The very mention of spiritual gifts can cause some Christians to run and hide. Many of God’s people are confused about the gifts, either assuming that somehow they may have been left out, or perhaps they simply have never been taught how to discover their gift. Some think that when spiritual gifts are discussed, they refer only to what are sometimes called the sign gifts, such as tongues and healing. Since they do not understand such gifts, or perhaps have a fear of them, they avoid the topic. Others, because they do not think they have a gift or believe they are not worthy of one, also avoid the topic.
To others, it is more than confusion. It is a controversy. They have heard pastors tell them that in order to demonstrate that they are saved, or that they have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, they must evidence it by speaking in tongues or some other mystical manifestation of the power of the Spirit. On the other hand, they have heard pastors tell them that such manifestations are either fake or demonic. They have been told such gifts have ceased and are no longer a part of the spiritual-gifts inventory.
The controversy rages in some churches. The phenomenon of “charismatic” practices have crossed denominational lines for many years. (There is a proper and biblical use of the term charismatic, but in this work, I shall use the term as it is understood in the modern church to refer to the “charismatic movement” with its overemphasis on miracles, unknown tongues, and prosperity.) Practice of the sign or revelatory gifts common in Pentecostal churches came over into fundamental and evangelical churches with varied acceptance and success. Many are the evangelical churches that have split over the issue. But the controversy has taken its toll in more ways than just splitting churches and causing disagreements between pastors. Because of the controversial nature of the spiritual gifts, many pastors, churches, and individual believers have chosen just to ignore the subject.
The purpose of Your Reasonable Service is to bring clarification to the issue of spiritual gifts. It will be my purpose to answer a number of important questions about the subject. At the foundation of these questions will be an honest attempt to discover what the Bible says about the gifts. How many spiritual gifts are there? How do I discover my gift? Can I have more than one gift? Should I have all the gifts? Can I have all the gifts (as is taught by many in the charismatic movement)? How can I most effectively use my gifts? Do my personality traits or natural human abilities have any bearing on my giftedness? What is the purpose of spiritual gifts—in other words, why were they given? How can I know how other Christians are gifted, and what does that mean for me? What impact does a proper biblical understanding of the gifts have on the local church? What significance do the gifts have in my family?
If the purpose is to bring clarification, the goal is to provide a tool that pastors, churches, and laypersons can use to determine God’s design for their service to the Lord. The church of today is weak and inept, often overrun by an enemy of ignorance and indifference, especially when it comes to the work of the Holy Spirit. I will readily admit that this book in no way purports to be a definitive work on ministry of the Holy Spirit (other and more capable men than me have provided numerous such works). But one area of the Spirit’s work that surely needs emphasis in the church today is the work that God desires to do through His church by the exercise of the spiritual gifts given to each and every saint. The bottom-line objective is to help each believer, each church member, discover their Holy Spirit-given motivation for ministry.
As we will discover, that motivation is your spiritual gift. God the Holy Spirit gifted you to motivate you toward a ministry that He would bless. It is His desire to use you in the service of your Savior, to advance the cause of the kingdom, and to be a blessing to your fellow believers. The truth is, we have all been called into ministry. The work of the ministry is not solely the work of the pastor or the paid church staff (Eph. 4:11-16).
A great motto for a church would be, “Every member a minister.” Of course, for that to happen, the pastor and membership would need to get serious about understanding and discovering the spiritual gifts of each member. I believe that any Bible-believing church would find the results of such an effort to be a tremendous blessing. For most churches, the time comes around every year when the nominating committee, deacons, or elders begin the labor of filling all the positions of service needed in the church.
In theory, if all the members knew and practiced their spiritual gifts, there would be no need for a nominating committee! People would be much more satisfied and fulfilled in their work in the church! There would likely be a waiting list to serve. Rather than begging someone to teach a Sunday school class, for example, a person would come to the pastor and say, “I have the gift of teaching, and I’d like to teach a class.” He would then respond, “We’ll put you on a waiting list!” Or he might make them an assistant teacher or have them start a new class. There is no question that the church would be blessed and more effective in ministry if all the members were serving just as God had gifted them.
“Your Reasonable Service” (cf. Rom. 12:1-2) is to present your body as “a living sacrifice…to God.” God saved you in order to use you in His service! In Romans 12, Paul shows us clearly how we can be the living sacrifices He desires through discovering and using the motivational spiritual gifts we have been given by the Holy Spirit. That will be the aim of this book, to help pastors and church members discover their gifts for the glory of the Lord, the furtherance of His kingdom, and the good of the church.