The apostle Paul wrote in his New Testament epistles that he wants the body of Christ to be aware of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1 NASB) and he wants them to be exercised accordingly (Romans 12:6). Understanding and exercising spiritual gifts are one of the greatest ways we can actively participate in furthering and strengthening God’s kingdom. What are spiritual gifts and what is their purpose?
Let’s take a look at the different passages in the Bible about spiritual gifts. We will also take a look at the list of specific spiritual gifts.
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There are three main bible verses about spiritual gifts. Some of the gifts are mentioned two or three times within these key passages.
What Are Spiritual Gifts and What is Their Purpose?
So what are spiritual gifts exactly? What is their purpose and why are they important? Here is a quick look at the what and why of spiritual gifts we find in God’s Word.
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…” – 1 Corinthians 12:7
This verse sums it up!
What? – Manifestations of the Spirit of God.
Why? – For the common good of the whole body.
Spiritual Gifts are Manifestations of the Spirit
Receiving the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is how to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Each one, or each believer, is given spiritual gifts. The word “manifestations” in the original language means “to make clear or visible, make known”.
Our spiritual gifts are the evidence of God’s abiding presence within us. They are God’s way of empowering His people to accomplish His work of ministry for His kingdom purposes.
Spiritual Gifts are For the Common Good
Spiritual gifts are meant to display the glory of God to unbelievers.
One of the best examples we see of this in the Bible is in Acts 2:1-42 on the day of Pentecost. Also, Paul mentions in his letter to Corinth that certain gifts are a sign for unbelievers. 1 Corinthians 14:22-25
Also, using spiritual gifts in the church is meant for building up the church to attain maturity and unity in Jesus Christ.
Each of us has been empowered by the Holy Spirit to encourage, provoke, and build up our brothers and sisters in the Lord until we reach the maturity of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-16, 1 Corinthians 12:7
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Spiritual Gifts List in the Bible
The three passages of scripture mentioned above list the different gifts. Some of them are mentioned in more than one passage. Here is a list of spiritual gifts in the Bible. They can be categorized into two groups, speaking gifts and serving gifts. However, the main purpose of all the gifts are the edification of the Church of Christ Jesus.
- Gift of Apostleship
- Word of wisdom
- Word of knowledge
- The spiritual gift of faith
- The spiritual gifts of healing
- Gift to work miracles
- The spiritual gift of prophecy
- Distinguishing of spirits
- The spiritual gift of tongues
- Interpretation of tongues
- The spiritual gift of service
- The spiritual gift of practical help
- The spiritual gift of administration
- The spiritual gift of exhortation
- The spiritual gift of giving
- The spiritual gift of leadership
- The spiritual gift of mercy
Bible Verses About Spiritual Gifts, Talents, and Ministry
There are many misconceptions about the purpose and exercise of spiritual gifts. So, let’s also consider what they are not.
They Are Not Your Talents
“There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord…” 1 Corinthians 12:4-5
Remember that your spiritual gift is a manifestation of the indwelling Spirit. It’s a God-given ability. We do not receive the indwelling Holy Spirit until we become a believer in Christ. Talents and special abilities are usually something we are born with. However, your spiritual gifts can work together with your special ability.
Here’s an example of spiritual gifts and talents. A woman can have a talent for singing. She can also have the gift of exhortation. She can use her gift of exhortation to encourage and inspire others to praise the Lord while she is using her talent for singing. Her spiritual gift is not ‘singing’.
Let’s take this one step further by looking at the next point…
Spiritual Gifts Are Not Your Ministry
Maybe this same woman leads worship at her church. Again, ‘worship leader’ is not her gift. This is a ministry role in which she serves. She uses her gift of exhortation with her talent for singing in her ministry of leading worship.
The same is true for you. Your gift is separate from your ministry in the church. A person with the gift of service can have many roles in the church. A person with gift of teaching can use that gift in the role of a Sunday School teacher; a one-on-one mentor; or even – a mother.
Spiritual Gifts They Are Not Your Excuse
Ever hear someone say, “I can’t do that, it’s not my gift”?
Just because we have not been given the gift of service, doesn’t mean God will never call us to serve. Just because we don’t have a gift for teaching doesn’t mean God will never call us to teach.
We must be careful to not use our spiritual gifts as our excuse to not serve in other areas. Yes, I believe that God gives us certain gifts that He means us to function and thrive in to build up His church.
However, I also believe He can and does call and equip us at different times and seasons to serve in other ways that may not appear to be according to our dominant gifts.
Spiritual Gifts Are Not for Your Choosing
“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:11
The Holy Spirit gets to pick who gets which gifts; every person does not receive every spiritual gift. If that were the case we wouldn’t need each other. God has purpose for the different kinds of gifts.
Paul compares God’s people to a body. In order for a body to function as it should each part needs to work together with the others. Each person (each part of the body) has its part to play. This forces us to depend on one another, work with one another, and honor one another. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Watch the Bible Study Video on Spiritual Gifts
How to Know You Have a Spiritual Gift
If you would do a search for spiritual gifts test, you would find lots of tools, resources, and even some ‘gifts of the holy spirit worksheets’, promising to give you spiritual gifts discernment. I don’t trust or recommend these. If you are not sure which particular gift you have been given I encourage you to take these steps to help you discern and discover your spiritual gifts.
- Pray and ask the Lord to show you. I believe this is a prayer the Lord wants to answer. He tells us not to be unaware of our gifts and to exercise them accordingly. When we ask Him to show us our gifts, we are praying according to His will.
- Do your own Bible Study on spiritual gifts the different passages (listed above) of Scriptures that discuss Spiritual Gifts. God will honor and reveal His truth to those who diligently seek Him.
- Ask another mature believer if they can help you. I’ve found this SO helpful. Sometimes it’s easier for another person to see the ways the Lord works through you and uses you than it is to see it ourselves.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit Vs. Fruits of the Holy Spirit
The fruits of the holy spirit are explained in Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” NASB
The gifts of the spirit are the outward working of the Spirit through us for the sake of the common good of others.
The fruits of the spirit are the internal workings of the Spirit within the heart, mind, and attitude of each believer.
Quick Review of What the Bible Says About Spiritual Gifts
Here is a summary of spiritual gifts.
- Spiritual Gifts are manifestations of the Spirit.
- Spiritual gifts are for the common good.
- The three main Bible verses about spiritual gifts are found in…
- 1 Corinthians 12
- Romans 12
- Ephesians 4
- Your spiritual gifts are separate from your talents and ministry.
- Pray, study, and ask are three great ways to discover and discern your gifts.
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