Spiritual gifts are unique abilities bestowed upon Christians through the Holy Spirit. Spiritual gifts should not be confused with talents. Even though both are special abilities, talents can be learned and developed through hard work and human effort. This means that even non-Christians are still talented. For instance, it takes great talent to excel at a sport. However, spiritual gifts can only be discovered and exercised through the divine enablement of the Holy Spirit.
What Does the Bible Say About Spiritual Gifts?
Firstly, spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to Christians who have received the Holy Spirit. They are not natural talents that anyone and everyone can possess. Additionally, spiritual gifts are given to empower believers for the work of ministry. They are meant to edify the church and not to pursue selfish interests.
The Gifts Are Sovereignly Given By the Holy Spirit
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. 1 Cor. 12:11
As the name suggests, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given by the Holy Spirit. Some have erroneously interpreted some sections of the Bible to mean that the gifts were given by the apostles. For instance, Paul writes to the Romans that He wishes to visit them so that he may impart some spiritual gifts upon them (Romans 1:11). Paul also mentions that the gift that Timothy had was given by the laying on of hands of the elders (1 Timothy 4:14). However, if you study it in context, you’ll realize that the apostles were not the source of the gifts – they were merely vessels that were used by the Holy Spirit. As 1 Corinthians 12:11 illustrates, the Holy Spirit “distributes to each one just as he determines.” This means the gifts are given by the grace of God. There is nothing humans can do to deserve the gifts.
Even though the gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, the entire Godhead is involved. God the Father determines how many gifts each Christian gets (1 Cor. 12:28). It is the prerogative of God to choose which Christians receive which gift(s). God the Son is portrayed in Ephesians 4:8-11 as the determinant of the basis upon which the gifts are given. Finally, as we have already established, God the Holy Spirit bestows the gifts on individual Christians.
The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts
The gifts of the spirit are given for one main purpose – to empower the believer for the work of ministry. In Ephesians, the scripture says that the five-fold ministry gifts were given to equip the ministers for the purpose of edifying the church. Check it out:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. Ephesians 4:11-12
We can draw the same lesson from the epistle of Peter which emphasizes the fact that the gifts of the spirit are meant to serve others.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
By using the phrase “faithful steward”, Peter cautions those endowed with the gifts of the spirit that they are just vessels that God is using to do his work. As such, no one should glory in what God does through them. Additionally, being good rewards means using the gifts for the work that God intended them for. Sadly, many gifted Christians have turned their gifts into cash cows that they use to fleece other Christians. Such ministers should expect severe judgment from God.
What Are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
The Bible lists a total of nine gifts of the spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.
For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gift of healings by ]the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Cor. 12:8-10
Let’s take a brief look at each of these:
- The Word of Wisdom – The gift of wisdom enables an individual to offer leadership that aligns with the will of God. It enables a person to make decisions that reflect the wisdom of God in a situation.
- The Word of Knowledge – This is a divine insight into hidden things. For instance, Jesus had a deep understanding of the problems of the woman he met at the well as described in John 4. He even knew that she had been married to 6 husbands.
- The Gift of Faith – the gift of faith enables an individual to have unwavering faith and trust in God irrespective of the prevailing circumstances. It also enables one to inspire others to have the same kind of faith in God.
- The Gift of Healings – This remarkable gift involves channeling God’s healing power to bring restoration to those who are physically or emotionally unwell, wounded, or suffering. Those with this gift can be instruments of divine healing, offering hope and relief to the afflicted.
- The Gift of Miracles – the gift of miracles is an empowerment to perform diverse signs and wonders. It often works hand in hand with the gift of faith to unleash God’s miracle-working power. These miraculous acts reveal the power and authority of God, drawing people to faith.
- The Gift of Prophecy – This gift bestows the ability to convey messages from God, often providing insights into the future, spiritual guidance, or encouragement. Prophets serve as messengers of God’s divine intentions and truths.
- The Gift of Discerning Spirits – an individual with the gift of discernment has a unique divine ability to distinguish whether a spiritual experience, message, or action is genuinely from God. This is an important gift in the body of Christ because It helps protect the church from deception.
- The Gift of Tongues – There are two kinds of tongues – tongues of angels and tongues of men. The tongues of angels refer to a mysterious language that cannot be understood by anyone on earth. It is a divine language that is endowed by the Holy Spirit for spiritual warfare. The tongues of men refer to when an individual speaks in a human language that they have never learned nor spoken before.
- The Gift of Interpreting Tongues – This gift enables one to interpret the tongues that another one is speaking. Through this gift, one can interpret both the tongues of angels and the tongues of men.
- According to 1 Corinthians 12:11, who gives spiritual gifts?
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:7,11,18. Who receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
- Read Romans 8:9, Galatians 3:2-5. When are the spiritual gifts given?
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:7,1 Corinthians 14:12, 1 Peter 4:10 -11, Ephesians 4:12. What is the purpose of spiritual gifts?
- What are the different gifts as listed in 1 Cor. 12:8-10 and what do they mean?