Spiritual Gifts – What Are They?


What are spiritual gifts?

Many of us know someone in our church who 1) seems especially adept at running a meeting; 2) always has a kind word or 3) makes the Bible clear, dynamic and relevant to our lives.

Chances are that in these cases, someone is using one or more of their spiritual gifts.

What Are Spiritual Gifts?

The phrase “spiritual gifts” comes to us from the Greek term charisma as it is used in 1 Corinthians 12:4 (or Romans 12:6). In those chapters, the Apostle Paul describes a series of special ministries that the Holy Spirit provides to every believer.

To the question, What are spiritual gifts? we may answer:

A spiritual gift is a special or supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to every believer for the edification of the church and for Christian service.

Aspects of Spiritual Gifts

Notice the following with respect to spiritual gifts:

1) They represent a special or supernatural grace

This is to say that gifts operate in the supernatural realm; their effect goes beyond a natural talent or learned ability that someone might possess.

2) They are given to every believer

Every Christian possesses one or more of these gifts. They are given to a believer at the time of his / her conversion or may be conferred later as a person becomes a more active member of a church.

3) They are given so that believers may serve the church

Spiritual gifts are not meant for the person who possesses them, nor are they to be treated as spiritual trophies. Spiritual gifts are meant to be used in the service of others so that the body of Christ can be effective in its ministries.

Spiritual gifts are not…

We may also note that spiritual gifts are sometimes confused with other personal traits:

1) They are not the same as having natural talent

Some people are just naturally gifted in a particular area, whether sports, music, art, mathematics, etc. We sometimes use the expressions, “that person was born playing the piano.”

But as wonderful as these talents are, they are not the same as a supernatural grace or ability that each Christian possesses.

2) They are not the same as the fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 lists several qualities that every believer should produce: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Here we note that EVERY believer should be producing these qualities as part of a mature, Spirit-filled, Christian character.

3) They are not roles or offices

We may sometimes confuse the office of a pastor or the role of an evangelism director in a church with a spiritual gift. But again, a gift of the Spirit is a supernatural ability, which may be utilized within a number of different roles or offices.

You may possess the gift of pastoring and yet never be called upon to lead a church in a formal position. By the same token, we would expect someone who is a pastor to possess the corresponding spiritual gift of “pastoring”.


What are spiritual gifts?  They are supernatural abilities given to every believer for the benefit of the church.

For this reason, it is important that every Christian discover and utilize these gifts.  In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at the list of spiritual gifts available.