VII. SPIRITUAL GIFTS
There has been so much written about spiritual gifts that it doesn't
seem logical to go into great detail in this section. I would like to just
share some information that might be of use to the reader.
Miscellaneous information and thoughts concerning Spiritual gifts.
1. Gifts are not synonymous with natural talents. The gift may however
be a supernatural enhancement of a natural talent. An example is a case
of a man in Nebraska that was asked to paint a large Vacation Bible School
banner for the church. He was somewhat of a sign painter, however made
many mistakes and goofs in his work. He was very reluctant to take on this
banner. The pastor encouraged him to do it. The man set out to do the banner
and did not run into any difficulties and it came out quite nicely.
Many can teach as we see in the public schools however only the gifted
can teach spiritual things in a powerful life changing way.
2. Gifts are not ministries. The Lord gifts for the ministries for which
he has called you. He will not give you the gift of pastor if you are never
going to do any pastoring. He prepares you for whatever He desires for
you to do.
3. Gifts are not offices. Those holding offices will have gifts and
their gifts may well relate to their office, yet it is not an office as
such. The gift of pastor teacher is not the office, though the man holding
that office should have the gift of pastor and the gift of teacher. (See
appendix eight for more detail on this.)
4. Gifts are not spiritual maturity or fruit of the Spirit.
5. Everyone has one. (Eph. 4:7 "unto everone of us is given grace";
Rom. 12:6-8.) The gift or gifts are given by the Holy Spirit for the building
up of the church. Each believer has a gift, whether he knows what it is
or not. In some cases a person will not know their gift for some time after
6. They will differ from person to person (Rom. 12:6-8; I Cor. 12:11.)
Everyone in a church will not have the same gift, though there may be several
that have the same one. For example there will normally be several gifted
teachers for the training of the saints. In a large church there may be
more than one "pastor-teacher" for the ministry of the saints.
7. Gifts are for the common good of the body (I Cor. 12:7, "But the
manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit." The profit
will be to the person, yet to the body as well. The whole purpose of the
gifts is to benefit the body of Christ. Christ set the church into motion
for a purpose and these gifts are to aid and assist in the body's completion
of that task.
8. The gifts are given through the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12:7) Ephesians
four declares that Christ gifted some, but He did it through the ministry
of the Holy Spirit. It is assumed that Christ specifies the gift and the
Holy Spirit empowers or gifts accordingly.
9. The purpose is the edification and growth of the body of Christ (Eph.
4:12-14.) If everyone has a gift and the gifts are for building up of the
body then it follows that if some of the people are not ministering in
the church, that the church is not growing properly.
10. We are to know about them. (I Cor. 12:1, "Now concerning spiritual
gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant." This is not to say that
a believer should set aside all he is doing to seek and find his gift.
The believer is to look at the Word and know of the gifts and then as they
walk with the Lord their gift will be revealed to them. There was a time
in the 70's in which the church in general seemed to be stuck on gifts.
All the new books were on the gifts, all the sermons were on the gifts,
and the concentration of believers was diverted to the gifts rather than
other things of ministry. This was not all bad, for the spiritual gifts
prior to that time were very subdued in the church, however it tended to
11. The gifts can be abused as is evidenced in the book of I Corinthians
where Paul comments on the proper/improper use of the gift of tongues.
12. Most feel that you can have more than one gift. They quote I Pet
4:10 "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one
to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." I am not sure
what they are seeing in this verse. The NASB mentions a "special" gift
which might possibly indicate a special as well as a not so special gift.
There are some the teach a primary/secondary gift line of thinking.
They feel there is a primary gift in which the believer actually does most
of their ministering, and then one or more secondary gifts which assist
them in their overall ministry. For example the pastor may have primary
gifts of pastor and teacher while also the secondary gift of helps which
he uses in ministering to sick and shut-ins. Though there seems little
Scripture to base this on, observation over the years seems to indicate
13. If you know what your gift is then you should function in that area
of your church. If you are not functioning with your gift then you are
in sin. The gift was given for use.
14. Most believe that the gifts are given for life. If you are given
the gift of pastor, then you will die a pastor gifted person. You may not
be able to function as before, but your mind set will function around that
gift that you have been given. If you have the gift of giving and you find
yourself one day on a very limited Social Security income - you still have
the gift of giving and you will probably be a real giver even though it
HOW TO DISCOVER YOUR GIFT
The normal question from the person that does not know what his gift
is, centers on how to find what their gift is. Let's consider that for
a few moments.
1. Know what the gifts are, what they mean, and the action that each
is able to perform.
2. Go to work and find out what area you seem to flourish in. The old
adage "God can't steer a parked car." is very appropriate. Get busy in
several different areas and see if you function well in them. This may
take some time so don't be discouraged. (Stephen is seen as a deacon but
is soon preaching. Phillip as well.)
3. Consider what part you would like to have in the local church. The
desire will be found resident if the gift is there. If you really like
to teach then teaching may be your gift.
4. Dedicate yourself to the Lord and to serving Him the best way you
can (Rom. 12:1-5). Be controlled by the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead
5. Try to develop the gift you think that you might have and see if
the gift is there or if it is just a talent.
6. Wait and see if others view you as having the gift as well.
7. Do not worry if you do not know or find your gift. You can function
in the church without knowing.
8. Take a test and know what your gift is. I have passed out tests and
have seen tests which are billed as "Indicators" of your gift. I have seen
people take these tests and "KNOW" what their spiritual gifts are. NOT
SO! These tests usually are accurate in indicating what a gift might be.
In people that know their gifts and have taken the tests, the tests seem
fairly accurate. Be careful however not to base your knowledge of a gift
on a test. Allow the Lord to lead you to what your gift is.
I would like to give some listings of the gifts in different groupings
for your personal study and reference. These are to be found in appendix
THE GIFTS EXAMINED BRIEFLY
PROPHECY: This gift is quite often listed in the sign gift area due
to the revelatory nature of it in the New Testament. "But he that prophesieth
speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." (I Cor.
14:3) Some feel that prophecy rightly belongs in the ministry gift area
due to this verse. In truth it would seem that possibly the gift of prophecy
had a redefinition in the New Testament times. In the Acts the gift has
the idea of forthtelling with the future involved as in the Old Testament
prophets. While this verse (I Cor. 14:3) sounds very much like a gift that
belongs in the Ephesians four category.
Some see different aspects of the gift in the New Testament. There is
the prophetic aspect of revealing God's message to man, there is the forthtelling
of God's message as in what we view as preaching. I'm not sure there is
enough evidence to justify either side of the case. The important item
is this, if you see the gift of prophecy in place today, be sure that you
explain what you mean by that gift, and not allow people to believe there
is prophecy of the New Testament revelation type going on today!
FAITH: This gift seems to be the God given faith to see something that
God wants done and to go forward planning and praying toward that end.
This would probably be in view in the book of James. "And the prayer of
faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up;" James 5:15
This might be the little old lady that KNOWS THAT GOD IS GOING TO SEND
SOMEONE INTO THE MINISTRY FROM HER CHURCH. A professor of mine at Western
Bible College in Denver, CO shared that he had been a secular school teacher
for some time, and the Lord began leading him into the ministry. He had
a masters in education and he was planning to go on now to seminary. His
pastor asked him to share this in church, so he did. After the service
a little old lady came up to him and was shaking here skinny finger in
his face and she said, "I've been praying for years that God would raise
up someone from our church to go into the ministry, and for the last three
years, I've been praying that it would be you!" The moral of my story?
Watch out for those little old ladies, or you may become a missionary or
who knows what!
WORD OF WISDOM: This is usually seen as a sign gift, and rightly so,
however there may be a sense in which you should watch the wisdom that
comes your way as you walk through life. I personally believe that the
gift of wisdom is a sign gift, yet I have seen some very wise men who God
has placed in my path. Don't discount wisdom when it walks up to you and
says hello. Learn from it!
It seems to be the ability to take the facts and consider all information
and wisely choose the course of action to be taken. You may run into this
fellow when you begin trying to figure out what the Lord wants you to do
with your life. You may give him all your assets and fears, and he will
work through your fears and help you to an understanding of what you can
do and encourage you toward that end. Not all people are as wise as they
profess, so be very careful, of those that you take advice from. If you
don't have confidence in them, if you don't see evidence of wisdom in that
life then don't ask them advice.
WORD OF KNOWLEDGE: The ability to search the scriptures, systematize
and communicate the knowledge received. Again this is usually viewed as
a sign gift and should be. There is the idea of it in our own day also
however. Hopefully this is what we have in the books that we are reading.
The men of God of our day and past days are looking at the word, looking
at the language, and looking to other areas of research and are setting
down information that we might be able to use in our own lives.
HEALING: The miraculous bringing about of cures to all manner of diseases.
Another sign gift. This is seen as the complete and immediate cure of the
malady. This is seen in several accounts of the healing in the Book of
Acts. It is significant to note that the apostle Paul healed many in the
book of Acts, yet in later life he could not heal himself or others mentioned
in the epistles. This is proof that he no longer had the gift of healing.
We might make comment also that God is able to do as He pleases in response
to our prayers, and based on this it should be noted that He does heal
at His choice and discretion. This healing is done directly and not through
a faith healer or some other third party.
MIRACLES: The supernatural intervention of someone with the laws of
nature to bring about some work via a command or prayer. Again this is
a sign gift that is no longer in existence. The fact that God works in
miraculous ways in this day is not disputed. He, as we have said, can do
as He pleases, and does intervene at times in wonderful ways.
DISCERNING OF SPIRITS: The ability to discern the difference between
a spirit of truth and a spirit of error. Though I believe that the gift
has passed away, I would encourage you to develop your impressions and
feelings toward people and what they teach. As you go along you may feel,
with no cause there is something wrong. Go carefully and see if your feelings
or impulses are correct.
I have noticed many times that we will meet someone in a secular setting
and I will tell my wife that I would bet the person is a charismatic. I
have been quite accurate. We arrived for a deputation meeting in Oregon
and about fifteen minutes into the Sunday School lesson, I leaned to my
wife and said that I thought there was something very wrong in the church.
She said that she felt the same thing. Within a couple of weeks someone
told us that the church had gone charismatic.
TONGUES: The supernatural ability to speak in a previously not known
tongue or language. This is definitely one of the sign gifts and is not
for the use of the believer today. The so called heavenly tongue that many
claim to use is easily proven to be of something other than the Lord and
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES: The supernatural ability to interpret what
is spoken by the person speaking in tongues.
APOSTLES: This would seem to be the office that the disciples and Paul
held. There is no equivalent to this office or gift today.
MINISTRY: This would seem to relate to the work of the Deacon. This
is the ministering to the physical needs of the saints. I rather suspect
that many people have this gift in there is so much to be done in this
area of the church. Indeed, I have to think that many of the bench warmers
that we have in our churches may well have this gift, for there is quite
often to much ministering to be done for those that minister.
TEACHING: The God given ability to search the scriptures and declare
that truth which has been learned. This seems to carry with it the ability
to create interest in spiritual things and have insight into the needs
of the students. We have many teachers in our churches, but I'm not sure
how many gifted teachers we have in our churches. (That are busy Ministering
at any rate.)
EXHORTATION: The Spirit given ability to comfort and help those that
call you along side for help or assistance. The term is also used of the
Holy Spirit in relation to his ministry as the comforter. The person who
has this gift quite often finds that people with problems seek them out
for help, advice or just a listening ear. If you have this gift PLEASE
use it at every opportunity. Many in our churches are hurting and have
no one to talk to.
GIVING: The ability to give money for the ongoing work of the Lord with
a single minded commitment to continue to do so as long as the Lord allows.
This does not mean that you are or will be rich. We had a supporter that
felt that giving was his gift. He was on a disability income from social
security and is unable to work. He and his wife give as much as they can
and are determined to do so as long as the Lord gives them income and life.
Even though they are low income, they seem to have the gift of giving.
RULING: Some would lump this into the gift of governments however there
is a possibility that the two are different. Ruling may have the idea of
ruling over the church as in oversight. The idea of the one that guides
the church along.
MERCY: The ability to show mercy or kindness to those in the body of
Christ that are hurting and/or are in need of encouragement. This will
normally be a part of a pastors ministry, however there may be some in
the body that could do a much better job of mercy. We should teach people
this so that the pastor is not burdened with a ministry that he is not
gifted to do. The pastor can do his part and allow others to come in and
hurt with the people. I've noticed in the past, however that normally the
pastor does do well in this area and is probably gifted for the ministry.
HELPS: The ability to step into any situation and assist in accomplishing
the task at hand. This gift may well involve the ability to organize and
carry through on a task until done. In a church in Nebraska there was a
man that always headed up everything. At potlucks if something needed done
he was in the middle of rounding up workers to get it done. His motto was,
"Everybody works!" Many joked of the man's work, but he was a man that
got the work completed in quick and good order.
GOVERNMENTS: As opposed to Ruling this gift would be in the area of
administration. The smooth running of the church affairs. Possibly an assisting
of the different church leaders. We have churches and organizations with
gifted people in this area, but the heads of the groups are to insecure
to allow them to minister and have a great effect upon the body.
EVANGELISTS: The gift that enables it's bearer to share forth the Gospel
to the unsaved in a way that is both powerful and effective unto the leading
of souls to the Lord. Some churches are seeing an advantage in having an
evangelist on staff. This is a man that is equipped, not only to evangelize,
but to train others to do the same. He is usually head of outreach for
the church and is given a certain amount of time in the pulpit to exercise
his gift among the assembly.
It is not necessarily the man that is called in for evangelistic services.
The order of evangelism in the New Testament is for the church to train
workers that go out evangelizing and then bringing the new converts into
the church for training. (I think that you have read that before!) If the
church was functioning properly, there would be no need for an outside
evangelist to come in for meetings.
PASTOR-TEACHER: (Again, I would suggest you read appendix eight for
more on this topic.) The shepherd of the flock that can both shepherd and
feed the flock with the food from the Word of God. This man may well have
the gift of administration in a small church, yet not in the large church
where they have a very good business manager. When you are organizing the
church as it develops, be sure to see what qualified and gifted people
you have. This may well help you know what ministries the Lord has in mind
for your people. If you are in a city and find that you have three evangelists
and four or five pastor-teachers, you might conclude that a few satellite
churches would be in order.
Let's look at a few views of the gifts by other groups.
OLD TIME PENTECOSTAL VIEW: 1. They believe in the New Birth. 2. They
view Spirit Baptism as Post Salvation. 3. They lay emphasis on all the
miraculous gifts especially tongues and healing. 4. Tongues are the evidence
of the Spirit Baptism.
CURRENT PENTECOSTAL VIEW: 1. Hold to Spirit Baptism. (May be pre or
post salvation.) 2. The book of Acts is a pattern for today. 3. You are
spiritually lacking without tongues. 4. Healing is also seen as very "today."
PROTESTANT - Non Pentecostal view: 1. Miraculous gifts. 2. Spirit Baptism
is at salvation. 3. All gifts are active today. 4. Each believer has one
or more. 5. They rely on experience. One of the leading seminaries fired
three men for holding to this position. At the time of hiring they knew
the men leaned this way, but when they shifted and started propagating
their beliefs the seminary let them go.
PROTESTANT - Non Pentecostal - Non Sign gift view: (Body life movement
people.) 1. The lack of gifts has hindered the church. 2. They emphasize
interpersonal relations and normally are light on the theology. 3. Many
differences on the types of gifts. 4. Many differences on definitions of
gifts. 5. Many differences as to which gifts are for today.
PROTESTANT - average fundamental view: 1. The sign gifts were for the
establishment of the Gospel message in the time of the apostles. 2. The
ministry gifts are for today for the edification of the local church. 3.
There are differences as to which are active today but usually this difference
is prophecy. 4. The gifts are for the believers use within the church,
but it is not a "hurry up and find it" attitude. The gifts will surface
as a person is active within the church. 5. Misuse or none use of a gift
would be considered sin. (That is assuming that you know what your gift
For a number of years the emphasis was upon the gifts. You must find
yours! What is yours? etc. It was not unlike the worlds quest for knowing
their astrological signs. Many would ask what your gift was before getting
to know you.
The better emphasis is very definitely upon the giver of the Gifts,
Jesus Christ. Christ's provision of the gifts through the Holy Spirit was
for the building up of the church.
To dwell on gifts is to be a poor steward of your time. To uplift your
gifts is to be a poor steward of your humility. May we all seek to minister
in the church to the best of our ability? Indeed, that is what the Lord
would have us do. We should function as we are gifted to the best of our
A WORD OF WARNING CONCERNING GIFTS
There are some in the church that will not allow others to minister
in the area of their gifting. I really have to wonder if those people won't
be held accountable for limiting the gifted peoples function in a particular
As you go out into the ministry, seek to help people find their gifts
and then use them in the assembly.
Realize that unless all are functioning properly, then the church is
not functioning properly. If you have bench warmers, then the church is
not functioning properly. If you have absentees, then the church is not
functioning properly. Apply that one when you want to go to the mountains.
If you are not involved in a local church then some local church is not
functioning properly, unless you are in an itinerant type ministry.
A pet view of mine follows and I am not sure that I could prove it from
scripture, but I believe that the indications of scripture run along this
Every church or organization has just as many gifted people as they
need to do the work that God intends to have done. This may mean that if
something is not being done, then someone is not functioning. Either from
inability to or lack of desire to. This means that if a new aspect of ministry
comes along and there is no one present that can do it, then you should
begin praying for the person needed and look to the Lord for His provision.
This means wait till the provision is made before launching out into that
ministry. It means that if your only gifted teacher is transferred to South
Africa there may be one present and just not knowledgeable of his gift.
You should check around and train him when you find him.
SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS:
I trust that you will pay attention to the next section of information.
I believe that if it isn't helpful now, that it may well be useful to you
at some time in the future.
We have been talking about spiritual gifts and the fact that you have
one or more. God has called many people into ministries of many different
Some in the ministry begin to question whether they should really be
there or not. Usually this question is raised because they are in ministries
that are not going well or not going at all.
The following thoughts are based on observation, plus a bit of scriptural
Some Biblical indicators:
Paul always went to the Jews each time he entered a new area. They rejected
his message. TAKE NOTE OF SOME THINGS: The rejection was of Christ and
not of Paul. The rejection did not mean that Paul was a failure. The rejection
did not indicate that the Lord did not lead Paul to that place to minister
to the Jews.
Some of the Prophets of the Old Testament were sent to a non-listening
people. God told the prophet up front that the people would not hear. TAKE
NOTE OF SOME THINGS: The not listening was not because the prophet did
not communicate well. (It was because their ears were plugged with sin.)
The judgment that followed was not the prophets fault. The judgment was
due to the sin and the not turning back to God, not any lack on the part
of the prophet.
Now some application and some observation:
1. God may lead you to minister in an area where there will be no visible
lasting result. This is not your affair to worry about. It is God's desired
result for His desired ministry for you.
2. God at times gives a people or an area every conceivable opportunity
to come to Him, and then when they have turned their backs, He will give
them another opportunity.
I have seen men go into an area that has had abundant opportunity for
a church and the men will work their hearts out and not see any real results.
THAT IS GOD'S BUSINESS AND HIS DESIRE, OR THEY WOULD NOT BE THERE! The
key to this type of situation is to be open to the Lord's leading as to
when to leave. Be open to the Lord to be sure that your life is straight
before Him. Be open to the Lord to be sure that you are doing all that
you can. THEN, if there is no result it is due to God's plan! He will care
I really believe that He gives every opportunity to some, just so they
will have no valid comment at the judgment seat, be it the bema or the
Great White Throne, they did not know what to do.
3. Your only responsibility is to be right before God and do the work
that He leads you to do.
4. There may be times when you will minister in an area for years with
no real success. It is God's success that we should be interested in!
There are many accounts of missionaries that have labored a life time
to see very little results. The next generation of missionaries, however
usually reap the benefit of those works and see great things done for God.
God will give the increase in His day and His time! Just because you
do not become a rousing success in one place of ministry, do not assume
that you have no gift and that you are a failure. You may indeed have the
specific gift needed in that case and be a rousing success in God's mind
If I were to measure my success in light of man's standards I would
become very discouraged! I try to keep my eyes on the Lord and His leading
and trust that He is seeing all that I do as a success.
Be realistic, and understand that this is not an easy thing to do. There
will be times when you have doubts concerning your abilities. There will
be times when you become disgusted because you can't do something that
you feel is needed, because the Christians are to dead to get involved.
There will be Monday mornings! There will be times when you become discouraged.
There will be times when you type up your resignation.
THE POINT OF ALL I'VE SAID IS THAT YOU NEED TO, AT THOSE TIMES, GO BEFORE
THE LORD AND ASK FOR MORE OF HIS STRENGTH!
1. Be thankful. 2. Don't be prideful. 3. Don't look down your nose at
those that we have spoken of in the preceding section. 4. Be an encouragement
to your brothers and sisters in ministry that are having ruff times.