Spiritual Gifts

To experience the full richness of the spiritual life, a person must become involved in some kind of service in Christ’s name.

Christ calls His followers to an active faith. To be an authentic follower of Jesus and experience the full richness of the spiritual life, a person must become involved in some kind of service in Christ’s name. The theological word for service is “ministry.” The particular nature of one’s service is directed by the Holy Spirit through the giftedness that God bestows in each individual life.

How can you best serve Jesus? What are your spiritual gifts? Is God calling you to a specific mission or purpose in your life? What does the Bible mean by “spiritual gifts” and what does it specifically teach on this topic? It is often the cause of controversy or extravagant claims.

Several key scriptural passages provide considerable material on this topic, but the story actually begins at the very beginning of the Christian church in Acts 2:17-21. In the record of the very first public evangelistic sermon preached on behalf of the Christian faith, Peter takes his text from Joel 2:28-32. “ ‘I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance’ ” (NKJV).

Jesus had set the stage for this event a few weeks earlier when He told His disciples at
the Last Supper, “ ‘Now I am going to him who sent me’ ” and promised to send the Holy
Spirit as “ ‘Counselor’ ” and “ ‘Guide’ ” (John 16:5, 7, 13, NIV). At the time of His Ascension, Christ reminded them of this and commanded, “ ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised. . . . You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. . . . And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ ” (Acts 1:4, 5, 8, NIV).

By the end of Acts 2, there is a clear picture of the kind of enterprise that Christ was seeking to establish, the movement that would come to be called the Christian church. Many of the people who heard Peter’s sermon “were cut to the heart” and responded with the question, “ ‘What shall we do?’ ” (Acts 2:37, NIV). Peter told them, “Repent. . . and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ ” (v. 38, NASB).

The Bible says that about 3,000 people became followers of Jesus that day. These original followers of Jesus “devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. All the believers were together and . . . they gave to anyone as he had need. . . . And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (vv. 42, 44, 45, 47, NIV).

This is Christ’s model for His people. This is what God expects of you as you become a follower of Jesus. Bible study and prayer, meals and fellowship with a small group of believers, meeting the needs of those we see suffering in the world around us, and sharing the hope that is in Jesus. And key to this is the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the “gift” from God.*

* Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

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