What kinds of spiritual gifts can you as a believer possess?

By Pastor Ron Jones, D.D., © Titus Institute, 2003

This is a controversial issue in the churches of Jesus Christ. There are different views which gifts exist today and which do not. There are different views on what each gift is. I believe that there are nine gifts that exist today. There are four criteria which I have used in putting together this list of spiritual gifts that I feel exist today and eliminating the "gifts" that are listed by others.

The first is it must be one which the N.T. calls a spiritual gift in the context of spiritual gifts. Rom.12:4-8 states that we are given spiritual gifts and then lists them. 1 Cor.12 is similar. The context of both passages is spiritual gifts. Paul calls celibacy a gift in 1 Cor.7, but not in the context of spiritual gifts It is a gift, but not a spiritual gift. Hospitality, intercession, craftsmanship, music and the like all have significance and are important ministries in the body of Christ, but they are not called spiritual gifts.

The second is it must be one that the majority of Bible teachers, charismatic and non-charismatic alike, agree are spiritual gifts for today. This is the collective wisdom of the pastor-teachers (Eph.4:11) of the churches. There are many gift lists today by various Christian authors and teachers. One lists as many as 27 spiritual gifts. If you were to take all the lists and compare them, you would find that there is general agreement by the best authors and teachers, both charismatic and non-charismatic alike on certain of the gifts. It is these gifts that we will focus on. It seems that the Holy Spirit has given the church recognition of certain gifts, rather than focus on the ones that we don't agree on, we will focus on the ones we all basically agree on.

The third is it must be based upon a distinction between spiritual offices in Eph.4 and spiritual gifts in 1 Cor.12 and Rom.12 while at the same time recognizing the uniqueness of the spiritual giftedness of the evangelists. What that means is that the evangelists and pastor-teachers in Eph.4 are gifted men, and not spiritual gifts. These are roles, not gifts. For example you could use several different gifts in the role of Pastor-teacher. There are Pastor-teachers who have the gift of exhortation and others who have the gift of teaching, both teach and both shepherd. The evangelist on the other side seems to have a particular giftedness in the area of evangelism. I as well as many others call this the gift of evangelism.

The fourth is it must be one that is obvious, clear, and easy to observe being used by Christians today. 1 Cor.12:14ff indicates that because spiritual gifts are part of what we are in the body, they are naturally expressed whether we know what they are or not. They are part of how we are bent in ministry. But the reality is, Christians as they serve their giftedness comes out naturally. I think that this is why the majority of authors, both charismatic and non-charismatic, do agree on certain gifts because they are so obvious that you can't really disagree on them. I believe it is very likely that the reason that there is disagreement on the "charismatic" gifts is because they have passed away. I have found that some of the "gifts" that are listed by various authors are not obvious and easy to see regularly occurring in a widespread manner in the churches of Jesus Christ.

Those are my four criteria for my list. If you apply these four criteria, you will come up with nine spiritual gifts. If pretty much everybody agrees on these, it seems to me this is a great place as a church to make sure that we are ministering these gifts. These gifts are mentioned in Scripture as gifts and are agreed upon by the collective wisdom of the churches that at least these are gifts. If you find that you are gifted in one of these areas at least you can know that the Holy Spirit is using you when you use that gift. I personally believe that these, in fact, are the only gifts for today, but right or wrong, this is a safe place to focus our ministry.

Before you look at this list let me mention that you may have taken a spiritual gift test or have some knowledge of what you think your gift is and not find it listed in these nine. If that is the case, don't look at the name of the gift, but look at the description of the gift I give and see if you can match the description of what the gift you think you might have no matter what it is called with the gift listed here. Why? In some people's definition of the gift of prophecy, discernment, or wisdom, their definitions could easily fit into the definition of the gift of exhortation. They are listed in Rom. 12, 1 Cor.12, and Eph.4. and are divided into two categories according to 1 Pet.4:10-11, the speaking gifts and the service gifts. Three of the gifts are verbal gifts, that is they are primarily speaking gifts. The others are service gifts in the sense that they are primarily actions. In defining these gifts I have taken the Greek word that Paul gives for it and then defined as an ability to do this in a especially effective way. I find that this is the safest approach - to stay as close to the Scriptures as I can. After each gift is a list of questions that you can ask yourself to see if you might have this gift.

1. "Teaching" is the "spiritual ability to understand and explain effectively the text and truths of the Word of God." (Rom.12:7, 1 Cor.12:28)

1) Do you find that you are able to explain Biblical passages and truths to other believers in a clear and coherent presentation and enjoy doing that?

2) If you have taught the Scriptures, have others told you how much they learned when you have taught?

2. "Exhortation" is the "spiritual ability to effectively urge and encourage other believers with the Word of God to press on to greater obedience to Jesus Christ." (Rom.12:8)

1) Do you find it enjoyable and satisfying to urge others on to greater obedience in their spiritual lives?

2) Do you enjoy counseling and encouraging other believers with the Scriptures when they are going through personal problems and difficulties?

3) Do you find yourself drawn toward believers who are struggling and those who are struggling seek you out for counsel and encouragement?

3. "Evangelism" is the "spiritual ability to present the gospel in a clear and coherent way so that unbelievers accept Christ as Savior." (Eph.4:11)

1) Do you find it easy and enjoyable to lead a conversation with an unbeliever into discussing the gospel and do you share the gospel regularly?

2) Have you found that many people have come to Christ as a result of your witnessing?

4. "Mercy" is the "spiritual ability to effectively comfort and/or relieve the suffering believer through spiritual and/or physical means." (Rom.12:8)

1) Do you feel strong compassion for those believers who are suffering that moves you to comfort them and help relieve their suffering?

2) Are you drawn toward those ministries in the church that help relieve the suffering of other believers?

5. "Giving" is the "spiritual ability to give of one's material goods or financial resources sacrificially for the Lord's work and/or the financial and material needs of believers (above and beyond the Biblical responsibility of all believers)." (Rom.12:8)

1) When you give to the Lord's work or for the needs of believers, do you give generously and abundantly, above and beyond the Biblical responsibility of non-gifted believers?

6. "Administration" is the "spiritual ability to effectively plan, organize, and direct a group of Christians to accomplish a particular ministry objective in a harmonious and orderly way." (1 Cor.12:28)

1) Do you find it easy to plan out specific steps in detail that need to be taken to accomplish a particular ministry objective?

2) Do you find it easy to organize a group of saints into a smoothly working group to accomplish a ministry objective?

3) Do you find that other Christians have a confidence in your ability to direct them in a particular ministry objective in an organized way and they willingly follow you?

7. "Leadership" is the "spiritual ability to discern the spiritual needs of a group of Christians and lead them into fulfilling God's plan for them which is greater love for Christ, for one another, and for the lost." (Rom.12:8)

1) Are you able to discern the spiritual needs of a group of believers?

2) Do you have a desire to lead a group of believers into greater love for Christ, for one another, and for the lost?

3) Do Christians follow you when you attempt to lead them into this plan of God for them?

8. "Helps" is the "spiritual ability to effectively come to the aid of another believer to meet a personal, temporal (non-spiritual) burden or need which often is immediate, unexpected, and/or extraordinary." (1 Cor.12:28)

1) When a temporal (non-spiritual) need arises in a Christian's life that is sudden and immediate and you can meet that need, do you immediately respond to try to meet it?

2) Are you motivated by a strong desire to relieve that Christian of his or her burden or need that has arisen?

3) Do you have a greater desire to meet these kinds of needs on a need-by-need basis rather than meeting one of these needs on a long-term basis?

9. "Service" is the "spiritual ability to effectively perform self-sacrificial actions and tasks to assist the body of believers in the fulfillment of the Great Commission." (Rom.12:7)

1) Do you have a desire to assist somewhere in the ministry of the church?

2) Do you desire to use your talents and abilities to assist those are leading in the ministry of the church?