(Excerpted in part from: THE HOLY SPIRIT: Amazing Power for Everyday People )
Strange but true—despite the availability of computers, I continued to hang onto my familiar typewriter into the early 1990s. It seems silly now, but I convinced myself that I didn’t need the hi-tech tools so many of my colleagues were using. Fact was: I was computer phobic. I was afraid of what I didn’t understand, fearful that I’d never learn how to use one. Finally, my boss plunked a computer on my desk. He asked me to start using this power tool, promising it would increase my productivity for him. Resisting progress was no longer an option. He left me alone with that thing. Gulp! I didn’t even know how to turn it on.
That’s pretty much how it goes for a lot of us when it comes to the supernatural manifestations of the Spirit. That’s how it went for me. Even after reading all about the power gifts in the Bible, I didn’t trust God to distribute them to me as He willed, despite their potential for increasing my effectiveness in serving Him. After all, I was just a spiritual babe and babies need milk, right? Power gifts were for the mature. They seemed way too meaty for spiritual nobodies like me. Surprise! Just like my boss with that computer, God gifted me with the power tools I feared most, some while I was still in spiritual infancy.
Why did I write this book? I found out that I was not alone in initially fearing what was rarely, if ever, taught in traditional settings. Sure, there was plenty of talk (even arm-twisting) about the importance of using what seem to be our natural gifts in service, but what exactly were those enigmatic spiritual gifts, and did they go beyond things like musical or administrative abilities to the kind of spectacular wonders that characterized the earthly ministry of Christ? Where were the greater works Jesus said we would do in His name, and why was everyone so afraid of them?
To know Him really is to love Him and, in time, studying the Bible about the Holy Spirit and His gifts allayed my fears. What’s more, it offered me the opportunity to go beyond just knowing about God to experiencing relationship with Him in an amazingly present new way. That’s why I wrote this book. I wanted to encourage everyday people like me that God’s power isn’t just for the superstars of the faith. It’s not just for leadership—no, not by a long shot. It’s for every last Jane and John Doe out there who believes that the Bible is true.
I know it can be scary at first, so let’s just stick a toe into God’s river together. What does the Bible say about the gifts of the Spirit? Are talents, affinities, and gifts the same thing? What about fruits? Just what are those distinctions? Take a look in your Bible at I Corinthians 12:4–7. Linger over those verses. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you clear up what can seem like muddy waters.
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal.”
See that? Using three different Greek words, Paul helps us to understand three distinct varieties of gifts—tagged respectively with the names of the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God—the whole Trinity joining together to equip us with everything we need to serve. You can use the acronym SAW to remember the three different categories of tools we are given:
Supernatural Gifts (charisma)
Aid Gifts (diakonia)
Workings Gifts (energema)
First, this passage mentions diversities of SUPERNATURAL GIFTS (charisma), all in conjunction with the same Spirit. These spiritual equippings are like divinely charged power tools. They are miraculous endowments with no natural counterpart. The supernatural charisma or “grace gifts” are both wholly undeserved and distributed precisely as the Spirit wills. These sometimes-spectacular manifestations can dramatically increase the effectiveness of even the lowliest of believers, facilitating the spread of the Gospel through demonstrations of God’s superhuman power.
Second, verse five cites ministries, or what can be called AID GIFTS (diakonia). This variety of ministries associated with the same Lord encompasses support gifts such as helps, encouragement, administration, teaching, giving, and hospitality. While all of the gifts are service-oriented, Aid Gifts are marked by a sacrificial willingness to spend one’s time, efforts and resources attending upon those in need. Those with Aid Gifts are often the unsung heroes of their communities, selflessly shouldering responsibilities many avoid. They intercede long after others forget. The Lord Jesus said that the greatest among us would be our servant (diakonos), and those who employ Aid gifts follow the Lord’s giving example by humbly laying down their lives in the interest of others.
Third, there are effects or WORKINGS GIFTS (energema), which I’ll also call Talents, those God-given skills believers can choose to operate for His glory rather than their own. Exceptional musical, technical, creative, mental or physical abilities could fit into this category. Like the master artisans in Exodus 31:1–6, there are people God gifts in all kinds of crafts and specialties. The list goes on and on—but whatever energema talents God may have given to you can be employed to advance the kingdom both within the church and in your everyday working world.
Finally in verses 7–10, Paul refocuses our attention back to a specific list of manifest gifts from the first category—the Supernatural Gifts of the Spirit—the power tools that are as vital to the harvest of souls as they are marginalized in traditional Christian teaching.
Why the big secret in so many churches about the charisma gifts? No one shies away from diakonia and energema. Members are openly encouraged to offer up their God-given affinities and talents—the things we seem naturally good at, the things we like to do. But what’s all too often missing is balancing support for and operation of the Supernatural Gifts of the Spirit, those gifts we hesitate to talk about, at least in a contemporary context. Certainly, it’s incumbent upon us to use our Aid and Workings gifts, but let’s be honest. There are a lot of churches today running predominantly on natural talent and effort, despite the fact that a wide array of supernatural power tools is available to every congregation. And check it out: when he exhorted us to earnestly covet the best gifts, the specific Greek word Paul used for gifts was charisma (I Corinthians 12:31).
Though there are many other important gifts listed in the Bible, it’s the supernatural manifestations of the Spirit listed in I Corinthians 12:7-10 that are tragically absent in so many traditional churches. It’s the charisma gifts that spark so much debate. So, while all believers should be strongly encouraged to identify and utilize their Aid Gifts and Talents, in THE HOLY SPIRIT: Amazing Power for Everyday People, we’ll examine those gifts so many don’t talk about, those supernatural power tools I never heard about in church, but found all over my owner’s manual: the Bible.
Perhaps, after years of hand tools, power tools don’t look safe to you. Maybe you’re concerned that the Holy Spirit will distribute a gift that will burn you or put you in over your head. You might be intimidated by His power, like I was. If that’s you, be assured by Luke 11:9–13. There’s not a single snake or a scorpion among the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
Even we know not to give venomous creatures to our kids. God’s gifts aren’t poisonous; they’re for the good of young and old alike. They’re given to equip even common believers for uncommon ministry and harvest. Practiced in daily life, they make us more like our wonder-working Savior.
Copyrighted excerpt from:
THE HOLY SPIRIT: Amazing Power for Everyday People by Susan Rohrer
Available in eBook and Paperback formats at:
AUTHOR BIO: A multiple award-winning writer, producer, and director specializing in redemptive fare in the entertainment industry, Susan Rohrer’s credits include: God’s Trombones; Another Life; Emmy winner Never Say Goodbye; Terrible Things My Mother Told Me; The Emancipation of Lizzie Stern; No Earthly Reason; Mother’s Day; Sweet Valley High; Book of Days; Another Pretty Face; If I Die Before I Wake; as well as Film Advisory Board & Christopher Award winner About Sarah.
Rohrer is also the author of:
IS GOD SAYING HE’S THE ONE?
Hearing from Heaven about That Man in Your Life