But, why do we need the gifts?
Well, firstly, the gifts of the Holy Spirit point to the Lordship of Christ. We can see this in 1 Cor. 12:1-3. Anyone who speaks by the Spirit of God will demonstrate the Lordship of Christ. How? The content of the gift highlights Christ's Lordship. The words that are spoken in prophecy will point to Jesus as Lord. But, not only does the content of the gift highlight Christ's Lordship, but the very manifestation of the gift itself points to the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is He who is in control of the gifts, not us. We can't decide that there should be a gift in operation, only the Lord of the Church can. We don't determine the content of a spiritual gift, only Christ does through His Holy Spirit. (N.B. 1 Cor. 12:4-6 points to the involvement of all three persons of the Trinity in the operation of the Gifts of the Spirit.)
Furthermore, the gifts of the Spirit also bear witness to the Gospel. In Hebrews 2:3-4 we learn that God uses 'signs and wonders, with various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit' to bear witness to 'so great a salvation.' How does that work? Well, the gifts draw attention to Christ and therefore they glorify Christ. After all, that is the role of the Holy Spirit (John 16:14). The gifts also create opportunities for the Gospel to be proclaimed. We see that happening again and again in the book of Acts. In Acts 3, Peter and John are used to bring healing to the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. And what happens next? 'Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people' (Acts 3:11-12). And what was this response that Peter made to the people? It was to preach the Gospel to them; and the outcome of that was that 'many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand' (Acts 4:4).
We see the same type of result from the gifts of the Spirit in Acts 9:36-43. Dorcas had died, but God used Peter to raise her to life again, 'And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord' (v. 42). The operation of the gifts of the Spirit creates opportunities for the Gospel to advance. Again, in Acts 16:25-34 a miracle (the earthquake that releases Paul and Silas from their chains) leads to evangelism (of the Philippian jailor and his household). So the gifts bear witness to the Gospel by drawing people's attention to the preaching of the Gospel.
But that's not the only way it works. For the gifts themselves can point unbelievers to Christ as Saviour. 1 Cor. 14:24-25 shows us that prophesy can even cause an unbeliever to fall 'down on his face' and 'worship God.' The book of Acts has a great example of this too. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the Gospel powerfully and 3000 souls were saved. Yet, the Greek word for what Peter did indicates not a normal sermon, but a prophecy. Peter prophetically proclaimed the Gospel and God used it to bring thousands to salvation!
Tomorrow we'll look at another important reason why the gifts of the Holy Spirit are necessary and why we're called to earnestly desire them.