Yesterday, John Piper posted an article of interest at his blog, Desiring God. He starts about by reminding us of nine different points to remember about spiritual gifts:
1. God wants us to know about spiritual gifts.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed” (1 Corinthians 12:1).
2. Objective truths about Jesus govern subjective spiritual experiences.
“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 12:3).
3. Different Christians have different spiritual powers given to them by the Holy Spirit.
“There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4).
4. For example, these different spiritual powers include the following:
“Wisdom . . . knowledge . . . faith . . . healing . . . miracles . . . prophecy . . . ability to distinguish between spirits . . . tongues . . . interpretation of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).
5. The Spirit of God is sovereign over when and to whom he gives such powers.
“All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11).
6. The aim of all the gifts is the common good of the church.
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
7. The variety of gifts is like the variety of our body parts, such as eye and ear, hand and foot.
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Corinthians 12:14).
8. Therefore, if a spiritual power is not used, it’s like the human body not hearing.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? (1 Corinthians 12:17).
9. Therefore, we should avail ourselves of the spiritual powers God gives us through others.
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21).
But then Piper looks to specifically connect these truths with the reality of unanswered prayer. He lists some realities of why our prayers might go unanswered, yet he then shares some thoughts on a reason we may have never considered:
But here is a reason we may not think of very often. God may intend to give us the blessing we long for not directly in answer to prayer, but indirectly in answer to prayer—through the spiritual gifting of another believer. And the reason we don’t receive the blessing is that we don’t avail ourselves of the power God intends to channel through the gifts of his people.
Yes, the gifts of God are given for ‘the common good’ (1 Corinthians 12:7) and for building up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:26). Paul even challenges us to ‘strive to excel in building up the church’ (1 Corinthians 14:12).
So, whatever the gift, let us build one another up, and who knows, as Piper points out, that ministry expression through the spiritual gift might just be the answer to our petitions before God.