We should make a distinction between “spiritual gifts” and natural abilities.
When you were born into this world God gave you certain natural abilities, maybe you’re mechanically inclined, maybe it’s art, athletics, or music.
When it comes to natural abilities, not everyone is created equal.
Some are smarter, or stronger, or more talented than others.
But in the spiritual realm, each believer has at least one spiritual gift no matter what natural abilities they may or may not possess.
Spiritual gifts aren’t toys to play with.
They are tools to build with.
And if they are not used in love, they become weapons to fight with.
This is what happened in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 12–14).
A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve God and other Christians in a way that glorifies Christ and edifies believers.
So how does the believer discover and develop his gifts?
By fellowshipping with other Christians in the local church.
Christians are not to live in isolation.
After all, Christians are all members of the same body, and their gifts are meant to be used in conjunction with one another.
Paul draws from Psalm 68:18 to support his assertion that Christ is the giver of gifts.
These gifts were given after His work on earth was done and He had ascended to heaven.
In fact, they came with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
For Christ to have ascended, He must first have descended.
In fact, He descended to the “lower parts of the earth”.
He hit rock bottom, sank to the lowest of lows and the greatest humiliation one could endure.
Then, He rose up in victory, exalted and glorified above all else!
He is the Risen Savior, ready to adopt you into His family.
He fills the entire universe as a conquering king, and He endows His children with gifts.
He abundantly bestows these gifts upon His church, giving His people the power and ability to fulfill His will.
The gifts He gives differ between believers, and there is a reason for that.
These differing gifts all work together to make the church (the one body) fully equipped to do His work.
The four or five specific spiritual gifts mentioned by Paul in this passage are said to have been given for a few reasons, which Paul lists as the equipping of the saints, the edifying of the body of Christ, and unity.
Teaching: This is, of course, very important in attaining this goal.
Apostle: This gift was given only to the twelve plus Paul and Matthias.
The last of these was John.
Prophets: The gift of real prophets who could convey God’s revelations to men was necessary in that first century before the New Testament was written, but that also has ceased.
Since the Bible is complete, there is no new revelation to be had.
Some gifts are no longer necessary
1 Corinthians 13:8
“whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away” This refers back to prophecy, knowledge directly from the Holy Spirit.
Christians today do not get their spiritual knowledge directly from the Holy Spirit, but through the Spirit teaching the Word of God, Which we have in the form of the Bible.
While the Apostles and prophets had a foundational ministry in the early church (Ephesians 2:20 “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,”), they are not needed today.
Although...there are still many false prophets.
False prophets still exist
Evangelists and Pastors: These gifts will continue as long as there continue to be lost people who need to be won and new believers who need to be led .
The other two lists of spiritual gifts do not mention either evangelists or pastors, but all three do mention teachers.
Spiritual gifts are listed in two other places
1 Corinthians 12:28
Pastors must also have the gift of teaching, because it is necessary for a pastor to be able to teach, but the other two lists of gifts indicate that teaching is a gift for many others as well.
In fact, Christ’s great commission includes teaching people
Teaching is part of the great commission
These gifts have a purpose.
They prepare God’s people to serve Him, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity, both in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, thereby becoming mature.
We are to become one body together in one faith, and knowledge of the One Lord, the son of the One God.
Then we will no longer be infants, easily swayed by smooth talkers.
This will be the end result from the work of pastors who do their job and a people who are prepared for service—maturity.
Unfortunately, far too many believers have not matured.
Spiritually immature believers who are not grounded in the knowledge of Christ through God’s word are more inclined to accept every sort of nice sounding doctrine and erroneous interpretation of Scripture spewed by deceitful, false teachers in the church.
This is evident today, when we look at the massive number of followers many of these false teachers have.
They typically teach wealth, prosperity, and health, if you just have enough faith.
The Bible teaches no such thing.
There is no biblical promise of material wealth, and God heals according to His will not ours.
We can demand nothing from God.
We can ask, and He will grant that which aligns with His will.
In contrast to the false prophets, we ask of God, we don not demand.
With these false teachers, there is no call for change and no accountability.
Sin and repentance are not in their vocabulary.
But...their doctrines make people feel good about themselves, and thats all that many people care about.
Many people only want to hear what makes them feel good about themselves.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
The church, exercising its many gifts, through its many members, provides a strong defense against this type of foolishness and nonsense.
It helps believers mature in their faith, and protects them from falling prey to the many false faiths and lies of men.
Instead of harmful lies, the one body, following the one faith will speak the truth in love.
It has been said that truth without love is brutality, but love without truth is hypocrisy.
Little children (immature Christians) do not know how to blend truth and love.
At times, they will be brutally honest.
Sometimes they don’t want to share the truth with someone they love, because they don’t want to hurt their feelings.
It is a mark of maturity when we are able to share the truth with our fellow Christians, and do it in love.
Truth in love is a mark of maturity
To speak the truth in love, the truth needs to come with compassion
We should be offering to help people out of their problem, out of their sin.
We should be actively leading them to (or back to) Christ, and supporting them, on their journey.
One of God’s purposes for believers is to become like Christ.
This is one step toward that goal.
Cooperation is another evidence of maturity.
We realize that, as members of the one body and a local body, we belong to each other, we affect each other, and we need each other.