The Gifts of the Spirit
The Bible teaches that every redeemed person is given at least one gift of the Holy Spirit and Christ holds us responsible for the way we use our gifts. To paraphrase President Kennedy, when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit, we should say, “Ask not what our
church can do for me, but what can I do for our church!” As God’s people, we should never use our gifts and talents for personal interests and satisfaction, even though we may greatly benefit from them. We blatantly sin against God if we use them for selfish motives.
Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God is active in everyone and everything. A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
The NT lists “the gifts of the Spirit” in three passages.
PROPHESYING—PROPHECY is speaking truth directly revealed from God by the Spirit. Examples: Timothy (1 Timothy 4:14) and Daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9). This gift involved foretelling and forthtelling, the communication of a message directly from God. The prophet’s task was twofold: to confront and to encourage. He brings rebuke and warning, telling men that their actions are not in accordance with the will of God. He brings advice and guidance, seeking to direct men in the ways of God so they
might have hope. Today, “Biblical” preaching fills the role of the prophet when the Spirit illuminates the mind of the preacher as he
studies the Bible and expounds its truths.
Prophecy, whether foretelling or forthtelling, is beneficial in three ways:
1. Strengthening or edifying—it builds up
2. Encouragement or exhortation—it stirs up
3. Comfort or consoling—it cheers up
SERVING–HELPING is aiding others to do God’s work and giving practical assistance to members of the church. Example: Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16).
TEACHING is communicating the truth and applications of Scripture. Examples: Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:26); Apollos (Acts 18:27-28); and Paul (Acts 18:11).
ENCOURAGING is urging one to pursue proper conduct or consoling, comforting and strengthening members of the body of Christ. Example: Barnabas (Acts 4:36).
GIVING is liberally and cheerfully imparting substance to God’s work— meeting physical needs. Example: Dorcas (Acts 9:36).
LEADERSHIP is organizing and administering the work of the ministry. Example: Titus (Titus 1:5).
SHOWING MERCY is giving undeserved aid to others—showing compassion, pity and sympathy. Example: Barnabas (Acts 9:27).
APOSTLES were eyewitness of the resurrected Christ, who had been personally chosen by Him to speak authoritatively about faith and practice, thereby setting forth the precepts for the church. Examples: Paul (Galatians 1:1) and
Peter (1 Peter 1:1).
EVANGELISTS are those who present the gospel with clarity and with a burden for the unsaved—heralds of salvation through Christ. Example: Philip (Acts 21:8).
PASTOR-TEACHERS are shepherds and teachers of the church, feeding and caring for the sheep (members). Examples: Peter (John 21:15-17) and Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12).
MESSAGE OF WISDOM is perceiving and presenting the truth of God while applying it to specific situations—the ability to grasp and apply the revelation given. Example: John (1 John 1:1-3). This is not learned or acquired wisdom, but divinely imparted wisdom. The Holy Spirit is the living interpreter of Scripture. His work continues, and is going on now. God is in active communication with the world, which He has made. His Spirit is ever educating people, leading them into His truth.
MESSAGE OF KNOWLEDGE is understanding and exhibiting wisdom from God; revelation from God about people, circumstance or Biblical truth; and understanding truth in a spiritual sense. Thus, this gift is more than how to investigate or to dig into truth. It refers to the exhortation of revelation in practical areas of life. It is the knowledge to know what to do in any given situation and being able to apply it to life (Colossians 2:2-3).
FAITH is trusting God implicitly to perform unusual deeds—confidence in Christ. All Christians are justified by faith. But the gift of faith is a special faith to attempt great tasks for God. This gift goes beyond ordinary faith. It is a faith that produces results—it can move mountains (1 Corinthians 13:2). Example: Stephen (Acts 6:5).
HEALING is being able to cure diseases completely. Examples: Peter and John (Acts 3:6-7) and Paul (Acts 20:9-12). The gifts of healing relate to the ability to heal the sick of various diseases, such as blindness and leprosy. A study of the miraculous healings in the NT yields the following characteristics of this gift.
1. Jesus and the apostles healed with a touch or word.
2. Jesus and the apostles healed totally.
3. Jesus and the apostles healed all kinds of diseases as well as demon possession.
4. Jesus and the apostles raised the dead.
5. Jesus and the apostles healed to validate the Gospel.
While God can and does heal, it is doubtful anyone has the gift of healing today. Many who have the reputation of being faith healers have developed diseases. They did not have the ability to heal themselves, nor did any others have the gift to heal them.
MIRACLES is being able to perform works of power so people will fear God (Acts 5:9-11). The working of miracles performed power over nature. These miracles were designed to authenticate God’s message and messenger. There are only three
periods in history in which men had such miraculous powers. Moses and Aaron performed miracles at the establishment of the
nation of Israel and the giving of the Law. Elijah and Elisha performed miracles when God began to speak through the prophets. Jesus and the apostles performed miracles to authenticate the Gospel for the establishment of the church. Paul imposed blindness on
Elymas (Acts 13:8-11).
DISCERNMENT is distinquishing the power by which a teacher or prophet speaks—so as to expose false prophets and teachers (1 John 4:1). Example: Believers at Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:29).
NATIONAL TONGUES the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations. The Greek genov denotes nationality or descent from a particular people. Hence, the spiritual gift of tongues is speaking a language not understood by the speaker but understood by others.
There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, the multitude came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were astounded and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites; those who live in Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own languages the magnificent acts of God.” And they were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, “What could this be?” (Acts 2:12).
Speaking in tongues by the disciples on Pentecost confirmed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as prophesized by the prophet Joel, as well as the validity of the Gospel preached by Peter that day (Acts 2:14-41).
On two occasions, speaking in tongues, by those who received the Holy Spirit, confirmed that they were added to the church.
1. Gentiles at Cornelius’ House, Acts 10:46
2. Disciples of John the Baptist, Acts 19:6
Speaking in tongues resulted in praise to God by those persons knowing the language spoken (Acts 2:1-12) and thanksgiving to God and edification of the church when the tongues were understood by someone interpreting the language spoken.
I wish all of you spoke in other languages, but even more that you prophesied. The person who prophesies is greater than the person who speaks in languages, unless he interprets so that the church may be built up (1 Corinthians 14:5).
What then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with my understanding. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will the uninformed person say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? (1 Corinthians 14:15-16).
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES is making “tongues” or “languages” understandable—the confirmation of a foreign language.
If any person speaks in another language, there should be only two, or at the most three, each in turn, and someone must interpret. But if there is no interpreter, that person should keep silent in the church and speak to himself and to God (1 Corinthians 14:27-28)
The Holy Spirit used the gifts of speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues together to verify the veracity of the message or the baptizing of those regenerated into the church.
HELPS is to aid or to be helpful. This is the only time this term appears in the Bible. This term occurs in the compound word sunantilambanomai, which occurs twice and is translated “give me a hand” and “help.”
But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand” (Luke 10:40).
In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings (Romans 8:26).
The cook, the mason, the carpenter, the electrician, the painter, the engineer, the janitor, the plumber, and the nurse all have their special gifts, which are from God and can be used for Him. From the very beginning, Christianity was an intensely practical religion. A person may be a poor speaker and have no gift of teaching, but is able to help other members in very practical ways by repairing or
building something that is needed.
ADMINISTRATION is of Latin origin and means to steer as a helmsman; thus, to rule or govern. As a spiritual gift, it is steering the church—the giving of divine direction or the guidance of wise counselors in the Septuagint.
A wise man will listen and increase his learning, and a discerning man will obtain guidance (Proverbs 1:5)
Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance (Proverbs 11:14).
For you should wage war with sound guidance—victory comes with many counselors (Proverbs 24:6).
Administration is a supremely essential work. In the foreground, the preacher and teacher hold the limelight; but they could never do their work unless there were those who shouldered the routine day-to-day administration. The apostles discovered very early
the need to appoint deacons to do the administrative work so they could give their time to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:17).