After the Big Bang – Chapter 9
God’s Gifts and Ministries
Most believers would be surprised to hear that the various gifts, ministrations, and operations given to mankind include those bestowed by the three different entities of the triune God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 says, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences [diversities] of administrations [ministrations], but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations [workings], but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” It is helpful to our understanding of this passage of scripture to consider the meaning of the Greek words used to describe these three separate “gifts.” In verse 4, gifts from the Holy Spirit are described by the Greek word interpreted “charisma,” which is a noun meaning a spiritual gift. It is used seventeen times in the NT. In verse 5, the Greek word used is interpreted “diakonos,” meaning “administrations [ministrations],” a function, ministry, or office in the church. In verse 6, the Greek word used is interpreted “energema,” meaning “to put into effect.” When used in reference to God, which this seems to be, it refers to the power of God at work in the life of His people. My understanding of this difficult passage is that gifts are dispensed by the Holy Spirit at His discretion (1 Co. 12:11); ministries are given by Christ (Eph. 4:8-11), and implemented by the Holy Spirit; and God the Father gives the go-ahead to various operations (workings) within the body, which are then guided by Christ, and implemented by the Holy Spirit.
We turn next to the various gifts, ministries, and endowments that these three categories include.
Charisma: The gifts of the Holy Spirit to believers are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, and include the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, various kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. You will note that only nine gifts are listed here, seven of these are repeated in various forms in Romans 1:11, 11:29, 12:6; 1 Corinthians 1:7, 7:7; 2 Timothy 1:6; and 1 Peter 1:6.
Diakonos: A noun found in thirty different contexts meaning servant, minister, or deacon. It is used to describe one who serves or ministers in Matthew 20:26, 23:11, and Mark 9:35, 10:43. It refers to servants as deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8, 12, and as deaconesses in Romans 16:1, 27, and as servants of the church in Colossians 1:25 and 1 Timothy 4:6. In John 12:26; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 1:7 it refers to servants of Christ, and to servants of God in Romans 13:4; 2 Corinthians 6:4; and 1 Thessalonians 3:2. It also refers to ministers of the new covenant in 2 Corinthians 3:6, and as ministers of the gospel in Ephesians 3:7, and Colossians 1:23.
Energema: While the gifts referred to above are activated spiritually, and the ministries require a personal commitment of some sort, this Greek word seems to refer to the actual power, or faith, to bring the contemplated action into effect. Faith is the power of persuasion that generates the belief that we can do what God desires. Romans 12:3-6 seems to confirm that God provides the necessary faith to bring the gift or ministry into effect. Romans 12:3 KJV says, “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith,” however, the GNT says, “God divided a measure of faith to each.” The magnitude of the measure assigned is seemingly determined by the particular spiritual gift or ministry operating within the body member: different gifts require different levels of faith, and the body member proves himself capable of doing God’s will through the renewing of his mind. As we grow in holiness by becoming more Christlike, God can trust us with ever greater spiritual authority.
With God this is a package deal: He gives the gift via the power (faith) required to manifest the gift. We are cautioned to not think more highly of ourselves than is warranted, for all members of the body are equally important, and God is the One that dispenses gifts. These gifts and ministries are given to benefit all members of the body, and the body is to function as a unit, with all the various parts (members) functioning as God has given grace, with one mind and with one mouth, glorifying God. To question or to envy another member’s gift is to question God’s authority to distribute spiritual gifts as He sees fit.
As indicated above these gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.
1.The word of wisdom is a word from God that provides the solution to whatever problem or situation is faced. Wisdom implies the creation of something that did not exist before. “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens,'” (Proverbs 3:19)
2.The word of knowledge is a word from God that supplies a solution for a problem or situation by resorting to known facts or information. The word of knowledge does not imply the creation of new knowledge: “By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew,” (Proverbs 3::20)
3. Faith is the power of persuasion that leads to belief. It is a gift of God that must be tested and tried before it becomes real in your life. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Christ.” (1 Pe. 1:7 ).
4. Gifts of healing, which are speciﬁc acts of healing to the body, including the mind, are often imparted by the laying on of hands. This healing comes from God, not from the physical touch of the hands however.
5. The working of miracles (or powers), thought to be a significant divine revelation, usually, but not always, accompanied by a miraculous sign or event given or engineered by God.
6. The gift of prophecy refers to individual prophecies given by members of the body. The word of prophecy refers to the rendering of God’s plans and purposes to his people, and the world at large. The book of Revelation is referred to as a prophecy in Revelation 1:3.
7. Discerning of spirits refers to discerning between good and evil spirits (between godly and demonic spirits).
8. Understanding various kinds of tongues as used in this verse is thought to refer, or indicate, discourse that bears no relation to ordinary human language. Speaking in tongues is thought to refer to the use of spiritual language, often given as prophecy.
9. Interpretation of tongues is necessary when a prophecy in tongues is given in the body. In this case the prophet is charged with the responsibility of insuring that the message given in tongues is interpreted, so that the body can understand.
This listing of the gifts closes with 1 Corinthians 12:11 GNT which says, “And the one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing separately to each as He purposes.” The Holy Spirit appears to have considerable freedom in determining when, and through whom, individual spiritual gifts are applied.
1. Matthew 20:27 says, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” I believe Jesus was correcting some of the disciples attitudes about being first or greatest in this verse. He reminded them that the way to be greatest in heaven is to be the humblest, to be low in status and dignity, to be nothing in our own eyes. Mark 9:35 says, “And He sat down, and called the twelve and saith unto them: If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”
2. Romans 16:1 says, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church at Cenchrea:” Ministers of the church included both men and women.
3. Deacons must be the husband of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well (1 Ti. 3:12).
4. John 12:26 states that , “If any man serve me [Jesus], let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
5. Roman 12:7 says, “Or ministry, let us wait of [give ourselves to], our ministering [ministry].”
6. 1 Corinthians 12:5 says, “and there are differences [diversities], of administrations [ministrations], but the same Lord.
Those with the gift of ministering in the church are listed in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28; and Ephesians 4:11-12. The use of the word “gift” here might be better given as “graces.” Paul uses this expression to refer to natural endowments strengthened by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Like a candle placed in an oxygen environment leaps up to a more brilliant flame, so the faculties of the believer are many times more effective when quickened by the power of Jesus Christ. After Jesus ascended to His seat at the right hand of God He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, some helpers, and some for governing, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry unto the building up of the body of Christ.
This is possibly the most difficult “gift” to understand. 1 Corinthians 12:6 GNT says, “And there are differences of workings, but the same God is working all things in all.” This seems to say that God is “working” to bring all the gifts and ministries we have discussed into effect. There are several scriptures that help in our understanding of this. For example Ephesians 3:7 says, “Whereof I was made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power.” From this we assume that God brings about (effects) the selection of ministers in the body, and logically this same procedure probably applies to all the ministerial gifts in the body. Ephesians 4:16 seems to validate this assumption: “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted [framed and knit together] by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying [building up] of itself in love.” This is what God is trying to bring into effect: building-up of the body through the increasing influence of the Head (Christ).
Colossians 2:12 refers to our salvation through faith in the operation of God, who raised us from the dead. The “operation” or “working” that God used here is empowered by faith, which God uses to achieve His purposes. After we receive God’s injection of saving faith the process of increasing, or growing, this initial faith begins. This occurs as we hear God, act on His written or spoken word, and see the word bear fruit. When God manifests one (or more) of His spiritual gifts in a man, He knows the man is prepared to receive the faith necessary to use the gift to benefit those in the body of Christ. He knows how successful (or not) the mind-renewing process has been in breaking down hard places in the heart. Oswald Chamber’s meditation on Hebrews 11:6 says, “Faith must be tested and tried before it becomes real in your life. . . so that no matter what happens, the transforming power of God’s providence transforms perfect faith into reality.” Let us all grow the faith that God gives us by boldly acting on the guidance we receive from the Holy Spirit. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Christ.” (1 Pe. 1:7 ).
It seems clear from 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 that God gives gifts, ministries, and brings about workings in the lives of Christian believers. The first difficulty we encounter in this passage is the statement that different gifts are given, but the same Spirit; different ministries are given, but the same Lord; and different operations (workings) are effected, but the same God. God does not make mistakes, so we must accept this as having meaning that He intends for us to understand, even if we have to struggle to find it.
1 Corinthians 12:11 GNT provides some guidance about the work of the Holy Spirit in distributing spiritual gifts: “And the one and the selfsame Spirit works all these things, distributing separately to each as He purposes.” This seems to say that the Holy Spirit has considerable authority in determining what gift is given to what member of the body. Work of the Holy Spirit within the believer include the following:
1) As our comforter He provides encouragement and alleviation of grief.
2) As our sanctifier He renews our minds and conforms us to the image of Christ.
3) He witnesses with our spirit that we are sons of God.
4) He gives us understanding of the Word of God.
5) He knows the mind of God, thus we have access to the mind of God through Him.
6) He sets us free from the law of sin and death.
7) He gives us power (faith) to be witnesses for Christ.
8) He causes us to bear fruit of the Spirit.
9) He brings to remembrance the words of Christ.
10) He guides us in prayer, worship, and praise.
11) The gifts of the Spirit manifested in our lives come from Him.
We see from this list that the Holy Spirit is the person of the Godhead designated to work closely with mankind, to be aware of his spiritual condition, to know his strength and weaknesses, and thus be the One to determine a fitting gift (or grace), for the person within the body. He is God within us.
We see from above that the Lord (Jesus Christ) is intimately involved in assigning the ministerial gifts to mankind. Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “And He (Jesus)) gave some [to be], apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for [unto] the work of the ministry [of ministering], for [unto] the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ:” When Jesus arose after crucifixion He joined the Father in heaven, and assumed new responsibilities: that of being the mediator of the new covenant, that of being head of the church on earth, and our intercessor with the Father. In His role as mediator of the new covenant He was to insure that elect believers were to make it into heaven fully sanctified. To accomplish this, and in accordance with His role as head of the church, He selected and placed ministers in the church of God to insure that the physical and spiritual needs were properly met.
It is worth noting that the ministering gifts (graces), include that of prophets, while the spiritual gifts include that of prophecy: these are not the same gift. A prophet is one that has been designated by God, and equipped to communicate His plans and purposes to His people. It is a ministry, while the word “prophecy” normally represents a one-time gift to a person, or to the church body. Prophesies can be given in tongues, but there must be an interpreter so that it is understood by those in attendance.
I want to repeat the idea behind 1 Corinthians 12:6 in a way that is understandable: “There are many different ways in which God works, but He (the Father) is the One that puts all things into effect.” So we ask ourselves, what does He do that causes all this action? I believe that it is the power of faith that brings these actions into effect. Faith is clearly defined in God’s Word as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Thus, it is through the power of faith that we believe for the thing hoped for. It is the power of faith that substantiates what we hope for in our minds (biblical heart). Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and ye shall have them.” It is the power of faith that enables belief. Our very salvation was received as a result of the faith God provided at the appropriate time. Hebrews 4:2 says, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” We noted earlier that 1 Corinthians 12:3 states that God dealt to every man a measure of faith. This verse leaves little doubt that it is that measure of faith given to the believer that provides the necessary conviction (belief) to manifest that particular gift, and it is God the Father that “worketh all in all.”
So what is the process for man receiving gifts and ministries from the triune Godhead? We obviously do not know the answer to this question; however, I believe the procedure must go something like this: 1) for spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit determines that the need being addressed is worthy, that the servant’s spiritual condition is such that he can use the faith required to believe to make the gift effectual, and that he manifests love and compassion for the one being ministered to; 2) for ministries, the Lord is very aware of the spiritual condition of His candidate for ministry, and He commits Himself to provide continued grace through oversight and guidance for this person to minister with love and compassion. When all these requirements have been met to the Father’s satisfaction, He provides the faith necessary for the gift, ministry or operation to be effected in the believer’s life. The key is being in relationship with Him, hearing His voice and speaking His words into a situations that He places us in. We often sense the operation of God’s gifts in our lives, but at other times we do not see how He moved through us in a given matter until sometime later. Whenever we sense Him working in our lives in this way it is a real blessing.
I have used various references in this writing. First, the KJV of the Bible has been my primary source for scripture, and all scripture references are taken from this source unless noted otherwise. I have also referred to Jay P. Green’s Interlinear Greek – English New Testament, as noted by the abbreviation GNT. Other scriptural dictionaries including Vines Expository Dictionary and the New Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of BibleWords have been used for word meaning. I have also used biblical commentaries from the Bible Hub for scriptural references.
Read the rest of the book on Scribd – After the Big Bang