Does Everyone Have Spiritual Gifts?

A frequently asked question in Christian circles is, "Does everyone have spiritual gifts?" Let's get the answer from the Bible, and if the answer is yes, then why aren't the gifts of the Holy Spirit being taught?

Does Everyone Have Spiritual Gifts?

By Don Bell | Reading Time: 12 minutes

Bright Sunlight Breaking Through the CloudsDoes Everyone Have Spiritual Gifts? Let's Find Out
Source: ©diportinanni/

Paul asks, "Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts …" (1 Corinthians 12:30-31).

Some have read Paul's words and asked, "Does everyone have spiritual gifts or not?" However, Paul has already alluded that everybody CAN have spiritual gifts by saying in verse 31, "But earnestly desire the best gifts."

Paul also writes, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, EACH OF YOU has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26, emphasis added).

Paul's questions in verse 30 (above) are addressing the fact that not everybody operates in the nine gifts despite the fact that they can.

So, why doesn't every Spirit-filled Christian walk in the nine gifts of the spirit? It's mostly because of fear arising from a lack of knowledge and confidence.

Fear will stop you in your tracks just when you need to be stepping out in faith! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you overcome your fears…

  • of failure
  • of people
  • of ridicule
  • of criticism
  • of looking silly
  • of falling into error
  • of not being good enough
  • of not being knowledgeable
  • of the supernatural and unknown

Our human nature tends to avoid the unfamiliar, especially when it causes us to feel uncomfortable.

The solution is to gain knowledge as it will dispel the fear. Then with experience and our growing confidence, we can exercise the gifts and fulfill God's calling.

I can still remember getting my first bicycle, and though I desperately wanted to ride it, I was fearful of not holding my balance and falling onto the hard gravel.

Dad encouraged me to climb on, hold the handlebars straight, and then peddle while he ran alongside steadying the bike by holding onto the back of the seat with his strong hand.

He assured me that I wouldn't fall if I maintained my balance and momentum. When I had reached the end of our long farm lane I was riding without fear, and I hadn't realized that Dad had already let go at the halfway point.

Stepping out in the gifts for the first time is similar to getting onto a bicycle for the first time. Both require knowledge and momentum.

Once you are knowledgeable about the gifts, you can gain momentum by stepping out in faith while knowing that your Heavenly Father won't let you fail. Any lingering fear will be replaced with confidence.

We read in Scripture, "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us KINGS AND PRIESTS to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:5-6, emphasis added).

However, Hosea prophesied, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being PRIEST for Me …" (Hosea 4:6). It couldn't be clearer.

Does everyone have spiritual gifts? Yes, but we cannot have confidence to receive God's gifts to operate in our priestly calling if we don't have knowledge of what they are and how they operate.

Once we learn the basic principles of the gifts of the Spirit and build our confidence, we'll experience success in receiving them. Operating the gifts will become as familiar as riding a bicycle, and once you've done it, you'll always be able to do it.

But, you must first learn the basics and acquire some hands-on experience before you can go deeper. Thankfully, the Lord Himself gave some to be teachers for the equipping of the saints (that's us) for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).

We read in Isaiah, "Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little" (Isaiah 28:9-10).

Paul considered it necessary to teach on the gifts. He writes, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant" (1 Corinthians 12:1).

Instruction in the gifts of the Spirit is necessary if we will avoid misunderstandings in their operation. Too often, well-meaning believers become overconfident and run with the gifts while making errors. All the while, they influence others who in turn make the same errors. Soon, needless ignorance has created hurt and havoc within the Body of Christ.

The Holy Spirit Desires to Manifest

The Holy Spirit's desire is to manifest His presence, but far too many followers of Christ ignore His promptings to step out in the gifts. So what happens? They sit quietly in their seats, always waiting for the leaders to do the work of ministry.

Meanwhile, the leaders busy themselves in ministry while ignoring their calling to equip the people for the work of ministry. It's the opposite of what God intended.

We read in Scripture, "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13).

So why isn't this happening? Both the leaders and the congregation are held captive to their fears and misconceptions because they lack knowledge and understanding.

Failing to do the works of Jesus, people will leave the dry meetings thirsty for the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit. Read what Isaiah prophesied:

"The harp and the strings, the tambourine and flute, and wine are in their feasts; but they do not regard the work of the LORD, nor consider the operation of His hands. Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst" (Isaiah 5:12-13).

Now, let's reread the above Scripture while substituting "church services" for the word feasts, and "spiritual gifts" for the word hands.

"The harp and the strings, the tambourine and flute, and wine are in their [church services]; but they do not regard the work of the LORD, nor consider the operation of His [spiritual gifts]. Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst" (Isaiah 5:12-13, emphasis added).

Ouch! Does it remind you of some services you've been in?

Why Aren't Spiritual Gifts Taught?

Sadly, far too many church leaders have neglected to teach on the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, and some have simply refused to do so. Why? There are several possible reasons:

  • Some leaders are neither knowledgeable concerning the gifts nor are they proficient in exercising them. It's a biblical principle that you cannot impart something that you do not first possess. Scripture says, "The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops" (2 Timothy 2:6).
  • Some leaders refuse to accept that the gifts are for today. Deceived by the doctrines of Dispensationalism and Cessationism (ALWAYS question the manmade "isms"), they argue that the gifts had only a foundational role, and they ceased with the Apostolic Age and the canon of Scripture.
  • Some leaders insist they don't need to teach on the gifts, quoting 1 John 2:27. They claim the Holy Spirit will reveal the operation of His gifts to believers, yet they freely teach on the fruits of the Spirit and other biblical topics without hesitation.

    Sadly, they are quoting John 2:27 out of context. It's clear to read that John's purpose in writing was to warn against false teachers, and he exhorted people to stand firmly in the anointed truth they had been taught and by doing so, they don't need to be taught the basic truths again.

    It makes no sense to claim that we don't need anyone to teach us other than the Holy Spirit, when Jesus has given us the gift of teachers (Ephesians 4:11); those who are called by God to equip the believers for the work of ministry.

    Paul taught on the gifts of the Spirit in 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, and he wrote to Timothy from prison saying, "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach ..." (2 Timothy 2:24).
  • Some leaders are fearful that the gifts will be misused and draw criticism to their leadership and their church.
  • Some leaders insist that the gifts are only for ordained ministry, degree-holders formally trained for the work of the ministry.
  • Some leaders do not want either the Holy Spirit interrupting their formalized, planned-in-advance services.

NONE of the above reasons can justify Christian leaders to neglect teaching their congregation the proper operation and function of the nine gifts of the Spirit.

Jesus says, "'But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in'" (Matthew 23:13).

Back to the question: Does everyone have spiritual gifts? The answer is a resounding YES!

Leaders, now is the time to introduce your congregation to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and if you find that you're unable, then bring in a teacher of the Word who's experienced in the gifts and can do the job.

We Know In Part and That's Okay

Accept that there will always be errors made when people are learning to exercise the spiritual gifts. It's inevitable. Even those seasoned in exercising the gifts can make mistakes on occasion.

Paul writes, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (1 Corinthians 13:9-10).

Until Jesus returns at the last trumpet to establish His Kingdom, and we're all changed in a moment to an incorruptible state, we can only exercise the gifts of the Spirit IN PART because in our current natural state we haven't the capacity to comprehend the full nature of God.

Not to worry. God supplies us with knowledge on a need-to-know basis. If there's something of importance that we need to know and we've opened our minds to receive it, rest assured that the Holy Spirit will reveal it to us.

Scripture says, "[We] have TASTED the good word of God and THE POWERS OF THE AGE TO COME" (Hebrews 6:5, emphasis added).

Imagine. As we exercise the gifts of the Spirit, we're only experiencing a TASTE of the special abilities of the Kingdom to come. Until then, we must faithfully exercise the special abilities (gifts) of the Spirit in part.

Meantime, the answer is not to clamp down on the gifts by simply ignoring them, or by preventing their operation because of the potential for errors; that's error in itself.

The answer is to provide instruction, the opportunity for the gifts to be exercised, and correction in love whenever it's required.

There are some church leaders and congregations who steadfastly oppose the gifts of the Holy Spirit because of long-held personal beliefs, or their strong denominational position. In their spiritual blindness, they cannot accept truth, and I can only offer Paul's sage advice:

"But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:23-26).

Can Every Believer Excel in the Gifts?

Paul the Apostle surely thought so. He strongly encouraged the operation of the gifts by EVERY member of the church. And whenever he encountered reluctance or errors, he explained proper usage of the gifts, saying, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant" (1 Corinthians 12:1).

So why doesn't every believer excel in the gifts of the Holy Spirit? It's not because they can't. Every believer who's baptized in the Holy Spirit receives the fullness of the Spirit with all His gifts waiting to be activated. You don't just receive part of the Holy Spirit!

The Greek word ἀγνοέω (agnoeō), translated as ignorant, means by implication, to ignore through hesitancy, or reluctance. We are often hesitant and reluctant to receive something when we lack information and don't quite understand what it is.

There are some believers don't exercise the gifts of the Spirit simply because they have chosen not to. We all can have reasons not wanting to do something, and God never forces His gifts upon anyone. He respects our freewill, allowing us to make our own choices. It's our responsibility to make wise choices!

Also, some believers speak in tongues yet choose not to manifest other spiritual gifts in the church setting. Proficiency in the gifts of the Spirit has nothing to do with someone's personality or manner. You can never know who will become proficient in the gifts of the Spirit.

Believers hungry for the things of the Spirit must be encouraged to exercise the gifts of the Spirit, and the rest simply left to God. Each believer has a calling to spread the gospel of the Kingdom, but because of the choices we make, we might not excel in all areas or to the extent we could.

However, if your desire is to please God and find your place in the Body of Christ, start to exercise the gifts of the Spirit. It comes down to choices. Ask God to help you make the right choices, so you can fulfill His plan for your life.

We read in 1 Corinthians that love plays a significant role in the operation of the gifts. Love is the more excellent way, the motivator. If we love others, we will desire to bring them edification, exhortation, and comfort.

When the gifts of the Spirit are flowing, it's a sign that love is flowing. The Gifts of the Spirit cannot operate in an environment void of love! Jesus sent the Holy Spirit with all His gifts to help you reach your true potential in the Body of Christ through edifying others in love.

Paul urges, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16).

 "We are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life" (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

Why Focus on the Gifts of the Spirit?

After it has been revealed through Scripture that the answer to the question does everyone have spiritual gifts is yes, some well-meaning Christian will ask, "Okay, I agree the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are in the Bible and that Paul encourages Christians to walk in them, but do I really have to? Why focus on the gifts?"

Usually, the person asking the question hasn't any issue with the fruits of the Spirit or the five ministry gifts. What's often concerning them is an uneasiness about the supernatural nature of the gifts, and their responsibility to exercise the gifts.

Believers should never be indifferent or fearful of the supernatural when it's impossible to be a follower of Christ without embracing it.

Belief in Christ's virgin birth, His sacrificial death on the cross, His physical resurrection from the dead, and His bodily ascension into Heaven are all obvious supernatural events central to one's salvation.

Ignorance breeds fear and once believers gain a proper understanding of the gifts, especially the gift of discernment of spirits, they will no longer fear the supernatural realm, and they will more eagerly embrace the gifts and do the works of Jesus.

Does everyone have spiritual gifts? Again, the answer is YES! We really need to drop every excuse and face the reality.

After discussing the spiritual gifts, Paul says, "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14:37, emphasis added).

Paul considered the nine gifts of the Spirit necessary to the believer's walk in Christ, so let's be diligent to learn about them.

Don Bell of Kingdom Anointing

By Don Bell, follower of the Christ.

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