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Spiritual Gifts Definitions

      The following page contains suggested definitions for each gift along with some basic information about how the gift is in use at Lakeview Baptist Church. Also, supporting scriptures are supplied to help you begin a study of your spiritual gifts and how to use them in the local body. Some scripture references will give examples of the gift in use, others will be instructional or informative of the gift's use or existence.

Select gift to view:

1. Administration
2. Apostle
3. Discerning of Spirits
4. Evangelism
5. Ekballism
6. Exhortation
7. Faith
8. Giving

9. Healing
10. Helps
11. Hospitality
12. Intercession
13. Interpretation of Tongues
14. Knowledge
15. Mercy
16. Leadership
17. Miracles

18. Missionary
19. Prophecy
20. Service
21. Shepherd
22. Teaching
23. Tongues
24. Voluntary Poverty
25. Wisdom


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Gift Definitions:

1. Administration: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to understand clearly the immediate and long-range goals of a particular unit of the body of Christ and to devise and execute effective plans for the accomplishment of those goals."
      This gift is a leadership gift and is often characterized by people who lead the body by steering others to remain on task. These people generally are concerned with the details of how to accomplish tasks, and tend to be masters at delegating specific tasks to other people according to their gifts and talents. Scriptures: Luke 14:28-30; Acts 6:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Titus 1:5.

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2. Apostle: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ which enables them to assume and exercise helpful leadership over a number of churches in spiritual matters which is spontaneously recognized and appreciated by those churches."   The Bible calls many others, beyond the Twelve and Paul, apostles: James (Gal 1:19), Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14), Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25), Silas and Timothy (1 Thes 1:1, 2:6), Andronicas and Junia (Rom 16:7), and others (1 Cor 15:5, 7; 2 Cor 8:23; 11:13).
      This gift is a leadership gift and is in continuing need today for the strengthening of churches and the establishment of new churches. This gift should be looked for in regional directors, church planters, and denominational leaders. Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 2:20; 4:11.
      Note: Many spiritual gifts inventories combine the gift of apostle with the gift of missionary because the Greek word is the same, meaning "sent one" (literally, one sent with authority, or as an ambassador or representative). These gifts have been separated here with the distinction that the missionary gift is focused on cross-cultural work, where the apostle gift is focused on overseeing the expansion of the Church in a given area, regardless of culture.

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3. Discerning of Spirits: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to know with assurance whether certain behavior purported to be of God is in reality divine, human, or Satanic."
      This gift is a practical gift. Christians with this gift can recognize the true motives of people and also recognize when a person is distorting the truth or communicating error. This person often can recognize when Satan or other evil spirits are at work in a given person or situation. Scriptures: Matthew 16:21-23; Acts 5:1-11; 16:16-18; 17:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 5:14; 1 John 4:1-6.

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4. Evangelism: The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to readily share the gospel with unbelievers in such a way that men and women often become Jesusí disciples and responsible members of the Body of Christ.
      This gift is a practical gift. While the task of evangelism is an important spiritual exercise that all Christians should be involved with, God gifts certain members with an ability to have unusual sensitivity to when someone is ready to accept Christ, and will generally have greater success in leading people to Christ than other Christians. People with this gift should be active in training others to share their faith. Scriptures: Acts 8:5-6, 26-40; Ephesians 4:11-14; 2 Timothy 4:5.

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5. Ekballism: "The special ability that God gives certain members of the Body of Christ to cast out demons and evil spirits" in the name of Jesus Christ.
      Traditionally, this gift is known as exorcism, which comes from the Greek work, exorkizo, and means to extract by an oath. In spiritual terms this infers the incantations and spells used by pagans to extract the demonic. Scripturally, this term is only used in relation to the demonic to describe the sons of Sceva's work (Acts 19:13). Wherever Jesus, an apostle, or other believer casts out a demon, the greek term is ekballo, which means to eject, pluck out, or send away. This term is command-driven, and not dependent upon a formula. In Christian life, the term ekballism demonstrates the power we have in Jesus, and minimizes the need for a formula to accomplish Christ's work. Ekballism is a term to separate the power of Christ from the confusion of spiritism around the world.
      This gift is a sign gift. Jesus gave His apostles the authority to cast out demons (Mark 3:14, 15; 6:13), and the gift was used during the earliest days of the church (Acts 15:16; 16:16-18). Although western society often excuses spiritual powers with rational explanations, there is no reason to believe that evil spirits are no longer at work in our world. However, those with this gift should be discerning in their use of it, and not develop an excessive preoccupation with demons and evil spirits. The Christian focus should be on the victory won in Jesus Christ, and the salvation and abundant life He offers, not the ever-present forces of evil in this world. Scriptures: Matthew 12:22-32; Luke 10:12-20; Acts 8:5-8; 16:16-18; Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 6:10-12.

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6. Exhortation: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to minister words of comfort, consolation, encouragement, and counsel to other members of the Body in such a way that they feel helped and healed."
      This gift is a communication gift. This gift is often called "encouragement," but exhortation is used here because the gift is not limited to the connotations that the name "encouragement" implies. Those who use this gift within a teaching or ministry situation are often driven to give practical application to their insights. Often, those gifted in this gift desire step-by-step plans of action to help others mature in Christ. Exhorters often find it natural to discover insights from personal experience when validated and amplified in Scripture. Scripture: Luke 3:16-18; Acts 11:23; 14:22; Romans 12:8; 1 Timothy 4:12; 5:1; Hebrews 10:25.
      Note: Exhortation, Prophecy, and Teaching are considered the communication gifts. The distinctions for each gift are often confused. Often, gifted communicators have a mix of these gifts. Exhortation focuses on personal and practical application of the message or truth being communicated. Prophecy focuses purely on the message or truth to be communicated. Teaching focuses on bringing thorough or adequate understanding of the message or truth being communicated.

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7. Faith: "The special ability that God gives certain members of the Body of Christ to discern with extraordinary confidence the will and purposes of God for His work."
      This gift is a practical gift. Those with this gift often scare other people with their confidence. People with this gift are often very irritated by criticism, as they consider it to be criticism against God and His will. Probably the biggest danger for those with this gift is that they often try to project their gift onto other people. Scriptures: Acts 11:22-24; 27:21-25; Romans 4:18-21; 1 Corinthians 12:9; Hebrews 11.

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8. Giving: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to contribute their material resources to the work of the Lord with liberality and cheerfulness."
      This gift is a practical gift. While all Christians should practice the discipline of giving through the minimum of 10% (tithe), God gifts certain members of the body to give remarkably greater amounts of their income with liberality and great joy. These people have an acute awareness that all they have belongs to the Lord and they are merely stewards, therefore they know that God will supply their needs and richly bless them in their giving. Scriptures: Matthew 6:2-4; Mark 12:41-44; Romans 12:8; 1 Corinthians 13:3; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7; 9:2-8; Philippians 4:14-19.
      Note: This gift is often associated with the gift of voluntary poverty, as many with the gift of voluntary poverty also have the gift of giving. However, not all with the gift of giving also have the gift of voluntary poverty. See notes on voluntary poverty for more information.

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9. Healing: The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to serve as human intermediaries through whom God cures illness and restores health apart from the use of natural means.
      This gift is a sign gift. Many attribute the occurrence of supernatural healing to a certain level of faith. Those who have this gift must use it knowing that the healing only occurs within the limits of Godís will, and therefore miraculous healing will not always occur. Those with this gift must also recognize that God does often choose to use medical science to bring about healing in a person, therefore doctors and medicine are not obsolete. Miraculous healing will only occur if it will bring the greatest glory to God and effectively grow His church. Scripture: Acts 3:1-10; 5:12-16; 9:32-35; 28:7-10; 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28.
      Note on Healing and Miracles: The gifts of healing and miracles are often combined, since they both involve the occurrence of events beyond natural means. However, one is focused on the healing of the human body, while the other is focused on other miraculous events that alter the ordinary course of nature. These may in fact be two separate manifestations of the same gift.
      See Note on Extraordinary Gifts (listed with Miracles).

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10. Helps: The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to invest the talents they have in the life and ministry of other members of the Body, thus enabling those others to increase the effectiveness of their own spiritual gifts.
      This gift is a practical gift. People with this gift often enjoy doing routine tasks in order to free others to do the ministry God has called them to do. People with this gift are often not looking for recognition for the work they do. Scriptures: Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:2-3; Acts 9:36; Romans 16:1-2; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 2 Timothy 1:16-18.
      Note: The gifts of Helps, Mercy, and Service are often confused. Helps focuses on Christian works and freeing others to accomplish their God-given ministries. Mercy focuses on people in distress and reflects Godís love and compassion. Service focuses on accomplishing little tasks that may otherwise go undone in order to move the greater goal of the ministry or church toward completion.

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11. Hospitality: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to provide an open house and a warm welcome to those in need of food and lodging."
      This gift is a practical gift. Those with this gift have an acute awareness of visitors and have a desire to make all people feel welcome. People with this gift enjoy visitors in their home, and are usually not bothered if someone stops by and their home is not spotless. Those with this gift are a key to helping new people become a part of the group. Scriptures: Acts 16:14-15; Romans 12:9-13; 16:23; Hebrews 13:1-2; 1 Peter 4:9.

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12. Intercession: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to pray for extended periods of time on a regular basis and see frequent and specific answers to their prayers, to a degree much greater than that which is expected of the average Christian."
      This gift is a practical gift. Those with this gift often feel compelled to pray for specific requests when they are made known. Gifted intercessors have a much greater occurrence of specific answers to prayer than most Christians. Intercessors often have an acute understanding that prayer is genuinely a conversation with God, and when left alone, find themselves engaged in prayer. Many intercessors experience times when God moves them to pray for situations when they are not entirely sure what they are praying for. To those who get to know intercessors well, prayer becomes contagious. Those with this gift should help others learn how to pray more effectively. Scriptures: Luke 22:41-44; Acts 12:12; Romans 8:26-27; Colossians 1:9-12; 4:12-13; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; James 5:14-16.

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13. Interpretation of Tongues: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to make known in the vernacular the message of one who speaks in tongues."
      This gift is a sign gift. Due to the fact that God has chosen not to use the gift of tongues on a corporate level at Lakeview Baptist Church, the use of this gift is very limited. However, there are pockets of individuals and small groups at Lakeview where tongues is practiced. Those with this gift are used to bring the personal edification of tongues to a position where the message edifies the group in which the tongue was spoken. Those with this gift gain a sense of what God is trying to say when they hear a person speak in tongues. Should a person with this gift fail to interpret the tongue when it is spoken and they receive the interpretation through the Holy Spirit, they have done a great disservice to the person who spoke in tongues and to the group as the edification that God desires has not taken place. Often, the interpreter is also the person who has spoken in tongues. The interpretation of tongues is often closely related to the message given by an exhorter or a prophet. Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 12:10-30; 14:13-17, 26-28.
      Note on Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues: When used in a group setting, an interpretation must take place, or else the one speaking the tongue should remain silent. If a tongue is spoken without an interpretation, the speaker is edified. If the tongue is interpreted, it is for the edification of the body.
      See Note on Extraordinary Gifts (listed with Miracles).

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14. Knowledge: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to discover, accumulate, analyze, and clarify information and ideas which are pertinent to the well-being of the Body."
      This gift is a practical gift. Those with the gift of knowledge are at home in a book or studying. Those with this gift will often spend countless hours researching information. These people are interested in ideas and problem solving through gathering information and studying. Often, those with this gift have a low need for people. On rare occasions, people with this gift will gather vast amounts of information through studying and analyzing personal experience, but the primary method of learning with this gift is reading and studying books and other written materials. Scriptures: Luke 1:1-4; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 12:8; 2 Corinthians 11:6; Colossians 1:10; 2:2-3; 1 Timothy 2:15.

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15. Leadership: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to set goals in accordance with Godís purpose for the future and to communicate these goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish those goals for the glory of God."
      This gift is a leadership gift. People with this gift are often focused on the greater goal of the group and are not overly concerned with the details. Leaders delegate tasks and details to others to accomplish the greater goal. Leaders are visionaries. Leaders have followers-a visionary without followers is not a leader. Scriptures: Luke 9:51; Acts 6:1-7; 15:7-11; Romans 12:8; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17.

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16. Mercy: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to feel genuine empathy and compassion for individuals (both Christian and non-Christian) who suffer from distressing physical, mental, or emotional problems, and to translate that compassion into cheerfully done deeds which reflect Christís love and alleviate the suffering."
      This gift is a practical gift. Those with this gift find themselves visiting and assisting those in need, and often feel the pain of the person they are helping within themself. People with this gift find it extremely difficult not to help those who seem less fortunate than themself. Those with this gift generally enjoy helping those with physical or mental problems and do well in ministries involving visiting hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and shut-ins. Scriptures: Matthew 20:29-34; 25:24-40; Mark 9:41; Luke 10:33-35; Acts 11:28-30; 16:33-34; Romans 12:8; Jude 22-23.
      Note: The gifts of Helps, Mercy, and Service are often confused. Helps focuses on Christian works and freeing others to accomplish their God-given ministries. Mercy focuses on people in distress and reflects Godís love and compassion. Service focuses on accomplishing little tasks that may otherwise go undone in order to move the greater goal of the ministry or church toward completion.

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17. Miracles: The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to serve as human intermediaries through whom God performs powerful acts that are perceived by observers to have altered the ordinary course of nature.
      This gift is a sign gift. This gift is manifested through the supernatural intervention by God into specific circumstances in order to change the perceived natural outcome. Those with this gift must recognize that God only causes miracles to happen in order to bring the greatest glory to himself. Scriptures: Acts 9:36-42; 19:11-20; 20:7-12; Romans 15:17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; 12:10, 28; 2 Corinthians 12:12.
      Note on Healing and Miracles: The gifts of healing and miracles are often combined, since they both involve the occurrence of events beyond natural means. However, one is focused on the healing of the human body, while the other is focused on other miraculous events that alter the ordinary course of nature. These may in fact be two separate manifestations of the same gift.
      Note on Extraordinary Gifts: Many in contemporary Christian life have argued that the extraordinary gifts have passed with the offices they are often associated with in Scripture. This presents problems for those who use the New Testament as their guide. The passage they most commonly point to in order to support their view is 1 Corinthians 13:8, however a proper understanding of this passage points to a different interpretation. At Lakeview, we do not want to put God in a box, therefore we give Him the freedom to use these gifts as He chooses, however, we also want to emphasize that it is God who chooses how the gifts are used, and under what circumstances.

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18. Missionary: The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to minister whatever other spiritual gifts thy have in a culture other than their own.
      This gift is a leadership gift. Those with this gift find it easy or exciting to adjust to a different culture or community. Missionaries find great joy working with minorities, people of other countries, or those with other distinct cultural differences. Those with this gift have a stronger-than-average desire to be a part of the fulfillment of the Great Commission around the world. Scriptures: Acts 8:4; 13:1-4; 22:21; Romans 10:15; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
      Note: Many spiritual gifts inventories combine the gift of apostle with the gift of missionary because the Greek word is the same, meaning ďsent oneĒ (literally, one sent with authority, or as an ambassador or representative). These gifts have been separated here with the distinction that the missionary gift is focused on cross-cultural work, where the apostle gift is focused on overseeing the expansion of the Church in a given area, regardless of culture.

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19. Prophecy: The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His people with authority and urgency perceived by the hearers.
      This gift is a communication gift. Those with the gift of prophecy will often feel as though they have a direct word from God that will comfort, encourage, guide, warn, or rebuke the Body of Christ. Prophets are concerned about evangelism and will have a desire speak strongly against evil in society or in the church. Prophets have a great sense of urgency to their message. Unless paired with the gifts of exhortation or teaching, prophets will often not feel the need to explain their message, but will expect immediate response. The message of a prophet must always be tested in line with Scripture. Prophets would be wise to test their message against Scripture prior to delivering the message, and using Scriptural precedent in delivery of their message. Scripture: Luke 7:26; Acts 15:32; 21:9-11; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28; 14:3, 24-25, 29, 36-38; Ephesians 4:11-14.
      Note: Exhortation, Prophecy, and Teaching are considered the communication gifts. The distinctions for each gift are often confused. Often, gifted communicators have a mix of these gifts. Exhortation focuses on personal and practical application of the message or truth being communicated. Prophecy focuses purely on the message or truth to be communicated. Teaching focuses on bringing thorough or adequate understanding of the message or truth being communicated.

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20. Service: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to identify the unmet needs involved in a task related to Godís work, and to make use of available resources to meet those needs and help accomplish the desired results."
      This gift is a practical gift. Those with the gift of service enjoy doing routine tasks around the church regardless of how they effect others. Those with this gift enjoy menial tasks and do them cheerfully. Service-oriented people would rather take orders than give them. Scripture: John 12:26; Acts 6:1-7; Romans 12:6-7; Galatians 6:2, 9-10; 2 Timothy 1:16-18; Titus 3:14.
      Note: The gifts of Helps, Mercy, and Service are often confused. Helps focuses on Christian works and freeing others to accomplish their God-given ministries. Mercy focuses on people in distress and reflects Godís love and compassion. Service focuses on accomplishing little tasks that may otherwise go undone in order to move the greater goal of the ministry or church toward completion.

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21. Shepherd: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume a long-term personal responsibility for the welfare of a group of believers."
      This gift is a leadership gift. This gift is often called "pastor," however, that name has a connotation of a specific position in the church. In actuality, when pastors have this gift, their ability to continue sustained growth in their churches is greatly diminished, as they tend to require a certain level of interaction with every member of their congregation. Those with the gift of shepherd have a great need for long-term relationships. Shepherds will sacrificially give themselves to other people in such a way that they are built-up in their faith. Shepherds take personal responsibility for the successes and failures of those in the group that they invest themselves in. Scriptures: John 10:1-18; Ephesians 4:11-14; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Peter 5:1-4.

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22. Teaching: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to communicate information relevant to the health and ministry of the Body and its members in such a way that others will learn."
      This gift is a communication gift. People with the gift of teaching enjoy studying the Bible and related materials in order to communicate what they have learned to other Christians. Those with this gift find it easy to organize vast amounts of information in such a way as to make it easy to communicate, understand, and remember. Scriptures: Matthew 7:28-29; 28:19-20; Acts 15:32; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28; Ephesians 4:11-14.
      Note: Exhortation, Prophecy, and Teaching are considered the communication gifts. The distinctions for each gift are often confused. Often, gifted communicators have a mix of these gifts. Exhortation focuses on personal and practical application of the message or truth being communicated. Prophecy focuses on the urgency and impact of the message or truth being communicated. Teaching focuses on bringing thorough or adequate understanding of the message or truth being communicated.

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23. Tongues: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ (a) to speak to God in a language that they have never learned and/or (b) to receive and communicate a message of God to his people through a divinely anointed utterance in a language they never learned."
      This gift is a sign gift. At Lakeview Baptist Church, God has chosen not to use the gift of tongues on a corporate level, therefore the instances where the (b) portion of this gift are in use is very limited. However, there are several small groups within the church among whom God has chosen to use this gift. Tongues is often associated with intercession and/or faith, but must be recognized as not necessarily being the sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit or even as evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Tongues, like any other spiritual gift, is given by God to whomever He chooses to be used to His glory and the edification of the Church.
      1 Corinthians 13:1 suggests that there are two forms of the gift of tongues: tongues of men and tongues of angels. This would mean that the speaker could be speaking in an earthly language, or in a language beyond normal human understanding. Scriptures: Mark 16:17; Acts 2:1-13; 10:44-46; 19:1-7; Romans 8:26-27; 1 Corinthians 12:10,28; 13:1; 14:13-19, 26-28, 39.
      Note on Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues: When used in a group setting, an interpretation must take place, or else the one speaking the tongue should remain silent. If a tongue is spoken without an interpretation, the speaker is edified. If the tongue is interpreted, it is for the edification of the body.
      See Note on Extraordinary Gifts (listed with Miracles).

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24. Voluntary Poverty: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to renounce material comfort and luxury and adopt a personal lifestyle equivalent to those living at the poverty level in a given society in order to serve God more effectively."
      This gift is a practical gift. Those with the spiritual gift of voluntary poverty will often choose to live among people who are considered poverty-stricken in a given area, and live at their level, although they have the means to live at a higher standard. Th primary motivation for this choice is to minister more effectively to the people through identification. Scriptures: Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-27; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 2 Corinthians 8:9.
      Note: This gift is often associated with the gift of giving, however, notice that the motivation for this gift is for effective ministry through identification with a group of less-fortunate people, where those with the gift if giving are motivated by what their money can do towards Godís work.

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25. Wisdom: The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to know how given knowledge may best be applied to specific needs arising in the Body of Christ.
      This gift is a practical gift. Those with this gift have an excellent ability to apply spiritual truth to everyday life. Often, people in the church naturally seek out people with this gift when they are facing complicated spiritual problems. When a person with this gift considers past experience, they realize that they often make good and correct decisions and judgements. Scriptures: Proverbs 4:5-8; Acts 6:3, 10; 15:13-20; 20:20-21; Romans 12:17; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11-14; Colossians 1:28.

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**Gift definitions adapted from Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow by C. Peter Wagner, Jesus on Leadership: Becoming a Servant Leader by C. Gene Wilkes, and Calvary Baptist Church, Documents, Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts.

Gifted2Serve ©2001, Andrew P. Kulp

©2004, BuildingChurch Ministries