Saturday, June 2, 2007

SPIRITUAL GIFTS: God's Dynamic Provision for His Church

By Barbara Goodroe

Do you recognize your own spiritual gifts as your study each of the gifts? Let's cover several and examine their basic characteristics. We need to remember it is our responsibility to understand not only our own gifts, but also to understand the gifts of others. The reason is clear. Our Lord gave each believer his or her gifts that we might be His hands, feet and words to our brothers and sisters in the Lord! We are a family. God expects His children to live in peace and love with one another. We must also remember that we need to receive God's ministry from others, not just exercise our own gifts!

There are three major lists of spiritual gifts found in the New Testament - read Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30 and Ephesians 4:11. These three lists might be classified into the following groups: speaking gifts, service gifts and signifying gifts. It should be noted that almost every one of the speaking and serving gifts are given as imperatives for every believer to obey.

For example, we are all to give, show mercy, serve one another, etc. This, however, is not true of the signifying (or sign) gifts. They include: miracles, healing, tongues and interpreting tongues. The gifts which are essential to every believer are the focus of the following material.

1. APOSTLE - Sent one (function, not office). The office of apostle ended with the ministry of the twelve, including Paul, in terms of authority. However, the New Testament does show a functional extension of the ministry of this gift in the lives of men like Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Titus, etc. They are all referred to on occasion as 'apostles'-special sent ones given by assemblies to establish new local assemblies in addition to continuing to strengthen those already established. We refer to them today as church planters, and missionaries. Remember that the office of apostle included only those twelve men personally chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and as John said in his first letter to the church: "That which we have seen and heard and handled of the Word of life . . . and bear witness . . ." 1 John 1:1-3.

2. EVANGELISM - One given by the Lord a strong interest in non-Christians knowing the Way, the Truth, and the Life and a willingness to speak when and where the Spirit directs. They are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Cor.2:15-17). A person with this gift will not 'hold back' for fear of offending, and will be caring and careful with their presentation of the gospel message.

3. PASTOR/TEACHER - Shepherding with instruction. The under-shepherd has a strong instinct to protect people from harmful influences and to see those in your 'flock' mature in the faith. The Word is your passion.

4. TEACHING - Systematic presentation of the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). You find that people are constantly coming to understand truth as you teach the things from the Word you have researched, studied, meditated upon, and personally applied.

5. KNOWLEDGE - Systematic understanding of truth. You have ability to organize and systematize seemingly unrelated material so that it is easily understood by others.

6. RULING - Leading others. You have the ability to see the overall picture, to clarify long-range goals, and set short-term goals to accomplish them. You tend to assume responsibility if no leadership structure exists.

7. DISCERNMENT- Ability to discern the false. You have ability to sense when something is presented from a human source, powers of darkness, or divinely inspired. You often claim the enemy's defeat when you discern he is using someone for his purpose.

8. WISDOM - Application of information to concrete needs. You have an ability to relate the truth of the Word to the needs and problems of everyday life. You offer practical application of the Word of God to problems and needs.

9. EXHORTATION - Motivating others to action. You love to share truth from scripture and its practical application.

10. PROPHECY - Declaring God's truths. You have the ability to identify, define and hate sin. You rely heavily on Scriptural truth to validate your authority. You are eager to have others discover their sin and show real repentance.

11. SERVING -- Meeting practical needs. You are alert to detect and meet needs of others. You are motivated to meet needs as quickly as possible, and do so without regard for your personal weariness.

12. GIVING - Supplying materially for others. You have strong desire to give quietly to assist people and ministries, and an ability to make wise purchases and investments.

13. MERCY -- Extending emotional support. You are attracted to and understand people in distress. You have strong desire to minister to hurting people and bring healing and joy to them.

14. FAITH - Turning vision into reality. You have a strong reliance on the promises of God, and conviction that God will do as He has spoken.

15. ADMINISTRATION - Getting work done through others. You have a keen feel for the people and resources available to you when you are responsible for a task and are able to effectively organize and utilize them.

Hopefully you've identified yourself in some of this description, as well as others you know and love. Applying your understanding of gifts should help you serve, and be served better when operating within the family of God.