Concerning Spiritual Gifts
1 Cor. 12: 1- 31
The Corinthian church probably is the most carnal New Testament church. However, despite of its
shortcomings and carnality, the Lord gave them many spiritual gifts which we will discuss in here
today. The Corinthian believers misused their spiritual gifts and that’s one of the reasons why they
have division within. Sad to say that the errors that were committed before were being committed
by the Pentecostals and the Charismatic Movements.
I. What Spiritual gift is
A. It is a supernatural ability given by Christ through the Holy Spirit to the believer at the
moment of his salvation.
B. Two distinctions:
1. Gift of the Spirit – occurred at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was sent by the
Father as promised by Christ (Acts. 4:1-8)
2. Gifts from the Spirit – those gifts that are given today.
C. Difference between human talents and spiritual gifts
1. Talent is a human and natural ability given at birth (first birth). Both the save and
the unsaved have their own God given talent.
2. Spiritual gifts are supernatural and is received at one’s second birth.
II. Possession of the gifts.
A. Each believer possesses at least one spiritual gift (1 Cor. 7:7; 12:7, 11; Eph. 4:7, 1 Pet.
B. No believer possesses all the gifts (1 Cor. 12:29, 30).
III. Purpose of Spiritual gifts
A. To glorify the Father (Rev. 4:11)
B. To edify both the believers and the church (Eph. 4:12, 13). The gifts and ministries are
for the purpose of edifying the entire body, not for mere private edification and
entertainment (1 Cor.12:7).
C. Note that there is no hint in the New Testament that the gifts can be learned or
worked up. The Pentecostals are teaching their members how to speak in tongues
which is very unscriptural and a very big mistake.
Illustration 1: Blind Man and Armless Man
In illustrating the interdependence of one another’s spiritual gifts in a local church, Gary Inrig, in Life
in His Body shared the following story: Several years ago, two students graduated from the Chicago-
Kent College of Law. The highest-ranking student in the class was a blind man named Overton and,
when he received his honor, he insisted that half the credit should go to his friend, Kaspryzak. They
had met one another in school when the armless Mr. Kaspryzak had guided the blind Mr. Overton
down a flight of stairs. This acquaintance ripened into friendship and a beautiful example of
interdependence. The blind man carried the books which the armless man read aloud in their common
study, and thus the individual deficiency of each was compensated for by the other. After their
graduation, they planned to practice law together. This story was related by Donald Grey Barnhouse.
No believer is complete by himself, we are to minister to one another, as a family.
IV. Lists of Spiritual Gifts
A. There are 13 gifts listed in verses 8-10 and 28. (Four of the gifts and ministries listed
in verse 28 are repeated from verses 8-10. These are prophecy, miracles, healings,
1. The word of Wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8) — This is the gift of having wisdom to
understand divine things and the ability to explain these things to others (James
3:13). The first deacons were “full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” (Acts 6:3). It
was a gift that was demonstrated in the life of Stephen (Acts 6:10). The word o f
wisdom is a revelatory gift (1 Cor. 2:7, 13).
2. The word of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8) — This is another revelatory gift. There must
have been some difference between “the word of knowledge” and “the word of
wisdom,” but this difference is not explained and I do not know what it might have
been. Having knowledge and understanding mysteries was associated with the
gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 13:2). The word of knowledge was a revelatory gift that
would vanish away (1 Cor. 13:8).
3. Faith (1 Cor. 12:9) — Every believer is supposed to exercise faith (Heb. 11:6), but
the gift of faith is something that was given only to some believers. It was the
ability to believe God in a special way and to overcome obstacles (1 Cor. 13:2;
4. Gifts of healing (1 Cor. 12:9) — This gift was the ability to heal the sick. It was the
fulfilment of Mk. 16:18. It was particularly associated with the apostles (Acts 3:6-
8; 5:12, 15- 16; 14:9-10; 19:11-12; 28:8-9). While the “gift of healing” is no longer
operative, God heals today in answer to prayer in the context of the assembly
according to the pattern of James 5:14- 16.
5. Working of Miracles (1 Cor. 12:10) — This was one of the signs of the apostles (2
Cor. 12:12; Rom. 15:19; Gal. 3:5; Heb. 2:4). The “working of miracles” differed
from the gift of healing, perhaps, in that it involved other types of miracles, such
as casting out devils and surviving snake bites and poison (Mk. 16:17-18).
6. Prophecy (1 Cor. 12:10) — There are two aspects of Bible prophecy that we see
operative in the New Testament: foretelling (Acts 11:27-28) and forth-telling (1
Cor. 14:3 and Acts 15:32). The forth-telling aspect of prophecy refers to preaching
God’s Word and in this sense the gift of prophecy continues throughout the
church age. The fore-telling aspect of prophecy, though, came to a conclusion (1
Cor. 13:8). This occurred with the completion of the canon of Scripture, which is
the “more sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:19). The Christian’s life is not to be
established upon “personal prophecies” but upon the solid rock of Holy Scripture.
Those that have claimed to be prophets since the days of the apostles have been
confused heretics. Those that claim to be prophets today in the charismatic
movement even admit that they make mistakes! Contrast Deut. 18:21-22.
7. Discerning of Spirits (1 Cor. 12:10) — This is the gift of spiritual discernment. It is
the ability to discern between true and false spirits and true and false teachers
(Acts 13:9-11; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Jn. 4:1; Rev. 2:2).
8. Divers kinds of Tongues (1 Cor. 12:10) — This is the supernatural gift of speaking
in languages that one has never learned (Acts 2:4-11).
9. The Interpretation of Tongues (1 Cor. 12:10) — This is the gift of interpreting
messages that are given by tongues.
10. Apostles (1 Cor. 12:28) – The apostles were chosen directly by Jesus Christ and had
signs to authenticate their ministries (2 Cor. 12:12). They laid the foundation for
the churches (Eph. 2:20) by establishing the first congregations and showing the
pattern for the fulfilment of the Great Commission and completing the canon of
Scripture. Their ministry was completed in the first century and the need for
apostles in the churches ceased. The New Testament epistles describe how to
select pastors and deacons but they never describe how to select apostles,
because it was not a permanent office.
11. Teachers (1 Cor. 12:28) — This is the gift of explaining and expounding the
Scriptures, of training the saints in the will of God. While all elders and pastors
must be able to teach, not all teachers have the office of ruling. A woman, for
example, can teach women (Titus 2:3-4) and children (2 Tim. 1:5), but she cannot
teach men nor exercise authority over them (1 Tim. 2:12). Many men, too, are
capable of teaching in various capacities such as Sunday School or jails and nursing
homes who are not gifted or qualified to be pastor-elders.
12. Helps (1 Cor. 12:28) — This gift apparently had a wide range of function. It is not
specifically defined in the New Testament so it must describe all those who render
aid and assistance in the church–helping the elders, helping widows and orphans,
helping the poor, helping shut-ins, helping with the accounting, whatever. Paul
describes some as his “helpers” (Rom. 16:3, 9).
13. Governments (1 Cor. 12:28) — This is the gift of ruling that is mentioned in Rom.
12:8. It refers to the office of the pastor elder (Heb. 13:7, 17).
V. Categories as of time
A. The sign gifts – these gifts were given at the start of Christianity and then taken away.
They are the gifts of apostleship, prophecy, healing, miracles, knowledge, tongues,
and the interpretation of tongues. They were given to:
1. To prove the authority of the Apostles and early Christians (2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4;
Rom. 15:19; Jn. 3:2, 20:30, 31, Mt. 10:5:8).
2. To disseminate new revelation and divine information. Those gifts used to
accomplish this end would be prophecy, knowledge, and tongues.
3. With the completion of the canon of the Word of God in A.D. 95, the signs gifts
were no longer needed. (2 Tim. 3:14, 17, 2 Pet. 1:16-21).
B. Stationary Gifts – (given on a permanent basis throughout church history). These are
the gifs of wisdom, faith, discerning of spirits, helps, teaching, exhortation, giving,
ruling, showing of mercy, evangelism, and that of the pastor-teacher.
C. The Holy Ghost gave the Corinthian gifts that were obviously temporary and short
lived. Tongues, Interpretation of tongues, miracles, healing are the main gifts in which
the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement are emphasizing. I honestly think that the
Bible is very clear on this. They have ceased. Since God is unchanging in His person
and power, He certainly could give any of the gifts upon an individual believer as He
might choose, but the Scriptures are clear that these temporary gifts are not
considered to be the norm in God’s purposes for today.
Illustration 2: Instrument Not Used Began to Decay
The great violinist, Nicolo Paganini, willed his marvelous violin to Genoa—the city of his birth—but
only on condition that the instrument never be played upon. It was an unfortunate condition, for it is
a peculiarity of wood that as long as it is used and handled, it shows little wear. As soon as it is
discarded, it begins to Decay. The exquisite, mellow-toned violin has become worm-eaten in its
beautiful case, valueless except as a relic. The moldering instrument is a reminder that a life withdrawn
from all service to others loses its meaning. Bits & Pieces, June 25, 1992
Each and everyone of us were given gift or gifts of the Holy Spirit. While others have more,
those that have less can still be used by the Lord to edify and to serve Him. The question
is will you use your God given gift for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?