When people speak of spiritual gifts today, the discussion tends to revolve around the seemingly more miraculous gifts of speaking in tongues, physical healing and words of prophecy. And while it’s understandable to focus on these phenomena, the church often disconnects this discussion from a broader understanding of gifts in the New Testament. If we speak about the so-called “charismatic gifts” within a broader context of the general gifts (charismata) that God gives to the church, it allows us to better understand the relationship between fundamental Christian identity and its expression in gifting, and we can see clearly the relationship between individual gifts and their use in building up the Church.
At the most basic level of the Christian life, the scriptures clearly speak of salvation itself as a gift (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8). The message of the gospel is God gave us a restored relationship with Him that we did not deserve and could not obtain on our own. Through faith in Christ, we are brought into a new reality, we are literally “In Christ”, and in him we have every spiritual blessing, forgiveness of our sins, and the hope of eternal life with him (Ephesians 1:3-14). As a sign that we have been brought into this new reality, we have been given the Holy Sprit to dwell within us. On the day of Pentecost Peter speaks of the Spirit coming as a gift from God to dwell in those who repent and place their faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). The Scriptures are clear that the Holy Spirit is given to all those who come to faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, and that it is the work of the Holy Spirit in us that convicts us of sin (John 16:8), teaches us how to understand and apply the wisdom of scripture (John 14:26) and to turn from sinful habits and grow in holy living (Romans 8:12-14).