March 9 - 

March 15

SDA Sabbath School Lessons

#11 How to Discover and Verify Your Spiritual Gifts

Read for this

week's study:  

    Matt. 25:14-30; Eph. 4:12-16; 1 Cor. 12:12-31.
Memory Text: "The man who had received the five talents brought the other five.... His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"' (Matthew 25:20, 21, NIV).

Key Thought:

Those who receive spiritual gifts must learn to use them efficiently. Spiritual gifts must be developed. They are not assigned to a person with all the skills already in place.
The Lessons:
The Discussion:
We invite youi to join the  SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning (usually 9:30 AM) with your SSNETlocal Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

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Sabbath -
 March 8


While going to college, a young man worked in a factory that produced bushings for all kinds of machinery. One of the operations called for grinding and polishing the bushings by hand. Bushings of this type are small. One slip, and you grind your finger instead of the bushing. The young man walked around with bandaged fingers for some time until he got the knack of polishing bushings and leaving his fingers intact. Since he was paid by the piece, the more bushings he polished, the more money he made. He worked hard at developing the necessary skills to increase his output.

Spiritual gifts involve skills that the Lord designs for us to use in the advancement of the kingdom. It takes work, study, and experience to polish and perfect the skills that accompany your gift or gifts.

Sunday -
 March 9


Spiritual gifts are identified and verified using a four-stage procedure:

  1. Take an inventory or test indicating your most obvious gifts. (See Friday's lesson for some ideas of where to get such a test.)
  2. Have the church body verify your findings.
  3. Through intercessory prayer, ask the Lord to confirm your gifts (James 1:5).
  4. Use your gifts in ministry.

Do spiritual gifts need to be developed? Eph. 4:12-16.

Spiritual gifts are not assigned as "adults." The ability to use the gift goes with the assignment, but it is our responsibility to become proficient in the use of our gifts. Once we know what our gifts are, we need to develop them into effective ministries.

Developing a Spiritual Gift-a Case Study. Assume you have been given the gift of teaching. How can you develop that gift? Study the following chart, and note the procedure used to develop a gift. Then make a similar chart for a gift you know you have, and make a plan for developing that gift.


Procedure Follow-up Suggestions


Develop a clear under- standing of the basic principles of biblical interpretation. Master the skill of biblical interpretation.


Develop a system of Bible study that will continually increase your knowledge Take time to master the Scriptures. Have a Bible-reading plan.


Make it a priority to apply the truth you learn to your own life. Recognize that truth is both for you and for those you teach.


Master principles of communication. Master a book like Gregory's Seven Laws of Teaching


Set up a continuing education program for yourself. Teaching is a lifelong ministry. Read books, study, attend seminars, take the time to prepare well.

Monday -
 March 10


Looking at your own inward convictions. Your experience in the Christian life and your service to the church have already taught you some things about spiritual gifts. You may not have thought of it in the same way we have studied in this quarterly, but you may already be exercising your gifts. Fill out the following inward-conviction questionnaire.

  1. I have a growing conviction and restlessness in my heart that tells me I ought to be doing the following in the church:
    1. I should become involved in
    2. I know about a special need that I could fill. (Describe that need.)
    3. Which of the spiritual gifts best relate to this conviction I have?
  2. I am certain that God has called me to a specific ministry. (Describe that ministry.)
  3. What gifts are necessary for that ministry? Do I feel I have them?
  4. Do I truly feel that God could develop that gift in me? Is it important for the church that He do so?
  5. Am I willing to carry out that ministry consistently with conviction and expertise?
  6. Of all the Christians I know, the ministry of which two has impressed me most?
    1. What gifts do these two persons have?
    2. Are those the same gifts I feel I have, and could I accomplish a ministry similar to theirs?
Basic principles to keep in mind:
  1. A restless, growing conviction is often the first sign that God is endowing you with a combination of gifts necessary to meet a need in the church.
  2. A specific call by the Lord to a ministry will inevitably be accompanied by the gifts that will make that ministry effective, provided a person's motivation and attitude follow biblical guide- lines and principles.

Tuesday -
 March 11


Sunday's lesson contained a short case study of how to develop the gift of teaching and an example of how to develop any spiritual gift. Today we look at another case study, using the gift of evangelism as an example.

Though evangelism often refers to public meetings, the gift of evangelism really means that a person has the ability to lead people to decisions for the Lord. Evangelists win converts.

Types of Evangelism. There are many types of evangelism. Some types are witnessing approaches in which all Christians can and should participate. Other types require the specific gift of evangelism. The farther down you move on the chart below, the more you need the gift of evangelism to accomplish the objective. Notice how other gifts may cooperate with the gift of evangelism at certain points.

Type of Evangelism

Cognate Gift(s)

Church Involvement

Prayer Intercessory prayer All Christians can witness at these stages
Friendship Exhortation/ encouragement  
Confrontation Discernment of spirits The gift of evangelism is essential here
Public Faith  
Confirmation Teaching, pastoring, hospitality Entire church membership involved
If you have this gift, you can follow a four-step plan:
  1. Know the essentials of the gospel. Study Bible doctrines and the evangelistic accounts in the book of Acts
  2. Learn friendship evangelism. Take a friendship-evangelism seminar, and apply the principles.
  3. Observe someone with this gift. Seek assistance from people with related gifts. Read books on the subject.
  4. Try out your new skills. Practice and continue studying.

Wednesday -
  March 12


Spiritual gifts are verified in two ways: first, by confirmation by the church body, and, second, by the Lord as believers engage in intercessory prayer.

Who affirmed Paul and Barnabas in their gifts and ministry? Acts 13:1-3. Who affirmed Timothy? 1 Tim. 4:11-14.

Use the following chart as a guideline for when and how you might want to use different parts of the form and questions below.

Step If.. Then ..


If you haven't belonged to begin using your gifts as well as your church very long, and no one really knows you well ... begin using your gifts as well as you can, and become part of the active membership


If your experience is mostly in ministry not directly related to a local church ... talk with people in that ministry, and ask them for confirmation.


If the church you attend doesn't understand much about spiritual gifts and you want to avoid undue controversy ... use your gifts as best you can, and trust that the Lord will send you outside confirmation in His own way and time.


If you feel you have one or more of the sign or power gifts ... meet with your pastor or elder, and set up a system for evaluating your giftedness.

Spiritual-Gifts Confirmation. Have a number of people evaluate you, using the following form:

(For the evaluator): Use your knowledge of this person's ministry in the church to provide the following information:

  1. Name any gift that you are definitely certain this person has.
  2. Name any gift you think might be a potential undeveloped gift this person may have.
  3. Name any gift you feel this person has that he or she is using fruitfully.
Explain why you credited the person with these gifts.

Thursday -
 March 13


Spiritual gifts are assigned by the Holy Spirit to advance the kingdom. Possession of a particular gift does not make anyone superior to anyone else, nor is it a measure of holiness or dedication.

Read the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Who became the "worthless servant" (NIV), and why? How does Paul pinpoint the underlying problem of abuse of spiritual gifts? Rom. 12:3.

Notice that the only person Jesus condemned in this parable was the one who did not use any gift. He made no distinction between the person with five talents and the person with two. There are two primary ways in which spiritual gifts are often abused.

Gift Projection - "Why don't you do what I do?" Gift projection assumes that everyone else ought to have the same gift I have. Gift projection is often indulged by people with the gifts of knowledge, faith, evangelism, and discernment of spirits.

People with the gift of knowledge are tempted to say, "But everyone knows ..." Those with the gift of faith tend to declare, "Where's your faith..." Those with the gift of evangelism often assume that people without this gift "don't work" for the Lord. People with the gift of discernment tend to say, "but can't you see..."

Gift Exaltation - "My gift is better than yours!" Gift exaltation is an attitude, often unconscious, that a certain gift is a spiritual status symbol. Those without it are given the impression that they are second-class citizens of the kingdom.

People who have some of the power or sign gifts, or highly goal oriented gifts like evangelism, often project this attitude, even though they may not mean to do so consciously. There are large segments of the Christian community, for instance, who sincerely believe that unless one speaks in tongues, he or she is not "affirmed" by the Lord and is not yet a true citizen of the kingdom. People with the gift of evangelism often assume that all Christians are evangelists, and if they don't do that job, then they are letting the Lord down.

What does Paul specifically say about these attitudes? Rom. 12:1-8. 1 Cor. 12:12-26.

Friday -
  March 14

The Seventh-day Adventist Church produces an excellent series of study materials on spiritual gifts authored by Dr. Roy Naden, entitled Your Spiritual Gifts.- Making the Great Discovery (Berrien Springs, Mich.: Instructional Product Development, 1989). The set includes videos, an instruction book, and a spiritual-gifts inventory.

A spiritual-gifts inventory called Finding Your Spiritual Gifts: Wagner Modified Houts Questionnaire is available from many ABC's and conference offices. The same questionnaire is found in C. Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow, revised edition (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1994).

Read "Talents," Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 325-365, for more information on the parable of the talents. Look for the principles that are to direct our use of talents.

  1. Have you had an experience with someone who indulges in gift projection? Relate the experience. What did you do to resolve the situation? Discuss how you can personally avoid such problems.
  2. Have you had any experience with someone who indulges in gift exaltation? Relate the experience. What did you do to resolve the situation? Discuss how you can personally avoid such problems.
SUMMARY:  Spiritual gifts need to be identified and developed. This is done through a four-stage process. This lesson has described the process and provided some case studies as examples.

Inside Story From Death to New Life

J. Lynn Martell

Carolyn put the telephone receiver back on the hook. Her mother's words still rang in her ear: Her father had been struggling with cancer and emphysema, but he was losing the battle. Could she come right away?

Although Carolyn had been reared in a Christian home, both she and her family had strayed from their faith. Now, when death seemed imminent, she did not know what to say to give her father hope--or to shore up her own faith. Realizing that she did not know God as she should, she spent time fasting and praying, asking God for spiritual restoration to enable her to comfort and help her father.

God came near to her, giving her the assurance of His love and acceptance. With new hope she traveled to the island of Hawaii, where her parents lived. She spent an entire night reading the Bible to her father and talking to him about salvation. He renewed his faith in Christ and accepted Jesus as his Saviour just before he died.

After the funeral Carolyn returned home and continued to nurture her new relationship with God. She began searching for a church that would meet her spiritual needs. She attended several churches, but was not satisfied with any of them.

One day her husband, Taeleipu (Ipu, for short), a post-office worker, noticed a brochure for the Discoveries in Prophecy seminars as he sorted mail. As a child he had known some Adventists in his homeland of Samoa. Although he also had a Christian background, he no longer attended church. But he knew his wife was searching, and brought one of the brochures home for her. When she lost it, he found another one in the trash at work. This time he suggested that she attend. He even offered to care for the children so she could go.

Carolyn began attending the meetings. After each meeting she shared what she had learned with her husband. He listened and willingly accepted each truth.

When Ipu needed surgery, members of the Adventist church visited him in the hospital. Their caring attitude deeply impressed him. Ipu decided that the Adventist faith must be real, and decided to attend church and be baptized. Today Ipu and Carolyn rejoice in their new walk with God, forged in the face of death.

J. Lynn Martell is president of the Hawaii Conference.

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