World of Faith

What is Charismatic? – Part Five: Spiritual Gifts – The Motivational Gifts (Romans 12) | January 17, 2007

Before I get into the fifth installment of “What is Charismatic?” I must make an important announcement for all those who wish to comment on my blog. It is unfortunate that I must make this decision, but there is an old adage, “one rotten apple spoils the whole bunch.” Oh, how true that statement is. Because a certain commenter who sought to hijack my blog, I have decided to moderate this blog, i.e. all future comments will be subject to my approval. That being said, most of you (except the commenter who has been warned twice under the principle of Titus 3:10), have nothing to worry about… you will still be allowed to post your comments on my blog, once I approve them, and such comments WILL be approved. This is just a minor change to wade off some trolls who wish to hijack this blog, and turn it into their own mouthpiece. I will not allow that, for the good of all. Now, let’s move into this week’s topic, spiritual gifts.

Most Bible scholars agree that there are at least three different passages in the Scriptures that outline spiritual gifts. These passages are found in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Beginning this week, and ending in two weeks, I will discuss each of these passages in turn. It is not just belief in the baptism (or infilling) of the Holy Spirit that makes one a charismatic, for that is only the doorway — it is exercising one’s spiritual gifts that makes one charismatic. So, this week’s topic is the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12, also known as the “motivational gifts.”

Romans 12:3-8 (NKJV) provides, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Before I discuss spiritual gifts in general, and when one receives them, this passage begins by making some introductory comments. The first thing Paul says here is that no one is to be prideful, and think of himself more so than he ought to, but to be sober, because every one to whom he is writing is a Christian (they have received Christ by faith). Paul has already addressed earlier in this same letter the requirements for salvation (see Romans 10:9), and so Paul’s audience is assumed to be saved and regenerate. However, Paul is teaching that not all Christians have the same function or gifts in the body of Christ, and so he teaches that we are all members of each other. We are all incomplete without each other, and we need to (and in fact must) recognize the gifts and graces that each one of us has. There is a great shame when one person’s giftedness is not recognized in our churches and Christian groups, and as a result they are denied their spiritual destiny. Paul writes here, and also in 1 Corinthians 12, against this practice, exhorting us to recognize one another’s gifts and graces.

So, before I discuss the specific spiritual gifts listed, what is a spiritual gift in general, and how and when does one receive one? Paul writes in verse 6 that we receive spiritual gifts by grace and by faith, which is just how we receive our salvation in Christ. But do we receive spiritual gifts AT our salvation, or later? This is an important question, and one that I will address both this week and next week as well. There are at least three different Bible passages that discuss an impartation of spiritual gift(s) to believers, who are already saved, by some means other than that which they receive at salvation. The first of these passages is Romans 1:11 (NKJV), “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established.” Here, the word for “gift” in the Greek is “charisma,” the same word used later in Romans 12. Paul also writes in 1 Timothy 4:14, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” Here, not only is the same Greek word “charisma” used for the English word “gift,” but also, this specific gift was imparted by the laying on of hands. Thus, this gift mentioned here was imparted when Paul laid hands on Timothy, and this very well could have happened (we do not know for certain) when Timothy received the initial infilling of the Holy Spirit, which usually is accompanied by the laying on of hands (that is the normative pattern established in the Book of Acts for the initial filling of the Holy Spirit). Paul reiterates this position in 2 Timothy 1:6, “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” Thus, these three Bible verses indicate that one receives their spiritual gifts at a point subsequent to their salvation, perhaps when they receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and also possibly through the laying on of hands. This is the biblical pattern illustrated by these verses of Scripture.

We are now ready to discuss the specific list of spiritual gifts listed here in Romans 12. The reason why these gifts are also called “motivational gifts” is because these gifts serve as primary motivations for ministry in the believer’s life. The first gift listed here is prophecy, and the Greek word for this gift is “propheteia,” which is the same Greek word used for the gift of prophecy in 1 Cor. 12:10 (which I’ll discuss next week). Thayer’s Lexicon then defines the gift of prophecy as “a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; esp. by foretelling future events.” Thus, someone who has the gift of prophecy will, as the Holy Spirit directs, be able to proclaim divine inspiration that declares the purposes of God, either by issuing warning or comfort, or revealing hidden things by foretelling future events. Prophecy itself can be past, present, or future, and relates to the purposes of God, either in a person’s life, or the life of a larger group, such as a church, a city, or even a nation.

The second gift listed in Romans 12 is “ministry,” or in other translations, “service.” The Greek word for this gift is “diakonia,” which is the same Greek root from which we get the word “deacon.” Again, Thayer’s provides some helpful definitions that help illustrate this gift. One definition is “service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others.” Another definition is “the ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet need by either collecting or distributing of charities.” Still another definition is “the service of those who prepare and present food.” Thayer’s also defines those with this gift as serving in the office of deacon. Perhaps that is an accurate definition, since the first deacons in the Book of Acts were charged with waiting tables in the early Church.

The third gift listed in Romans 12 is “teaching,” and the Greek word for this gift is “didasko,” which according to Thayer’s means to impart instruction, instill doctrine, explain and expound a thing, etc. Much of what I am doing in this blog is teaching. It is important to note that this is a different function than the teacher gift discussed in 1 Cor. 12:28 and Ephesians 4, which is an office gift (I’ll explain that in the next two weeks). However, regardless of which variety of this gift you have, the outcome is basically the same, although the function is somewhat the same.

The fourth gift listed in Romans 12 is “exhortation,” and the Greek word for this gift is “parakaleo,” which according to Thayer’s means to call to one’s side, to summon, to admonish, to console, to encourage, to comfort, to strengthen, and it can also mean to instruct or teach. Much of what I am doing here in this blog can also be construed as exhortation. The gift of prophecy, and other verbal gifts that I will cover next week in 1 Corinthians 12 also are operations of the gift of exhortation.

The fifth gift listed in Romans 12 is “giving,” and the Greek word for this gift is “metadidomi,” which according to Thayer’s simply means to impart. The same Greek word is used to mean “impart” in Romans 1:11 above, so giving here can be spiritual impartation, or as Jesus used it in Luke 3:11, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who ahs food is to do likewise.” Thus, giving can also be a very practical sharing to meet the needs of someone else.

The sixth gift listed in Romans 12 is “leadership,” and the Greek word for this gift is “proistemi,” which according to Thayer’s means to set or place before, to set over, to superintend or preside over, to protect or guard, to give aid, to care for or give attention to. Other passages that use the same Greek word in discussing this concept are found in 1 Thess. 5:12, 1 Tim. 3:4-5, and 1 Tim. 5:17 imply that this gift is inherent in anyone who is called to be deaconate ministry, or eldership ministry in the local body.

Finally, the seventh and last gift listed in Romans 12 is “mercy,” and the Greek word for this gift is “eleeo,” which according to Thayer’s means to help one afflicted or seeking aid. Thus, someone who has this gift will specifically seek out those who are afflicted, and out of compassion seek to minister to their needs and give such an afflicted person aid. As I will discuss next week, manifestations of this gift found in 1 Corinthians 12 include gifts of healing and miracles.

That is the perfect segue into our conclusion. We just covered the seven spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12. These gifts, and the others listed in 1 Corinthians 12 are received at some point subsequent to salvation, perhaps at the baptism/infilling of the Holy Spirit. Paul even indicates the laying on of hands may be involved in the receipt of some gifts. More importantly, we are to learn to recognize the gifts and graces in each one of us, and receive one another in love and humility. Next week I’ll pick this discussion up and explain about even more spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12.


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  1. How would you define the gift of prophecy? What proves that a prophet speaks from the mouth of God? I’m wondering this especially in light of what I have been reading online about Mike Bickle and the Kansas City Prophets movement, both past and present. (I attended OneThing 2006 in Kansas City)

    Comment by Ken — January 18, 2007 @ 2:35 am

  2. sorry, I know you’ve already defined prophecy but I was wondering if you could provide specific guidelines/examples of how it is (or should) be currently practiced (based upon what is seen in scripture, of course).

    Comment by Ken — January 18, 2007 @ 2:37 am

  3. Ken,

    Thanks for writing. I’m going answer some of your questions over the next two weeks (so stay tuned), but here are a few things to consider:

    (1) There is a distinction between someone exercising the gift of prophecy, and someone who functions in the office-gift (Eph. 4) of a prophet. The test for prophecy itself is whether it lines up with God’s Word (the Bible). The test for a true prophet is to judge him by his fruits (what is his character like). Even true prophets will “see through a glass darkly, or mirror darkly” and not have absolute 100% accuracy.

    (2) I attended One Thing 2002-2003 (the first One Thing Conference ever) in Kansas City, too. This was the “One Thing/The Call” conference with Mike Bickle, Lou Engle, Cindy Jacobs, and others. I have great respect for Mike Bickle and these guys. I know there is a lot of material available online, but much of it is rather biased with unsubstantiated critiques.

    (3) I’m going to address guidelines for prophecy next week. In the meantime you can look at 1 Cor. 14 for starters. I hope that helps you.


    Comment by Jonathan — January 18, 2007 @ 8:16 am

  4. Jonathan,

    Are you saying that it is “normative” for all believers to receive the “initial filling of the Spirit” and their “spiritual gifts” through the laying on of hands?

    If so, I would agree that biblically this may sometimes happen. But I do not see a reason for making it necessarily “normative,” if by that, you mean that’s the way it ought to happen for all believers.

    Comment by David Rogers — January 26, 2007 @ 10:21 pm

  5. David,

    Let me clarify a few points here that you probably should know and realize.

    First, to me “normative” means a usual expectation. That’s all. It does not mean its mandatory or MUST happen, but that it usually happens, and because it usually happens, then we should expect it to happen. I would never say “normative” means “that’s the way it ought to happen for all believers,” because that is a harsh way of explaining it.

    I do believe that the laying on of hands is a helpful way to facilitate the initial infilling of a new believer. Its not mandatory, though. Personally, I received my own initial infilling WITHOUT someone laying hands on me — I received it by praying a prayer on television, and expecting the Holy Spirit to give me utterance (speaking in tongues). This is the same way I got saved (praying a prayer in faith and expecting a certain result). So, you don’t have to have someone lay hands on you in order to be initially filled with the Holy Spirit, but it often helps. I don’t know whether I would say it is normative, because no one laid hands on anyone in Acts 2!

    Let me make one more distinction about receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts. I don’t believe that when you receive the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit, you get your spiritual gifts at that point. I do believe that in some instances, gifts can be transferred (i.e. from Paul to Timothy). There is some mystery to this, though, for we agree that God is sovereign in the distribution of gifts. What I believe is that we should expect for God to use us in the operation of ALL the spiritual gifts — you do not just receive a gift or gifts at a certain point in time. You operate in the gifts as the Holy Spirit sovereignly leads you. This is why I believe the initial filling of the Holy Spirit is the “doorway” to the spiritual gifts, because after you are initially filled, you have now given God permission to use you as a vessel in the area of spiritual gifts. You don’t get gifts though at the initial filling, its more of an entrance point, if that makes sense. What do you think?


    Comment by Jonathan — January 27, 2007 @ 2:07 am

  6. Jonathan,

    Once again, I appreciate your clarification of the term “normative.” That seems to make our positions not all that far apart.

    Also, I think I agree with you about the reception of spiritual gifts not all being at the point of our “initial filling” but rather as an “entrance point.”

    Comment by David Rogers — January 29, 2007 @ 11:51 pm

  7. David,

    Well said.


    Comment by Jonathan — January 30, 2007 @ 3:07 am

  8. I really am glad to find your blog, as it answers some questions I’ve been having. Our sermon this morning at Harmony Vineyard (KC,MO) was on Rm. 12 and besides that, I’ve been wondering when we get the spiritual gifts. Your explanation that the baptism of H.S. is the doorway into more spiritual gifts rings true. Thanks so much. Jill

    Comment by Jill — February 25, 2007 @ 11:54 pm

  9. Hey Jill,

    Thanks for dropping by. You involved in IHOP in Kansas City? I have a friend who’s on staff there.

    You might check the URL for your blog, because its a broken link, too.


    Comment by Jonathan — February 26, 2007 @ 3:24 am

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