Look up the following passages. Whenever you see a spiritual gift or a special position or function in the church mentioned, write it down. At the end you should have created a list.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
As you read the descriptions of these gifts, see if this describes you. Put a star next to the gift that you have seen evident in your life. When you are done, have your spouse or a close friend read the descriptions and tell you which one they think most describes you.
The prophet was one who was called by God to speak the truth to God’s people, even when it was unpopular. The prophet is one who has the ability to see when a person or a group of people is straying away from God’s plan and can articulate that to the people in a way that they can hear it and understand it. That doesn’t mean that the people will accept the word, but that doesn’t stop the prophet from speaking. Prophecy can be “truthtelling” in a one-on-one situation or can take the form of public proclamation. Some forms of preaching would be considered prophetic.
The servant is the person who sees a need and meets it with no strings attached. Aservant never asks, “What’s in it for me?” We are all called to serve, but the person who enjoys being behind-the-scenes and sees everything he does “as unto the Lord” truly has the gift of serving.
The teacher is the one who can take the truths of God’s Word and can make it plain and clear for other people. Ateacher is a student that never stops learning about God and His manifold mystery. You know you have the gift of teaching if you are constantly taking biblical passages and concepts and breaking them down into charts or systems that can be easily explained to someone else.
The word encourage means “to come alongside.” The encourager is always the first to tell you what a great job you did. He or she drops notes in the mail or gives a quick phone call for no other reason than to tell you that someone is thinking of you. The encourager is fulfilled when other people excel in what they are good at.
Contributing to the needs of others (giving)
God has blessed some people with a generous heart. Whether they have little or much in the area of physical resources, they are always quick to give to someone who truly needs it. Aperson in need breaks the giver’s heart. The giver always views his physical resources, not as his own, but as God’s, to be distributed to others.
Every group of people needs a leader. Without someone leading the charge, there is confusion in the group. The leader is the one who can step into a group of people and provide vision and direction so that the group will experience efficiency and productivity in what God has called them to do. The mark of a leader is whether people follow.
Most of us would help a hurting person who was close to us but would try to ignore the hurting person who we don’t know. The person with mercy is the one who helps no matter what. This was best demonstrated by the Samaritan in Jesus’ parable found in Luke 10. Mercy is similar to grace in that it is given to those who don’t deserve it and is given with no expectation of repayment.
Wisdom is knowledge in application. It is the combination of skill with mastery. It is one thing to have a great deal of information about God and His ways; it is an entirely different thing to know how to use this knowledge in various circumstances that come in life. The wise person will be able to give direction to an individual or a group when a crucial decision needs to be made.
There are two kinds of knowledge. There is informational knowledge, and there is experiential knowledge. The gift of knowledge is when the factual knowing of God works hand in hand with the experiential knowing of God. The person with the gift of knowledge has a wealth of informational resources in his memory that is sparked to life by the knowledge of the true and living God in the world today. Much like the wise person, the knowledgeable person can provide insight and new perspectives to the individual or the group.
We all have a faith, an active belief, that saves us. The gift of faith goes deeper than that. This is the faith that Abraham had when God said “go” but didn’t say where. And Abraham went. This is the faith that Noah had when God said “build” and Noah built. The faithful person believes that God will keep His promises even when it seems that the whole world is against him. The faithful are the backbone and the bedrock of the ommunity.
There are many ways to be healed: emotionally, physically, and spiritually. God has given some the ability to heal others in each of these areas. Sometimes He works in conjunction with a person’s talents and experience either as a physician or a therapist. Sometimes He works through them miraculously to bring about healing in unexplainable ways. This gift can range anywhere from the person who has a listening ear and a gentle touch that soothes the soul to the person who can bring about deliverance from sickness. (Remember, this is the work of the Spirit, not the person.)
Throughout Scripture God had to show up in “supernatural” ways to get the people’s attention. Elijah called down fire from Heaven. Moses parted the Red Sea. Peter healed people. Joshua caused the sun to stand still. We are skeptical of these gifts, but we can’t deny they exist. Just like in Moses’ story, the forces of evil can perform “miracles” so we need to be cautious and wise about this gift. Yet, we cannot rule it out either.
Distinguishing between spirits
This gift was given to balance the previous gift. We live in a world where the spiritual world is alive and well…we just don’t like to admit it. Many people are claiming to have encountered “spirit guides” and have projected themselves to astral planes and can read “auras.” These things may appear as the gift of miraculous powers, but they are nothing more than Satanic deception. God has gifted some to be able to discern whether
something is from God or not. If a leader comes to the church and is using human tactics or is leading from a selfish motivation, those with the gift of “discernment” can “see through them” in a heartbeat. We need to listen to them to be able to avoid some nasty pitfalls.
Speaking in tongues
This gift is the granddaddy of controversy that has divided the church down the middle for the past 100 years. What is “tongues”? It is the ability to speak in a language that is foreign to your own (human or angelic) without having studied it. Why is it given? In the first century the Word was being spread from town to town. In those days every village had its own language or dialect. It would have taken forever to spread the Word to each language group. God gave His people the ability to enter a new town and speak their language. This accomplished two things. 1) it allowed the messenger to clearly articulate the Good News of Jesus to the hearer, and 2) it was a miracle that proved to the hearer that this message was from God. It was truly a spectacular gift which caused many people to envy those who had it. (That was one of the big issues in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Do a study on this when you get a chance.) Is “tongues” something that every Christian should do? No. All of the passages that we have studied have made it clear that the gifts were distributed throughout the body. Some got this one, and some got that one. Is “tongues” still a gift for today? Absolutely. There is no strong evidence to say that any gift has stopped. The one thing we do know is that “tongues” is a sign for the unbeliever and is not to be practiced in the believer’s worship service. (1 Corinthians 14:22-25) If anyone does speak in a tongue, it must be interpreted; otherwise, it is to be kept silent. (1 Corinthians 14:27-28)
On the flip side of the “speaking in tongues” gift is the “interpretation of tongues” gift. Language is designed for communication, not empty proclamation. When the missionaries went into the new villages, some could speak the new language, and others could interpret them. Why these gifts weren’t given to the same person, I don’t know. Maybe they were. Maybe they were divided out in order to insure that missions was a community event. At any rate, if you can interpret tongues without having any study, then you need to stick close to those with the gift of tongues.
Apostle means “one sent.” The apostle is the one who feels compelled by God to move out into a new field, whether it be geographical or philosophical, and plant a new work that will glorify God and propel the work of His kingdom. Church planters most often are apostles. People who see a need in the church and start a new ministry to meet that need, even if it means encountering resistance, are apostles.
We are all called to share the message of the Good News of Jesus with those around us, but the evangelist can’t think of doing anything else. The evangelist is continually looking for opportunities to turn average conversations into conversations about Jesus. The evangelist is heartbroken by the fact that the world does not know Jesus and is not experiencing the fullness of life that comes through Him. This heartbreak motivates him to do whatever it takes to spread the message of the Gospel.
The Greek word for “pastor” literally means “shepherd.” The shepherd is the leader that leads from behind rather than in front. The leader takes the hill and hopes everyone has followed. The shepherd points to the hill and makes sure that everyone in his span of care gets to the hill in a healthy and safe way, even if it means taking a little longer to get there. Shepherds tend to ask about the health of those they lead before they ask
about their productivity or efficiency.