"It is usually said that there are nine gifts of the Spirit. (I suppose Paul lists nine in 1 Corinthians 12). Actually Paul mentions no less than seventeen. (1 Corinthians 12: 4-11; Romans 12: 3-8; Ephesians 4: 7-11). And these are not natural talents merely, but gifts imparted by the Holy Spirit to fit the believer for his place in the body of Christ. They are like pipes on a great organ, permitting the musician wide scope and range to produce music of the finest quality. But they are, I repeat, more than talents. They are spiritual gifts.
Natural talents enable a man to work within the field of nature; but through the body of Christ, God is doing an eternal work above and beyond the realm of fallen nature. This requires supernatural working.
Religious work can be done by natural men without the gifts of the Spirit, and it can be done well and skillfully. But work designed for eternity can only be done by the eternal Spirit. No work has eternity in it unless it is done by the Spirit through gifts He has Himself implanted in the souls of redeemed men.
For a generation certain evangelical teachers have told us that the gifts of the Spirit ceased at the death of the apostles or at the completion of the New Testament. This, of course, is a doctrine without a syllable of Biblical authority to back it. Its advocates must accept full responsibility for this manipulating the Word of God.
The result of this erroneous teaching is that spiritually gifted persons are ominously few among us. When we so desperately need leaders with the gift of discernment, for instance, we do not have them and are compelled to fall back upon the techniques of the world.
This frightening hour calls aloud for men with the gift of prophetic insight. Instead we have men who conduct surveys, polls, and panel discussions.
We need men with the gift of knowledge. In their place we have men with scholarship -- nothing more.
Thus we may be preparing ourselves for the tragic hour when God may set us aside as so-called evangelicals and raise up another movement to keep New Testament Christianity alive in the earth. Say not, 'We be children of Abraham. God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.'
The truth of the matter is that the Scriptures plainly imply the imperative of possessing the gifts of the Spirit. Paul urges that we both 'covet' and 'desire' spiritual gifts. (1 Corinthians 12: 31; 14: 1) It does not appear to be an optional matter with us but rather a Scriptural mandate to those who have been filled with the Spirit.
But I must also add a word of caution. The various spiritual gifts are not equally valuable, as Paul so carefully explained. Certain brethren have magnified one gift out of seventeen out of all proportion. Among these brethren there have been and are many godly souls, but the general moral result of this teaching has nevertheless not been good. In practice it has resulted in much shameless exhibitionism, a tendency to depend upon experiences instead of upon Christ and often a lack of ability to distinguish the works of the flesh from the operation of the Spirit.
Those who deny that the gifts are for us today and those who insist upon making a hobby of one gift are both wrong, and we are all suffering the consequences of their error.
Today there is no reason for our remaining longer in doubt. We have every right to expect our Lord to grant to His Church the spiritual gifts which He has never in fact taken away from us, but which we are failing to receive only because of our error or unbelief. We have yet to see what God would do for His Church if we would all throw ourselves down before Him with an open Bible and cry, 'Behold Thy servant, Lord! Be it unto me even as Thou wilt.'"
"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are a variety of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For the body is not one member, but many. And the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you', or again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you'.
Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak in tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy."
1 Corinthians 12: 4-12, 14, 20, 21, 27-31; 1 Corinthians 14: 1