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Romans 12:3-4 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
The subject of spiritual gifts is relevant and vitally important to Christians today. Some evangelical Christians believe and teach that spiritual gifts are no longer applicable, that spiritual gifts were given for the church in its infancy. If this is so, how can spiritual gifts now be extinct when the Book of Romans clearly teaches they are necessary for the functioning of the church? While some may differ as to whether all the gifts are necessary in this age, it is very difficult to understand how none of the gifts are needed.
If I understand Paul’s teaching correctly, spiritual gifts are needed as long as we are living on this earth as members of the body of Christ. Spiritual gifts are those endowments of power which enable us to carry out the vital functions of our body life in Christ as members of His body. These endowments are a supernatural enablement so that supernatural results are produced. It is only when our Lord returns, when the church is taken up into glory and fully perfected, that the need for spiritual gifts will cease. Paul’s teaching assumes that teaching about spiritual gifts is both basic and fundamental to Christian living. Peter likewise looked at the exercise of spiritual gifts as a crucial matter. We should take spiritual gifts no less seriously than did the apostles.
But why does Paul tell us that we are to think “so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith”? There are several reasons. First, we live and walk by faith. Faith is essential in our service and in the exercise of our spiritual gifts, just as it is in every other aspect of our lives. Second, the results of our ministry may not be evident or apparent to us, or even to others. The results of the ministry of spiritual gifts are spiritual. They may not be revealed until eternity. We must act on the basis of faith, even though the results are not visible to us. The results of our ministry may be unseen, and faith deals with the unseen.
Because the exercise of a spiritual gift may be unseen, faith is required. Most often the ministry of spiritual gifts is described in terms of the function of the human body. In the human body some members are visible and prominent such as the hands and the eyes. But there are other unseen members like the heart and lungs, which while being unseen are essential to maintain the body. These unseen members are the “vital” organs. Likewise, the vital members of the body of Christ may very well be unseen. Each member of the body of Christ plays a part in the work of the body, as a whole. This the Christian believes by faith and demonstrates to the glory of God.