Spiritual Gifts

What Are Spiritual Gifts?

In this guide to Spiritual Gifts, we will take a closer look at what you need to know about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and how they work.

Let’s start with a definition of Spiritual Gifts:

A Spiritual Gift is a supernatural ability given by grace to a Christian by the Holy Spirit to strengthen the Church and reveal Jesus Christ to the world. 

How do we arrive at this definition? 

Well, let’s break down the phrase “Spiritual Gift” and see what we find.

First of all, a Spiritual Gift is “Spiritual.” 

In other words, it doesn’t find its origin or action in something that is “Natural,” such as human energy or ingenuity. 

Instead, a Spiritual Gift finds its source, motivation, and operation in and through the person of the Holy Spirit. 

Next, it is a “Gift” freely given by grace to a Christian. 

Therefore, because it is a gift, it cannot be earned. 

In other words, a Spiritual Gift is received, not achieved!

So, there is no reason to stress out.

Person Stressed Out

If somebody could earn spiritual gifts, it would be called a “wage” and not a “gift.”

So, it is helpful if you think of Spiritual Gifts as “Grace-Gifts,” for you’ll see, as we study this topic, that Spiritual Gifts are most often mentioned in the context of grace. 

Now, let’s look at three purposes of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit:

1) Spiritual Gifts Are Given To Equip

In writing to the believers at Ephesus, Paul tells them that every believer is to be actively engaged in “the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). 

In other words, every believer is a minister and should seek to function in the area of ministry for which they have been equipped. 

Said another way, we will be the most effective in ministry when we serve in our area of Spiritual Giftedness

Indeed, it is possible to muster our natural strengths, talents, and abilities and push our way through to some measure of success. 

But how much more glorifying to God will it be when we serve within the areas for which He has spiritually gifted us by His grace.

2) Spiritual Gifts Are Given To Encourage

While our Spiritual Gifts can bring great joy to us personally, Spiritual Gifts are given to enable us to encourage, edify, and strengthen other believers.

In Acts 15:32, we read about two believers, Judas and Silas, who were prophets. The Scriptures tell us that as they exercised their Spiritual Gifts, they, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words.” 

This is in line with Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians regarding their exercise of prophecy. Here, the Apostle underscores the fact that “the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (1 Cor. 14:3).

In our zeal to understand our Spiritual Gifts let us each determine to yield to Paul’s encouragement and “strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Cor. 14:12).

3) Spiritual Gifts Are Given To Evidence

Moving outside of the Church, Spiritual Gifts enable the believer to evidence the message of Jesus’ Lordship to an unbelieving world. 

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians act as representatives of Jesus by utilizing their Spiritual Gifts and allowing Jesus to move through them to bless a world in need. 

The book of Hebrews tells us, “God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Heb. 2:4). 

Likewise, as Christians faithfully declared the Gospel of Jesus, “the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20). 

Additionally, suppose an unbeliever were to come into a gathering of believers. In that case, it is the exercise of Spiritual Gifts that would cause them to fall on their face, worship God and, “declare that God is really among you” (1 Cor. 14:24-25).

How many spiritual gifts are there?

There are four different passages of Scripture where Spiritual Gifts are identified by name: 

Ephesians 4:11-12

Romans 12:6-8

1 Corinthians 12:4-10, 28 

1 Peter 4:10-11 

While other scriptures speak around Spiritual Gifts or show the powerful result of their exercise, it is from these four passages that we construct a list for our consideration.

Taken together, these Scriptures list 21 different Spiritual Gifts

Listed alphabetically, they are:

  1. Apostle – Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28
  2. Administration – 1 Cor. 12:28 
  3. Discerning of Spirits – 1 Cor. 12:10
  4. Encouragement – Rom. 12:8 (Exhortation)
  5. Evangelism – Eph. 4:11
  6. Faith – 1 Cor. 12:9
  7. Giving – Rom. 12:8
  8. Hospitality – 1 Pet. 4:10-11
  9. Healing – 1 Cor. 12:9; 1 Cor. 12:28
  10. Word of Knowledge – 1 Cor. 12:8
  11. Leadership – Rom. 12:8
  12. Mercy – Rom. 12:8
  13. Working of Miracles – 1 Cor. 12:10
  14. Pastor – Eph. 4:11
  15. Prophecy – Eph. 4:11; Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28  
  16. Service (and Helping) – Rom. 12:7; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; 1 Cor 12:28
  17. Speaking – 1 Pet. 4:10-11
  18. Teaching – Eph. 4:11; Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28
  19. Tongues – 1 Cor. 12:10
  20. Interpretation of Tongues – 1 Cor. 12:10
  21. Word of Wisdom – 1 Cor. 12:8

I should point out that some teachers view this list as “sampling” of the kinds of Spiritual Gifts The Holy Spirit makes available to the believer, rather than seeing the list as a “closed list.” 

They point to Dream Interpretation (See Gen. 41:1-45; Ex. Dan. 2:1-49) or Artistry (see Ex. 31:1-6), as mentioned in the Old Testament as examples. 

However, for our purposes, we will focus on the 21 Spiritual Gifts identified in the New Testament.

Because it can be difficult to remember 21 different Gifts, it helps to place them in three different categories or subgroups.

Support Gifts / Ministry

Service Gifts / Motivational

Sign Gift / Manifestation *

             (* Note that “Prophecy” is also listed under “Support Gifts”)

In other blogs, we will delve into each of these Spiritual Gifts’, mining the rich truths about each spiritual gift and giving Biblical examples of their use and practice.

How can you discover your Spiritual Gifts?

It can be challenging to connect the dots between what the Bible says about spiritual gifts and what is happening in your own life. 

Here are two super practical steps:

1. How is God moving in your life?

Many people don’t know what spiritual gifts are supposed to look like.

They assume that if it is spiritual, it must be some carry with it some mystical feeling.

Now, this analogy may sound a bit silly.

But if it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck – it’s most likely a duck.

In the same way, if it looks like a spiritual gift, moves like a spiritual gift, and sounds like a spiritual gift – it’s most likely a spiritual gift.

It is a common mistake to assume that spiritual gifts function as a divine takeover of the Holy Spirit, where a person loses control of their own will, and God takes over.

I can tell you confidently this is not the case. 

Just because the word spiritual goes before the word gift, it should not cause you to picture a mystical takeover. 

And for that matter, why would the gifts of the Spirit contradict a fruit of the Spirit self-control?

No matter what the spiritual gift is, it will operate through your life and unique personality. 

Because of this, we are often too close to ourselves to perceive how God is working through us

Other people around you may see you as incredibly merciful or quick to serve. And you may think to yourself that isn’t a spiritual gift in your mind; everyone is like that.

That’s not true.

God has given you unique spiritual gifts, and sometimes we are too close to perceive them.

So, practically talk to someone who knows you (pastor, mentor, friend) and ask them how spiritual gifts they see in your life.

2. Take a Free Spiritual Gift Test.

I want to be clear. 

Talking to someone is most important.

But it can also be helpful to take a spiritual gift test to see where God is moving in your life.

To help you, I created this free spiritual gift test.

The test is comprised of 133 questions and takes just a few minutes to complete. 

Once you complete it, you will get a detailed profile that ranks your Spiritual Gifts in percentages as well as a descriptive profile for each Spiritual Gift. 

In Conclusion,

Spiritual gifts are given to every believer to strengthen the Church and reveal Jesus Christ to the world. Because of the clear command to pursue spiritual gifts found in the scripture, we can be confident that the Holy Spirit will use us for God’s glory.

What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13

Take the test now

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Definitions & Descriptions

Apostle icon
Administration  icon
Discerning of Spirits icon
Discerning of Spirits
Encouragement icon
Evangelism icon
Faith icon
Giving icon
Hospitality icon
Healing icon
Word of Knowledge icon
Word of Knowledge
Leadership icon
Mercy icon
Working of Miracles icon
Working of Miracles
Pastor icon
Prophecy icon
Service icon
Speaking icon
Teaching icon
Tongues icon
Interpretation of Tongues icon
Interpretation of Tongues
Word of Wisdom icon
Word of Wisdom