Searching for my spiritual gift?

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” – 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

In regards to spiritual gifts, I offer the following with a great degree of humility, recognizing everything we possess is from the Lord:

My wife and I were reading through 1 Corinthians the past several weeks. As part of that, I did some preparatory study for chapter 12, in which the apostle Paul wrote about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Boy, did that bring back memories, but it also spoke to my walk with the Lord currently.

After my wife and I accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone back in 1983, we began attending an independent, fundamental Baptist church not too far from our home. The church had several problems, which eventually caused us to leave in 1991, but there were also several positives associated with our time there.

The pastor used an expository style of preaching. He would select a particular book of the Bible and, over time, preach on the entire text, from the opening verse clear through to the last verse. With three different books being studied each week (Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night), we got A LOT of Bible and some very thorough teaching.

I can vividly remember the pastor studying through 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.* His message was that everyone had a spiritual gift and it was up to each person to determine their particular gift so that they could use it to minister to the rest of the body of Christ. For several weeks afterwards, we had members asking each other what their spiritual gift was. Argh! It reminded me of kindergarten class. I felt a bit lost because I didn’t know what my gift was. I taught Sunday School class for primary children (grades 1-3) for about four years and was also a deacon for one year, and, although I was very blessed by both ministries, I felt like a fish out of water.

After I returned to the Lord after my long prodigal “season,” the Lord put it into my heart to reach out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel of grace and to confront the error of ecumenism within the church. For those reasons, I started this blog almost three years ago and I usually post something every day except for Sundays. However, as I wrote my posts, I often became frustrated as to why my brothers and sisters in the Lord didn’t see the obvious dangers of ecumenism as I did, until it struck me; the Lord blessed me with a degree of discernment regarding Catholicism and ecumenism, a gift which many do not have, even pastors and theologians who have a lot more training and familiarity with God’s Word and church history than I do. I don’t state that with any degree of pride. The Lord bestows His gifts upon us differently. But don’t all people who accept Christ and come out of Catholicism also have this gift? No, I’ve noticed that many ex-Catholics have a tolerant “it didn’t work for me, but whatever works for you” attitude. Am I and others who have the gift of discernment always right? Ugh. Hardly. I am not infallible and NONE of us minister in our gifts perfectly. Only Jesus is perfect. But, when I read 1 Corinthians 12 now, I am not frustrated about what my gift is as I was thirty years ago. I know exactly what it is.

Scripture exhorts ALL believers to study God’s Word to show themselves approved unto the Lord, so that they are able to discern false teaching, but many believers are forfeiting their individual responsibility and buying into the ear-tickling, topical, doctrine-lite, and even false teaching that’s increasingly prevalent in hip mega-churches.

Below is a helpful, three-part article from Tim Challies about the gift of discernment.

The Gift of Spiritual Discernment, Part 1
The Gift of Spiritual Discernment, Part 2
The Gift of Spiritual Discernment, Part 3

“Where God has given a gift, we can expect that He will also give passion…Those who look for their gifting should look to what interests them and what makes them feel passionate. As they look to their passions they may just find their gifts.” – Tim Challies

I don’t believe Christians need to wring their hands and anguish over what their spiritual gift (or gifts) is as our old pastor had directed us to. As we follow the Lord and seek His Kingdom, He will put a desire in our hearts to serve the body in the way He desires.

*Full disclosure: When it comes to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I’m a “cessationist,” meaning I believe the showy gifts (healings, languages, raising the dead, handling poisonous snakes, etc.) were meant to demonstrate the authority of the apostles and to establish the church, and ended after the apostolic age following the establishment of the New Testament.

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15 thoughts on “Searching for my spiritual gift?

  1. Tom, you stated something within this post that rang my passionate bell. I was raised unlike you in the Baptist Church where I was told as you state that the gifts had ceased. You mention that you are a cessationist. Being taught that the gifts ceased with the apostolic age, and also being taught that there were six other church ages to follow that. I then also was taught that Jesus second coming was taught in scripture as being imminant. The two concepts did not compute. Something cannot be overhanging or imminant and yet follow seven ages spanning now 6000 years. This actually spawned my passion for studying both the gifts and prophecy. In that quest I have found that biblical truth is more important to us than any church doctrine, unless of course that doctrine aligns with biblical truth. Now as to the spiritual gifts themselves, there is reported evidence at times by missionaries that in some instances in remote third world countries what some call the apostolic gifts are evidenced. I would only add that all of the gifts are given as purposed by the Holy Spirit. And this is just my openion, but I believe that we should not limit the Holy Spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jerry. I believe the apostolic gifts were for a specific purpose at a specific time, but I also realize God doesn’t need my permission to do what He desires and that genuine miracles can and do happen. Allow me to clarify by saying that I am not absolutist when it comes to cessationism, but that I am extremely skeptical of what are claimed to be gifts of the spirit in the Pentecostal and charismatic (including Catholic charismatic) movements. It’s a topic that I rarely bring up because I’m not looking for a debate with my Pentecostal and charismatic brethren, but I wanted to be transparent in my post.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Good post, Tom. As you know I would agree with what you have said here. In our work, we do believe the miraculous spiritual manifestation gifts have ceased, and that the vital abiding spiritual gifts are faith, hope and love. Now, within that, there is much debate. Some take a very hardline approach and say that is it, period. That there are NO other gifts still in use today. Some say other gifts are still given, such as teaching, helps, service, giving, evangelism, etc. I lean quite liberally that way myself. I do believe some are gifted in these areas. And by gifted I don’t mean just a special talent or something that comes with practice. Skills and gifts are not the same. The first time I ever had to teach a class, I realized that teaching was one of mine, as it just flowed naturally with absolutely no inkling that it was coming. The need was there, and I was able to fill it. Since then, there have been numerous occasions where clearly the Holy Spirit was guiding and providing the words. Now, don’t get me wrong, I study really hard for my teaching and come prepared, but sometimes….things adjust unexpectedly. Also, I believe I am gifted in the area of personal evangelism. Which works out well with our visitation program. I can’t count the times I have felt the clear guidance of the Holy Spirit when speaking with a person and said things I had no clue I planned on saying. I also agree with one of your commenters above, that limiting the Holy Spirit is a real and present danger in some of the more hardcore Cessasionist congregations. I had somebody tell me once that there simply no such thing as miracles anymore, period. Um…what? You meant to tell me God can’t still do what He wants? I agree that He doesn’t gift men and women the ability to perform them as they wish as He did the Apostles. but last time I checked, God Himself is still omnipotent and in full control of every single event in this universe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for weighing in, Wally! I agree with all your thoughts, including those at the end about God not being limited to what we might think. I did answer Jerry accordingly. I initially hesitated writing this post because I thought some might think it presumptuous, but I also thought it might be helpful for someone.

      RE: there have been numerous occasions where clearly the Holy Spirit was guiding and providing the words…I have felt the clear guidance of the Holy Spirit when speaking.

      I hear you, Wally. I don’t claim any extrabiblical revelation like Sarah Young in “Jesus Calling” but many times I sit down to write a post and finish a 1/2 hour later after 500 words and feel like, Huh! How did that happen? Like, that was some of mine but not all mine. It was rather like a big “assist.” I’m guessing everyone with a gift from the Holy Spirit feels the same way. Sometimes it just shifts into, no, not auto-pilot, but Holy Spirit pilot.

      A few weeks ago when our church showed that video of the pope and Catholic statuary and nobody else objected, it struck me that the Lord put me there, not to leave in disgust as I wanted to, but to use my gift for the benefit of the body and to speak with the pastor and help him avoid something like that in the future. All praise to the bestower of gifts!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Excellent Tom. An “assist.” I like that! Of course extra Biblical revelation is not the deal, but yet the guidance of the Spirit is clear if one is receptive to it. I am glad you added that last paragraph, but I am really glad you realized that your role was to help, not to walk out!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Wally!
        RE: walk out
        Yeah, all the pieces of the puzzle kinda fell into place and I was like, “Ah, I get it Lord. You put me here for this very reason.”
        I can be pretty thick-headed at times.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you do have the gift of discernment; while teachers seems obvious to have to possess the gift of discernment I do think sometimes teachers can also be short sighted and have blind spots; I’m not immune myself. Sometimes shepherds benefit from the presence of “guard dogs”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jimmy! I often wondered why the Lord led us to that small SBC church where we attended for one year – many problems there with the pastor leaning heavily toward ecumenism – but that led directly to starting this blog and I’m very grateful to be able to serve the Lord in something I’m passionate about. What a gift! It became very clear when we saw that video at our church a few weeks ago and we were the only ones to speak up and object. The Lord put me there to get alongside the pastor and help him with that “blind spot.” I appreciate that you are open to an assist from the “guard dogs.” One man can’t do it alone. By the way, in thinking about my blogging ministry, I really appreciate your friendship, prayers, guidance, and good example over the last couple of years. Thank you, brother!

      Liked by 1 person

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