What are Spiritual Gifts?

Feb 3, 2021

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Spiritual gifts refer to the special endowments that the Holy Spirit bestows on believers to use for their callings and to benefit the Church as a whole. There are a variety of spiritual gifts named throughout scripture, and all are important to know and understand.

It is vital that we, as part of the Body of Christ, understand that everyone doesn’t have every gift and that each person will be given the gifts God knows they will need in order to do the work He calls each of us to do in this life. All gifts are given to us in order to be used to bring God honor and glory, add to and build up the Body of Christ, and serve God with a grateful heart.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. 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.

1 Corinthians 12:1-6 ESV

What does “spiritual gifts” mean?

Strong’s G4152pneumatikos – spiritual gifts: belonging to the Divine Spirit;

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 ESV

What are the Spiritual Gifts in the Bible?

While some of the spiritual gifts we find in scripture are widely believed to no longer be present in the lives of believers, most are still seen, used and experienced throughout the Church. There are differing beliefs about some gifts while some have beliefs in common. We should always lean on the Holy Spirit in order to discover and understand our own gifts as well as how we are each called to use them.

Where many of us will be blessed with some of the same gifts, the ways in which we are called to use them will be uniquely identified by the Lord using His Spirit as a guide throughout our life and the sanctification process. Being in His Word and in prayer about our gifts is also needed in order to constantly give God the reigns and let Him guide our path and usage of these incredible gifts He provides us with.

spiritual gifts
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The Gift of Speaking in and interpreting tongues:

Speaking in and interpreting tongues is to be able to speak and understand foreign languages you have never learned. Early Christians on the Day of Pentecost were empowered by the Holy Spirit and given the ability to speak in tongues so that they could share the gospel with visitors from the Roman world in languages the visitors understood. Typically speaking in tongues is a means of special prayer from an individual to God. There are a variety of differing beliefs about this spiritual gift.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

Mark 16:17 ESV

For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.

Acts 10:46a ESV

And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.

Acts 19:6 ESV

The Gift of Driving Out Evil Spirits:

Driving out evil spirits is to exorcise or cast out demons.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

Mark 16:17 ESV

But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Matthew 12:28 ESV

And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters.

Matthew 8:28-32 ESV

The Gift of Healing:

Healing is divine healing from the Holy Spirit through incredible faith.

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Mark 2:7-12 ESV

The Gift of Prophesy:

Some instances in scripture identify “prophecy” when speaking about all speaking gifts (1 Corinthians 14), but the unique gift of prophecy is a specific gift of the Holy Spirit inspiring a proclamation to a believer for the purpose of edifying the Church. This is commonly believed that there are no longer current-day prophets in the world, and there is much to learn throughout scripture about this gift.

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

Joel 2:28-29 ESV

For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:21 ESV

The Gift of Divine Knowledge and Wisdom:

Divine knowledge is insight and perception from the Holy Spirit, while divine wisdom is the application of truth and knowledge guided by the Holy Spirit. All believers are called to live wisely, but some are blessed with extraordinary wisdom and knowledge from the Holy Spirit.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:5 ESV

The Gift of Serving and Hospitality:

Serving is an act of ministry characterized by a joy in doing things for others and hospitality is an unselfish desire to meet the needs of others without expectation of reward.

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 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.

1 Peter 4:9-11 ESV

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45 ESV

The Gift of Teaching:

Teaching is an instruction that can be understood. It can be recognized by understanding difficult matters and the ability to deliver instruction effectively.

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Titus 2:1 ESV

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:2 ESV

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:16 ESV

The Gift of Exhorting:

Exhortation is persuasion and encouragement characterized by the ability to inspire and persuade.

So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.

John 4:28-30 ESV

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:

1 Peter 5:1 ESV

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:2 ESV

The Gift of Giving:

Giving is to generously support and share what you have, and can be recognized by the joy in generosity and expecting nothing in return.

Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.

Proverbs 14:21 ESV

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Acts 20:35 ESV

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Luke 6:38 ESV

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV
Spiritual gifts in the Bible
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The Gift of Leading:

Leadership is to be diligent, watchful, and willing to care for and labor for a people or thing. This gift of leadership in Greek means to “rule” or “govern”, indicating someone who is set over something or someone in order to provide care, guidance, and fellowship with a heart of diligent and sacrificial service.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 16:13 ESV

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Matthew 25:21 ESV

he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:8 NKJV

The Gift of Mercy:

Mercy is tender sensitivity and can be identified as concern for others who are hurting.

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:36 ESV

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:13 ESV

The Gift of Extraordinary Faith:

Extraordinary faith is extreme optimism and confidence in the Lord and the ability to inspire others in extraordinary ways and circumstances.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 ESV

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Mark 11:22-24 ESV

The Gift of Discernment:

Discernment is the being guided by the Holy Spirit in all circumstances to make judgements, determine good or evil, and see beyond the surface.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2 ESV

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1 ESV

The Gift of Evangelism:

Evangelism is the ability to witness, love people, talk easily, and rejoice in sharing the Lord in any situation.

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

1 Peter 3:15 ESV

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Timothy 4:5 ESV

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 ESV

The Gift of Speaking:

Speaking is talking easily and inspiring others with words guided by the Holy Spirit.

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Proverbs 29:11 ESV

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Proverb 15:4 ESV

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

James 3:8-10 ESV

Who recieves Spiritual gifts?

All Christians are members of the Body of Christ, and each member is related to a part of the body as a whole. Each part of the body serves a unique and different function, but no one part of the body is any less important for the overall function and health of the whole body.

All are equally important roles but all serve the Body equally in the ways in which they are called, using the gifts in which God has given to each of us. We should not be envious or disgruntled toward any other part of the Body or their gifts, but instead encourage, honor, and care for all fellow members of the Body of Christ and be united together in our shared mission.

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 in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. 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. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 ESV

How should Spiritual gifts be used?

The spiritual gifts which have been given by the Holy Spirit should not be used for self-gain but should be used humbly for the Kingdom of God and Body of Christ. We should be seeking after gifts that deepen our relationship with and sharing the gospel of Christ versus gifts that draw attention to ourselves. We are told to diligently seek these gifts but that “the most excellent way” was faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest of them all.

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

1 Corinthians 14:20-25 ESV

As new believers, we are children in our faith and should intentionally be learning and growing in faith through dedicated time in scripture, prayer, and fellowship with God and His people. As we mature in faith, we mature in the way we think and the ways we understand and use all that God blesses us with. As we grow in maturity of faith we also become more mature in abstaining from sin, becoming better imitators of Christ, putting our spiritual gifts to work, building up the Body of Christ, and will also be better equipped to organically and intentionally plant the seeds of the gospel in the hearts of nonbelievers.

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.

1 Corinthians 14:26-40 ESV

Spiritual gifts should not be used for self-interest, self-development, or self-display but instead in accordance with the law of love that serves to build up others. The gifts God blesses us with are not our own but are His attributes bestowed upon us to be used for the furtherance of His will and Kingdom. We are not our own, and these gifts are not our own. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and these gifts are His for His purposes.

We should use discernment and be led by the Spirit, prayer and scripture in using our spiritual gifts to avoid corruption, competition, division, and pride within the Church. Paul explains that spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues, are not uncontrollable. We are given free will, therefore the Holy Spirit does not overpower you but gives you the choice to obey His promptings or not. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians that no one is exempt from accountability in how they use their spiritual gifts.

Each member of the Body of Christ is given their own set of spiritual gifts according to their specific callings, roles, and functions as their individual part of the body. Not all parts of the Body have all of or the same gifts, but instead, all are given the gifts which God knows are necessary for the work He has called them to do. Everyone is accountable for every gift given to them by God, and any claim to having a gift should be tested and filtered by the Word of God.

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