There are about ten more shopping days left before my birth-month. Of course, you all have the whole month of August to decide on cards and gifts and other goodies [ROAD TRIPS] to shower me with, since I celebrate my whole birth-month,. So do not despair. There is plenty of time left.
Unlike worldly gifts, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to the Church, the body of Christ, made up of believing followers of Jesus Christ, to be used for the good of those who make up the Church and our neighbors outside the Church for the glory of God. That’s not to say temporal gifts and natural talents cannot be used in the same way. However, the Gifts of the Spirit are spiritual gifts given by God to His children for the building up of the body of Christ. When we correctly use our spiritual gifts, we take our eyes off of ourselves and our own pleasures and use the Gifts of the Spirit for the good of others and for the praise and glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Using our spiritual gifts often, if not always, involves self-sacrifice and putting God and the needs of others first. Self–aggrandizement has no place in the use of our spiritual gifts. That’s not to say that using our spiritual gifts does not give us joy. That cannot be further from the truth. Using our spiritual gifts brings us great joy, blessings and a sense of fulfillment we cannot find anywhere else. The Gifts of the Spirit are all about glorifying Jesus Christ in our service to others, in Jesus’ Name. To take part in God’s “kingdom work” is totally awesome and totally humbling. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit and how they are to be used are listed in the Epistles of Romans (12:3-13), I Corinthians (12:4-11 and 27-31), Ephesians (4:11-13) and I Peter (4:7-11). We have already looked at the Spiritual Gifts noted in Romans 12:3-13. Next, let’s look at I Corinthians 12:4-11 and 27-31:
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of WISDOM, to another the message of KNOWLEDGE by means of the same Spirit, to another FAITH by the same Spirit, to another gifts of HEALING by that one Spirit, to another MIRACULOUS POWERS, to another PROPHECY, to another DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN SPIRITS, to another SPEAKING IN DIFFERENT TONGUES, and to still another the INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the Church [Universal] God has appointed first of all APOSTLES, second PROPHETS, third TEACHERS, then WORKERS OF MIRACLES, also those having gifts of HEALING, those able to HELP others, those with gifts of ADMINSTRATION, and those SPEAKING IN DIFFERENT KNIDS OF TONGUES. Are all APOSTLES? Are all PROPHETS? Are all TEACHERS? Do all have gifts of HEALING? Do all SPEAK IN TONGUES? Do all INTERPRET? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.”
This is when the topic of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit becomes a bit “sticky“. The Charismatic and Pentecostal Christian Denominations believe that the “Sign Gifts” – the spiritual gifts of TONGUES, PROPHECY, MIRACLES and HEALING are still going on in the Church today. Most other Christian Denominations believe they were only used to establish the first-century Church and were discontinued after the death of the first Apostles (persons who were eye-witnesses to the Resurrected Christ). Instead of deciding who is right and who is wrong about the “sign gifts”, let’s look at the definition of each gift found in I Corinthians 12:4-11 and 27-31.
(These definitions are from a Google-Search – Gifts of the Spirit – along with my own thoughts Sorry, I can’t locate the exact webpage. The color ink on my printout is faded and I can‘t find it again on the web.)
WISDOM: The ability to make decisions and give guidance that is according to God’s will.
KNOWLEDGE: The ability to have an in-depth understanding of a spiritual issue or situation.
FAITH: The ability to trust God and encourage others to trust God, no matter the circumstances. A visionary or a missionary who has given up all of his/her worldly possessions to follow God’s call are examples of those who have the Gift of Faith.
HEALING (Sign Gift): The miraculous ability to use God’s healing power to restore a person who is sick, injured or suffering.
HELPS (SERVICE): See “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Par I).
ADMINISTRATION: The ability to keep things organized and in accordance with God’s principles: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (I Corinthians 14:33).
MIRACLES (Sign Gift): The supernatural ability to perform wonders that give authenticity to God’s Word and the Gospel message.
PROPHECY (Sign Gift): The ability to proclaim a message from God. See “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Parts I, II and Part III)”.
TEACHING/PREACHING: See “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part I)”.
DISCERNING SPIRITS: The ability to determine whether or not a message, person, or event is truly from God (What I call, “A God-Thing“).
TONGUES (Sign Gift): The ability to speak in a foreign language that you do not have knowledge of, in order to communicate with someone who speaks that language (or it may be a heavenly language, as Charismatic and Pentecostal Denominations believe).
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES (Sign Gift): The ability to translate the tongues being spoken and to communicate it back to others who do not know the language being spoken.
“Where’s the BEEF?” Good question. We will find out next time. (We know the “Where’s the beef?” question from an old WENDY’S TV commercial, but some historians believe it originated in the late 1800s when soldiers complained about the quality and quantity of their meat rations.) Until next time…
The Peace of Christ be with you. Amen