Permanent and Temporary Edifying Spiritual Gifts

There are two lists of spiritual gifts and one list of spiritually gifted men in the New Testament. These are identified as God’s gifts to the local church.  The terms and functions of these gifts overlap.

  • I Corinthians 12:6-8 (8 gifts)

  • Romans 12:6-8 (7 gifts)

  • Ephesians 4:11-12 (5 gifted men)

When we look at these lists, we immediately have to question why some of the gifts seem in regular use today while others are not. Should I expect to see every one of these gifts being used? For example, are there apostles today? What about the gift of healing? What about miracles?

One way to answer these questions is to realize that out of the entire list of spiritual gifts (all of which were given for edifying or building up believers in the local church), some are still used in the church and others gradually disappeared when they were no longer needed.

Permanent spiritual gifts are general in nature and contribute to the ongoing spiritual health and vitality of the Body of Christ—the local church. Temporary spiritual gifts were active immediately after the start of the church and were evident in the Book of Acts in the first century. By the end of the first century, and upon completion of the Apostle John’s Book of Revelation, the need for sign gifts like healing and miracles had become unnecessary. The purposes of sign gifts were to certify God’s true messengers (the apostles and prophets) and to give churches verbal revelation directly from God until the apostles and prophets preserved their revelation in Holy Spirit-inspired writings.

Today, the New Testament Scriptures are sufficient and complete revelation from God (2 Peter 1:3) and we do not need supplemental revelation (Revelation 22:18-19). God’s New Testament messengers (the apostles and prophets) have been identified and certified as authentic in the Gospels and Epistles by many eyewitnesses (Ephesians 2:19-22). Any new or special revelation today that claims to be from God lacks authentication by divine sign-miracles (John 3:2; Hebrews 2:1-4). Any information claiming to be of divine origin that disagrees with the written Scriptures is to be rejected (Galatians 1:8-9; Titus 3:10). The believer’s duty is to compare spiritual information with writings of the foundational apostles and prophets to see if they agree (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1-5). If in agreement, those words are acceptable as sound doctrine (Titus 1:9; 2:1).


The Purpose of Spiritual Grace-Gifts

A spiritual grace-gift is not mine to do with as I please. God has entrusted it to me as His steward to be used as He alone intends. His intention is that spiritual gifts be used to minister to (serve) one another and not to please myself.

1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Our spiritual gifts are to serve one another. They are motivated by love.

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

The manifestation or use of the Holy Spirit is given to benefit or profit everyone. (In the context of I Corinthians chapter 12, the “withal” or “everyone” is the local church.)

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

God’s purpose is for me to use my spiritual gift(s) to edify or build up the local church.

1 Corinthians 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

Ultimately, God’s purpose for spiritual gifts is that they be used in the local church for the glory of God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

God gives some people to the local church who are uniquely gifted to train others. They are to help grow believers to spiritual maturity and to edify or strengthen them for the work of the ministry. The principal is that all the members of the body of Christ are “in the ministry” together and not just the gifted teachers.

Ephesians 4:8, 11-12 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ