Spiritual Gifts
Tim Temple

Introduction

We have been studying Basic Bible Doctrines beginning with The Doctrine of Man , then The Doctrine of God , The Doctrine of Salvation , The Doctrine of Eternal Security , etc. We now come to The Doctrine of Spiritual Gifts . To set the stage for our thinking and to give us the context out of which we are going to work, I would like for us to read through I Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 1-11:

I Corinthians 12:

1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
2Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
3Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

Good Works

I think one of the biggest misunderstandings about the Christian life is in the area of Christian activities or what we might call good works . Once we understand that Jesus Christ has paid for our salvation and that we don't have to earn it, sometimes, particularly for new Christians, confusion sets in and there is a question about why,if salvation is free, if it is eternally secure and if it is all paid for, should I bother to do good works? Why should I bother about the way I live and what kind of good works should I do if I am going to do something good? If it doesn't have to do with earning my salvation, then what am I supposed to do?

The place of works and the power to do those works is a very important basic doctrine of Scripture and it is something that we all need to understand. The details of Christian activity have to do with The Doctrine of Spiritual Gifts and God's equipping of us to do good works.

Evidently, the Corinthian Christians had many of these same kinds of questions because it is one of the subjects that Paul wrote to them about. Most of the information we have about spiritual gifts is in his first letter to the Corinthians. As we think about this doctrine, the first thing we need to get straight in our thinking is the definition of spiritual gifts. What is a spiritual gift anyway? By looking at verse 6 and then at verse 11, we can come up with a definition, I think. If you will notice again in verse 6:

I Corinthians 12:

6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

Then skip down to verse 11:

I Corinthians 12:

11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

The focus of these verses is God's working through Christians, God's working in us. A definition might be something like this: A spiritual gift is a God-given ability for service. That is not a quotation of a Scripture verse, but that is taken from what the Scriptures say. Think about some specific definitions or some specific aspects or details of this definition. First, this definition speaks of its source. It is a God-given ability. It is not something that we just work up in ourselves; rather, it is something that God gives to us. Then, as to its meaning—it is an ability. Then, as to its purpose—it is for service. It is for serving others. There are skills that we can obtain from a human standpoint. Probably every one in this room has had some training to do a particular job. Some of you are involved in those jobs right now. Some of you are involved in getting that training right now. You may be retired now, but you still have those skills, and in most cases, those skills were learned. They were things that we were trained to do. But a spiritual gift, though very similar to skills that we may have, is a very different thing. This is something that God gives us. It is a God-given ability for service to the Lord and to other Christians.

Let me point out that we are talking about an ability—not a specific job in the church. It is an ability, not an office. For example, one of the gifts is of pastor/teacher. One of the abilities of service that God gives is the gift of pastor/teacher. That gift is usually associated with the office of pastor, but it may not be and is not limited to the office of pastor. There are people who have the gift of pastor/teacher who could serve and may serve, just as an example, as dean of men in a Christian college or a camp director or missionary or prison chaplain. There are various kinds of things that can be done with the gift of pastor/teacher—anyone who has the ability to shepherd and to teach. There are many ways that ability can be applied. There are men who are chief executive officers of Christian organizations who really have the gift of pastor/teacher. They shepherd and they teach. We need to be careful that we don't confuse the gift with the office. Some of the gifts are usually associated with a particular office or a particular ministry, but they can be used in many different ways.

The reason I mention this is that sometimes people think, “Well, I must not have this particular gift because I don't have that particular job. To use our example of pastor/teacher again, there are people who say, “I couldn't have the gift of pastor/teacher because I am not a pastor.” That gift and that office are two separate things. Remember, we are saying that this is an ability. It is not a calling to a certain age group or a certain locality. For example, there is no gift of youth work. If there is a gift of youth work, I don't think I have ever heard anybody claim to have a gift of old people's work. A lot of people think they have a gift for working with youth, but there is no such gift. There are people, because of the spiritual gift they do have, who find a way to work with young people and exercise that gift within the work of young people, but youth work is not a spiritual gift; neither is old people's work. Neither is there a gift of missionary work. The various gifts can be used in all kinds of different settings and all kinds of different locations with all kinds of different people. The spiritual gift equips you to do a particular kind of work. The circumstances of your background, your training, your personality—those kinds of things—determine how you might use that gift.

Then remember that this is an ability and not a particular skill or method. For example, writing is a skill or a talent, but writing might be employed effectively in the ministry of the pastor or the teacher or the evangelist, so we are not talking about skills here. As we said earlier, skills are things that can be learned and spiritual gifts are greatly enhanced by various skills that we might learn, but a spiritual gift is something that gives us the ability to serve God.

A more secular example of the use of an ability like this might be a person who has the ability to work with his hands. Again, this is just a secular example. There is no spiritual gift of working with your hands, but if we think of this in secular terms, there are people who just have a real ability to work with their hands, but there are many ways a person could use that ability. For example, a person who has an ability to work with his hands might earn his living as a dentist. Those guys really have to be skillful with their hands. He might earn his living as a dentist, but maybe his hobby would be woodworking or fine furniture making or painting or something like that that would use that ability. His ability is not dentistry or furniture making or painting. His ability is working with his hands, but he finds various ways to use that. The same thing is true of spiritual gifts. Our spiritual gift does not limit us to any one kind of ministry. There are so many different ways that we might use the various spiritual gifts that we might have.

The moral of this is, don't be tied down to the idea of finding a position before you know what your spiritual gift is. There are many ways to exercise a gift besides the specific ways they are often used, and we will see more about that in this chapter. In fact, this chapter really brings out that concept.

Every Believer Has a Spiritual Gift

It is also important to realize that every believer has a gift. This is probably the biggest hang-up that people have about the doctrine of spiritual gifts. Look at verse 7, where we read:

I Corinthians 12:

7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Then notice down in verse 11:

I Corinthians 12:

11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

I think the biggest question that I come across among Christians is, “What is my spiritual gift?”, and I find many Christians who say, “I just don't think I have a spiritual gift. I don't know what it would be if I do.” There may be some of you who would feel that way, but on the basis of the Word of God, we know that He gives spiritual gifts to each one of us, not just to the super Christians, not just to the pastors and the people who are in the places of visible leadership. Every Christian has a spiritual gift, an ability to serve the Lord.

Differences in Spiritual Gifts

If we understand something about what a spiritual gift is, we also need to know that there are differences in spiritual gifts, and this is what Paul deals with in verses 4-6. The first few verses which we are skipping over are moving into the subject of spiritual gifts from the subject of idolatry, the worship of false gods. In fact, many of the Christians at Corinth had been idol worshippers. Verse 2 says:

I Corinthians 12:

2Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

In Corinth and in the whole Roman world of that day, there were many different gods that they worshipped. Some would be followers of this god and some would be a follower of that god; and as people looked around at their society, they could see many different kinds of worship. Paul is going to say that you can see a lot of differences in Christians. On the basis of those differences, you might even think, particularly if you lived in an idolatrous society, that there are many different gods because Christians are so different from each other.

It is easy for us to see that there are many different preferences among Christians. Some Christians prefer fiery evangelism, and they don't feel as if they have been to church unless they have been shaken over the pits of hell. Other Christians think that is gaudy and emotional and they just want to be taught the Word of God. They don't feel like they have been to church unless they have heard a word-by-word exposition of Scripture. We just have different preferences: philosophical dialog, academic setting as opposed to hellfire and brimstone preaching. Some people prefer large group activity. They want to be in a big church or they want to be in a big organization. Other people don't like that. They feel as if they are not really in tune spiritually unless it is a one-on-one type situation

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Listen! Every one of those people can be fine, God-loving Christians. Part of the focus of the whole book of Corinthians, and certainly a focus of this chapter, is that it does not mean that if you are the academic type, the person who likes fiery evangelism is not as good a Christian as you are. There are differences among Christians and that is part of the purpose of understanding the doctrine of spiritual gifts. We all have a different kind of focus because we all have different kinds of gifts. There are differences among Christians, but these differences do not mean that some of us are right and some of us are wrong and certainly not that there is more than one God.

These differences are because of three different things that he brings out in this chapter. First is differences of gifts in verse 4. There is diversity of gifts. We all have spiritual gifts, although we don't all have the same gift. There may be two or three people in the realm of your acquaintance who have the same gift that you do, but the majority of other Christians have a different gift from you because there are differences of gifts. A list of examples of spiritual gifts is given down in verses 8-10, and we will come back to that later

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Not only are there differences of gifts, but there are differences of ministry. Look at verse 5:

I Corinthians 12:

5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

The word administrations in verse 5 is a translation of the Greek word diakonos, which basically means “service.” So there are different kinds of gifts and there are different kinds of ministries. What this means is that two people might have the same spiritual gift, but each of them exercises it in a different way. For example, two people might have the gift of evangelism, but one person who has the gift of evangelism might exercise it as a crusade evangelist, a Billy Graham, or a guy who spends most of his time holding large crusades. Most of those people are evangelists traveling from place to place

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Another person that has the gift of evangelism, the same spiritual gift, might use it as a one-on-one evangelist like a representative of the Navigators or Young Life or Campus Crusade for Christ or something like that. They primarily work one-on-one, and in some cases those guys never do preach a sermon before a large group. Yet, here are two men with the same spiritual gift though different ministries.

Not only are there differences in gifts and differences of ministries, but there are also differences of activities as well. Notice verse 6:

I Corinthians 12:

6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

The Greek word for operations or activities is energema , and it means “methods” or “activities,” so think about this. We have different spiritual gifts. We have different kinds of ministries, but we also have different kinds of methods within those ministries. Stay with me; I will put this all together in a minute. We are talking about the differences between Christians. Two people might have the same spiritual gift as pastor/teacher and they might both use it as pastors of churches, but one does expository preaching and the other does topical preaching. Expository preaching, technically speaking, is where you take a passage of Scripture and you expose the text. You move through it verse by verse and you cover the various subjects that you come across in the Scripture.

That is the kind of preaching that we do here at Abilene Bible Church. Expository preaching is what I feel the most comfortable with, what I feel I am the most capable of doing, and most of the preachers we have visiting here do that kind of preaching. It is not required because nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Thou shalt do expository preaching.” The other major type of preaching is topical preaching where a person will take a subject and if he is a good preacher and knows what he is doing, he will go to the Scripture and he will bring out all of the verses that talk about that subject. He takes a topic and he shows you all the various things that the Bible says about that topic. That is a perfectly acceptable kind of teaching. If topical preaching and expository preaching are done correctly, one is just as good as the other; but you see they are different methods. They are different kinds of activities used within the same gift.

When you put all three of these things together, not only do we have people with different gifts, but we have people who use those gifts in different ways. We have people who use those different gifts in different ways with different activities so that what we have here is not just a matter of the differences that would occur by virtue of having different gifts, but these differences increase expotentially as we think about all the variables that can take place. So it is no wonder that we have many different kinds of Christians, not different kinds in the sense that they worship different Lords or that they were saved in different ways, but different values and different things that are important to them.

Something else that most of us have discovered is that each one of us thinks that our gift is the most important. If we have the gift of teaching, we all tend to think that everybody else ought to be a teacher, too. Something that teachers have to guard against is not making that the focus of our ministry. Something that I have to constantly be reminded of is not to exhort everybody to be a better teacher because everybody is not a teacher. There are a number of men and women in this church who have the gift of teaching, but there are many who don't have the gift of teaching. There are others who have the gift of helps or the gift of showing mercy or the gift of giving. Whatever particular gift you have, if you will be honest, you will admit—not in a proud way—that it naturally seems to you that that gift is very important to the Body of Christ. It is your gift, and it is what God has burdened you to do.

We always need to keep in mind that though we may have this particular spiritual gift, there are others who have equally valid spiritual gifts, and all the gifts are just as important as another. I shouldn't be bothered if people look at things a little differently than I do. I shouldn't be bothered that some people have a different list of priorities in the Christian life than I do. As long as we are still agreeing on what the Word of God says about all these various things, then it doesn't matter too much if someone else thinks evangelism is more important than I do or if someone else thinks that giving is more important than I do. It is probably because that is where their ministry lies. That is where their gift is, and that is what they are interested in and what they are involved in.

The Sovereignty of God

There is something very important to keep in mind. There are differences, but a very important common denominator in the spiritual gifts is what we find in looking at the second half of each of these verses. We will look at verses 4-6. The differences are listed in the first part of each verse. This common denominator is listed in the second part of the verses. This is very important to keep in mind. In verse 4, there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. In verse 5, there are different ministries, but the same Lord Who oversees those ministries. In verse 6, there are different activities, but it is the same God Who is sovereign over all.

Incidentally, here is one of the best scriptural presentations of the Trinity. We have each one of the Persons of the Trinity named here: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is referred to by the term Lord there. It is beyond the point of this lesson, but here is one of the passages where we know that God is a Trinity because in this context, it is obviously talking about God, yet it refers to Him in three different ways. We talked about the doctrine of the Trinity a couple of weeks ago and I don't remember if I brought out this passage or not, but it is a good one to keep in mind. Here is a place where the Persons of the Trinity are named and yet the reference is obviously to God.

The emphasis on these verses is on the sovereignty of God, not only in the giving of the gifts, but in the exercise of these gifts as well. If you have the gift of evangelism for example, and you have a friend who has the gift of evangelism, but he feels led to exercise his gift in a different way than you do and you have a problem with that, then your problem is with God and not your friend because God leads various people to exercise their gifts in various ways. Just because you have the same gift as someone else, it doesn't mean that he has to do it just like you do. That is God's business, you see. God is the One Who is in charge not only in giving the gifts, but also in the ways those gifts are exercised. That is important to keep in mind because we all have this tendency to think that everybody else ought to do it just like we do.

Demonstration of the Gift

In verses 7-11, as we come toward the end of our passage, we have the demonstration of the gift, some facts that show outwardly about spiritual gifts. First, notice the scope of spiritual gifts. We have already touched on this verse, but notice verse 7 again:

I Corinthians 12:

7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Because of all of the differences that we have been talking about, your manifestation, your spiritual gift, may not be the same as everybody else's, but the Spirit does manifest Himself in every believer. Notice something else about verse 7. This manifestation, the way the Holy Spirit works through you, is for the profit of all. It is for the profit of the Body as a whole. The focus of spiritual gifts is on what we do for others. It is not on what kind of exaltation we get for ourselves. Not all of the gifts, but some of the gifts are gifts that do tend to draw attention to the person. The gift of evangelism very often draws attention to the person and the gift of pastor, the gift of pastor/teacher. Those are two separate gifts. There is the gift of teaching, but there is also the gift of pastor/teacher, and those are the kinds of gifts that draw attention to the person who exercises the gift.

There are some gifts that are very private in nature. In fact, the gift of giving is one of the gifts that God gives. He gives people the ability to see the scope of the need and get involved in it financially. While I am off the track, let me go ahead and say that I think usually God gives those same people the ability to make large amounts of money, but not always. I think there are people who have the gift of giving who don't really have a very big income, but God gives them the ability to see a financial need and to work toward the meeting of that need either through giving or through fundraising or something like that. That is a spiritual gift, but giving is supposed to be done in secret so that spiritual gift is usually a very private gift. If it is done correctly, it doesn't draw much attention to the person. To exercise that gift like it ought to be exercised is going to draw attention away from the person.

The point is that the gift is not done to draw attention to the person. The gift is done for the good of the Body, and even though a pastor/teacher may receive a lot of attention, one of the things that people with the kind of gift that would tend to draw attention to himself needs to do is to be on the alert. He needs to be careful that he doesn't start to take credit for all of this attention because the gift is done for everybody. It is done for the good of the Body of Christ. I am speaking of myself as I say this, but if you are among those of us who have the gift that involves some public ministry, we need to always be careful that we don't start feeling important because we are the ones who people are watching and we are the ones who get to do the talking and we are the ones who get the attention. It is really all a part of taking care of the Body of Christ and the other gifts that don't get as much attention are just as important.

A Sample of Spiritual Gifts

Then Paul gives a sample of spiritual gifts in verses 8-10:

I Corinthians 12:

8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Here is a list of spiritual gifts. There are several things I want to say about this sample of spiritual gifts. First, these are not the only spiritual gifts. Others are listed in Ephesians, chapter 4, and Romans, chapter 12, and I Corinthians, chapter 14. Before we go over these, let me point out that I believe that Paul was listing the gifts that were at Corinth, and this is not all the gifts. We read in I Corinthians, chapter 1, that the Corinthian church apparently had all of the gifts, so he is not listing every gift that was present in Corinth, but these were some that they were the most familiar with. That is why I call it a sample of spiritual gifts. Let's not be rigidly bound by this list of gifts. This is a sampling of the spiritual gifts.

Let me quickly mention what those other passages contain. Here in I Corinthians, chapter 12, we have the gift of wisdom, the gift of knowledge, the gift of faith, the gift of healing, the gift of miracles, the gift of prophecy, the gift of the discerning of spirits, the gift of tongues, the gift of interpretation of tongues. Then in the last part of the chapter in verse 28 is the gift of apostleship and the gift of teachers and the gift of helps and the gift of government. In Romans, chapter 12, verses 1-6, we have the gift of exhortation, the gift of giving, the gift of showing mercy. In Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 11, we have reference to the gift of evangelism and the gift of pastor/teacher. These are all of the gifts that are listed in the Scripture in various places, so we have to consider all of it taken together, not any one passage as the list of spiritual gifts.

Let me say that I believe that some of these gifts are not being given today. Some of the gifts were foundational—for example, the gift of prophecy. That was something that God was still giving at the time I Corinthians was written, but once the Scripture was completed, the gift of prophecy was no longer necessary. With the gift of teaching, a person can very ably explain prophecy and many times he will teach prophecies that maybe are completely new to other people. There is nothing wrong with that. That is what a teacher should be doing, but I am saying in terms of God's revealing new truths to people, the Scripture tells us clearly not to add to the Scripture. God gives insight to teachers that maybe others have not seen, and in that sense, maybe new truth comes along, new understanding of the Scripture and new application of the Scripture; but the gift of prophecy was the gift of speaking Scripture and the Scripture now has been completed. We have been told that God is not going to add to it. We have all things that pertain to life and godliness now. So the gift of prophecy was what I would call a foundational gift.

Likewise the gift of apostleship. The apostles were there. The twelve disciples, except for Judas, became apostles. They were there to guide in the formation of the early church. We don't have apostles any more. The gift of the word of knowledge is no longer a gift. Because of the study of the Word, people might have tremendous insights to situations, but the gift of the word of knowledge as is demonstrated in the New Testament was very similar to the gift of prophecy, but just not as extensive.

Listen to me very carefully. I believe that God is not giving the gift of healing in this generation. If you look at the people who had the gift of healing in the New Testament—what few references there are—it was the ability to walk into a room and heal somebody at will. You never find an instance of somebody who had the gift of healing attempting to heal somebody and it not working. However, let it be said as clearly as I can say it. I firmly believe God is still doing miraculous healing today. I know of two instances in which I have personally been involved when I have been present and been part of a group that prayed for someone and they were miraculously healed. I do not in any way want to say that God is not healing and that God is not doing miracles, but we are talking about the gift of being able to do healing at will or to do miracles at will. Those were gifts that were needed in the formation of the New Testament and the completion of the Scripture. They are still needed today, and when they are needed, God does those things. God works miracles. God heals, but those kinds of gifts in terms of a spiritual gift, an ability for service, are not being given as gifts today I believe.

Many people say, “God gave a gift in the New Testament, then there is no reason He should not continue to give it in the twentieth century.” There is no reason He shouldn't, but on the other hand, if you look at the Scripture, you will find that there have really been only three periods in history where very unusual gifts were given, where miracles were done. The first of those was during the Exodus from Egypt. There were many great miracles done then, but interestingly enough, David didn't do any miracles. Solomon didn't do any miracles. The second period of miracles was during the ministry of Elijah and Elisha and the few prophets. When Israel was being called back to God, those men healed. Those men raised the dead, and they did various kinds of miracles, but then later on, we don't have any record of Daniel doing any miracles. Miraculous things happened to him—being saved from the lions' den and his friends going through the fire without being burned. God has always done miracles.

Then in the third period was the time when Jesus was on the earth and the time immediately following the time of Jesus. So it is not unrealistic to say that God operates in different ways in different periods of time, and it is not at all anti-scriptural or in any way being demeaning to God to say that in this particular day in which we live, He is not giving those particular kinds of gifts because He has altered the way that He operates. He has never altered Himself. He has never altered His principles. He has never altered His standards, yet He has altered his method of operation at various times down through history.

However, let me also say as clearly as I can that if there is anybody who might read this lesson who disagrees with me about that, I want to be your friend. If you want to believe in the gift of healing, then that is perfectly all right with me as long as you don't insist on something that is not scriptural. I will not say that someone doesn't have the gift of healing if they say that God has given them the gift of healing if they are exercising that gift in keeping with the way that it has always been exercised throughout the Scripture. Let me tell you something. Peter and Paul and John and those men who are recorded as having the gift of healing did not go around teaching other people how to do it, and they didn't go around promising to turn a whole city around with what they were going to do.

By the same token, there is the gift of tongues. I personally do not believe that the gift of speaking in tongues is being given today. However, there are very sincere, fine Christians who do believe that it is being given today. I have no argument with that if it is being done in accordance with the guidelines that are given very, very clearly in I Corinthians, chapter 12, and I Corinthians, chapter 14, There are very specific standards laid down for the exercise of the gift of tongues. If a person is exercising the gift of tongues, and it falls in line with those standards that are given in clear and black and white Greek translated into black and white English, then who am I to question that? But again, much of what is being done in the name of the gift of tongues is absolutely not in line with the Scripture. My personal opinion is that some of these gifts are not in existence today. However, I do not want to in any way argue with someone who believes that all of these are in existence today. I am just telling you what my personal understanding is.

Synthesizer of Spiritual Gifts

Look at verse 11 and notice the synthesizer of the spiritual gifts:

I Corinthians 12:

11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

You can study how to improve your spiritual gift and we should look for ways to use our spiritual gift to the best of our ability, to improve that spiritual gift. If you have the gift of teaching, then you probably ought to take some speech courses and some public relations courses, some things that will improve your skills. If you have the gift of teaching, you might be able to help teach someone else how to use their gift more effectively. But never forget that it is God Who gives the gifts. You do not need to expect to teach someone else how to speak in tongues. You do not need to expect to teach someone else and give them a gift. God gives the gifts, and it is wrong for any of us to sit down with somebody and say, “Let me show you how to get this gift.” God gives the gifts. God is the synthesizer of the gifts.

Discernment of Spiritual Gifts

Finally now, just a word about a question that often comes up. How can I know what my spiritual gift is? The discernment of spiritual gifts is the fifth and last thing that I want to talk about. We have already seen that every believer has at least one spiritual gift, and the proper function of the local church as a group depends on our exercise of those spiritual gifts. That is how God has designed for us to take care of each other. How can we know what our spiritual gift is? That is the question that comes up over and over again.

I have three things listed here. First is by exposure to the gift. The first thing you need to do is to find out what the spiritual gifts are, but also by evaluation of others. Ask some of your Christian friends what they think your spiritual gift might be. Ask your husband or your wife. They may be much more objective about it than you, and they may be able to see something that God has given you that you cannot even see yourself. Then a third factor is the extent of response. I really think that this is the most important factor of all. On your part, that would be a feeling of, “That is what I want to do,” as you see someone else exercising your gift or you hear about a spiritual gift—just a kind of identification with that gift on the part of the response that you get as you do a particular kind of thing. What kind of response do you get?

Something that I have not mentioned is that every Christian is commanded to do all the spiritual gifts. Every Christian is told to teach our children if nothing else, but there are instances in various places in the New Testament where Christians in general are told to teach. Christians are told to give. Christians are told to evangelize. Christians are told to help. Christians are told to exhort. You can go down the list of spiritual gifts and find that every one of those is an admonishment to Christians in general, but there are those who have the gift of teaching and the gift of evangelism and the gift of giving.

As you go about doing the various things, which as Christians we ought to do, what kind of response do you get to that? For example, I do not believe that I have the gift of evangelism. I do the work of an evangelist hopefully most of the time that I teach. Every Sunday at the Lord's Table, we do the work of an evangelist. Recently, at the Taylor Country jail, I preached an evangelistic kind of sermon, and my purpose in that preaching was to do evangelism. My evangelism is heavily flavored with teaching because that is what I think my gift is. My gift is not evangelism, but there are times I do the work of an evangelist.

As you do these various things, what kind of response do you get to that? I really believe that a person with the gift of evangelism could have spent the same amount of time that I did at the Taylor Country jail and would have done a much better job. I don't know that any more people would have been saved because it was God's will for me to be there and not some evangelist. He could have sent somebody with the gift of evangelism instead of me, but he sent me and I was glad for the opportunity; but if He had sent an evangelist, he would probably have been able to use the time more effectively because that is just what he is gifted at doing. So as you give and as you evangelize and as you help others and as you exhort others and as you teach and do all these things that God has told us to do, what kind of response do you get and what kind of response do you get from your own heart?

How do you find out that you have a talent? A talent is not the same thing as a spiritual gift, but if you have a talent for playing the piano, how did you discover your talent or how did you discover that you don't have that talent? I know that I am not talented at playing the piano because my music teacher told my parents, “Don't waste your money with this boy any longer.” One of my great desires in life was to play the piano, but I thought I would go to the piano teacher and she would just show me how to play and then I would be able to do it. When I found out it was going to take practice and work, then I wasn't nearly as interested. But how did I discover that I don't have talent? By trying it out! I took some lessons. I gave it a shot and found out that I don't have that talent. It is the same way with our spiritual gifts—just give it a try because we are supposed to do all those things anyway. Just notice what it is that you get a good response to; notice what it is that thrills your heart as you do it. Notice what you're most effective at. These are some suggestions for discovering your spiritual gift.

Conclusion

The Body of Christ is just that—it is a body. Paul uses the rest of this chapter expanding on that illustration—the hand, the eye, the foot, the ear. All of us have a different particular part to play in the Body. In fact, he brings out, “What would the eye be without the ear? What would the hand be without the foot?” The human body has to work in its utmost effectiveness and that is exactly the same way in the Body of Christ. The means of doing that is our spiritual gifts. Do you know what your spiritual gift is? If you don't, then don't sit on your hands and wait to find out before you serve the Lord. The best thing to do is to get busy serving the Lord, whatever you can find to do to serve the Lord, and in that way, you'll discover what your spiritual gift is. It may mean that you'll have honed your focus to what you are gifted in doing.

The biggest problem that I think we have in the teaching of spiritual gifts is, “I don't know what my spiritual gift is, so I am just not going to do anything.” No, no, get busy and serve the Lord. Ask Him to give you opportunities. Look for opportunities to serve the Lord and as you are faithful to serve Him, you'll find out what your spiritual gift is and God will bless that work and in that, it will be for the profit of the Body of Christ as a whole.


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