“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” – Titus 3:5 (NIV)
Four weeks ago, we began a study of the Holy Spirit. So far, we have studied His personality, names and emblems and we are pleased to share with you this week, His ministries concerning spiritual gifts.
Please enjoy and pass it on!
THE MINISTRIES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Many erroneously believe the Holy Spirit first came to earth at Pentecost in Acts 2. This is not true. The word of God assigns no less than eleven mighty ministries of the Spirit, and the first three were performed in Old Testament times. These eleven ministries are:
One: His ministry concerning the universe
Two: His ministry concerning the Scriptures
Three: His ministry concerning the nation Israel
Four: His ministry concerning the devil
Five: His ministry concerning the Savior
Six: His ministry concerning the sinner
Seven: His ministry concerning the Church
Eight: His ministry concerning the day of Pentecost
Nine: His ministry concerning the believer
Ten: His ministry concerning the spiritual gifts
Eleven: His ministry concerning the fruit of Christ
Because of our growth in the Lord, we will consider His Ministry Concerning the Gifts of Christ and His Ministry Concerning the Fruit of Christ.
A. HIS MINISTRY CONCERNING THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 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 took many captives and gave gifts to His people.” – Eph. 4:4-8
In the Bible the entire Trinity is often described in the act of giving. God loves to give. It was the Father who gave His dearly beloved Son. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16.
It was the Son who freely gave His precious blood. “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” – Luke 22:19.
Finally, after His arrival at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit began His ministry of gift-giving to the church, and will continue it until the rapture.
1. THE DEFINITION OF A SPIRITUAL GIFT
A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability given by Christ through the Holy Spirit to the believer at the moment of His salvation. At this point two distinctives should be and thus his talent can be made.
a. The distinction between the gift of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. The gift
occurred at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came in answer to the promise of Christ. The gifts occur today.
b. The distinction between gifts and talents. A talent is a human and natural ability given at birth. It may be in the area of music, speech, organization, etc. But no natural talent, however great it might be, can be used by its owner to glorify God until it is sanctioned by the Holy Spirit. When this occurs, the talent then may become a gift.
To illustrate this, let’s consider an individual who is a brilliant and talented musician. His ability is acclaimed by millions. But the performer is not a Christian and thus his talent can never be used by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God. But let us assume the man hears the gospel and accepts Christ as Saviour. Now the Holy Spirit may determine to transform the man’s natural talent into a supernatural gift. As there is no specific gift of music as such, the musician’s new efforts for Christ would probably fall under that of exhortation, which is a listed gift.
2. THE EXTENT OF THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS
a. EACH BELIEVER POSSESSES AT LEAST ONE SPIRITUAL GIFT
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10. “ But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” – Eph. 4:7. “ Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” – 1 Cor. 12:7. “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines.” – 1 Cor. 12:11.
b. NO BELIEVER POSSESSES ALL THE GIFTS
“Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.” – Cor. 12:29-20
3. THE PURPOSE OF THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS
A. TO GLORIFY THE FATHER
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you
created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Rev.
B. TO EDIFY CHURCH
“ until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” – Eph. 4:13.
4. THE ABUSE OF THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS
a. NOT USING THOSE GIFTS IMPARTED TO US
“ For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” – 2 Tim. 1:6. “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.” – 1 Tim. 4:14.
b. ATTEMPTING TO USE THOSE GIFTS NOT IMPARTED TO US
c. NOT USING THE GIFTS IN LOVE
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Cor. 13:1.
How often are those blessed gifts abused. Only eternity will reveal the number of men in the ministry who should never have been there. On the other hand (and just as tragic) there has doubtless been a great company of men who were called into God’s service, but never answered it. But perhaps the greatest abuse of all is the use of gifts without love.
If one rightly comprehends the material given thus far on gifts, he can understand why God sometimes seem to use a carnal Christian in a great way in spite of the glaring (or often secret) sins in his life. However, in such cases God is only blessing the gift and not the man personally. At the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor.3) there will doubtless be many surprises as perhaps a number of world-famous Christian leaders receive so little actual personal reward from Christ because of their sins and carnality.
COME DOWN O LOVE DIVINE – MHB 273
1 Come down, O Love divine, seek thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with Thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near, Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.
2 O let it freely burn, till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let Thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
Bianco da Siena, (1367-1434)
Translated by: Richard F Littledale, (1833-1890)
To be continued!
Source: Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible
All Scriptures are from the New International Version.
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