Increasing Our Spiritual Gifts (John Owen)

The Works of John Owen, Vol. 4: The Reason of Faith
Owen, vol. 4

God gives his people spiritual gifts so his people can bless others and bring him glory. Peter tells us to use our gifts to serve one another (1 Pet. 4:10). But the Christian might ask a question: How do we receive spiritual gifts or how do the spiritual gifts we have grow or increase? Obviously God, by his Holy Spirit, gifts his people. As far as attaining or increasing spiritual gifts, John Owen had a nice discussion about this topic in his “Discourse of Spiritual Gifts.” Here’s what he says about attaining and increasing spiritual gifts:

…In the first place is required a due preparation of soul, by humility, meekness, and teachableness. The Holy Spirit taketh no delight to impart of his especial gifts unto proud, self-conceited men, to men vainly puffed up in their own fleshly minds….

Secondly, prayer is a principal means for their attainment. This the apostle directs unto when he enjoins us earnestly to desire the best gifts; for this desire is to be acted by prayer, and no otherwise.

Thirdly, diligence in the things about which these gifts are conversant. Study and meditation on the word of God, with the due use of means for the attaining a right understanding of his mind and will therein, is that which I intend. For in this course, conscientiously attended unto, it is that, for the most part, the Holy Spirit comes in and joins his aid and assistance for furnishing of the mind with those spiritual endowments.

Fourthly, the growth, increase, and improvement of these gifts depend on their faithful use according as our duty doth require. It is trade alone that increaseth talents, and exercise in a way of duty that improveth gifts. Without this they will first wither and then perish….

Owen, Works, Vol. 4, p. 519-520.

 To summarize, we can grow in our God-given spiritual gifts by being humble, praying about them, diligently studying the Word, using them, and by cultivating our natural gifts.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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