In a recent study with WINGS, our women’s group at Grace Church of Napa Valley (GCNV), we looked at the following big question:
What does the Lord Jesus want us to know about the spiritual gifts?
For our study, I wanted the ladies to be able to say these things about themselves:
- I can describe what Jesus says about how I should love Him and others as I serve.
- I can explain Jesus’ example of service as the way I am to serve.
- I can explain the context for Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14.
- I can explain why the context for the spiritual gifts is founded in agape-love, and what that means.
- I can explain the biblical reasons for the giving of spiritual gifts.
- I can tell who gives the gifts, to whom, why, and how.
- I can describe how I can know what my own gifts are, and what that means about how I am to serve.
- I can explain how to use a spiritual gifts inventory, and how it may, or may not, be useful to me and to others.
I wanted to ensure everyone was able to be engaged in the learning and the discussions, therefore we used the following strategies for our workshop:
- Engagement of all in Table Talk/Small groups
To guide our inquiry into the Big Question above, we used the following question guide:
Part 1 – Our Lord’s Example of Service
Each table group will be assigned to read one or more of the following verses to help us discover what the Lord Jesus teaches about serving. After you have had time to think and take some notes on your own, share & compare your answers with your table group. Each table will report on the most important aspects of your group’s text(s). Please be prepared to say something when your group is called to share out.
1) In the following verses, what does Jesus teach us about serving? What is His heart for others? What is His example to us?
- Matthew 5:13-16
- Matthew 23:1-12
- Matthew 25:31-46
- Mark 10:42-45
- Luke 6:27-36
- John 3:16-21
- John 13:1-15
- John 15:12-17
2) As you think about all the Lord’s teachings recorded in the Gospels, what did Jesus teach regarding spiritual gifts? What do you think is the reason for this answer?
3) Read Philippians 2:1-11. What does Paul teach about Jesus’ example of service?
4) What does Galatians 5:13 help us to understand about Jesus’ example of service?
Part 2 – The Context of the Spiritual Gifts in the NT
Bearing in mind what we have learned from the Lord and His example, let us turn our attention to the Spiritual Gifts more specifically. The chief texts concerning the Spiritual Gifts in the New Testament are found in Romans 12:1-13 (the exercise of ministry on behalf of others is a part of our worship as we reflect the Lord’s attributes in serving others), Ephesians 4:7-16 (there are specific people given as gifts to the church, namely prophets and priests, evangelists and pastor-teachers), and in 1 Corinthians 12-14 (individual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of others, and are to be exercised in love, just as Christ Himself served His people).
A) What are the Spiritual Gifts?
Read the following verses, discuss the questions in your table groups, and be prepared to share out your findings.
1) In 1 Corinthians 12:1, Paul wrote, “…concerning spiritual gifts . . . I do not want you to be uninformed.” Later in the same chapter, he wrote that we should even “earnestly desire the higher gifts” (12:31). What do these two verses tell us?
2) The longest list of spiritual gifts is found in 1 Corinthians 12. In chapters 12-14, Paul writes about the gifts, and their proper use. What gifts does Paul list in 1 Corinthians 12? Compare this list with the one found in Romans 12:1-13. What are the similarities, and the differences?
B) The Context of Exercising the Gifts
1) So we see that since the lists vary in some ways, the Scriptures do not indicate that the lists are exhaustive (i.e., they are not complete, but they are examples). The number of spiritual gifts is not important, so what is important then?
2) How should the spiritual gifts work together? Does the church need them? Which ones does the church need? Why?
3) Why does Paul stop writing about the gifts in chapter 12:31, only to return to them in chapter 14:1? What does he write in between? What is Paul’s point in doing this?
4) If we exercise our gifts whilst ignoring 1 Corinthians 13, what could happen? Why?
5) What cautions does Paul give in 1 Corinthians 14?
C) Should We Try to Discern our Own Gifts?
Although we are called to “earnestly desire the higher gifts,” all the gifts are necessary to the proper functioning of the church. So should we try to ascertain our own gifts?
1) What value might we have in seeking to find out our own spiritual gifts? About what should we be cautious in using a spiritual gifts test? Why?
2) How might a spiritual gift test cause us to put our own purposes before God’s purposes?
3) How might a spiritual gift test limit the Holy Spirit?
4) How might a spiritual gift test become an excuse for not serving?
D) What are the Purposes of the Spiritual Gifts?
Spiritual gifts are meant to strengthen the whole church, not the individual.
1) How should we respond to needs that come to our attention? Should we assess our availability and willingness, or our personal giftedness to make the decision? What could happen if we only opt for the latter every time?
2) What could happen if Christians get caught so up in their spiritual gift that they only seek to serve God in the area in which they feel they have been gifted? Isn’t that how the spiritual gifts work? Why or Why not?
3) How does God call us to serve Him? Will He equip us with whatever gift or gifts we need to accomplish the task He has called us to? How do you know that?
E) What does God See?
1) Read 1 Samuel 16: 7. What does this verse tell us about what God sees verses what man sees? Why is this distinction important regarding Spiritual Gifts?
2) Why should we keep this truth in mind when faced with opportunities to build up the Body of Christ and expand the Kingdom of God through service?
Cautions about Spiritual Gift Tests
a) The gifts are not given forever, but only for their appointed time, and may change in your own time of ministry over the years.
b) The lists of the Spiritual Gifts are not exhaustive. There may be other gifts as well.
c) The gifts are not given for oneself, but for the sake of others.
d) Knowing one’s gift(s) is not an excuse to serve in only one way. Don’t limit the Holy Spirit ! Be ready to serve according to His purposes, not your giftedness.
e) Remember that Jesus’ example, the way of Love, is much more important than knowing one’s spiritual gift(s). We must respond to His call, “Follow Me.”
I want to thank all those who attended for the privilege to meet with you all, to study God’s Word together, and for your willingness to be open to what the Holy Spirit had to say to you during our time of study. May the Lord use this and bless us as we seek to serve and honor Him with our lives! Thank you, dear sisters!
— Pastor Don