God wants You to Know About His Gifts
In the first lesson you learned that God has spiritual gifts for all believers. You also discovered that God expects each believer to be faithful in using his gifts, and that the believer must have love to make any gift meaningful. Now you need to learn some things about the gifts themselves.
This lesson will help you to understand the gifts. You will see that knowledge of God’s gifts is important to the believer. You will also begin to know the several kinds of spiritual gifts and how they relate to the body of believers.
One of the exciting things about this lesson is that it can help you recognize some spiritual gift God has for you. When you recognize your spiritual gift, then you can begin to develop it and make it more meaningful.
Importance of Knowing
Knowledge Produces Faith
Faith is at the heart of all spiritual gifts and their use. The fact that they are spiritual—that is, of the spirit—shows the need for faith. Faith makes us believers. Faith also makes us useful as believers, through the gifts.
How do people get faith? The answer is both simple and sure. Faith is produced by Bible knowledge. Paul made this clear when he wrote, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?” (Romans 10:14). By hearing the message of the gospel, knowledge is received. Once knowledge is received, faith becomes possible.
Think about the disciples at Ephesus. When Paul first met them he asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). And they answered, “we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:2). Because they had not heard, they did not know. Because they did not know, they could not believe.
Then Paul began to teach them. Through his teaching they received knowledge. And once they had knowledge faith was born in their hearts. Therefore, we know that knowledge of spiritual gifts is the first step toward faith for receiving and recognizing the gifts, and also for their effective use. Until we know about spiritual gifts it is not likely they will have the place in our lives and ministries that God meant them to have.
Knowledge Governs Faith
Not only does knowledge produce faith, it governs it. By govern we mean it gives it a sense of direction and sets its limits. For this reason it is important that knowledge be as complete and true as possible. Incomplete or untrue knowledge in turn gives faith an incomplete or untrue base. A base is that upon which a thing stands. Faith without the right base of knowledge is like a house built upon half a foundation.
For example, many believers have been taught that the gift of tongues is not for our day. Because they have received this untrue teaching, their faith to receive this gift is lacking.
They can only believe what they know, even if what they think they know is unscriptural. Their faith cannot carry them beyond their knowledge. Unless their base of knowledge is corrected, these believers will go through life believing the gift of tongues is not for them. It is therefore very important that we have complete and true knowledge about spiritual gifts.
Knowledge Determines Experience
Since knowledge produces and governs our faith, it should also move us toward experience. There is an order which we need to keep in mind: 1) knowledge, 2) faith, and 3) experience. Until we know about spiritual gifts, we cannot believe by faith in them. Until we believe in spiritual gifts they will not likely be the part of our experience which God intends.
Review Paul’s experience at Ephesus in Acts 19. We have already noted that because these Ephesians did not know about the Holy Spirit, they could not believe in Him. Now we also note that because they did not know, and thus could not have faith, they lacked an experience which God planned for them. When Paul learned that they did not know about the Holy Spirit he began to teach them. He gave them new knowledge. Then they were able to believe what they had not believed before. And when their faith acted on their new knowledge they entered a whole new experience. Their new experience can be traced right back to their receiving new knowledge from Paul’s teaching.
This helps us to see how important knowledge of spiritual gifts is. Until we know, our experience will be limited.
Let us think about this a bit more. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he stated that they had the gifts of the Spirit. “For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift” (1 Corinthians 1:5-7). It appears that the Corinthians knew of these spiritual gifts and many had them. Yet knowing of them and even having them was not enough. They needed to know how to use them, “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 12:1).
Knowing the truth about these gifts leads us to a more fruitful experience in their use. This is why we need to learn all we can about spiritual gifts.
Groups of Gifts
Gifts of Ministry
The Bible does not make an exact list under each grouping of spiritual gifts. Sometimes it appears to run the groupings together. This seems to say that all of the spiritual gifts are closely related. However, for our purposes in this study, it will help us to divide the gifts into three groups. Each group will have its own list. Some of the gifts in one group may seem to overlap, to be almost the same as some of the gifts in another group. This need not trouble us, for all of the gifts come from God and have a common purpose—the building up of the body of believers and for the glory of God.
This first list includes those gifts which relate mainly to our highest responsibilities in the body of believers. Paul gives it to us in Ephesians: “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. . . . It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:7-8, 11).
Our list, then, that should be written down under gifts of ministry is:
Some scholars tell us that pastors and teachers are meant to be a single gift of ministry—teaching pastors. We will learn more about this in our next lesson.
Also in our next lesson we will begin to learn more about the use of each gift. However, a look at the general purpose for all of these gifts of ministry will be helpful now. Paul gives it to us in Ephesians 4:12, he did this “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
Other Ministry Gifts
Next in our three groups of spiritual gifts we have other ministry gifts. Before going on to find what gifts are included in this group, let’s remind ourselves of the three groups:
- Gifts of Ministry
- Other Ministry Gifts
- Gifts of the Spirit
All of the gifts under Other Ministry Gifts are named in either Romans 12 or 1 Corinthians 12. They may not be as easily recognized as the gifts of ministry or some of the gifts of the Spirit. This does not mean they are unimportant. In every case they meet a special need in the body. Think of your heart. It is rather small. It is not seen. It cannot speak. Does that mean it is unimportant? No. Without it your hands, your feet, your head, and every other part of your body could not do its duty.
The smallest part has an important function. It serves the good of the whole body. It may or may not be seen. But that is not what makes it important. What makes it important is that it serves the purpose for which it was placed in the body. Without it the body might be unhealthy and unable to do its duty. This is also true of the other ministry gifts in relation to the whole body of believers.
Included in this group which we call Other Ministry Gifts are (KJV):
- Ruling (Governments)
- Showing mercy
Gifts of the Spirit
All spiritual gifts come from God. There is a group of special gifts called the Gifts of the Spirit. These are supernatural in a special way. The word supernatural comes from two words: 1) super, meaning “above,” and 2) natural, meaning “that which follows the ordinary course of nature.” It refers to the spiritual world or to God. Therefore, when we say the gifts of the Spirit are supernatural we mean they have their source in God and their power comes from God.
For example, let’s think about the gift of tongues. Our experience and observation says a person has an ability to learn a language. But we do not expect him to speak a language he has not yet learned. Yet when given the gift of tongues, a person can speak a language which he has never learned. Thus we say his gift is supernatural. He is able to speak with a special ability and power that comes from God.
The gifts of the Spirit are all supernatural. That is, they are not possible by human means. No human abilities can reproduce them. Included in this group of the gifts of the Spirit are:
- Word of wisdom
- Word of knowledge
- Gifts of healing
- Working of miracles
- Discerning of spirits
- Gift of tongues
- Interpretation of tongues