The gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed to every believer to facilitate the maturation process of the body as well as to fulfill the purpose of God in the world. Therefore, without the gift of the Holy Spirit to equip the believers to express these gifts through love there will be misuse of the gifts. It is imperative that love be the motivation behind the usage of gifts to promote unity in the fulfillment of the mission God.
When one determines to examine the meaning of spiritual gifts, it is best to start with its origin. Author Bryan Knell in his article, Who owns Mission? states God’s rescue plan was put in place when he first called Abraham to establish a special family and Moses to form a nation to bless all people. The way God’s plan was to be fulfilled was made clear through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Knell confirms that God showed his love to mankind by sending his Son. The gift promised by the Son was the gift of the Holy Spirit, which enables the believer to receive and give the love of God. It is through this love that the gifts of the Holy Spirit must operate to fulfill the purpose as ordained by God. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, also known as spiritual gifts are given to every believer to mature them, equip them for service and to build up the kingdom of God. Without love as the motivation for the usage of gifts, one is surely to misuse the gift and fall short of God’s purpose. Therefore, the overarching purpose of the gifts is to express the love of God to his children and then outward to the world.
What does it mean to have spiritual gifts? Is this the same as gift of the Spirit? These two questions are an excellent starting point to this study. The gift of the Spirit is the Spirit himself (Acts 2:38; 10:45; 11:17; Rom 5:5). Alister E. McGrath in his book, Christian Theology – An Introduction presents the teaching of Augustine of Hippo on this matter. What he states is, “Augustine concedes that Scripture does not explicitly state that the Holy Spirit is love; however, in that God is love, and the Spirit is God, it seems to follow naturally that the Holy Spirit is love.” McGrath further states Augustine’s defense of the Holy Spirit as love is based on a complex argument, which finds it basis in scripture (1 John 4:7, 19). To affirm the Holy Spirit as love directs the believer in the understanding that what flows from the Holy Spirit is the love of God.
McGrath continues his explanation regarding love and the Holy Spirit and the benefit on the life of the believer. “The Spirit is a gift, given by God, which unites believers both to God and to other believers. The Holy Spirit forges bonds of unity between believers, upon which the unity of the church ultimately depends.” Gailyn Van Rheenen expounds on McGrath’s presentation regarding the Holy Spirit and his purpose. In his book, Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies - Missions he presents a graph that shows the mission of God. God originated the mission. Jesus Christ enacted the mission. The Holy Spirit gives power to the mission. The church carries the mission and the world hears the mission. With his graph, Van Rheenen presents love as the motivating factor for all that God does.
God’s love explains further the need for the gifts of the spirit to be distributed to the people of God. Kenneth Boa in his book, Conformed to His Image explains the position of each into the body of Christ. He states, “every Christian is a minister with a unique contribution to make to the body of Christ. The central thrust of our ministries depends on the spiritual gifts we have received.” He affirms that on the day that the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, a new organism was created. This organism was the people of God being lead and empowered by the love of God through his Spirit. This leads to the next question regarding the gifts and who is the giver of the gifts? (Come back next week for the next installment of this lesson)
 Bryan Knell, “Who owns Mission?.” Evangel 24, no. 3 (September 2006): i-iv. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 23, 2009).
 Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology – An Introduction, (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2001), 312.
 Ibid, 313.
 Gailyn Van Rheenen, Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 18.
 Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 301.