In this issue of ACTS Magazine, we will do an in-depth examination of the various gifts listed in Scripture. We do not have space to include everything that could be said. However, if you will study thoroughly what is in this issue, you will have enough information to:
- discover your own gifts, and
- help the members of your church discover their gifts,
THE WHOLE TRINITY
There are three basic groupings of gifts in the New Testament. All three groupings are referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6:“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.”
1) “Diversities of gifts but the same Spirit” (v.4). These are the Manifestation Gifts given and operated by the Holy Spirit that are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.
2)”Differences of ministries but the same Lord” (v. 5). These are the Ministry Gifts given by Jesus Christ the Son listed in Ephesians 4:11.
3)”Diversities of activities, but it is the same God” (v. 6). These are the Motivational Gifts given by God the Father listed in Romans 12:6-8.
So we can see that the whole Trinity -Father, Son and Holy Spirit -are involved in the giving of gifts to the Church in order for the Body of Christ to function as it was designed to.
The seven Motivational Gifts given by God the Father seem to characterize a person’s basic life purpose -in other words, what motivates that person. These in built tendencies, given to each person by the Creator’s unique workmanship, are part of each person’s initial gifting.
Most of us display a “mix”, with characteristics from several of the motivational gifts. However, there is usually a single strong trait that reveals our primary gifting. (See Chapter 1 for a more detailed explanation.)
The five Ministry Gifts given by God the Son are essential for the proper growth and development of the Church. The ministry of these five kinds of leaders is to equip the Body to:
1) minister to God in worship,
2) minister to its various members through edification,
3) minister to the world around them through evangelism and good works.
These gifts are covered in Chapter 2 of this issue of ACTS magazine.
GIFTS AVAILABLE TO ANY BELIEVER
The nine Manifestation Gifts given by God the Holy Spirit are meant to “profit” the Church (1 Cor 12:7). The Greek word sumphero translated as “profit” means “to bring together, to benefit, to be advantageous”. This is experienced by the Church as they submit with sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and to one another in love.
All nine of these gifts are available to any believer in Jesus Christ. So it is important that all nine gifts are welcomed and sought after by all the members of the Body. (These gifts are covered in Chapter 3.)
SOME BASIC PRINCIPLES TO KEEP IN MIND
- The Ministry Of Every Believer
All believers in Jesus Christ have been given spiritual gifts. They are expected by God to use them. These gifts are to be used under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in submission to the God-given structure of the authority in the local church. The believers’ gifts will be used in three general areas of ministry:
1) UPWARD – Worship = Ministry to the LORD.
2) INWARD – Nurture = Ministry to the BODY of Christ.
3) OUTWARD – Witness = Ministry to the WORLD.
All believers can, and should, grow in the following areas: their ability to use their gifts; their depth of understanding in how to use their gifts; and their yieldedness to God when using their gifts. We as leaders should model for our church the teachable spirit and the attitude of a submitted heart that is necessary for growth.
Leaders must also encourage believers in the church to use their gifts. Our church body needs what each person can supply. That is how churches do good works and grow (Eph 4:16).
Leaders should also be aware of both the insecurity and the pride that would tempt us to try to be a “one-man show” and do all the ministry by ourselves. Nothing quenches the anointing and presence of God’s Spirit more than leaders who let their pride or their fears get in the way of what He wants to do.
2. The Problem Of Confusing Your Nose With Your Kidneys
That may sound like a funny title, but it illustrates a common and devastating problem in the Body of Christ.
Let’s put it this way: your nose is prominent. It can be easily seen and admired (or made fun of!). Your kidneys are important. Yet they cannot be seen (unless you are in surgery!). The question becomes: “Which of these -your nose or your kidneys -could you live without?” Obviously we can live without our nose; but we cannot survive without our kidneys!
What does this have to do with the Body of Christ and spiritual gifts?
Simply put, too many believers (including leaders) seem to think “more prominent” means “more important”, and “less prominent” means “less important.” Yet, as we have seen, this is not true of the human body: the kidneys are less prominent than the nose, but they are certainly no less important than the nose!
It is the same in the Body of Christ.
The less prominent, less noticeable “behind-the-scenes” gifts – such as serving, showing mercy, giving, administrating -are certainly no less important, in God’s sight, than the more prominent, visible, “public” gifts such as Apostle, Prophet or Evangelist.
We, as leaders, must teach the people of our churches that the most important thing they can do whether or not they have a “prominent” gift is to obey what the Spirit of God leads them to do in terms of ministry. No gift given by God is unimportant. All are necessary for a healthy church (see 1 Corinthians 12:14-27).
3. Character Or (Spiritual) Gifting?
It has been rightly said that spiritual gifts are like two-edged swords. These two-edged “swords” can cut both ways. They can and should be used in a good way (1 Cor 12:7). But they can also be used in negative, disorderly and harmful ways (the reason for Paul writing 1 Corinthians Chapters 12-14).
Which way (positive or negative) that “sword” (gift) cuts is determined by the character and heart of the individual more than anything else.
A CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER
God has given gifts to His Church. Yet His greatest priority for us is that each one of us be conformed to the “image” (character, moral and spiritual likeness) of Christ (Rom 8:28, 29; 12:1,2; 2 Cor 3:18).
Too often, in the Body of Christ, believers (including leaders) pursue the exercise of their gifts (charismata) without regard to the development of character. It must be said, however, that from God’s perspective, NO GIFT CAN REPLACE A CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER. GOD’S WILL IS THAT WE HAVE BOTH THE GIFTS AND A CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER!
If we have a Christ-like character, we will discover that the spiritual gifts function better. They will also bear more fruit in the lives of others, because there is a greater anointing on our lives.
A LIFELONG PURSUIT
How can we grow in Christ-like character, having balance, integrity, and the fruit of the Spirit? Here are some simple suggestions to start with:
1) submit your heart to God and other Christians;
2) develop a humble, teachable spirit;
3) pursue the development of the fruit of the Spirit in your life (Gal 5:16-26);
4) study the Word continually, always applying it to your personal life;
5) allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the “fleshly” attitudes in your own heart. Repent of these attitudes when they are revealed and make a fresh surrender to Christ often (Rom 13:14).
There is more that can be done. Meet regularly for prayer with other Christian leaders in an atmosphere of openness and mutual accountability. If you are not meeting with such a group, then attempt to organize such a regular meeting. The most dangerous thing a leader can do is to isolate himself. That is where pride, sin and deception can come in.
Surround yourself with other Christian leaders, and bear each others’ burdens (Gal 6:1-3).
We hope you will use these suggestions as an encouragement to be more diligent in your lifelong pursuit of being conformed to the image of Christ.