May 15, 2013

Ryrie on how to find your spiritual gift

by Jesse Johnson

HolySpiritRyrieHow does a believer go about identifying his spiritual giftedness? The New Testament gives at least three lists of spiritual gifts (Rom 12:6-8, 1 Cor 12:7-12, Eph 4:11-13; cf 1 Cor 7:7, 1 Peter 4:10), strongly implying at the very least that every Christian has a kind of spiritual gift, and that not every Christian has every gift. So how do you find out what your gift is?

First, remember that every believer has the responsibility to be a faithful member of their local church, and that gifting is discovered, identified, and validated in that context. So if you are not a member of a church, fret about that before you fret about what you are supposed to do in that church.

Second, practice the commands that the New Testament gives all believers. It is through the practice of those commands that you discover the particular area in which you are gifted. We are all called to evangelism, giving, and showing mercy, for example. There are times and situations where service is required, and we are the one at hand to serve. By prayer and obedience to God we serve to love and meet the needs of others regardless of our gift.

It is through that obedient service where we discover which of the gifts we are most effective in using. Being aware of our spiritual gift (or gifts) enables us to give priority to those areas of ministry which allow for the greatest alignment of our gifting with the the needs around us. In so doing, we are most effective.

I recently came across a chart that Ryrie used in The Holy Spirit (128-129) to help explain this practical concept:



1.  Serving (Rom 12:7) 1.  Serve one another.  (Gal 5:13)
2.  Exhortation (Rom 12:8) 2.  Exhort one another (Heb 10:25)
3.  Giving (Rom 12:8) 3.  All give (2 Cor 9:7)
4.  Teaching (Rom 12:7) 4.  Teaching (Matt 28:18-20)
5.  Showing mercy (Rom 12:8) 5.  Be kind (Eph 4:32)
6.  Faith (1Cor 12:9) 6.  Walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7)
7.  Evangelism (Eph 4:11) 7.  All witness (Acts 1:8)

I appreciate this chart because it captures the force of the New Testament’s approach to spiritual gifts. All believers should be actively obeying the commands in the right column  But as they do that over time and in the context of church membership, they will begin to see particular areas of obedience that the Lord is blessing in their life. Those blessing cause joy in the believer, and that joy forms a desire to continue to excel in those particular areas. The result is that you have discovered your spiritual gift (likely a form of one of the gifts in the left column).

It really is as simple and straight forward as being involved in your church, being obedient to the commands of the Bible, and then focusing your service in whatever areas give you joy and blessing.

Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • Great post, this is very helpful and concise. Thanks.

  • This is a great and helpful post. Thanks.

  • I concur..very helpful! I love the simple, logical practicality of Ryrie’s chart.

    In our Sunday School we are going through Grudem’s Systematic Theology, now in “Gift Of The Holy Spirit”. After looking at the list of gifts extracted from various parts of the NT the question was asked: “how do we know what our gifts are?” -my first thought was, well, where there’s a need in the church just do it! I realize it can be more complex than that, but that seems the essential starter in the local church.

    Love that you included this as well, Jesse: “First…every believer has the responsibility to be a faithful member of their local church,

    Understanding and using those gifts really must begin there! sort of like the rebirth must precede growing in the knowledge and character of Christ, I venture 🙂

  • Alan Tabb

    Thanks, Jesse for stating the simple truth. Obedience is always the right choice. Taking surveys and guessing is not anywhere mentioned in Scripture… For that matter, does it ever occur to anyone just why searching for their gift(s) is never mentioned? None of the Apostles give us a formula for finding a gift, though Paul urges us to express/desire them corporately… Perhaps the Holy Spirit will make obvious through the obedient Christian just how He wants to manifest Himself in their lives… Too much white space theology inclines us to find ways and develop techniques to live the Christian life…instead, we’re to be filled with the Spirit… as Paul said, it is no longer i who live…but Christ lives in me… I live my life by faith… and that includes the obedience that fits Jesus’ Great Commission Call… you know, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded…”
    Jesse, keep up with the stimulating posts!

  • Superb read! I have linked to it on Facebook! Thank you for the helpful information!

  • See, this is why I love you guys. Man, very helpful and edifying. I thank God for you all.

  • Doug

    You’ll be glad to know that Bob Hartman has this chart in the “Built upon this Rock” class and goes over this very concept.

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