Contemporary Issues in the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit Part IV: Spiritual Gifts Today -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 130:520 (Oct 1973)
Article: Contemporary Issues in the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit Part IV: Spiritual Gifts Today
Author: John F. Walvoord


Contemporary Issues in the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
Part IV:
Spiritual Gifts Today

John F. Walvoord

[John F. Walvoord, President, Dallas Theological Seminary, Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra.]

One of the important ministries of the Holy Spirit to believers today is the bestowal of spiritual gifts upon Christians at the time of their conversion. While Christians may have natural abilities even before they are saved, spiritual gifts seem to be related to the special purpose of God in calling them and saving them; and in the language of Ephesians 2:10 they are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Spiritual gifts are divinely given capacities to perform useful functions of God, especially in the area of spiritual service. Just as the human body has members with different capacities, so individual Christians forming the church as the body of Christ have different capacities. These help them contribute to the welfare of the church as a whole, as well as to bear an effective witness to the world. Spiritual gifts are bestowed by the sovereign choice of God and need to be exercised in the power and under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Every Christian has at least some spiritual gifts, as according to 1 Corinthians 12:7, “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit.” After enumerating a partial list of such gifts, the apostle concludes in 1 Corinthians 12:11, “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” The analogy of the human body is then developed as illustrating the various functions of members of the body of Christ.

Spiritual gifts obviously differ in value, and the list of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28 is given in the order of importance. In 1 Corinthians 13, the importance of the use of spiritual gifts in love is emphasized. Some gifts which were bestowed in the early church seem no longer to be operative today, and this introduces the important consideration of the extent of contemporary spiritual gifts.

Spiritual Gifts Used Today

Practically all serious expositors of the Word of God agree that some spiritual gifts continue throughout the age. These constitute the more important and essential capacities within the church which enable it to function and fulfill its divinely purposed role.

The gift of teaching o...

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