When you read the New Testament, it's not hard to conclude that the practice and experience of the gifts of the Holy Spirit - those supernatural abilities that produce spiritual and miraculous results - were normal to the New Testament church. Jesus embodied the model of Spirit-filled living for us to follow, and Jesus operated in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit - so why shouldn't His church, which is the extension and continuation of His physical body and presence in the earth?
For our church to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit with great effectiveness and much fruitfulness, we need to align ourselves with some biblical principles. Here are three that are incredibly important.
PRINCIPLE 1: The gifts of the Spirit are always released to the body (faith-community or local church), for the body, and out into the world through the body.
Read and meditate on these passages: 1 Corinthians 12:7, 27-30; Ephesians 4:12; Romans 12:4-5.
The Holy Spirit places spiritual gifts and abilities on followers of Christ who are vitally linked to and planted in a local church or body. The gifts are not for self-glorification or self-promotion; they are designed to fit in a body or community - to bless that body, to build it up, and to impact the world through the body.
So, if I were to take my leadership gift (Romans 12:8) and apply it to business (in other words, a realm outside of the local church I'm called to serve), my spiritual gift will be ineffective. I were to take my gift of healing and start a business with it, I will have unfruitful results. Why? Because the gifts I have were not meant for me, they were meant for the body I am a member of.
PRINCIPLE 2: The spiritual gifts in a body synchronize with one another through the harmonious relationships of each member or individual in that body.
Read and meditate on these passages: Ephesians 4:1-3; Colossians 3:12-17; 1 Corinthians 13.
The gifts of the Spirit released to the individual members of a local church-body will only synchronize with one another and produce great results through the healthy, honouring, and harmonious relationships of the gifted individuals.
1 Corinthans 13 is often applied to marriage, but the immediate context and application is actually the interpersonal relationships of the members of the body. The greatest value and ethic in the interrelations of church life and the spiritual gifts is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). Faith for the expression of the gifts and hope for a glorious future are important, but love for the church-body is what compels us to serve with the gifts of the Spirit, harmonizes these gifts to maximum effectiveness, and brings us into the fullness of maturity in Christ.
PRINCIPLE 3: The gifts of the Spirit are expressed through our S.H.A.P.E.
Read and meditate on these passages: Judges 6:34; Romans 12:3, 6.
Ps. Rick Warren coined the term S.H.A.P.E. to help Christians identify how God has shaped them for fruitfulness in life and ministry. I love S.H.A.P.E. because of its simplicity in explaining how our multifaceted lives affect our calling and spiritual gifts. So here's the breakdown of what S.H.A.P.E. stands for:
S - SPIRITUAL GIFTS
What are the top 5 spiritual gifts on your life? Do you know what they are? Are you serving out of your spiritual gifts or are you too caught up trying to copy somebody else's?
H - HEART or PASSION
What inspires intense emotions and strong devotion in you? What makes you laugh and what breaks your heart? What compels you to move?
A - ABILITIES
What are your natural talents and inclinations? Are you a numbers-person or do you prefer dealing with words? Do you like history, science or the arts?
P - PERSONALITY
Are you a morning-person or an evening-person? Are you naturally organized or do you not mind a bit of mess? Some people have personalities that are either dominant, influential, steady, and compliant - which one is your personality type?
E - EXPERIENCE
What was your upbringing like? What kind of painful and joyful experiences have you had? What have been your education and work experiences?
So there you have it!
Whether we know it or not, these three principles define and structure the outworking of the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Maroondah City Church, and I believe every church because these are biblical principles. I am convinced that the more we build these principle-structures into our church-body, the more effective we will be as a Christ-centred and Spirit-empowered community.