The excesses of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements have created a ‘baby with the bathwater’ effect in Christian conservative circles regarding the present work of the Holy spirit. Click image to enlarge.
How do the spiritual gifts differ from talents or skills? Warren Wiersbe puts it like this, “A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve God and other Christians in such a way that Christ is glorified and believers are edified.” [emphasis added] (Wiersbe 2003:37)
The gifting is not capricious; they are for the common good (1 Cor 12:27). They are also not limited to a subset of Christians (1 Pt 4:10). Youth, who have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, have also therefore being gifted by God for the edification of the saints (Rom 12:2 – 8).
The Bible has more than one compilation of gifts attributed to the Holy Spirit. The lists vary in length and are deemed to be descriptive rather than comprehensive. “Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, respected scholar and theologian, in his book, The Holy Spirit, lists 14 spiritual gifts. Dr. Peter Wagner, also a respected scholar and theologian, lists 27 gifts in his book. And most other writers number the gifts somewhere in between.” [emphasis added] (Bright, 1980:218)
What can be agreed upon is that these gifts are divinely appointed (1 Cor 12:7 – 11), that they’re to be used in love (1 Cor 13:1 – 3) and that they are evidence of a healthy community of believers (1 Cor 12:27).
Not all gifts are available to all believers. For example the gift of celibacy (1 Cor 7:1 – 9), the ability to control ones sexual impulses and remain single voluntary so as to serve the Lord without distraction, is only intended for people who are not already married (1 Cor 7:5). And the gift of Apostleship (1 Cor 12:28 – 31), the exercise of general leadership and authority on matters of faith in the early church, was reserved for the 12 disciples and later Paul (Eph 4:11 – 12).
Other gifts are not appropriately used by all believers at all times. For example the gift of tongues (Acts 2:1 – 12), a super natural ability to speak in languages never learned for the purpose of evangelisation and edification of the body, was only to be bought to the body when an interpreter was available (1 Cor 14).