abilities are more overt than others. Some operate behind the scenes but every gift is important.
13) The purpose for the spiritual gifts was to edify the body of Christ. Though a person may receive some measure of edification from his own gift that is not the purpose, it is a secondary by-product, and when that becomes the purpose then that spiritual gift is being used in a carnal manner.
14) A person may have more than one gift and will have those gifts in different proportions.