“And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them…” (Numbers 11:17, ESV).
During their wilderness wanderings God told Moses to select seventy elders to help him judge and lead the people of Israel. Moses gathered the elders and placed them around the circumference of the tabernacle. Then, God poured out His Spirit on them as they were gathered around the tabernacle and they prophesied.
Two of the elders were not present at the tabernacle when the Spirit was poured out. Yet, these two also received the Spirit and prophesied while they were still in the camp.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29, ESV).
On the day of Pentecost when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, Peter stood up and declared to all the Jews in Jerusalem who witnessed the event that this Spirit-filling was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (see Acts 2:16-21). So, the day of Pentecost was the beginning of the era that Joel was talking about–the last days–in which God pours out His Spirit on all His people.
“But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31, NASB).
The Apostle Paul begins a response to the Corinthians’ question about Spiritual gifts in corporate worship in I Corinthians 12. Paul identifies varieties of Spiritual gifts and varieties of Spiritual service. (Notice that I render the word “Spiritual” with a capital “S” to indicate that the source of the gifting is God the Holy Spirit and not the individual who may be perceived to be “spiritual” because he or she is exercising a gift.)
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, NASB).
From these verses we can make the assumption that every Christian has at least one spiritual gift. Yes, each and every Christian has a spiritual gift: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit…”
“Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be gloried through Jesus Christ in everything.” (1 Peter 4:10-11, HCSB).
In Parts 1 and 2 of this meditation on grace, we learned from the Hebrews writer in Chapter 12 that God’s redemptive plan is for us to enter into fellowship with Him through a relationship or covenant based on receiving God’s grace through Christ. God didn’t intend to institute a permanent ritual sacrificial system under Old Testament law.
The Hebrews writer admonishes us to actively hold on to God’s grace when we receive it and allow it to become the source of our strength for serving God and His Kingdom. In fact, God’s sovereignty can best exert its rule and reign over our lives when Christ is manifested in our lives as a result of holding on to the grace God has shown us.
While the Hebrews writer tells us to hold on to grace to see us through all the circumstances of life, the Apostle Peter says we are also the managers of God’s grace that rules over our lives. According to Peter, God gives us grace, but it is our duty to manage it, to extend it to others!
“However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ….As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4: 7,16, NLT).
These verses are the opening and closing of a section in which the Apostle Paul describes the spiritual giftings or specialties God bestows “to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (vs. 12).
“Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy” (I Corinthians 14:1, NLT).
Having emphasized the supreme importance of love in the preceding chapter (I Corinthians 13), the Apostle Paul returns to the subject of spiritual gifts, which he began discussing in Chapter 12.
I Corinthians 13 is known as the “Love Chapter” in which the Apostle Paul describes how love should be the primary influence or motivating factor for serving in the Church.
The Love Chapter is embedded between Chapters 12 and 14 where Paul explained the different spiritual gifts God has given to the Church in order to unify and strengthen it.
“The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers” (Acts 9:31, NLT).
With the conversion of Saul (vs. 9:1-19), the Jewish persecution of the Church declined and during this hiatus the Church grew in strength and numbers.
There are three principles of church growth we can glean from this verse:
“And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:17, NLT)
After Peter proclaimed the gospel of Jesus in Caesarea to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, a Roman officer, Peter had to explain his actions to the apostolic leadership and believers back in Jerusalem.
As Peter recounted the sequence of events, he explained it was only by God’s initiative that he took the gospel to the Gentiles.