The Holy Spirit part 4
How the Holy Spirit Equips Us
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 21, 2009

We’ve been working our way through this series talking about the Holy Spirit, and so far we’ve talked about how the Holy Spirit is a person – the third person on the Trinity – which means He is God, and as such it is the Holy Spirit who is responsible for bringing us to salvation. It’s Him who calls us, who convicts us, who saves us… It’s Him who guides us and leads us and empowers us… It’s Him who fills us and works inside us and transforms us so that we become more like Jesus in our conduct and our character.

We’ve talked about how when you first become a Christ-follower, you have all of the Holy Spirit. But you only experience the filling of the Holy Spirit when He has all of you.

And last week we talked about the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. We call it the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, which in Galatians chapter 5 is defined as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When you have the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, those are the kinds of characteristics or qualities that are going to develop within you and are going to be expressed through the way you live.

That’s the Fruit of the Spirit. And a lot of people get that Fruit of the Spirit mixed up with what we’re going to be talking about this morning… spiritual gifts.

We talk about the Fruit of the Spirit as being the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit because those qualities – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – those qualities are what the Holy Spirit develops in the life of every Christ-follower who has yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit and to His work in their lives.

As for spiritual gifts, there is no one spiritual gift that is given to every Christ-follower. The gift or the gifts that you have may be different and probably are different from the gifts I have. The Bible lists twenty-some spiritual gifts, but you’ve got to look at four or five passages to compile that list, none of the lists are exhaustive, so there may be spiritual gifts that are given that aren’t even mentioned in the Bible. So you can’t look for any one gift as being the evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Besides, the one Church in the New Testament that showed the greatest expression of spiritual gifts was the Church in Corinth, which is also the Church that was the most carnal, the most spiritually immature, the most divisive… and the church that Paul had the most trouble with. The expression of spiritual gifts in the Corinthian Church did not in any way signify their level of spiritual maturity or the fullness of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

So even though we understand that Spiritual Gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, we’re not going to talk about them this morning as being the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

But yet they are important. We’re going to talk about them this morning because the Bible talks about them, and tells us that was need to know about them.

1 Timothy 4:14 (NLT)
Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received…

1 Corinthians 12:1 (NIV)
Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.

So spiritual gifts are important. Why?

Why are Spiritual Gifts Important?

They help us understand and accomplish what God calls us to do.

Whatever gift you have, you have it for a reason. You have it to use it in service to God and in ministry to others.

You see, God has gifted you so that you can accomplish your purpose in life. He’s pretty smart that way. In the Bible in Romans 12 verse 2, it talks about how you can know God’s will for your life, and then it goes on in the following verses to describe spiritual gifts. There’s a link between what God is calling you to do and how He has equipped you. So this is an important discussion we’re having today. Check this out…

Romans 12:6-8 (NLT)
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

It seems pretty clear, at last to me, that if God has given you a specific gift He has given it to you for a reason. He intends for you to use it.

But what are spiritual gifts, anyway? Well, in your notes you’ll see a four-part definition…

What are Spiritual Gifts?

Spiritual Gifts are SPECIAL ABILITIES

Beyond just natural talents, they are special abilities God has given to us to make our own unique contribution to His Kingdom.

Romans 12:6 (NLT)
God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.

Distributed by the HOLY SPIRIT

Spiritual Gifts are given to us by the Holy Spirit to be used in meaningful ministry. It’s not up to us which gifts we receive… it’s up to Him to distribute the gifts as He sees fit according to His wisdom. And that means there is no right or wrong spiritual gift. Every gift is important because it was given by the Holy Spirit for a reason.

1 Corinthians 12:11 (NLT)
It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

To every BELIEVER according to God’s DESIGN and GRACE

Every believer is a minister and has at least one Spiritual Gift. If you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life, then you have a spiritual gift. You may not have discovered it yet, but you have at least one spiritual gift. The apostle Peter was writing to Christian believers when He wrote…

1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)
God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts.

For the COMMON GOOD of the Body of Christ.

The Spiritual Gifts that God gives us allow us to serve each other better, to meet needs, and to build up the church in love and unity. They’re for the common good of everyone in the church, not just for personal enjoyment or even personal edification. They’re for the whole Church, so that we all benefit from each other’s giftedness. So if you neglect your gift and refuse to use it, the entire Church suffers the loss.

1 Corinthians 12:7 (NLT)
A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

So, you put the whole thing together and you have this…

“Spiritual Gifts are SPECIAL ABILITIES distributed by the HOLY SPIRIT to every BELIEVER according to God’s DESIGN and GRACE for the COMMON GOOD of the Body of Christ.” (Definition from “NETWORK” by Bruce Bugbee)

That’s a pretty good definition of what a spiritual gift is. But what specific kinds of spiritual gifts are there? What special abilities does the Bible identify as spiritual gifts?

Well, as I already mentioned, there is no one specific passage of Scripture that lists all of the spiritual gifts. But pulling from a variety of passages, here’s a list…

What Spiritual Gifts Are There?

Administration, Faith, Languages/Tongues, Shepherding/Pastoring, Apostleship, Giving, Leadership, Teaching, Craftsmanship, Healing, Mercy, Translation/Interpretation, Discernment, Helps, Miracles, Wisdom, Encouragement, Hospitality, Prophecy, Evangelism, Knowledge, Serving
[List compiled from Exodus 31:3, Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Ephesians 4:11-13, and 1 Peter 4:9]

Could there be other gifts that aren’t listed? Well, yeah, I think there could be. If you look at the passages where I got this list, it looks to me like these gifts were just listed as examples. In none of those passages did the writer say, “Okay, here’s a list of all the Spiritual Gifts there are.” No, each passage just gives a sampling.

In fact, some of the other gifts that I’ve heard other people identify would include gifts like Creative Communication (such as music, or poetry, or like the Psalms), or a gift like voluntary poverty (and you might say Mother Teresa had that kind of a gift), or even the gift of martyrdom (unfortunately you only find out if you have that gift once).

So there are discussions about what other kinds of gifts there may be, and I’m not comfortable saying that these are all the gifts there are. However, in saying that, I would also warn that in trying to identify other gifts you can wind up with some pretty wacky ideas. So personally I tend to stick to these ones when I’m talking about spiritual gifts.

Let’s move on… The big question in regards to spiritual gifts is…

How Do I Discover My Spiritual Gifts?

Well, starting with the assumption that you are a Christ-follower – remember, spiritual gifts are given to believers – then let me give you a few ways to help you discover what your gifts are. Because when the Holy Spirit gave you your gift, He probably didn’t leave you a note or send you an email telling you what gift He gave you. So how do you discover what gift or gifts He has given you? Well, there are four ways that you can discern how God has equipped you with spiritual gifts…

A.    Participate in a variety of ministry experiences

The fact is, you’re not going to know how you’re gifted until you take the opportunity to experiment in different areas of ministry and see what you’re good at and what you enjoy. Because that’s really the test of a spiritual gift… are you effective and are you fulfilled? Do you experience joy and success?

B.    Do a self-analysis

Again, are you effective and fulfilled? Do you enjoy it? Do you see results? Look inside… what does your gut tell you?

C.    Ask others what gifts they see in you

Because if you truly have a gift in some area, chances are someone else is going to notice. I mean, think about it… if you’ve been attending here for a while, then there are probably people that you identify with certain gifts. When I say the gift of leadership, isn’t there someone who comes to mind? Or how about the gift of helps? Hospitality? Encouragement?

Sure, there are names that come to mind. Because you can see that gift being expressed in their lives. So go ahead and ask for someone else to give you some feedback. They may be able to clarify something for you or give you some input from their perspective. And when they do, don’t be insulted and don’t get mad at them. They’re doing you a favour in clarifying how God has gifted you, and there are no right or wrong spiritual gifts anyway.

D.    Take a spiritual gift test

There are such things as gift tests. Typically, they are composed of a series of questions that you read and rate how you feel they apply to you, and then you add up all the numbers and figure out what gifts you seem to have. Now, the thing about these tests is that they basically clarify what you’ve already discovered. If you’ve never experimented in different ministries and you’ve never observed what you enjoy and seem to be good at and if you’ve never listened to what others have to contribute, then chances are a gift test isn’t going to do you much good. I happen to like gift tests and think they can provide some valuable insights, but by itself it’s really not going to help much. That’s why I listed it fourth.

Now, if you do want to try a gift test, then I’ve posted one on our website. You can see the exact link listed in your notes, so you can go online and download it and complete it for yourself. It includes the test, the answer grid, and definitions for all the gifts we listed earlier.


Okay, so I want to finish up this morning by looking at one more question…

How Am I to Use Spiritual Gifts?

Well, in the New Testament book of 1st Corinthians, Paul talks a lot about spiritual gifts in chapters 12 and 14. But do you know what comes in between? Chapter 13 – very good!

Well, you may already be quite familiar with chapter 13. It’s the chapter you hear read at so many weddings. Take a look…

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Chapter 12 is about spiritual gifts, chapter 14 is about spiritual gifts, and nestled right in the middle is this chapter that talks all about love. And I don’t think that’s an accident. I think this is very significant. I think this is all about what our motivation should be as we use our spiritual gifts and as we serve each other. Because we’re not to do it out of obligation, we’re not to do it out of pride, we’re not to do it just to get extra credit…

I’m to use my spiritual gifts with love.

In fact, I think this goes right back to what we talked about last week… the Fruit of the Spirit. Remember that we talked about the Fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Well, I think you see those same qualities expressed in 1 Corinthians 13. The Fruit of the Spirit – specifically the fruit of love – is to be our motivation for serving each other out of our giftedness.

Tina Turner asked the question, “What’s love got to do with it?” And the answer is… everything.



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