Exploring Spiritual Gifts

persons hand on white textile

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uniformed(1 Corinthians 12:1).

Spiritual gifts are special abilities given by the Holy Spirit to every believer according to God’s grace, to be used to serve others and therefore build up the Body of Christ. Every believer has at least one gift. No one has them all (1 Corinthians 7:7). We do not earn our gift(s); they are given by God’s grace. It is important not to neglect your gift (1 Timothy 4:14).  At CVC, we encourage the use of a free Spiritual Gifts Inventory found at www.SpiritualGiftsTest.com

While taking a spiritual gifts inventory can be helpful, to identify your gift or gifts, you should…

  • Explore the possibilities.
  • Experiment with many.
  • Examine your feelings.
  • Evaluate your effectiveness.
  • Expect confirmation from the Body.

Remember that the identification of your spiritual gift is a process, not an event!  It is easier to discover your gift through ministry than to discover your ministry through your gift.

At a glance, below is how the gifts mentioned in the Bible appear:

1 Corinthians 12:8-111 Corinthians 12:28Romans 12:6-8Ephesians 4:111 Peter 4:11
Word of wisdomApostlesProphecyApostlesSpeaking
Word of knowledgeProphetsServiceProphetsService
Gifts of healingsWorkers of miraclesExhortationPastors 
Working of miraclesHelpsGivingTeachers 
Distinguishing of spiritsKinds of tonguesShowing of mercy  
Kinds of tongues    
Interpretation of tongues    

Here’s a very brief overview of the gifts mentioned above:

  1. Wisdom – A supernatural ability of insight and putting knowledge to work… incredible application of knowledge to specific situations – the “Application” of God’s Word.
  2. Knowledge – A supernatural ability to perceive and systematize the great truths which God has hidden in His Word.
  3. Faith – A supernatural ability to believe God for the supply of great needs, to believe that God will meet the need even though circumstances may look impossible.
  4. Healing – A supernatural ability to pray for a healing of physical illnesses, perhaps mental and/or emotional bondage. 
  5. Miracles – A supernatural ability to access a miraculous manifestation of God’s power beyond natural laws. This could be healing, supernatural intervention, a miraculous provision for needs, etc.
  6. Discern spirits – A supernatural ability to recognize truth from falsehood, to recognize what is genuine from what is counterfeit, to recognize what is of God from what is from men or demons.
  7. Tongues – A supernatural ability to speak a language unknown by the speaker. It could be a human language or an angelic language. The Greek word is “glossa” which means tongue and also language. 
  8. Interpret tongues – A supernatural ability to hear speaking in tongues and to translate it, to interpret it so the meaning can be known.
  9. Apostle – A supernatural ability to be a pioneer who catalyzes and initiates churches, organization, or movements to advance the gospel. (Note: This gift is to be distinguished from the office of “Apostle” who were eyewitnesses of Jesus after His resurrection and who were commissioned by Christ as foundational leaders for the church.)  
  10. Prophecy – A supernatural ability to speak forth a message from God with boldness and clarity, bringing correction and challenge to God’s people with a call to obedience. (Note: This gift is to be distinguished from the office of “Prophet,” Old Testament believers who were inspired by God to speak the truth and foretell the future in infallible ways.) 
  11. Teacher – A supernatural ability to engage in the explanation and application of God’s Word, to communicate and clarify the details and truths of God’s Word so that others can learn God’s truth.
  12. Helps – A supernatural ability to bring immediate support and assistance to another in order to relieve a pressing burden.
  13. Administration – A supernatural ability to organize, administrate, and give direction toward the accomplishment of specific goals of a church or a ministry.
  14. Service – A supernatural ability to joyfully perform any task in practical ways so that others are strengthened and encouraged.  
  15. Encouragement (exhortation) – A supernatural ability to come along side of another, to draw close to them, and to lift them up in their time of need with counsel and encouragement.
  16. Giving (contributing) – A supernatural ability to joyfully and generously share one’s material resources without selfish motives.
  17. Leadership – A supernatural ability to rule, direct, or oversee others to accomplish God’s work in a church or in a ministry organization.  
  18. Mercy – A supernatural ability to show practical and compassionate love to relieve the physical suffering of the lowly, the sick, and the aged.
  19. Evangelism – A supernatural ability to present the gospel with exceptional clarity and effectiveness to the unsaved so they respond with saving faith.
  20. Pastor – A supernatural capacity to provide spiritual leadership, nurturing, and care for God’s people. Usually enabled to preach and teach the Word of God and to take responsibility for the spiritual welfare of a body of believers.
  21. Speaking – A supernatural ability to authoritatively communicate the words of God – the truths of Scripture – as though God Himself were speaking. 

It may be prudent at this point to make a statement about the public expression of what some have called the “sign gifts” (miracles, tongues, interpretation, and healing).

We do not believe, as some Christians do, that these gifts have ceased for today’s church. We hold to a cautious continuationist view – that all the spiritual gifts listed in the Bible continue to be available in today’s church. As taught in 1 Corinthians 14, we do practice caution in the public expression of these “sign gifts.” For example, speaking in tongues has not been part of our Sunday worship experiences. 

We are sensitive to the fact that the public expression of these “sign gifts” can make lost people feel uncomfortable and may lead them to focus on our experiences in worship, rather than on the One we are worshipping, the Savior Himself. 1 Corinthians 14:23 makes the point: “If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?”

Billy Graham’s words are helpful, “The sign gifts… must never be exploited for selfish reasons, nor must they ever become sources of either division or pride. We are not to become preoccupied or obsessed with them, and most of all whenever gifts of this nature are given, they must be used strictly in accordance with the principles that God has set forth in the Bible [See 1 Corinthians 14]. This should also contribute to the unity of the Spirit. And if God chooses to give these gifts to some today, we should always pray that they will be used ‘for the common good’ (1 Corinthians 12:7) and for the furtherance of the kingdom of God (The Holy Spirit, p. 266).

God has been gracious throughout our history at Cuyahoga Valley Church to enable attenders who speak in tongues and attenders who don’t speak in tongues to coexist with humility, charity, and unity. Please pray with us that disagreements and controversy concerning the gifts of the Spirit will not bring division to our church family. 

Rick Duncan, CVC Founding Pastor