Series: “Spiritual Gifts” (post #1)
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant. (1 Corinthians 12:1, N.K.J.V.)
The apostle Paul told the Christians of Corinth that he didn’t want them to be ignorant (uninformed) concerning the subject of spiritual gifts. Sadly, many Christians today are just that. It is with this in mind that I’d like to devote a short series of posts to the subject. This first post will ask 7 questions about spiritual gifts and provide quick answers to each question.
Question #1: Who has a spiritual gift? The Bible teaches that every true Christian has at least one spiritual gift. Some Christians have more than one, but every Christian has at least one. In 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul tells those Christians of Corinth that the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself (making Himself known, displaying Himself) by way of a spiritual gift is given to “each one,” referring to each Christian.
Question #2: What is a spiritual gift? A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to perform a particular act of service.
Question #3: How is a spiritual gift different than a talent? A talent is an ability you receive at birth. Even though it usually takes years for that talent to come to the front and display itself in your life, it’s there, lying dormant inside you, at birth. It just needs to be discovered, brought out, and refined through practice and use. Examples of a talent are a musical talent, a writing talent, a mechanical talent, an athletic talent, a talent for mathematics, etc.
A spiritual gift is a skill the Christian receives the moment he or she is “born again” (John 3:1-21). It is an ability the person did not have before becoming a Christian. Like a talent, it might take many years for the Christian to figure out that he or she has a particular spiritual gift, but the gift is there from the moment of the “born again” experience.
Question #4: How does the Christian receive a spiritual gift? The process, which happens instantaneously, plays out as follows:
- (1) The individual places saving belief in Jesus.
- (2) At the moment of the person’s saving belief, God the Holy Spirit enters into the person’s body and takes up permanent residence there (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 2 Timothy 1:14; 1 John 3:24). This experience is known as Holy Spirit baptism (Acts 1:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:13), and it is what it means to be “born again” or “born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-6).
- (3) The indwelling Holy Spirit inwardly imparts to the person at least one spiritual gift that is to be used in service to Jesus. Like a talent, it might take many years for the Christian to figure out that he or she has a particular spiritual gift, but the gift is there from the moment of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.
Question #5: Does every Christian receive the same spiritual gift? No. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, and God distributes them as He sees fit (1 Corinthians 12:1-6; Romans 12:6-8). The Bible compares spiritual gifts to the different parts of the human body (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). Each part (gift) is important and has a job to do in the overall health of the body.
Question #6: How should a spiritual gift be used? Each gift should be used in love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13) to help others (1 Corinthians 12:7). A spiritual gift should not be used to promote one’s self. It also shouldn’t be used in pride or ego. God wants each gift to be used to serve Him by way of serving others.
Question #7: How many spiritual gifts does the Bible specifically name? The Bible specifically names 20 spiritual gifts. This total is derived from combining the lists that are found in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:28-30; and Ephesians 4:7-16.
In my next post, I’ll list all 20 of the gifts and give a brief description of each one. So until next time, stay tuned…..