Questions About the Holy Spirit: The 60 Most Frequently Asked Questions About the Holy Spirit –
Have Questions, Find Answers on Otakada.org – About Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Daily, people turn to the Internet to find answers to their questions about spiritual matters. Topics related to spirituality are the second-most searched subjects online. Sadly, websites that present false teachings far outnumber those that proclaim the truth of God’s Word. We will provide answers as the Holy Spirit leads us from a biblical perspective. You will also need to pray to secure answers to any question you may have because one of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth – John 16:13. Today, we look at Top Questions About Gifts of the Holy Spirit and questions that relate to this with biblical answers.. Enjoy
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QUESTIONS ABOUT GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Contents Is there a biblical spiritual gifts list?
What is the difference between a talent and a spiritual gift?
How does God distribute spiritual gifts? Will God give me the spiritual gift(s) I ask for?
How do I identify my spiritual gift(s)?
What is the spiritual gift of Pastors?
What is the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues?
What is the spiritual gift of interpreting tongues?
What is the spiritual gift of encouragement?
What is the spiritual gift of faith?
What is the spiritual gift of healing?
What is the spiritual gift of helps?
What is the spiritual gift of discerning spirits?
What is the spiritual gift of leadership?
What is the spiritual gift of mercy?
What is the spiritual gift of miracles?
What is the spiritual gift of prophecy?
What is the spiritual gift of teaching?
What are the spiritual gifts of the “word of wisdom” and the “word of knowledge”?
Question: Is there a biblical spiritual gifts list?
Answer: There are actually three biblical lists of the “gifts of the Spirit,” also known as spiritual gifts. The three main passages describing the spiritual gifts are Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; and 1 Corinthians 12:28. The spiritual gifts identified in Romans 12 are prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, and mercy. The list in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 includes the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. The list in 1 Corinthians 12:28 includes healings, helps, governments, and diversities of tongues. A brief description of each gift follows:
The spiritual gift of prophecy is an extraordinary and unique gift. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:1 to “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” This gift is a blessing to the church and should not be quenched or despised (1 Thessalonians 5:20). Those who have the gift of prophecy differ from the Old Testament Prophets who spoke the authoritative Word of God directly. Their words were recorded as Scripture as they proclaimed, “Thus says The Lord,” whereas the messages from those with the spiritual gift of prophecy must be tested (1 Corinthians 14:29-33; 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21; 1 John 4:1-3). In the New Testament the Apostles, not the prophets, took over the role of Scriptural proclamation from the Old Testament Prophets.
The Greek word for the gift of prophecy is propheteia which is the ability to receive a divinely inspired message and deliver it to others in the church. These messages can take the form of exhortation, correction, disclosure of secret sins, prediction of future events, comfort, inspiration, or other revelations given to equip and edify the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:3-4, 24-25). Again, they do not constitute the authoritative Word of God, but are the human interpretation of the revelation that was received. They are spoken in human words through a human mind which is why they must be tested against the Scriptures (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).
The Holy Spirit gives the gift of prophecy to some believers to make God’s heart known and to edify the church. This gift is for the benefit of both believers and unbelievers and is a sign that God is truly among His church (1 Corinthians 14:22-25). Those with this gift are sensitive to both the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the needs of the church body. They should be humble and continually study the Scriptures in order to test these revelations before speaking them. When they do speak, they should allow and even expect others to weigh what is said against the Scriptures and interpret the message accordingly. In this way the church may be continually built up together in unity (1 Corinthians 14:4, 26). See also Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:10, 14:1-5, Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Peter 4:10-11.
The Greek word translated “prophesying” or “prophecy” properly means “the act of speaking forth” or declaring the divine will. The basic purpose of prophecy is to interpret the purposes of God or to make known the truth of God in an influential way. The idea of telling the future is an associated meaning of prophecy, and, at times, God’s declarations included predictions of the future (e.g., Acts 11:28).
The spiritual gift of service, or ministering, covers a wide range of activities in its application. There are two Greek words for this gift. The first one, found in Romans 12:7, is diakonia. The basic meaning of this word is “to wait tables,” but it is most often translated in the Bible as “ministry.” It refers to any act of service done in genuine love for the edification of the community. The word antilepsis is translated “helping” and is found in 1 Corinthians 12:28. It has a similar meaning: to help or aid in love within the community.
The Holy Spirit endows some believers with this gift to fill the many gaps of ministry and meet the needs of the church as it fulfills the Great Commission. The goal is to energize the church and free up others to use their gifts to the fullest. The result is the continued edification of the church and the added ability to see beyond its own needs and reach out into the community.
We see people with this gift in passages like Acts 6:1-7, 1 Corinthians 16:15-16, and many others. Those with the gift of service are committed to the spread of the Gospel. They serve in ways that benefit others with different gifts and ministries that are more public. They have a heart devoted to Jesus and a desire to follow His command and example in Matthew 20:25-28 (cf. Mark 10:42-45). Those with this gift do not seek recognition or a position in the “spotlight,” they just love to help out. They are content with serving in the background knowing that their contribution will bless the church, display the love of Christ to the world, and bring glory to God. See also Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; 28, Acts 20:35; 2 Timothy 4:11; Revelation 2:19.
3. Pastor / Shepherd:
The spiritual gift of pastor or pastor/shepherd is one that carries many different responsibilities. This gift is closely related to the spiritual gifts of leadership and teaching. The Greek word for pastor is poimen and simply means shepherd or overseer.
In the Biblical context, shepherds had several different responsibilities to their sheep and ultimately, to the owner of the sheep. They kept a lookout for predators and protected the sheep from attackers. They cared for wounded and sick sheep, nursing them back to health. They rescued them if they became lost or trapped. They spent enormous amounts of time with them guiding them to he places of nourishment and rest. The result was a trust and relationship that kept the sheep following the shepherd. The sheep were attuned to the shepherd’s voice to the point that even if they were temporarily mixed with another herd, at the call of the shepherd they would separate and follow him.
Pastors are called shepherds because their calling and gifting are much like those who care for sheep. They are called and gifted to care for the spiritual well-being of a local body of God’s people. Pastors are first and foremost servants. They are servants of God and servants of His bride, the church. They are given a mixture of abilities by grace that allows them to serve the needs of an entire community.
The goal of the pastor is to reveal the glory of God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to a people who need God’s grace for life. The primary way the pastor will do this is by teaching the Word of God to the church. The gift of pastor is directly linked to the gift of teaching in Ephesians 4:11 and elsewhere. In fact, this gift could be called the gift of pastor-teacher. The ability to teach the Scriptures is also one of the many requirements of being an overseer (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). By teaching the Scriptures to the church, the pastor feeds the “sheep” of God.
The Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gift of pastor to some in the church to humbly teach them, guide them, protect them, and to lead them in the mission that God has for His church, namely the Great Commission. The pastor loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ and puts it at the center of his life and ministry. Pastors do not seek fame or recognition for themselves, but they are placed in a position of authority by the Holy Spirit. The role of a pastor is one of humility and service as he is reminded daily of his overwhelming need of God’s grace for the task at hand. See also Ephesians 4:11; Jeremiah 3:15; Acts 20:28; John 10:11-18.
4. Encouragement: Also called “exhortation,” this gift is evident in those who consistently call upon others to heed and follow God’s truth. Exhortation involves correction and building others up by strengthening weak faith or comforting in trials. It is also seen in individuals who have the ability to be a comfort to others, whether in hard times or just daily life. The Greek word for “encouragement” literally means “to call to one’s side.”
The spiritual gift of exhortation is often called the “gift of encouragement.” The Greek word for this gift is parakaleo. It means to beseech, exhort, call upon, to encourage and to strengthen. The primary means of exhortation is to remind the hearer of the powerful and amazing work of God in Christ, particularly in regard to the saving work of Jesus in the atonement. We see Paul commanding Titus to use this gift in Titus 1:9 and throughout chapter 2, particularly Titus 2:11-15. He also charges Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2.
The Spirit of God gives this gift to people in the church to strengthen and encourage those who are wavering in their faith. Those with the gift of exhortation can uplift and motivate others as well as challenge and rebuke them in order to foster spiritual growth and action. The goal of the encourager is to see everyone in the church continually building up the body of Christ and glorifying God. See also Romans 12:8, Acts 11:23-24; 14:21-22; 15:32.
The Greek word for the spiritual gift of giving is metadidomi. It simply means “to impart” or “to give.” However, this word is accompanied in Romans 12:8 by another descriptive word: haplotes. This word tells us much more about the kind of giving that is associated with this gift. The word Haplotes means “sincerely, generously and without pretense or hypocrisy.”
The Holy Spirit imparts this gift to some in the church to meet the various needs of the church and its ministries, missionaries, or of people who do not have the means to provide fully for themselves. The goal is to encourage and provide, giving all credit to God’s love and provision. Those with this gift love to share with others the overflow of blessings God has given them. They are typically very hospitable and will seek out ways and opportunities to help others. They are also excellent stewards and will often adjust their lifestyles in order to give more to the spread of the Gospel and the care of the needy. They are grateful when someone shares a need with them, and are always joyful when they can meet that need. See Romans 12:8, 13, 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; 9:6-15; Acts 4:32-37, Galatians 4:15, Philippians 4:10-18.
The spiritual gift of leadership is closely related to the gift of administration and, interestingly, the spiritual gift of pastor/shepherd. The Greek word for the spiritual gift of leadership is proistemi. This word means to lead, to assist, to protect and to care for others. The spiritual gift of leadership is found in Romans 12:8 sandwiched between the gifts of giving and of mercy. It is placed there intentionally to show that it is a gift associated with caring for others. This is what connects it to the gift of pastor/shepherd, and what differentiates it from the gift of administration. It is more people oriented than task oriented in its application. This is not to say those with the gift of administration do not care for people, of course they do, but those with the spiritual gift of leadership focus on people and relationships more directly.
The word proistemi is connected to caring for people in other passages as well. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 Paul says to “respect those who labor among you and are over (proistemi) you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” The labor and work of those who were leading the believers in Thessalonica was that of tirelessly caring for their souls. Paul also connects leadership to caring for others when he asks, “If someone does not know how to manage (proistemi) his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” 1 Timothy 3:5
The Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gift of leadership to some in the church to care for God’s people and lead them into deeper relationship with Christ and each other. They base their success on how well they help others succeed and grow in their spiritual walk with Jesus. They are able to accomplish many different tasks and objectives as they lead, but they will always lead relationally and with a deep concern for the well-being of others. They are “visionary” and less concerned with mundane details than those with the spiritual gift of administration. Many are entrepreneurial and willing to take risks to see the kingdom of God advanced through the church. They will go to great lengths to protect those under their care and are well-equipped to lead through crisis situations. See also Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 3:4-5, 12; 5:17.
All Christians are called to be merciful because God has been merciful to us (Matthew 18:33; Ephesians 2:4-6). The Greek word for the spiritual gift of mercy is eleeo. It means to be patient and compassionate toward those who are suffering or afflicted. The concern for the physical as well as spiritual need of those who are hurting is covered by the gift of mercy. Those with this gift have great empathy for others in their trials and sufferings. They are able to come alongside people over extended periods of time and see them through their healing process. They are truly and literally the hands and feet of God to the afflicted.
The Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gift of mercy to some in the church to love and assist those who are suffering, and walk with them until The Lord allows their burden to be lifted. The gift of mercy is founded in God’s mercy towards us as sinners and is consistently expressed with measurable compassion. Those with this gift are able to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). They are sensitive to the feelings and circumstances of others and can quickly discern when someone is not doing well. They are typically good listeners and feel the need to simply “be there” for others. See Romans 12:8, Matthew 5:7; Luke 10:30-37; James 3:17; Jude 22-23.
8. Word of wisdom:
he spiritual gift of wisdom, like the gift of knowledge, is also referred to as the “word of wisdom” or “utterance of wisdom.” The Greek word for wisdom is sophia and it refers to the intimate understanding of God’s Word and His commandments which results in holy and upright living. In the context of 1 Corinthians 12:8, it means to speak to the life of an individual or to a specific situation with great understanding and a righteous perspective, with the goal of guiding others toward a life of holiness and worship.
Several Scriptures reveal the true beauty and fruit of wisdom. Psalm 111:10 says: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” Wisdom begins with the fear of the LORD. It begins with knowing who God is and who we are in comparison to Him. That leads to understanding and then to practicing righteousness. A life of wisdom ultimately results in the praise of God.
James 3:17 says “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” This is undoubtedly a work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. The highest wisdom is found in the cross of Christ, which is “folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
The Holy Spirit gives some the spiritual gift of wisdom to not only impart the truth and understanding to believers, but to invoke a response of holiness and worship lived out in the world and amongst God’s people. Wisdom doesn’t end with knowledge, but is expressed in transformed hearts and lives.
Those with the gift of wisdom have a deep understanding of the holiness of God and the lack of holiness in their own hearts. They can recognize this in others as well and have the compassion and boldness to share that truth with them. They are able to take from their own life experiences and share what God has taught them through those things. They can easily recognize where a decision or action may lead and can warn against those that may be harmful or unfruitful. They can often see through the confusion of a situation and can give direction that would help an individual or group obtain a God-glorifying goal. The church needs those with the spiritual gift of wisdom to guide her through uncertain or difficult times. See also 1 Corinthians 1:17-31, 2:1-16, 12:8; Colossians 1:9-10, 2:1-3; James 3:13-18
9. Word of knowledge:
he spiritual gift of knowledge is also known as the “word of knowledge” or “utterance of knowledge.” The Greek word for this gift is Gnosis and it simply means knowledge and understanding. The Scriptural emphasis in 1 Corinthians 12:8 is on the ability to speak this knowledge to others in a given situation. In the opening passages of 1 Corinthians, Paul spoke of knowledge and recognized that the highest form of knowledge among men is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (i.e. the testimony about Christ, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:4-7). What we can conclude then is the gift of knowledge is an understanding of the things in this world and in our lives that is founded in the Gospel and rooted in the Scriptures. This gift is closely related to the gift of wisdom which is alluded to by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.
The Holy Spirit gives this spiritual gift to some believers to bring about understanding and to inform the church or individual believers. The person with this gift is usually well-versed in the Scriptures and often has much committed to memory. They can retain the truth and communicate it effectively at the appropriate times. The gift of knowledge allows a believer to relate the Scriptures, and particularly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to all aspects of life in this world. They can see how it connects to every situation and circumstance and how the reality and truth of the Gospel is to inform every decision a Christian makes. See also 1 Corinthians 12:8; Romans 15:14; 2 Corinthians 2:14.
The spiritual gift of faith is not to be confused with saving faith. All Christians have been given saving faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), but not all receive this special gift of faith. The word for faith in the New Testament is pistis. It carries the notion of confidence, certainty, trust, and assurance in the object of faith. The gift of faith is rooted in one’s saving faith in Christ and the trust that comes through a close relationship with the Savior. Those with this gift have a trust and confidence in God that allows them to live boldly for Him and manifest that faith in mighty ways.
In the Bible the gift of faith is often accompanied by great works of faith. In Acts 3:1-10 we see this gift in action when Peter sees a lame man at the Beautiful Gate and calls on him to stand up and walk in the Name of Jesus. Jesus said even a small amount of this faith could move mountains (Matthew 17:20; 21:21). Paul echoed this truth in 1 Corinthians 13:2.
The Holy Spirit distributes this gift to some in the church to encourage and build up the church in her confidence in God. Those with the gift of faith trust that God is sovereign and He is good. They take Him at His Word and put the full weight of their lives in His hands. They expect God to move and are not surprised when He answers a prayer or performs a miracle. See also I Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 11:1-40.
The spiritual gift of healing found in 1 Corinthians 12:9 is actually plural in the Greek. Charismata iamaton is literally translated “gifts of healings.” This spiritual gift is closely related to the gifts of faith and miracles. All spiritual gifts are to be exercised in faith, but gifts of healings involve a special measure of it. This gift is interesting in that there is no guarantee that a person will always be able to heal anyone he or she desires. It is subject to the sovereign will of God, as all spiritual gifts are.
The Disciples were given authority to heal and cast out demons, but they were not always successful. The Apostle Paul was not able to heal himself and was told that God’s grace was sufficient to carry him through his infirmity without removing it from him (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). This gift is given at various times and places to reveal the God of heaven to the sick and tormented. If healing is not granted, then we can conclude that God has greater plans for letting the person go through the illness or infirmity.
The spiritual gift of healing is an intimate one as it reveals the heart and compassion of God. Jesus is the Great Healer and Physician and during His ministry on earth He healed countless people and cast out demons (Matthew 4:23-24; 8:16; 9:35, Mark 1:34). Healings reveal that God is near to His people and He cares about their sufferings. Healings are meant to draw people to God through His Son Jesus Christ. God wants those healed to respond in faith with thanksgiving and love as the leper did in Luke 17:15-19, and as the demon-possessed man did in Mark 5:18-20. By God’s grace, physical healing should lead to spiritual healing (faith in Jesus) and eternal life with Him in heaven.
Those who have this gift are compassionate toward the sick and pray over them regularly. They have great faith and trust that God can and will heal some and are not deterred when He chooses not to. They are motivated knowing that God’s revealed power will draw people to faith in Jesus. Their ultimate concern is the spiritual well-being of those being healed and their relationship with Jesus. They yearn for the day that there will be no more pain and suffering, and sin will no longer wreak havoc on the people of God. See 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28, 30, James 5:13-16.
12. Miraculous powers:
The spiritual gift of miracles is described in Scripture much like the gift of healing. It is found in 1 Corinthians 12:10 and the Greek phrase energemata dynameon literally translates “workings of powers.” The double plural most likely means that these gifts were diverse and were not permanently available at the will of the gifted believer, but instead were bestowed at various times and circumstances. Thus, the gifts are subject to the divine will of God and His purposes and are not decided by the one who performs the miraculous works.
We know that Jesus performed many miracles in His earthly ministry, even more than those recorded in Scripture (John 20:30-31, Acts 2:22). The Apostles regularly performed miracles of all kinds including casting out demons, healings, raising people from the dead, striking people dead, causing blindness, and much more (Acts 2:43; 3:1-10; 5:1-16; 9:36-43; 13:4-12; 19:11 12). Other believers performed miracles as well, including Stephen (Acts 6:8) and Phillip (Acts 8:4-8).
Miracles were given by God to the church to reveal the presence and glory of God among His people and to create a sense of awe and wonder and Godly fear. Though there were many enemies of the church, often the result of miracles being performed was more people coming to faith in Jesus and glorifying God, as well as greater faith and boldness within the church (Acts 4:29-31; 9:35, 42).
Those with the spiritual gift of miracles often have a heightened sensitivity to the presence and power of God through His Holy Spirit. They have a special measure of faith and desire for God to reveal Himself and draw many to faith in His Son Jesus Christ. They take care not to draw attention to themselves or have a following of people, but are constantly pointing others to Jesus. Those with this gift understand that God is Sovereign and He can work when and how He desires, but they make sure they are available and listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This gift is often accompanied by prayer and strong petition by these individuals for God to reveal His glory to people. They do not claim power themselves, but always give credit and glory to God for His mighty works. Often God will deliberately humble them to keep them relying on His grace and pointing to His Son, rather than miracles. See also 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28-29; Acts 1:8; Galatians 3:5.
13. Distinguishing (discerning) of spirits:
The spiritual gift of discernment is also known as the gift of “discernment of spirits” or “distinguishing between spirits.” The Greek word for the gift of discernment is diakrisis. The word describes being able to distinguish, discern, judge or appraise a person, statement, situation, or environment. In the New Testament it describes the ability to distinguish between spirits as in 1 Corinthians 12:10, and to discern good and evil as in Hebrews 5:14.
The Holy Spirit gives the gift of discernment to enable certain Christians to clearly recognize and distinguish between the influence of God, Satan, the world, and the flesh in a given situation. The church needs those with this gift to warn believers in times of danger or keep them from being led astray by false teaching. See also I Corinthians 12:10, Acts 5:3-6; 16:16-18; 1 John 4:1.
14. Speaking in tongues: The Holy Spirit gives some believers the spiritual gift of tongues to glorify God and, with the help of an interpreter, to edify the church. This gift is dealt with extensively in the Scriptures and its use should be encouraged. That said, it should be used properly with pure motives and intentions, of course in the power and prompting of the Holy Spirit. See also 1 Corinthians 12:10, 30, 14:4, 39, Acts 2:4, Acts 19:6.
15. Interpretation of tongues:
The spiritual gift of interpretation of tongues is found alongside the gift of speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 12:10. The Greek word for interpretation is hermeneia and simply means to interpret, explain, or expound some message that is not able to be understood in a natural way. Thus, this spiritual gift is the supernatural ability to understand and explain messages uttered in an unknown language.
This is a revelatory gift, meaning that God “reveals” the meaning of the words or message being spoken and allows the interpreter to communicate its meaning to those who need to hear it. When this happens in the church two things happen: the church is edified and God is glorified.
The spiritual gift of interpretation is given by the Holy Spirit to certain individuals to reveal messages spoken in an unknown tongue to God for the building up of the church. Like the gift of prophecy, tongues that are interpreted have the effect of encouraging and blessing the church to love and serve God more deeply and effectively. See also 1 Corinthians 12:10, 30; 14:1-28
16. Helps: The gift of helps is closely related to the gift of mercy. Those with the gift of helps are those who can aid others in the church with compassion and grace. Helps is a very practical gift with a broad range of applications. Someone with the gift of helps has the ability to identify those who are struggling and give them the help they need.
The spiritual gift of teaching is one that carries a heavy responsibility in the church. In fact, James 3:1 warns, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Like every believer, teachers are to be stewards of every word that comes out of their mouths. But the greater responsibility to which they are called is to be stewards of the Word of God to His people. Teachers have been entrusted with the task of effectively communicating what the Bible says, what it means, and how we as followers of Jesus Christ are to apply it to our lives here and now.
The Greek word for those with the spiritual gift of teaching is didaskalos. From the root of this word we get our English word, “didactic.” The word didasko means to teach, instruct, instill doctrine, explain, and expound. Those with the spiritual gift of teaching love to study the Word of God for extended periods of time. They consume the Scriptures as food for their hearts, souls and minds with the expressed purpose of knowing Him and then making Him known to others. They want to know what God has revealed of Himself and what He requires of us as people created in His image. They take great joy and satisfaction in seeing others learn and apply the truth of God’s Word to their lives. They love to see how the Gospel is woven throughout the Scriptures and how it glorifies and magnifies Jesus Christ in the hearts and lives of those who love Him by grace.
The Holy Spirit gives certain people the spiritual gift of teaching so that they would help the church fulfill her ministry as “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Without this gift, the church would quickly fall into error and sin. Teachers are there to make sure that doesn’t happen. They hate when Scripture is abused and used out of context or with ill intent. They love the truth and speak the truth in love. They will never hide or withhold it. On the contrary, they desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who taught in the synagogues and in the Temple as well as anywhere the people were gathered. They are called to demonstrate God’s love while revealing His truth to the world without fear. The effect of their ministry is the upholding of God’s Word and the growth and maturity of His Bride until the day of His return. See also Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:7; James 3:1
Question: What is the difference between a talent and a spiritual gift?
Answer: There are both similarities and differences between talents and spiritual gifts. Both are given by God. Both grow in effectiveness with use. Both should be used on behalf of others and not for selfish purposes. First Corinthians 12:7 states that spiritual gifts are given “for the common good.” As the two great commandments deal with loving God and others, it follows that one should use his talents for those purposes as well.
A person (regardless of his belief in God or in Christ) is given a natural talent or talents as a result of a combination of genetics (some have an innate natural ability in music, art, or mathematics) and surroundings (for example, growing up in a musical family will aid one in developing a talent for music), or because God desired to endow certain individuals with specific talents (see Exodus 31:1- 6). The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to all believers (Romans 12:3, 6) at the time they place their faith in Christ. At that moment, the Holy Spirit gives to the new believer the spiritual gift(s) He desires the believer to have (1 Corinthians
There are three lists of spiritual gifts in the Bible. The first, Romans 12:3-8, lists the spiritual gifts as follows: prophecy, serving others, teaching, encouragement, generosity, leadership, and showing mercy. First Corinthians 12:8-11 lists the gifts as the message of wisdom (ability to communicate spiritual wisdom), the message of knowledge (ability to communicate practical truth), faith (strong reliance upon God), the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues (ability to speak in a language one has not studied), and interpretation of tongues. The third list is found in Ephesians 4:10-12, which speaks of God giving to His church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor teachers.
While one may develop his talents and later direct his profession or hobby along those lines, the Holy Spirit equips His people with spiritual gifts to build up Christ’s church. All Christians are to play an active part in the furtherance of the gospel of Christ. All are called and equipped to be involved in the “works of service” (Ephesians 4:12). All believers are gifted so that they can contribute to the cause of Christ out of gratitude for all He has done for them. In doing so, they also find fulfillment in life through their labor for Christ. It is the job of the church leaders to help build up the saints so they can be further equipped for ministry. The intended result of spiritual gifts is that the church as a whole can grow, being strengthened by the combined supply of each member of Christ’s body.
To summarize the differences between spiritual gifts and talents: 1) A talent is the result of genetics and/or training, while a spiritual gift is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit. 2) A talent can be possessed by anyone, Christian or non-Christian, while spiritual gifts are only possessed by Christians. 3) While both talents and spiritual gifts should be used for God’s glory and to minister to others, spiritual gifts are focused on these tasks, while talents can be used entirely for non-spiritual purposes.
Question: How does God distribute spiritual gifts? Will God give me the spiritual gift(s) I ask for?
Answer: Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12 make it clear that each Christian is given spiritual gifts according to the Lord’s choice. Spiritual gifts are given for the edification of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:12). The exact timing of the giving of these gifts is not specifically mentioned. Most assume that spiritual gifts are given at the time of spiritual birth (the moment of salvation). However, there are some verses that may indicate God gives spiritual gifts later as well. Both 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6 refer to a gift that Timothy had received at the time of his ordination “by prophecy.” This seems to indicate that one of the elders at Timothy’s ordination spoke about a spiritual gift that Timothy would have to enable his future ministry.
We are also told in 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 that God (not we) chooses the gifts. This passage, along with 1 Corinthians 14:12-13, indicates that not everyone will have a particular gift. But Paul also tells the Corinthian believers that, if they are going to covet or long after spiritual gifts, they should strive after the more edifying gifts, such as prophesying (speaking forth the Word of God for the building up of others). Now, why would Paul tell them to strongly desire the “greater” gifts if they already had been given all they would be given, and there was no further opportunity of gaining these greater gifts? It leads one to believe that, even as Solomon sought wisdom from God in order to be a good ruler, so God will grant to us those gifts we need in order to be of greater benefit to His church.
It still remains that these gifts are distributed according to God’s choosing and not our own. If every Corinthian strongly desired a particular gift, such as prophesying, God would not give everyone that gift simply because they strongly desired it. If He did, then who would serve in all of the other functions of the body of Christ?
There is one thing that is abundantly clear—God’s command is God’s enablement. If God commands us to do something (such as witness, love the unlovely, disciple the nations, etc.), He will enable us to do it. Some may not be as gifted at evangelism as others, but God commands all Christians to witness and disciple (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). We are all called to evangelize whether or not we have the spiritual gift of evangelism. A determined Christian who strives to learn the Word and develop his teaching ability may become a better teacher than one who has the spiritual gift of teaching, but neglects that gift.
Are spiritual gifts given to us when we receive Christ, or are they cultivated through our walk with God? The answer is both. Normally, spiritual gifts are given at salvation; but they also need to be cultivated through spiritual growth. Can a desire in your heart be pursued and developed into a spiritual gift? Can you seek after certain spiritual gifts? First Corinthians 12:31 (NKJV) seems to indicate that this is possible: “Earnestly desire the best gifts.” You can seek a spiritual gift from God and be zealous for it by seeking to develop that area. At the same time, if it is not God’s will, you will not receive a certain spiritual gift no matter how strongly you seek after it. God is infinitely wise, and He knows which gifts will allow you to be the most productive for His kingdom.
No matter how much we have been gifted with one gift or another, we are all called upon to develop a number of areas mentioned in the lists of spiritual gifts: hospitality, acts of mercy, serving others, love, evangelizing, etc. As we seek to serve God out of love for the purpose of building up others for His glory, He will bring glory to His name, grow His church, and reward us (1 Corinthians 3:5-8). God promises that, as we make Him our delight, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4-5). This would surely include preparing us to serve Him in a way that will bring us purpose and satisfaction.
Question: How do I identify my spiritual gift(s)?
Answer: There is no magic formula or definitive test that can tell us exactly what our spiritual gifts are. The Holy Spirit distributes the gifts as He determines (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). A common problem for Christians is the temptation to get so caught up in our spiritual gift(s) that we only seek to serve God in the area(s) in which we feel we have been gifted. That is not how the spiritual gifts work. God calls us to obediently serve Him in all things. He will equip us with whatever gift or gifts we need to accomplish the task for which He has called us.
Identifying our spiritual giftedness can be accomplished in various ways. Spiritual gift tests or inventories, while not to be fully relied upon, can definitely help us understand where our gifting might be. Other people who see us serving the Lord can often identify a spiritual gift that we might take for granted or not recognize. Prayer is also important. The one person who knows exactly how we are spiritually gifted is the gift-giver Himself—the Holy Spirit. We can ask God to show us how we are gifted in order to better use our spiritual gifts for His glory.
Yes, God calls some to be teachers and gives them the gift of teaching. God calls some to be servants and blesses them with the gift of helps. However, specifically knowing our spiritual gift does not excuse us from serving God in areas outside our gifting. Is it beneficial to know what spiritual gift(s) God has given us? Certainly. Is it wrong to focus so much on a specific spiritual gift that we miss other opportunities to serve God? Yes. If we are dedicated to being used by God, He will equip us with the spiritual gifts we need.
Question: What is the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues?
Answer: The first occurrence of speaking in tongues took place on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. The apostles went out and shared the gospel with the crowds, speaking to them in their own languages: “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11). The Greek word translated “tongues” literally means “languages.” Therefore, the gift of tongues is speaking in a language a person does not know in order to minister to someone who does speak that language. In 1 Corinthians chapters 12—14, Paul discusses miraculous gifts, saying, “Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?” (1 Corinthians 14:6). According to the apostle Paul, and in agreement with the description in Acts, speaking in tongues is valuable to the one hearing God’s message in his or her own language, but it is useless to everyone else unless it is interpreted/translated.
A person with the gift of interpreting tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30) could understand what a tongues-speaker was saying even though he did not know the language that was being spoken. The tongues interpreter would then communicate the message of the tongues speaker to everyone else, so all could understand. “For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says” (1 Corinthians 14:13). Paul’s conclusion regarding tongues that were not interpreted is powerful: “But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19).
Is the gift of tongues for today? First Corinthians 13:8 mentions the gift of tongues ceasing, although it connects the ceasing with the arrival of the “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10. Some point to a difference in the tense of the Greek verbs referring to prophecy and knowledge “ceasing” and that of tongues “being ceased” as evidence for tongues ceasing before the arrival of the “perfect.” While possible, this is not explicitly clear from the text. Some also point to passages such as Isaiah 28:11 and Joel 2:28-29 as evidence that speaking in tongues was a sign of God’s oncoming judgment. First Corinthians 14:22 describes tongues as a “sign to unbelievers.” According to this argument, the gift of tongues was a warning to the Jews that God was going to judge Israel for rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah. Therefore, when God did in fact judge Israel (with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70), the gift of tongues would no longer serve its intended purpose. While this view is possible, the primary purpose of tongues being fulfilled does not necessarily demand its cessation. Scripture does not conclusively assert that the gift of speaking in tongues has ceased.
At the same time, if the gift of speaking in tongues were active in the church today, it would be performed in agreement with Scripture. It would be a real and intelligible language (1 Corinthians 14:10), it would be for the purpose of communicating God’s Word with a person who speaks another language (Acts 2:6-11), and it would be in agreement with the command God gave through the apostle Paul: “If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God” (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). It would also be in accordance with 1 Corinthians 14:33, which tells us, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”
God most definitely can give a person the gift of speaking in tongues to enable him or her to communicate with someone who speaks another language. The Holy Spirit is sovereign in the dispersion of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11). Just imagine how much more productive missionaries could be if they did not have to go to language school, and were instantly able to speak to people in their own language! However, God does not seem to be doing this. Tongues does not seem to occur today in the manner it did in the New Testament, despite the fact that it would be immensely useful.
Question: What is the spiritual gift of interpreting tongues?
Answer: Along with the gift of speaking in tongues, 1 Corinthians 12:10 mentions the gift of interpreting tongues. The gift of interpreting tongues is the ability to translate a foreign language into the language of the hearers. This gift comes alongside the gift of speaking in tongues, although the two are separate gifts.
A person with the gift of interpreting tongues could understand what a tongues-speaker was saying even though he did not know the language being spoken. This is what distinguishes a spiritual gift from a natural gift. The tongues-interpreter would then communicate the message of the tongues-speaker to everyone else, so all could understand and benefit from the truth being spoken. The tongues were known languages, not ecstatic utterances. According to the apostle Paul, and in agreement with the tongues described in Acts 2, speaking in tongues is valuable to the one hearing God’s message in his or her own language, but it is useless to everyone else unless it is interpreted/translated. His concern is edification of the church (1 Corinthians 14:5, 12).
Paul’s conclusion regarding tongues that were not interpreted is powerful: “But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19). There is no benefit to others in hearing something they cannot understand. More importantly, there is no benefit, and much harm, done in churches where the speaking and interpreting of a tongue brings forth that which does not line up with Scripture or which cannot be verified in Scripture.
Paul was also concerned about order in worship. His concern was that everything be done for the edification of the church. He goes on to say that there should only be two or three speaking in a tongue and one should interpret. If there is no interpreter present, then no one should speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:26-28). Because of the temporary nature of the gift of tongues, we assume that the gift of interpretation of tongues was also temporary. If the gifts of speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues were active in the church today, they would be performed in agreement with Scripture. The tongue would be a real and intelligible language (1 Corinthians 14:10). It would be for the purpose of communicating God’s Word to those who speak another language (Acts 2:6-12), and it would be done in accordance with 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints.”
Question: What is the spiritual gift of encouragement?
Answer: The gift of encouragement or exhortation is found in Paul’s list of gifts in Romans 12:7-8. The word translated “encouragement” or “exhortation” is the Greek word paracletes, which basically means “one called alongside.”
Paracletes can have several practical meanings, including “exhorter, urger, encourager, and comforter.” All of these roles give us an idea of the gift of encouragement. Paul often urged and exhorted his readers to act on something he wrote. A good example is Romans 12:1-2, where Paul urges the Romans to present their bodies to God as living sacrifices. By doing this, they would know and understand God’s will.
Interestingly, when Jesus spoke to His disciples in the upper room, He spoke of the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” or “Counselor” (John 14:16, 26; 15:26), which is why the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the “Paraclete.” The ministry of the Holy Spirit was important to Jesus and is important to us. A person with the gift of encouragement can use this gift in both public and private settings. It can be seen in counseling, discipleship, mentoring, and preaching. The body of Christ is built up in faith as a result of the ministry of those with the gift of encouragement.
The gift of encouragement differs from the gift of teaching in that it focuses on the practical application of the Bible. Whereas the teacher focuses on the meaning and content of the Word, along with accuracy and application, the encourager focuses on the practical application of the Word. He or she can relate to others, both in groups and individually, by understanding their needs and sympathizing with them. This person can help another person move from pessimism to optimism.
Probably the best example of one with the gift of encouragement is Barnabas, whose name means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). In Acts 13:43, we see Barnabas encouraging the believers to continue in the grace of God. In Acts 15:36-41, Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over John Mark’s involvement in their ministry, as John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia. Barnabas desired taking Mark with them, but Paul did not. While we do not know the exact words spoken, it seems very likely that Barnabas believed Mark had potential in ministry and that he urged Paul to give Mark a second chance. Paul and Barnabas separated, Mark going with Barnabas; but we see later that Mark proved himself faithful, no doubt assisted by Barnabas (2 Timothy 4:11). Mark’s restoration was the result of the gift of encouragement; others are helped and become more effective for Christ when an encourager is at work.
Question: What is the spiritual gift of faith?
Answer: The spiritual gift of faith is found in the list of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. Verse 9 says that some people are given the gift of faith, but the gift is not specifically explained. God has given all believers saving faith as the only means of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9), but not all believers are given the spiritual gift of faith. Like every gift of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual gift of faith is given for the “common good,” which means the edifying of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7).
The gift of faith may be defined as a special gift whereby the Spirit provides Christians with extraordinary confidence in God’s promises, power, and presence so they can take heroic stands for the future of God’s work in the church. One with a strong and unshakeable confidence in God, His Word, and His promises exhibits the spiritual gift of faith. Hebrews 11 gives some examples of what faith looks like. This chapter, often called “the hall of faith,” describes those whose faith was extraordinary. Here we see Noah spending 120 years building a huge boat when, up to that time, rain was non-existent. We also see Moses giving up the treasures of Egypt and Joshua conquering Jericho with a most unusual battle plan.
As with all spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit gives the gift of faith to some Christians to edify others in the body of Christ. Those with the gift of faith are an inspiration to their fellow believers, exhibiting a simple confidence in God that shows in all they say and do. Particularly faithful people show a humble godliness and reliance on God’s promises, and they acquire a reputation of being fearless and zealous for the Lord. Those with the spiritual gift of faith are convinced that all obstacles to God’s purposes will be overcome and confident that God will advance His cause, no matter what. They know that God can move mountains, and they trust Him to do so.
Question: What is the spiritual gift of healing?
Answer: The spiritual gift of healing is the supernatural manifestation of the Spirit of God that miraculously brings healing and deliverance from disease and/or infirmity. It is the power of God that destroys the work of sin and/or the devil in the human body. Jesus and the apostles performed many healings during their ministries (Matthew 4:24; 15:30; Acts 5:15-16; 28:8-9). The gift of healing given to the church is primarily noted in the spiritual gifts list in 1 Corinthians 12. Interestingly, 1 Corinthians 12:9 refers to “gifts” of healing in the plural, which may indicate that there are different gifts of healing. The gifts of healing could include a wide range of skills or abilities, such as the power to perform miraculous or dramatic healing, like making the lame walk, or the ability to use or understand medicine. It could even include the ability to empathize and show love to others to the point of removing or healing an emotional wound.
There has been much debate among Christians about the spiritual gift of healing. Some believe the gift of healing and a few other sign gifts are no longer operative today, while others believe the miraculous gifts are still in use. It’s important to note that the power to heal was never in the gifted person himself/herself. The power to heal is from God and God alone. Although God does still heal today, the gift of miraculous healing belonged primarily to the apostles of the first-century church to affirm that their message was from God (Acts 14:3; 2 Corinthians 12:12).
God still performs miracles. God still heals people. There is nothing preventing God from healing one person through the ministry of another person.
Question: What is the spiritual gift of helps?
Answer: The Greek word translated “helps” is found only in 1 Corinthians 12:28; therefore, the exact meaning of the gift of helps is somewhat obscure. The word translated “helps” means literally “to relieve, succor, participate in and/or support.” Those with the gift of helps are those who can aid or render assistance to others in the church with compassion and grace. This has a broad range of applications, from helping individuals to assisting in the administration of the daily affairs of the church.
Helping in the body of Christ can take a variety of forms. Some see the gift of helps as held by those willing to “lend a hand” and do even the most mundane and disagreeable tasks with a spirit of humility and grace. Helpers are often those who volunteer to work regularly around the church buildings and grounds, often laboring in obscurity. Others see helping as assisting widows and the elderly in their daily tasks. These helpers render a gift of service in the broadest sense, assisting and supporting the body of Christ.
But there is perhaps a deeper meaning to the spiritual gift of helps. Since it is one of the spiritual gifts, all of which are given for the building up of the body of Christ, the spiritual aspect of the gift of helps is perhaps even more important than the practical aspect. Those with the spiritual gift of helps have been given the unique ability to identify those who are struggling with doubt, fears, and other spiritual battles. They move toward those in spiritual need with a kind word, an understanding and compassionate demeanor, and the ability to speak scriptural truth that is both convicting and loving. Their words are “like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11) to the spiritually weak and weary. These helpful Christians can buoy a downcast heart with cheerful and confidently spoken words of truth and joy.
Praise God that He knows us so well. In the midst of all our needs and challenges, He has given the gift of helps to special individuals who can come alongside us in mercy, grace, and love. These precious saints can lift the heart by helping to carry a variety of burdens that we cannot, and should not, carry alone.
Question: What is the spiritual gift of discerning spirits?
Answer: The gift of discerning or “distinguishing” spirits is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit described in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.
Every born-again believer has a certain amount of discernment, which increases as the believer matures in the Spirit. In Hebrews 5:13-14 we read that a mature, experienced believer is able to discern both good and evil. The Word of God is a light to our paths (Psalm 119:105), and focusing on its wisdom allows us to be spiritually discerning.
There are certain individuals, however, who have the spiritual gift of discerning spirits, who possess a special, God-given ability to distinguish between truth and erroneous and deceptive doctrines propagated by demons. Some in the body of Christ have been given the unique ability to spot the forgeries in doctrine. They are adept at using the Word of God to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1).
Question: What is the spiritual gift of leadership?
Answer: The spiritual gift of leadership in the local church appears in two passages: Romans 12:8 and 1 Corinthians 12:28 (KJV). The Greek word translated “rule” or “govern” in these verses designates one who is set over others, who presides or rules, or who attends to a thing with diligence and care. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12, it is used in relation to ministers in general: “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.” Here the word is translated “over you.”
Everything rises and falls with leadership. The more skillful and effective the leadership, the better the organization runs and the more the potential for growth increases. In Romans 12:8 (KJV), the word translated “ruler” indicates care and diligence with reference to the local church. The ruler is to attend, with constant diligence, to his work, which is to watch over the flock and to be ready to sacrifice personal comfort to look after needy sheep.
There are several characteristics of those who have the spiritual gift of leadership. First and foremost, they recognize that their position is by the appointment of the Lord and is under His direction. They understand that they are not absolute rulers, but are themselves subject to the One who is over them all, the Lord Jesus, who is the Head of the church. Recognizing his place in the administration of the body of Christ prevents the gifted leader from succumbing to pride or a sense of entitlement. The truly gifted Christian leader recognizes that he is but a slave of Christ and a servant of those he leads. The apostle Paul recognized his position, referring to himself as a “servant of Christ Jesus” (Romans 1:1). Like Paul, the gifted leader recognizes that God has called him to his position; he has not called himself (1 Corinthians 1:1). Following Jesus’ example, the gifted leader also lives to serve those he leads, and not to be served by them or lord authority over them (Matthew 20:25-28).
James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus, had the gift of leadership as he led the church in Jerusalem. He, too, referred to himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). James exhibited another quality of spiritual leadership—the ability to sway others to think rightly and biblically in all matters. James influenced those in Jerusalem on the contentious issue of how to relate to Gentiles coming to faith in Jesus the Messiah. “When they finished, James spoke up: ‘Brothers, listen to me. Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself’” (Acts
15:13-14). With that opening statement, he led them to think clearly and biblically, enabling them to come to a right decision on this issue (Acts 15:22- 29).
As shepherds of God’s people, leaders of the church rule with diligence and have the ability to guide others to maturity in the faith. Those with the spiritual gift of leadership lead others to grow in their ability to discern for themselves what comes from God and what comes from the world. A leader’s words may not be “wise and persuasive,” but they are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, encouraging others to rest their faith on that very power (see 1 Corinthians 2:4-5). The goal of the gifted leader is to guard and guide those he leads “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
God gives the spiritual gift of leadership to men and women who will help the church grow and thrive beyond the current generation. God has given the gift of leadership not to exalt men but to glorify Himself. He will be glorified when His people use the gifts He gives to do His will.
Question: What is the spiritual gift of mercy?
Answer: In His Sermon on the Mount, one of Jesus’ beatitudes is “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Mercy means to be led by God to be compassionate in our attitudes, words, and actions. It is more than feeling sympathy toward someone; it is love enacted. Mercy desires to answer the immediate needs of others and alleviate suffering, loneliness, and grief. Mercy addresses physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual crises with generous, self-sacrificial service. Mercy is a champion of the lowly, poor, exploited, and forgotten and often acts on their behalf.
A good example of mercy is found in Matthew 20:29-34: “As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ Jesus stopped and called them. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. ‘Lord,’ they answered, ‘we want our sight.’ Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.” Notice that the blind men associated mercy not with a feeling but with an action. Their physical problem was that they couldn’t see; so to them, the act of mercy was Christ’s intervention to restore their sight. To be merciful is more than a feeling; it is always followed by an action.
This gift of mercy has a practical application of active service as well as a responsibility to do so cheerfully (Romans 12:8). We are all called to be merciful. Jesus says in Matthew 25:40 that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 5:7 promises mercy to those who are merciful toward others.
As spiritually dead and blind sinners, we are no better off than the two blind men in Matthew 20. Just as they were utterly dependent on Christ’s compassion to restore their sight, so are we dependent on Him to “show us [His] mercy … and grant us [His] salvation” (Psalm 85:7, NKJV). This bedrock understanding that our hope depends on Christ’s mercy alone and not on any merit of ours should inspire us to follow Christ’s example of compassionate service and show mercy to others as it has been given to us.
Question: What is the spiritual gift of miracles?
Answer: The spiritual gift of miracles is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10 (NKJV) as “the working of miracles.” It is also mentioned later in the same chapter when Paul writes in verse 28, “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings.”
The working of miracles comes from a Greek word referring to powers. This, along with the fact that the gift of healing is mentioned with miracles, makes it clear that the gift of miracles went beyond healing. For example, Jesus’ miracles were not confined to supernatural healing; He also cast out demons and walked on water. These miraculous powers helped His audience have faith in Him or to grow in their faith.
Some people in the early church also exhibited the power to perform miracles. For example, in Acts 13:11 Paul blinded a man: “‘Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.’ Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.” This demonstration of God’s power resulted in the salvation of the proconsul: “When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord” (verse 12).
Those who argue the spiritual gift of miracles continues today point out factors in 1 Corinthians 12 that seem to indicate the gift of miracles was not exclusive to the apostles and their associates, but would also be evident among other believers. For example, Paul’s instructions about spiritual gifts imply there were those in Corinth who had each of the gifts. This would have included individuals who were not apostles or church leaders.
In addition, 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 mentions a variety of leaders: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.” The structure of these verses reveals two important facts relevant to this discussion.
Believers are also called to “test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and to realize some claims regarding Christian miracles will be false. In fact, the Bible teaches that there will be false signs and wonders in the last days. Those who love the Lord must evaluate what they believe, as did the Bereans, who “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).
Question: What is the spiritual gift of prophecy?
Answer: The spiritual gift of prophecy is listed among the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:10 and Romans 12:6. The Greek word translated “prophesying” or “prophecy” in both passages properly means to “speak forth”; that is, to declare the divine will, to interpret the purposes of God, or to make known in any way the truth of God. Many people misunderstand prophecy to be limited to predicting the future. While revealing something about the future may be an aspect of the gift of prophecy at times, the gift is primarily about proclamation (“forth-telling”), not prediction (“foretelling”).
A pastor/preacher who declares the Bible can be considered a “prophesier” in that he is speaking forth the counsel of God. With the completion of the New Testament canon, prophesying changed from declaring new revelation to declaring the completed revelation God has already given. Jude 3 speaks of “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (NASB, emphasis added). In other words, the faith to which we hold has been settled forever, and it does not need addition or refinement from extra-biblical revelations.
Also, note the transition from prophet to teacher in 2 Peter 2:1: “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you” (emphasis added). Peter indicates that the Old Testament age had prophets, whereas the church will have teachers. The spiritual gift of prophecy, in the sense of receiving new revelations from God to be proclaimed to others, ceased with the completion of the Bible. During the time that prophecy was a revelatory gift, it was to be used for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of believers (1 Corinthians 14:3). The gift of prophecy today has the same purpose, declaring the truth of God. What has changed is that the truth of God has already been fully revealed in His Word, while in the early church, it had not yet been fully revealed.
Question: What is the spiritual gift of teaching?
Answer: The spiritual gift of teaching enables one to effectively communicate the truths of the Bible to others. It is most often, but not always, used in the context of the local church. The gift of teaching involves the analysis and proclamation of the Word of God, explaining the meaning, context, and application to the hearer’s life. The gifted teacher is one who has the unique ability to clearly instruct and communicate knowledge, specifically the doctrines of the faith and truths of the Bible.
The Greek word for “teacher” is didaskalos, which means “teacher or instructor.” We see examples all through the Bible of teaching. Jesus Himself was the Great Teacher, and Jesus commanded His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Christ’s ministers are not to teach the commandments of men or anything that is of their own but only that which is ordered by Christ.
There are several contexts in which the gift of teaching can be used, for example, Sunday school classes, Bible schools and colleges, seminaries, and home Bible studies. The one with the gift can teach either individuals or groups. A person with the natural talent to teach can teach just about anything, but a person with the spiritual gift of teaching teaches the content of the Bible. No new material originates from one with the gift of teaching. The teacher simply shows the meaning of the Bible text.
One without this supernatural gift of the Spirit can understand the Bible as he hears/reads it, but he cannot explain it as one with the gift of teaching can. Although teaching skills can be developed, the spiritual gift of teaching is not something that can be learned or acquired, as if it were a college degree. A Ph.D. without the gift of teaching cannot expound the Bible as well as an uneducated Christian who has the gift.
In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul lists foundational gifts for the building up of the local church. In verse 11 teachers are linked with pastors. This does not necessarily suggest one gift, but it does seem to imply that the pastor is also a teacher. The Greek word for “pastor” means “shepherd.” A pastor is one who cares for his people in the same way a shepherd cares for his sheep. Just as a shepherd feeds his sheep, the pastor feeds his people the spiritual food of the Word of God.
How can Christians know if they have the gift of teaching? They should begin by asking God for wisdom (James 1:5). If they have a desire to teach, they should seek out opportunities to teach a Sunday school class or Bible study under the authority and guidance of a gifted teacher. After a time, it will become apparent whether they have the gift. If they do, they should seek further opportunities to use and develop their gift.
Question: What are the spiritual gifts of the “word of wisdom” and the “word of knowledge”?
Answer: There are three spiritual gifts lists in Scripture (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; and 1 Corinthians 12:28), but only one of them mentions the gifts referred to as the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8 NASB).
This understanding of the word of knowledge and word of wisdom gifts comes dangerously close to denying the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. If God continues to reveal His will and wisdom through special revelation to individuals, then can His Word truly be sufficient to make us “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17)? Has God truly given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) if we require other individuals to give us special revelation from God? This is not to say that God never uses another person to speak to us, but if we often need direct messages from God through other people in order to live our lives, is God’s Word truly sufficient, as it declares itself to be?
So, if the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge are not prophetic/revelatory gifts, what are they? We know one thing for sure: these gifts are given by the Spirit to build up (edify) the body of Christ, for the “common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). The havoc that so often ensues in churches that practice the word of knowledge and word of wisdom as revelatory gifts is not for the common good. Confusing, nebulous, and sometimes contradictory “words from the Lord” do not come from God, who is not the author of confusion or disorder (1 Corinthians 14:33). This misuse of the two gifts is clearly not of God.
With that in mind, we offer these definitions of the word of wisdom and word of knowledge spiritual gifts:
The word of wisdom: The fact that this gift is described as the “word” of wisdom indicates that it is one of the speaking gifts. This gift describes someone who can understand and speak forth biblical truth in such a way as to skillfully apply it to life situations with all discernment.
The word of knowledge: Also a speaking gift that involves understanding truth with an insight that only comes by revelation from God. Those with the gift of knowledge understand the deep things of God and the mysteries of His Word.
Question: Is there any value in a spiritual gifts test/inventory/assessment?
Answer: It is commendable for God’s children to desire to identify the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has given them. At the same time, the Bible does not indicate that one’s spiritual gift(s) can be determined by taking a test.
Many of the available spiritual gifts assessments work in this fashion: the person taking the test responds to a list of statements or questions, and once all the questions are answered, a number value is assigned to the response choices and calculated. That number supposedly determines the spiritual gift(s).
One of the problems with the testing approach is that there are many different opinions on the subject of spiritual gifts, such as how many there are, what they mean, whether some gifts are inactive, and whether to include Christ’s gifts to His church (Ephesians 4:11). Seldom are these issues addressed in spiritual gifts tests. Another consideration is that, more often than not, people tend to see themselves differently from how others see them, which can mean a skewed outcome on the test.
Another significant problem with using this approach to identify spiritual gifts is that these gifts come from God via the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit gives these gifts to whom He chooses (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). In John 16:13, Jesus promises believers that the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth. It stands to reason that, since the Holy Spirit decides who gets which gifts, He is even more interested in our discovering our gifts than we are. In truth, our curiosity of how “gifted” we are may be driven by vain thoughts of our own importance rather than a desire to properly utilize our gifts. The Holy Spirit desires that we know our spiritual gifts in order for us to function in the body in such a way that brings glory and honor to Christ (John 16:14).
If we genuinely seek God’s leading through prayer, fellowship, and studying His Word, our gifts will become obvious. God gives us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). This does not necessarily mean that God gives us anything we want; rather, it means that He can and will cause us to desire what is right. He can place within our hearts the desire to teach, the desire to give, the desire to pray, the desire to serve, etc. When we act on those desires and are truly committed to using our gifts for God’s purposes, the body of Christ will be edified, and God will be glorified.
You can read some more insight on spiritual gifts via this link
Top links with question and answers on the Holy Spirit as follows:
Top Questions about Who The Holy Spirit is With Biblical Answers
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Top Questions About The Fruit of Holy Spirit Is With Biblical Answers
Top Miscellaneous Questions about the Holy Spirit With Biblical Answers
Top Questions about Gifts of the Holy Spirit With Biblical Answers