Ten Spiritual Gifts


Ken Boa takes a concise look at the nature of ten different spiritual gifts and offers a word about discovering, developing, and using them.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves, is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:10- 11).

These verses imply a twofold classification: (1) speaking gifts (ministry of the Word), and (2) serving gifts (ministry of practical service).

Healing (1 Corinthians 12:9, 28, 30)—The ability to serve as a human instrument through whom God cures illnesses and restores health. The possessor of this gift is not the source of power, but a vessel who can only heal those diseases the Lord chooses to heal. This spiritual gift should not be confused with the signs and wonders performed by Jesus and the apostles, and it should not be discredited because of the abuses of grandstanding faith healers. Like other charismata such as teaching and evangelism, the gift of healing involves varying degrees of development and effectiveness. Healing prayer is not limited to physical disease, but can also extend to emotional, relational, and spiritual concerns. Thus, inner healing, or healing of memories, concerns emotional wounds such as repressed fears, anger, humiliation, and rejection.

Miracles (1 Corinthians 12:10, 28, 29)—The ability to serve as an instrument through whom God accomplishes acts that manifest supernatural power. Miracles bear witness to the presence of God and the truth of His proclaimed Word, and appear to occur most frequently in association with missionary activity. The gospel message carries its own authority, but God sometimes graciously uses miracles to authenticate and open doors for the proclamation of forgiveness and life in Christ.

Distinguishing of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10)—The ability to clearly discern the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (cf. 1 John 4:6). With this gift, one may distinguish reality versus counterfeits, the divine versus the demonic, true versus false teaching, and in some cases, spiritual versus carnal motives.

Tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10, 28, 30; 14:1-40)—The ability to receive and impart a spiritual message in a language the recipient never learned. For other members of the body to be edified, this message must be interpreted either by the recipient (1 Corinthians 14:13) or by another person with the gift of interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:26-28).

Interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10, 30; 14:5,13, 26-28)—The ability to translate into the vernacular a message publicly uttered in a tongue. This gift may be combined with the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 14:13), or it can operate separately (1 Corinthians 14:26-28).

Apostleship (1 Corinthians 12:28, 29; Ephesians 4:11)—In the New Testament, the apostles were not limited to the Twelve, but included Paul, Barnabas, Andronicus, Junias, and others as well (Acts 14:14; Romans 16:7; 1 Corinthians 15:5, 7; 1 Thessalonians 2:6). If the requirement for the office of apostle includes having seen the resurrected Jesus (Acts 1:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1), this office ceased to exist by the second century. However, many believe that the gift of apostleship continues to be given. As a spiritual gift, this is the ability to begin and/or to oversee new churches and Christian ministries with a spontaneously recognized authority.

Helps (1 Corinthians 12:28)—The ability to enhance the effectiveness of the ministry of other members of the body. This is the only usage of this word in the New Testament, and it appears to be distinct from the gift of service. Some suggest that while the gift of service is more group-oriented, the gift of helps is more person-oriented.

Administration (1 Corinthians 12:28)—This word, like helps, appears only one time in the New Testament, and it is used outside of Scripture of a helmsman who steers a ship to its destination. This suggests that the spiritual gift of administration is the ability to steer a church or Christian organization toward the fulfillment of its goals by managing its affairs and implementing necessary plans. A person may have the gift of leadership without the gift of administration.

Evangelism (Ephesians 4:11)—The ability to be an unusually effective instrument in leading unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ. Some with this gift are most effective in personal evangelism, while others may be used by God in group evangelism or cross-cultural evangelism.

Shepherding or pastoring (Ephesians 4:11)—Peter was commissioned by Christ to shepherd His sheep (John 21:16), and Peter exhorted the elders in the churches of Asia Minor to do the same (1 Peter 5:2; cf. Acts 20:28). A person with this spiritual gift has the ability to lead, nourish, protect, and personally care for the needs of a “flock” of believers. Not all people with the office of pastor (elder, overseer) have or need the gift of pastoring or shepherding, and many with this gift do not have or need the office.

Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth

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