What’s the Difference?

Different Balls by Idea go

Image courtesy of Idea go / freedigitalphotos.net

If you’ve ever been to a church for any length of time, you’ve probably been introduced to the spiritual gifts. Maybe you’ve decided that you probably have one of the easier ones, like wisdom, and dismissed ones like prophecy (prophets are SO Old Testament, right?). Whatever it is, you likely haven’t thought much about them since the first time you heard about them.

But there’s a distinct difference between the lists of spiritual gifts in the Bible, and before I blog any further, I want to make sure that I distinguish between these lists. This is significant because as I talk further about gifts, I don’t want to confuse you. I may occasionally refer to the 1 Corinthians 12 list or the Ephesians 4 list, but it is important for you to know that in most of my posts, when I speak of spiritual gifts, I will be referring to the Romans 12 list.

The Romans 12:6-8 list is the list of motivational (or redemptive) spiritual gifts, and it is a list of seven gifts: prophet, servant, teacher, giver, exhorter, ruler/administrator, mercy. This list  was made popular in teachings by Bill Gothard, whose teachings opened the door to research and study of what motivates us to act and be who we are. Arthur Burk and others also have done extensive work concerning motivational gifts. Motivational gifts are given by God at birth, and every person–not just every believer–has one dominant and one secondary motivational gift. There are more than 100 lists of seven in the Bible (meaning lists that contain seven items). Scholars view seven as a significant number in the Bible. Are these lists of seven compatible? I believe so. This is another significant reason that I use the Romans 12 list as my “go to” list of spiritual gifts. There is continuity across the Bible with lists of seven, and it’s exciting when you begin to understand this more!

The list of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 is lengthy and somewhat overwhelming. The important distinction between these gifts is they are given by the Spirit, and that the Spirit gives these gifts “to each one individually as He [the Spirit] wills.”  These are the gifts that include speaking in tongues, wisdom, discernment, and healing, among others. Since only believers receive the Holy Spirit who gives these gifts, only believers receive these gifts.

The list of gifts in Ephesians 4 are the offices of the church and include apostles, teachers, prophets, evangelists, and pastors. It is important to also note that Jesus is the one Who gives these gifts. These are the gifts that sustain and empower the church. Not every believer is given one of these gifts.

Let me note that one can have the Romans 12 gift of prophecy, the 1 Corinthians 12 gift of prophecy, and the Ephesians 4 office of prophet in the church. But you could also be a Romans 12 gift of mercy, with the 1 Corinthians 12 gift of discernment, in the Ephesians 4 office of prophet in the church. Gifts are not always the same, nor do they necessarily manifest themselves in people in the same way (mostly due to immaturity, walking in the flesh vs. the Spirit, and wounding).

Now that you know the difference, do you know your motivational gift? What 1 Corinthians gifts have you been given by the Spirit? Have you been blessed with the gift of a church office?

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