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Spiritual Gifts: What Is A Spiritual Gift? (Part #1)

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SIH TOA ICONThe Spirit’s Workings Among Men

Spiritual Gifts: What Is A Spiritual Gift? (Part #1)

Introduction:

“Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.”  (1 Corinthians 12:1)

This verse is the beginning of a three chapter section of Scripture that addresses the subject of “spiritual gifts”.  Why does Paul write at such length concerning this subject?  It is obvious from what is written that the church at Corinth had many misunderstandings about spiritual gifts which led to their misuse.

In spite of these many misunderstandings, Paul’s clearly explains that concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.  He was determined to give the church at Corinth much needed information clearly explaining the identity, purpose and longevity of these gifts.  In doing so, he was giving to the Corinth church the opportunity to be educated in these gifts which would allow them to exercise their God-given gifts in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord.

There can be much fault found with the church at Corinth which was, probably, the most carnal church in existence at that time.  But one thing we must always remember…  It is because of the church’s ignorant abuse of these gifts that we have these wonderful teachings concerning spiritual gifts which can be used for our edification.  Our Lord is so great He was able to turn their ignorance and misuse of gifts for our good and His glory.

Much, but not all, of our study on spiritual gifts will be derived from these three chapters in the book of 1 Corinthians.  Not only will we be sharing the teachings of Paul and others on this subject, but we will also share his motive for this study…. Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.   Our greatest desire for this study is that we all may come to a better understanding of spiritual gifts and their proper place in the local assembly before, and after, the completion of the Word of God.

 

Lesson:

A Spiritual Gift Defined

Throughout this study the word commonly translated “gift” is the Greek word “charisma”.  It is from this word that we get the phrase “charismatic”.  So what is the definition of “charisma”?

“Charisma” refers to:

1.  a “free gift”

2. an “undeserved gift”

3.  a “gift of grace”

4.  a “gift given out of kindness and mercy”

The idea behind “charisma” is God giving us a gift that we DO NOT DESERVE, and WE CANNOT GAIN OF OUR OWN MERIT OR EFFORTS.  It is given to us as a favor, or as an act of mercy done on behalf of the unworthy.

n 2 Corinthians 8:4-6, we find a clear reference to this principle…

Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and [take upon us] the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.  And [this they did], not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.  Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.”  (2 Corinthians 8:4-6)

 Here, we find the word “charis” (the root of charisma) translated in two different ways.  In verse 4, we find it translated by the word “gift”, while in vs 6, we find it translated by the word “grace”.   In the context of these passages, we find Paul speaking of love offerings received from the churches at Macedonia to be distributed by the Apostles to the poor of Jerusalem.  These love offerings were gifts given as an act of grace.  The churches at Macedonia were not obligated to give them, and the poor of Jerusalem did not deserve them.  They truly were “gifts of grace” bestowed upon the poor from the churches of Macedonia.

We Are Not To Seek To Obtain A Specific Spiritual Gift

Please note in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11:

1.  The Lord exercises His power in many different ways –

And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  (“operations” – mighty workings)

2.  The Lord has different areas of service in which we are to serve Him –

And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.”  (“administrations” – service, waiting on tables)

3.  The Lord sovereignly dispenses to His servants differing gifts to enable them to fulfill their calling –

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.(to profit withal” –  to benefit collectively – to profit entire local church not just gifted person)

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (“severally as he will” – individually as he decides.)

From all of this, we learn that a spiritual gift is nothing that can be earned, nor gained by our efforts.  It is not a matter of “becoming good enough” to receive any specific gift.  They are sovereignly distributed by the Lord for the good of the local assembly in which they were to be exercised.    These gifts are given by grace to those who do not deserve them, nor can be gained through any effort of man.  It is not in our place to attempt to dictate to the Lord what gift is best for us to possess.  It is totally up to Him based upon the needs of the assembly.  Therefore we are not to seek to obtain any specific gift.  We are to be content with whatever gift(s) He chooses to graciously bestow upon us.

However, in 1 Corinthians 12:31, 1 Corinthians 14:1, and 1 Corinthians 14:12 the terms “covet earnestly”, “desire” and “zealous” are used to describe the attitude Christians should possess concerning spiritual gifts. Each of these phrases/words are translated from the same Greek root word “zelos”.   What does “zelos’ mean in these passages?  To understand one of the usages of “zelos” in God’s Word we need to look at two other passages where its meaning is made clear…

 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.”   (Acts 18:25)

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;”   (Romans 12:11)

In these verses, “zelos” is translated by the term “fervent” and, in both cases, it is not speaking of a desire to OBTAIN but it is speaking of a desire to USE what is previously received from the Lord.

We can see that the word “zelos” can be describing what our attitude should be concerning a gift we have already received.  It is a desire to use the best gift to profit the local assembly for any given situation.

For example:

1.  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”  (1 Corinthians 12:31)

We are being told that when the local church has a specific spiritual need, we are to look at the gifts we have been given by God and seek to use the gift that will meet the current needs of the assembly.   All of God’s gifts are equally good but each is “best” to be exercised when it is the gift needed the most by the local assembly.

2.  “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.”  (1 Corinthians 14:1)… 

1 Corinthians 14:1, in the current condition of the Corinth church, they could best benefit from the gift of prophecy to  instruct them more fully in the ways of the Lord.  In this instance, the use of the other spiritual gifts would not be as much of a benefit to them  (1 Corinthians 14:1-5).  Therefore, they were to desire for the proper gift to be exercised in the assembly, which, in this case, was the gift of prophecy.

3.  Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.”  (1 Corinthians 14:12)

This verse clearly explains that the gift they should desire to exercise should be the gift that will give the most benefit to the local church at Corinth.  These gifts are not given to bring attention to oneself, nor for other personal gain. The Christian is to always exercise his God-given gifts with a spirit of selflessness exercising his gifts for the good of the assembly.

Every Gift is Meant To Be Exercised Within A Local Assembly

Various gifts of the Spirit were included in the context of the Great Commission, which is a set of responsibilities that the Lord has given to His local assemblies…

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”   (Mark 16:15-18)

This helps us to understand that the exercise of these gifts were a responsibility of members of the local assembly and were given to them for their benefit.  All of the spiritual gifts are given to us for the purpose of use and edification of the local assemblies which are, individually, the body of Christ…

…  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?  But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.  For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:  That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another… And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”   (1 Corinthians 12:12-31; see also Romans 12:3-8 and Ephesians 4:10-16)

If we do not recognize the needs of our local assembly (and therefore do not exercise our gifts when needed) or, if we are not a member of the assembly that the Lord would have us to join, the assembly is harmed through our lack of action.  Also, if we selfishly exercise gifts that are not needed by the assembly, the assembly is harmed as well.

Possession of our gift(s) is a great blessing, but along with it comes a great responsibility of stewardship as well.

The Difference Between Talents, Fruits and Gifts Of The Spirit:

The following table helps us to understand the difference between the talents, fruits and gifts we are given by God through the Spirit’s intervention…

Type Of Gift Texts Gifted Person Evidenced From Nature Of Gift Types Received
Physical Talent Matthew 4:18-20 Mankind Physical Birth Natural (Physical) Various(Lord’s Discretion)
Fruit Of The Spirit Galatians 5:22-24 Saved Spiritual Birth Natural (Spiritual) All
Spiritual Gift (Charisma) Romans 12:4-81 Corinthians 12:8-11Ephesians 4:11-121 Peter 4:8-9   etc. Saved Lord’s  Intervention Supernatural (Spiritual) Various(Lord’s Discretion)

Notes on above chart:

This chart is given to quickly illustrate there is a distinct difference between the “Spiritual Gifts”, which is the theme of this Bible study, and the “Fruits of the Spirit” and “Physical Talents” all of which are given by God to man.  The individual points in this outline will be covered in much greater detail during the course of our studies.

At this stage of our study, please simply understand that when we speak of the “Spiritual Gifts” they differ greatly in many areas from “Fruits of The Spirit” or “Talents”.  These three are not to be confused.  (Note: One area of similarity between the three is that all three are given through God’s grace and all three are to be used in our service to Him.)

In our next study, we will begin to look at the different types of Spiritual Gifts given to man.

Additional Information (Verses Referred To In This Study):

 

 

A Spiritual Gift Defined

We Are Not To Seek To Obtain A Specific Spiritual Gift

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To 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:  But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.  (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.  For he that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [him]; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.  But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men [to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort.  He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.  I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater [is] he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.”  (1 Corinthians 14:1-5)

 

Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.”   (1 Corinthians 14:12)

Every Gift is Meant To Be Exercised Within A Local Assembly

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?   And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?  But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.  For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:  That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

 

 

 

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;  Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

(Romans 12:3-8)

 

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)   And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”   (Ephesians 4:7-16)

The Difference Between Talents, Fruits and Gifts Of The Spirit:

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left [their] nets, and followed him.”   (Matthew 4:18-20)

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”   (Galatians 5:22-24)

 

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;  Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”   (Romans 12:4-8)

 

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;  To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;  To 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:  But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”   (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

 

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”  (Ephesians 4:11-12)

 

As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.   If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister, [let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”  (1 Peter 4:10-11)

 


15 Comments

  1. robertjgood says:

    Interesting idea about being fervent in using your spiritual gift. How then would you translate those verses that use the words, covet and desire?

    • Rob Barkman says:

      The same way…. remember they are all the same Greek word and can carry with them the same ideas.

      • robertjgood says:

        Yes, I was just seeing if you had time to give examples of your translation that would make it more clear. Or are there any English translations that already make it clearer using the word ferver?

        • Rob Barkman says:

          You will see as the study continues that, contextually these verses are speaking about spiritual gifts that had already been received by the assembly are being instructed to exercised them in the proper way. Contextually, it is not speaking about a gift that has not been received, but it clearly is speaking about gifts already received.

          In other contexts, when zealoo is speaking about something not received as of yet it can mean to desire to obtain, but in the context of the spirit and the spiritual gifts (in the examples I have already given in the above study) it cannot mean “desire to obtain” because both the Spirit and the spiritual gifts were already possessed.

          Also, if you look up the word zealoo in a good lexicon (or even a good concordance), you will find all the uses of the word in the NT and that will help you to detail the differences based upon contexts.

          Lord bless.

          • robertjgood says:

            So practically, I am seeing a few church members who are very silent. I go to a house church, so it is evident. I really believe the devil is at work oppressing them. Since I detect this, not knowing if I have any special gift of deliverance, should I desire the gift or fervently use the gift that I already have to pray and fast for them. ?

          • Rob Barkman says:

            1 Corinthians 12: makes it plain that the Lord has set in every church the gifts that are needed by the assembly. There will be no gift lacking that an assembly needs. The important thing is for each member to see the need and seek to use the gift(s) best suited for that need. So whatever gifts you possess that apply to the situation should be exercised. If a they need another gift besides the ones you possess, another church member must possess it and it is their responsibility to recognize the need and exercise the gift accordingly. If no one possesses the gift that you think is needed, you are mistaken and the gift is not truly needed.

            If you are patient as we continue thru the series many of the answers to your questions will, hopefully, become more clear.

  2. Reblogged on my FB. Blessings~Zoey

  3. At one point in my life …. several years ago… I had been watching a show that spoke of speaking in tongues.. and that every believer could have it…. that it would enhance our walk with Jesus…. so I thought maybe I should ‘try’ to obtain this gift as was instructed.. but to no avail. I thought perhaps then that I just wasn’t as ‘spiritual’ as I should be .. but I did not keep trying.. and then I determined through the Bible that different gifts are given to different people according to God’s desire for them. I do not desire now more than what God has given me… which is for me okay…. Diane

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Thanks for your comments Dianne. Believe me, you are not the only one who has struggled with these things, there are MANY Christians just like you. That is one of the reasons why I wanted to do this series. I am trusting the Lord He will lead all of us as we take time to study this important and misunderstood subject. Lord bless you.

  4. SLIMJIM says:

    Wow this post seems to get a lot of interaction. Praise God! I think it is very helpful especially how we have all kinds of different gifts and they are for the needs of the Body not just an individual ego.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      My prayer is that the Lord might use this series to bring honor to Him and help us appreciate the gifts He has given to us for our benefit. Lord bless.

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