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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Introduction to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Don Stewart :: Why Is It Important to Study the Subject of Spiritual Gifts?

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Why Is It Important to Study the Subject of Spiritual Gifts?

Introduction to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Question 1

The Bible says that God has given spiritual gifts to those who have believed in Jesus Christ as their Savior. These various gifts of the Holy Spirit is one of the most important subjects that a believer can study. There are a number of reasons for this. They include the following.

1. The Bible Commands Us to Know about Spiritual Gifts

To begin with, Scripture commands believers to understand the subject of spiritual gifts. Paul wrote to the Corinthians.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed (1 Corinthians 12:1 NRSV).

Paul specifically said that he did not want Christians to be ignorant about spiritual gifts. Therefore a study of this subject is something that God commands for every believer. Consequently each Christian should take the time to investigate what the Bible has to say about spiritual gifts.

2. Spiritual Gifts Are Necessary for Christian Service

There is something else which makes this subject important. We find that way in which Christians are able to serve the Lord in this present age is through the use of their spiritual gifts. Indeed, it is through these abilities that God has given to the church that believers are able to carry out the mission that He has placed before us. Until Jesus Christ returns, each believer in this age will do the work of the ministry through the spiritual gifts that God has given to the church.

Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to understand all that we can about the subject of spiritual gifts and how we can put them into practice. Since the proper use of spiritual gifts is necessary for the successful ministry of the church, it is crucial to give thoughtful study to the subject. There is much that we all can, and should, learn about the subject of spiritual gifts.

3. We Are Fighting a Spiritual Battle with Spiritual Weapons

Studying the subject of spiritual gifts reminds us that it is a spiritual battle we are fighting. Consequently our weapons must be spiritual. Paul wrote.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses (2 Corinthians 10:3, 4 NASB).

Therefore we must use the supernatural resources that God has provided for us to fight the spiritual battle; spiritual gifts.

4. We Find That the Subject of Spiritual Gifts Has Been Overemphasized by Some and Neglected by Others

The history of the Christian church shows there has been a failure to appreciate the importance of spiritual gifts. At the very beginning of the church age, Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthian church, First Corinthians, to correct their abuses and misunderstandings about spiritual gifts. Unfortunately, misunderstandings and abuses still remain.

Indeed, today the subject tends to be overemphasized in some circles and neglected in others. Both of these extremes are wrong. While spiritual gifts are an important subject for Christians to study we do need to have a sense of proportion. Spiritual gifts are one small, but important, part of the total ministry of the church. We must strive to find a proper, biblical balance.

This can only come from a serious study of what the Word of God has to say about spiritual gifts.

5. There Are Issues about Spiritual Gifts That Are Unclear

We should also note that there are a number of issues about spiritual gifts in which there is no consensus of opinion among Bible-believing Christians. There are good people who differ on these matters. They include the following issues.

6. There Is Uncertainty over the Number of Gifts Originally Given

Christians are not united in their understanding of the exact number of spiritual gifts that were given to the church. For one thing, in the various lists of spiritual gifts there seems to be some overlapping. This is understood as either two different ways of referring to the same gift or two gifts that are similar in nature. In addition, there may be many more spiritual gifts than are listed in Scripture. Because of these things, it is hard, if not impossible, to know the exact number of gifts that were originally given.

7. There Is No Unanimity over the Purpose for Each Gift

Furthermore, Christians are divided as to the purpose of each spiritual gift. It is believed that some of the gifts were exclusively given to confirm the message of Jesus Christ before the New Testament was written. This includes the gift of apostle, prophet, the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, and distinguishing between the spirits. Others think these gifts had wider use. Since the Bible does not define the purpose for all of the gifts, we must study to determine, as best as we can, their original purpose.

8. Believers Are Not Certain Which Gifts Still Exist

There are also differences of opinions among believers as to whether certain spiritual gifts still exist. These are the more spectacular spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, divine healing, and miracles are meant to be used throughout the entire church age.

If all of these gifts still do exist, then how do we use them? If they do not exist, then what are the reasons for their withdrawal by God? These are issues that deserve serious study.

9. The Gifts Have Become a Source of Division among Believers

Unhappily, because of differences of opinion on the exact number of spiritual gifts, the original purpose of each gift, and the question as to whether some of the gifts have been withdrawn, the subject of spiritual gifts has been a cause for division among Bible-believing Christians. This is unfortunate because spiritual gifts have been given to the church to further the work of the ministry


10. We All Can Learn More about Spiritual Gifts

There are some issues with respect to spiritual gifts where we need to admit that we are not totally certain of the answers – the evidence is inconclusive. Therefore, we need to approach the topic with grace and humility. All of us can learn more about this most important of subjects, and all of us should be teachable with respect to spiritual gifts. There is still much to learn.

11. Personal Experience Cannot Answer These Questions

To many people, personal experience is what ultimately solves questions about biblical issues – including the issue of spiritual gifts. They determine what is, and what is not, true based upon their own individual experience. Everything is judged by what happened to them. However there are a couple of major problems of making personal experience our final test of truth when it comes to spiritual issues. They include the following.

First, a person may misunderstand the experience that they have received. With the best of intentions they assume they understand its meaning and its divine origin. While they may be correct in their understanding, there is also the very real possibility that they have misunderstood, or misnamed, their experience.

Because they misunderstand an experience they may have had, they draw faulty doctrinal conclusions from their misunderstanding. Thus they have first misunderstood their experience, and then drawn incorrect conclusions from their misunderstanding. This is a common mistake.

Since personal experience cannot ultimately tell us the exact nature of our experience, we need the Word of God to be our ultimate guide to every issue related to spiritual things. It is to the Bible alone that we go for our answers to questions on this and all other biblical subjects. The nature of the gifts of the Spirit must be discovered from Scripture so that we can separate the true teachings from the false.

In sum, the subject of spiritual gifts is indeed worthy of our studying. This being the case we should do our best to understand all that we can about this important issue.

Summary – Question 1
Why Is It Important to Study the Subject of Spiritual Gifts?

It is important that believers in Jesus Christ make a study of the subject of spiritual gifs. There are a number of reasons as to why this is so.

For one thing, we are specifically commanded in Scripture to study the subject of spiritual gifts. Indeed, it is something which believers are not to be ignorant about.

The reason for this is because spiritual gifts are necessary for Christian service. In this present age, we serve the Lord by using the gifts which he has given to us.

The Bible also says that the weapons of warfare for Christians are spiritual weapons. Therefore a study of this subject is of the utmost importance.

In addition, there are a number of issues with respect to spiritual gifts that believers do not agree upon.

For example, there is no agreement as to the exact number of spiritual gifts. Bible-believers differ on this question.

Furthermore, there is disagreement as to their original purpose. Christians are divided as to the reason or reasons which God gave them in the first place.

There is also controversy over whether or not some spiritual gifts are still given to Christians. Have some been withdrawn or are all the original gifts still to be used? Again, there is a division about the correct answer to this question.

Because of these unresolved issues as well as other factors, there is much controversy over the subject of spiritual gifts. Consequently, a study of spiritual gifts is absolutely necessary. Finally, we must understand that there are things that each of us can learn with respect to the subject of spiritual gifts. Therefore a study of the subject is absolutely necessary.

Foundational Truths about the Gifts of the Spirit (Introduction) ← Prior Section
How Do Various Christian Groups View Spiritual Gifts? Next Section →
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