Calvary Road Baptist Church


First Corinthians 12.4-11, 31


This morning I spoke to you concerning the stewardship of your time, that commodity of uncertain amount given to you by God to use as efficiently as you can, referred to as redeeming the time, so that you might accomplish as much for eternity as you can, not knowing how much time God has given you. What I made no reference to this morning, of course, are the various skills, capacities, and opportunities that God places at your disposal that you have time to make use of before your time runs out. I choose to refer to these advantages and assets as talent, so that this evening’s message has to do with the stewardship of your talent.

Please turn to Luke 12.48, a portion of a parable taught by our Lord Jesus Christ. We will not consider the parable, or even the first sentence in the verse, but will take notice only of the second sentence, which is a timeless truth you are no doubt familiar with: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

More is always demanded of those who have more. Less is always demanded of those who have less. This is why those in Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida will suffer so much worse punishment than those of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom, because the former cities were exposed to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, while the later were not. It is also why those damned to eternal torment from spiritually darkened lives lived in Africa, India, the Arab countries, and other places where the gospel light has not shined brightly, will suffer much less torment than will you young people who idle your time and opportunities away without response under this gospel ministry.

Oh, how great the suffering and torment is to be anticipated for those just older than you who have shunned the gospel, and who have refused the savior, so they can now enjoy jobs you think are exciting and drive cars you think are glamorous. You have no idea the torment that awaits them if they continue on their present path. The screaming, the howling, the guilt, the shame, and the memories. Oh, how stupid they will be reminded to have been to delight in an Escalade more than delighting in Jesus, and to favor the approval of men more than the approval of God, as they took pleasure in sin more than rejoicing in the Spirit. To be sure, at the final judgment account will be taken for the intellectual abilities God gave to you that you turn to selfish advantage, to athletic abilities that you turned to carnal ends, the financial and material benefits you enjoyed and refused to bless the gospel ministry with, and your appearance that you took great pride in as if it somehow measured your overall worth.

However, despite the fact that the final judgment will take into account all of the advantages God has given to those who refused Christ, my focus this evening is on those talents that are given to Christians. To be sure, you have your measure of brainpower, athletic ability, material prosperity and opportunity, and appearance, just as the unsaved do. However, you also have so much more.

Turn in your Bible to First Corinthians chapter 12, where the apostle Paul addresses the matter of spiritual gifts given to Christians by the Holy Spirit, but also makes his readers aware of what the Father and the Son give to Christians for use in ministry and service during our time here on earth. If you have found First Corinthians chapter 12, please stand and read along with me:


1      Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2      Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

3      Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

4      Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5      And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6      And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7      But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8      For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9      To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10     To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11     But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.


31     But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.


We need to be mindful that what we have read is but a portion of Paul’s comments about spiritual gifts, spread over chapters twelve, thirteen, and fourteen. That being the case, it is understandable that his focus is on what he refers to in verse 7 as “the manifestation of the Spirit” that “is given to every man to profit withal.” What he means by that remark is that every Christian, from the moment of his regeneration and indwelling by the Holy Spirit is given a spiritual capacity. There are no Christians without at least one spiritual gift, and it may very well be that some Christians have two or three such gifts, with one typically being dominant.

A partial listing of these different spiritual gifts is given in verses 8, 9, and 10, with Paul once again emphasizing in verse 11 that the Spirit sovereignly bestows at least one gift of His choice to every believer: “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” What Paul also informs his readers about, and which is typically overlooked because of the attention he pays to spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the believer’s Christian life, are those things given in connection with spiritual gifts by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 4, of course, addresses the variety of spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit. However, verses 5 and 6 reveal to us those aspects of Christian life and service the other two divine Persons are responsible for:


5      And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6      And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.


This evening’s message will be very simple, with four points. The first three points will address gifts, administrations, and operations, and that person of the Godhead responsible for them, with the final point having more to do with discovering and utilizing your gifts, administrations, and operations.




It should be obvious that the gifts of the Spirit are spiritual abilities and capacities that are given only to believers. The Holy Spirit gives them as capacities, abilities, to be developed, exercised, and utilized in Christian ministry and service. I will not take the time to explain or elaborate the ability related to each gift, but I will read some passages in the New Testament that mention various spiritual gifts:

Romans 12.6-8:


6      Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

7      Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

8      Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.


First Corinthians 1.8-10, again:


8      For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9      To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10     To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues


Finally, and this is not an exhaustive list of passages dealing with spiritual gifts, Hebrews 2.4: “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.

Do you have an idea what your spiritual gift happens to be? If you think you may have two gifts, are you inclined to think of one being more dominant than the other? How do you use your gift to serve God?




Verse 5 reads, “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.” Commenting on this verse, Charles Hodge wrote, “It is the same Lord in whose service and by whose authority these various gifts are exercised. They are all different forms in which he is served, or ministered to.”[1] Since the Lord Jesus Christ is declared the head of the church, Colossians 1.18, and since He declared that all power is given to Him in heaven and in earth, Hodge’s understanding of these “differences of administrations” would seem to be correct. This would mean that although the Holy Spirit is that person of the triune Godhead responsible for your spiritual gift, the Lord Jesus Christ is that person Who is responsible for your place in the body wherein that gift is exercised.

Therefore, let me ask you how the Lordship of Jesus Christ is demonstrated in your life with respect to that area of church ministry you are involved in. As well, if you are of a mind to venture forth and develop an aspect of church ministry that does not yet exist, I would urge you to come and talk to me about it so we can work together to cut the trees down and clear the land, so to speak, on which your ministry enterprise can grow and flourish.




Look at verse 6: “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” To greatly simplify, allow me to cite an example: The Holy Spirit of God gives a believer the gift of teaching. However, the administration of his gift by the Lord Jesus Christ has not to do with teaching a Sunday School class, but to heading up an outreach ministry, which he leads primarily by exercising his gift of teaching. In other words, he teaches the Word of God to his group and they are thereby trained, directed, encouraged, and prepared to reach out and bring folks in. Where does the operation of God manifest itself? In the magnitude and effectiveness of the ministry he runs in his local church.

If you are familiar with Jerry Falwell, you know that his gift was almost certainly the gift of exhortation. He was a very effective exhorter and magnetic in his appeal as a leader. How about the administrations of the Lord? While in Bible college he was assigned a junior high school boys class by his pastor. After Bible college, he worked for a short time as an associate pastor in Kansas City, Missouri. Then he went back to his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia and started Thomas Road Baptist Church. What is astonishing about Jerry Falwell was not his gift, or gifts, or administrations of the Lord, i.e., his places of ministry in the churches he served in. The exceptional thing about Falwell was the operations of God. When he took the small boys Sunday School class, within a couple of months there were more than 230 boys in that class, if memory serves me correctly. When he worked as an associate pastor the same thing happened. Then, of course, when he started the church in Lynchburg, it grew rapidly until averaging three or four thousand. When God sent a revival to that church is ballooned to 20,000 and has been that size for more than 30 years. What will happen to the church now that Jerry has died? I do not know. However, the Spirit of God gave him his spiritual gift, the Lord Jesus Christ provided for him the places to serve, and God decided the results.




In First Corinthians 12.31, the Apostle Paul wrote, “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” This word “covet” translates the Greek word zhlow, from which we get our English word zeal, and zealous. However, in this context the word is not something bad, but refers to a positive interest in something.[2] The Christian is supposed to have a passionate desire to explore and to discover the tools, the gifts, the Spirit of God has given him with which to most effectively serve God. Therefore, though it is obvious that some spiritual gifts are better than others, it is amazing that the apostle does not tell us what they are. My own guess after reading all of chapter 12 is that the best gifts are likely to be those we frequently discount and have little regard for. Then, at the end of the verse, Paul teases his readers by setting us up for chapter 13, which shows that love in ministry is vastly more important than what gift you possess and exercise. However, that is another sermon.

The key to the discovery of your spiritual gift, then, is to have a strong desire to effectively serve God. In time, with experience, you will eventually come to know what the Spirit of God has equipped you with. That will accompany your understanding that without love in service and ministry you will not be very effective at all. While verse 31 shows the key to discovering your spiritual gift as a Christian, I think the same principle applies to discovering where your best fit in church ministry is, and how fruitful God will make your Christian service.


Two comments and I am done for the evening: First, notice that everything Paul has written about spiritual gifts, about administration, and about operations, he wrote to the church at Corinth. Why so? Because Christian ministry, the use of your spiritual gifts, the place of ministry, and the fruit that God gives your enterprise, is supposed to take place in connection with your place as the member of a local congregation. That is where the rewards are earned. That is where the discipline is maintained. That is where the training is supposed to take place.

Finally, there are two ways in which a church can and will grow and thrive: First, if the pastor’s spiritual equipment package, including his gift, his administration, and his operation, means that whatever ministry he leads will be big. I know a guy in San Diego who is a pretty good preacher, has been a pastor for more than 30 years, and his church has run 1,400 people since shortly after he assumed the pastorate. That is the operation of God in his life.

The second way in which a church will grow is when a pastor works diligently to make sure his church members are truly converted, which guarantees that they will possess spiritual gifts, will engage in ministry in the church in various ways, and will produce fruit in accordance with the operation of God in each of their lives.

I have no idea how large a church God plans for me to pastor, what the operation of God in my life is. I know that I am a preacher/teacher of God’s Word. That is what the Spirit of God has given to me. I know that I am called to be the pastor of this church, which is where the Lord Jesus placed me, Him being the head of this church. The size of this church, however, will be the result of the operation of God in the lives of you various church members seeking your gift, serving your Lord, and seeing God produce the results.

I honestly think we have the men and women in place here at Calvary Road Baptist Church to form the core group of a church that runs a thousand. Whether that actually happens or not, I do not know. However, I think you men and women are so spiritually equipped, that if you will get seriously excited about serving God this church will explode. It will finally be determined by the operation of God in my life and in your life.

[1] Charles Hodge, Commentary On The First Epistle To The Corinthians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprint, 1976), page 242.

[2] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 427.

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