In His infinite grace, God has not only adopted those who believe in Jesus Christ into His family but has chosen to bestow us with spiritual gifts so we may serve Him, His spiritual community, and His purposes in the world through the power of the Holy Spirit. We believe that all the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in the church of the first century are available today, manifested as God sovereignly determines, and are to be pursued and practiced in an orderly manner.
These spiritual gifts are given to equip the church to carry out its ministry until Christ returns1 and to provide a foretaste of the fuller working of the Spirit that will be ours in the age to come.2 In order to experience His grace and effectively share His gospel with others, we must discover and develop our grace-given gifts, which are both an evidence to us and a witness to the world that He is powerfully present and at work. As each of us exercises our gift(s), we edify the body, building its strength, health, and vitality, while providing a powerful and compelling image of the living Christ to the hungry and hurting world around us.
The New Testament describes a spiritual gift as an act of God’s Spirit, a concrete manifestation in word or deed, of God’s grace through a believer for the benefit of others. Christians can only experience and exercise their gift(s) as they depend on Him and allow His grace to manifest itself through them. A spiritual gift is not an ability that a Christian commands but a grace of God expressed through them for the good of His body, for His glory, and for reaching His world with the gospel.
The Spirit’s gifts are seen in the living movements of the body of Christ. As our physical bodies have many different members functioning together as one, so the unity and effectiveness of the church grows out of the diverse functions of its members. These gifts are given for the common good.3 Any believer’s focus on using a gift for their own benefit is both unscriptural and unfruitful.4 At the same time, every individual is personally blessed as the spiritual community benefits.
The Scriptures use several Greek words as either a noun or modifying adjective when referring to spiritual gifts:
The four terms taken together reinforce that spiritual gifts come from God as manifestations of His grace to empower the believer for ministry. They are from God, to us, and for others.
There are several lists of spiritual gifts found in the New Testament. While there is some similarity within these lists, there are at least twenty unique gifts identified, and there is no doubt there are more as they express this “varied grace of God”.9
1 Corinthians 12: Apostleship, teaching, miracles, healing, helps, administration, tongues/interpretation, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, prophecy, distinguishing spirits
Romans 12:6-8: Prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy
Ephesians 4:11: Apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, shepherding
1 Peter 4:11: Speaking gifts, serving gifts
While a person is given a gift or gifts when they come to faith, the Scripture indicates that other gifts may be granted over time. All gifts are given based on God’s sovereign plan10, our desire for them11, our commitment to use them12, and our spiritual walk, which keeps us from quenching the work of the Spirit in our lives.13 It is important that every Christian discover and develop the spiritual gifts God has given them. These gifts enrich both the believer and the body because through their use the believer is satisfied14; the body of Christ is edified15, and the Lord is glorified.16
There is also a group of gifts often referred to as sign gifts. While all gifts are a supernatural manifestation of the Spirit, these gifts defy human explanation or replication and graphically remind people that God is powerfully present and at work.
There are three views concerning the viability of these sign gifts in our day.
These gifts are more often seen in parts of the world where the Word of God and His authority have not yet been established. They are often displayed to attest to the Gospel that is being shared. These gifts often have scriptural qualifiers to ensure that they are from the Lord and are used in a way that gives Him the glory.
(All definitions provided by www.Bible.org)
As the gift of tongues is described in scripture, there are clear guidelines laid out that help to ensure this gift is used for the edification of the body.19 When in a public setting, we believe the Apostle Paul teaches that speaking in tongues is to be followed with interpretation.20 Some Christians believe one manifestation of tongues is that of a personal prayer language that can be used when they cannot find words to express their needs or they are interceding for others. Some congregations believe this prayer language is evidence of a “second blessing” or “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Scripture states and gives examples of how tongues is a sign to unbelievers21; and that not everyone possesses the gift of tongues.22 Paul states that he prayed in tongues and does not deny that one can pray in another tongue without interpretation23 as they pray in the Spirit. Based on is full instructions though, we believe speaking or praying in tongues while in the presence of others without interpretation can cause confusion24 and tends to build up the individual over the body.25
The scriptures provide several clarifying statements about the Spirit and His gifts to help us differentiate terms that are often confused.
In order to become the spiritual catalyst God intends for every believer to be, we must be proactive in discovering and developing our spiritual gifts. In order to do that:
God intends for our Christian life to be dynamic and has gifted each of us to be a unique expression of Him in the body of Christ and in the world.
1 1 Corinthians 14:12; 1:7; 2 2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 1:14, 1 Corinthians 13:8-10; 3 1 Corinthians 12:7; 4 1 Corinthians 13:1-3; Romans 12:3-4 ; 5 1 Corinthians 12:4; 61 Corinthians 12:1; 7 1 Peter 4:10; 8 1 Corinthians 12:6; 9 1 Peter 4:12 ; 10 1 Corinthians 12:11; 11 1 Corinthians 14:1; 12 2 Timothy 1:6; 13 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 14 Romans 12:4; 15 Ephesians 4:12-16; 16 1 Peter 4:10-11; 17 1 Corinthians 9:1; 18 1 Corinthians 12:7; 19 1 Corinthians 12:7; 20 1 Corinthians 14:13-17; 21 1 Corinthians 14:22, Acts 2:4; 22 1 Corinthians 12:11, 28-30; 23 1 Corinthians 14:2, 13-19; 24 1 Corinthians 14:16; 25 1 Corinthians 14:4, 28; 26 1 Corinthians 12:13; 27 1 Corinthians 12:11; 28 Galatians 5:22-23 ; 29 James 1:7; 30 Acts 1:8; 31 2 Corinthians 9:7; 32 Matthew 28:20; 33 1 Peter 1:11; 34 Ephesians 4:12