Eagerly Desiring the Gifts of the Spirit

Notes Outline


  1. The many variant experiences that all of us may have had with the gifts of the Spirit can be described as: Misuse, Abuse, Of No Use, Of Little Use, or Put to Good Use.
  2. The Scriptures make it very clear that God gives His Spirit to all who repent and believe the gospel. The pouring out of the Spirit as a promise according to the prophets was a sign that the end of the age is near, a deposit that guarantees an inheritance to the faithful, and a warning of the judgment to come for those who do not believe the gospel. 

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.

Luke 3:15-18

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 

Acts 2:38-39

        1. The same Spirit distributes gifts to the community of faith.
        2. Specific to the setting of the church at Corinth was the issue of spiritual superiority and pride. Yet Paul commends them for possessing all the gifts of the Spirit and even describes the gifts to be sustaining tools for their faith and endurance until Christ returns.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus ChristGod is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:4-9 

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part10 but when the perfect comes, (Greek- ‘teleios’- Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: the perfect state of things at Christs return) the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:8-12

    1. The gifts were often listed in the epistles and implied in other epistles that are without lists. (Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 4:7-11)
      1. All of these are listed in the context of living for the age to come and responding with singlemindedness of devotion to Jesus.
        1. The earnest expectation of Jesus glorious appearance is what drives everything for God’s ends by God’s means, as laid out by the apostles. Our need for the cross, our dependence on the Spirit, and our being made blameless for the Day of the Lord is what calls us to seek both God’s ends: maturity in Christ as His church, and His means: the gifts of the Spirit.
        2. Paul exhorts us: ‘Do not be ignorant.’ 

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says, “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. 

1 Corinthians 12:1-3

        1. Jesus exhorts us to ask with confidence and not fear, knowing that the Father will give us good gifts.

13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” 

Luke 11:13


    1. We are instructed in the Scriptures to seek the gifts of the Spirit in character with our response to the gift of the gospel itself, with eagerness. 
      1. Paul exhorts us to ‘use them’ and to use them in ‘genuine love’.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;  if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Romans 12:6, 9

        1. The gifts are for the common good of others. They are not intended for showboating or showcasing in prideful superiority. Nor are they to be used to manipulate others. 

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:10

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:7

        1. Interdependence is God’s design for the distribution of the gifts according to His will. 

11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:11, 18, 27

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equippedwhen each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:16

        1. Tragically, we are often trying to heed the command to love well, without earnestly desiring spiritual gifts for this end. We often allow fear to hold back our call to earnestly desire them, because the risk of what might happen if we appear too emotional to others. Yet all the while we are so thirsty on the inside, stiff and rigid like dried up joints and ligaments.

31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 13) Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. 

1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1, 12

      1. The ‘more excellent way’ is love expressed through the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts are not a side issue, rather, they are central to provide the church with vibrant efficiency that leads to maturity in Christ and to give strength for us to stand firm in battle against the forces of evil in this dark age. 

39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

1 Corinthians 14:39-40

        1. The order in the church that Paul mentions is connected to being firmly placed on the narrow path that leads to life through the gospel. All things are to be done for edification so that all may be built up in the faith for the Day of Christ Jesus. 

The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be self-controlled and sober minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sinsShow hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:7-11


    1. The gifts of the Spirit are ours today to get us to that Day.

1.One gift that is high on the list as edifying and described as a greater gift is prophecy.

            1. A football analogy describing the use of prophecy.

For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesyFor one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.  26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn, and all be encouraged.

1 Corinthians 14:1-3, 26-31

    1. Prophecy is a greater gift that is to be stewarded well for the benefit of all. It builds, encourages/warns, and consoles.
      1. Examples of prophecy that are often debated or interpreted differently throughout church history: 
        1. Word of knowledge- something not previously known about someone often in mental pictures or impressions.
        2. Word of wisdom- typically directional.
        3. Discernment (Paul and the girl who practiced divination), interpreting tongues, a spontaneous hymn, lesson, revelation, tongue. We could add dreams and interpretation to the list, as we see in Joseph, Daniel. Paul, and Peter had a vision while awake.
      2. The purpose of this gift is to keep us strong in the fight of faith.

18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith.

1 Timothy 1:18-19

    1. What New Testament Prophecy is and What it is Not 
      1. A prophet in the New Testament seems to be a general term for any who prophesy. Acts 11:27-30 ’prophets and Agabus’, 13:1-3 ‘Barnabas’, 21:8-14 ’Philipps four daughters and Agabus again’.
        1. Prophets are not authoritative like the Old Testament Prophets, nor are they speaking new revelation. 
        2. The present day call to ‘listen to the prophets’ is misleading. 
    1. Some Guidelines to Weighing and Testing Prophecy
      1. Exercising the gift
        1. The word is delivered.
        2. The word is tested by the written word.
        3. The word is interpreted by the hearer through prayer, waiting, and counsel from others.
        4. The word is applied.
    1. So, who can prophesy? 
        1. All believers have the potential to prophesy, as the Holy Spirit wills.
        2. Not all believers have been given the ability to prophesy until they are given the gift. 
        3. We are all called to eagerly seek this most edifying gift for the benefit of others as it is part of being in Christ and living by the Spirit.
    1. Testing and weighing is carefully examining the value of something.

‘Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.’

1 Corinthians 14:29

  1. This is to pass judgment on the validity of a word spoken, as to its accuracy, resulting in edification, exhortation, and comfort.
  2. What about predictive words? Again, it must benefit the hearers for their upbuilding/edification. It would come in encouragement that helps a person or people endure trials. Example: Agabus in Acts 11:27-30, Paul’s impressions in Acts 20:22-25 and Agabus again in Acts 21:8-14. It could also come in a way of warning. Job 33:14-18, Daniel 2 and 4 ‘Nebuchadnezzar’, Matthew 27:19 ‘Pilates wife’

16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophesies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and though. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Where do we go from here?

In the gospel where we lay our life down in love, we are to pursue love in the body of Christ, specifically by eagerly desiring spiritual gifts, especially those greater gifts that build up others, as we look earnestly for Jesus to return!