What are spiritual gifts and are they important to us as Christians? First of all, we need to understand that spiritual gifts are important tools given to us at salvation. Paul writes, “I would not have you ignorant concerning spiritual gifts.” 1 Corinthians 12:1 So, we are told right up front that spiritual gifts are real and that an understanding of them is important. Jesus told the disciples at His departure, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” That Holy Spirit power empowers the exercise of spiritual gifts.
Spiritual gifts are given to each person who is born again and part of the Body of Christ. One or more of them are imparted to every believer at salvation through the agency of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12:11 we read, “But all these [spiritual gifts] worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” You and I have been given these gifts as part of our “tool box” to serve the Lord and those around us. But it doesn’t stop there. The key is to figure out which gift or gifts we have been given. We accomplish this through prayer, the reading of God’s Word and seeking counsel. Those close to us are great resources to identify our gifts because they see us in action and can point out their observations.
Please remember that we do not have to fear spiritual gifts for Jesus is Lord of the gifts. If you have come from a denominational background, you have probably heard the story of a person speaking in tongues in the congregation and another person in the congregation understood the language and said that the person speaking was saying horrible things about God. The problem is that you generally cannot confirm this rumor and so it only serves to generate fear not based on facts. Paul gives us comfort and assurance when he writes, “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” 1 Corinthians 12:3 He further states, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Romans 8:15-16
There are different kinds of gifts, but they are governed by the Lord Jesus. People break down the gifts and various ways, but we will put them in three general categories set out below as our beginning point. There are nine sign gifts found in 1 Corinthians 12, five gifts of administration set out in Ephesians 4:11-13 and seven motivational gifts recorded in Romans 12:6-8. These will help you understand the framework that our Heavenly Father has established to aid us in our Christian journey. Please do not make this a list carved in stone and notice that there is some crossover.
1) Word Of Wisdom, Word Of Knowledge, Gift Of Faith, Gifts Of Healing, Working Of Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning Of Spirits, Tongues, Interpretation Of Tongues 2) Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher 3) Prophecy, ministry (helps), teaching, exhortation, giving, administration, mercy
We are to seek after spiritual gifts. Paul instructs us, “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31 We are to pursue spiritual gifts, but it is always to be in the context of love. It isn’t just about the gifts, but it is about the Lord of the gifts. The gifts are to be exercised is such a way as to glorify the Lord Jesus and to benefit the Body.
Learning about spiritual gifts and how to exercise them is a supernatural journey. You and I will not do it perfectly as we learn. That being said, it is important to begin the journey for we will never experience the fullness of our relationship with God unless we do so.
This information is just to whet your appetite and cause you to begin seeking the Lord regarding the gifts that He has already given. Please feel free to write if you have questions or need prayer!
May He reward your search and use you greatly as you “earnestly desire the greater gifts....”