Spiritual Gifts

11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matt 7:11-12(NIV)

Isn’t it true that each of us enjoys getting a gift, especially a surprise gift when it is least expected?  A gift expresses different emotions such as love, friendship, admiration, gratitude or respect but is universal in its overall message of a desire to convey happiness to the recipient. Additionally, there is generally a specific purpose behind the gift. 

Spiritual gifts given God are similar to gifts exchanged between loved ones; these gifts are an expression of love and have a specific purpose behind the gift.  In a way, a spiritual gift can be analogized to a “welcome home” or graduation gift; spiritual gifts are God’s expressions of His love (and welcoming) of the believer into a new life through salvation with a new purpose and the new believer’s “graduation” from his old unrepentant life.

The concept of a spiritual gift differs from that of a talent.  The Bible makes it clear that a spiritual gift is given by God and received by the new believer with the salvation experience and differs from a talent which is essentially an aptitude or a skill developed through practice and repetition.  They differ from each other in origin, essence and purpose.

7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:

"When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." * * *

11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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. Eph 4:7, 8, 11-13 (NIV)

With the ascension of Jesus Christ following His crucifixion and resurrection and the advent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, gifts were bestowed upon His followers.  These gifts first manifested themselves as the ability to speak in tongues or other languages specifically for the benefit of the body of believers who could not otherwise understand the language of the region.  This initial gift on the day of Pentecost came as a “rushing wind” and appeared as “tongues of fire” on each of the heads of the anointed.

2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4 (NIV)

Later, it became clear that different gifts are given to God’s people according to God’s grace.  These gifts are bestowed upon believers for specific purposes.

6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Rom 12:6-8 (NIV)

In 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, there is an extensive discussion concerning gifts of the Spirit and this discussion establishes certain defining principles concerning these gifts.  These principles are:

  • There are different kinds of gifts but they come from the same Spirit.
  • Each gift is given for the common good.
  • Just as there are many parts to the body, there are many gifts but similarly, there is one body both physically and spiritually.
  • God arranged all of the parts of the body just as He wanted them to be.
  • No part is more important than another.
  • There should be no dissension in the body but instead, each part should be equally concerned for the other parts.
  • If one part suffers, all of the other parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, the other parts rejoice with it.
  • Believers, i.e. the saved, the born again, are the body of Christ, and each one is a part of it.

The list of gifts contained within the Scriptures is quite extensive and includes prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, giving generously,  leadership, showing mercy, the message of wisdom, discernment, the message of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.  Each of these gifts has a place and a purpose in furthering the Kingdom of God.

The last verse in the 12th Chapter of 1 Corinthians makes a statement that is not just transitional in nature but indicative of the importance of the coming material: 

And now I will show you the most excellent way. 1 Cor. 12:31


This statement is the preface to 1 Corinthians 13 which is commonly known as the “love chapter” of the Bible.  A reading of this chapter specifically identifies love as the greatest quality that can be possessed by man.  The ending verse of this chapter is very familiar:

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13 (NIV)

This chapter directly falls in line with Christ’s teachings that (1) the greatest commandment was to love the Lord thy God and (2) the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself; every other law rested on these two commandments.  Cf. Matt 22:34-40 (NIV).


If these passages make it clear that we have received certain spiritual gifts through the grace of God for His purpose and that these gifts are to be exercised in love, then what is the purpose?

That question is answered in Paul’s letter to Corinth.

12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church. 1 Cor. 14:12 (NIV)

Accordingly, we should excel in gifts that build up the church.  The concept of the church does not apply to a particular edifice built of brick, stone or mortar but rather to the body of believers.  We are to build up the body of believers by using our spiritual gifts.  The building up of the body of believers is especially crucial during the last days, or end times, as Christ foretold.  It is important that during these times the church remains strong in its witness and its commitment to the cause of Christ. 

As time grows short, the gift of discernment plays a vital role in the fulfillment of the church’s purpose.  Discernment allows the church body to realize and understand the big picture, if you will, of God’s plan as He accomplishes His will on earth.   There are too many church goers today who are simply satisfied with their everyday routine and who do not pay attention to the eternal battle that is being waged all around them.  This is where discernment steps in and provides an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one.

I’ve always been told that if you are going to dream, then dream big.  Imagine a body of committed believers building each other up by exercising spiritual gifts bestowed by God according to His grace!  What if each member of the body of Christ was intent upon discovering and developing his or her gifts and then using those gifts for the common good of the body?  I believe the results would be unimaginable or simply put, miraculous. 

Those gifts can be discovered through prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  You need to ask God to reveal His bestowed gifts to you and for the Holy Spirit to lead you in discovering and developing those gifts.  You should ask yourself what you are being drawn to in serving/building up the body of believers.  Clearly, each believer receives a gift(s) when the gift of salvation is received (Eph. 2:8-9); it is up to the believer to then exercise that gift(s). 

Finally, what would be the result if each and every believer exercised his or her spiritual gift?  That answer is given to us.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Eph. 4:14-16 (NIV)


The result would be the power of God loosed upon the world made manifest through the Holy Spirit and the exercise of those spiritual gifts given to the Christian body.  Each member of the body would be grounded and stable in their faith and commitment.  Every believer would be speaking and acting in love, supporting each other and building the church or body of believers as each Christian did his work.  The church body as a whole would discern and understand God’s will and purpose during these end times and would work to further the advancement of His kingdom on earth.  What an awesome display that would be!  What a testimony to the power and glory of God!

Comments or questions may be directed to the author at info@rapturenext.com.