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hope for churches in stress

Gifted by the Spirit

Manifestations of the Spirit, reminiscent of the early church, are occurring today. Gifted by the Spirit, believers around the world are prophesying, speaking in tongues, dreaming dreams, and working miracles of healing.

This comes as a surprise to some Christians. They think that gifts of the Spirit are not for today. Or they associate these gifts with natural abilities. Many earnest believers are reassessing these conclusions. They want to be better informed about the work of the Spirit in giving spiritual gifts.

In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul describes spiritual gifts as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It is God, he writes, “who empowers them all in everyone.” So gifts of the Spirit are more than natural abilities; they are supernatural endowments “for the common good” (12:6-7).

Paul explains that these gifts show up in different ways. Sometimes manifestations of the Spirit seem spectacular, and strike us as supernatural. At other times the Spirit works in ways that seem natural. We may find ourselves anticipating one kind of gift to the exclusion of others. Instead, the apostle counsels, expect variety (12:4-6).

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul names gifts of the Spirit (12:8-10, 28-30). In Romans and Ephesians, he lists more (Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:7-11). Peter also identifies several spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11). Even combined, these lists are likely not intended to be exhaustive. Rather, they are the most common spiritual gifts, all “the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11, NIV).

Every Christian is gifted by the Spirit in at least one way (1 Corinthians 12:11; 1 Peter 4:10-11) and charged to use the gift for the common good. This instruction is so basic that it is included, either explicitly or implicitly, in every passage which mentions spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:13-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

The purpose of spiritual gifts is “that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 4:11). When we measure our intentions against this purpose, we need not hesitate to discover and use our gift(s).

Gifted by the Spirit, we can encourage, console, strengthen, and equip God’s people. Contributing to one another in this way, everyone can grow to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11).

This post continues a series, "Sketches of the Spirit." To advance to the next post, click on the title, "Conflict!" To go to the beginning of the series, click on "Wind."

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