Frequently asked Questions

Frequently asked questions

Is the study about grace gifts personality analysis?

No. Personality analysis forms part of psychology and some of it is even based on occult practices, questionnaires, Greek Mythology and even Astrology.  The focus of the grace gifts, is about getting to know God’s character as He revealed Himself to us in His Word.  We get to know Him as the Prophet, Servant, Teacher, Exhorter, Giver, Ruler and Mercy.  The Word teaches us that we have been created in His image, therefore the more we get to know Him, His nature and character, the more we understand what it means to be created in His image.  He takes us on a journey of character building, being transformed into His image more and more.  Growing into spiritual maturity is a daily journey that flows from our relationship with God so that we can reflect His character more and more every day. We did not make use of a questionnaire in this study or in the seminars simply because we focus on hearing from the Holy Spirit who we were made to be and what function He purposed for us to fulfill in the body of Christ.  He made us in His image, from the beginning of time, and within our intimate relationship with Him we can come to “really mature manhood, which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection” (Eph 4).

Are the grace gifts not ‘labels’ or ‘boxes’ that we put people in?

It is extremely important that we understand that we should NEVER try to analyse or decide or tell someone else what WE THINK their gift is.  This cannot be emphasized enough.  From the outside chances are that we will be and can be very wrong when we decide what another person’s gift is, no matter how well we think we know that person. From experience we know that doing this is counterproductive in the body of Christ and it does more damage than good.   People should be presented with all the information about the grace gifts and then encouraged to discover the character of God, to get to know Him in all His different facets and in doing so we will inevitably discover who He made us to be and what function He wants us to fulfil in the body of Christ.  We as counsellors or facilitators should NEVER do or try to do the work of the Holy Spirit.  We should allow the person the freedom to journey with the Holy Spirit and to make the discovery as the Holy Spirit leads and reveals to them.  When we analyse or decide what we think someone else’s gift is, we steal that person’s opportunities of discovering it within their own intimacy with God and we intrude in their personal journey of discovery that is meant only for them and God to walk out.  This is a well known principle in counselling – we NEVER give advice or make decisions for people in other aspects neither should we be doing it in this respect.

Having said that the author has also become aware of the fact that some people in the body of Christ are very cautious about “labelling” people or being put into a “box” and therefore do not want to talk about, attend teaching or acknowledge the specific gift God has given them or others as a double dose gift. The current understanding of the grace gifts is that man has been created in God’s image and that the grace gifts are the expression of God’s character in us. This is a precious treasure that God has created within us before the foundation of the earth. When He dreamt about us and planned how to put us together, He chose to place something of His own character, His image of Who He is, into us and each of us has an own unique gifting and a different part of God’s character that is primary within us.  Both in Romans 12 and in 1 Cor. 12 it is spelled out in no uncertain terms that everybody within the body of Christ does not have the same function.

It is our current understanding that God gave us more of the gift we need to fulfill our purpose, so that it will be easy for us to fulfill that purpose for the body of Christ and so that it will be an area of function that is filled with enthusiasm and fulfillment when we operate in it as He intended us to do.  This is a thought bigger and more precious than we could fully comprehend.  If a grace gift then is an expression of God’s character in us, there is no way that we could make that precious treasure out to be a so called “label”, “box” or something to that effect.  It cannot be seen like that, nor can we talk about it in that way. It is true that the fall of man damaged that image of God within us, but because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Word teaches us that He continually takes us on a journey towards spiritual maturity, so that the character of Christ manifests and is formed and created more and more within us. Thus, to then refer to a gift that the almighty, perfect, sovereign God who created us, has placed within us as a so called label is, to say the least, disrespectful towards Him.

Perhaps the simple illustration of an apple tree can be used to understand this concept better.  An apple tree was created to bear apples as fruit.  It is by no means demeaning to the apple tree to be called an apple tree.  In fact it is a constant acknowledgement, a prophetic declaration of the identity, purpose and calling of the apple tree to be named an apple tree.  It is not something that will ever be disgraceful or damaging to the apple tree to be called an apple tree.  What it does do is that it confirms the apple tree’s identity and does not put a false expectation on the apple tree to also bear strawberries, broccoli or carrots.  If that is done to the apple tree it will develop an identity crisis in not knowing who it really was created to be and the more it tries to bear strawberries, the more it will fail in that function or calling.

Do we not have all the gifts since the Bible says we have the fullness of God in us?

If the same illustration of an apple tree is kept in mind we will discover that having the fullness of Christ in the apple tree still does not mean that the apple tree will bear strawberries.  What it does mean is that the apple tree will bear the healthiest, most nutritious, juicy and tasty apples possible.   If this can be understood in terms of the nature, character and purpose with which apple trees were created by God, how much more should it not be understood in terms of living human beings, that bear the character and image of God but who is not God Himself? God is the only supreme almighty sovereign being that in Himself possesses all of the characteristics and all of the gifts in completeness and in equal measure.  If it is claimed that any one individual possesses all of the gifts in completeness and can fulfill all of the functions for the body of Christ, are they not claiming to be everything, to everybody in effect then, claiming to be God Himself?

What is the best way to have the discussion about what is typical of the various gifts?

When one sees the grace gifts in the light of God’s character in us and we then say to one another “that is typical of my/your gift or of my/your gift’s battlefield”, we must ensure that the discussion is conducted in love and respect.  Never should this discussion be allowed to be disrespectful in any way. It goes without saying that the members of the body of Christ should be respectful and show the love and character of Christ to one another.  It should be an acknowledgement of that which God has created within us. In fact it should at all times indicate respect and appreciation for the specific gift with its differences that God has placed within us.  It should be in recognition of the fact that we do not have the same functions in the body of Christ and that we give one another permission to be what God has created us to be. We declare thereby that it is not expected of us to live out a different purpose, function or calling than the one which God has created within us. There is therefore an acceptance and celebration of who you were made to be.  It creates awareness in practical, everyday life situations of how the gifts are displayed in and through us.

The way members of the body of Christ talk to one another about this topic should NEVER be done in a way that is disrespectful, destructive or critical, that would not be speaking out of love or by the Holy Spirit of God and if anything like that is done in a wrong way, it should be addressed. One should always remember that you are talking about the image of God, His nature and character, in another person.  We should also take note that we often do not like to be made aware of a battlefield and the areas we need to grow in.  This may cause us to take offence or blame the other person while they were lovingly trying to point us to areas of growth where we need to change.

In summary, when pointed out in relationship and in love, four things happen:

  • There is recognition of and acceptance is given to the precious gift which God created within the individual.
  • As individuals we are called to be accountable, to become aware of our battlefield and the fact that we are commanded by God to overcome it.
  • The gifts should be part of the body of Christ’s everyday discussions as we endeavour to grow into maturity with them. As a body we should be creating a safe place for all the members of the body to discover, discuss, practise and learn to live out our gifts to the fullness God intended for us.  This can only be done if a safe environment for growth can be created.  This environment will out of necessity include having to talk to each other about the gifts, their different characteristics and their battlefields.
  • It brings greater insight into who we are and how we function and interact in relationship with each other.

Are the gifts not only referenced briefly in a small section of scripture?

In 2 Timothy 3:15-17[2] Paul teaches us the following:

“But as for you, continue to hold to the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced, knowing from whom you learned [them],  And how from your childhood you have had a knowledge of and been acquainted with the sacred Writings, which are able to instruct you and give you the understanding for salvation which comes through faith in Christ Jesus [through the leaning of the entire human personality on God in Christ Jesus in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness].  Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),  So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

So firstly, even the smallest part of scripture is God-breathed and profitable for instruction, conviction of sin, correction of error, training in righteousness or holy living, so that we will be growing and equipped for every good work God called us to.

Secondly, if we understand that the grace gifts in Romans 12 is a list of seven gifts and it is part of God’s character, it can also be understood that God expresses His whole character in all of scripture and that we must just discover that.  The number seven is God’s number for perfectness and it is a fractal or a repeating pattern in the Bible which occurs repeatedly from Genesis to Revelation.  The initial study of these included 150 lists of seven from scriptures in both the Old and New Testament.  For example the seven days of Creation, seven compound, redemptive names of God, seven symbols in the Tabernacle, seven Words on the Cross, and seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation.  The list in Romans 12, where the grace gifts are specifically named, is therefore one of these repeating patterns because it is also a list of seven.  This study confirmed that, throughout Scripture, God is modelling, expressing, showing forth and revealing His perfect character. Therefore the study of the grace gifts is about how God reveals His character to us in His Word and the purpose of studying it is to grow in knowledge of God’s character.   The more we get to know God’s character and the more we realise that we are created in His image, the more we learn what our character ought to be.  Romans 12 is therefore one of the pieces of a very large puzzle about God’s character which is revealed throughout Scripture.  Every time we encounter a list of seven in Scripture, we therefore get to discover something of the perfect character of God and accordingly also something of the grace gifts because He is all seven grace gifts in perfection.  Each writer of Scripture expresses that which he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write through His specific colour of grace gift.  So, for example, we see the teacher gift of Isaiah, expressed throughout the book of Isaiah, we see the exhorter gift of Jeremiah, expressed throughout the book of Jeremiah.  It is no coincidence that God used John with his mercy gifting to write the book of Revelation, and God purposefully uses David with his mercy gifting to establish Kingship in Israel.  Paul’s exhorter gift is just as evident in the manner in which he persecutes the church before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus as thereafter.  Before his encounter with Jesus he builds the kingdom of the enemy with his gift and after Jesus redeems Him and his gifting, he builds the Kingdom of God with the same zeal and enthusiasm.  Grace gifts are everywhere in Scripture.  Should one omit the lists of seven from the study of grace gifts, one would be removing the Scriptural basis which is the character of God as well as the traits of each gift all together.

Some people develop an “I-am-the-way-I-am” attitude, how should this be handled?

From time to time an attitude in some people who have been exposed to the teaching about the gifts has surfaced that can only be described as the “I am the way I am because God made me that way and that is my gift and everyone around me has to accept that no matter how ungodly I act towards others”. This attitude is completely unacceptable.   We do understand that for some individuals, especially when discovering their grace gift after a lifetime of not being validated, the discovery of who they are made to be is a tremendously significant experience.  Sometimes this causes that person to swing like a pendulum completely over to the other side where they initially develop an attitude of “I-am-the-way-I-am-and-the-rest-of-the-world-has-to-make-its-peace-with- it.”  They start living in that extreme validated thinking for a time before balance is restored.  Although it is easy to understand how this happens and why it happens it is strongly renounced.  Such an attitude indicates that the person is getting stuck in his/her battlefield, rather than realising that the battlefield must, can, should be and is rewarded when it is overcome.  Most frequently this is a passing phase and people quickly regain the perspective that their battlefield must be overcome.  The battlefields are given a lot of attention (addressed in depth) in all the seminars and during the discussion groups, and as the body of Christ we should be confident that it is clearly communicated that this kind of attitude is ungodly and unacceptable.

Should the balance not quickly be restored, we should pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us if there is something like a deep seated hurt or specific type of brokenness that should be addressed.  One such type of brokenness that was discovered in practice was that the person was operating under a spirit of entitlement, even before attending the seminar and discussion groups.  That spirit was already present by the time the person attended the teaching and it will skew any teaching to justify its pride and entitlement.  As previously stated, this attitude is completely unacceptable and should be addressed in no uncertain terms whenever it is encountered.

Are we not all prophets?

This statement is correct when discussing the Holy Spirit’s supernatural gift of prophecy.  Born again children of Jesus receive the Holy Spirit and our spirit also has a prophetic grace gift because we do possess all the gifts in our spirit, but we are not all born with a double dose of the grace gift of prophesy, i.e. we do not all have the function of being a prophet for the body of Christ, neither are all of us are called to the office of prophet in the body of Christ.

It is therefore important to differentiate between

  • The grace gift of prophet.
  • The supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s prophecy.
  • The office of prophet.

These three differences are explained in depth in Chapter 1 of this dissertation as well as in the introduction to the initial seminar, and it is discussed throughout the focus groups discussions.  Everyone who attended the course will therefore be able to understand these differences and explain it to others.  Each attendant receives complete notes with the scripture references on which these truths are based.

Do we not speak “Christianese” or a language that others who did not attend a seminar cannot understand?

When the Bible describes the gifts as “Exhorter / Encourager” or “Prophet” etc., this is the common language used in scripture.  Concepts like “birthright” and “battlefield” are clearly explained throughout the focus groups and seminars.  A very important aspect of this journey of growth in the body of Christ is that we are all aware of things that happen in relationships with others, but as a body there is no language to describe, no language to talk or communicate to each other about these important issues.  When, as a body we start to talk, discuss or communicate with each other about these experiences, it helps tremendously to have language to express ourselves in.  It is imperative that we see this as part of the mandate given to us by Father to open the discussion about the grace gifts in the body of Christ so that maturity and reconciliation in relationships can have a starting point, a place from where a discussion, healthy communication, and the resolving of conflict can flow from.  It is impossible to do this without words, terminology or a way to communicate to each other about this topic.  As a body it is very important to always remember to be respectful to each other and all discussions should happen in love, enhancing the unity in the body of Christ.

Does the discovery of the grace gifts cause a disturbance, or even disunity in existing relationships?

The answer to this question is yes, it can.  The discovery of the grace gifts in essence forms part of a counselling process or then a process of renewal of the entire mind, so that we will no longer be conformed to this world but be transformed to know the perfect will of God.  Therefore, in short what happens is, that this, or for that matter when any counselling process is introduced and brings change in the life of an individual, the existing balance or way in which that individual relates to himself and others around them is changed.  The significant others in this person’s life may not like this change, nor may they necessarily think the change is positive.  Likewise the discovery of the grace gifts by an individual does change the way they think about themselves as well as the way they relate to the world around them, and the way they interact within relationships.  By far the overwhelming majority of respondents experienced this change as positive within themselves, as well as having a positive influence in all their relationships, although change is not always easy.  However, when change is introduced, especially in a closed system, or a closed set of relationships where there is no healthy giving and receiving to and from this system or set of relationships, the influence of this change that is introduced causes a great upsetting of the existing status quo.  A new status quo or balance or equilibrium then needs to be found and established.  This takes some time and sometimes it feels like the counselling process has caused disunity in these existing relationships.  This is not a negative change though.  If there really is a huge upsetting in the relationships, it mostly means that the relationships within the group was not healthy anyway, and what should happen is that the counselling process should be continued, helping all the members of the group to smoothly make the transitions necessary.  When this is done the relationships in the group will be strengthened and they will be much healthier than before.

[2] Biblegateway AMPC

© 2012 first published re-published in 2017 HG Venter (as part of D min dissertation TICU Baton Rouge Louisiana)