This week as we continue our discussion on spiritual gifts, we ask two questions. Are all spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible? And what are the gifts mentioned in the Bible.
First, let me say that while the Bible may not list every way that each gift can be used, I believe that it does provide enough information to get a general idea about how all kinds of gifts are to be used. So the Bible does not make a distinction between a youth leader, a women’s minister, or a pastor of discipleship, but the same principles defined in Scripture provide enough info for people called to any of those areas of service to know how to use their gifts.
That being said, I do not believe that the Bible expressly lists every gift but I do believe it lists every kind of gift. In fact, here are the 16 kinds of gifts mentioned in the Bible. As you read through the list, think about what your gift(s) might be.
- Teacher – This is the spiritual gift and ability to explain and comprehend the Word of God.
- Pastor-Teacher – This is the spiritual gift and ability to shepherd others (God’s flock). A pastor-teacher is one who does visitation, weddings, funerals, and hospital visits; the two are definitely connected and you must be able to do both. This is usually called the office of elder, pastor, or bishop in the church today. Elder and bishop mean honored and respected one and overseer (Ephesians 4:11).
- Ministry/Helping/Showing Mercy – This is the spiritual gift and ability to show up with soup at someone’s door. The person with this gift is the one who takes care of your kids when you are in the hospital and the one who comes over and cleans your house when you are sick. You know you have this gift if you do not wait to be asked, or if you ask to help; you just show up and do it. This is the person at the church who helps park cars, greets people when they arrive; the person who ushers people to their seats, or the person who runs copies of the bulletins. These are the people who are behind the scenes. They have an important gift but are not highly publicized. The church cannot exist without this gift.
- Administration/Ruling – This is the spiritual gift and ability to plan and organize the work of others so that one can accomplish that much more.
- Evangelism – This is the spiritual gift and ability to share Christ with people. Scripture teaches that these people primarily equip others to do evangelism (the work of ministry). We are all to share our faith; it is our responsibility whether it is our spiritual gift or not. This group of people, however, has the ability to help others share their faith. They train and equip others to share or to become more effective in witnessing or to be a more effective witness.
- Exhortation or Encouragement – This is the spiritual gift and ability to draw people closer to the Lord and make them feel more motivated when they leave.
- Giving – This is the spiritual gift to give beyond one’s means or beyond what is expected.
- Faith – This is the spiritual gift and ability to live by faith.
- Apostleship – he spiritual gift of being an Apostle is being one who delivers the living word of God. The gift today is different than the calling placed upon the first leaders of the Church. In Ephesians 4:11, it is obvious that this is a spiritual gift and not just a church office. In Matthew 16:19, Christ gave the Apostles power. This is also mentioned in I Corinthians 12. Today, missionaries can be seen as apostles.
- Prophecy – Sometimes the Apostles used this gift, but spoken prophecy is not equal in authority to the Scriptures (Acts 21:4-11). Prophecy is to be tested by Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:14-21). Prophetic words today are human words and are not divinely inspired in the same way that Scripture is. The Lord may show a prophet things or convict him or her of what to say, but a prophet cannot stand and proclaim, “Thus says the Lord.” If God reveals something to a prophet today, the prophet tells it in his or her own words. Therefore, it is only a revelation in a very broad sense. People do not receive Scriptural revelations today. Prophecy is different than teaching because it is based upon spontaneous prompting of the Holy Spirit.
- Knowledge – This is the spiritual gift to speak words of knowledge in various situations.
- Wisdom – This is the spiritual gift to speak words of wisdom in various situations.
- Discerning Spirits – Discerning spirits is the ability to discern the words of the prophets, or to distinguish between true prophets and false prophets.
- Tongues – The New Testament gift of the tongues is the spiritual ability to speak in a foreign language that one has never studied (Acts 2:5-12). The speaker may not understand the language (1 Corinthians 14:2 and Acts 2:6-7). Tongues can be prayer in the spirit but not the mind (1 Corinthians 14:14-15). The gift of tongues is to be self-controlled and not ecstatic (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). If tongues are spoken in public, they must be interpreted (1 Corinthians 14:15).
- Interpretation of Tongues – This is the divinely-bestowed ability to interpret the gift of tongues and to discern when the gift is valid or not.
- Miracles and Healing – This is the gift to perform miracles and to heal. Jesus performed miracles of healing and more, but the Apostles virtually always performed miracles that had to do with healing or reverse healing, like the time that Paul blinded the witchdoctor. The purpose of the gift of miracles is to be a sign to authenticate the Gospel message.