We have already considered nine temporary spiritual gifts. Now we turn our attention to nine permanent gifts. The purpose of the permanent gifts is the building up of the body of Christ to the glory of God. The permanent gifts function on the foundation of the temporary gifts, which functioned until the close of the apostolic age (Ephesians 2:20). The permanent spiritual gifts are in every era of church history.
- Teaching: (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11)
The gift of teaching is a special God-given ability to explain the details and applications of Scripture. The person with this gift will have the desire to study the details of the Scripture: languages, history, geography, and theology. They will be able, as a result of such study, to help others learn through clear communication of the Word of God (Acts 18:11, 26). This gift is a requirement of an elder (1 Timothy 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:24; Titus 1:9). The gift might overlap with a natural ability to teach, but this is not always the case. The gift of teaching also involves some development through the teaching from others who have the gift (Titus 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:2). All believers could be involved in some kinds of teaching (Titus 2:3), but the gift of teaching, as with all spiritual gifts, is a special God-given ability.
2. Faith: (1 Corinthians 12:9)
The gift of faith is a God-given endowment of extraordinary trust in God in specific areas of need. These areas of trust might seem unusual to other believers, although each believer is given a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). All believers must walk by faith, but certain believers will be especially gifted with a greater measure of faith for specific purposes in edifying the body of Christ (Colossians 2:6; Acts 6:5). The person with this gift will have a God-given ability to trust God in the face of great obstacles.
3. Helps: (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28)
The gift of helps is a God-given blessing for serving others. The person with this gift will have a special ability to serve in practical areas of need in the body of Christ. All believers are called to serve, but the person with the gift of helps will have an emphasized ministry in serving (Galatians 5:13; Romans 16:1; Acts 6:1; 2 Timothy 1:16; 1 Corinthians 16:15). Since deacons are leaders of serving, they would be likely recipients of this gift (I Timothy 3).
4. Exhortation: (Romans 12:8)
The gift of exhortation will include admonishing others toward obedience to God and comforting those in need of encouragement. The person gifted in this area will be involved in individual counsel and guidance of others. They will have a special concern to encourage the discouraged (Acts 4:36; 9:27;15:39).
5. Administration: (Romans 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28)
The gift of administration is a God-given ability to lead, which would include the capacity to organize and direct others. This person is able to take charge and coordinate. The individual with this gift fulfills God’s desire that all things be done in an orderly way. This person would be guiding the person with the gift of helps, and receiving encouragement from one with the gift of exhortation. Titus probably had this gift (Titus 1:5). An elder must demonstrate this ability in his own house and in the church (1 Timothy 3:4-5). This person is ready to take the steering wheel where necessary.
6. Giving: (Romans 12:8)
The gift of giving is a special God-given ability to give of material substance. All believers are called to give to the work of the Lord (2 Corinthians 9:7-8), but not all will have a special gift. The person with this gift will be characterized by a strong desire to give consistently and sacrificially to the work of the Lord. This gift is not limited to those who are wealthy. The wealthy are instructed to give (1 Timothy 6:17-19), but someone with little substance could have the spiritual gift of giving (Philippians 4:10-16; Acts 4:21-5:11; 2 Corinthians 9:7). The person with this gift will know the truth of being greatly blessed (Acts 20:35). “if it is giving, then give generously” (Romans 12:8).
7. Mercy: (Romans 12:8)
The gift of mercy is a special God-given ability to show love through acts of kindness. This person tends to evidence extraordinary sympathy and compassion. Expressions of this gift will be found in actions of love toward those who are in difficult circumstances. The person especially gifted in this area will be attracted toward helping the bereaved, the sick, the mentally and physically handicapped, the orphan, and many other special areas. The gift of exhortation would involve words of comfort, while the gift of mercy would involve words and deeds of comfort. “if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:8).
All believers are to show mercy to some extent, but not every believer will be especially gifted in this area (Galatians 6:2; James 1:27; 2:14-16).
8. Pastor-Teacher: (Ephesians 4:11-14)
The gift of pastor-teacher is a two-fold God-given ability to provide for the general care of the flock. The term ‘pastor’ is derived from the verb ‘to shepherd.’ The obvious picture is that of a shepherd and his sheep. This gift functions in the office of an eldership (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1).
The person gifted as pastor-teacher will be a member of the larger group known as elders. This gift will involve feeding, protecting and leading the flock of believers. One may have the gift of teaching separate from the gift of pastor-teacher, but the indication of Ephesians 4:11 is that one who is a pastor also will be a teacher (Titus 1:9; cf. Acts 20:13-30; 1 Peter 5:1-5).
9. Evangelism: (Ephesians 4:11-13)
The gift of evangelism is a special God-given ability to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and to lead the lost to Jesus Christ. The person gifted in this way would likely be characterized by an extraordinary burden for the unsaved and a distinct ability to present the gospel in clear terms.
In the New Testament it is evident that the evangelist functioned with the goal of church planting. While there is a place for mass evangelism, the New Testament seems to emphasize localized evangelism. Where the person with the gift of evangelism leaves off, the person with the gift of pastor-teacher picks up. All believers are responsible to be witnesses for their Savior (Acts 1:8), but not all have the gift of evangelism.
We should praise our risen Lord that He has provided the church, His body, with sufficient spiritual gifts and His completed Word. As we locate and use our gift or gifts that God has given us, remember that all spiritual gifts are useless if they do not function in love (see: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a).