Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #227 of the Bible 2021 podcast.  We are reading 1 Corinthians 12 today and our focus is on  What Are Spiritual Gifts and Why Did God Give Them to the Church?   We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new in listeners in    Thanks for listening!  Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\

The longest and deepest teaching on spiritual gifts is found in 1 Corinthians 12-14, and the very first verse that leads off this section is crucial:

Now concerning spiritual gifts: brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be unaware. 1 Corinthians 12:1

Other translations say “ignorant,” instead of unaware. Here are chapters in the Bible that are written by Paul under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit to keep us from being ignorant about spiritual gifts. A careful reading of these chapters will teach us about what exactly spiritual gifts are, and why God gave them to His church. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, does not want us to be ignorant, or without understanding of spiritual gifts. Simplified – He wants us to UNDERSTAND. 

Tim Keller gives a very simple, and accurate definition of spiritual gifts: Gifts are abilities God gives us to meet the needs of others in Christ’s name. Wayne Grudem, in his excellent Systematic Theology, weighs in with a definition only slightly longer, noting that a spiritual gift is,  “any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church” Sam Storm’s very helpful book on the gifts suggests that a spiritual gift is, “A God-given, and therefore gracious, capacity to serve the Body of Christ. It is a divinely empowered or spiritually energized potential to minister to the Body of Christ by communicating the knowledge, power and love of Jesus.”  Sam Storms, The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts ” Here’s My definition, for what it’s worth: “Spiritual Gifts are various supernatural empowerments of grace given to Christians by the Holy Spirit to be used to build up others and point them to Jesus.”

My definition highlights what I believe to be the four most critical components of spiritual gifts:

1. Spiritual gifts are supernatural. That is to say that they are above normal in their source, and in their empowerment. They are not natural talents, but supernatural capabilities.

2. Spiritual gifts are gifts of grace. They are not earned on the basis of merit, or always given to people of great character. Indeed, some of the more gifted people in the Body of Christ can sometimes be among the least mature, and some of the (seemingly) lesser-gifted people might be possessed of loads of spiritual maturity. I note here that the word used for “spiritual gift” in passages like 1 Corinthians 12:4, 12:9, 12:28, 12:30-31 and Romans 5 is the Greek word “charismata,” which is the Greek word for “gift” or “gracious gift.”

3. Spiritual gifts are from God the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Paul writes no less than SIX times that spiritual gifts are directly given by the Holy Spirit and EMPOWERED (vs. 11) by the Holy Spirit.

4. The ultimate purposes of spiritual gifts are to build other believers up and to glorify God.  I am quite sure that God uses spiritual gifts for a variety of purposes, but it would seem that the two primary ones involve building up and maturing other believers and bringing great glory to God. Paul challenges the Corinthians, who were very interested in spiritual gifts, to be sure to focus on, “gifts that build up the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:12) and then, while discussing spiritual gifts, notes in Ephesians 4:16 that the entire Body of Christ is built up and grows via the, “proper working of each individual part.”  Peter, writing on spiritual gifts in 1 Peter 4, indicates that the ultimate result of people ministering in their individual gifts (serving with the strength of God, speaking the Words of God,) will be,  “that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything.

Why did God give His church spiritual gifts? In the simplest way possible, Paul explains it in today’s passage:

A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good: 1 Corinthians 12:7

These various gifts are given to the church for the common good – i.e. these gifts are to benefit everybody in the church and build them up. The Holy Spirit’s gifts to His church are meant to edify, encourage, mature, strengthen and build up the Body of Christ.

Consider the following parable:

Three animal friends went to school to learn how to better be contributing citizens of the forest, and to be well-rounded in a variety of animal skills. Mr. Eagle came into the school with a large amount of confidence, but was constantly in trouble with his teachers because he tended to fly to the top of trees, rather than climb them as he was supposed to. In addition, he struggled greatly with swimming, and wasn’t particularly good at running. Three semesters into school, he became a dropout, and felt guilty for years when he would spread his wings and fly. Unlike Mr. Eagle, Mrs. Squirrel, was an excellent climber, made straight “A’s” in every climbing focused class, and was also a standout at running. She was weak, however, at  swimming, and never could master flying at all. She barely graduated, but her years of swimming and flying training never actually came in handy in any of her future endeavors. Mr. Turtle came into school with great anticipation as one who excelled at swimming. For two semesters in a row, Mr. Turtle was the school’s top-rated swimmer, though he was quite weak at running, and even worse at climbing. Unfortunately, as bad as Mr. Turtle was at running and climbing, he was catastrophically bad at flying, and he ultimately was forced to leave school due to multiple near-fatal flying injuries. It would be years before he would fully recover, and some time after that before he would take any joy in swimming again.

Eagles are meant to fly, and they are at their most effective when they are flying. Squirrels, on the other hand, are gifted at climbing and running, but weak swimmers, while turtles excel at swimming, and little else. Eagles, squirrels and turtles are at their best when they are doing the things they are most gifted at. Christians are similar. According to the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 12:7), every follower of Jesus is equipped with at least one spiritual gift. At its most basic, this means that every believer has at least one area spiritually, where they are supernaturally gifted to excel, be fruitful, and glorify Christ with their lives.

Bible Memory verses for the month of August: Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 

The Bible 2021 Podcast Is a ministry of Valley Baptist Church A Salinas Church.

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