Welcome back. To read Spiritual Gifts, Part 1, click here.
Categories of Spiritual Gifts and Definitions
Brandon Deibert defines the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as “unique skills and abilities given by the Holy Spirit to faithful followers of Christ to serve God for the common benefit of his people, the church.” The Bible lists multiple spiritual gifts. The Apostle Paul states that we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. We are to use them proportionately to our faith (Romans 12:6). Gifts are often categorized into groups depending on how God gives them to individuals. Below, three categories will be defined, while the fourth category, the “sign gifts,” will be explored in the Debated Issues section.
Many scholars label gifts with various headings containing God-given abilities to help the Kingdom of God. While many gifts overlap, each believer possesses at least one gift, but many gain more as they mature in faith. Dr. Ryan Denison lists three gift categories, along with a brief explanation of what each gift represents. A suggested typical example follows each gift in the category by Denison.
The Public Gifts
Administration—Organizing people and ministries effectively. [Organizing a mission trip]
Apostleship—Adapting to a different culture to share the gospel or do ministry. [Being a missionary or having involvement with people from other cultures]
Leadership—Motivating and inspiriting others to serve Jesus fully.[People, including pastors, sharing their faith and encouraging others to live their life for Jesus]
Music—Sharing God’s truth and love through music with unusual effectiveness. [A worship leader teaching music to children or youth]
Prophecy—Proclaiming the word of God with personal passion and effectiveness. [Pastors and other spiritual leaders, Evangelist]
Teaching—Explaining God’s Word and truth with unusual effectiveness. [Bible study teacher, mentor]
The Personal Gifts
Discernment—Distinguishing truth from error or heresy. [Understand beyond what others see as a danger in the church]
Exhortation—Encouraging, comforting, and challenging others as they follow Jesus. [Encouraging someone to use their gifts and live up to their true calling for the Lord]
Knowledge—Understanding and sharing the deep truths of God’s word and will (understanding). [Bible study teachers, pastors, scholars, religion or seminary professors, writers]
Shepherding—Helping others grow spiritually. [Pastors and individuals in the church body who guide others and help them]
Wisdom—Relating biblical truth to practical life effectively (insights/applications). [Counselors, teachers, pastors, one-on-one friendships]
Sharing the gospel effectively and passionately. [Missionaries, sharing a testimony, writing notes to people, authoring books]
Faith—Seeing God’s plan and following it with a passion and commitment that inspires others to do the same. [a communicator, a writer, a creative person sharing Christ]
Giving—Investing with unusual sacrifice and joy in God’s kingdom. [Usually monetary giving, but also includes giving of oneself, giving of oneself.]
Hospitality [Hosting a Christian event in your home, letting someone stay with you if needed]
Mercy—Showing God’s grace to hurting people with unusual passion. [Visiting the sick at their home, hospital, or wherever they are; writing notes;
Service [Serving at a church banquet, cutting the lawn at church, babysitting the pastor’s kids]
As one can see, the examples can overlap, and there are many different ways to use one’s personality in coordination with one’s gifts. The numerous ways gifts can be used are incredibly vast. Sometimes people confuse their talents with their gifts. They are often separate entities, but God often uses one’s talents by combining the two, i.e., If you are gifted in teaching music, your talent of playing the piano helps utilize your gift. Billy Graham says, “It appears that God can take a talent and transform it by the power of the Holy Spirit and use it as a spiritual gift. In fact, the difference between a spiritual gift and a natural talent is frequently a cause for speculation by many people. I am not sure we can always draw a sharp line between spiritual gifts and natural abilities—both of which, remember, come ultimately from God.”
The Nature and Role of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit
To understand the gifts of the Spirit, one must know how the Holy Spirit functions and who He is. The Holy Spirit is a person. When one speaks of the Holy Spirit, they are referring to the same Holy Spirit who led Jesus into His wilderness experience (Luke 4: 1, 13) and who fell upon Jesus at His baptism (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, John 1:32). Drawing people to salvation, teaching about Jesus and giving us confidence that one is a child of God happen to be some of the functions of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16, Jesus says He will give his disciples another comforter to abide with them forever. That same comforter (the Spirit of truth) abides with those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Brand states that the Holy Spirit “grants spiritual gifts to the churches so that all persons within the body of Christ are spiritually gifted.” When people accept Christ through confessing their sins and accepting Jesus Christ in their life, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in them, giving them the power and desire to use their spiritual gifts. It is through this process that one is filled with the Holy Spirit.
However, the gifts of the Spirit must not be separated from the giver of the gifts—God. This combination makes us understand that the Trinity (three-in-one identity of God) participates in our spiritual giftedness. Brian DeVries says, “All three Persons of the Trinity are actively involved in spiritually gifting each believer for ministry in the church.” He continues to say that God the Father is the one who makes each gift effectual, and God the Son distributes gifts in the church by His Spirit. God the Spirit emboldens all believers with various abilities by working within and through them mightily. It is not in one’s strength or courage that gifts are given and used but through the three-fold work of the Trinity.
The age-old question is, “What is the purpose of spiritual gifts?” An answer can be found in 1 Corinthians 12: 4-7 when it says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. Our gifts are to be used for the common good—that is, the common good for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). People should use their gifts genuinely for unity within the body.
Two terms frequently used in connection with spiritual gifts or listings of the gifts are charisma and pneuma. Regarding charisma, 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the multifaceted grace of God. Thus, charisma refers to the gift itself. While there are multip definitions of pneuma, it is often defined as the Holy Spirit — the vital principle by which the body is animated and the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides; the soul.”
The Body of Christ (Church)
Brand says “spiritually gifted” Christians use their gifts for the common good so that all church members receive the ministries from one another that enable the church to mature (1 Cor. 12:7, Eph 4:11, 16). Some scholars, including Brian DeVries believe God always produces the fruit of the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit simultaneously. The fruit of the Spirit consists of the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Combining these two aspects of the Spirit makes for sweet unity and maturity in the body of Christ.
All believers, especially those in spiritual offices in the church and congregants, should use their spiritual gifts to strengthen the body of Christ. Pastors need humility and trust in the people in their church to allow them to use their giftedness. DeVries says, “church leaders are responsible for developing the spiritual giftedness of all members under their care so that these believers will be used by the Spirit to develop the church.”
Many Christians leave one church to attend another where their gifts can be utilized. When the gifts of believers are not appreciated or used in the body, the body suffers. Churches vary in programs, spirituality, and growth because gifts are underutilized, causing a lack of church care and unity. In many instances, this underutilization can cause pastor burnout by leaving all that others could do in the church staff’s hands. DeVries states, “the Spirit has gifted each member of the body in different ways so that the holistic use of these gifts will function in unity to provide mutual care to all members.” An example would be if a member has the gift of teaching and is told repeatedly that there are no positions for them to teach. That member may go where there are positions—to another church, to a ministry outside their church, or they could become frustrated and not recover from a lack of the church’s attention to their giftedness and give up on the body. Both ministry staff and congregants must understand that the purpose of the gifts is primarily to build up the church. Hence, the pastoral staff and the congregants are responsible for building ministry.
To be continued. . .Part 3: Distribution of Gifts; / To read Spiritual Gifts, Part 1, click here.
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Spiritual Gifts, Part 3 – Coming Next:
Prayer: Heavenly Father, as I learn more about spiritual gifts, please open my eyes to see what you have given me to be used for your glory. I want to honor and serve you. Thank you. Me
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