December 29 -
  January 4

SDA Sabbath School Lessons

#1 What the Bible Says
About Spiritual Gifts

Read for this
week's study:

1 Peter 4:10, 11; Matt. 25:14-30; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Rom. 12:1-8.

Memory Text: Each one should use whatever gift he has received to srve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10, NIV).

Key Thought: Spiritual gifts are given to advance the cause of God's kingdom. The Bible outlines what they are and how they work, though it does not define each gift specifically.

The Lessons:

The Discussion:
We invite youi to join the  SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning (usually 9:30 AM) with your SSNETlocal Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

Last Week Next Week First Quarter

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 December 28


A theology of spiritual gifts is outlined in the Bible, especially in the writings of Paul.  A theology is a systematic exposition of what the Bible says on a certain topic, in this case the gifts of the Spirit.  This theology intertwines with Jesus' great commission in Matthew 28:16-20, His plan for reaching the world.  The Holy Spirit functioned between the Fall and the Cross, but not in His fullness. (See The Acts of the Apostles, p. 37.)

After the experience at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit became the chief administrator of the church.  As one church historian notes:  "The early church organization was not centered in office, but in the special gifts of the Spirit."-Lars Qualben, A History of the Christian Church (New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1942), p. 94.  The New Testament does not define spiritual gifts precisely.  It simply outlines how the gifts work, who had them, and how they exercised them.  We will study what the New Testament says about spiritual gifts and how they fit God's organizational pattern for the Christian church.

 December 29 

GRACE IN ACTION (1 Peter 4:10).

What is the meaning of the phrase "Faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms" (1 Peter 4:10, NIV; the KJV says "the manifold grace of God")?

The word grace is used many ways in the Bible.  Usually it refers to God's willingness and disposition to pardon sinners and supply them with new minds and hearts as a result of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.  But 1 Peter 4:10 speaks about God's grace "in its various forms."  What does that mean?  The context of the verse explains.  Verse 9 mentions the gift of hospitality, and verse 11 mentions the gifts of teaching and serving.  So, "administering God's grace in its various forms" refers to the various spiritual gifts the Lord employs to do the work of the church.

This passage implies five principles regarding spiritual gifts:  (1) An awareness of the urgency of the times in which we live should cause us to give priority to exercising our gifts (1 Peter 4:11); (2) We will be held accountable for using our gifts (1 Peter 4:10); (3) Gifts should be exercised with authority because of the assurance that they come from God (1 Peter 4:11); (4) The exercise of our gifts should bring honor and glory to God (1 Peter 4:11); (5) God should receive the credit for our use of gifts, whether they are designed for leadership or support (1 Peter 4:11).

In Testimonies for the Church, volume 2, page 245, Ellen White makes five significant points regarding the manifold grace of God:  (1) "None need mourn that they cannot glorify God by talents He never gave them and for which they are not responsible"; (2) "God requires no more of them than to improve upon what they have, as stewards of His grace"; (3) "The varied trusts are proportioned to our varied capabilities"; (4) "Heaven apportions to all their work, and it should be their ambition to do this work well, according to their capabilities"; (5) "God requires that all, the weakest as well as the strongest, fulfill their appointed work."

What is the significance of the word faithfully (NIV) or the phrase "as good stewards" (KJV) in 1 Peter 4:10?  Compare 1 Cor. 4:2; Matt. 25:14-30.

Faithfulness to the call of God is also known as discipleship.  Every spiritual gift is a resource given us by God to be used to the best of our ability and, in His strength, beyond our normal ability.  We will be held accountable for the use we make of our spiritual gifts.

 December 30 


Ephesians 4:11-13 gives us the guidelines for the application of certain gifts.  Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are specifically assigned the task of preparing God's people for service.  (See Eph. 4:12, NIV.)  These works of service in turn engender unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, leading to spiritual maturity, "the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (verse 13, NIV).  The gifted people mentioned in this passage, train others for service, who in turn are enriched and led to spiritual maturity.

Read Acts 19, the history of the development of the church in Ephesus.  Notice especially the situation of the original 12 members.  What happened when they received the Holy Spirit?  Make a list of the subsequent events.

Ephesus was the place where Paul stayed for the longest time during his missionary journeys.  Ephesus became a major Christian center.  The dynamic origins of the church in Ephesus are worth careful study.  Ellen White illustrates the point in Gospel Workers, page 198.  A man was lost in a snowstorm.  He was about to give up and knew he would soon freeze to death.  Suddenly he came across another person who was in a worse condition.  He rubbed the person's limbs, picked him up, and carried him, since he was too weak to walk on his own.  They eventually came to a place, of safety.  Both were saved.  The first man's exertion in saving the second man had saved his own life.

How did Paul use his spiritual gifts as an evangelist, an apostle, and a teacher to train Timothy, who in turn was commissioned to train others?  2 Tim. 1:11; 2:2.

The King James Version limits Paul's teaching gift by adding the words "of the Gentiles" (2 Tim. 1:11).  These words do not appear in the earliest available Greek manuscripts.  Paul was enabled to teach anyone.  His gifts allowed him to teach people the way of the Lord and to establish new churches based on the authority of the gospel. His gifts were an ideal combination for his circumstances.

Based on studies done on 250,000 churches across North America and Australia, a church should have at least 60 specific tasks or roles for every 100 members.  How can you achieve that in your church?

 December 31 

THE BODY ANALOGY (Rom. 12:1, 2).

In two places, Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses a body analogy to explain how spiritual gifts work.  Though a human body is incredibly complex, all its members work together.  Many functions are automatic.  On the other hand, we can organize the ways we use our hands and legs.

The church is organized like a human body, the parts of which work together to accomplish a task.  The church's task is the advancement of the kingdom to the glory of God.

How does Paul state this body analogy?  Rom. 12:1, 2.

These are very important verses for the concept of spiritual gifts.  The word bodies (verse 1) involves more than its common application to health and well-being.  The concept here is of the composite person, body, mind, and spirit, as Paul phrases it in 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

"Living sacrifices" (Rom. 12:1, NIV) is an allusion to the Old Testament sanctuary services.  "Spiritual worship" (NIV), or "reasonable service" (KJV), means, as the New English Bible translates it, "worship offered by mind and heart."  The "new birth" transforms the mind.  "Transformed" (verse 2) translates the Greek word metamorphoo, from which comes the English "metamorphosis," used in the world of nature to refer, for example, to the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.  The renewed mind can now (1) understand God's will; (2) understand that one's sense of self-worth is to be governed by reason and reality, not by an exaggerated concept of one's abilities; (3) understand its "measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3, NIV).

What is the meaning of the phrase "measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3)?  Compare Rom. 12:6 and 1 Peter 4:10.

Notice Romans 12:4.   It explains the phrase in verse 3.  We usually relate "faith" in a general way to "saving faith."  Here, however, Paul uses the word differently.  Verse 4 relates the phrase to the spiritual gifts given to Christians by the Holy Spirit. Your "measure of faith" is your use of the gifts you have been given.  The church body functions smoothly because the combined spiritual gifts of the membership, held together by the glue of love, are directed by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

How is this "body life" system working in your church?  What can you and your class do to make it work better?

  January 1 


The process of renewing the mind (verse 2) does two things:  (1) it breaks the normal pattern of conformity to the "world," and (2) it enables a person to "test and approve" God's will.  God's will is pictured as "good, pleasing and perfect" (Rom. 12:2, NIV).

What four ways has Satan used to twist human thinking and actions?  2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 1:24; Rev. 14:8.

When people are freed from these four satanic perversions, there are three results:

  1. People's minds are unchained from the power of Satan.
  2. Their spiritual eyes are enlightened.
  3. The power of the gospel becomes effective in their lives.

If allowed to work according to the biblical pattern, the Holy Spirit transforms us into disciples.  "Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary."-The Desire of Ages, p. 195.

Who is a disciple?  A disciple is a person who has been born again, has joined the church, has identified his or her spiritual gifts, has accepted a role in the church compatible with those gifts, and is committed to fulfilling that role without continual external human motivation.

Make a list of the words in Romans 12:1-8 that indicate the spirit in which discipleship should be rendered.

The chart below shows the application of a person's "measure of faith" as outlined in Romans 12:

Gift How Done
Prophesying Used in proportion to faith as God bestows the gift.
Serving Unselfish ministry to those in need.
Teaching Imparting Bible truth to others.
Encouragement Empathizing with and inspiring new hope to those who are hurting.
Contrubuting Giving according to human need.
Leadership Governing diligently.
Showing mercy Lifting up the fallen--refusing to condemn.

 January 2  


It is easy to confuse spiritual gifts with natural talents. All of us possess inherited talents.  Christians dedicate all their talents to the Lord, but the Holy Spirit does not always choose to convert natural talents into spiritual gifts.  "The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy Spirit."-Christ's Object Lessons, p. 327.

Whom did the Lord choose to be the chief architect and builder of the Israelite sanctuary in the desert?   Why?  Exod. 31:1-11.  What does 1 Kings 7:13, 14 say about the man Solomon hired to do the brass work in the temple?

Notice that the builders of the desert tabernacle were specifically called by the Lord and given certain skills.   These construction and artistic skills are not mentioned in the lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament.  (Compare, however, Exodus 35:30-35.  What gift mentioned in the New Testament lists was also given to Bezalel and Oholiab?  See Romans 12:7.)

The skills given these men were apparently a combination of natural talents, enhanced by the blessing of the Lord, and spiritual gifts such as teaching, in this case used to equip more people to work on the tabernacle.

Note which of these men's natural talents were passed on to their descendants.  1 Kings 7:13, 14.

Natural talents may be converted by the Lord into spiritual gifts.  But sometimes a person is assigned spiritual gifts that are entirely different from natural talents.  Sometimes the two are complementary to each other.  The difference is that spiritual gifts are designed to be used for the advancement of the kingdom of God, even when matched with natural talents.  Natural talents alone may be used for personal gain or as the means of a person's lifework.  There is no conflict between the two sets of gifts.  The difference is that spiritual gifts are specifically assigned by the Holy Spirit.

As you study the lessons for this quarter, compare your natural talents with the spiritual gifts you discover you have.  Are they the same?  If not, are they in any way complementary?  Pray that the holy spirit will guide you as you seek to evaluate realistically your talents and spiritual gifts.

  January 3 


Look up the key texts used in this week's lesson in a number of Bible commentaries:  Romans 12:1-8; Ephesians 4:12; and 1 Peter 4: 10.  What do you learn from these resources?  Look up the names Bezalel, Oholiab, and Huram in a Bible dictionary.

Read "Results of Transgression," Prophets and Kings, pp. 61-74.  Notice how people used and misused their gifts and talents.

Read "Talents," Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 325-365, and consider the following:


Talents: the broadest
term used


down arrow

down arrow

Gifts of the Spirit -p. 328
  Special gifts-p. 327
"Goods of heaven"-p. 327
    Endowments-p. 328  
  Original  Acquired
  Natural  Spiritual

Huram was a skilled artisan. But natural talents, no matter how effective, can be a real problem if not consecrated to the Lord.  Writing of Huram, Ellen White remarks:  "The very fibers of his being had been inwrought with principles of selfishness, which were revealed in his grasping for the highest wages.   And gradually these wrong principles came to be cherished by his associates. As they labored with him day after day, and yielded to the inclination to compare his wages with their own, they began to lose sight of the holy character of their work, and to dwell upon the difference between their wages and his.  Gradually they lost their spirit of self-denial, and fostered a spirit of covetousness.  The result was a demand for higher wages, which was granted them."-Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 175, 176.

SUMMARY:  In this week's lesson we reviewed some of the key information in the Bible about spiritual gifts.  Disciples are expected to use faithfully their assigned gifts for the advancement of God's work.  Paul illustrates the interrelationships of the various gifts by comparing them to the coordinated functioning of the human body.  They are given for the benefit of all and serve to unify the testimony of the church.  Some people are given training gifts designed to equip church members for the work of ministry.  Sometimes gifts enhance natural abilities, and sometimes they are entirely different.  It all depends on the endowment given by the Holy Spirit.

Inside Story 

Helped By an Angel

Neumoel Stina

It was Friday evening; I was finishing a Week of Prayer in a city in southern Brazil.  I had preached four times a day at two different locations.  Several young people had given their lives to God, but one young man seemed to resist the Holy Spirit.

Henrique and his girlfriend had come to all four meetings every day, hearing the same sermons twice each day.  I prayed fervently to win Henrique to Jesus, but he never responded to the appeals.

I returned to my room on Thursday night frustrated.  "God, what am I doing wrong that I cannot lead this young man to You?"  I pleaded. I could not sleep, so I read my Bible and prayed for this young man.

After the evening meeting Henrique planned to drive to his parents' home 50 miles away.  But along the desolate road, his car had a flat tire.  He discovered that his jack was broken.  No one was around to help him.  Fearful, he locked himself into his car and lay down to await dawn.  He tried to sleep, but could not.  He kept remembering phrases from the week's sermons:  "God is willing to accept you... Ask God once, and He will come."  For the first time in his life Henrique prayed.  He got out of the car, and knelt down on the road.  "God, I don't know how to pray, but if what the pastor said is true, come and help me, please."  He got back into the car to wait what might happen.

Within minutes a car pulled off the road in front of him.  A tall strong man stepped out and offered his help.  Henrique told him what had happened.  The man changed the tire, then put his enormous hand on Henrique's shoulder and said:  "Young man, I came to tell you that God loves you.  Henrique was startled and asked the man his name, but the man only repeated his words, "Don't forget, God loves you."  Then he turned toward his car.

Henrique got into his car, wiped tears from his eyes, then looked up to wave at the man who had helped him.  But no one was there.  No man, no car.  Henrique had not heard a car door slam or an engine start up.  He drove home in awed silence.

Henrique was the first to arrive at the church on Friday evening.  He ran to open the car door when I arrived, and quickly asked, "Pastor, can you baptize me?"  Startled, I listened to his story.  The following year I baptized Henrique, and a short time later I married him and his girlfriend.  Today they are faithful members of the church.

Neumoel Stina is a pastor in West Sao Paulo Conference, Brazil.

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