9 Spiritual Gifts and 5 ministries
1. General Principles
In his eternal wisdom and grace, God decided to bestow on the church all the spiritual tools necessary for her edification: nine spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:8-11) – the word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, operations of miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, different types of tongues and interpretation of tongues. He also gave the fivefold ministries (Eph. 4:11) – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
Building the Church is something in which the Lord Jesus is directly involved (Matt 16:18), and which is an operation of Holy Spirit. Beginning on the day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This ushered in the transmission of the revelations provided by the Lord Jesus as Head of The Church. It ends on the day when the Church is completed, the day of the Rapture. (1 Cor. 13:10). During this period, these tools of edification are necessary to accomplish this Work that the Lord entrusted to His Church.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was not given only to transmit anointing (1 John 2:27) and joy to the Church (Rom. 14:17). The most important purpose of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is to equip the Church to receive spiritual gifts and the ministries for her edification in order to witness about Jesus in an effective way (Acts 1:8). For this reason, the promise of the Holy Spirit is for all the servants, male or female, as the Lord revealed beforehand through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28). The result of receiving the Spirit would be prophecy, visions, dreams – in other words, the spiritual gifts. Through each incidence of these spiritual gifts, the Lord reveals His will more clearly to the Church and confirms the preaching of the Gospel, thus manifesting that Jesus is alive! (Mark 16:20).
The nine spiritual gifts, however, cannot be used appropriately without assistance from the ministries. The nine spiritual gifts and the fivefold ministries complement each other. Gifts used without the assistance of the ministries become a source of problems and fail to achieve the objective of edifying the Church. For this reason, in each local church, it is appropriate to have the Pastor supervising the use of the spiritual gifts, to evaluate the validity of each incidence of the gifts – together with a group of mature members of the local Church – and to decide how the gifts can be applied wisely, in a way that achieves the ultimate goal of building up the Body.
2. The gifts in the Local Church
Every incidence of the spiritual gifts (whether prophecy, interpretation of tongues, visions, dreams, or revelations), whether targeted toward a group within the church or the church as a whole, should be transmitted to the local pastor. The pastor is the appropriate person to asses the authenticity of the gift (whether the Holy Spirit approves it), with the help of the group of mature believers mentioned above. He will also assess how best to apply any direction transmitted through this incidence of the gift.
The gifts used in this way – under the pastor’s supervision, properly evaluated as to its source and the wise application – are always intended for the edification (1 Cor. 14:3-5, 12) and joy of the Church. There are churches in the Americas and Europe that have tried handling the spiritual gifts in this way, with wonderful results. Some churches have already been handling gifts in this manner for over thirty-five years, without experiences the problems that elsewhere have been associated with operations of the Holy Spirit.
To prepare the church for the greater outpouring of the Spirit that will occur just before the second and glorious returning of the Lord Jesus to rapture His Church, the Lord is focusing His people on the need to handle the spiritual gifts in a more biblical fashion: with wisdom and discernment. As these teachings are transmitted to the Church and put into practice, the Church itself is prepared to receive a great visitation of the Holy Spirit without any of the problems normally associated with spiritual gifts. On the contrary, the spiritual gifts will be a source of great joy and blessing for the Church, because through them the Lord can reveal all of His will to His people.
3. The Service in the New Testament
On the other hand, the spiritual gifts are essential for having services like they had in the New Testament. The orientation of the Holy Spirit about how to conduct services in the Church refers to at least three elements: doctrine, hymns, and spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:23-33). The Apostle Paul himself showed that, in the operation of the spiritual gifts, there is an illustration of how unbelievers will be converted (they will be convicted in their hearts, they will glorify God and proclaim that God is in this Church) - when there are incidences of the gifts that reveal the secrets of their hearts. (1 Cor. 14:24-25).
The teaching of these verses is confirmed in Mark 16:20, which confirms that the apostles preached everywhere, “and the Lord was working with them, confirming the Word through the signs that followed.” This is important because it demonstrates that the doctrine, indispensable for faith (“faith comes by hearing...the Word of God”), is confirmed in the hearts of those who hear – the Lord Jesus speaking into the their hearts through occurrences of the spiritual gifts. (“signs that follow”)
It logically follows that, in order to preach with power, it is necessary to preach with the operation of signs that come through the proper functioning of the spiritual gifts (the operation of wonders, gifts of healing, prophecies that reveal the secrets of the heart, etc.). The Church should, therefore, pursue spiritual gifts – as the Lord commands (1 Cor. 14:1) – so as to testify effectively about the Lord Jesus.
4. Meetings of Servants who have Ministries
The spiritual gifts are also necessary in order for the Lord to advise the Churches and the servants used in the ministries (pastors, elders, evangelists, etc.). In meetings of the leaders in a given city or region, for example, it is possible to consult the Lord regarding the decisions that need to be made in order to carry out God’s Work there. The Lord can also take the initiative and reveal His will about some matter that is being discussed by the pastors there.
The manifestation of the Lord Jesus in the meetings of these leaders results in edification and in unity among all the participants. When the Lord has a chance to speak to the pastors in the presence of God in these meetings, it is more sensitive, generating greater fear of the Lord, love among the brethren, humility and true Christian unity. On the other hand, divisions cease, factions dissipate, and confrontations between pastors can be avoided. When a subject is discussed and no consensus is reached, the group can consult the Lord and ask for His direction. The Lord then graciously counsels his pastors, speaking in their midst through the gifts of the Spirit. And when the Lord manifests Himself, agreement emerges among everyone, and this is the fruit of the Holy Spirit operating.
Therefore, the leaders who have a ministry (pastors, elders, evangelists, etc.) should pray and fast for the Lord to give them more spiritual gifts. The Lord always answers this kind of request, because it is a prayer offered according to the Lord’s will. (1 Cor. 14:1). Moreover, the leaders should begin to teach the Church that, in the New Testament, there were no infallible prophets like in the Old Testament. Today we do not judge (or endorse) the prophet who speaks; instead we judge each prophecy separately. (1 Cor. 14:27, 29; 1 Thess 5:20-21). Thus, we also teach the church that nobody should be publicly humiliated when some prophecy is given that is not from the Lord, that does not meet the criteria for assessing the gifts.