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Tuesday
Nov062012

Theological Term of the Week

spiritual gift
A God-given empowerment to minister to others within the church. 

  • From scripture:
  • And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, [12] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ… (Ephesians 4:11-12 ESV)

    For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. [4] For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, [5] so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. [6] Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; [7] if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; [8] the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:3-8 ESV) 

  • From Keeping in Step with the Spirit by J. I. Packer:
  • Nowhere does Paul or any other New Testament writer define a spiritual gift for us, but Paul’s assertion that the use of gifts edifies (“builds up,” 1 Corinthians 143-5, 12, 26, see also 17; Ephesians 4:12, 16) shows what his idea of a gift was. For Paul, it is only through Christ, in Christ, by learning Christ and responding to Christ that anyone is ever edified. Our latter-day secular use of this word is far wider and looser than Paul’s; for him, edification is precisely a matter of growing in the depth and fullness of one’s understanding of Christ and all else in relation to him and in the quality of one’s personal relationship with him, and it is not anything else. So spiritual gifts must be defined in terms of Christ, as actualized powers of expressing, celebrating, displaying and so communicating Christ in one way or another, either by word or by deed. They would not be edifying otherwise. 

Learn more:
  1. Blue Letter Bible: What Are Spiritual Gifts?
  2. GotQuestions.org: What are the different spiritual gifts the Bible mentions?
  3. Vern Poythress: What Are Spiritual Gifts? (pdf)
  4. Fred Zaspel: Study of Spiritual Gifts

Related term:

Filed under Ecclesiology

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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Reader Comments (2)

I love Packer's thoughts Rebecca and look forward to following the links you provided. - I took a "Spiritual Gifts" class in college and didn't like it at all. We were given questionairres to fill out to determine our gifts - It was akin to finding your love language, spritiual temperment, ect. I had such a rebelllious attitude about it it's a wonder I passed the class.

November 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Oooh...I'm really sceptical of any "determine your gift" questionnaires. I think we're gifted on an as-needed basis to do the jobs in service to the church that God gives us.

November 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

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