"We Are Family" part 2:
Understanding Spiritual Gifts
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
March 11, 2007


Main Passage: 1 Corinthians 12:1-12 (NLT)


This is our second week in a series called “We Are Family”. Last week, we talked about unity within the family. We saw how God designed the Church to be His Body… to be a team… to be a family. We’re all working together and serving together and worshipping together and loving together and learning and growing together. We are a unified family.

Today, we’re going to talk about how we serve as a family. We’re going to see how each and every member of this family brings something unique to contribute. We’re not all the same. God has made each one of us special. He’s given each one of us different passions and different talents and different personalities and different life experiences. We’re all unique. And it’s only when each member of the Sunrise Family brings their differences to the whole that we can be complete.

And so today, we’re going to focus in on one area in particular where we have our differences. We’re going to talk about spiritual gifts. Because we’re all gifted differently. So what are spiritual gifts? What kinds of gifts are there? How do you know your spiritual gifts? Between this week and next week, those are the questions we’re going to try to answer. Okay?

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

And if Paul didn’t want the believers in the city of Corinth to be ignorant about spiritual gifts, I don’t want you to be ignorant about them either.

So today, we’re just going to do a bit of an overview. And I want to start by giving you a definition of what a spiritual gift is. Right now, some of you really don’t know what I’m talking about. I suppose that’s nothing new, but this might help…


What is a Spiritual Gift?

Spiritual Gifts are SPECIAL ABILITIES

They are abilities God has given to us to make our Unique Contribution. They’re not just natural talents. They may work alongside natural talents, but they’re not talents. They’re special abilities.

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


Distributed by the HOLY SPIRIT

Spiritual Gifts are given to us by God for meaningful service.

1 Corinthians 12:11 (NLT)
It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all 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.

1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.


For the COMMON GOOD of the Body of Christ.

The Spiritual Gifts that God gives us allow us to serve each other better.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)
As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.


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.


Okay, so the Holy Spirit is the one who oversees the distribution of spiritual gifts. Why is that important? Because He sees the big picture. He know what gifts are needed when and where and why. And so He’s able to work everything together for the good. He’s able to create a great diversity of gifts while maintaining a great unity within the Family… within the Church.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT)
To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.

There is great diversity. We are all uniquely gifted and have our own contribution to make. But at the same time, it’s by God’s design that we need each other to really function as the Church, the Body of Christ.

You know, we’ve got a great worship team here at Sunrise. We’ve got some talented musicians, and I know how much I miss just one of them when they’re away. Each instrument plays an important role, regardless of how easy or difficult, boring or flashy their part may seem alone.

Here… let’s try to illustrate this a little more. We sang this song earlier (Shout to the Lord). Let’s take another look at it…

Just say the words out loud… don’t sing them.
Okay, now just hum (or “La”) the melody.
Let me play the melody line on the piano.
Here’s the base line…
Or if I just play the chords with my right hand.
Put it together.

Do you notice the difference? All the separate parts are pretty unspectacular by themselves. But what happens when you put them together? You can have some beautiful music and an inspiring worship song.

That’s the way it is with us and our giftedness. God didn’t create us to operate in isolation. He created us to serve together. He put us together so that each person brings something unique to contribute to the whole.

Check out these verses…

Romans 12:5 (NLT)
We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.

1 Corinthians 12:27 (NLT)
Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.

Now, last week we talked about unity. This week, so far we’ve talked about diversity. How each one of us is unique. So how do you reconcile these two? How do you have unity while acknowledging our diversity?

Unity is not achieved by being alike; it’s achieved by having the SAME PURPOSE.

And what’s our purpose? It’s to transform lives. It’s to raise up radical followers of Jesus. It’s to introduce people to Jesus and help them grow. And the diversity of spiritual gifts represented in this room this morning helps us do that all the better.

1 Corinthians 12:17-20 (NLT)
If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.

So we need to understand that our differences are by design. When we fail to realize that, it just leads to frustration and conflict. But when we realize that our differences actually compliment each other, we can have a joyful unity.

And just to carry this idea of being unified in spite of our differences one step further, look at these verses…

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NLT)
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

So what are the spiritual gifts? What are some of the specific gifts that the Bible identifies? Well, in your notes, you see a whole list of them.


So here’s what we’re going to do. Below that list, you’ll see a whole list of definitions with a blank in front of each one. I want to you to see how well you can identify which spiritual gift matches which definition. I understand that some people would define some of the gifts differently… these definitions are just my understanding of what the gifts are. Okay? So you might want to get in groups of two or three and just take a few minutes to work on it. Okay?

[If you're reading this on our website, you can find a gift test with all the definitions at www.sunriseonline.ca/downloads/gifttest.zip. It will also be used in part 3 of this message series.]

Okay, so that’s an overview of what spiritual gifts are. You’ve seen what types of gifts there are, and you’ve seen what each one contributes. Next week, we’re going to get personal. We’re going to talk about how you can find out what gifts you have. So we’ll talk more about that and we’ll also talk about a few cautions about spiritual gifts. Okay? Let’s pray.

[Much of this message adapted from “Network” by Bruce Bugbee]




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