What is the definition of a Spiritual Gift?
By way of definition, a spiritual gift is “a God-given ability for service.” Spiritual gifts are given to believers, and those who are given these spiritual gifts become gifted people. Spiritual gifts, then, are supernatural abilities possessed by individuals, and gifted people are sovereignly placed by God in the Church for the purpose of ministering to the Body.
A. Attributes of Spiritual Gifts Spiritual gifts have six attributes or characteristics.1. Sovereignly Bestowed First, they are sovereignly bestowed (I Cor. 12:11). God decides who gets which gift. No matter how much one may personally pray for a specific gift, it will not be given based on that. As shall be seen in the course of this study, these gifts are sovereignly bestowed.
2. Given at the Moment of Salvation Secondly, spiritual gifts are given at the time of salvation (I Cor.12:13). They are not given at some time subsequent to salvation. The moment one believes and is baptized by the Spirit into the Body of the Messiah, the believer receives his spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12).
3. Given to Every Believer The third attribute is that every believer has at least one gift. There is no such thing as a believer with no spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:6; I Cor. 12:7, 11, 27).
4. Differ in Value Fourthly, spiritual gifts differ in value; there is an order of importance in the gifts (I Cor. 12:28).
5. Used in Love The fifth attribute is that these spiritual gifts are to be used in love. Between I Corinthians 12 and 14, which discuss the details concerning spiritual gifts, is chapter 13, the chapter on love, which emphasizes that these gifts are to be used in love.
6. Distributed in a Specific Order The sixth attribute is that spiritual gifts follow a specific order of distribution. First, the Messiah is the ultimate source of these gifts. Secondly, the agent is the Holy Spirit. Thirdly, the extent of gift-giving is that each believer has at least one gift.
B. What Spiritual Gifts Are Not In light of the attributes just mentioned, five things should be noted that a spiritual gift is not.
1. Not a Place First, it is not a place of service; there is no spiritual gift for serving in Africa, Asia, this place or that place. A spiritual gift is a God-given ability for service and can be used anywhere.
2. Not an Office Secondly, a spiritual gift is not an office, though offices should be filled by spiritually gifted men. The gift of pastor is not the same as the office of a pastor. While every pastor should have the gift of pastoring, not everyone who has the gift of pastor needs to have the office of pastor. For example, according to Scripture, a woman cannot have the office of pastor, but she can have the gift of pastoring. A good place for a woman to use this gift would be in the position ofDean ofWomen at a Christian college. A spiritual gift is usable apart from the office.
3. Not a Talent Thirdly, a spiritual gift is not a talent. Talents are innate to all kinds of people both believers and unbelievers, but spiritual gifts are limited to believers only.
4. Not an Age-Group Ministry Fourthly, it is not a particular age-group ministry. There is no gift for “young people’s work” any more than there is a gift for “old people’s work.” A spiritual gift is simply a God-given ability for service and should be usable with every age level.
5. Not an Indication of Spirituality Fifth, spiritual gifts are not indications of spirituality. The possession of a spiritual gift is something God grants at the moment of salvation. Spiritual or non-spiritual, carnal believers can have spiritual gifts, and they can use the gift correctly or incorrectly. Hence, rules were laid down as to the proper use of spiritual gifts. The Corinthian church was the most active in the use of spiritual gifts; however, it was also the worst church in the New Testament record.
MBS071 The Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Pg 6-8