Spiritual Gifts in the Church

Spiritual gifts in the church are necessary in order for believers to come together in unity and for the Body of Christ to be strengthened and grow in faith. By allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us, we can experience tremendous blessings through His anointing.

Importance of Spiritual Gifts in the Church

By Don Bell | Reading Time: 9 minutes.

Snowy Mountains Beneath a Golden SkySpiritual Gifts in the Church Promote Oneness and Life
Source: ©Photoerick/Depositphotos.com

Paul writes, "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to EACH ONE for the profit of ALL" (1 Corinthians 12:7, emphasis added). The Greek word συμφέρω (sympherō), translated profit of all, also means to bring together, to contribute in order to help.

Before discussing the nine gifts of the Spirit, Paul wants to clarify that these gifts are given to EACH individual in the Body of Christ, not just a select few. The purpose of spiritual gifts is to unite believers and help them to build each other up for service.

For too long, believers have been limited to a spectator role in meetings while ministry work is left to professional clergy. However, this was NEVER God's intention!

Paul states, "[Christ] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the SAINTS for the WORK OF THE MINISTRY, for the EDIFYING of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-12, emphasis added).

Believers must be equipped in order to serve (minister) effectively and build up the Body of Christ of which they are a part. This includes developing confidence in operating the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit.

When believers are fully equipped and actively using their spiritual gifts, they will come alive, and the Body of Christ will grow and mature as God intended.

The Significance of 1 Corinthians 13

Christians refer to 1 Corinthians 13 as "The Love Chapter" yet rarely consider its scriptural context and intended meaning.

The love discussed in this chapter holds greater significance than often what's observed at Christian meetings where participants sing, "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love."1

Despite this intended display of "love," it doesn't escape the public's notice that not all Christians are on speaking terms, and some would never consider attending a meeting with believers of a different denomination. Clearly, it's not the love intended by the hymn.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church to address crippling doctrinal and practical issues that they had raised in a previous letter to him. One of the main issues he tackles is the proper use of spiritual gifts in the church.

The Corinthian believers lacked a clear understanding of how these gifts should manifest through individuals in the church. Some were selfishly using spiritual gifts for their own ends without understanding their shared purpose in the church, while others were selfishly inactive, always receiving while rarely contributing.

Paul begins chapter 12 by saying, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant" (1 Corinthians 12:1). He goes on to explain the manifestations of the gifts and makes it clear that each member of the church has value and potential for ministry, not just a few who might consider themselves more important.

Paul concludes the 12th chapter implying that each member has a role in exercising the gifts of the Spirit. He urges, "Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:31).

The Greek word μέγας (megas), translated as best, has been misunderstood to imply that some gifts are more desirable than others. However, megas is more accurately translated as "great," as it is in most other instances in The New Testament. Paul is really saying, "These are amazing gifts, so eagerly desire them!"

The "more excellent way" is obviously the LOVE described in 1 Corinthians 13. However, it's not the same love that's commonly discussed or sung about. The Greek word ἀγάπη (agapē), translated as love in chapter 13, refers to God's agape love, a fruit of the Spirit. Agape is distinct from emotional affection, or the brotherly love (philadelphia) mentioned in Romans 13:10 and elsewhere.

Love Is Something You Do

Paul is urging the Corinthians to earnestly desire the great spiritual gifts, and he'll show them an unselfish, more excellent way to exercise them — agape love. Love was never to displace the gifts as some have wrongly taught; love is to motivate their use in the church.

Immediately after chapter 13, Paul states, "PURSUE love, and DESIRE spiritual gifts …" (1 Corinthians 14:1, emphasis added), followed by detailed instructions on how to properly operate spiritual gifts in the church, signifying their importance.

Clearly, it's God's agape love that will motivate believers to step beyond their comfort zones and speak prophetic words, deliver words of knowledge, and relay gifts of healing. Paul affirms this saying, "Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel" (1 Corinthians 14:12).

The Greek word οἰκοδομή (oikodomē), translated edification, refers to building up, the act of one promoting the growth of others. Paul emphasizes that believers should DESIRE spiritual gifts in the church, as long as their focus is on edifying the Body of Christ.

So, how can you know if God's agape love is present and flowing in your local church? Believers will embrace the gifts of the Spirit and actively use them to edify the church! The late healing evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman was known for saying, "Love is something you do!"

Edification, Exhortation, and Comfort

Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 14:3 that those who prophesy should speak words of edification, exhortation, and comfort to others. These three qualities are basic to prophecy and, by extension, to each of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit.

  • Edification means to build others up.
  • Exhortation means to offer strong encouragement.
  • Comfort means to bring others into a more peaceful state.

Therefore, any manifestation of a spiritual gift must meet at least one of these three characteristics to be considered a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift's manifestation should leave individuals or groups in a better physical, mental, or spiritual condition than before.

Paul emphasizes the importance of edification when believers gather, suggesting that EACH person should be willing to contribute something to benefit the group.

He says, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, EACH of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26, emphasis added).

Our calling is to attend believer meetings with our faith strengthened, prepared to share spiritual gifts in agape love to build up fellow believers in the Body of Christ. Similarly, we'll be edified by the participation of other believers.

Furthermore, when we're guided by God's love, we can be instruments to meet people's needs anytime and anywhere. Our ministry will be empowered by His anointing when we're motivated by a genuine heart's desire to love and serve others.

A question was raised in a weekly prayer meeting regarding our authority over evil spirits. I answered by explaining that as believers, Jesus has given us "authority over all the power of the enemy" (Luke 10:19).

I went on to say that if we use the gift of discernment of spirits and determine that someone is being held in bondage by an evil spirit, we are to rebuke the evil spirit and command it to release the person and leave.

A man looking surprised, interrupted and said, "I just felt something like cool water poured over my head, and now I feel lighter. It's as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel so much lighter!"

The Holy Spirit's presence caused the evil spirit of depression to flee without me having to directly confront it. Jesus confirmed the Word spoken with a sign.

Not only was the man blessed with deliverance, but the entire group was encouraged and uplifted in faith.

Why the cool water? I've witnessed this phenomenon several times while ministering, and I believe it's connected to Isaiah's prophecy: "'For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground'" (Isaiah 44:3).

Jesus says, "'He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:38).

In Jesus' time, cool, fresh spring water that bubbled up from the earth was highly prized in the dry land of Israel and was known as living water.

As Jesus promised, this "living water" (anointing) flows from believers to bring healing to those who are dry and thirsty for truth.

"For I Long to See You" —Paul

"A dead church cannot promote life nor can it reproduce."

Paul writes in Romans, "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established — that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me" (Romans 1:11-12).

In this scripture, Paul is expressing his desire to visit the Roman church to participate and share a spiritual gift that will provide them with strength and encouragement. He can hardly wait to get there!

Additionally, Paul emphasizes the importance of mutual faith as a source of encouragement for both him and the recipients of the gift. This should also serve as a guiding principle for us when meeting with the church.

Faith will increase when believers are actively obeying the Holy Spirit and exercising their supernatural abilities to edify one another.

Similarly, Peter says, "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10-11).

The importance of using spiritual gifts in the church to uplift and support one another cannot be overstated. Paul encourages us to "desire spiritual gifts" (1 Corinthians 14:1). A dead church cannot promote life nor can it reproduce. An alive church ultimately brings glory to God.

Spiritual Gifts Strengthen the Church

In order for believers to come together in unity and for the Body of Christ to be strengthened in faith, it is crucial that individuals are willing to step out in faith and operate the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

These spiritual gifts, bestowed upon each believer by the Holy Spirit, are not meant to lay dormant, but to be actively and courageously utilized for the benefit of the church.

By surrendering to the leading of the Holy Spirit, believers can tap into a wellspring of divine power and inspiration. The Holy Spirit's anointing flows through individuals who are open and receptive, and it is in this state of surrender and obedience that incredible blessings are experienced.

It's through the exercising of spiritual gifts that believers can find their unique roles within the Body of Christ, contributing to its growth, and development. These gifts serve as powerful tools for promoting unity, fostering an environment of support, encouragement, and agape love among believers.

However, it's important to remind that stepping out in faith and operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit requires a willingness to go beyond comfort zones and embrace the unknown. It's a call to trust in God's guidance and provision, even when it may seem unnerving or unfamiliar. It's a call that cannot be ignored!

Whenever we exercise spiritual gifts in the church, we become conduits for the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as a fire hose drenches anyone in its path, when God's anointing flows through us to bless others, we are edified and blessed in the process.

Endnote

1 "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love" is a 1960s era Christian hymn written by Father Peter Scholtes (1938-2009), a Roman Catholic priest. The words are based on John 13:35.


Don Bell of Kingdom Anointing


By Don Bell, follower of the Christ.


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