There are three passages in the New Testament that speak about spiritual gifts. However, we need to understand what is the meaning of spiritual gifts. As natural human beings, we have many different talents that we can use at school, work, in public speaking, writing, or even in sport and music, and so on. These are talents that God gave us so that we can use them in our spheres of life, but not in the local church. As Christians (anyone who accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour), God can use the talents that we have, and is able to turn them into spiritual gifts, in order to be of benefit to our local church. So, a talent is something we use in the world outside, but the spiritual gift is what we should use inside our local place of gathering, or among each other as born-again Christians.
The three sections in the Bible that speak about spiritual gifts are:
- Romans 12 we see God Himself. For a hint, look at the first three verses. In this epistle, these are not necessarily gifts like in 1 Corinthians and Ephesians, but are characteristics of the Christian life, given to those who are born-again Christians and have a desire to live in a way that pleases the Lord, but not relying on the works of the law, or on any good deeds.
- 1 Corinthians 12 we see the Holy Spirit as distributing the gifts. The manifestations of the Spirit is evident in this section. Not everyone has the same gifts, but all members are useful. Chapter 14 expounds on the use of the gifts in the local church. The purpose in 1 Corinthians 12 is that we should not say because person so and so has this gift and I don’t, then I am not important. We are equally all part of the body of Christ (see verses 14-24).
- Ephesians 4 we see the risen and ascended Christ gives the gifts. The distinction is that He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists and some shepherds and teachers. These are gifts themselves and not the people. May we continue to focus on the One who gave the gifts, rather than being absorbed by the gifts that He gave us. The purpose of these gifts in Ephesians is for the building up of the church (ch 4:12-13).
Therefore, it is evident that the Triune God (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) is involved in distributing these gifts. May we all be exercised as to what God gave us and be ready to use what we have in our local place of gathering.