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Exclusivity of Spiritual Gifts

Posted by on Jul 1, 2010 in spiritual gifts | 8 comments

Exclusivity of Spiritual Gifts

There are several lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament:
From Romans 12:6-8, we find the following gifts (or gifted persons):

prophesying
serving
teaching
encouraging
leading
giving
showing mercy

From 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, we find the following gifts (or gifted persons):

speaking wisdom
speaking knowledge
showing faith
healing
working miracles
prophesying
distinguishing spirits
speaking in tongues
interpreting tongues

From 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, we find the following gifts (or gifted persons):

being sent (apostle)
prophesying
teaching
working miracles
healing
helping
administrating
speaking in tongues

From Ephesians 4:11, we find the following gifts (or gifted persons):

being sent (apostle)
prophesying
evangelizing
shepherding/teaching

Now, notice that some of the gifts are considered “special” gifts today, while others are considered more ordinary. However, in the lists, they are all mixed together with very little (if anything) to differentiate what we might consider special gifts from ordinary gifts.

Modern church wisdom indicates that those with certain spiritual gifts are responsible for that particular function. For example, those gifted as an apostle are supposed to function as an apostle.

This seems to work well with what we might consider “special” gifts. But, what about the “ordinary” gifts? Why do we not say that only those gifted with giving are responsible for giving? Why do we not think that only those gifted as servants are responsible for serving?

Is it possible that the concept of gifting and function are not exactly related the way that I’ve presented? Are there other possibilities?


8 Comments

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  1. 7-1-2010

    We do not all have the same gifts. Gifts do mean something.

    You said, “Modern church wisdom indicates that those with certain spiritual gifts are responsible for that particular function.”

    If you change “responsible” (which you use to mean “are supposed tom function as” in your example–though we are responsible to God for how we use the gifts He gave us, as well as all of our time, possessions, etc.) to something like “are very good at” or “have a capacity and desire to serve at,” I think this is closer.

    Then, the added example you offered, “For example, those gifted as an apostle are supposed to function as an apostle.” Would read, “those gifted as an apostle are very good at functioning as an apostle” or, “those gifted as an apostle have a capacity and desire to function as an apostle.”

    But we have the clear example of the church scattered during persecution in Jerusalem going everywhere and sharing the gospel and establishing new churches.

  2. 7-1-2010

    Art,

    You suggested the following: “those gifted as an apostle are very good at functioning as an apostle”. I agree. Could it be, at the same time, that others could function as an apostle, even if they are not “gifted as an apostle”? (Or you could ask the same question of other giftings.)

    -Alan

  3. 7-1-2010

    Absolutely. That was the point I tried to make with, “we have the clear example of the church scattered during persecution in Jerusalem going everywhere and sharing the gospel and establishing new churches.”

  4. 7-1-2010

    Art,

    Thanks. I thought that’s what you were saying, but I wanted to make sure. I agree.

    -Alan

  5. 7-1-2010

    I think serving others–even unbelievers–is meant to be something we are eager to do. Sort of an “opportunistic” approach. When we are in a position to serve/help/encourage/etc, we simply do so (yes, without consulting our “Gift I.D.”)

    “let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” -Gal 6:9-10

    Still, I think those who are gifted in certain ways, will excel in serving in those ways (and have a desire to do so).

    I wonder how I Pet 4:8-11 is to be taken in this regard:

    “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

    Is “the gift” meant to point to specific gifts given out differently to each person? If so, how does “any man” follow? Or, is “the gift” refer to what Jesus did for us, which calls forth sacrificial, risk-taking, “fervent love” in us for Him and for one another?

  6. 7-1-2010

    My stock answer would be that no gift is greater than the next. However, Paul does state that we should “earnestly desire the higher gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31). I don’t know what to make of that. I will say that I don’t believe that any gifting brings any greater inherent authority (this word used lightly) than any other gifting. I would anticipate, although I have no specific scripture to support, that among the elders in any given location, there would be a broad sampling of the different gifts. I agree with the conversation above that there are those specifically gifted at certain things, but anyone can function in that capacity as the Lord determines. I believe the Lord is currently using me as a “sent one”, to do a specific task in my community, but I don’t believe that I am an apostle.

  7. 7-2-2010

    Art,

    I like that quote from 1 Peter, but it’s often left off when studying spiritual gifts. What I like about is that Peter focuses on speaking and serving. So, I should speak and/or serve, and let God use my speaking/serving as he chooses.

    Mark,

    I think if we keep reading 1 Corinthians, we’ll see what Paul means by “higher gifts,” that is, those gifts that directly edify the church.

    I’d love to hear more about how God is using you as an apostle.

    -Alan

  8. 7-2-2010

    Alan,

    As an answer to your question let me preface by saying the following. I strongly believe that the Spirit is moving to build a true expression of the Body of Christ on the earth, something that hasn’t had consistent visibility for a long time. There just seems to be such a great “calling out”. Having said that, I believe that the work he has me doing “as an apostle” is along those lines.

    My wife and I own two businesses in our town, she a coffee shop/scrapbook store/bridal registry/catering business, etc., and me a family medicine clinic. Her business has been open 3 years, mine 2 years. We strongly feel like these business are the work of the Lord in our community, as the opportunity to touch others’ lives is tremendous. In the last year He has begun knitting us together with some individuals who have begun walking outside of traditional Christianity. In the last year the group has gone from being just a “bible study” among friends, that would meet sometimes and sometimes not, into a fledgling community, where we understand more and more what we are and who we are, and can identify that there is more going on here than just a “bible study”. Now, to answer your question. I feel that I am here plowing ground, hard, crusted ground. I feel that we have been sent here for a specific task, to do the groundwork for the ultimate work that He wants to do. As such, I feel like we are “sent ones”, as I believe He had this specific task in mind for us, and uniquely prepared us for it. Beyond the manner in which we are currently functioning, I don’t see myself as an apostle, as I stated in my post. I believe I will be in this community for many years, and serve within this local body until much later in life, if not until He takes me.

    I hope this is an adequate explanation.

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