spiritual gifts revisited

The great scholar*, Charles Ryrie, says:

  1. A spiritual gift is not a place of service. The gift is the ability, not where that ability is used. Teaching can be done in or out of a formal classroom situation and in any country of the world. Helping can be done in the church or in the neighborhood.
  2. A spiritual gift is not an office. The gift is the ability and can be exercised whether one holds an office in a local church or not. In this regard much confusion exists over the gift of pastor. The gift is the ability to shepherd people. This can be done by the person who occupies what we call, in our modern ecclesiology, the office of the pastorate. Or it can be done, say, by a dean of men or a dean of women in a school. Or it can be done by the wife and mother in a home.
  3. A spiritual gift is not a particular age group ministry. There is no gift of youth work or children’s work. All ages need to be served by pastors, teachers, administrators, helpers, etc.
  4. A spiritual gift is not a specialty technique. There is no spiritual gift of writing or Christian education or music. These are techniques through which spiritual gifts may be channeled.
  5. A spiritual gift is different from a natural talent. I have already mentioned that a talent may or may not serve the body of Christ, while a spiritual gift does. Let’s notice some further contrasts between spiritual gifts and natural talents.

Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology : A Popular Systemic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1999), 423-24.

I thought I said that. Not so well, but that was what I meant.


* Great scholar: one of my professors gave this definition of a scholar: “Somebody who agrees with me.” Since Ryrie agrees with me here, it is quite obvious that his status is exceptional. On this one point, at least.

what we should ask of the Spirit

On Sundays we have condensed our service times so that we are finished with all three services by about 2:15 pm. Occasionally we take the opportunity to drive up-island to Courtenay BC where my brother pastors Grace Baptist Church of the Comox Valley and take in his service at 6:30 pm. It makes it a long day, but that way my wife and kids (and me) get to hear some good preaching for a change!

This last Sunday night was one of those occasions. (I was also heading up to pick up my beloved pickup truck which had been repaired by a man up there. A perfect Father’s Day, getting one’s truck back!) My brother preached a fine sermon from Daniel 9 (but ran out of time to finish everything – rats!)

The service included a number of favorites requested by the people. One of them especially ministered to my heart, a hymn we don’t have in our hymnal, but one well worth our consideration. To me, it encapsulates everything a believer should ask of the Holy Spirit, and one people so often miss in this age.

Note especially the second stanza: we aren’t asking for an experience, a vision, a sign, but rather that we might see and know our God better. And also note the line about unanswered prayer. Even in that there is a spiritual blessing we need from the Holy Spirit.

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Hast Thou not bid me love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross; there teach my heart to cling:
O let me seek Thee, and O let me find!

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

As you think on this hymn, I hope it might minister to your heart as well. You can hear the tune here at the cyberhymnal.