By Diane Caston

Today we are going to start a series of studies on a subject near and dear to my heart, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many of us have seen the gifts move powerfully and beautifully in our years of walking with the Lord. We are each called to do as Paul taught Timothy, to stir up the gift (or fan the flame) of God that was in him. Used properly in the body of Christ, the gifts He has given us can be the source of much joy and comfort and peace. However, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are a subject of much ignorance in the church today. Many churches don’t study or practice the gifts of the Spirit saying they are not for today, cessationists. We have already learned when we studied Acts that the gifts are for all who believe in every generation. Acts 2:39 “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Others abuse the gifts in ways that are unscriptural, leading people astray through such movements as the Latter Rain movement, Toronto Blessing movement and today the current reiteration of those who hold these tenets is the New Apostolic Reformation or NAR, if you have heard that term, which you see promoted through churches like Bethel Church International and ministries such as the International House of Prayer, or IHOP as it’s popularly called.

Fortunately, the Lord made the use of the gifts of the Spirit very plain and organized. The instruction for their use is right in scripture. Much of the instruction we have on the gifts came because the church at Corinth was misusing the gifts. This turned out to be to our benefit because Paul explained just how they should be used in the church and private settings. One thing to remember is, “True gifts of the Spirit when manifested in the correct way will always focus people’s hearts on Jesus.” Jesus said when the Spirit comes, He will testify of me. If the focus is anywhere else, we are off kilter.

Jesus commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, because this anointing gave them the power to be His ministers, to love others, and to make disciples of all nations. We also can have this power, and along with it, the gifts that the Spirit has for each one of us. Different gifts for different people as He chooses. Through these gifts each one of us has our own special place of ministry in and to the body of Christ.

God uses His gifts for the good of all. God uses the gifts through us to meet the needs of others. Isn’t that interesting? To move in them we need to be in tune with other’s needs, not our own. They are not given to make us look good or spiritual. They are given so we can reach outside of ourselves to others around us.

God has a plan and gifts for each of us. The power of the Spirit is what renews and restores us. He is what makes the Christian life exciting. We must wait on Him for what He has for each of us.

Romans 12:1-6a I beseechyou therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:

Before laying out the gifts of the Spirit, the Lord reminds us of the groundwork we should be doing to prepare ourselves for all He has for us.

*Presenting our bodies to Him as a sacrifice, not living life for ourselves, not self- involved, but living sacrificially. This is a concept that is almost lost in our day and age, even among us as Christians. As one author put it, many are looking for our best lives now! *Not being conformed to this world – not worrying about the things that don’t matter, the car we drive, the house we live in, seeking riches, not filling our minds and time with worthless things! *Renewed minds – our minds should be on the things of God. Who are we the most likely to give gifts to? Those we are closest to. The same is true with the Lord. He gives gifts to those who seek Him, to those studying the word, those who are searching to discern the things of God *Not thinking more highly of our selves than you should. Pride is the killer of all spiritual gifts. The gifts are to benefit others, and when others are blessed, so are we! * Importance of the body - We are one body but many members. We are all different, our gifts are different, no one is more important or less important, just different like all of us! And having gifts, let us use them!

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you be ignorant.

The Lord wants us to understand how this all works. Otherwise, He would not have left us such detailed instruction.

1 Corinthians 12: 4-7 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

It’s amusing how we as human beings often like to complicate things! Some people like to delineate between ministries and activities and divide up the gifts! I personally don’t think it matters. There are gifts and we want to know which ones are ours! It’s as simple as that!

Paul lines out in this chapter a list of the gifts. He continues through Chapter 14 on this subject, mainly speaking of the correct exercise of these gifts in the assembly, but sandwiched in between there are some vital truths for the preparations of being gifted.

Unity and Diversity in One Body

1 Corinthians 12:12-26For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slavesor free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many

Paul then goes into a somewhat amusing rhetorical questioning about the body.

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Each of us has a special place in the body. I want to impress this on you today. Each one of you is special to the Lord. He calls you the apple of His eye, and He has a special ministry just for you. You might not feel like that is true. You might feel inadequate. Let me tell you that everyone who has ever served the Lord is inadequate, no matter how they feel. That is why we need the infilling of the Holy Spirit to empower us for the ministry He has called each one of us to. We all have purpose in the kingdom of God, and no one can say to another, “I don’t need you.” He has put us all together in a family, and we each have a purpose. It may be to bless each other, to encourage each other, to help each other, to lovingly correct each other, and to refine each other.

Prov. 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

Vs. 26 When one member of the body suffers, all the members of the body suffer with it. We are not alone in His body. We should not feel alone in His body. When Eddie asked our church a few Sundays ago if anyone wanted more connection, needed more friends, there ideally should have been no hands raised, but there were. Let this be an exhortation to all of us. We are each interconnected, and we need to be concerned about the needs of each other. Vs. 25 tells us that there should be no division in the body, but to have the same care one for another. When you read through the scripture you see that the Lord hates division. We are all members of each other and should receive the same care no matter where we are at in our walks. We need prayer and action for this to happen.

1 Peter 4:10-11As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

If anyone speaks, let him speak as an oracle of God! This is an intimidating verse! This should give us pause. This should cause us to be careful of what we speak, to not give pat answers to people, but seek to speak to them just as if God is speaking to them! We need to pray on this one! And to minister with the ability God supplies. We should never be self-confident in our gifting. God is the one who supplies the gifting, the power, the wisdom, and the words.

Ephesians 4:7-8 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.”

When Jesus left the earth He sent His Holy Spirit, and with His Spirit He sent gifts! Isn’t that fun! We all like gifts, correct? What are God’s giftings for us?

I am briefly going to mention the four ministry gifts mentioned in the 4 th chapter of Ephesians. Adrienne and Diane will be explaining the remaining gifts in the weeks ahead.

Ephesians 11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ

Eph 4:12 “For the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry”.

These four giftings mentioned here are called ministry gifts. The first two are debatably not active today.

Eph 2:19- 21 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

Apostle - It is the general consensus today that the role of apostle was fulfilled in the first century by those who had been with Jesus and then were sent out to declare the gospel. Judas, having forfeited his position as an apostle, it is commonly seen that Paul was the one who replaced him.

1 Corinthians 15:8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

Prophet– There is still a gift of prophecy today and there is still futuristic prophecy today, but the office of Prophet ended with the coming of Jesus.

Believing in modern day Apostles and Prophets are where many people go astray and get off track and actually do much harm to the body of Christ.

Evangelist– one who has a specific gift of proclaiming the good news of Jesus to the unsaved with great success. Evangelists - Billy Graham, Greg Laurie, Ray Comfort

Pastor/Teacher – one who shepherds and instructs the church – He has a heart for his flock. He guides and leads and makes sure no evil or harm comes to his sheep, and he is careful to teach them the whole counsel of God.

So in light of this introduction, do you need power to be His witness? Do you need strength to love others? Do you desire gifts of the Spirit to meet your brothers’ and sisters’ needs? We will be helping you with these questions and the answers as we go along in our summer study.

In summary, I like to say, like Chuck Smith used to, and you’ve probably heard me say before, that gifts are supernaturally natural. We don’t have to go into a trance or put on a holy voice or any of that. Sometimes the gifts operate so naturally that we don’t even realize until later that the Lord has used us. Ladies, our purpose for this study is to come before the Lord and become equipped. We live in very troubling times: with the horrible world news, school shootings, road rage, drag queens and keeping up with what they are trying to teach our children and grandchildren, younger and younger drug use and promiscuity, the homosexual and transgender issues we are all vexed. We all need to be prepared for what we face each day. In our studies these next few weeks are going to do just that. Let’s pray!