Spiritual gifts are a means to an end and not an end in themselves. Too often in the church today, gifted individuals become the center of attention: receiving the glory instead of God. Since God is the source of all the spiritual gifts, He must receive all the glory from them. Without this basic understanding, faulty interpretations of the gifts will abound, and man will steal the glory that belongs only to God.
A spiritual gift is not a product of the flesh; human intellect did not and cannot devise spiritual gifts. The source of spiritual gifts is not found in man’s innate temperament, nor does it emerge from a certain personality type. A man cannot will to have a specific spiritual gift. While natural skills like speaking, writing, and ability in music augment the function of a gift, they do not guarantee the possession of a specific spiritual capacity. The fact that a man is a good teacher does not confirm his possession of the spiritual gift of teaching. Spiritual gifts are not inherited or family related; parents do not pass their spiritual gifts to their offspring.
In addition, spiritual gifts are not a product of spirituality. Although spirituality is obviously necessary in the successful operation of a gift, it is not the source. Men do not receive spiritual gifts from God because of their level of spiritual growth. The fact that more mature believers usually give more generously to the church than do young believers does not mean they have the gift of giving. Likewise, because mature believers probably witness more effectively than immature believers does not mean they necessarily have the gift of evangelism. In stressing this point that spirituality and spiritual gifts is not the same thing, Dr. Walvoord says, in his book, The Holy Spirit (Zondervan), “It remains true of course, that proper adjustment in the spiritual life of the believer is essential in the proper exercise of his spiritual gifts, but spirituality in itself does not bring spiritual gifts.”
Spiritual gifts are initiated by grace. The word gift in the Greek gives a clue to the source of spiritual gifts. Dr. Charles Ryrie in his book, The Holy Spirit, (Moody Press) says, “The Greek word for spiritual gift (charisma) is obviously related to grace, for charis means grace, thus a spiritual gift is due to grace.” And grace has to do with God. Griffiths, in his work, Grace-Gifts, (Eerdmans Press) relates spiritual gifts to the grace of God in an insightful way when he says:
We have been so preoccupied with grace in the form of God’s “common grace” to all mankind and particularly His “saving grace” to all believers, that we very readily overlook this further usage of the word grace, which we might call “serving grace” or “congregational grace.”
A man can serve God only through the power and ability that God gives him. God’s favor alone establishes spiritual gifts – not the flesh. Because God’s grace only is the source of spiritual gifts and the exclusive basis for their operation, He must receive all the glory.
In the next article, we will deal with how God imparts spiritual gifts to His children.
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