The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 143:570 (Apr 1986)
Article: The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts
Author: John F. Walvoord


The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts

John F. Walvoord

[John F. Walvoord, Chancellor, Dallas Theological Seminary]

[Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Bibliotheca Sacra in October 1973. It is reprinted now, with minor editorial changes, because of continuing discussions on this theological issue.]

One of the important ministries of the Holy Spirit to believers today is His bestowal of spiritual gifts on 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 for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Spiritual gifts are divinely given capacities to perform useful functions for 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, “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” After enumerating a partial list of such gifts, the apostle concluded in 1 Corinthians 12:11, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” The analogy of the human body is then developed as an illustration of the various functions of the 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 order of importance. In 1 Corinthians 13 the importance of using spiritual gifts in love is emphasized. Some gifts that 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 present age. These constitute the more important ...

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