Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts

The Holy Spirit plays a crucial role in the salvation and daily life of every Christian.  When the Holy Spirit enters our hearts, we are born again; he is the one who empowers and sustains our faith.  The Holy Spirit enables us to walk in prayer, obedience, and communion with God.  The Holy Spirit fills us with his fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  

But the Holy Spirit does something else profound and amazing in the life of every believer.  He gives each of us gifts – spiritual gifts!  These gifts are unlike anything you will ever receive from anyone else.  It is “spiritual,” meaning it comes from the very Spirit of God.  The Greek word we translate as “gift” is charisma and is very closely related to the Greek word charis (which we translate as “grace”).  The Holy Spirit has given every Christian at least one of these gifts – a free gift, a gift of grace.  That means that every Christian – regardless of your spiritual heritage or denomination – is charismatic!  

There are three main passages in the New Testament that talk about the spiritual gifts, and from those passages, we can assemble a list of twenty spiritual gifts that are at work in the lives of Christians and in the life of the church.  There are service gifts, proclamation gifts, leadership gifts, prophetic gifts, and sign gifts.  Each Christian should actively rely on the Holy Spirit to identify, use, and grow in their gift(s).  If you need to discern what your spiritual gift is, begin praying, discerning, and talking to others about where you are bearing fruit.  Additionally, taking a personal gift assessment can be a helpful tool to give some clarity.  If you want to learn more, take a look at Understanding & Using Your Spiritual Gifts, an overview with a brief definition of each spiritual gift.  You’ll notice that most of the gifts are qualities and habits that all Christians should have and develop (like serving, mercy, giving, evangelism, faith, etc.); but someone who has a spiritual gift in that area should be 1) regularly using the gift, 2) energized by the ministry, 3) consistently seeing fruit in that area, 4) and operating beyond any natural ability.  

To gain some more clarity, let’s look briefly at some important Bible passages to gain five key insights about spiritual gifts.  

1. The Holy Spirit is the power behind each of the spiritual gifts, therefore there is no ground for pride.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 – “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”  

Romans 12:3, 6 – “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned…Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith…”  

No matter how gifted or experienced you are in ministry, never forget God empowers your life and your gifts!  Rely on the Holy Spirit for all you do.  If God uses you, give thanks, but this is no reason for pride.  Serve according to the grace God has given you, but do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to.  

2. The Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts to every believer for the common good. 

1 Corinthians 12:7, 11 – “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”  

Every Christian has spiritual gifts, and your gifts are specifically given to you.  If God distributes gifts individually according to his will, he may give supernatural gifts to complement your natural abilities (i.e. a teaching gift to one who has speaking abilities, an administrative gift to one who has organizational abilities, etc.), but this may not always be the case.  Remember, these gifts are distributed for the common good, so use them to build up the Body of Christ.  Some may utilize their gift with a few people in small settings, while others may utilize their gift in the public ministry of the entire church.  

3. The Body of Christ is composed of many members and each offers a vital component to the whole.  

1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 24-25– “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…For the body does not consist of one member but of many…But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”  

Regardless of how long you’ve been a Christian, how smart you think you are, or how important you think your spiritual gift is, we are all indispensable members of the Body of Christ.  Each member and their gift should be valued, honored, appreciated, and cared for.  All gifts are necessary for the church to mature and be healthy. 

  1. The spiritual gifts have been given to build up the Body of Christ into full maturity and will operate in the church until Christ’s return.

2 Corinthians 13:8-10 – “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 – “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” 

The Scriptures are clear that spiritual gifts have been given to the church now, but the time will come when those gifts will no longer be needed.  When Christ returns, and God’s people are fully mature, we will no longer need special gifts to enable us to serve, grow, and witness.  When the perfect Savior comes, the partial will pass away!  Some Christians believe that certain gifts – those considered more prophetic or supernatural – ceased to operate in the church at the end of the Apostolic Age.  While all gifts must be used responsibly, and within biblical guidelines, there is no warrant for the theological position known as cessationism.  The gifts will not cease until Jesus comes again.  (For more info on this discussion, see the post “The Gift of Prophecy Today.”) 

  1. While spiritual gifts are empowered by God, believers must be good stewards and actively exercise their gifts.

1 Peter 4:10-11 – “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  

Though we receive these from the Lord as gracious gifts, we need to be good stewards and actively use them to serve others.  Similar to our spiritual growth generally, God is at work in us and so we must step up to work with him (Philippians 2:12-13, Hebrews 13:21).  If you are a woodworker and you want to teach your son the art of woodworking, you can give him a hand plane, a router, and a lathe – you can show him how to use them – but he still needs to put in hours of practice to become competent with these tools!  By the Spirit, in faith, we must look for opportunities, respond to needs, and develop the tools God has given us.  You should not “neglect the gift you have,” but instead “fan into flame the gift of God” he has placed in you (1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6).


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