There are four places in the New Testament that give detailed explanations of spiritual gifts. In each place, there is a reminder of the necessity of those gifts being displayed out of the motive of love. This means that the Holy Spirit produces both the fruit of the Spirit (Christ’s beauty on display) and spiritual gifts (Christ’s work in action) in the life of a believer.
1 Corinthians 12-14
Everyone is given a spiritual gift, which is selected by God. There is a great difference between gifts, but all are needed and all are part of one body; that is, the body of Christ. Not everyone has all the gifts but all are given gifts to build up the body of Christ. This is why love is vital. Without love, seeking to use your gifts will not only be divisive, but will not honor Christ.
The supreme application of all doctrinal teaching is to give our entire lives to Christ in ministry. The Apostle Paul calls this “offering your body as a living sacrifice.” We must honestly evaluate who we are, and then use our gifts in service to God. He gives us gifts out of his grace, and it is love that keeps the service appropriate. Humility and love should be the motive in using our gifts and will result in experiencing Christ’s humility and love for us as we serve others in the body of Christ and extend love to our neighbors or enemies.
All of us are called to unity, maturity, and ministry. As leadership gifts are exercised to equip and prepare others to use their gifts in ministry, the entire body will grow in maturity, be stable, and become one. Again, it is God’s grace that is emphasized, and love holds the body together through the process. A body of believers committed to one another in displaying the diversity of the gifts for Christ’s glory and for the good of others, will not only be strengthened in unity, but will also mature and grow in love.
1 Peter 4
We should live totally for God, even in suffering; in fact, it is suffering that allows us to keep everything in perspective. When we experience suffering, our tendency is to pull away and seek to protect ourselves. Suffering should make us long for dependence on Christ and others in the body of Christ, so we should use our gifts to serve each other with the grace which God has given us. It starts with love and ends with praise given to Christ.
Defining Spiritual Gifts
A spiritual gift is a divine ability given by the Holy Spirit to strengthen others in Christ’s name.
“A divine ability given by the Holy Spirit”—(1 Cor. 12:11) God’s Holy Spirit distributes gifts as he wills. (Eph. 4:7) The risen and ascended Christ gave gifts and apportioned them as part of his treasures shared. This “divine ability” or power is a gift, freely given in salvation and is an assignment to each believer to extend this grace to others.
“To strengthen others”—(Gal. 6:2) We are instructed to bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of love from Christ. Christ gives each believer special abilities to bring encouragement, compassion, exhortation, instruction, or counsel to another. Our Spiritual gifts are not given for us but for others in the body of Christ.
“In Christ’s name”—(Eph. 4:7-12) We are to display our spiritual gifts among the body that we may grow up into “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” All that we think, feel, say, and do is to be done for his honor and glory. (1 Cor. 10:31) As we foster biblical community we will also grow in joy and gratitude to him.
Exercising our Spiritual Gifts
When you exercise your Spiritual Gifts you will grow in self-knowledge, foster true biblical community, and experience fulfillment.
Growing in self-knowledge—You will not immediately know your real gifts until you humbly serve in many different capacities in the church and observe others and gain affirmation from them. Only as you do that will you come to understand your own aptitudes.
Fostering biblical community—When you approach the church as a consumer (that is, only to get your needs met), you are in a solitary mode of being, but when you reject the consumer mindset, serving will draw you out of yourself and into relationships.
Experiencing personal satisfaction—Fulfillment and Joy will flow from your heart when you see others touched through you, or seeing something great happen through the part you play in the body of Christ.
As you exercise your gifts you will experience internal affirmation (energy, effectiveness, and enjoyment) and external confirmation (others will acknowledge your gifts and benefit from them being displayed.
Spiritual Gifts Categories
Some have counted 18-20 specific spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. It is likely that there are many more spiritual gifts or combinations or clusters of spiritual gifts because each believer is uniquely made in God’s image. The three main categories of gifts listed in the New Testament are mercy gifts, word gifts and leadership gifts.
Priestly gifts are abilities based on understanding and supplying basic needs. They represent others to God and the world and are marked by sympathy and sacrifice. Examples of these gifts are encouraging (Rom. 12:8), a cross between the prophetic and priestly, having to do with motivating and counseling; helping (1 Cor. 12:28), or the ability to give true assistance without usurping; healing (1 Cor. 12:28), or facilitating emotional and/or physical healing; pastoring (Eph. 4:11), or knowing and providing what a person needs to grow; serving (Rom. 12:7), or the ability to meet practical needs; sharing (Rom. 12:8), or discerning and refreshing others by giving; and mercy (Rom. 12:8) or ministry through deep empathy yet joy.
Prophetic gifts are abilities based on understanding and articulating truth. They represent God to others and are marked by boldness and clarity. Biblical examples of these gifts are evangelism (Eph. 4:11), or the ability to help people believe; teaching (1 Cor. 12:29), to be a teacher, or the ability to help people learn; speaking (1 Pet. 4:10-11), or the ability to articulate in a compelling way, probably publicly; knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8); discerning spirits (1 Cor. 12:10), or insight, the ability to tell the authentic from the false; and prophecy (Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:10), or unusually dynamic and illumined truth-telling. Some believe that the gifts of tongues and the interpretation of tongues is a prophetic expression.
Kingly gifts are abilities based on understanding direction and group needs. They represent Christ’s vision to others and are marked by wisdom and practicality. Biblical examples of these gifts are apostles (Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28), or a founder gift, plowing new ground; leadership (Rom. 12:8 literally “leading in zeal”), or uniting toward a vision; administration (1 Cor. 12:28), or the ability to organize a task and get it done; wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8), or problem-solving, especially for personal or group guidance; and faith (1 Cor. 12:9), which is not saving faith, but the ability to envision a goal clearly.
It would be beneficial for every member of First Presbyterian Church Augusta to go through the Spiritual Gifts class in order to discover, develop, and deploy their spiritual gifts.