A common theme in today’s church is spiritual gifts. The Apostle Paul speaks of this in his letters to the early churches, and they come down to us in Scripture to inform us of how the Holy Spirit works in us for the good of the earthly church. In addition to working directly in our hearts and circumstances, the Holy Spirit imparts to us the power of God, which manifests differently and in different proportions in each of our lives. We call this “spiritual gifts”.
The nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are given in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, where it says:
“Now there are different gifts , but same spirit; and there are different services, but the same Lord; and there are different activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in each. Everyone is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the speaking of wisdom by the Spirit, to another the speaking of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another the gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, one another prophecy, another ability to distinguish between spirits, another different kinds of languages, another interpretation of languages. All of this is empowered by one and the same Spirit, who imparts to each individually as he will.”
From this passage we can identify nine different spiritual gifts:
- Word of the Wisdom
- Word of Knowledge
- Gift of Faith
- Gift of Healing
- Distinguishing Between Spirits
- Speaking in Tongues
- Interpreting Tongues
There is a current debate as to whether or not some gifts exist today have disappeared from the world, or whether all are present and active among the believers. No matter which side of this debate one falls on, the fact remains that all nine of these gifts were present in the early church and are given to us as real and specific ways for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.
#1 Word of Wisdom The Word of Wisdom and the Word of Knowledge are closely related; but as they are listed separately in Scripture, they should also be understood separately.
Wisdom typically means the right application of knowledge. Seen in this light, the spiritual gift of the Word of Wisdom is understanding how to apply the truth of God to situations that may arise in life. It can be circumstances in our own lives or in the lives of those around us; When we have the gift of wisdom, we will almost instinctively know what God expects of us. This may apply to a new job, whether or not to marry someone, the best way to meet or forgive someone who harms others, or any other circumstance that requires discernment and wisdom to apply Scripture properly.
This teaching was abused in the early church through the practice of Gnosticism, which held that “secret knowledge” was available only to a few believers. This is not confirmed by the rest of the Bible, as we believe that God distributed both the spiritual gifts and the way of salvation equally to all.
#2 Word of Knowledge The word of knowledge is somewhat practical in nature and typically relates to proper knowledge and interpretation of Scripture or doctrinal issues.
It is important that all believers be able to articulate what they believe and about their beliefs to defend against others who may want to learn more or challenge the Bible. In scientific circles, this field of study and practice is referred to as apologetics. The word means “defense of the faith” and usually pits the believer against a non-believer in a debate about what Scripture says.
While we should not look for arguments in which we participate or for the sake of them should we fight win, we should always be ready to defend the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. To this end, we should practice the gift of knowledge so that we can properly understand and interpret Scripture as God intended.
#3 Gift of Faith Faith is a major theme of Scripture and vital to the life of the believer. We can only be saved from the power of sin by believing in Jesus’ sacrifice, and we can only resist temptation by believing in God’s power and ability to deliver us from it.
Everyone has a measure in belief, but it must be put into practice regularly to strengthen it. It can also be necessary at some of the most difficult times in your life, when faith just seems impossible. But if we overcome our fear and doubt and choose to trust God, our faith can be strengthened and we will have a greater level of faith when the next crisis comes.
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#4 Gift healing can be indirectly related to belief as it refers to supernatural healing that defies known medical science.In other words, it is miraculous healing based on the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than what we would think of as typical healing.
Most denominations teach that this type of healing requires an extraordinary level of faith . Sometimes this faith is required only on the part of the person performing or requesting the healing, and in some cases strong faith is also required on the part of the person requiring the healing (such as the sick person themselves). However, it is cited several times in Scripture as a gift used throughout the early Church and can be found in religious circles today.
#5 Miracles Work Miracles are a more visible matter are supernatural acts and are mostly considered “extinct” gifts of the spirit. This does not preclude God’s intervention in the natural world, for He is the true source of all miracles and can never be limited by human imagination or human understanding. Many conservative denominations, however, believe that this gift was lost with the death of the original apostles.
Whatever the case, we should always keep our hearts open to the possibility of God doing great things in us will be alive and in our world – even things that without his direct intervention we would never expect or believe to be true.
#6 Prophecy Some passages state that the gift of prophecy true is the greatest of the spiritual gifts, although they all have tremendous value to the church.
It also contains different explanations. In most instances in the Bible, prophecy is a direct word from the Lord meant to be passed on exactly as it was received. Some theologians believe it means a word of encouragement or exhortation instead; it then takes on the meaning of speaking a word of Scripture directly into a person’s life and circumstances. In any case, when the truth of God is clear for a given situation, it requires direct action.
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#7 Distinguishing Between Spirits Both angels and demons are active at work in the world, and it requires a great deal of spiritual discernment to understand the source of supernatural activity. Along with knowledge and wisdom, we should try to distinguish between the spirits trying to influence this world either for God or for the devil. Someone may claim that they have received a message from God, but if it doesn’t agree with the truth of the Bible, we should be quick to recognize human or demonic influence at that moment.
# 8 In Speaking in tongues This gift is believed to have all but disappeared from the modern world. It does not simply refer to speaking different languages, but is an ecstatic practice involving speaking in the language of angels or other supernatural beings.
Again, we should never assume that such things are for God are impossible, but there are very few reputable sources for speaking in tongues today.
#9 Interpreting Tongues This gift, which is very closely related to speaking in tongues, involves interpreting the tongue that is being spoken so that others can clearly understand the message that the speaker is receiving.
Paul spoke of this gift in the context of a service and instructed the believers that no one speak in tongues in church unless someone else is willing to translate. This was said so that Paul could ensure that the entire church could benefit from the message, reinforcing the corporate nature of the spiritual gifts.
We have all received the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and all of these spiritual gifts and other powers from God are within each of us. We should strive to identify where we are most gifted for ourselves, and then seek to use that gift for the good of the whole Church.