Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Defining the spiritual gifts of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.

Today I want to explore some of the specific spiritual gifts we find mentioned in the New Testament. When we talk of spiritual gifts, we are referring to Divinely empowered graces given to Christians to do the will of God. As we have seen in past posts, the spiritual gifts can be sub-divided into categories which have been recognized by Bible teachers for many years: motivational gifts, leadership gifts, serving gifts and sign (i.e occasional gifts). The fourth category is mainly not included in the list below due to their situational nature, Sovereign distribution and in some cases, near cessation or entire cessation. This is not to say that the so-called sign gifts are not vital nor possibly used by God in the world today. Rather, such gifts function in extraordinary ways, whereas the remaining gifts below operate in more predictable patterns. I recognize that some Bible teachers may distinguish what is listed below in a different fashion. Be-that-as-it-may, the following 18 gifts listed below derives from surveying scripture, major books and literature on the vast subject of spiritual gifts. The Bible teaches that every child of God is given specific "graces" or "giftings" by the Holy Spirit to serve the Lord and to bless others.  This suggests that the spiritual gifts function as God's fingerprints in the lives of individual Christians and the church. Below is a list of the ones that seem to be the most clearly defined and spoken of gifts (or gracings) in the New Testament.  

Defining the spiritual gifts in the New Testament

A spiritual gift is an ability from God to do His will in the area He has called me to serve as a believer. 1 Corinthians 12:1-6

1. Missionary Plants churches or shares the Gospel with the unevangelized. 2 Cor 8:23   Translated in other versions as “representative or apostle of the churches”. Different from “Apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 12:12), or the twelve disciples and Paul that ended in the 1st century.

2. Visionary  Alerts the church about what direction its heading for God.  1 Cor 14:3
Understood also as “the gift of prophecy”. As time advanced in the New Testament, prophecy became more of a gift to challenge the church to refocus on living out God’s directions for it through His word.  Some highly visible preachers have the ability to “prophetically” speak to the church and culture from God’s word. This is to be distinguished from the predictive elements of the O.T office of “prophet”.

3. Soul winner Has the burden and effectiveness to reach unbelievers. Eph 4:11; 2 Tim 4:5 
Also called an evangelist or termed as having the “gift of evangelism”.

4. ShepherdLoves to feed and nurture people with God’s word. Eph 4:11; 1 Tim 3; Titus 1

5. Teacher Unpacks God’s word and makes complex ideas easy to understand Eph 4:11; Ro 12:7

6.  Leader Can manage believers effectively in maintaining God’s goals. Rom 12:8

7        7. Communicator Clearly verbalizing  complex ideas in simple ways. 1 Peter 4:11  

          8. Exhorter=Persuade others of the need to  do God’s will.  Also translated “encourager”  Ro 12:8
          9. Hospitality Loves to share with God’s  people who are in need. Romans 12:13

          10. Helps/serviceWorks behind the  scenes to make the ministry work  smoothlyRom 12:7
          11. Administrator Loves to organize  people and events. Romans 12:8; 1  Corinthians 12:28

   12. Encourager Ability to get people to  joyfully look to God amidst difficultyRom  12:8
          Same Greek word for “encourager” can also  be translated “exhorter” (see above definition).  

13. Giver = Displays incredible willingness and faith to give generously to God’s work1 Cor 12:8

14. Mercy = Can gently and calmly minister effectively to difficult people or situations. Rom 12:8

15. Wisdom Can personalize the scriptures for other people in practical ways. 1 Cor 12:8
Most who advise other believers or who do Biblical counseling have this gift

16. KnowledgeCan personalize the Bible for people to better grasp God’s will. 1 Cor 12:8
Influencial Bible teachers have this gift.

17. Discernment = Can tell whether a teacher, ministry or movement is of God or Satan. 1 Cor 12:10

      18. Intercessor A great desire to pray fervently for others that yields dramatic results.  Col  4:12

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