What are Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are unique skills and abilities given by the Holy Spirit to faithful followers of Christ to serve God for the common benefit of his people, the church. A listing of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 mentions wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Comparable gifts are discussed in Ephesians 4:7-13, Isaiah 11:2-3, and Romans 12:3-8.
The gifts of the Spirit are simply God empowering faithful Christians to do what He has called us to do. 2 Peter 1:3 says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." The gifts of the Holy Spirit are part of "everything we need" to accomplish His plans for our lives.
Paul instructed that "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us... let [us] use [them] in proportion to [our] faith," Romans 12:6.
Bible Verses about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
- To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.1 Corinthians 12:8-10
- The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; - Isaiah 11:2-3
- But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions ? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Ephesians 4:7-13
- For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.Romans 12:3-8
According to Baker's Dictionary of Biblical Theology,
"The four lists [from scripture] of spiritual gifts demonstrate significant overlap as well as important variations. This suggests that none of the lists, taken either individually or together, is intended to be comprehensive. Rather each is suggestive of the diversity of ways God endows Christians for spiritual service."
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
There is some dispute as to the exact nature and number of gifts of the Holy Spirit, but here is a list of spiritual gifts referenced in the Bible verses above and their essential meanings.
- The Gift of Wisdom - the gift to make choices and give leadership that is according to God's will.
- The Gift of Knowledge - the gift to have a comprehensive understanding of a spiritual issue or circumstance.
- The Gift of Faith - the gift to trust God and inspire others to trust God, no matter the conditions.
- The Gift of Healing - the wondrous gift to use God's healing power to cure a person who is ill, wounded or suffering.
- The Gift of Miracles - the gift to display signs and miracles that give credibility to God's Word and the Gospel message.
- The Gift of Prophecy - the gift to declare a message from God.
- The Gift of Discerning Spirits - the gift to recognize whether or not something is truly from God or in accordance with righteousness.
- The Gift of Tongues - the gift to communicate in a foreign language that you do not have experience with, in order to converse with those who speak that language.
- The Gift of Interpreting Tongues - the gift to interpret the speech and writings of a different language and translate it back to others in your own.
- The Gift of Administration - the gift to keep things ordered and in agreement with God's principles.
- The Gift of Helps - the gift of a desire and capacity to always help others, to do whatever it takes to get a task achieved.
Have the Gifts of the Spirit Ceased?
In the video below, Raymond Goodlett discusses whether the Gifts of the Spirit have ceased to be present or necessary in the modern age. Did all or some of the gifts cease to be given as the world has changed from the time of Jesus?
I get that question a lot, in terms of, "have these sensational gifts continued today, or did they pass away during the first century with the apostles?" And honestly, I still have some questions about some of those. But if I just go from First Corinthians chapter 13, where I currently lean, is that we should make room in our understanding of these things to say that they still continue, however that looks practically in how it's displayed through the life of believers. From the text, at least where I am today, this is how it sounds to me. First Corinthians 13. I think the key text begins in verse eight there of chapter 13. "Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away. As for tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge, it will pass away."
And I think that's where the entire church can be agreed. There is an expiration date for these gifts. Tongues, prophecy. The only question then is when will they expire. In verse nine, it says, "We know in part, we prophesy in part." Verse 10, "But when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away." So we can be safe in saying there is this event when the perfect comes, we're led to believe that that is when these gifts will expire.
So now the question becomes what is this perfect thing referred to here in First Corinthians chapter 13. And I think that's where there's a healthy dialogue in the church. My current position on that is that this does not refer to the coming of the Bible or whatever else people have said we already have received. And here's why. As I keep reading in verse 12, it says, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face-to-face. Now I know in part." So there's that connection again. We're still talking about a time where we know in part. So the now in verse 12 is the same thing as what we read up in verse nine. "For we know in part and we prophesy in part." It's talking about currently. This is before things will expire or pass away. And he says in verse 12 there, "Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."
And so I ask myself, what time is being referred to when we speak about, "Then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." Because the then of verse 12 is the same time indicated by the when the perfect shall come. So when we try to figure out what time that is, I'm led currently to believe that that is referring to Christ's return. And I think First Corinthians chapter one leads us in that direction.
Paul says something interesting there in the introduction of his letter that I think is anticipating what he's going to say in chapter 13. So starting in verse four, he says, "I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech, in all knowledge, even as that testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift." So he brings up the issue of spiritual gifts all the way back here in the introduction to his letter, anticipating, I believe, what he will say in chapters 12, 13, and 14.
Now watch what he says right after his statement that they are not lacking in any spiritual gift. "So you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ." I think when Paul says that there, he is in a way foreshadowing what he means by when the perfect comes, these will expire. They lack no spiritual gift now as they wait for the perfect to come. I think in chapter one, he identifies it as the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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