A Closer Look at Spiritual Gifts

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The “altar” at Timna Park in Israel, illuminated by the setting sun.

You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people.  You are members of God’s family.  Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.  And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself.  We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a Holy Temple for the Lord.  Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit, (Ephesians 2:19-22, emphasis mine).

The Bible reveals the gifts of the Holy Spirit in three overlapping lists:

  • Prophecy, Serving, Teaching, Encouragement[1], Giving, Leadership, and Kindness[2], (Romans 12:6–8);
  • Wise Advice, Special Knowledge, Great Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy[3], Discernment, Unknown Languages[4], and Ability to Interpret, (1 Corinthians 12:8-10); and
  • Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher, (Ephesians 4:11[5]).

There is another list that overlaps these other lists without adding anything different:

  • Apostle, Prophet, Teacher[6], Miracles, Healing[7], Helps[8], Leadership[9], and Unknown Languages[10], (1 Corinthians 12:28).

Useful as these lists are, there are several gifts that are mentioned in other places:

  • Hospitality[11] (1 Peter 4:9-10);
  • Missionary[12] (Ephesians 3:6-8); and
  • Voluntary Poverty and Martyrdom[13], (1 Corinthians 13:3).

There is also the implied gift of Celibacy:

I wish everyone were single, just as I am.  Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.  So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am, (1 Corinthians 7:7-8, emphasis mine).

It is a dangerous mistake to force lifelong celibacy on young people.  Of course I believe that sexual intercourse should be reserved for marriage, and thus abstinence should be taught and encouraged.  And it’s important to remember that self-control is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit[14].  The Spiritual Gift of Celibacy—indeed all of the Spiritual Gifts—is only truly present when it is supernaturally empowered by the Holy Spirit.

I have studied the Spiritual Gifts extensively and find it fascinating how God has put the Body of Christ together: uniting so many different people, each with their own unique gifting, for the purpose of reaching the world with the Good News of Salvation in Jesus Christ[15].

For more information about the Spiritual Gifts see Spiritual Gifts List and Definitions.  See also Your Spiritual Gifts can help Your Church Grow by C. Peter Wagner.  If you don’t know what your Spiritual Gifting is, I recommend taking a Spiritual Gifts test.  You will be far more useful to the Kingdom of God if you know and allow God to use your Spiritual Gifts.  But not only that, when you operate in your Spiritual Gift you will find it fun, interesting, and more fulfilling than anything else you’ve ever done.  And chances are that you are already doing some things involving your Spiritual Gift without even knowing it.

But I believe that the above lists are still incomplete because they fail to take into account some of the Old Testament Spiritual Gifts.  The most obvious is one I call Holy Craftsmanship:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.  Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him.  Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent—the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand—and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place.  They are to make them just as I commanded you,” (Exodus 31:1-11, emphasis mine).

Notice that Holy Craftsmanship is not merely being good at one craft, but a broad skillset, empowered supernaturally by the Holy Spirit (as are all of the Spiritual Gifts).

There is also the Spiritual Gift of Holy Warfare, and I have no doubt that this is as much in the physical sense as in the spiritual[16]:

Praise the Lord, who is my Rock.  He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle, (Psalm 144:1, emphasis mine).

And then there is the Spiritual Gift that I share with my favorite Christian authors, Mark Buchanan[17] and Mark Batterson[18]; and also with my favorite ancient authors, Isaiah and John: the Spiritual Gift of Holy Writing.  Of course I’m not saying that what I write is worthy of inclusion in the Bible.  I haven’t even achieved enough recognition (as of this writing) to have been published[19].  But God does use my writing to reach people with the Truth, and I know that this Gift is supernaturally empowered because sometimes as I write, I feel like I’m taking dictation.

In my next post I will highlight my favorite Spiritual Gift.  God is good!

[1] Called Exhortation in older English translations.

[2] Called Mercy in many other versions.

[3] Overlaps with the Romans list.

[4] Called Tongues in older English translations.

[5] These five are both gifts and offices, though I believe that many people who occupy the office of Pastor do not have the supernatural gift of Pastor, but rather the Spiritual Gift of Teacher or Leadership.

[6] These first three overlap with the Ephesians list.

[7] Miracles and Healing overlap with the 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 list.

[8] Considered by some to be the same gift as Serving in the Romans list.

[9] Overlaps with the Romans list, also called Administration.

[10] Overlaps with the 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 list.

[11] Implied.

[12] Implied.

[13] I believe that Martyrdom really is a supernaturally-powered Spiritual Gift.  In movies we see and imagine that martyrs suffered for their faith, but the only suffering death ever recorded is Jesus’ death.  Jesus suffered all the pain and humiliation of being nailed naked to a cross because the Father looked away.  But many times it is recorded that martyrs faced their deaths joyfully: Polycarp and Perpetua, for example.

[14] Galatians 5:22-23.  Fruit of the Spirit is different from the Spiritual Gifts because all nine fruits come as a result of living your life dead to sin, but alive in Christ (Romans 6:11).

[15] Ephesians 2:19-22.

[16] And thank God for the warriors who put their lives on the line for our country and for the Kingdom of God.

[17] Author of Your God is Too Safe.

[18] Author of Wild Goose Chase.

[19] Though I have self-published nine books so far.


2 thoughts on “A Closer Look at Spiritual Gifts

  1. Pingback: Place for a fifth and sixth house in Christendom | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  2. Pingback: The Spiritual Gift of Holy Music[1] | Walking By Faith in Europe

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