In every era of the church’s history, the question of spiritual gifts has caused significant discussion and debate. One aspect of this doctrine that found almost universal agreement during the sixteenth century, however, was that spiritual gifts existed for the edification of the whole church to the glory of God. This is understanding is exemplified in the commentary of Scottish pastor and theologian David Dickson (1583-1663) on 1 Corinthians 12:4-6.
The Triune God Endows Gifts, Offices, and Activities
Paul ascribes gifts to the Holy Spirit, who distributes gifts both ordinary and extraordinary according to the needs of the church (verse 4). Paul ascribes the functions and offices to Christ, who being Lord in his house appoints what services he pleases,Paul ascribes gifts to the Holy Spirit, who distributes gifts both ordinary and extraordinary according to the needs of the church. calls to offices whom he will, and employs those who are called in their functions as he will (verse 5). But various operations, or the exercise of various kinds of gifts, Paul ascribes in verse 6 to God the Father, who even as he is the beginning of all things, so he works efficaciously in all things. Now the apostle does not distinguish between these three categories of things (namely, gifts, offices, and operations) as if they come from one person of the Trinity rather than all persons of the Godhead. Rather, Paul makes this distinction . . . so that we might more easily be led by the hand to apprehend the distinction between the divine persons and their unity of essence; and so that we might observe the equality of the persons of the holy Trinity, and their unity in gifts, offices, and operation of gifts, and by observing this equality, might all together strive for the good of the church and the glory of God.
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