What role should spiritual gifts play in the life of the church?

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The various gifts that the Holy Spirit gives have an important role in the life of the church. Fundamentally, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, their purpose is to enable each one of us as members of the body of Christ to build up the whole body for the common good. So, the Spirit's mission in giving us gifts is really to glorify Christ and to cause us to grow in maturity. And you see that not only in 1 Corinthians 12, but also when Paul talks about some specific spiritual gifts for teaching in Ephesians 4, where he says apostles and prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are all given to equip the saints for works of ministry, so that each member of the body of Christ can contribute as we serve together to the building up of the body in maturity, in truth, and in love.

Answer by Dr. Dennis E. Johnson

Dr. Dennis E. Johnson is Academic Dean and Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in California.