King Jesus has given spiritual gifts to his people so that they build each other up. Are you using yours?
We are working our way through the resurrection account of Luke 24 as a church. None of the disciples were expecting Jesus to be raised from the dead, let alone thinking about how He would ascend to the throne of God. But Jesus did ascend to heaven (Luke 24:50–52)! In Acts 2, Jesus, now on the throne of heaven, sends his Spirit. The Spirit gives us new hearts that want God and can love Him. The New Covenant is about forgiveness and receiving the Spirit of God. What is often not connected is the Spiritual gifting given to each believer. When Jesus took the throne of heaven he gave gifts to his people by the Holy Spirit.
Here is an amazing truth then. When someone repents and trust Christ as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit is given to indwell and to empower for special service. We are created in Christ for good works (Ephesians 2:10). The Apostle Paul’s metaphor is of a human body. Like the human body, every part makes the body work well. If you are a Christian you cannot be passive about helping the church work well. You are specially gifted and commissioned to serve. If you are not using your gifts the church is limping along. How amazing then that privilege is. We are commissioned by the King of heaven to play a part in others trusting Christ and growing in their faith!
What does this look like? There are several lists of gifts in the New Testament and one gets the idea that these lists are representative, not exhaustive. All are supernatural because they are given and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Theologians break down gifts into two broad categories: sign gifts and service gifts.
We believe the sign gifts of prophecy and miracles were for the New Testament era. Scriptures were not complete, so local churches were given individuals that spoke an authoritative word from God to build up the church (1 Corinthians 14:1–3). The news about Christ was new and strange to some, so certain people were given abilities to do miracles (like healing and casting out demons) to authenticate this new message.
The Apostle Paul said that these kinds of gifts would come to an end when the church matured (1 Corinthians 13:8–9). Hebrews 2:4 speaks of signs and wonders being in the past tense. By the middle of second century, these kinds of gifts dropped off the scene. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t use an occasional person, a prayer, or miracle to do something supernatural, but these kinds of life-long giftings ceased.
But service gifts remain. Teaching, preaching, giving, leadership, helps, compassion ministry and more are included in the various lists (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:3–8, 1 Peter 4:9–11). While all people are called to do these kinds of things when needed, some are especially gifted in them for their local church.
If you are following Jesus obediently and humbly, God will give you an impulse to help the church and fellow believers. That impulse will be channeled through your gifts.
Notice that Paul adds how we are to use those gifts. That is with faith, with a servant’s heart, with a teacher’s heart, with a preacher’s heart, with zeal, with generosity, with cheerfulness. How we use the gifts is just as important. We are to steward the gifts we are given (1 Peter 4:10).
Usually, we don’t have just one gift. Peter uses the phrase “varied grace” or multi-colored in 1 Peter 4:10. We all have a painter’s palette, so to speak, and our gift colors make a certain blend. My own gifts are probably (1) service, (2) teaching, and (3) mercy. Everyone’s palette is different.
Always start in the places you work and live. Ask the Lord to help you help the people in your workplace your family and community. Spiritual gifts should first benefit your family. Then ask the Lord to make you aware of needs in your church. A local church never has too many servants, teachers, givers, and leaders. As we grow numerically, there are always more opportunities. As we plant a new church this winter, there will be more opportunities.
Spiritual gifts are skills that need to be improved and honed. Gifted bible teachers still need to be accurate teachers and trained how to study the bible. They will grow in their effectiveness. Servant-hearted people and compassionate people need wisdom in what is the best way to help. Leaders need to grow in giving clear vision and direction. Counselors need wisdom in a wide variety of situations. Find mature and wise people to help you grow and hone your gifts. Get feedback.
If you are still unsure, go to an elder or pastor and ask where you can help in the church. Start with what they suggest. Be faithful. Keep at it. If you find this area not your best fit, try another. If you see another opportunity that seems better suited to you, ask to switch. As you mature, you will see what things bring you more joy as you do them. Sometimes harder ministries end up being more satisfying because you sense God using you. That is a good sign of a spiritual gift.
It is truly an amazing thing to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit and gifted to serve.