What Spiritual Gifts Really Are

By Kenneth Berding Jan. 25, 2013 5:44 p.m. Biblical Exposition, Christian Education, Church Life, Ministry and Leadership, New Testament, Spiritual Formation, Theology

What are spiritual gifts, really? Andrew Faris posted an interview with me on this question at the "Christians in Context" blog.  Read it and allow your assumptions about the nature of spiritual gifts to be challenged.

To read the interview, click HERE



  • Matti Jan. 28, 2013 at 4:39 AM

    I haven't read your book but your thesis sounds plausible. However, assuming that your thesis is right, how does one tell if a person is doing ministry distributed to him by the Spirit or just ministering out of his flesh?

    I think this is crucial question because we want to do things in a way that it brings glory to God (1. Peter 4:10-11) and I think this has been also driving the conventional view.

  • Ken Berding Jan. 28, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    Matti, per your question about how one knows where to serve... I think someone should go about making decisions about where to serve in the same basic way that they make decisions in other areas of life. In my understanding, the starting point would be biblically-saturated missional wisdom, but would also include an openness toward a more direct communication from the Spirit if God chose to be more specific. (There is more on this in chapter 22 of the book.) Obviously, if the central motivations for doing a particular ministry are pride or selfishness or the like, then motivations need to be searched out and prayed through in the presence of the Lord.

    A few minutes ago Andrew Faris sent me a link to a five minute video about a couple that decided to get involved in a prison ministry. Theirs is a good example of the right type of posture someone probably needs to have who is open to serving but isn't overly concerned about whether they have the "spiritual abilities" needed to do a ministry. Here's the link if you'd like a positive example of decision-making where spiritual-gifts-as-abilities is not the driving issue behind the decision.


  • Matti Jan. 30, 2013 at 7:02 AM

    Thanks Ken, this video was a beautiful illustration of your point.

    I think your view on the gifts or ministries of the Spirit opens a whole new world of possibilities how we can view the participation of believers in the body of Christ. I will definitely consider to buy your book.

  • John G. Feb. 1, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Ken, your work on charismata is excellent! I, for one, find it very convincing.

  • kenneth mcCann Mar. 8, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    kenn am glad for what i read in your page i need more from you

  • Stephen Croft May. 23, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Ground-breaking. And I thank you tremendously for your research into this, Dr. Berding, for I think that the implications with such a "small tweak" of interpretation are huge in the church, ministry, and daily life.

    I, as well, have not yet read your book, Dr. Berding, but I do think that this is incredibly relevant; I, personally, have held a position of spiritual authority where I would interact with a variety of peers, fellow Biola students from all sorts of church backgrounds - from the spectrum of those who believe that speaking in tongues is necessary, to those who are shocked and hardly believe that anyone speaks in tongues anymore!

    Two questions - and I'm sure that they are addressed in your book; so for that I apologize:

    1.) Many who hold the Conventional View, as I can see you have had experience with, have major portions of their passion and drive for life, ministry, and following God's Will riding on the theology of 'ability gifting' - encouraged, of course, by their pastors etc.... I know many who would back-reel at such a proposition! In your thoughts and study, have you found this a crucial issue to compassionately correct others on, for example, when they begin to passionately expound, "Well, my spiritual [abilities] are such, such and such; so I have been looking for opportunities to use those," or something to that nature? Sometimes people have aimed at following Jesus in ministry for countless years with the abilities-view! Sometimes entire church-cultures are shaped with the Conventional View in mind... Is this a "must-address" issue, in your mind, as the matters mentioned at the beginning of Revelations seem to be?

    2.) Exodus 31, where God gifts the two craftsmen: Under the new view that you have looked into, does this kind of special gifting of ability still have a theological place in the church age? In other words, without mentioning any of the spiritual gifts passages, is there still New Covenant backing to such an exhortation as, "God has gifted you with such-and-such ability - use it for His glory, for building the body up!"? Or does an ability-driven affirmation or exhortation not really find it's place in New Covenant Theology, with the Holy Spirit interacting with us in such ways as he has since the church age began?

    Thanks so much!


  • LucyGray Sep. 3, 2014 at 1:07 AM

    This is good stuff.Excellent article!

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