FAQ's

 


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Are these the only spiritual gifts available today or are the lists open-ended?

None of the three primary gift-lists is identical to the other two. In fact, only the gifts of prophecy and teaching are found in all three lists. Moreover, five or six new gifts are introduced in at least four other passages. It’s not hard to see why many people believe that there may be other gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to believers today. These could include the gifts of intercession, music and hospitality (all included in this analysis). Other possible gifts are craftsmanship, writing, voluntary poverty, martyrdom and celibacy (which are not included here).


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Are the “charismatic” or “sign” gifts still operative and valid today?

This question has been debated in the church for the last several decades without being resolved, so no answer will please or satisfy everyone. The four “sign” gifts—healings, miracles, tongues and interpretation of tongues—are not included in this spiritual gift analysis for two reasons: first, their exercise has often resulted in more division than unity (more heat than light) within the church; and second, their practice has often been glamorized and elevated over the speaking and serving gifts in a way that is unhealthy and unbiblical. So in order to minimize the risk of turning a positive exercise into a divisive debate, we have omitted these gifts from this instrument. (If you want to use an instrument that includes these gifts, we refer you to C. Peter Wagner’s Finding Your Spiritual Gifts on Regal Press.)


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Are spiritual gifts the same thing as natural talents?

The Bible doesn’t exactly answer this question, but here is what we think. First, spiritual gifts are different from natural talents in terms of distribution and purpose—spiritual gifts are given only to believers, whereas all people possess talents; and spiritual gifts are to be exercised for the building up of the church, not for selfish or personal use. At the same time, spiritual gifts are similar to natural talents—God is the author of both and desires both to be used for His glory; and spiritual gifts may resemble natural talents in how they play out in a person’s life. For example, God may give the gift of teaching to a school teacher or the gift of faith to someone who is naturally optimistic, but not necessarily. Try to steer clear of two common errors: denying that God gives spiritual gifts similar to a person’s natural talents; or assuming that God gives spiritual gifts that always equate to talents. God bestows the gifts as He chooses. The rest, happily, is mystery.


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What is the relationship between the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit?

The gifts of the Spirit refer to unique service capacities which God gives to believers to build up the church and to extend His kingdom. The fruit of the Spirit refers to character qualities listed in Galatians 5:22-23 which describe the attitudes of those who follow the Spirit’s lead. An easy way to remember the distinction between these two blessings of the Spirit is: gifts refer to the tasks we perform in serving the Lord, while fruit refers to the attitudes we bring to that service.


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Why does the Spirit endow believers with gifts?

God wants us to continue doing in the world the work which Jesus began when he was on earth. Since Jesus is now physically absent from the world, He wants His purpose to be fulfilled through the church, His body on earth. The Spirit gives at least one spiritual gift to every member of the church, to be used faithfully in God’s service. Each gift, when exercised in love, underscores an aspect of Christ’s ministry.

 

For example:

  • The gift of teaching continues Jesus’ remarkable ministry of revealing God’s Word.

  • The gift of mercy continues Jesus’ tender ministry to the broken and despised people of the world.

  • The gift of exhortation continues Jesus’ gracious counsel to confused people.

 

When all of the gifts are operative in a group of believers, Jesus’ ministry is accurately and faithfully reproduced to a world in need.
But the Spirit also endows believers with gifts in order to build up the church.

 

For example:

  • The gift of wisdom helps the church know the mind of Christ when divine direction is unclear.

  • The gift of faith bolsters the morale of the church in challenging circumstances.

  • The gift of administration provides order and structure for the church’s multiple ministries.

 

When all of the gifts are lovingly exercised in a local congregation, the church is built up and thus functions faithfully, effectively and efficiently.


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Is it OK if I disagree with some of what is presented here?

Absolutely! Remember: the biblical teaching on spiritual gifts is neither systematic nor fully developed. Therefore you shouldn’t be surprised when Christians disagree on some of the details. If your view on spiritual gifts differs from what is presented here, you can adapt the analysis to your personal view. For example, if you do not view music or hospitality as a spiritual gift, you can regard the responses related to them merely as indicators of talents to be used in the church’s ministry.