Summary: Spiritual gifts are given to prepare God's people for service and for building up the body of Christ.
Understanding Spiritual Gifts
The spiritual gifts can be found in the following passages of Scripture:
Romans 12:6-8 - Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Ephesians 4:7-13 - But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore He says: "When He Ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” (Now this, "he ascended"-what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11;28-31 - There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
1 Peter 4:10-11 - As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Exodus 35:29-35 - The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done. And Moses said to the children of Israel, "See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship. "And He has put in his heart the ability to teach, in him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver-those who do every work and those who design artistic works.
To understand the nature of spiritual gifts we must first look at the words in Scripture used to describe them.
The term "spiritual gifts" comes from the Greek words “charismata” (gifts) and “pneumatika” (spirits).
Viewing these terms together yields a more complete description of the gifts they are describing.
Although they are known as "spiritual gifts", the Greek simply reads "spirituals" (ton pneumatikon), meaning "things characterized or controlled by the Spirit." Spiritual gifts, then, are first of all things controlled or characterized by the Spirit.
The word "gifts" which translates from the Greek word charisma; hence, our term "charismatic." The root word (charis) means "grace." So now if “pneumatikon” tells us that spiritual gifts are things characterized by the Holy Spirit, “charisma” teaches us that they are gifts of God's grace. They are not something we earn or deserve. They are gifts of grace. Regardless of what the term "charismatic" has come to mean and imply today, there really is no such thing as a non-charismatic gift. All gifts are charismatic; that is, all gifts are freely given by a gracious God.