Gifts of the Spirit – What Are They?
Gifts of the Spirit are special abilities provided by the Holy Spirit to Christians for the purpose of building up the body of Christ. The list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 includes wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Similar lists appear in Ephesians 4:7-13 and Romans 12:3-8. The gifts of the Spirit are simply God enabling believers 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 the “everything we need” to fulfill His purposes for our lives.
Gifts of the Spirit – The Definitions
There is some controversy as to the precise nature of each of the gifts of the Spirit, but here is a list of spiritual gifts and their basic definitions.
- The gift of wisdom seems to be the ability to make decisions and give guidance that is according to God’s will.
- The gift of knowledge is the ability to have an in-depth understanding of a spiritual issue or situation.
- The gift of faith is being able to trust God and encourage others to trust God, no matter the circumstances.
- The gift of healing is the miraculous ability to use God’s healing power to restore a person who is sick, injured, or suffering.
- The gift of miracles is being able to perform signs and wonders that give authenticity to God’s Word and the Gospel message.
- The gift of prophecy is being able to proclaim a message from God.
- The gift of discerning spirits is the ability to determine whether or not a message, person, or event is truly from God.
- The gift of tongues is the ability to speak in a foreign language that you do not have knowledge of, in order to communicate with someone who speaks that language. This gift is also your prayer language that you receive when you receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is the only language that you can pray that Satan cannot understand.
- The gift of interpreting tongues is the ability to translate the tongues speaking and communicate it back to others in your own language.
- The gift of administration is being able to keep things organized and in accordance with God’s principles.
- The gift of helps (or practical service) is always having the desire and ability to help others, to do whatever it takes to get a task accomplished.
Gifts of the Spirit – Which One(s) Do I Have?
The Holy Spirit distributes the gifts of the Spirit as He sees fit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). God does not want us to be ignorant of how He wants us to serve Him. However, it is very easy for us to get caught up in what spiritual gift(s) we have and then only serve God in that area of ministry. That is not how it works. God calls us to obediently serve Him. He will equip us with whatever gifts of the Spirit we need to accomplish the task or tasks He has called us to. Yes, God calls some to be teachers and gives them the gift of teaching, but that does not excuse the person from serving God in other ways as well. Is it beneficial to know what spiritual gift(s) God has given you? Of course, it is. Is it wrong to focus so much on spiritual gifts that we miss other opportunities to serve God? Yes!
There is no magic formula or spiritual gift test that can tell you what gifts of the Spirit you possess. What we need to focus on is serving God. Do you see a need in your church? Do what you can to meet it. Is there a position in a ministry that is vacant? Pray as to whether God would have you fill it. If we seek God’s will and obey His leading, He will always equip us with whatever gifts of the Spirit we need. Spiritual gift tests can be of some value in determining what areas God has especially gifted you. As always, though, place far more emphasis on God’s Word and submitting to the Lord’s leading than you do on the results of a spiritual gift test.
Gifts of the Spirit – What Are the Gifts Used For?
The Apostle Paul indicated that the gifts of the Spirit are equally valid, but not equally valuable. Their value is determined by their worth to the church. In dealing with this matter, he used the analogy of the human body. All members of the body have functions, Paul declared, but some are more important than others (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). The service of each Christian should be in proportion to the gifts which he possesses (1 Corinthians 12-14). All believers, as members of the body of Christ, must be serving together in order for the body to be fully-functional. That is why a church needs pastors, teachers, helpers, servants, administrators, those with great faith, etc. All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit working together are needed to produce the full potential of the church. Since the gifts of the Spirit are gifts of grace, their use must be controlled by the rule of love – the greatest of all the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 13).