Talents are natural Gifts are supernatural
Talents are inherited from one's parents, ultimately from Adam Gifts are received from God
Talents are received at birth; they are natural endowments. Gifts are received at the time of the new birth
Talents are possessed both by saved people and by unsaved people. There are many unsaved people who are very talented (musical ability, artistic ability, athletic ability, mathematical ability, etc.). Gifts are possessed only by saved people, those who are members of the church which is His Body. An unsaved person might mimic a spiritual gift, but it is counterfeit and limited to self-activity (e.g.-a false prophet, a false teacher, etc.).
A man may be very talented as a TEACHER in the public school system or at a prestigious university. He may be recognized as an outstanding teacher by all of his co-workers. He may be very talented when it comes to communication skills and oratory. He may even win the "Teacher of the Year" Award. This same man, upon believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, may not receive the gift of teaching. Spiritual gifts are determined by God not by any natural talents which a man may possess. If this same man should receive the gift of teaching it is above and beyond and distinct from any natural teaching talent which he had. It is something that he did not have prior to the new birth.
For full effectiveness talents need to be developed. A person who is naturally skilled musically must still learn to play an instrument, often demanding years of practice. Most professional athletes not only have natural talent but they have developed this talent through years of practice and hard work. Gifts need to be exercised and this can only happen as the believer stays spiritually healthy and grows "in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). The proper exercise of spiritual gifts requires spiritual growth and maturity (Ephesians 4:13-16).
Talents possessed by believers ought to be surrendered and consecrated to the Lord and used for His honor and glory. Example: A skilled organist playing for a worship service "as unto the Lord." Gifts are given by God for the outworking of God's LIFE as expressed by the Body of Christ. When the Body is healthy the LIFE of God is manifested and God is glorified (compare 1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
"There is a difference between natural talents and supernatural gifts. Talents come through the genes of natural inheritance; gifts directly by the Lord. Talent comes from the first Adam and, however attractive, is still a part of man's fallen nature. The gift is by the Holy Spirit, as it pleases Him" (Carlton Helgerson, The Local Church, pages 34-35).

The Middletown Bible Church
349 East Street
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 346-0907

More articles under The Local Church