Introduction to Spiritual Gifts
Turn to Romans 12
We’ve been moving in a certain direction for quite a while - toward Spiritual Gifts and it’s been a journey. We’re going to be spending some time discussing Gifts. Today is an introduction … I want to keep it simple, practical, biblical - don’t want to rush through ….
There tends to be a lot of mystery and misconceptions and even non-biblical teachings surrounding Spiritual Gifts. As a result, we can experience fear, confusion and even pain - some of us have probably been hurt by this subject. That’s one of the reasons why I want to take our time.
Now, I do not believe in Darwinian evolution, but many of us are like monkeys - we like to swing. We jump from tree to tree; or we tend to ride pendulums; we find it difficult to stay centered. Because of that, we can either neglect biblical issues or exaggerate them - and Spiritual Gifts has had its share of both.
So, what are some goals over the next several weeks?
· Minimize confusion
· Center on Biblical truth
o What are spiritual gifts, how do we discover them, what is the purpose …
· Solidify unity in our diversity
· Heal the wounded
· Move forward in reaching our (personal and corporate) full potential in Christ: physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Before we get into Scripture, there is some preliminary work we need to do. First thing is to …
1. Identify my paradigm
What does that mean? If you have a paradigm, what do you have? 20 cents. A paradigm is a framework in which we operate. Sometimes paradigms are imposed upon us, and other times they are the result of our own experiences, beliefs and values.
As we talk about spiritual gifts, what is your paradigm? Where have you placed spiritual gifts within your framework of life and theology? And more importantly, where did you get that paradigm?
I’m going to guess that most of you had a barrage of thoughts flash through your mind when I first mentioned spiritual gifts. Perhaps some immediately thought of words such as charismatic, Pentecostal, or speaking in tongues or holy-rollers. For others, perhaps your first thoughts were of hesitation or fear - “Uh… I don’t want to go there.” Others may be thinking, “Spiritual gifts are only for super spiritual people - I’m not spiritual enough.”
Regardless what your theology or your paradigm is concerning spiritual gifts, you developed that paradigm somewhere.
Take a few moments and identify your paradigm.
A) Briefly, write down what you’ve been taught, some concerns, fears, questions etc.
I would appreciate if you would share your answer me.
B) How much of your paradigm was developed by in-depth personal study?
Still thinking preliminary work
2) Am I open to a paradigm shift?
All I am asking here is are you and willing to allow God to teach us something new. Are we willing to allow the Holy Spirit to alter, correct and/or expand our paradigm concerning spiritual gifts?
I ask that for several reasons - and two of which are these
A) Some of you are fearful of this topic. Why would someone be fearful of a biblical teaching? Again, many reasons but I’m going to guess that the top two fears are this: First, we fear of the unknown. Sadly, Spiritual gifts are too often unknown to us - and so there is a certain level of fear or apprehension.
Secondly, we can fear what God will ask of us. With spiritual gifts come responsibility. We can think, “What if my spiritual gift is something scary, and God asks me to go to scary places and touch scary people and ….”
We are fearful of looking different … / where will God send me? Why kind of lifestyle …
The other reason I ask if you are open to a paradigm shift is this - B) some of you operate out of a paradigm that’s not yours. Some of you, at some point in life were told what to believe about spiritual gifts and you’ve believed it ever since without questioning or evaluating. Maybe it’s the right paradigm, maybe it’s not - but are you willing to allow your paradigm to be shifted if need be?
Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit to shift your paradigm, to dispel some of the fears?
So, right now, I would encourage you to say to the Holy Spirit, “Holy Spirit, I surrender to you - I surrender my thoughts, my beliefs, my fears, my paradigms. Holy Spirit, I give you permission to alter, correct and expand - or reinforce.”
Let’s look at Romans 12 and kind of put some pieces together. Over the past month or so, we’ve been picking this apart. This morning I want to read verses 1-9 so we can see how this passage flows together.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Can you see the connection and the flow? It begins with offering our bodies to God in worship - Lord, here is all of me, and use me however you see fit. Then it continues with our transformation and knowing and doing God’s will. And as we learn to think correctly about ourselves, we realize we’ve been given gifts to use for the Kingdom of God.
With the remainder of our time this morning, I want to answer one basic question -
What are Spiritual Gifts?
1. Spiritual gifts are received
The words spiritual gift comes from the Greek word charisma (χάρισμα).
The root word is charis - which we know as grace.
Grace, by pure definition is unmerited favor.
Grace is something given by God to a person or people without any ability or potential to earn it. God freely gives it, and the only thing we can do is receive it or reject it.
This is what makes grace so amazing. Grace has nothing - zero - to do with us. Grace has nothing to do with how hard we work, how good we are, how smart we are, how talented we are. Grace has everything to do with who God is. When it comes to grace - we’re all on the same level - all are unable to earn or deserve grace. But God, in His immense love bestows grace upon His creation. So, whether it’s common grace, saving grace or spiritual gifts - grace is given by God, but received by us.
2. Spiritual gifts are God-given abilities
The word charisma carries with it the idea that something is due to the grace of God. In other words, without God giving that particular grace, the event or ability could not happen. Let’s look at it like this:
a) Every person has natural abilities.
Natural abilities are just that - things that we can naturally do. Whether it’s art, singing, sports, mechanical aptitudes etc. These were not given to you later in life - or you didn’t force yourself to learn these - naturally a part of your design.
b) Every person has acquired abilities.
These might include cooking, riding a bike, learning a new technology etc.
c) Only genuine Christians have spiritual gifts.
Receiving spiritual gifts has nothing to do with DNA, parents, ethnicity, nature vs. nurture, a particular church or denomination, personality, or spiritual maturity, but has everything to do with whether a person is a genuine Christian or not.
If a person is a Christian - they have at least one spiritual gift. If a person is not a Christian - they do not have a God-given spiritual gift. Spiritual gifts are given only to believers in Jesus Christ.
These are God-given abilities - this is something you cannot do without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit ….
3. Spiritual gifts are given to the Church, not churches.
Even though spiritual gifts are given to each believer, not each congregation will necessarily have every spiritual gift. Not every congregation or community needs every gift. Make sense?
4. Spiritual gifts are optional.
There is no command in Scripture to discover or use the gift God has given you. Nor is there a command to discover and know your gift before you love or serve or worship or anything else. Discovering and utilizing the spiritual gift God has given you is optional - but how sad not to open a gift someone gave you - especially Jesus.
Even though gifts are optional - Believers are expected to discover, employ, sharpen, excel …. True, gifts are implanted by God, but they are discovered and honed by people. Spiritual gifts are like anything else - we start small, but with time, practice and experience - we get better and better …. It’s called reaching your full potential in Christ.
Take risks, test the waters …
Dream for a moment - what Spiritual gift catches your eye?
1 Cor. 12:31 - seek spiritual gifts - are you seeking? What’s stopping you? What fears?
WHAT IF? What if God gave you healing? Prophecy? Miracles?
Do you know Christ?