The Gifts of the Spirit

Jesus promised his disciples that when he returned to the Father he would send the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide and teach them. He assured them that the Holy Spirit would be both with them and in them. Later, as he was about to ascend to the Father, he instructed his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit before they started preaching the message he gave them.

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came. He energized the disciples to take the gospel throughout all Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world. The Holy Spirit not only brought power and boldness for the preaching of the gospel, but he also gave gifts to every believer.

As the gospel went forth, people believed and were baptized. The church was formed from these new believers who were rapidly being added to the Body. The new church had to be taught and equipped for the work of the ministry. God knew exactly the needs of the church so his planned for the believers to have gifts for the purpose of building up and edifying each other and for glorifying God through Jesus Christ (Cor.12:7; 1Pet.4:11; Eph.4:7-8). The gifts are not for self -aggrandizement or for putting on displays that draw attention to the individual. The recipient of the gift is simply the instrument God has chosen to use for his glory and for the upliftment of the saints. Therefore, the possessor of the gift has nothing to boast about in himself. Having a spiritual gift should inspire humility in the possessor. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was humbled and surrendered to God’s purpose for her life (Luke 1:38), recipients of spiritual gifts should likewise be grateful.

It is the Holy Spirit who distributes the gifts as he sees fit. Spiritual gifts are not passed on from one person to another. Simon wanted Peter to transfer a gift to him but Peter rebuked him (Acts 8:18-20).

We find a list of the spiritual gifts in Rom.12:6-8; 1Cor.12:8-10; Eph.4:7-11. 1Pet.4:11mentions the gift of serving.

Prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28-29; 14:1-40; Eph. 4:11) the capability to receive and proclaim a message from God. This could involve the foretelling of events, even though in 1Corinthians 14:3 the emphasis is on forth telling – speaking to Christians for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort.

Teaching (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28-29; Eph. 4:11) The ability to effectively explain the word of God showing its application to everyday life. This calls for the ability to accurately interpret Scripture, engage in necessary research, and use methods that facilitate easy communication of the results.

Service (Rom. 12:7) The capacity to care for the needs of others. The Greek phrase for this gift is the same as that for ministry or deacon, but the gift should no longer be confused with the office.

Exhortation (Rom. 12:8) The capacity to encourage others to respond to the truth by providing timely words of advice, encouragement, and consolation. While this gift is exercised, believers are challenged to use God’s truth to order their lives.

Giving (Rom. 12:8) The capability to make generous and cheerful contributions for the gain of others and the glory of God. Christians with this spiritual gift no longer care for riches.

Mercy (Rom. 12:8) The potential to deeply empathize and participate in compassionate acts on behalf of folks who are struggling bodily, mental, or emotional misery. Those with this gift manifest concern and kindness to folks who are regularly unnoticed.

Miracles (1Cor. 12:10, 28, 29) The capability to serve as a tool through whom God accomplishes supernatural acts. Miracles witness to the presence of God and the proclamation of the gospel and appear to arise most often in times of persecution and on the mission field.

Discerning of spirits (1Cor. 12:10) The ability to clearly decipher truth from errors (1John 4:6). With this gift, one can distinguish reality from counterfeits, the divine as opposed to the demonic, genuine as opposed to fake teaching, and in some instances, spiritual as opposed to carnal motives.

Tongues (1 Cor. 12:10, 28, 30; 14:1-40) The ability to preach the gospel message in a language one has not learned. For different members of the body to be edified, this message has to be interpreted either by the one giving the message (1 Cor. 14:13) or by someone who has the gift of interpretation (1 Cor. 14:26-28).

Word of Knowledge The Weymouth New Testament renders 1Cor.12:8 thus, “To one the utterance of wisdom has been granted through the Spirit; to another the utterance of knowledge in accordance with the will of the same Spirit;”. Some think that this gift gives the recipient the ability to gain information about persons or situations he is not otherwise privy to. However, this translation seems to be saying that this gift is the ability to utter knowledge most likely gained from the Word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Wisdom (1Cor. 12:8) The ability to give good advice by applying the principles of God’s word to any situation.

Healing (1Cor. 12:9, 28, 30) The capacity to function as a human device through whom God supernaturally treatments ailments and restores health.

Faith (1Cor. 12:9) This is the capacity to have extraordinary confidence and boldness in believing what God says like Abraham in Heb.11:8-12.

Some additional gifts of the Spirit can be found in Ephesians 4:7-11. The gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are also specific offices in the church. It may be noted that the gifts of healing, miracles, apostles, and prophets in the sense of foretelling the future, seem to have faded from the Church after the first-century era. Today, in some sections of the visible church, individuals have arisen claiming to have the gifts of healing and miracles. Others have assumed the titles of Apostle and Prophet. One should be careful to check the fruits of these individuals before accepting the message they bring.

The church at Corinth was rich in spiritual gifts but poor in love. This resulted in the abuse and misuse of the gifts. Consequently, Paul had to address issues relating to the use of gifts in the church. Paul made it clear that love was by far the most important gift. It acts as a regulator for all the other gifts. Without love, the other gifts would be used in a selfish, carnal way that has no benefits for the body of Christ. He instructed the Corinthians to exercise their giftings in an orderly manner (1Corinthians14:26-33). He ordered that there would be no tongues in church unless interpretation followed (1Corinthians14:28). Paul further instructed the brothers to go after the gifts that would bring instruction and edification to the other believers(verse 31).

The apostle Peter admonished Christians to use their gifts to faithfully serve others and administer God’s grace in its various forms (1Pet.:10-11).

Spiritual gifts have been part of God’s design to nurture the church, to provide each member with a unique divine tool to minister God’s grace to others, and that members of his body would through the exercise of their gifts, bring much glory to God. Both the apostles Peter and Paul encouraged Christians to use their God-given gifts. Earlier we saw how Paul gave guidelines for the use of spiritual gifts within the church service. More churches need to provide avenues within the worship service for members to encourage and edify the members by the use of their spiritual gifts. Church members should not be just spectators. Everyone can participate in one way or another if spiritual gifts are given their rightful place.

Pastors ought to teach their congregations about spiritual gifts and encourage members to serve each other in whatever capacity they are gifted. In the book of Acts, neither Philip nor Stephen were apostles, but they were gifted to perform miracles and to preach the gospel, which they did, and the church grew as a result (Acts 8:4-8, 12-13; 6:8).

The western church seems to have adopted one of two extremes positions where spiritual gifts are concerned. Some are very quiet, not allowing gifts especially the charismatic ones. Other churches have gone crazy and flaky with every sort of “gift” that is plainly not consistent with the word of God. The church needs the genuine gifts of the Spirit, not more hype. When that happens, the church will experience spiritual growth, not just growth in numbers but growth in the stature and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.