THE SOURCE – LESSON 7
As we looked in the last teaching, the discipline of stewardship is a life yielding spiritual fruit in the way we use our Time, Talents and Treasure. Discipleship and spiritual growth is more than just talking about God but is allowing the gospel to transform every area of life. This 3-part series on stewardship is meant to encourage the yielding of true fruit for God’s kingdom in your life. This lesson is specifically on talents and spiritual gifts.
Definition & Introduction
Spiritual gifts or “graces” are workings of God to accomplish His work through believers. The Bible has 4 main passages describing these gifts: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-13; and 1 Peter 4:10-11. God empowers believers with a variety of gifts to exalt God, edify and encourage others and to accomplish God’s work.
There is only some distinction between spiritual gifts and natural talents. Regardless, they both come from God. Natural talents could be described as a common grace to all people, whereas spiritual gifts are a salvation grace or gift given only to believers. It has been my observation that many spiritual gifts arise from natural talents, however, the Holy Spirit certainly can and does provide gifts and various levels of them to sometimes make up for a lack of natural ability. Sometimes people may feel inadequate to serve in a certain manner because they lack the talent, but they fail to realize God grants giftings to individuals. Though, not every believer has every spiritual gift which makes up the need to define, develop and deploy disciples with their various spiritual gifts. In addition, spiritual gifts are to be exercised with godly character and motivation.
Exodus 35:30-35 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts– 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 artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers– all of them master craftsmen and designers.”
John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Psalm 78:72 “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”
Principles and FAQ
µ God is the greatest gift. It is pointless to seek the gift without the knowing and treasuring the Giver.
µ God wants us to know and pursue His gifts (Luke 11:11-13). Paul writes to educate about the gifts (1 Cor 12:1) and if our desire is to serve and spread God’s message then it is ok to seek out the gifts. The purpose of the gifts are to exalt God, edify and encourage others faith and to advance the gospel.
µ God gives the gifts to every believer. Every believer receives at least one, many times a few, and sometimes only for a season. While this principle is true, it is important to note that knowing your spiritual gift should not be a litmus test for salvation. Christians should beware of churches or believers that emphasize two-levels of Christianity (if you don’t have a certain gift then you are less spiritual); this is opposed to the full meaning of the gospel. However, exercising your spiritual gift is essential for spiritual growth.
µ Spiritual gifts are meant to bring unity in the midst of division (note Corinth). When rightly exercised among the body there is a shared sense of purpose and fellowship (Acts 2:44-47; 1Cor 12:13, 21-26; 13:1-3).
µ I may have a different gift that is not listed in the Scriptures; are these lists exhaustive?
Each of the referenced passages on spiritual gifts are not the only Scriptures indicating their use and practice. In addition, a combined list from all the passages do not necessarily limit God’s gifts to His people. The Holy Spirit empowers God’s people in a variety of ways but will never do so in contradiction to the Scriptures.
µ Are all the spiritual gifts in the Bible still applicable today?
There are differing view points to this question within Christianity. This topic is an open hand (freedom) issue in comparison to closed hand (fixed) theological issues. In brief, here are the two views with a third alternative and somewhat middle road perspective.
Cessationism: Jesus and the Apostles had a unique ministry, requiring special miraculous sign gifts (miracles, healings, tongues/interpretation, prophecy. Now that the Church has the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures these gifts are no longer needed or active in God’s Church. One basis for this view is 1Cor 13:8-12 on the fulfillment of “when the perfect comes”. This view says the perfect is God’s full revelation in Jesus Christ provided for us through the Apostles in written Scripture; which needs no new revelation.
Continuationism: As followers of Jesus, all the gifts listed in Scripture are available to all disciples as God provides in His people and His body (John 14:12; Acts 6:8, 8:6 Stephen and Philip were not Apostle; Galatians 3:5). In reference to 1Cor 13:8-12, the “perfected” time is at the return of Christ, therefore still needing varying uses of all the gifts.
Cautionism: As followers of Jesus, we must be obey, honor and be open to all the Holy Spirit directs but must also discerning to the definition and direction given in the Scriptures as the authority for our faith. In all honesty, this is really the view of Continuationism but reinforces the idea that the sign gifts have set manners for practice defined in the Scriptures. Below are some helpful Scriptures and guidelines:
- Prophecy is from God and had differing functions in the OT & NT and as for today.
You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 13:3
“But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” Deuteronomy 18:20
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds,not from the mouth of the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:16
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
- Tongues in Acts (2, 10 and 19): Focus was on content (“mighty deeds of God”) rather than manner. The speaking was intelligible language needing interpretation.
- Not all NT persons spoke in Tongues: Barnabas, Stephen, Philip, Mark, Silas, Timothy, Aquila & Priscilla, Apollos and not least to mention the apostle Paul. It is known that Paul spoke in tongues (1 Cor 14:6, 14, 18). However, Paul makes it clear in the same letter that not all speak in tongues (1 Cor 12:30).
- Tongues @ Corinth: unintelligible, divine prayer language (1Cor 14:2, 14-19)
- Tongues if in public: needs interpreter, characterized by self-control and edification of all (1Cor 14:26-28)
- Note the difference between descriptive and prescriptive in Scripture.
- God used the Apostles to heal others (ex. Acts 3:1-9)
- God did not always heal; see Paul’s thorn (2 Cor 12:8-9), Trophimus sick (2Tim 4:20)
- Suffering is normative and in some sense sanctifying for Heaven (John 16:33; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5, 4:8-10; Philippians 1:29)
- God cares for the suffering and sometimes heals (James 5:13-16).
µ What if I/we do not have the spiritual gift of _______, should I/we stop _______?
In short, I believe the answer is, “It depends”. On the one hand, God’s mission is never to be put on hold for the understanding of a person’s giftedness, or much more the disobedience of a person. On the other hand, God’s timing may be instructive for the person or church to wait on God to provide. Mostly, believers should be obedient to the things they know God has called them toward, even if it means for a season they are serving outside of their giftedness and comfort level.
µ What if I do not know my spiritual gift? 
1 Corinthians 12:28 1 Corinthians 12:8-10
1. apostle 9. word of wisdom
2. prophet 10. word of knowledge
3. teacher 11. faith
4. miracles (5) gifts of healing
5. kinds of healings (4) miracles
6. helps (2) prophecy
7. administration 12. discernment
8. tongues (8) tongues
13. interpretation of tongues
Ephesians 4:11 1 Peter 4:11
(1) apostle whoever speaks (speaking gifts)
(2) prophet whoever renders service (ministry gifts)
Romans 12:6-8 1 Corinthians 7:7
(2) prophecy 21. marriage
16. serving 22. celibacy
ADMINISTRATION: 1 Cor. 12:28 – to steer the body toward the accomplishment of God-given goals and directives by planning, organizing, and supervising others
APOSTLE: Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28 – to be sent forth to new frontiers with the gospel, providing leadership over church bodies and maintaining authority over spiritual matters pertaining to the church. —This can also be understood as an office/position, which was held by certain individuals in the Bible. The requirement was that they had to have been an eyewitness of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:21-22).
CELIBACY: 1 Cor. 7:7,8 – to voluntarily remain single without regret and with the ability to maintain controlled sexual impulses so as to serve the Lord without distraction
DISCERNMENT: 1 Cor. 12:10 – clearly distinguish truth from error by judging behavior or teaching is from God, truth, Satan or error
EVANGELIST: Eph 4:11 – person gifted to clearly and effectively communicate the gospel to unbelievers
EXHORTATION/ENCOURAGE: Rom. 12:8 – to come along side of someone with words of encouragement, comfort, consolation, and counsel to help them be all God wants them to be
FAITH: 1 Cor. 12:8-10 – to be firmly persuaded of God’s power and promises to accomplish His will and purpose and to display such a confidence in Him and His Word that circumstances and obstacles do not shake that conviction
GIVING/ CONTRIBUTING: Rom. 12:8 – to share what material resources you have with liberality and cheerfulness without thought of return
HEALING: 1 Cor. 12:9,28,30 – to be used as a means through which God makes people whole either physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually
HELPS: 1 Cor. 12:28 – to render support or assistance to others in the body so as to free them up for ministry
HOSPITALITY: 1 Pet. 4:9,10 – warmly welcome others, even strangers, as a means of serving those in need of food or lodging
KNOWLEDGE: 1 Cor. 12:8 – learn as much about the Bible and Christian life as possible through gathering of information and analyzing that data
LEADERSHIP: Rom. 12:8 – to stand before the people in such a way as to attend to the direction of the body with such care and diligence so as to motivate others to get involved in the accomplishment of these goals
MERCY: Rom. 12:8 – sensitive toward those suffering, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, so as to feel genuine sympathy with their misery, speaking words of compassion but more so caring for them with deeds of love to help alleviate their distress
MIRACLES: 1 Cor. 12:10,28 – enabled by God to perform deeds which witnesses acknowledge to be of supernatural origin and means
PASTOR-TEACHER: Eph. 4:11 – to be responsible for spiritually caring for, protecting, guiding, and shepherding and feeding a group of believers entrusted to one’s care
PROPHECY: Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; Eph. 4:11 – to speak forth the message of God to His people
SERVICE: Rom. 12:7 – to identify undone tasks in God’s work, however menial, and use available resources to get the job done
TEACHING: Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11 – to instruct others in the Bible in a logical, systematic way so as to communicate pertinent information for true understanding and growth
TONGUES:1 Cor. 12:10; 14:27-28 – to speak in a language not previously learned so unbelievers can hear God’s message in their own language or the body be edified
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES:1 Cor. 12:10; 14:27,28 – to translate the message of someone who has spoken in tongues
WISDOM: 1 Cor. 12:8 – apply knowledge to life in a way to make spiritual truths relevant and practical in proper decision-making and daily life situations
 These are based on the spiritual gift passages: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-13; and 1 Peter 4:10-11
 Closed hand examples are salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, inerrancy and authority of Scripture, nature of God; Open hand examples are eschatology, covenant/dispensation theologies, and multiple practical implications.
 Paul expects a “no” answer from the question he poses. See Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1076.
 Lists and descriptions slightly adapted from Grudem’s Systematic Theology, chapters 52 & 53.