The Gifts of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit | The Gifts of the Spirit
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." (1 Corinthians 12:7).
The Holy Spirit is manifested through a variety of spiritual gifts given to believers. Paul defines them in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."
These manifestations are intended for the edification and uplifting of the body of Christ. They are different from the gifts outlined in Romans 12:6-8 and the ministry gifts found in Ephesian 4:11. The gifts of the Spirit are given according to the will of the Spirit, when the need arises, or according to the earnest desire of the believer. Some gifts may be manifested through an individual on a regular basis, while other gifts may be manifested only as the need arises. Paul stated that the Spirit, "divides to every man severally as he will."
It is not scriptural nor is it wise to assume that because a person often exercises a gift, that the person is more spiritual than another who is rarely or perhaps never used. Possessing a gift does not necessarily serve as a "stamp of approval" upon everything the individual does or believes. Spiritual gifts should not be confused with the fruit of the Spirit which relates more directly to a person's character.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 emphasizes that the church is a body made up of many members. No member is more important than another - no person is greater, no person is of less importance. He seemed to sense that some may grow in spiritual pride over the gifts when he wrote, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts." (1 Corinthians 12:28-31).
Again, I must make note of John's warning, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." (1 John 4:1-3).
A brief look at each of the gifts:
1. Word of wisdom. This is an utterance of wisdom spoken by a believer to the body or perhaps to another individual, as the Spirit gives them the words to say. It is a revelation of God's Word or wisdom to a specific situation or problem. It is not to be confused however with godly wisdom for daily living, which is attained by prayer and by diligent study and mediation of God's Word (James 1:5-6).
2. Word of knowledge. This is an utterance from one believer to another or from one believer to the body spoken through the operation of the Holy Spirit which reveals knowledge about a person, circumstances, or biblical truths. It is often connected closely to prophecy of future events. Paul instructed in 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, " But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth."
3. Gift of faith. We all have faith - some a higher level than others. But for an occasional special need or circumstance, a person may receive a special supernatural faith imparted by the Holy Spirit which enables the Christian to believe God for the extraordinary or miraculous. It is often found in connection with the gifts of healings or miracles, and it a faith which moves mountains. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:2, "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." Jesus gave us this precious promise, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matthew 17:20).
4. Gifts of healing. These are gifts imparted by the Holy Spirit to miraculously restore physical or mental health. The plural term used here, "gifts", implies the healing of a variety of illnesses or impotencies. Even though all members of the body may not possess the gifts of healing, we are still instructed to pray for the sick, which when faith is present, the sick will be healed. James wrote, "I any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:14-16).
5. Working of miracles. These are works of supernatural power which alter the course of nature and is often associated with the gifts of healing and the gift of faith. Jesus worked many miracles, from walking on water, to calming a stormy sea, to raising the dead. John records in his gospel, "And a great multitude followed [Jesus], because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased." (John 6:2). The working of great signs and wonders was common with the early church (Acts 2:43, 5:12).
6. Gift of prophecy. Prophecy is a special gift that enables a believer to bring a word or revelation directly from God as imparted by the Holy Spirit. It does not always involve the foretelling of future events, buy may involve proclaiming the will of God and exhorting the church to righteousness, encouragement, or endurance. Prophecy is not an addition to God's Word, but will confirm or conform to the Word. Prophecy may expose a person's sinful heart and be a warning, or it may be of encouragement and edification. Prophecy must operate under the will of God - many lives have been ruined by the gift of prophecy operating under the will and imagination of man. Therefore, again, it is urgent to try the spirit to see if the prophecy be from the Lord. Paul instructed the Corinthians, "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge." (1 Corinthians 14:29).
7. Gift of discerning of spirits. This gift is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to judge the truth or genuineness of a prophecy. It can also be used to judge the validity of a sermon, teaching, miracles, or other works. In these last days, as false prophets and teachings abound, this gift is of extreme importance. The Holy Spirit has warned us, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy. (1 Timothy 4:1). Ezekiel prophesied, "And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean." (Ezekiel 44:23). This precious verse is found in Malachi, " Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." (Malachi 3:16-18).
8. Various (diverse) kinds of tongues. This refers to the various operations of tongues in the individual or church. As we have discussed earlier, tongues may be an existing spoken human language, or it may the language of angels unknown on earth. It it not known, has not been learned, and is unintelligible to the speaker. Speaking in tongues involves the spirit of man and Spirit of God intermingling so that the believer communicates directly to God, whether in prayer or praise. The gift of tongues with the interpretation may at times contain a revelation, word of wisdom or knowledge, instruction, or prophecy. Tongues in the congregation must be accompanied by an interpretation, and must also be done in order and without confusion. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 14:26-28, "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God."
9. Interpretation of tongues. This is a special ability imparted by the Holy Spirit given to a believer to interpret and make known the meaning of an utterance given in tongues. Those who speak in tongues should also pray for the gift of interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:13).