A Study of Theology IV – Part 4


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1 Corinthians 12:1

A Study of Theology IV – Part 4 (Dr. Thomas Figart)

Dr. Figart explains the origin and purpose of spiritual gifts

A Study of Theology IV – Part4

Dr. Thomas Figart

V. Spiritual Gifts in the Church.

A. General Characteristics of Spiritual Gifts.

  1. The Source of all spiritual gifts is the Holy Spirit; 1 Cor. 12:1; 12:11; 14:1.The word used is pneumatikon, “things of the Spirit.”
  2. Spiritual gifts are entirely undeserved.
    a.) Because they are “grace-gifts” (charismata) 1 Cor. 12:4.
    b.)Because they are ‘given’ (didotai) 1 Cor. 12:7.
  3. Spiritual gifts differ in value.
    a.) In 1 Cor. 12:28the listing is “first, second, third…”
    b.) In 1 Cor. 12:31 “desire the greater (meizona) gifts.”
    c.) In 1 Cor. 14:5the gift of prophecyis preferred over tongues.
  4. Spiritual gifts are sovereignlygiven, as God wills, thus are not to be sought after.
    a.) In 1 Cor. 12:31 “covet earnestly” is from zelo-owhich means “be zealous for”; it does not mean covetor seek !
    b.) In 1 Cor. 14:1,12 zelo-o refers to the use of gifts: “seek to excel” but it does not say we are to seek the gifts themselves.
  5. Every Christian has one or more spiritual gift.
    a.) In 1 Cor. 12:7,11 the Spirit gives “to every man severally.”
    b.) In 1 Cor. 12: 29-30Christians do not all have the same gifts.
    c.) In Rom. 12: 4-6, “having gifts differing.”
  6. Spiritual gifts pertain to the new nature, not to the old nature.
    a.) They were given at the time of the new birth, Eph. 1:3; 1 Cor. 1:5-7.
    Otherwise, our salvation is incomplete and has to come in stages, which is contrary to Eph. 1:3. There is an analogy to natural gifts, which are given at birth, but must be developed. In like manner, spiritual gifts are given at the new birth, but must be “stirred up.”
    b.) 2 Tim. 1:6 makes this statement about spiritual gifts, when Paul expected Timothy to “stir up the gift” which God had given him.This answers the question, “How do we know what our gifts are?” The answer is found in practice; you will soon know what you can or cannot do spiritually.|
    c.) This infers that someone who is not naturally gifted may be mightily gifted of God, and, conversely, one with great natural talents may not be greatly endowed with spiritual gifts.Thus, by grace-gifts, God can do great things in any Christian.

B. Definition of Spiritual Gifts from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, p. 667:

In the technical Pauline sense, charismata (A.V. “gifts”) denote extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the Church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit.

C. Purposes of Spiritual Gifts.

  1. ) Authentication of the Messengers of God and their Message: “Sign” gifts. In each Period, they were given for one generation only!

a.) The Period of Moses and Joshua.God gave Moses miraculous sign-gifts so the Israelites would accept Moses as their deliverer, and to show Pharaoh that Jehovah was the only true God (Ex.4:1-9; 12:12), and when Moses laid his hands on Joshua in Num. 27:18 Joshua was given the Spirit also (Deut.34:9).However, this was for one generation only, because in Joshua 24 no one was appointed to take over, there were no more sign-miracles, and soon the people turned to apostasy.

b.)The Period of Elijah and Elisha.Elijah was given miraculous sign-gifts during a time of apostasy.On Mt. Carmel he was authenticated in three ways: The Person of God: “Thou art God in Israel.”;The Prophet of God: “…that I am thy servant”; and The Prophecy of God: “…that I have done all these things at thy word” (1 Kings 18:36). Elijah gave the mantle to Elisha in 2 Kings 2, and he performed miracles for one generation only.No one was appointed to take over after Elisha’s death.

c.) The Period of Christ and the Apostles.The main purpose in the miracles performed by Christ was not to help people, though helping people was part of the process.The main purpose was to authenticate His messiahship, His deity and His message, John 5:20,36; 20:30-31.This was confirmed by the ministry of the Apostles, for one generation only, Acts 14:1-3. InHeb. 2:3-4, the word “confirmed” is in the aorist tense, which is not continuous. The Apostles were given sign-gifts (2 Cor. 12:12) to demonstrate that their message was authentic and that they were true messengers of God.Now that we have the complete Bible, there is no further need for proof through special “signs” because the written Word speaks for itself.

d.) Thus, the burden of proof is on the Charismatics to show that genuine “sign-gifts” were for more than one generation, and this they cannot do.Church History gives no real evidence for miraculous gifts after the first century.(See, Miraculous Gifts: Are they for Today? by Dr.Thomas G. Edgar, Loizeaux Bros., N.J. 1983, pp. 223-259; also, Counterfeit Miracles, by B.B. Warfield, Banner of Truth Trust, Scotland, 1976, pp. 3-31.)

2.) Conviction of Unbelievers.Though this was involved in the authentication of the message, it is nevertheless a distinct purpose in the giving of the special sign gifts of the Spirit.We will consider 1 Cor. 14:21-25 later.

3.) Edification, or building up the believer.Eph. 4:11-13; Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 14:1-5; 1 Pet. 4:10-11.Both temporary and permanent spiritual gifts included edification.

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