Ability, Grace, and Ultimate Purpose.

"Many a little makes a mickle." This Scottish proverb illustrates how many small things can add up. The local church is made up of many people with Spirit-given special abilities. The combination of these gifts working together is one of the most significant influences in the world.

God ultimately gets the credit for anything accomplished through the use of these divine abilities (2 Corinthians 4:7). Every Christian receives at least one spiritual gift when they are born again, and it is important for all believers to be discipled to understand and use their spiritual gifts.

R. L. Thomas outlines six introductory truths in his book Understanding Spiritual Gifts.

  1. Spiritual gifts are unique. Satan cannot produce counterfeits of these special abilities.
  2. Spiritual gifts are unified in their source, the Holy Spirit.
  3. Spiritual gifts function within the body of Christ. Every part is essential to the work of the local church.
  4. The primary fruit of spiritual gifts is love. The resulting love is preeminent, perfect, and permanent.
  5. Spiritual gifts have a unified purpose, and that is edification.
  6. Spiritual gifts have a unified perspective. They are to be used in an orderly fashion.
Identifying Spiritual Gifts

There are four main passages on spiritual gifts in the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12-14, Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:1-17, and 1 Peter 4:7-11. The last passage gives us two categories of gifts: speaking and serving.

Speaking gifts are given to add, instruct, shepherd, and persuade. They include the following:

  • Evangelism – The ability to proclaim the Gospel message with exceptional clarity.
  • Teaching – The ability to explain God’s truth to people. This gift entails the ability to grasp, arrange, and present revealed truth effectively to enhance understanding. It is sometimes given alone and sometimes in connection with the Pastoring gift.
  • Exhorting – The ability to encourage, comfort, and admonish people. A believer with this gift may seek to correct immoral choices of an indifferent believer or to persuade a grieving person to view trials biblically and find reassurance in the Lord.
  • Pastor/Teacher – The ability to shepherd, provide for, and protect God’s people. This gift broadens the gift of teaching by adding the component of shepherd-like concern.
  • Mercy – The overwhelming desire to help those who are experiencing distress, misery, pain, and anxiety.

Serving gifts provide the necessary support services for the speaking gifts. Without their exercise, the speaking gifts would be rendered useless.

  • Administration – An exceptional ability to use sound judgment to lead or control matters of external organization. Used in governing the church or an aspect of local church ministry.
  • Faith – The ability to fully trust God for the supply of need.
  • Giving – The superlative ability to give with no thought of return, excelling superabundantly to meet the needs of the church.
  • Helping – The exceptional ability to help whenever physical needs arise. This is most often exercised to meet the needs of widows, orphans, sick, strangers, and travelers. This is the hands and feet of the pastor/teacher gift. It consists of the unusual ability to determine need and an equally unusual ability to meet those needs.
The Use of Spiritual Gifts

There is no context of spiritual gifting without their exercise. Peter assumes that those who have spiritual gifts are using them. After a person believes in Christ unto salvation, they must be discipled and walk with someone into using their gift in ministry. When one part of the body is only present but not working, it makes the whole dysfunctional.

When functioning as God intended, church is not about showing up, giving your tithe, and exchanging niceties with people who believe the same as you. It is much more dynamic and meaningful! We need to change our view of when we gather for worship. Let's love each other toward being a local church where every member is exercising their spiritual gift to build others up.

Application Points

  • Do you need to change your view of church? Are you an observer or a participant?
  • Do you know your spiritual gift? Are you using it? What step can you take to find out where you are gifted and minister to your local church?
  • Who can you love and disciple toward understanding and exercising their spiritual giftedness?

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: "Take My Life, and Let It Be"

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee,
swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be filled with praises, Lord, to thee,
filled with praises, Lord, to thee.

Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use every power as thou shalt choose,
every power as thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is thine own; it shall be thy royal throne,
it shall be thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for thee,
ever, only, all for thee.