The Basics of Spiritual Gifts

There is a lot of concern and an equal amount of confusion over the topic of spiritual gifts in the Christian community today. It would seem the continual influence of the Charismatic Movement has heightened interest in the subject, however, this amplification has  not provided much in the way of clear Biblical teaching on spiritual gifts. Unfortunately, we know too little about spiritual gifts. Sadly, it seems ignorance about spiritual gifts persists in the Christian culture today. As such, spiritual gifts remain the source of much controversy and confusion among believers. This is interesting yet a very sad commentary for believers, being these gifts are graces from God for the edification of His church. Therefore, if we are ever to come to a true understanding of this vital topic we must turn to the Word of God. Regrettably, today just as it was in the early church, the misuse and misunderstanding of spiritual gifts brings about division, splitting up, rather than the building up of the body.

What are spiritual gifts?

Spiritual gifts are a “manifestation of the Spirit of God, a God-given assignment, a divine enabling or ability with capacity, and desire given by the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer equipping them to perform a function within the body of Christ with supernatural joy, energy, and effectiveness to do ministry for Him. This enabling may be an amplification of an already possessed talent, or a completely new ability that the believer never possessed prior to conversion. It is important to note that people have many natural talents such as singing, writing, and sewing, which are not spiritual gifts. There are unbelievers who also excel at the aforementioned natural crafts without the guidance or indwelling of the Spirit of God and they prove this every day. Spiritual gifts however are sovereign manifestations of the presence and power of God to meet present needs. These gifts when given to the body of believers are for the purpose of the good and growth in spiritual maturity towards the Kingdom of God. God’s love initiates and assigns these gifts; the gifts reveal His love and demonstrate His glory.

WHERE in Scripture are spiritual gifts discussed?

Arguably, the most thorough discussion of spiritual gifts are found in I Corinthians 12–14; It is very clear the gifts are given according to God’s sovereign will “as he determines” these verses appear to be the Bibles’ longest treatment of the subject of spiritual gifts, with supplemental information given in Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:1-16, and I Peter 4:7-11. Ephesians 4:12 tells us these gifts are given to prepare God’s people for service and for building up the body of Christ. Additional passages that have some form of reference to spiritual gifts include I Timothy 4:14, Acts 2:1–21, Romans 1:11, and II Timothy 1:6.

 Identifying spiritual gifts

Although there is a great deal of disagreement over the order and categorization of spiritual gifts among different denominations, many Bible scholars classify these gifts into three categories: ministry gifts, manifestation gifts, and motivational gifts.

 Motivational Gifts: How God works in a believer to shape his perspective on life and motivate his words and actions. (Romans 12:3–9.)

Ministry Gifts: How God works with what a believer does to serve and meet the needs of others.  (I Corinthians 12:27–31.)

Manifestation Gifts: How God works through a believer in a given situation that demonstrates His supernatural power. (I Corinthians 12:7–11.)

WHO is given spiritual gifts?

Those who believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. When we look in the book of Corinthians chapters, 12-14 we learn that spiritual gifts are given to God’s people via the Holy Spirit for “the common good” it is the Holy Spirit who grants to each believer their spiritual gifts.

 What is their purpose?

The purpose of spiritual gifts is very simple, they are for the common good to build up the Body of Christ and enable it to serve one another (I Cor. 12:7; I Pet. 4:10). Thus to somehow use your spiritual gift for your own private benefit is a corruption of what God intended. Although many people rank spiritual gifts according to some kind of hierarchy in which the flashier ones are considered more valuable, the apostle Paul labored in I Cor. 12:13-27 to demonstrate that all gifts were essential to the body and necessary for its proper functioning.

What are my spiritual gifts?

As believers dedicated to being used by God, He equips us with the spiritual gifts we need. The Bible does not indicate that one’s spiritual gift(s) can be determined by taking a test of any type. To the contrary, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit grants spiritual gifts according to His will, according to how He has chosen to use the believer to minister to others. We find more often than not, people tend to see themselves differently than others see them, which can lead to a false outcome in an attempt at a systematic assessment of one’s spiritual gifts.

Listen to the words of I Peter 4:10-11. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”

God is glorified when you yield yourself to him because he is then free to use the spiritual gifts he has given you for the good of the body of Christ. Therefore, when we love God and genuinely seek Him for everything, yielding to His direction through prayer, fellowship, and the studying of His Word, our gifts become obvious to us and evident to others in the body.

God’s Peace

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