Question 2. By whom were they given?
Look again at the 1 Cor passage. It seems very clear that the gifts are given specifically by the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul wants to leave no doubt about the origin of spiritual gifts. Look down a little farther to verses 11-13. One of the keys to understanding spiritual gifts is contained in verse 13.This speaks of the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit and its significance in terms of empowering us to do what God has for us to do.
You can see here that it is the Holy Spirit that bestows these gifts to believers. He can do that because He is God. Now, some people seem to have a hard time with the whole concept of the Holy Spirit being God. They would agree that the Bible teaches a triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but then seem to want to relegate the Spirit to second class Godhood. Remember, the Holy Spirit is God! He has all the same attributes as the Father and Jesus the son. He can do whatever He wills to do.
I think it is possible that the reason some people have difficulty with this concept is because the Holy Spirit does not exalt Himself, but He exalts Jesus, but the Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father and the Son and we should obey His instruction to us. Remember what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit in John 16:7-11
“7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”(NIV)
Even Jesus relied on the power of the Holy Spirit while He was here in human form. Remember that Jesus set aside some of His divine attributes while He was on earth. He was in perfect relationship with the Father and the Spirit, relying on the Holy Spirit to help Him accomplish the mission that was set before Him by the Father.
The work of the Holy Spirit is so important that Jesus said in Mt 12:31 that anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. As you can see then, our belief about the person of the Holy Spirit is extremely important. When Jesus taught about being born again, He said that our second birth is the birth of the Spirit into our lives and that the Spirit would teach us, guide us comfort us and empower us. If you want to look at some of the scriptures concerning this, you can look at Matthew 28:19; Mk 3:16, 13:11; Lk 11:13, 12:12; Jn 3:5-6, 7:39, 16:13-15.
Question 3. When were they given?
Read Acts, chapter 2 verses 1-5. No legitimate biblical scholars disagree that this day of Pentecost (50 days after the feast of Firstfruits) was the first indication that the Holy Spirit began imparting the spiritual gifts to the fledgling church. In fact, most would say that this day is the very birth of the church. Peter explains what took place in verses 17 through 20 and indicates that this began the period of the “last days.” These first gifts were imparted as the believers were filled with the Spirit and verse 4 says “as the Spirit enabled them.” That phrase is critical to our understanding of spiritual gifts.
Question 4. Why were they given?
Let’s go back to Romans 12 and start in verse 1 (thru 5). Notice that Paul connects the list of gifts to teaching about offering our bodies as living sacrifices and being connected together as one body. In the Corinthian passage He says this. 1 Cor 12:7 “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” He goes on in the rest of the chapter to explain that this is all a part of being able to work together as one body and that not all have the same gifts. This was done intentionally, so that we would be interdependent on one another. This destroys the concept held by some that you can be a “lone ranger Christian,” and do not need to fellowship on a regular basis with a body of believers. God purposely gave different gifts to keep us in need of one another to fulfill His purpose for the church.
Next post will discuss the controversy surrounding the gifts.