Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NASB)
Spiritual gifts are vitally important to the overall health of a church. In fact, to the extent that a church is helping the brethren to discover, develop, and faithfully use their gifts to bring further unity in Christ will determine just how healthy a church is.
As I move along in this series I will outline what each gift is and provide both a description of it and how it could be used in the church. None of my descriptions or examples will be exhaustive. In fact, no mere creature could exhaust the infinite wisdom of the Holy Spirit that divinely gives a variety of gifts to be used in a variety of ministries as we see in 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.
For now, I will simply list the 11 spiritual gifts that I believe are still in operation today. Before doing so, I do want to note that during the time of the early church there were some "sign gifts" that were in operation. These were foundational and unique to that age as a means to authenticate the message of the gospel of the risen Lord. After the completion of the canon of Scripture, these foundational gifts are no longer needed to authenticate the message of Christianity for we have the completed revelation of God's inspired Word to authenticate His message to mankind.
The 11 spiritual gifts still in operation are as follows:
It should be noted that every single Christian that has repented of sin and placed their faith and trust for salvation in the person of Jesus Christ has no less than 1 spiritual gift. In fact, I would argue that 100% of the time what we actually see is that every Christian actually has a variety of gifts for which to use in a variety of ministries in the church. Note once again what it says in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
I believe this text makes it clear that a Christian should expect to be gifted by the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways. Now, this does not necessarily mean they will be equally as gifted in all areas that they are gifted. A Christian may have 2-3 gifts and 1 of them could be their primary while the other 2 could be supplemental to the primary gift. It is also quite possible that the Holy Spirit has gifted a Christian in 2-3 areas and He expects that saint to use those gifts interconnectedly which would require them to be equal in their amount of giftedness.
For example, someone could be gifted with knowledge, teaching, and prophecy. The Holy Spirit could have gifted them with these areas because He divinely and sovereignly intends for them to be a Sunday School teacher or a preacher. These areas would require one to be able to study and understand God's Word while also being able to correctly teach it and speak it forth to the ones in their audience.
The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit not only divinely gives us a variety of spiritual gifts that He fits to suit what God has sovereignly planned for us but He also gifts us in the way that He does so that we can serve in a variety of ministries.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NASB)
Notice that the Bible says that there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit. This makes it absolutely clear that there is only one divine source of spiritual gifts. I also want to note at this point that spiritual gifts are not talents. Talents are possessed by both the saved and unsaved and talents can be used for selfish motives. Spiritual gifts are only possessed by the saved and their primary use is for the common good of the body of Christ which I will explain momentarily.
The passage says that all gifts are from the same Spirit and it then says that there are varieties of ministries but the same Lord. This is key to the unity of the church. In a particular church, you may have a vast majority of ministries or you may have 10 or less but each and every ministry in the church has the same Lord. We all serve the same God and the same Savior, Jesus Christ. There are to be no factions among God's people which I will discuss in an upcoming article. Paul writes what he does here to remind us all that no matter what our place is in the church, no matter what our gifts are, no matter what our unique service is, it is all done in humble worship to God and to bring the most glory to Him. We all serve the same Lord and operate as a church under His authority.
There are not only a variety of ministries but a variety of effects. This means that two different churches could have the same exact ministries and they would still have different effects and glorify God in different, unique ways. This is due in part to the unique congregation of saints at each church. Each congregation is made up of unique Christians who have been uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit to serve the same Lord and in verse 6 it is noted that it is God that works all of this together in all persons or in all Christians.
While talents are not the same thing as spiritual gifts one of the ways that God is able to produce a variety of effects through a variety of ministries is through the utilization of the unique talents of every Christian. Every person has unique talents and they are to use those talents in service of their spiritual gifts which are to be used to serve the same Lord and for the common good of the body of Christ.
For example, 3 different people could have the gift of encouragement and yet they all 3 because of their unique talents, encourage people in different ways. One may encourage people through song or musical abilities. Another may encourage through word or deed and yet another may encourage through demonstrating their other gift of faith and as they hold up and endure under life's trials, other Christians see it and are encouraged by the demonstration of their spiritual gift of faith that supplements their gift of encouragement.
Now, let's look at the primary use and focus of spiritual gifts as Paul outlines it for us in verse 7.
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7 NASB)
Notice that it says that these manifestations of the Spirit are for the common good. I have already outlined that our spiritual gifts are all used to serve the same Lord and the best way we can serve the Lord in using our spiritual gifts is by edifying, supporting, and serving the body of Christ. We are all members of the body and as we will see as we move forward in this study, all members are important and if one member suffers, we all suffer with them. The church is at max health when all members are living out agape love and serving each other's needs by using their spiritual gifts to the building up of the whole body of Christ to a maturity that is able to withstand the attacks of the devil and make disciples of Jesus Christ consistently.
So, what is required of us in order to fulfill what Paul is writing about here in 1 Corinthians? It requires discovery, development, and faithful use of spiritual gifts. This falls on both the under-shepherd which Christ exercises His authority through, commonly called a pastor or elder, and the responsibility also falls on the Christian in the congregation. Nobody should have to beg a Christian who has been saved by the blood of the cross to want to serve the Lord. It is natural to the regenerated person to want to serve Christ and this is one of the primary ways in which we do that by discovering our gifts, developing them, and then faithfully using them in the church for the common good of the body. Also, a pastor according to Ephesians 4:11-16 is to equip the saints for the work of service both in and out of the church. So, pastors should create environments where spiritual gifts can be discovered, developed, and used.
In review, remember that every Christian is uniquely gifted with a combination of spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit. There are a variety of ministries and ways to serve the Lord Jesus Christ by using the gifts that we have and we will only be in a place where we can do this if we discover, develop, and faithfully use our gifts.