The term “gifts of the Holy Spirit” is a phrase deeply laden with meaning. Praise God for the wealth of revealed truth that has been made available to the Church today about the Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit.
We understand that He is the Spirit of God almighty and his most paramount nature is his holiness. The bible refers to him as the executor of the will of God (Genesis 1:1-3). He is the comforter who will abide with us forever (John 14:16). And He is the one who reveals God the Father and God the Son to us (John 16:13-15, 1 Corinthians 2:9-12). It is therefore wonderful to discover that not only did God the Father send the Holy Spirit to live with and in us but that the Holy Spirit has gifts for us.
The Holy Spirit and His Gifts
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul the apostle spoke in some detail about these gifts of the Spirit. This passage of scripture clearly identifies what these gifts are and how they are given by the Holy Spirit. Although the subject of our study is not the Gifts of the Spirit, we will take a brief look at what these gifts are and more importantly, what they mean. It is clear however that these gifts are given to the Church, the body of Christ, for her benefit:
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. – 1 Corinthians 12:7
We understand from this scripture that the Holy Spirit is the one that gives out these gifts. We also understand that they are given to every believer as the Holy Spirit desires (1 Corinthians 12:11). Lastly, we understand that there are different gifts, administrations or dimensions (or levels of operation) of these gifts as well as different operations of the gifts. However, throughout this variety, it is the same Holy Spirit that works or activates and utilizes the gifts in the life of a believer;
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he wills. – 1 Corinthians 12:11
Hence, the Holy Spirit not only gives the gifts to us as children of God, he operates them in cooperation with us. Therefore, the key to operating these gifts is learning to work with the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus and profit the Church (John 16:14, 1 Corinthians 12:7).
Before we take a look at the various gifts of the Holy Spirit, it is necessary to re-emphasize that even though the Holy Spirit gives us these gifts, they are worked or operated by him. This means they are manifested at his discretion and operated in conjunction with him. This also means we can have the gifts in our lives but never see them manifest if we fail to learn how to work with him or if we fail in our relationship with him.
This among other reasons is why we are admonished several times in scriptures not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
The Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit
We shall now use the remainder of this message to take a brief look at the gifts of the Spirit and then consider in detail how to operate the gifts in the second part of this message.
1. The Gift of the Word of Wisdom: This gift comes into operation when a “word” of God’s wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit. The term word of Wisdom implies that it is a part of the complete wisdom of God regarding an issue. In its operation, this gift requires that we act or speak what we have heard from the Lord in faith even though it may seem incomplete. As we act in obedience on what we have heard, more of the wisdom of God is revealed (Isaiah 28:13).
The Word of Wisdom is also a revelation of God’s wisdom regarding a situation that is yet to happen; a dimension of this is in foretelling the future (Acts 21:10-11). Another dimension of this gift is seen in supernatural wisdom to handle unusually tough situations with ease. An example of this is when Jesus was asked about the paying of taxes to Caesar (Mark 12:13-17).
2. The Gift of the Word of Knowledge: Like the gift of the Word of Wisdom, this gift is a revelation given by the Holy Spirit of a part of God’s knowledge concerning a situation or event. Like all the gifts of the Spirit, it requires that the one through whom it is operating acts on what has been received in order to receive more.
An example of this gift in operation is seen when Jesus spoke with the woman of Samaria and supernaturally knew that she had 5 husbands (John 4:15-19). When this gift is in operation, a piece of Gods knowledge about a situation as it has been in the past or as it is in the present is revealed. This is different from the Word of Wisdom in which the future is revealed by the Holy Spirit. This gift operated heavily in the life of Elisha the Prophet.
3. The Gift of Faith: The bible refers to several types of faith; great faith, the faith of God, weak faith, little faith, no faith, etc. However, the gift of Faith is a temporary impartation of Faith into the one through whom it is operating to believe God for a divine act. Like all the other gifts, it is operated at the will of the Holy Spirit and is in operation for a brief period and then removed. Once the impartation of this gift is lifted however, the person through whom it operates cannot believe God with his “regular” faith for the same manifestations.
4. The Gifts of Healing: There was nobody in scripture through whom this gift operated in its full form than in our Lord Jesus Christ. Several times, it is recorded in scripture that he “healed them all” (Matthew 12:15). Unlike the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, this gift is called the “Gifts of healing” because there are several sicknesses and diseases. Likewise, there are several gifts of healing; the gift of healing of blindness for example or the gift of healing of cancer or deafness, etc.
5. The Working of Miracles: This gift which is quite similar to the Gifts of healing is operated by the Holy Spirit for the suspension of natural laws for the glory of God. An example of this is found is Acts 8:39-40, when Phillip was supernaturally transported from one location to another and in John 6:16-21 when the boat in which Jesus and the disciples were in supernaturally came to land immediately Jesus stepped into the boat.
6. The Gift of Prophecy: Unlike prophecy as recorded in the old testament, the Gift of Prophecy as given by the Holy Spirit is for three purposes; for edification, exhortation and comfort. It is not the foretelling of the future (which is displayed in the Word of Wisdom), rather it is inspired utterance given through the Holy Spirit for the building up, uplifting and comfort of Gods people. This gift is very vital for the building of the body of Christ and strengthening of the inner man especially during times of difficulty. The bible refers to the four daughters of Phillip the Evangelist “which did prophesy” (Acts 21:8-9).
7. The Gift of Discerning of Spirits: The Gift of Discerning of Spirits is a gift operated through the Holy Spirit that uncovers the spirit behind the actions of men. Through this wonderful gift, the Holy Spirit is able to reveal if a person or group of people are motivated by the Spirit of God, a demonic spirit or by their own self. This is important in order to weed out the lambs from goats in the church of God or in negotiating business deals, etc.
An example of the operation of this gift is seen in the life of Paul, when a young girl with the spirit of divination followed them around (Acts 16-16-18). She did this for many days till the Holy Spirit exposed her; Paul became grieved in his spirit and cast out the evil spirit from the girl. It is worth mentioning here also that visions, dreams, trances, and supernatural visitations of the Spirit which are frequent in the lives of a lot of believers also fall under this class of the gifts of the Spirit.
8. The Gift of Divers Kinds of Tongues: This gift and the gift of Interpretation of Tongues are the only gifts not recorded in manifestation in the Old testament. Jesus himself said this would be one of the signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of the believer. However, this gift is not to be mistaken for the ability to pray in tongues after one is baptized in the Holy Spirit. This gift is for ministry to the body of Christ and should always operate along with the gift or Interpretation of Tongues so that those who listen can understand the message.
When this gift operates with the Interpretation of Tongues, it has the equivalent effect as the effect produced by the operation of the gift of Prophecy. The bible also makes us understand in 1 Corinthians 13 that there are tongues of angels and tongues of men. One operation of this gift is to supernaturally give an inspired message by the Holy Spirit in a language completely unknown by the speaker. This gift both glorifies Jesus and calls the sinner to salvation.
9. The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues: As mentioned earlier, this gift is a sister gift to the gift or Tongues and when in operation with it, has the effect of edification, exhortation and comfort to the believer.
The above are the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit as detailed by Apostle Paul. The central theme to note is that they are given by the Holy Spirit and also operated by him and at his discretion. Also, the operation of the gifts of the Spirit always brings God glory. Hence the need to learn how to walk with the Holy Spirit and understand how he leads us in the operation of these gifts. Its also worth noting that God desires for all the gifts of the Spirit to be in operation in our lives. However, the Holy Spirit usually operates certain gifts in each believer’s life in more frequency than others.
To move on to the second part of this message and learn how to operate in the gifts of the Spirit, please click here. To view other messages on how to be led by the Holy Spirit, click here.
David Adeniji is the Founder and President of The Behold File, a teaching ministry founded in 2003. The Behold File provides a platform through which the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of men to see Jesus so they can be changed to be like him.