Vol. 15 No. 30 – August 14, 2016
The Doctrine of Spiritual Gifts (continued)
5) Two Categories of Spiritual Gifts; Temporary and Permanent.
Temporary gifts were a certain group of legitimate spiritual gifts that were in use for the benefit of the Church in the pre-canon period of the Church Age, that is, before the New Testament was completed. These gifts ceased to function, and were no longer given to the Church when the N.T. was completed. In the post-canon period, we have what are called permanent spiritual gifts, because they began in the pre-canon era and continue throughout the Church Age. So we have temporary gifts from ~30-96 AD, and permanent gifts ~30 AD through the present and continuing until the Rapture of the Church.
Temporary gifts were necessary to take up the slack until the canon of Scripture was completed and circulated. Once the Bible was completed, certain temporary spiritual gifts were withdrawn. These temporary gifts include apostleship, prophets, tongues, interpreting tongues, healing, miracles, discerning spirits and so on. The fact that tongues was removed earlier is found in the Greek of 1 Cor 13:8-10. The fact that healing was removed, even in Paul’s day half way through his ministry, is found by comparing Acts 19:11-12 with Phil 2:27; 2 Tim 4:20, as well as James 5:14, where the sick are instructed to seek the elders for prayer in healing, rather than to seek out someone with the gift of healing. When Paul stated in Eph 2:20 that the apostles and prophets are the foundation for the universal church, this at least implies that they were only for the beginning of the Church, Cf. Heb 2:3-4.
The fact that the Holy Spirit has withdrawn temporary gifts in our day, post-canon period, is His way of focusing our attention on the Word of God. Everything we need is in the Word itself. The Holy Spirit reminds us that we have something more powerful, more important: the Word of God itself.
Permanent gifts continued after the completion of the canon and throughout the Church Age, as per Rom 12:7-8; 1 Cor 12:31. We live in the age when the Holy Spirit produces the character of Christ within us, and Divine Good on the outside. Therefore, no temporary gifts (such as miracles) are necessary.
- Pastor-Teacher, (Rom 12:7; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11). This is the ability to shepherd, provide for, care for, and protect God’s people through the ability to explain God’s truth to people.
- Evangelism, (Eph 4:11). This is the ability to proclaim the Gospel message with exceptional clarity. Also included in this is the idea that the ministry of an evangelist was itinerant. It might also be done publicly or privately.
- Administration, (Rom 12:8; 1 Cor 12:28). The gift of Administration is the supernatural ability to lead others. This is the gift of administrative leadership. Those with the gift of Administration will clearly understand the immediate and long-range goals of the local assembly, then devise and execute effective plans for the accomplishment of those goals.
- Ministry / Service, (Rom 12:7). This gift is the supernatural ability to minister or serve within in the local assembly or other Christian organizations in a variety of ways. These are the “worker bees” as it were. This gift functions in the administration and maintenance of the local church, serving on committees, mission boards, outreach or service programs, etc.
- Helps, (1 Cor 12:28). This is the ability to help or serve in the broadest sense of the word. This spiritual gift functions by helping and ministering to others including the sick, the afflicted, the handicapped, and the helpless. It is the supernatural ability to invest in the life and ministry of others, thereby enabling them in their ministry and effectiveness, while increasing their success.
- Exhortation, (Rom 12:8). This involves the ability to encourage, comfort, admonish and entreat people, with an appeal for action, leading them into the active realization of the will of God.
- Giving, (Rom 12:8). This is the ability to be very generous with what means one has. It should be exercised with simplicity, i.e., with no thought of return or self-gain.
- Showing Mercy, (Rom 12:8). Like the gifts of serving or helps, this involves succoring particularly those who are sick and afflicted. This gift is related to the sick and afflicted and any other who might fall within the sphere of needing succor, (help, aide, assistance, relief, rescue, etc.). In dealing with such, some Christians are given special ability to show mercy with cheerfulness to those that others would consider unlovable.
- Faith, (1 Cor 12:9). This is the ability to believe God for the supply of specific needs. It is manifested not so much in trust in Christ as Savior but in confidence in God in respect to His power and love working in the details of your life, supplying your needs and guiding your steps. Every believer should walk by faith and each has a measure of faith, but not all have the gift of faith.
Two debatable permanent gifts, which are probably more of the works of the Spirit rather than gifts of the Spirit include:
- Word of Wisdom, (1 Cor 12:8). The Word of Wisdom as a gift is the supernatural ability to apply Bible doctrine to circumstances in life and to give that insight to others, as in counseling. It is understanding the Word of God in such a way as to give insight and enlightenment that best applies to specific needs within the Body of Christ, as led by the Holy Spirit.
- Word of Knowledge, (1 Cor 12:8). The gift of the Word of Knowledge is the supernatural ability to categorize doctrine for application. It is the ability to accumulate, analyze, and clarify information and ideas, which are pertinent to the well-being of the body of Christ. This gift can be used to assist a Pastor in his writing and teaching materials and be applied in academic settings by preparing systematic theologies or other academic books, resources and courses for the edification of the body of Christ.
6) The Abuse of Spiritual Gifts.
The Corinthians were taking the spiritual gift of tongues and magnifying it out of proportion and calling it spirituality. That is why Paul wrote 1 Cor 12-14, especially chapters 13 and 14. These scriptures tell us that there is nothing in the Christian life apart from the filling of the Holy Spirit producing Divine love in the life of the believer. In 1 Cor 13, Paul takes three temporary gifts and sets up the principle of the discontinuance of temporary gifts.
As such, we cannot boast or complain, and arrogance is the causes of the abuse of spiritual gifts in two areas.
- The attempt to perpetuate temporary gifts of the pre‑Canon period into the post‑Canon era. Many times people have tried to, and continue to, perpetuate into the post‑Canon period some temporary spiritual gifts like; healing, miracles, tongues, the interpretation of tongues, etc. When anyone claims the gifts of apostleship, tongues, miracles, healing, they are apostate and reversionistic; separate yourselves from them. It is an abuse of spiritual gifts to try to claim them beyond the closing of the Canon in 96 A.D.
- The problem of arrogance or inferiority, (which too is a form of arrogance). Many believers are arrogant because their spiritual gift is more obvious in its function. Others are in a terrible state of inferiority, thinking that because their spiritual gift is not obvious and does not function in front of people, they are second‑class Christians. There is no such thing as a second‑class Christian.
1 Cor 12:15‑21, describes this abuse. This is a part of the dissertation on the body of Christ, the Royal Family of God, in which distinctions are made only where our spiritual gifts are concerned, but not in regards to superiority and inferiority. Remember that when it comes to our privileges and opportunities, we all have equal privileges and equal opportunities from our Portfolio of Invisible Assets to fulfill God’s Plan for our lives and receive escrow blessings for time and eternity.
Behind all this is the erroneous assumption that you earn, deserve, or merit your spiritual gift. In reality, the wisdom of God the Holy Spirit gave you your gift. Spiritual gifts are not issued based on your spiritual growth or spiritual advance. Those with supposedly “less spectacular” gifts are not spiritually inferior to those with an ostentatious gift. The Royal Family of God, when it comes to spiritual gifts, is a team. Each part is necessary. So, whether you are a lady or a gentleman, and regardless of any other human distinction, you are important in the Royal Family of God.
Your spiritual gift is simply your position on the team. It was sovereignly bestowed to you by God the Holy Spirit at salvation, and your spiritual gift is just as important as anyone else’s. Therefore, there is no place for arrogance or an inferiority complex inside the body of Christ!
Those with “spectacular” gifts are no better than those with hidden gifts. You are not “more spiritual” because you have a spectacular gift. Neither the Pastor nor Evangelist is necessarily any better as a Christian than anyone else. What differentiates them is simply that their spiritual gifts are exercised in public, while other believers’ spiritual gifts are exercised in private. Therefore, the only difference among believers’ is whether or not they used their free will to advance to spiritual adulthood or not. Differences are not to be determined by their spiritual gift.
Spiritual gifts have nothing to do with the inferiorities or superiorities that are assigned in this world by race, socio-economics, business, professional or academic life, athletic ability, personality, or to human attractiveness or ugliness. You are just as much a part of the body of Christ if your spiritual gift is exercised in public or private!
Remember that Spiritual gifts do not determine the status of experiential sanctification. The superior spiritual life results from consistent residence inside of God’s Power System, under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, and momentum from metabolized doctrine in your soul.
1 Cor 12:18, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”
Spiritual gifts are distributed according to the sovereignty of God, not according to the merit of any particular believer.
There is no excuse for a superiority complex because you have an ostentatious spiritual gift. In fact, a spectacular spiritual gift does not in any way indicate a superior spiritual status.
There is no excuse for an inferiority complex because you have an obscure spiritual gift. In fact, an obscure spiritual gift, like helps or mercy, does not indicate an inferior spiritual status.
Whatever spiritual gift you have is a matter of the sovereignty of God. Therefore, you cannot boast or complain about your spiritual gift. It is the will of God, not yours. You did not earn it, deserve it, or work for it. It is strictly the function of the sovereignty of God.
Since the Holy Spirit assigned these spiritual gifts at salvation, there is no place for human merit, or assigning any greatness or arrogance to your spiritual gift. We all have equal privilege and equal opportunity for the fulfillment of the Plan of God for our lives and the distribution of escrow blessings for both time and eternity, regardless of the spiritual gift you may possess.
1 Cor 12:22‑25, teaches the importance of obscure spiritual gifts. Vs. 26‑27, teaches the importance of teamwork in spiritual gifts. Vs. 28‑30 teaches the perspective of spiritual gifts. Vs. 31, is a transitional verse into the doctrine of virtue-love, Chapter 13, as the answer to any apparent inequalities in spiritual gifts.
7) The Relationship between Spiritual Gifts and General Ministry/Service.
As mentioned above, it is very interesting that the permanent spiritual gifts for the Church Age are also noted within the N.T. as areas of “general service” that all believers are mandated to function in. The general service of believers’ means, from time to time he or she will be in a position where they will have the opportunity to serve others in a particular area of ministry, whether or not they have that gift. For example, we are all “Royal Ambassadors” for Christ, which means among other things, we give the gospel message to unbelievers when we have opportunity to do so. We are all mandated to witness the gospel of Jesus Christ, yet, we all do not have the spiritual gift of Evangelism.
Having the gift means you will excel in that area and much of your Christian service will be focused in that area, yet, from time to time you will also have opportunity to serve in the other areas classified as spiritual gifts. Keep in mind that just because you do not have certain spiritual gifts, that does not exclude you from operating in the capacity of the other spiritual gifts. We all have the responsibility to function in our own spiritual gift predominantly, as well as the others gifts as “general service” from time to time.
Scriptures that give us the commands for “general service” in all areas of the permanent spiritual gifts include the following. (Please also note that no Scripture commands “general service” for the temporary gifts, for example tongues, healing, apostleship, etc., which is another indication that those were temporary gifts.)
Gifts Given to Some:
5) Showing Mercy
Commands Given to All:
1) Serve one another, Gal 5:13.
2) Exhort one another, Heb 10:25.
3) All give, 2 Cor 9:7.
4) Great Commission, Mat 8:19.
5) Be kind, Eph 4:32.
6) Walk by faith, 2 Cor 5:7.
7) All witness, Acts 1:8.
Thus, all are commanded to do various ministries whether or not they possess the corresponding spiritual gift. If we faithfully obey these commands, we may discover our particular spiritual gifts, as general service / ministry is the key to discovering your spiritual gift(s) and particular ministry.
8) Discovery and Development of Your Spiritual Gift.
Knowing that we have each received a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation, which will be a manifestation of the Spirit in us, what matters most is that you discover what your gift is and then develop it. Interestingly enough, your gift is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, therefore, if you are “walking by means of the Holy Spirit,” Gal 5:16, 25, on a consistent basis, He will be manifesting Himself through you in the area of your spiritual gift. Even so, this should never be an excuses for not discovering, knowing and developing your spiritual gift, as knowledge of something always means power, Prov 24:5; 2 Peter 1:3. Therefore, if you know what your gift is, it will give you an opportunity to empower it even more so.
Prov 24:5, “A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power.”
If you know what your gift is, you can then learn how that gift is applied and then excel in the application of it. In addition, all Bible doctrine is beneficial for your life. That same doctrine will also enhance your application of your spiritual gift. Therefore, it is important in the maximum exercise of your spiritual gift, to have maximum Bible doctrine in your soul. Remember that the Holy Spirit only works with the Bible doctrine you learn. If you do not learn God’s Word, the Holy Spirit cannot use it in the exercise of your spiritual gift, John 16:13.
John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
The following are several ways to learn what your gift is and how to develop it.
- Be active in the Lord’s work.
As noted above, we are mandated by God’s Word to function, from time to time, in all of the areas of ministry that permanent spiritual gifts are specifically designed to function in. By serving generally in the various areas of ministry when you are given the opportunity to do so, is the first and best way for discovering and developing your one particular spiritual gift. Gifts are both discovered and developed by activity. Practice in the various areas of ministry brings perception of which area you seem to be best at, have a natural affinity for, or have an inclination of which one best fits you.
Mandates for general service given to all believers, as noted previously, includes.
1) Serve one another, Gal 5:13.
2) Exhort one another, Heb 10:25.
3) Give, 2 Cor 9:7.
4) Teach, Mat 28:19.
5) Show Mercy/Be Kind, Eph 4:32.
6) Walk by faith, 2 Cor 5:7.
7) Evangelize, Acts 1:8.
If you are seeking to discover your gift, then do not turn down opportunities to serve, even if you think they do not fall within the range of your gift or abilities. God may be trying to tell you that you have a gift you do not recognize.
If you are active in doing what you can, then other opportunities may arise which will bring to light your spiritual gift. For example, when we first meet Philip in the Book of Acts, we see him helping distribute the relief money to needy and bickering widows, Acts 6:5. It is doubtful that before he undertook this ministry he sat down to decide whether or not he had that spiritual gift. Here was an opportunity to serve and he took it. He proved faithful in performing this menial task. The Lord then entrusted him with another ministry; that of evangelizing the Samaritans, Acts 8:5, and later, the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8:27. As he used that gift, he became known as Philip the evangelist, Acts 21:8. But first, he was Philip the helper of the needy and widows.
The same principle was true in Stephen’s life. He first served along with Philip in ministering to the widows. But he also was full of faith, Act 6:5, and was a great witness, Acts 7:1-53.
Principle: Faithfulness in one opportunity leads to other opportunities that can lead to discovering your spiritual gift.
We are all commanded to do various ministries, whether or not we possess the corresponding spiritual gift. If we faithfully obey these commands, we may discover our particular spiritual gifts. Therefore, prepare yourself by taking every opportunity of Christian service available to you.
- Be willing to do anything for God.
Dedication or willingness to do anything can be more important than discovering your spiritual gift. The passage on spiritual gifts in Eph 4, begins with an exhortation to a worthy life of “humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and peace,” vs. 1-3. The extended discussion on gifts in 1 Cor 12 is preceded in that letter by several exhortations to dedication, 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20; 10:31, and is followed by the exhortation to “love,” in Chapter 13.
Which specific gift is the most valuable one? Paul’s answer to this is clear and emphatic: the one gift all Christians should have is love, 1 Cor 12:31-13:1. Love is the ultimate gift that we put on when we have the Word of God resident within our soul and apply it. If we have all the other spiritual gifts and lack love, we have nothing; if we have love and nothing else, we have everything. Paul said that love fulfills the entire law, Rom 13:10; compare Mat 22:39-40. Love makes possible the fellowship of the Church and guarantees that spiritual gifts will be used unselfishly. Love is the greatest gift given to us by the God, Who is love.
Likewise, the passage in Rom 12 begins with the great call of dedication of life to your “spiritual service of worship,” in vs. 1-2.
Rom 12:1-2, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The believer who is not dedicated to God will never discover the gift and abilities God has given him to serve with, nor will he fully develop the gift he does discover.
If you have the correct motivation and are faithful to respond to the opportunities for service / ministry before you, it will soon be evident that you do not do all things equally well. This is no reason to excuse yourself from every form of ministry, but it certainly tells you the areas of service upon which you should concentrate. Out of your general service, a more particular ministry will most likely emerge. It will probably be a ministry that is unique and that others do not seem to desire to perform. Not only will your ministry become evident, but you should be more able to identify the spiritual gift that equips you for your service.
It is by ministering to others that we find “our own ministry” and come to recognize the spiritual gift with which the Spirit of God has empowered us.
If you would like more information on this subject, you may order lesson:
#’s 16-090 through 16-092
A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life.
To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!