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What are the basic facts about spiritual gifts?

Spiritual Gifts: The Basics
basic facts about spiritual gifts

WHAT are spiritual gifts?

A spiritual gift is a “manifestation of the Spirit [of God] . . . given to every man to profit withal” (I Corinthians 12:7). Unlike a natural ability, a spiritual gift is a supernatural ability that God gives to a believer.

Spiritual gifts are not synonymous with the fruit of the Spirit—aspects of Godly character that every believer is to cultivate. (See Galatians 5:22–23.) Spiritual gifts are sovereign manifestations of the presence and power of God to meet present needs. They are granted to the Church of God for their good and their growth in spiritual maturity. God’s love initiates and assigns the gifts, and the gifts reveal His love and demonstrate His glory.

Spiritual gifts can be placed in one of three categories described in Scripture:

  • Motivational Gifts: How God works in a believer to shape his perspective on life and motivate his words and actions. (See Romans 12:3–9.)
  • Ministry Gifts: How God works with what a believer does to serve and meet the needs of others. (See I Corinthians 12:27–31.)
  • Manifestation Gifts: How God works through a believer in a given situation that demonstrates His supernatural power. (See I Corinthians 12:7–11.)

WHO is given spiritual gifts?

Each person who believes in Jesus Christ for salvation is indwelt by the God’s Holy Spirit, Who grants to each believer spiritual gifts. Although unbelievers may exhibit some of the characteristics commonly associated with the motivational gifts, only believers are given the gifts and empowered by the Holy Spirit to use them.

WHEN does a Christian receive spiritual gifts?

At the moment of salvation, a person’s motivational spiritual gift is granted as the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his or her spirit. From that time on, a believer primarily perceives everything through the “lens” of his particular (motivational) spiritual gift, and he or she receives God’s anointing for a variety of ministry gifts and manifestation gifts, in any combination and without limit.

WHERE in Scripture are spiritual gifts discussed?

The most thorough discussions of spiritual gifts are found in I Corinthians 12–14; Romans 12:3–8; Ephesians 4:8, 11–16; and I Peter 4:10–11. Additional passages that mention spiritual gifts include I Timothy 4:14, Acts 2:1–21, Romans 1:11, and II Timothy 1:6.

HOW do spiritual gifts influence the Body of Christ?

The Church is designed to function as a physical body functions: “The body is one, and hath many members . . .” (I Corinthians 12:12). Each person who believes in Jesus is a member of the Body of Christ and has a specific role to play in the Church. God equips believers for their tasks through the gift of the Holy Spirit and a variety of spiritual gifts. Each gift is valuable—each member is valuable, because the members of the Church need one another in order to function as a whole.

When Christians serve with the spiritual gifts God bestows, the love of God will be demonstrated and each believer can experience personal fulfillment and great joy. In this way, the Body of Christ can know and enjoy the fullness of God. (See Ephesians 1:15–23, 3:14–21, and 4:7–16.)

If believers do not use their spiritual gifts, as a result of ignorance, selfishness, laziness, or rebellion, they contribute to dysfunction in the Body of Christ. In effect, they “fail [fall short] of the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15), because spiritual gifts are expressions of the “manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10; see also Romans 12:6). Spiritual gifts are gifts of grace—they are meant to be used to strengthen the Church.

WHY does God give spiritual gifts?

God gives spiritual gifts for the edification of the Church (see I Corinthians 14:12) and to build up the Body of Christ in love and unity, “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 4:11). The gifts are expressions of God’s nature, given to equip believers to fulfill His purposes on the earth.

Through the motivational gifts, God makes each believer aware of needs that He wants to meet through him or her, for His glory. Then, believers can serve through the ministry and manifestation gifts of the Spirit, in ways beyond mere human capability and ingenuity, with maximum effectiveness and minimum weariness.

The spiritual gifts display the love of God for His children and demonstrate His glory to those who do not yet believe. Through His gifts, the Lord desires to unify and edify the Church, humble the believer, and manifest His presence. “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (I Corinthians 12:7).

The articles on spiritual gifts have been developed from a variety of sources, including the booklet, Understanding Spiritual Gifts .

For Further Study

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