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June 5, 2006

Spiritual Gifts

Filed under: Bible Studies,Old and New Testament — Adam Osborne @ 1:27 pm

Spiritual Gifts


A Bible Study by Adam Osborne, Jr.

The “Survival Kit, Five Keys to Effective Spiritual Growth” book by Ralph W. Neighbour, JR and Bill Latham makes the following statement on page 32:

“The second truth is that God adds gifts as you mature spiritually.”

The scriptural references used for this statement is Romans 12:1-8; 1Peter 1:13-16; and lastly 1 Corinthians 12:4-18, 28-30.This bible study is an attempt to validate, or invalidate, that particular statement listed above. This study will discuss (a) if there is actually scripture evidence where it says that God will give you “more” spiritual gifts to match your spiritual maturity….OR.. (b) if a Christian will use their God given gifts more effectively as their spiritual maturity deepens. Option (b) would assume that God gives you all the spiritual gifts that he has planned for you all at the same time when you first became a Christian, and your spiritual growth, or lack of spiritual growth, would determine what level of effectiveness you could use these gifts.


Romans 12:1-8 (NIV) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

  • All the saints make up one body in Christ, who is the Head of the body, and the common Center of their unity. In the spiritual body, some are fitted for and called to one sort of work; others for another sort of work. We are to do all the good we can, one to another, and for the common benefit. If we duly thought about the powers we have, and how far we fail properly to improve them, it would humble us. But as we must not be proud of our talents, so we must take heed lest, under pretence of humility and self-denial, we are slothful in laying out ourselves for the good of others. We must not say, I am nothing, therefore I will sit still, and do nothing; but, I am nothing in myself, and therefore I will lay out myself to the utmost, in the strength of the grace of Christ. Whatever our gifts or situations may be, let us try to employ ourselves humbly, diligently, cheerfully, and in simplicity; not seeking our own credit or profit, but the good of many, for this world and that which is to come.
  • Adam’s comments: Matthew Henry’s use of the word “improve” here would seem to mean to me “spiritual growth” instead of God actually giving more gifts. Also, I checked numerous other commentaries including Scofield, Spurgeon, Spiros Zodhiates and Adam Clarke. None of those commentaries provided any additional insight for this particular scripture.

Eph 4:11-16 (NIV) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Through the New Testament, Vernon McGee:

  • Christ’s purpose in giving men with different gifts to the church is to develop believers from babyhood to full maturity. ….. Believers are not to remain children, but rather that in “speaking the truth in love, [they] may grow up into him in all things.”
  • Adam’s comments: Seems to indicate “growth” not “additional giving of gifts”.

Matthew Henry (Uncondensed):

  • Unto every one of us Christians is given grace, some gift of grace, in some kind or degree or other, for the mutual help of one another. Unto every one of us ministers is given grace; to some a greater measure of gifts, to others a less measure. The different gifts of Christ’s ministers proved a great occasion of contention among the first Christians: one was for Paul, and another for Apollos. The apostle shows that they had no reason to quarrel about them, but all the reason in the world to agree in the joint use of them, for common edification; because all was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ, in such a measure as seemed best to Christ to bestow upon every one. Observe, all the ministers, and all the members of Christ, owe all the gifts and graces that they are possessed of to him; and this is a good reason why we should love one another, because to every one of us is given grace. All to whom Christ has given grace, and on whom he has bestowed his gifts (though they are of different sizes, different names, and different sentiments, yet), ought to love one another.
  • How kind is Christ to his church! How careful of it and of its edification! When he ascended, he procured the gift of the Holy Ghost; and the gifts of the Holy Ghost are various: some have greater, others have less measures; but all for the good of the body.
  • The gifts and offices (some of them) which have been spoken of are to continue in the church till the saints be perfected, which will not be till they all come in the unity of the faith (till all true believers meet together, by means of the same precious faith) and of the knowledge of the Son of God, by which we are to understand, not a bare speculative knowledge, or the acknowledging of Christ to be the Son of God and the great Mediator, but such as is attended with appropriation and affection, with all due honour, trust, and obedience. Unto a perfect man, to our full growth of gifts and graces, free from those childish infirmities that we are subject to in the present world. Unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so as to be Christians of a full maturity and ripeness in all the graces derived from Christ’s fullness: or, according to the measure of that stature which is to make up the fullness of Christ, which is to complete his mystical body. Now we shall never come to the perfect man, till we come to the perfect world. There is a fullness in Christ, and a fullness to be derived from him; and a certain stature of that fullness, and a measure of that stature, are assigned in the counsel of God to every believer, and we never come to that measure till we come to heaven. God’s children, as long as they are in this world, are growing.
  • We should grow up towards maturity, which is opposed to being children. Those are improving Christians who grow up into Christ. The more we grow into an acquaintance with Christ, faith in him, love to him, dependence upon him, the more we shall flourish in every grace. He is the head; and we should thus grow, that we may thereby honour our head. The Christian’s growth tends to the glory of Christ.

1 Cor 12:4-18 (NIV) There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

Spiros Zodhiates (Hebrew Greek Study Bible

  • The word used for “gifts” is charismata, the plural of charisma. The word is derived from charis, “grace,” God’s unmerited favor for man. The suffix ma after charis makes it the result of grace, thus the result of God’s grace in man.
  • Every Christian, irrespective of his spiritual standing and because of the indwelling of Christ’s grace within him, has the potential of a demonstration of that grace in any gift, charisma.
  • This is the fundamental thing for us to realize. The whole tenor of Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians is that they should not seek the results of grace, but grace itself, and then that grace can exercise itself as the One who gives it discerns the need for that demonstration. The demonstration of grace is not to be activated by the individual, but by the Giver of Grace, God Himself.
  • A definition of a spiritual gift as a result of the study of this entire chapter could be stated as an instantaneous enablement by God in the power of the Holy Spirit to do or say something beyond one’s natural ability in order to fulfill a specific purpose of God in the time-frame in which God permits it. These charismata are not permanent acquisitions or talents. They may be specific enablements of accomplishments within the periphery of the talents which were given by God in the first place.

Matthew Henry (Uncondensed):

  • Whatever gifts God confers on any man, he confers them that he may do good with them, whether they be common or spiritual. The outward gifts of his bounty are to be improved for his glory, and employed in doing good to others. No man has them merely for himself. They are a trust put into his hands, to profit withal; and the more he profits others with them, the more abundantly will they turn to his account in the end, Phil. 4:17. Spiritual gifts are bestowed, that men may with them profit the church and promote Christianity. They are not given for show, but for service; not for pomp and ostentation, but for edification; not to magnify those that have them, but to edify others. The measure and proportion in which they are given: All these worketh one and the same Spirit, dividing to every man as he will. It is according to the sovereign pleasure of the donor. What more free than a gift? And shall not the Spirit of God do what he will with his own? May he not give to what persons he pleases, and in what proportion he pleases; one gift to one man, and another to another; to one more, and another fewer, as he thinks fit? Is he not the best judge how his own purpose shall be served, and his own donatives bestowed? It is not as men will, nor as they may think fit, but as the Spirit pleases. Note, The Holy Ghost is a divine person. He works divine effects and divides divine gifts a he will, by his own power, and according to his own pleasure, without dependence or control. But though he distributes these gifts freely and uncontrollably, they are intended by him, not for private honour and advantage, but for public benefit, for the edification of the body, the church.

1 Cor 12:28-31 (NIV) And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible New Testament

  • Although the Holy Spirit is sovereign in bestowing gifts, we have the right to ask God for the gift we want. He says we are to “covet earnestly the best gifts.” Not having been brought up in a Christian home, I had no Christian training at all. When I went away to seminary, I didn’t even know the books of the Bible. I had graduated from a college where the emphasis was placed on the intellectual and the philosophical, and I was trying to be that kind of preacher. Then I heard Dr. Harry Ironside speak. He explained Scripture in a simple manner. And I heard him make the statement, “Put cookies on the bottom shelf so the kiddies can get them.” And I remembered that my Lord had said, “Feed my sheep” (see John 21:16). He hadn’t said, “Feed my giraffes.” So I went to God and prayed, “Lord, I want to be that kind of preacher.” Later, I substituted for Dr. Ironside at Dallas Theological Seminary, and when he passed on, the seminary’s president, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, called me on the phone. He asked, “Would you take Dr. Ironside’s lectures here at the seminary?” I could hardly answer him clearly, and I almost rudely hung up the phone. I dropped to my knees, and I confess that I wept as I thanked God. I said, “Lord I prayed that You would let me teach like Dr. Ironside, and You have answered my prayer!” I coveted earnestly the best gift, and He answered my prayer. Although I am no Dr. Ironside, how I thrill today at the experience and the privilege of teaching the Word of God! My friend, you have the right to ask God for the best gift.
  • Regardless of the gift God gives to you, the purpose of it is to be helpful to other believers, other members of the body.
  • Adam’s comments: Vernon McGee’s thoughts of asking for the better gift….It is unclear to me as to if this means “a new gift” or spiritual growth to better utilize the existing gift that God gave you.

Matthew Henry, Uncondensed:

  • An advice to covet the best gifts, either the most valuable in themselves or the most serviceable to others; and these are, in truth, most valuable in themselves, though men may be apt to esteem those most that will raise their fame and esteem highest. Those are truly best by which God will be most honoured and his church edified. Such gifts should be most earnestly coveted. Note, We should desire that most which is best, and most worth. Grace is therefore to be preferred before gifts; and, of gifts, those are to be preferred which are of greatest use.
  • Adam’s comments: Mathew Henry’s thoughts coveting the better gift….It is unclear to me as to if this means “a new gift” or spiritual growth to better utilize the existing gift that God gave you.

Adam’s closing comments: I find no scriptural evidence that God will give “new gifts” as you spiritually mature. I personally believe that God gives you all the gifts that he has planned for you all at the same time. As you spiritually mature then God uses those talents for the edification of the church.

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