Spiritual Gifts, are often associated with some ‘ecclesiastical’ leadership office like apostles, prophets, evangelists or pastor-teachers (Eph. 4:11). Then, there are those gifts that are readily related to manifestations of the Spirit’s power for specialized ministries: miracles, faith, healing, prophecy, words of knowledge, discernment and tongues (1Cor. 12: 8-10). Evidently, the Spirit’s gifts were certainly meant to make Christians practical and useful in their service. Hence the gifts include encouragement, hospitality, giving, mercy and administration (Rom.12;1Pet.4).
All gifts, spectacular or not, are grace-gifts and though varied, each is given sovereignly to individuals for the common good. Gifts are to be used ‘in love’ (1Cor.13) for ‘building up’ the Church- the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). When the sign gifts go hand in glove with the gospel, they can result in evangelistic growth (Acts 5:12-16). Christ does not want us to be ignorant, but faithful in discovering, developing and utilizing our gifts. As we minister to each other and together engage socially in his mission, we bring him glory.
I’ve noticed in different church traditions, different attitudes that unnecessarily polarize these ‘good gifts’ from Christ, causing disunity in his body. Typically, ‘Evangelicals’ with their passion for the ‘Word’, stress personal commitment to Christ that warrant the proclamation of the gospel. The ‘Pentecostals-Charismatics’ tend to locate ‘real’ faith in the supernatural realm, hence seek experiences and ministry ‘in the power of the Spirit’. The so-called ‘Ecumenicals-Liberals’ often adopt an agenda for divine ‘justice’ and consider missions primarily in terms of empowering the marginalized, eradicating poverty and protecting environment. Which of these three streams have the right focus and emphases?
There is value in associating spiritual gifts with partnership in mission and ministry. God is not divided within himself. So, what we need is a Trinitarian approach– a personal commitment to Christ and his great commission, a day-by-day experience of his Spirit’s presence and power, and a heart that reflects the Father’s compassion in our outreach and service to a hurting and divided world. I’m convinced that the Word without the Spirit, we’ll dry up; the Spirit without the Word, we’ll blow up and my prayer is that with the combination, God will grant the body of Christ the spiritual Wisdom to grow up!