Spiritual Gifts Are For A Reason
Between the years of 1995 and 2000, there was a 17% increase in the number of Christian adults who did not believe that they had spiritual gifts. In this same period, the definitions of spiritual gifts became so muddled that it was hard to see what was and was not spiritual. This loss of clarity and belief in spiritual gifts is incredibly troubling, because God gave the church spiritual gifts, and throughout scripture, we are encouraged to live out our spiritual gifts daily.
Biblically, spiritual gifts is used to translate two different Greek words, charismata and pneumatika. Charismata is best translated as the expression or manifestation or embodiment of grace, and pneumatikon as the expression or manifestation or embodiment of Spirit. As great as it is to talk about the expression of grace, and the expressions of the Spirit, spiritual gifts are not this high up theological idea, but something given to the church to use practically in day to day life.
According to Ephesians 4:11-13, “And he [Jesus] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” - ESV
This, among the many other passages on spiritual gifts, lays out the foundational understanding that Jesus is the one who gives spiritual gifts to the body. All these gifts are empowered by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:11). And while this idea does tell us where we receive spiritual gifts from, it doesn’t tell us the purpose of spiritual gifts. God has an individual plan for each of his followers, he has placed a calling on each person’s life, and while spiritual gifts play a role in this individual plan, there is also a general purpose to spiritual gifts.
All the gifts are given for two main reasons. The first is to build up the body of believers.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13, “...for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." - ESV
Spiritual gifts are given so that the body (the church) may be built up. The church is not a static organization, but it is a living and growing organism. Spiritual gifts allow it to be shaped and grown more and more into God’s intentions. Spiritual gifts increase the unity and maturity of the body of believers.
The second reason spiritual gifts are given is for building up the body.
1 Peter 4:10-11a, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." - ESV
As we serve in the power of the Holy Spirit and live out the plan God has given each of us. Serving within our calling, serving in the body, building one another up, brings glory to God. God experiences glory when we focus and serve him and his body.
1 Peter 4:11 “To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” - ESV