Section 8: The Church
Week 4: Life in the Church
Day 4: Spiritual Gifts and Ministry
1 Cor. 12:14-31
The Holy Spirit gives every believer at least one spiritual gift to be used in the ministry of the Church (1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 1 Peter 4:10). There are a number of spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament. Rom. 12:6-8, 1 Cor. 7:7, 12:8-10, 28, Eph. 4:11, and 1 Peter 4:11 all contain different lists, and none are intended to be a complete inventory. According to these lists, the spiritual gifts include: serving, teaching, encouraging, mercy, the gift of healing, miracles, prophecy, speaking in tongues, and interpreting tongues, among others. No believer receives all the gifts (1 Cor. 12:14-21) and no one gift is given to all believers (1 Cor. 12:28-30).
We dealt with the more miraculous gifts from those lists in the Digging Deeper section on the Holy Spirit and concluded they are probably no longer given to the Church today. What about the other gifts though? What role do they play in the life of the Church?
In Ephesians, Paul says the goal of the gifts is to equip believers to carry out the work of building up the Church (Eph. 4:12). The spiritual gifts are thus designed to help the Church carry out its mission of leading people to faith in Christ and transforming them into his image.
An interesting thing happens to the Church as we use our gifts in this way. Paul describes it as the body being built up until we all “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Now, what does it mean to attain “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”?
Earlier, in Ephesians Paul refers to the Church as the “fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Eph. 1:23). Christ is the one who fills everything in every way. Because he is sovereign, Christ’s power extends to all things. There is nothing that falls outside his power. It’s in this sense that he fills everything. His power extends to every corner of his universe.[i]
What does that have to do with the Church? Christ’s power is particularly evident in the Church. That’s why Paul refers to the Church as the fullness of Christ. His presence, power and authority are manifested in a special way in the Church.
Great, but what does that have to do with spiritual gifts? It reminds us that our spiritual gifts aren’t a means of glorifying ourselves. They aren’t simply a means of serving others either. Although we do serve others with our gifts, something much bigger is going on. When we use our gifts, we are manifesting Christ presence and power because he is the one working in us through the Spirit.
As we use our spiritual gifts, does that help the Church experience Christ’s presence? What about his power? What spiritual gift(s) do you have? How are you using them?
Commit to using your gifts to build up the Church so that it manifests Christ’s power and presence in the world.
[i] Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (1999), 149.