Spiritual Gifts (Part Two)



Although all the gifts are important, Paul first lists 3 as the most important (apostleship, prophecy, and teaching), then lumps most of the others together as next in importance, and lastly lists tongues as the least important. Contrary to what our charismatic brothers believe, tongues is the least of the gifts, especially when used apart from the gift of interpretation. The reason is that when used apart from the gift of interpretation, the gift of tongues edifies only one person, the person exercising it. The gifts though were not given primarily for the sake of the person who exercises them but for the church at large. God has called us to serve one another and has equipped us with spiritual gifts to be able to do that.


Miracles. The gift by which the Spirit performs miracles through a Christian. In the NT we see the Spirit working through people to feed 5000, to still a raging sea, to strike dead lying Christians (Ananias and Sapphira), to rescue Christian prisoners, and to unleash timely earthquakes.

Gifts of Healing. The ability from the Spirit to heal the sick, raise the dead, and to cast out demons.

A lot of discussion has centered around whether or not these last 2 gifts in addition to the gifts of tongues are still relevant today. There is simply nothing in the Bible which indicates that these gifts are no longer operative. The same Spirit who performed these miracles during the days of the NT is still living in Christians today. To claim that those gifts are no longer operative implies that the Spirit is functioning today differently than He did 2000 years ago. People who claim this must justify these beliefs from the Bible. (I have yet to see a Bible verse to support this. In fact, Acts seems to imply that what happened in the early church should be happening in the church today. Otherwise, why was the Book of Acts written in the first place?)

Some though have claimed that since they either don't have these gifts or have never seen them exercised properly then these gifts are no longer valid. That is a very dangerous argument. I have never seen God create anything. Does that mean God did not create the world as Genesis says? I have never seen anybody rise from the dead the way Jesus did. Does that mean that He did not rise from the dead? (That is precisely the argument that liberal Christians use to "disprove" the resurrection of Jesus.) Be careful interpreting Scripture in light of your experience and not vice versa.

Moreover, simply because some of our charismatic brothers have misused some of the more spectacular gifts does not mean they are no longer valid. We believe that a lot of Christian cults, such as, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, misuse the Bible. Should we then stop using the Bible? No. We should continue to use it but make sure that we use it properly.

We are faced with the dilemma that people who claim to have these gifts are either lying, deluded, or right. Corrie Ten Boom, one of the most notable Christians of the 20th century, claimed to exercise at least one of the more spectacular gifts. It's hard for me to conclude she was deluded or lying. Although these gifts may not be operating in our midst, that does not mean we have to criticize those who claim to exercise them.

Helps. The ability from the Spirit to carry out "mundane" matters, such as, serving meals at banquets, helping others in need, filling out records in SS, etc.

Administration/Leadership. The ability from the Spirit to lead out and/or to organize. Some people are organizers but not leaders; others are leaders but not necessarily organizers.

Exhortation. The ability from the Spirit to motivate people to follow God's will for their lives. It is not flattery. It is motivation.

Mercy. The ability from the Spirit to minister to people in time of need, such as, sickness, death, financial or material loss, etc. They minister either through words or actions, or even both.

Faith. The ability from the Spirit to have a constant, thriving positive outlook on the present and the future. This person can also be visionary--seeing ahead what God has for the church.

Giving. The ability from the Spirit to give financially in an extraordinary manner. The cases of Latourneau and John Wesley are prime examples. By the end of his life, Latourneau was giving 90% of his income to the Lord and living on 10%.

Evangelism. The ability from the Spirit to lead large numbers to the Lord for salvation. Although every Christian is to engage in evangelism, only the "evangelists" are going to be wildly successful.

Discernment. The ability from the Spirit to know whether a person is speaking God's Word or his own word, or whether a person is pushing God's agenda or his own agenda.

Interpretation of Tongues. The ability from the Spirit to interpret what a person with the gift of tongues is saying.

Tongues. The ability from the Spirit to speak to God in a heavenly language. It always leads to the edification of the person speaking in tongues but also to the edication of the church if an interpreter is present. Paul lists this as the "least of the gifts" if no interpreter is present. Although other gifts can be misused, of all the gifts this one seems to lend itself towards self-centeredness. It tends to be "all about me."

Some confuse the gift of tongues with the phenomena at Pentecost. At Pentecost the Spirit gave the disciples the supernatural ability to speak in foreign languages they did not know. The need for translators was not necessary since the people who heard them already knew these languages. The gift of tongues though requires the supernatural gift of interpretation. The supernatural gift of interpretation, not the human ability to translate, is what is needed with the gift of tongues. These are 2 different phenomena.


Why should you use your spiritual gifts? Yes, you are going to be judged on the basis of your use of your gift; however, something even better should motivate us. People who use their spiritual gifts under the direction of the Spirit experience His presence in a more dramatic way than those Christians who do not. I sense His presence as I teach in a way I do not whenever I don't teach. I sense in my mother the presence of the Lord whenever she uses her gift of mercy to minister to people in crisis. B.F. loves to preach because the Spirit moves in him and through him. Do yourself a favor and use your gift.


Understanding the Different Temperaments/Traits

Since God gave spiritual gifts to the church as a whole and not to just one or 2 individuals, we need to see how we are to relate to each other as we exercise our spiritual gifts. This is the area in which a person's temperament plays a major role. The 4 major temperaments (or personality traits) are D for Dominant, I for Influencing, S for Steadiness and C for Conscientious.

Those with the Dominant temperament are leaders by birth. They want to lead; they must lead; they need to lead. It is part of their make-up. They are usually great organizers. They don't mind conflict but are puzzled when other traits do mind the conflicts. If the Dominant traits are not leading and another temperament is, you've got problems. They will eat up the ones who are Influencing. Some of you have heard of the system which describes temperaments by using animals: lions, beavers, otters, and golden retrievers. The Dominant trait is the Lion (or the choleric, if you are using LaHaye's method).

(Notice how the element of humility operates in this system. The Dominant person must be Spirit-led; otherwise, although he will lead, he will lead the group in a way to further his own agenda. The Conscientious trait, Influencing trait, etc., must exhibit humility because they will not be leading but following. Humility is essential as all 4 traits operate.)

The Influencing trait is more of a cheerleader. They encourage. They make life exciting. Because they tend to focus on making things exciting, the little things don't matter. In fact they tend to forget the details. It is best not to put the Influencing trait in charge; otherwise, everything will probably be disorganized. Let this trait promote the project though.

The Conscientious trait nearly always likes order, follow-through, and an attention to detail. If this person is in charge, he or she will drag out the project until Christ returns and then probably will want to spend more time on it. These are great accountants because they can nickel and dime you to death. The Dominant trait needs to check with the Conscientious trait to make sure all necessary bases are covered. He then needs to move on so that the project does not get killed by this person.

The Steadiness tait is a great plodder. He fixes his attention to the task at hand and sees it through. An Influencing trait may actually quit before the project is over. Not so with the Steady trait. This person does not need to be in charge but rather needs to be used to finish out the project.

Each trait needs to be Spirit-led. The "C" trait can bog everything down; the "I" can leave the site a disaster scene; the "D" trait can run over everybody; while the "S" trait will wear everybody down so that they will want to go home and abandon the project. Let the Spirit-led "D"'s lead, the "I"'s promote, the "C"'s make sure everything is done properly, and the "S"'s make sure that it is followed through. Used in conjunction with each other, wonderful things can emerge from this kind of team work.

Taking the Test Regarding the Temperament Traits

Read carefully the instructions on the Relational Survey which will help you determine your trait (relational bent). Remember that in each row across, you are to have only one 4, one 3, one 2, and one 1. Each row across should add up to 10, while the total sum for all 4 columns down should be 120; that is, when you add up the 4 totals at the bottom of each column, the sum total should be 120. (You will discover a lot of people with the "I" traits will mess up, while nearly all those with the "C" traits will get it right.)