Sermon Illustrations

Sermon Illustrations > Spiritual Gifts > Spiritual Gifts are to Edify the Church
Spiritual Gifts are to Edify the Church

Your Father Loves You by James Packer, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986, page for December 9

We are right to say that spiritual gifts come from the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-11). However we go on to think of them in terms either of giftedness (human ability to do things skillfully and well) or of supernatural novelty (power to speak in tongues, to heal, to receive messages straight from God to give to others, or whatever). We have not formed the habit of defining gifts in terms of Christ, the head of the body, and his present work from heaven in our midst. In this we are unscriptural.

Paul makes it clear that spiritual gifts are given in Christ; they are enrichments from Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 assumes the Christ-oriented perspective that 1 Corinthians 1:4-7 established. It is vital that we should see this, or we shall be confusing natural with spiritual gifts to the end of our days.

Nowhere does Paul or any other New Testament writer define a spiritual gift to us. But Paul's assertion that the use of gifts edifies (1 Cor. 14:3-5, 12, 17, 26; Eph. 4:12), shows what his idea of gift was.

For Paul it is only through Christ, in Christ, and by learning of and responding to Christ, that anyone is ever edified. So spiritual gifts must be defined in terms of Christ as actualized powers of expressing, celebrating, displaying, and thus communicating Christ in one way or another, either by word or deed.