Spiritual gifts


‘Rejoice in being a gifted church’


1 Corinthians 12:1-11


Spiritual Gifts 101

1. Spiritual gifts come from a supernatural change in us (vs 1-3)

The Holy Spirit gives us truth, life, and the capacity to be fruitful for God

This is a reality to celebrate, to lift our heart and to energize our life

2.  Spiritual gifts come from the triune God who is communal (vs 4-6)

God is a triune being who has always existed as three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

God by nature has always lived in and delighted in community; he has always been communicative and interactive

God’s work in the church flows out of his communal nature

This includes his purpose for the gospel and for spiritual gifts

v7 spiritual gifts are given for the common good (the rest of ch 12 illustrates this)

After v6, the focus remains on the Holy Spirit who distributes spiritual gifts

The context of chapters 12-14 is that the gifts were being used selfishly in Corinth

Instead we should view spiritual gifts through God’s communal nature

3.  Spiritual gifts are the activity of the Holy Spirit

A good working definition for spiritual gifts is found in v7

Believer, you are a gifted person; every believer has spiritual gifts (v7 & v11)

Your gifts are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit (v7)

The Holy Spirit does dwell in us, he does work in us, and he will use us

Spiritual gifts are an empowerment of the Holy Spirit (v11)

The exercise of our gifts is primarily what he is doing

The Holy Spirit uses our capacities, but he works far beyond them

Our gifts are carefully selected in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit (v11)

We should not demean our gifts or feel discouraged by what we don’t have

God is being good in our gifting – so take joy in it

4.  There is diversity in spiritual gifts (vs 4-6)

This is true in the variety of gifts (there is no exhaustive list) and in how they are used

This point is extensively made throughout chapter 12 – why?

We like to systematize our experience and expect others to fit into it

We like to compare, resulting in arrogance or discouragement

With this diversity, we must maintain the following:

(1)  Unity – chapter 12

(2)  Love – chapter 13

(3)  Order – chapter 14

5.  How do we know discover our gifts?

Don’t try to fit into any specific list

Since gifts are manifestations of the Spirit – focus on having a humble and pure heart

Since they are for the common good – be connected to the people of your church

Since each believer has them – be faithful and they will flow from you


Applications for Being a Gifted Church

1.  We have been gifted for life together, so let’s share life together

Pursue biblical community – just being friendly at church is not being in biblical community

Be engaged with one another through meaningful listening and sharing

Look for ways to encourage one another in being Great Commandment people

2.  Look for and identify how God is working in one another

Think about your conversations – is there awareness of God’s activity in them?

God is ever active, yet we often don’t feel as if he is, so we don’t live as if he is

If we are not experiencing his presence, we will worship him less

If we are not seeing his faithfulness, we will be tempted to depend upon him less

3.  We are gifted people, so we should want to be a gifted church

What that looks like is up to God, since he is the one who gives gifts

What he does is good, so we don’t need to fear any true manifestations of the Holy Spirit

We should not try to force his activity, but we can make room in our hearts and gatherings for it




Our church is in the midst of a series of sermons on Biblical Community.

In the coming weeks we will be renewing our Membership Covenants together. These messages are mean to refresh how we look at our commitment to one another and to God.

Biblical Community is a value at Greentree which receives significant  attention year round. This is because the Bible gives it significant attention.

To be biblically accurate, we not only need to affirm biblical truths, we also need to give truths the same emphasis that the Bible gives them. For example the Gospel should receive far more emphasis than ‘end times’.

On Sunday we entered two weeks of looking at Biblical Community through 1 Corinthians 12. With that in mind, I encourage you to read this article by Daniel Hyde recently posted at Ligonier Ministries.

The article entitled “The Church is Not a Drive-Through Restaurant”, leans heavily on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

However, it doesn’t matter what text or topic your church is currently preaching, Hyde’s thoughts are worth taking in. The Church is always in a battle against having its members view it according to the prevailing culture rather than the Bible.

Let’s be sure we are not falling into that trap which is detrimental to the church and displeasing to God.


Gifted for Life Together


1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Spiritual gifts are an individualized aspect of Christian life. In Corinth, their use was selfish, divisive and creating classifications. Paul corrects them with a richer understanding of biblical community


#1 We Are Gifted By A Trinitarian God (vs 1-6)

God is a Trinitarian being (vs 4-6)

One God who always existed as three separate, yet equal persons

This is not an awkward doctrine; it’s transcendent

It ought to be celebrated, because it is part of God’s glory and beauty

Paul makes this emphasis here, because it brought needed clarity

God by nature has always lived in and delighted in community

A Trinitarian God has never been alone; he has always been communicative and interactive

The biblical emphasis on community is driven by God’s very nature

Paul wanted us to see the rich reality behind the scenes, which is that our individualized gifts are meant to reflect God’s communal nature


#2 We Are Gifted in Diversity and Uniformity

A three-fold diversity of spiritual gifts is described (vs 4-6)

There is a wide range of spiritual gifts; no list is exhaustive (Romans 12, Ephesians 4)

Paul here lists the gifts that were being misunderstood and misused

The presence of gifts doesn’t indicate maturity, how we use them does

Our concern is not to be for gifts that we don’t have, but to use what we were given

Despite this diversity, all gifts contain threads of uniformity

The “same” God empowers them all; the gifts in us are to work harmoniously

All gifts are given to serve one kingdom and it’s not ours!

All gifts have the same purpose which is to serve and strengthen the church (v7)


#3 Our Gifting is Holy Spirit Driven v11

The Spirit’s operation in us is contrasted v2 to ‘mute idols’

The Holy Spirit works in power: every simple gift is the activity of God who is Almighty  v11 

The Holy Spirit works in wisdom: distribution of gifts flows out of his eternal plan  v11  

The implication is that someone extraordinary is at work in us and through us

Regardless of our weakness, we have manifestations of the Holy Spirit

Regardless of our ignorance, we have the right gift(s)

This knowledge brings expectation in our service and activities for God

v6 the Holy Spirit empowers the activities wherever our gifts serve him
God never sends us to serve him on our own so don’t act like it

Do you want your giftedness to flourish (even if not sure which you have)?

Based upon v7 there are two keys for us:

(1)  Have a soft heart for the Holy Spirit to use

(2)  Be involved in the lives of the people of your church


Application of Our Being Gifted for One Another

1. Our presence is important

Our presence is meant to be enriching

The Church (your brothers and sisters) are weakened by your avoidance of church life

Our presence not simply important in church services, we need to be active in sharing life together

2. Being creative is good, but cleverness doesn’t drive fruitfulness

Reliance on the Holy Spirit is the engine of fruitfulness

We show this reliance through submission to God, and prayerfulness in all things

3. Our gatherings (at all levels) always have a supernatural element

We ought to be in expectation as we gather and the gifts are multiplied

Our gatherings are an orchestration by God of his gifting to all

We have been Gifted for Life Together – so let’s BE together



“We are a Spirit gifted people”     1 Corinthians 12

Spiritual gifts 101 (vs1-11)

Spiritual gifts are enabling the Holy Spirit gives every believer, to serve the church (v7)

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

1. Natural gifts are also from God, but spiritual gifts are given to believers after conversion

2. Spiritual gifts have great diversity including how they are used and their fruit (vs 4-6)

There is no definitive list of spiritual gifts; Paul often uses lists to illustrate a point. They are not meant to be exhaustive

In addition to the three list of gifts (I Corinthians 12, Romans 12 & Ephesians 4), other gifts are mentioned such as hospitality and celibacy

3. Spiritual gifts are diverse, but they have a clear focus

They are meant to bless the church (v7), and glorify God (1 Peter 4:8-11)

The use of spiritual gifts should point us toward each other for God’s agenda

The gifts are not for our gratification, but using them well does bring satisfaction

4. The Holy Spirit determines our gifts individually, so we should take joy in what we are given (v11)

5. Spiritual fruit is much more important than spiritual gifts

Gifts are given freely and are not indications of maturity, spiritual fruit is our measurement

Knowing our spiritual gifts

We are naturally interested in knowing our spiritual gifts

1. Since gifts are “manifestations” of the Spirit, keep your heart pure from sin

2. Since gifts are for the “common good”, get involved with the people of your church

3. Since “each” believer has them, be faithful and they will flow from you

4. Since they are used in the “body of Christ”, confirmation will come from mature believers

Put to use the gifts you have been given (1 Peter 4:10)

Everything we have from God is held in stewardship 

The gifts are meant to be God’s touch through us to others

If we are not serving God with what we know have, why expect to receive more?

The reality of having spiritual gifts is an exciting part of serving the church

We don’t serve one another by our natural potential, but by the Spirit’s enabling

God has plans to use us, our part is not complicated, we need to have a heart for God and serve Him 

The controversy over spiritual gifts  

Believers look at the operation of spiritual gifts in different ways 

Pentecostals ­­– believe the miraculous or sign gifts are central to church life

They have a strong emphasis on pursuing sign gifts and the manifestation of supernatural experiences

However, the Bible doesn’t tell us to emphasize of pursue these things

When seeking outward manifestations is an emphasis, it becomes easier for people to make false claims that their teaching, actions and authority is being inspired by God

Cessationists – believe all sign gifts ceased when the Bible was completed

They argue that sign gifts are a form of supplementing the Bible, which is why they say these gifts became unnecessary when the Bible was completed

However Cessationist wrongly lump all sign gifts into the category of new revelation. The gift of tongues is essentially for personal worship; and words of knowledge etc. are not new revelations from God, but inspired exhortations to the church.

Many of the arguments used by Cessationist are implied arguments rather than biblical arguments, such as saying tongues seemed to disappear after the apostolic age. Whether that is true or not, it is not a biblical argument.

Charismatics – believe all the gifts mentioned in the New Testament remain in operation

Charismatics are not Pentecostal in doctrine, but they want to keep the doctrines and vitality of the Holy Spirit central in church life

Christians typically think of Charismatic churches as churches which are exuberant in worship. That is a common trait, but it is not always true and it is a secondary (although important) characteristic.

Greentree Church has always been theologically charismatic.  In our view, to say gifts which were taught in New Testament epistles and which operated in New Testament churches have now ceased, would require explicit biblical declarations which are not found in Scripture.

Being a gifted church

It should grab our attention, that Paul uses this illustration of the body each time he lists spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4) 

Paul’s uses this illustration, because it fits God’s purpose in spiritual gifts so well

This illustration tells us we are needed in our church (vs 14-20)

A body with everyone filling one role would not be healthy

And when part of body doesn’t work, we call it handicapped

This illustration tells us we need the rest of the church (vs 21-24)

We were not created or saved to be self-sufficient

When we pull away from the church or create division in the church, that is a serious matter to God

A gifted people should be an active people

Gifting by the Holy Spirit is an expression God’s heart to use us

What a wondrous reality God has declared and acted upon!

Will we waste our days grasping after things we will not keep, instead of serving the Kingdom that will not diminish?

A gifted people should be a caring people (vs 25-26)

The use of our gifts should express our heart for one another 

Every true believer here has been enabled to be part of the care of the whole

Our touch on each other can carry God’s touch, isn’t that worth being involved?



The definition of a spiritual gift

An enabling given by the Holy Spirit to serve the kingdom and people of God

1 Corinthians 12:7 “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good”

Basic principles about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:7

1.   They are ‘manifestations’ of God’s power and grace: they are beyond what natural abilities, training and effort could accomplish.

2.  They are ‘gifts’ which means they are not earned, they are a grace

3.  ‘Each’ believer has gifts: they are part of the wonderful package that is our salvation

4.  Their purpose is to bless others: spiritual gifts are not for personal gratification, they are primarily to build up the church

Observations on the operation of our spiritual gifts

Natural abilities are also given by God, but the gifts of the Spirit refer to abilities given to believers

Having gifts doesn’t show maturity, how we use them, shows maturity

We are not meant to have all the gifts; the whole discussion of I Corinthians 12 reveals this

We are meant to use the gifts we have (Romans 12:6-8)

We are told to be absorbed in the ministry of our gifts (1 Timothy 4:14-15)

We are not to be absorbed with wanting gifts we do not have; the Spirit chose our gifts

There is not only a diversity of gifts, there is diversity in how they are used (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

We should not minimize any gift in yourself or in others, for they are given as the Spirit chooses (1 Corinthians 12:11)

We should not maximize one gift over another (1 Corinthians 12:21-22)

Your church needs you to exercise your gifts. They were given specifically to us to bless the rest of the church

You have a wonderfully important role in the church; it is supernatural in its character and effect

The Spirit will help you at all times in this, our use of them is never detached from Him

How do we know our gifts?

Go back to the definition of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:7

1.  Because gifts are manifestations of the Spirit – we need to keep your heart clean for Him to work freely

2.  Because they are for the benefit of the church – we need to be involved in the life of our church

3.  Since we all have spiritual gifts – if we follow those two points, our gifts will flow out, even if we don’t recognize them. Our gifts will be part of who we are as we serve Christ

The reality of having spiritual gifts is an exciting one: both for God’s desire to use us and our potential