Introducing the Gifts of the Spirit to a Church

Introducing the Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 12:1-11


I.         Introduction


A.      1 Corinthians 12-14 is an explanation of the use and misuse of spiritual gifts within the Body of Christ. The apostle Paul begins by saying, "I would not have you to be ignorant" and concludes saying, "If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant... Let all things be done decently and in order" (14:38, 40). Ignorance is one reason for so much disorder and confusion regarding this important subject.

B.       The Corinthian Christians came behind in no gift (1:7), yet they were carnal and ignorant of how to use them! Like many Christians today, the Corinthians treated spiritual gifts like toys instead of tools for the ministry.

C.       Spiritual gifts concern power, not character. The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) concerns character. 

D.      Paul introduces the subject of spiritual gifts by contrasting the work of the Holy Spirit with their experience prior to being saved (vs. 2-3): Salvation brings a change.


1.        Before salvation they were Gentiles–Now they are Christians (Gal. 3:28).

2.        Before salvation they were carried away by error–Now they should not be "carried about" by every wind of doctrine.

3.        Before salvation they followed idols who could not communicate – Now they serve the living God who leads them (vs. 2-3) and gives gifts to them (vs. 4-10).


E.       There should be unity of doctrine. Verse 3 teaches how the Holy Spirit leads Christians to profess the same thing regarding the person of Jesus Christ (John 15:26; 16:14)


1.        There were false teachers, probably from an idolatrous temple in Corinth, who said that Jesus was cursed. Or perhaps there was someone who was misinterpreting Paul's statement, that Christ, "was made a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13), to mean "Jesus is accursed." (The Roman Catholic Church in the Councils of Trent cursed Jesus Christ when they pronounced that anyone who did not accept Jerome's Latin Vulgate as the inspired Word of God was accursed.) 

2.        The Holy Spirit leads a man to confess Jesus as THE Lord. (Not "Jesus is Lord," but "Jesus is THE Lord...") There are "lords many" (8:5), but only one is THE Lord. The devils will confess that "Jesus is Lord," but not "Jesus is THE Lord"  (cf. Phil. 2:11). To say "Jesus is THE Lord" is to say that there is none over Him – that He is deity.  What a person says about Jesus Christ is a good test to see if they are true or false teachers. A true teacher will teach that Jesus is THE Lord; that is, He is God.


F.       Spiritual gifts are important and essential for growth in the body of Christ (12:1). They are channels through which the Holy Spirit ministers to the Body of Christ.


II.       Message


A.      The RECOGNITION of spiritual gifts.


1.        There is a difference between "the GIFTS of the Holy Ghost" (Heb. 2:4) and "the GIFT of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38; 10:45; cf. Luke 11:13).


a.        The GIFT of the Holy Ghost is the Holy Ghost HIMSELF coming to indwell the believer at the point of conversion.

b.       The GIFTS of the Holy Ghost are abilities given to believers by the Spirit to enable them to function within the Body of Christ.


2.        They were not developed skills or natural talents like:


a.        Musical abilities (singing; playing an instrument);

b.       Artistic talent (drawing; painting);

c.        Mechanical skills (carpenter; plumbing; electronics; auto repair)

d.       Oratory abilities (speech abilities).


3.        God may use these talents in conjunction with exercising of other gifts like the gift of helps or governments.

4.        DEFINITION: Spiritual Gifts are a divine enablement that was lacking in a person's life prior to salvation, and are given to be used to serve God through their church.

5.        These are gifts of God’s GRACE (1 Peter 4:10)–Received by someone without any merit of his own.

6.        Gifts are not earned. Spiritual gifts are not dependent upon superior intelligence, physical power, spiritual maturity, moral character, or the fullness of the Holy Spirit.


a.        The Corinthian Church was carnal, contentious, confused, immature, immoral, selfish, and heretical. Yet, they came behind in no gift!

b.       Spiritual gifts do not mean a person is spiritual – GET THIS! However, being spiritual will enable a person to exercise their gift effectively for God’s glory! When you see me preach, you are watching me exercise my gift, not my spirituality!


7.        Spiritual gifts are given according to God's will, not our will (cf. 12:11, 28). Nowhere are Christians told to pray for specific gifts!


8.        There are three lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament (James 3:17):


Sign Gifts

Service Gifts

Servant Gifts




1 Corinthians
12:1-10, 28

Romans 12:3-8

Ephesians 4:8-11

Word of wisdom

Word of knowledge



Working of miracles


Discerning of spirits


Interpretation of tongues


Prophecy – Preaching

Ministry (helps)




Ruling (governing)



All done in Love…








All other servants are of their own will





Word of wisdom

Word of knowledge


Healing ("sign")

Miracles ("sign")


Discerning of spirits

Tongues ("sign")

Interpretation of tongues ("sign")








Ministry / Helps



Governments / Ruling



Word of wisdom

Word of knowledge


Discerning of spirits


B.       The RELATIONSHIP of spiritual gifts in the Trinity (12:4-6). There is unity in diversities (in differences between us all).


1.        Different gifts are given by the same Holy Spirit (v. 4). Note this!



b.       NOTE: Every Christian has some spiritual gift (see vs. 7, 11; 1 Cor. 7:7; 1 Pet. 4:10). At least one spiritual gift!


2.        There are Difference in ministries (administrations) in which gifts are used to serve the same Lord (v. 5). (Jesus is the Lord of all our ministries.)



b.       Every Christian is to be using their gift somewhere in their church


3.        There are Different ways the gifts work (operations- v. 6), but it is the same God who is working through us all.



b.       Every Christian needs to work with other Christians to achieve spiritual goals (i.e., souls winning, training, edifying, etc)


C.       The REASON for spiritual gifts (12:7).


1.        The main goal of all spiritual gifts is the glory of God, the Giver of the gifts (1 Pet. 4:10-11).


a.        The ministry of the Holy Ghost is mainly to glorify Jesus Christ (John 16:14).

b.       Proper use of the gifts points to Christ. They never draw attention to self. Improper use glorifies SELF, and ultimately Satan!


2.        The second goal of all spiritual gifts is to enable every person to edify each other in the church (12:7 cf. 14:12).


a.        Spiritual gifts are given for the corporate edification of the whole body of Christ. Paul wrote in Romans 1:11, “I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, TO THE END YE MAY BE ESTABLISHED” (cf. Eph. 4:11-12).

b.       The church is likened to a human body (12:27). For the human body to function properly, each member must perform what it is "gifted" to do – designed to do!


III.     Conclusion


A.      Knowing your spiritual gift will...


1.        Help you UNDERSTAND God’s WILL for your life. What God calls you to do, He has gifted you to do and what He has gifted you to do He has called you to do (1 Thess. 5:24).

2.        Help you know what God has NOT called you to do. No individual can do everything.

3.        Relieve you from serving out of DUTY. Many are serving out of duty rather than God’s calling. Your duty is to recognize what God wants you to do, then do it.

4.        Build unity among Christians. Understanding spiritual gifts will help Christians understand the burdens and desires in other believers.


B.       This study is going to take a bit of time – don’t miss a single Sunday evening!


Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland