Notes on Spiritual Gifts
Definition -- a divine gift of a special ability for service unto the body of Christ. A
God-given ability to perform certain functions in the body of Christ.
or, an enablement by God in the power of the Holy Spirit to do or say something beyond one's
natural ability in order to fulfill a specific purpose of God.
Not The Same As Talent. Lost and saved people have talent. Talent operates on a social or
physical level, while spiritual gifts work on a spiritual level. Talents are obtained through
physical birth, while spiritual gifts are obtained through the rebirth.
Not The Same As The Fruit Of The Spirit. As we mature in Christ, the Holy Spirit will grow the
same fruit in all of us. The fruit are an inward manifestation of the work of the Spirit in us,
while the gifts are an outward manifestation. [Galatians 5:22-23]
Key Facts About Spiritual Gifts
- The most important passages are Romans 12:1-8, I Corinthians 12,
Ephesians 4:7-16, I Peter 4:10-11, plus I Corinthians 1:7,
Hebrews 2:4, I Corinthians 14
- Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift I Peter 4:10
- As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards
of the manifold grace of God. [Also I Corinthians 12:7]
- You are accountable for your stewardship of your spiritual gifts. [I Peter 4:10]
- The biblical context is relational not institutional -- spiritual gifts operate as we lovingly
respond to others, and seek to serve them. I Corinthians 13
Knowing Your Spiritual Gift Is Important Because
- It indicates your area of service -- will guide you in discerning God's will for your life. By
knowing your spiritual gift, God will lead you in the area of that gift into some ministry, not
necessary public. It will help you know what kinds of jobs to take in the church.
- It will help you establish your priorities, assuming you want to do God's will, because it is
God's will that you serve in the area of your spiritual gift. [I Peter 4:10]
- It will help you when people ask you to do things, not only in the church, but outside.
- It will help in self-acceptance. You will see your importance to God and to His body. It will
eliminate feelings of frustration and inferiority. If you operate in the area of your gift, you
will be successful, with the adequacy that Christ supplies.
II Corinthians 3:5-6 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant...
- It reduces feelings of jealousy, envy, and a competitive spirit. Each part of the body is
required. It helps you to rejoice over the gifts of others.
- It shows you where to concentrate your study, because each gift needs to be developed. One with
the gift of exhortation should read books on counseling.
How Can You Determine Your Spiritual Gift
- There are questionnaires available to help you discover it
- You can try different areas, to see what fits. You will enjoy serving through your spiritual
gift, and it will benefit the body.
- Consider your interests and inclinations
- Be available and willing to take risks
- Prayer -- ask God
- Scripture Study -- know how the gifts operate
We'll have to account for our stewardship of our spiritual gifts. By presenting our bodies a
living sacrifice, we are able to "prove" God's will. That is, we will know we are serving God as He
intended. Other people will affirm to us what our gifts are.
We must become servants and (figuratively) wear a towel around our waist (as Jesus did in John
13). Christianity is not a spectator sport -- we are not to be mere pew-warmers -- we each have a
spiritual gift that we are commanded to use in service to God and to the body.
The Purpose Of Spiritual Gifts--
- For the profit of others
- I Corinthians 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
- I Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
- To accomplish God's Purpose
- Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
- Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
- This is a big job that can only be accomplished working together as God as placed us
- Spiritual Gifts Are Given Sovereignly -- God decides who gets which gift(s) and to what degree
- I Corinthians 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one
individually just as He wills.
- Gifts are given according to grace, not maturity or spirituality
- Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
- Ephesians 4:11-13 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists,
and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the
building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the
fullness of Christ.
- Romans 12:6 And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each
exercise them accordingly:
- The church is not lacking in any spiritual gifts
- I Corinthians 1:7 so that you are not lacking in any gift...
- Note the purpose of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers -- equipping of the
saints for the work of service. Or as Peter put it,
- "employ [your spiritual gifts] in serving one another"
- The word translated equipping is also used in Mark 1:19 [James and John were]
mending the nets.
- Romans 12:1-2 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a
living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you
may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- There is to be a maturing process as we serve.
- Ephesians 4:14-16 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and
carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful
scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who
is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that
which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the
growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
- We need to know doctrine, so we'll know what we believe and why.
- Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected
knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your
God, I also will forget your children.
- But we don't want to be like
- II Timothy 3:7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
There must also be action.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall
be added to you.
Now Let's Look At The Individual Gifts
I Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.
I Corinthians 12:4-7 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there
are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects [results], but
the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the
Spirit for the common good.
See I Corinthians 12:8ff
How many spiritual gifts are there? Some people see 19-21; others see 9 with the other 10-12
being manifestations of the primary 9.
Categories Of Spiritual Gifts
There are two broad categories of spiritual gifts, speaking and service.
- I Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves,
let him do so as by the strength which God supplies...
- All the gifts are important. I Corinthians 12:14-27
- Apostles -- literally, sent ones. In a narrow sense, this gift ended when the last of the 12
apostles died. But in a broader sense, missionaries who cross cultures and plant churches
demonstrate the same urgency of mission. They feel at ease with people of different cultures,
races, or languages, and are willing to go wherever God chooses. Ephesians 4:11
- Prophecy -- proclaiming with authority the intention of God. This gift strengthens, comforts,
and encourages (I Corinthians 14:3), and is demonstrated by Holy Spirit-inspired preachers who boldly
proclaim biblical principles and truths. Ephesians 4:11
- Pastor-teacher -- shepherd, one who cares for, watches over, spiritually feeds, and tends their
sheep. They assume a long-term personal responsibility for the spiritual welfare of a group of
believers. Ephesians 4:11
- Teaching -- the ability to explain what Scripture says, what it means, and what you ought to do
about it. They inspire their listeners to apply Bible truths to their own lives. They speak the
Word of God clearly and are conscientious to be accurate. They like to study God's Word and share
the results of their study with others in an interesting way. Romans 12:6-7, I Corinthians 12:28-29
- Evangelists -- a special ability to share the good news with lost people, and to lead them to
Christ. They are burdened for the lost and have an urgent desire to share their faith. The
existence of this gift (estimated to fall on about 10 percent of Christians) does not relieve the
rest of us of our responsibility to witness as best we can, and leave the results to God.
Exhortation -- the special ability God gives to minister words of comfort, consolation,
encouragement and counsel. They entreat, admonish, encourage, and listen. The Holy Spirit is called
the PARAKLETE (one who comes alongside to help). This is the same root word. This gift is
normally exercised one-to-one. Romans 12:8
Word of Knowledge -- the gift stresses the importance of intellect; they are able to understand
and organize the truths of the Word of God. These people like to search the Scripture, analyze
ideas, and gather and summarize facts. Could also be when a person receives "a word of knowledge"
from God about some situation. I Corinthians 12:8
Word of Wisdom -- the gift of applying knowledge to daily experiences; they are able to take
God's truth and relate it to daily living. These people see clear answers to complex problems, and
have the ability to make wise decisions, often by thinking of a relevant Scripture that clarifies
the issue. I Corinthians 12:8 plus James 3:15-18
- Psalms 107:2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
- Helps/Service -- these people have the God-given ability to invest the talents they have in the
life and ministry of other members of the body, thus enabling the person helped to increase the
effectiveness of his or her spiritual gifts. They generally make themselves useful, and try to meet
needs as they are able to. I Corinthians 12:28 also Acts 9:36.
- Hospitality -- people who enjoy sharing their homes with those in need of food or lodging have
this gift. The need may be overnight accommodations for members of a traveling youth choir or a
dinner invitation to a lonely friend. Romans 12:13
- Giving -- a special generosity to contribute their material resources to the work of the Lord
with liberality and cheerfulness. They share what they have whether a little or a lot with such
cheerfulness that others are blessed. Romans 12:8 [plus II Corinthians 8:2-5 "they first gave themselves to
- Leadership -- the special ability from God to set goals in accordance with God's purpose for
the future and to communicate these goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and
harmoniously work together to accomplish those goals for the glory of God. Romans 12:8
- Administration -- the ability to understand clearly the immediate and long-range goals of a
particular congregation and to devise and execute plans for the accomplishment of those goals. An
extroverted personality or the ability to speak publicly are not prerequisites. They express their
spiritual authority with tact and humility. They should be able to recognize spiritual gifts in
others and recruit people to various jobs in the church. I Corinthians 12:28
- Mercy -- people with the gift of mercy feel genuine empathy and compassion for the loneliness,
despair, and burdens of people like those described in Matthew 25:34-46: the hungry, strangers, the
sick, prisoners, the naked. They translate their compassion into cheerfully done deeds which
reflect Christ's love and help alleviate the suffering. Romans 12:8
- Gift of Faith -- an unusual ability to trust God for great things. Every Christian has been
allotted a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) but people with this gift are able to discern with
confidence the will and purpose of God for the future of His work. I Corinthians 12:9
- Discerning of spirits -- the ability to detect deficiency in the truth of a sermon, a book, a
speech, or a conversation. They have the ability to spot a phony. Their gift enables them to
discriminate between the divine, the human, or the satanic in behavior or in a speech that claims
to be from God. I Corinthians 12:10
Others -- Are They Valid For Today?
- Gifts of Healing -- there may be individuals whom God has chosen as intermediaries through whom
it pleases Him to cure illness and restore health. Most often these gifts come directly from God to
the sick person through prayer. I Corinthians 12:28 James 5:14-15
- Miracles -- works of supernatural origin. There is no explanation in the natural realm for
these events. I Corinthians 12:10
- Diverse kinds of tongues -- languages, never unknown languages. Not for everyone. Most
evangelicals believe this gift has no relevance for today, while Pentecostals believe they are
relevant today. I Corinthians 12:10,28,30 I Corinthians 14:4ff
- The interpretation of tongues -- since there is no edification in hearing gibberish, there
must be an interpreter present to receive from God the meaning of a message in tongues. Paul wrote
of tongues only in I Corinthians and then because of its abuse. I Corinthians 12:10
This list should be taken as representative of the ways God endows His people for service, rather than an exhaustive listing.
- "Uniquely Gifted - Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts", Stuart Calvert, 1993.
- "Spiritual Gifts and Church Growth", Fuller Evangelistic Association, 1978.
- Personal notes from a tape series by Kay Arthur, 1978.
- Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, Zodhiates, 1990.
- Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, Richards, 1985.