The reason for the existence of the gifts of the Spirit is the starting point for any discussion about the gifts of the Spirit.
Even for the cessationist, who without convincing scriptural evidence, believes the gifts of the Spirit are not relevant today the question is still a valid one when contemplating the early Church, “What was the purpose and function of the gifts of the Spirit?” In seeing and understanding the Raison d’être, it becomes evident that we sill need the gifts today, and indeed are in the benefit of them in this present day.
There is nothing in the Apostle Paul’s writings either to the Church in Rome or Corinth to suggest that this is an exhaustive list. Paul’s emphasis does seem to be on convincing the church in Corinth that they should grasp the understanding that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit came from The Spirit Himself. He is the author of the gifts and that no matter what the gift, the fact was(is) that the gift is given for the common good. They are not rewards for faithfulness or achievement, but gifts given by God as He alone chooses.
Despite all the benefit of revelation, powerful demonstrations of God’s phenomenal power, healing, supernatural knowledge and wisdom, Paul draws attention that the gifts are not to be contentious but are there to bring blessing to the Church.
In particular, he brings three dominant roles of the gifts to their attention; edification, exhortation and encouragement.
The one who prophesies speaks to people for their up-building and encouragement andconsolation. (1 Cor 14:3)
Paul is actually referring to the function of prophecy when he mentions these qualities, but against the backdrop of all that Paul is exhorting the Corinthian Church it is clear that those three qualities are essential dynamic of the gifts.
The gifts are available from God, and indeed we are strongly urged to “eagerly desire the gifts”, and not holding back, Paul goes even further to say, “especially the gift of prophecy”. They are not there for profile, recognition or status, but for the meaningful building up of the church.
The early church faced many difficulties, persecution and hardships. The gifts of God were not only essential but necessary. Paul himself brought some of the greatest apostolic teaching and exhortation to the church that we have as a legacy today, but in writing to the Romans he made it clear that he did not just come with wise words, but also with power.
The gifts of the Spirit will never replace our need for the preaching of the gospeland for teaching, but it is not an either/or situation. We need WORD and SPIRIT in the life of the Church. The gifts of the Spirit bring much encouragement as we see and experience the manifest presence of God in the heart of the Churches life and activity.
They are invaluable, a great treasure and vastly precious to us. Even in Charismatic circles where the emphasis has been on prophecy, tongues & interpretation and healing it has been by a very small number of people.
My own opinion!
It is time that we took the gifts of God seriously, exercised them frequently for the benefit of many .
Eagerly desire! Pray for them day and night, fast for them, read about them, talk about them! God has given and gives gifts! God rewards those who diligently seek Him! In Moses’ words, “Would to God all of God’s people would prophesy”. Shake off the apathy and ask God today!
Ask God – but we desperately need the workings of miracles and gifts of healings to be rampant in our Churches today. That said, we need the other gifts too. We really need them.