We’ve seen this week that God is the Source for everything in our spiritual life, including ministry gifts. There are diversities (diaireseis – to take apart) of grace gifts (charismaton – gift of grace), but the same Spirit. There are differences (diaireseis – to take apart) of ministries (diakonion – service), but the same Lord. There are diversities (diaireseis – to take apart) of activities (energmaton – to work, be active, operate, have energy, power), but the same God works all in all of us. The manifestation (phanerosis – to make clear, visible, open to sight) of the Holy Spirit is given to each of us for the profit (sumpheron – useful, expedient) of all of us. God is responsible for every aspect of spiritual service. He determines everything from the gifts we get, the ministries we use them in, the power to accomplish His purpose through our ministry, and how He is glorified through our service.
Now we come to those individual grace gifts to see what they are and why God gives them to us. First, the gifts from 1 Corinthians 12.
“… for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:8-11
The nine grace gifts mentioned here are: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healings, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Paul emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit in these verses five times. Make a note of that. It is vital in the effectiveness of our grace gifts.
Paul then gave the Corinthians spiritual insights into how the grace gifts bless the Body of Christ. He pointed them to the importance of unity. Paul said that the Body is one and has many members, and all the members are one Body, “so also is Christ.” The Spirit of God baptized (placed into) every believer into one Body and made (given to) to drink into one Spirit.
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole bodywere an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Paul mentions spiritual gifts again a couple of verses later. He presents some that were not on the earlier list. He also points again to the fact that not everyone has the same or all of the grace gifts. The Holy Spirit gives individually as He Wills.
“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:28-31
Paul told the Corinthians to desire the “best gifts.” What were those? What gifts did He mention as coming in an order of first, second, and third? In context, it would seem that the best gifts are those God places at the top of His order. They are apostles, prophets, and teachers. The “more excellent way” Paul had in mind was in the next verse, 1 Corinthians 13:1: agape (unconditional love). The gifts and ministries he chose to use as examples of the more excellent way of agape were tongues of men and angels, prophecies, understanding all knowledge and all mysteries, faith, giving, and sacrifice. Paul said that those gifts and ministries were of no value if agape love was not at the forefront of their use in ministry.
It’s important to remember to study the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 along with Chapters 13 and 14. 1 Corinthians 12 – 14 is a single stream of thought that comes from this verse: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” (1 Corinthians 12:1) Paul ends his thought with this verse: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40) Do you see how beautifully these verses connect and meet the needs of Christians? The Corinthians were ignorant about spiritual matters, which led them to minister in ways that were not done decently nor in order. The same thing has happened in the Church for the past 1,950 plus years and is still a problem today. We need to hear what the Spirit tells us about the dangers of ignorance of spiritual matters.
Paul also listed grace gifts in his letter to the Romans. He first emphasized unity in the Body of Christ, then listed the gifts and how to use them.
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:4-8
This is great insight from God into what it takes to maximize the use of these gifts. If our grace gift is prophecy, we should prophesy in proportion to our faith. If our gift is ministry (service), we should use it in our ministering. If our gift is teaching, we should teach. If our gift is exhortation, we should exhort. If our gift is giving, we should give with liberality. If our gift is leadership, we should do it with diligence. If our gift is showing mercy, we should do it with cheerfulness. Think about it for a few minutes and what Paul wrote makes tremendous sense in light of what each gift is and does.
Just as we saw with 1 Corinthians 12 – 14, we need to see that Paul’s stream of thought concerning grace gifts begins a few verses earlier and continues beyond the last mention of a gift. Here’s the important set up to using grace gifts in ministry. Notice that it begins by acknowledging what our reasonable service is in light of what Christ did for us.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Romans 12:1-5
The verses following the specific gifts also give us insight into how God wants us to use our gifts in ministry. The use of each grace gift must be accompanied by character that is in the likeness of Christ’s Character. Everything God asks us to do has already been modeled for us by our Great Teacher, Jesus.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘ If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9-21
Just as he wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul said that agape love is key to using our grace gifts. I love what he wrote here. It’s one of the most powerful, concise commandments from God about how to use our grace gifts properly and to the glory of God. Paul wrote in short sentences that are filled with tremendous meaning. Each sentence could be an entire Bible study, sermon, blog, article, or even a book.
What is your dominant grace gift? I say dominant because most believers have more than one gift. Your dominant grace gift will be what drives you in your service to God. If your dominant grace gift is teaching, you will teach in any ministry situation. If your dominant grace gift is showing mercy, you will show mercy in any ministry situation. If your dominant grace gift is prophecy, you will prophesy in any ministry situation. The same is true for all dominant gifts.
Your supporting grace gifts will be what prepares and undergirds you for the ministries God will give you during your lifetime. Remember what we learned Monday about God being the Source of our spiritual service: God the Holy Spirit gives us grace gifts, God the Son gives us ministries, and God the Father gives us the spiritual energy to accomplish the objectives He has for our service. God chose you before the foundation of the world to be “holy and without blame before Him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4b) God also chose your dominant and supporting grace gifts before the foundation of the world. He chose your ministries before the foundation of the world. Nothing you have is a mistake or an after-thought. God planned it to glorify His Name, meet the spiritual needs of others, and bless you.
So, what is your dominant grace gift? Whatever it is will be exactly what you’ll need to perform the ministries God has planned for you. Is your gift prophecy? Then prophesy! Is your gift teaching? Then teach! Is your gift exhortation? Then exhort! Is your gift giving? Then give with liberality! Is your gift leadership? Then lead with diligence! Is your gift showing mercy? Then do it with cheerfulness!
Here’s a list of grace gifts from Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.
- Showing mercy
- Discerning of spirits
- Speaking in tongues
- Interpretation of tongues
- Working of miracles
I believe some grace gifts are dominant gifts, while others are support gifts. You have at least one dominant gift, along with one or more support gifts. If you know what your gifts are and are using them in the ministries God has opened for you, you know what a great joy it is to be in God’s service. If you know what your gifts are, but are not using them in ministry — get together with God today and ask Him to show you what He wants you to do with the gifts He gave you.
If you do not know what your gifts are, discover them. God may show you without anyone else being involved. I learned what my gifts were through quiet, determined, direct Bible study over a period of several months. What God showed me in His Word was different than what other Christians told me about my gifts. Knowing directly from God helped me make the decisions that turned me toward the right kinds of ministries for my gifts. You may look at the gifts list and know what God has given you without needing to study about them. The Lord may make it clear to you. God may also use other Christians to help you discover your gifts. Talk with mature believers who are using their gifts in active service. Ask them how they discovered their gifts and their ministries. You can also find some great spiritual gift tests online and at Christian bookstores. Let God be the final Voice you listen to about your gifts and ministries and you will always be on the right path.
I pray this study about ministry gifts has been helpful to you. In our Friday blog, we’ll look at how God pulls everybody’s giftedness together to build the Body of Christ in love.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”