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The Permanent Gifts

Some of the gifts described in the New Testament were foundations to the beginning of the church: the unique ministry of the apostles and prophets in bringing direct revelation from God (Eph. 2:19-22). Other gifts are evidently permanent or enduring throughout the history of the church and are especially directed toward edification and enablement for worship and service. The list of such gifts which follows with brief definitions demonstrates the diversity of capabilities distributed among believers for mutual edification, care, and direction. The very nature of these gifts precludes any intention to exalt the gifts, but emphasizes humble service to the saints and communication of the gospel to the lost (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:8-10, 28-30; Eph. 4:11; 1 Pet. 4:10,11).

1. Apostolic: In a specific sense, the term apostle has reference to the 12 disciples of Jesus; in a general sense, it may have reference to those who are sent by God with the supernatural ability to proclaim the gospel and plant churches as pioneer missionaries (Eph. 4:11).

2. Prophecy: In a specific sense, a prophet was one who received direct revelation from God and gave it to others with supernatural power (in this sense this gift is no longer active with the completion of the canon of Scripture). In a general sense, it is the supernatural ability to interpret the authoritative Word and to proclaim the truth so that it becomes very clear, vital, and compelling (preaching) (Eph. 4:11; Rom 12:6).

3. Evangelism: The supernatural ability to present the gospel with exceptional clarity and effectiveness to the unsaved so they respond with saving faith (Eph. 4:11; 2 Tim. 4:5).

4. Pastoring: The supernatural capacity to provide spiritual leadership, nurture, and protection for God’s people in the fellowship of the church (Eph. 4:11).

5. Teaching: A supernatural ability to explain and apply God’s truths which have already been received by the church (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28,30).

6. Knowledge: The supernatural ability to perceive and systematize the great facts which God has hidden in His Word (1 Cor. 12:8).

7. Wisdom: A supernatural ability to put the insights of knowledge to work in the application of knowledge to specific situations (1 Cor. 12:8).

8. Exhortation: The supernatural ability to come along side of another or to draw close in time of need with counsel and encouragement, and to appeal to believers in an unusual way for action and change in their lives (Rom. 12:8).

9. Serving: The supernatural ability to perform with joy any task in such a way that it strengthens and encourages others spiritually (Rom. 12:7).

10. Helps: The supernatural ability to bring immediate support and assistance to another in order to relieve a pressing burden (1 Cor. 12:28).

11. Showing Mercy: The supernatural ability to cheerfully show practical and compassionate love to relieve the physical suffering of the lowly, the sick and the aged (Rom. 12:8).

12. Giving: The supernatural ability to joyfully and generously share one’s material resources without selfish motives as the Holy Spirit give opportunities (Rom. 12:8).

13. Leadership: The supernatural ability to rule or direct a work or church for the Lord (Rom. 12:8).

14. Organization: The supernatural ability to give vision and direction toward the accomplishment of specific goals ( 1 Cor. 12:28).

15. Hospitality: The supernatural ability to entertain strangers and friends so that they feel welcome and edified (Rom. 12:13; Titus 1:8; 1 Tim. 3:2).

16. Faith: The supernatural ability to believe God for the supply of great needs, to see what needs to be done, and to believe that God will do it even though it looks impossible (1 Cor. 12:9).

17. Discerning of spirits: The supernatural ability to distinguish between truth and error and sense the true motives of a person (1 Cor. 12:9).

The believer who follows Christ in an attitude of humble submission to the teaching and direction of the Spirit is “filled” or controlled by the Spirit and exercises these gifts with lasting benefits to the body of Christ. Such a Spirit-filled life is a command for all believers (Eph. 5:18).