What Does The Bible Say About Spiritual Gifts

God’s Interpretation of Spiritual Gifts

The bible has much to say about spiritual gifts, the mysterious and often off-putting phenomenon that can either be welcomed or feared by the believer. All gifts given by God are to be accepted and explored. In 1 Corinthians 12, it states: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.” There are nine spiritual gifts referenced in the bible: prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, mercy, faith, and discerning of spirits.

Prophecy means the ability to express what seems to the believer to be the will of God. It is ultimately, the notion that there is a mystery beyond the physical, which is spiritual in essence. Service is doing, in the sense of activism for the Lord’s work. Teaching involves the ability to interpret scripture, despite the complexity of the writings. Exhortation is comforting, consoling and offering hope – in this context it also means to move others in the direction of God and away from evil. Giving references the ability to give charitably and constantly have faith in the belief that one can help those who cannot necessarily provide for themselves. Leading is the capacity to represent and take charge of a team or community, while expressing faith and trust in the Lord. Mercy is basically showing grace and compassion – understanding that a greater power sustains all of us. Faith is believing without seeing – faith so strong that it transcends all rationality and societal expectations. The last spiritual gift referenced in the bible is that of discerning spirits, which is a very complex gift. This requires being attuned to a frequency at which one can detect the hidden evil in the spirit world.

In general, the bible talks about spiritual gifts in a very affirmative manner – that God’s love by way of gifts should be appreciated, developed, and used for the common good. Spiritual gifts beyond the nine are still possible, as God is ever-giving and creative. However, proper discernment over the source of the gift must be used to safeguard from any evil masquerading as good. Additionally, when thinking about spiritual gifts, it will be important to remember God’s ultimate instruction to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

Accepting, nourishing, and using spiritual gifts comes with a huge responsibility. As 1 Corinthians 12:7 states, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Here, we see that gifts are given to us to be shared, so that each individual can benefit from the abilities of others. Spiritual gifts are also reflections of God. In Ephesians 4:7 it states, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Each gift is a reflection of God’s nature, specifically Christ’s dramatic love. Spiritual gifts are like vessels, each unique in its expression and purpose.

Spiritual gifts not only point to God’s immense love, but they also signify how we can part take of that love. In 1 Corinthians 12:13-14, it says, “[…] For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” Spiritual gifts allow us to connect with one another and with God in order to create unity within the body of believers and within the world. To paraphrase something said by the renowned theologian Robin Meyers, spiritual gifts are not simply for our own use, but for the collective nourishment and participation in a cosmic plan created by God.

Identifying Your Spiritual Gift

Strong belief in God does not always beget knowledge of specifically what spiritual gifts may be offered and to whom. Everyone is blessed with spiritual gifts, the challenge is knowing which ones are ours. Romans 12:3 encourages, “Be thoughtful in your practice of the gifts God has given you and use your prophetic powers for strengthening the church.” One’s spiritual journey should be an exploration of refining, discovering how to use these gifts in furthering the church and the mission of God.

Spiritual gifts are intended to strengthen the faith of believers and draw them ever closer to God. If you’re uncertain as to what your gift may be, a pastor or spiritual leader can be a great resource. As it says in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” Pastors, in particular, are spiritually minded and can detect gifts in others. They may even suggest experiences or pursuits that will help communicate the purpose of such gifts.

Celebrating Spiritual Gifts

The expression of spiritual gifts is rarely about individual glorification but primarily about magnifying God and nourishing believers’ souls. In Romans 12:6 it says, “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” Doing well includes being discerning – understanding that gifts are to be used for both contemplation and service. When spiritual gifts are accepted, nurtured, and offered for good, joyous results usually follow.

When the gifts of God are accepted, God shows appreciation to His blessed by what believers might consider acts of ‘divine grace’. Hebrews 13:21 says, “May the God of peace equip you with every good thing you need to do his will.” Blessings can be both tangible and intangible, as is the case with spiritual gifts. Having and utilizing spiritual gifts is a source of confidence and joy for the believer who will live this secret and wonderful part of their life freely and with integrity.

Discerning Evil Gifts

While it is essential to be mindful of the uplifting spiritual gifts given by God, it’s also important to be aware of gifts or activities that lack virtue and could be associated with evil. The bible isn’t encouraging carelessness. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 we can read, “[…] do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” Acts 8:18-19 further clarifies, “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”’ Use discernment when offered spiritual gifts and be wary of working out of a place of entitlement.

Spiritual gifts from God are given with the purpose of holiness and continued revelations. As such, gifts from God should never be misused, manipulated, exploited, or confused with evil. Rather, they should be accepted, used, and given with a loving and humble heart filled with Christ’s grace and servitude.

The Power of Uniting Through Spiritual Gifts

Every spiritual gift given by God is intended for remarkable and beautiful expressions of grace. When believers unite, accept their gifts with humility, and use them to build up the body of believers, God’s power is enabled and activated. In Ephesians 4:16 it states, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” All gifts given by God should not only be appreciated but celebrated, as a testament to God’s unconditional love and to humanity’s shared purpose.

Understanding what the bible says about spiritual gifts involves a long process of discernment and contemplation. The believer should never lose focus of God’s will or be intimidated to explore what these gifts mean and how they can be employed. Each gift acts like a river within ourselves, allowing us to transcend from the physical realm and explore a realm of pure and eternally sustaining energy.

The journey to Self-Acceptance

Findings one’s spiritual gifts can be a challenge despite following a path of God’s will, as there still may be misdirection or confusion along the journey. However, the commitment to accept these gifts can create a substantial return – through self-love and knowledge of the source and purpose of the gift itself. As 1 Timothy 4:14 states, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the elder laid their hands upon you.” As part of this journey, the believer should ask God to reveal their gifts and continuosly pray for anything that may be blocking their spiritual path.

Discovering one’s spiritual gifts requires patience and a deep trust in God. It’s important to remember that spiritual gifts can manifest throughout the believer’s life – some may surface near their youth while others may be discovered later in their spiritual journey. As it says in 1 Corinthians 14:1, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”

The process of finding and understanding God-given gifts should be based in prayer, research and contemplation. Once these gifts are discovered, it will be time to explore, nourish, and use them in the appropriate ways. Ultimately, understanding God’s spiritual gifts is a journey of self-discovery – and the bible holds the map.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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