How do spiritual gifts impact the Church?
Spiritual gifts are part of the very nature of God, given to us for Him to use to fulfill His purposes in our lives and on the earth. In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul clearly explained the purpose of spiritual gifts. God gave spiritual gifts
for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [complete] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight [fraud] of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:12–15).
As we use our spiritual gifts, the Body of Christ will be edified, unified, and matured; we will avoid deception by Satan and by wicked men; and we will grow in Christ.
The Church Is Designed to Function in Harmony
The Body of Christ is meant to function in the same manner that a physical body functions: “The body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body . . .” (I Corinthians 12:12). The unity and interdependency of the body is an example of how spiritual gifts influence the Church.
Wayne Grudem, M.Div., in his book Systematic Theology, offers these insights: “The idea that the Holy Spirit unifies the church is also evident in the fact that ‘strife . . . disputes, dissensions, factions’ (Gal. 5:20 NASB) are desires of the flesh that are opposed to being ‘led by the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:18, cf. v. 25). The Holy Spirit is the one who produces love in our hearts (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22; Col. 1:8), and this love ‘binds everything together in perfect harmony’ (Col. 3:14). Therefore when the Holy Spirit is working strongly in a church to manifest God’s presence, one evidence will be a beautiful harmony in the church community and overflowing love for one another” (Grudem, page 647, emphasis added).
Each Member of the Body Is Given Spiritual Gifts
Solely as the result of His choice, God gives each of His children one motivational gift at salvation, and He bestows the ministry gifts and manifestation gifts as He pleases. God Himself strategically places the members of the Body of Christ—with their variety of God-given gifts—in the Body.
Ideally, these members do not function independently as servants of God; rather they function as a healthy, contributing member of the Church: “Now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. . . . And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (I Corinthians 12:18, 21).
The Fullness of God’s Love Is Expressed in the Gifts
If one Christian possessed all of the spiritual gifts, he would be self-sufficient and have no need of the other members. Yet God has deliberately given us different gifts: we need each other. As each believer responds to needs according to his particular spiritual gift, and as God allows believers to serve Him in various roles of spiritual service, the Body of Christ can experience the fullness of God’s love.
We can receive “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of . . . [our] understanding being enlightened; that . . . [we] may know what is the hope of his calling, and what [are] the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power . . . [in] his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:17–19, 23). Glory to God!
God wants us to “know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that . . . [we] might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19), and He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20). As we serve God, His people, and the world through the spiritual gifts bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit, the love of God—the fullness of God—will be demonstrated, proclaimed, and manifested.
Neglected Gifts Diminish the Church’s Effectiveness
If we do not accept and obediently use our spiritual gifts, which are expressions of “the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10), we neglect God’s work of grace in our lives. We will “fail of the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15). God forbid that we would make that choice!
If you pout because you think you’re not the most important or the most honored or the most noticed or the most needed part of the Body, you don’t automatically stop being an integral part of the Body; however, you do cease to be useful to your fullest potential. If you are dissatisfied with your spiritual gift and decide not to use it, you’ll still have the same gift and the same role in the Body, but you will have refused to function. God will still accomplish His purposes on the earth and in the hearts of men (see Philippians 1:6), but you will forfeit the privilege and joy of carrying out your God-given assignments on the earth.
The Gifts Give Direction and Purpose in Life
Knowing that each of us has gifts that are valuable and needed in the Body of Christ gives us purpose in God’s kingdom. As we demonstrate the love of God through gifts that He gives us, we can experience personal fulfillment and great joy: we can experience purpose in life. As we mature in our understanding of spiritual gifts and learn to be channels of God’s power as He works through them, we are equipped to bear abundant fruit in the kingdom of God.