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What are Spiritual Gifts?

Author: Rachel Kidd

Gifts are always welcome in my book. I love to open a thoughtful present from someone I love, something that shows me they were thinking about me and what I like. It makes me feel valued, cared for, and special.  

God likes to give His loved ones gifts, too. He calls us chosen, beloved, and He has given us many gifts. The world we live in, the air we breathe, and the food that sustains us are incredible gifts from God.  

What are Spiritual Gifts? 

Beyond physical gifts, God also gives us intangible gifts. Most importantly these gifts are given through a relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit is a presence that we are gifted as part of our faith in Christ.  

The Spirit imbues us all with particular gifts, unique to our personalities and circumstances.  

These gifts are intended to not only help us as individuals, but to advance the kingdom of God and to be a blessing to others. By sharing our gifts and using them to uplift others, we are following God’s commandment to love one another well.  

This series on spiritual gifts will examine the various types of gifts, how to determine your own gifts, how we can use them to serve others well, and how to use our gifts to further God’s kingdom.  

Denominational Understanding 

Different denominations have varied understandings of spiritual gifts and what it means to be ‘baptized in the Spirit.’ 

Pentecostals believe the Holy Spirit is present in a believer’s body upon conversion. This presence is a powerful experience that manifests through physical expressions, like dancing and singing.  

Often, Pentecostal and Baptist believers express their faith conversion experience through a believer’s baptism, or credo-baptism.1 This is the practice of baptizing in water, whether in a church baptismal, pool, river, or even ocean.  

Different from an infant baptism, where babies are promised to the Lord by their parents, common in many Christian traditions, a believer’s baptism is defined by the agency of the believer. They are making a conscious choice to declare their faith in God.  

In the Charismatic movement, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not of water, but of tongues. Theologically, charisma means a “divinely conferred gift or power.”  

Instead of being submerged in water to represent your faith in Christ, new believers are understood to be given the gift of speaking in tongues. They are imbued with the divinely conferred gift, or power, to speak in heavenly or unknown earthly languages.  

This understanding of the gift of tongues comes from Acts, where the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, appearing like tongues of fire, filling them and granting them the ability to share the Gospel in unknown languages.  

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost 

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?  

Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” –Acts 2:1-13 

This gift at Pentecost enabled the apostles after the ascension of Jesus to preach to people in their own languages. It allowed them to connect to people for the glory of God.  

Some did not understand, blaming their unusual behavior on the wine. Likewise, some may not agree with or understand your God-given gifts. That does not detract from their God-given power or significance.  

Types of Gifts 

Beyond baptism, many denominations recognize the presence of others’ gifts given to believers by the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s purpose. These gifts are also divinely conferred, though perhaps less obvious, than speaking in tongues.  

The important link is believing that spiritual gifts are given to help others, to give life, and to further the kingdom of God.  

This is just a brief overview of some spiritual gifts. Later posts in this series will delve deeper into each gift, what they mean, and how to recognize them.   

  • Discernment  
    • The unique ability to determine whether something is good or “of God” by sense. 
  • Evangelism & Ministry 
    • Those called to ministry often are blessed with the gift of evangelism. They have the unique ability to share the Gospel in a way that connects with people, minister to them, and love them well.  
  • Encouragement  
    • Encouragers have the ability to make others feel hopeful, to inspire renewed faith, and uplift the downtrodden.  
  • Leadership  
    • Good and Godly leaders are servant leaders, who lead with love and grace.  
  • Mercy  
    • It can be difficult to show mercy to others, even when God has shown us great mercy. Some believers have a particular heart for the hurting of others and are compelled to act in their aid.  
  • Service 
    • Acts of service is a love language and believers who show love this way often have the gift of service. They are humble in their work, often doing tasks that are crucial but unnoticed.  
  • Teaching  
    • Good teachers have the ability to connect with others and share new information in a way that makes sense to their students. They are able to communicate God’s word to others in a meaningful way.  






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