When Jesus was ready to return to His Father in heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit to empower His disciples, the church for service and ministry to establish His kingdom here on earth (Acts 1:4, 5, 8). Baptism with the Holy Spirit is for all believers and is a gift (Acts 2:38, 39). Through receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit, you are availing yourself of the gift of the Holy Spirit and the gifts He gives for advancing God’s Kingdom. These spiritual gifts exalt Jesus as Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). The book of Acts shows us how the early church was transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and it is still being written until Jesus comes for His Bride, the church today (Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:3-4).
Holy Spirit is the giver of both natural (Genesis 1:26; Job 33:4) and spiritual gifts. The Spirit can take the natural gifts or graces and talents we were created with (i.e. for music, art, leadership, building, speaking, singing, etc.), reveal them, direct them to His Glory and cause them to reach their full potential (e.g. Exodus 31:3-6). We are created in His image and have different gifts and abilities that we are accountable for using to reflect His glory (Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Peter 4:10, 11).
There are nine spiritual gifts He distributes to each one individually as He wills: word of wisdom; word of knowledge; faith; gifts of healings; working of miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; tongues and interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Hebrews 2:4).
A gift is free and doesn’t have to be earned just received and opened! Even as Jesus gave us the fullness of all He is and has as a gift through the cross of Calvary, so we can receive the fullness of the in-filling of the Holy Spirit, His gifts and His power. When you have the Holy Spirit, you have God’s divine nature in you through your re-born spirit. These gifts are given to us as believers for the profit of all (1 Corinthians 12:7) and we are to use these gifts in love (1 Corinthians 13:1, 2).
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for us but are for the people who God puts before us that have a need to receive what that gift will offer them as they need ministry. He has all the gifts in Him and He is in us to give the gifts needed to help those who need it. As the need comes up, these gifts are available to us as He gives them to us. We are led by the Holy Spirit who gives us the mind of Christ. We ask Him “what does this person need”? We then use the gifts that He gives us to impart.
The gifts from the Holy Spirit are grace gifts and are received by grace through faith just like all the other gifts from God. He gives gifts so we can be a blessing to others but they do not represent the maturity of a believer. We must be in the Spirit and not in the flesh for the gifts of the Spirit to operate. So we must also allow the Lord to develop our character so that we can use these gifts appropriately. They are available to every believer through the Baptism with the Holy Spirit however, we must wait upon the unction and direction of the Holy Spirit for the manifestation of these spiritual gifts. We don’t decide our gifts we discover them (1 Corinthians 12:11). Praise and worship, and teaching and preaching of the Word brings the manifestation of the Holy Spirit more readily.
It is important to develop a relationship, friendship, and fellowship with the Holy Spirit who is the third person of the Trinity and the giver of these gifts. He dwells in us (1 Corinthians 6:19; Titus 3:5) and manifests the presence of God in us and to the world around us. His manifested presence changes us, our attitudes, the atmosphere and the environment. His presence is the evidence of His person. He is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7) but we are not always aware of His presence although we can be.
God says He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). He is with us always and in all ways and by His Spirit we can experience His presence. We need Him to go with us and we need to be in His presence. It is glorious to walk with Him in the constant awareness of His presence! We can have a living, breathing, encounter with God.
How do we develop a relationship and have communion with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14)? Start by welcoming Him and thank Him for coming to you and bringing all that He is and has. Acknowledge and enjoy His presence, His Gifts, His nature and His functions. Invite Him to take control of your life and decisions and ask Him to lead, direct and counsel you. Spend time in fellowship with Him by soaking in His presence, by waiting on Him in worship and listening to His voice as you would in talking to a friend. Be aware of Him in the activities of your day and make yourself available to Him, then obey Him when He asks you to do something. He is always with you and wants to be your best friend!
He is the author of the Word of God (2 Peter 1:20, 21) and all the answers for life are found in Him. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us and lead us into all truth and to bring the revelation of the Word. The Bible is truth but the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and never contradicts the Word. When we are led by the Spirit, He can show us and tell us specific things that aren’t in the Word of God i.e. which person to marry, job to take or where to live. The Word is also the sword of the Spirit to use as a weapon against the enemy (Ephesians 6:17).
We see in the Bible that He uses various pictures of Himself to reveal how He works as well as His nature and qualities about Himself, e.g. Water – thirst quenching, refreshing (John 4:13, 14; 7:37-39); rain – (Joel 2:23; Acts 2:17; Zecharaiah 10:1); fire – purifying (Isaiah 4:4; Acts 2:3-4; Luke 3:16-17; Hebrews 12:29); wind – suddenly moves; breath of God (Ezekiel 37:9-14; John 3:8; 20:22; Acts 2:2); oil – Exodus 30:25; Isaiah 10:27).
He gives us the fruit of the Spirit, His divine nature (Galatians 5:22, 23). He gives us power from on high and anoints us. His anointing is the “burden removing, yoke – destroying” power of God and is in us (Isaiah 10:27; 1 John 2:27). He has sealed us in Christ (Ephesians 1:13), become our union with the Father and the Son (John 14:19-20; 23), He is the life of God in us (Job 33:4; John 6:63; Romans 8:1, 2, 10; 2 Corinthians 3:6); the Spirit of truth in us, our counselor, helper, guide, strengthener, standby, and intercessor (John 14:15-27; 16:7-15; Romans 8:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16).
He desires for us to know Him and depend on Him because He is the voice of the Godhead (John 16:13), the one who speaks to us; transforms us, and enables us to walk in victory! Because He is a person, we can grieve Him by our conduct and conversation. He goes with us everywhere. But when we walk in the Spirit we won’t carry out the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-25).
The Nine Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Three Discerning Gifts -Knowing or Revelation (to uncover, to show, to make known):
Word of Wisdom – Holy Spirit gives you by divine revelation, an answer or solution for a particular problem within the plan, will and purpose of God; it is a Word of Wisdom when instructions are given along with a word of knowledge (strategy on how to walk in the fullness of the Word of Knowledge); it is supernatural, (not natural or general wisdom to handle the affairs of life and can’t be learned; James 1:5); speaks to the future and can be manifested through the vehicle of prophesy as well as by a vision or dream or may operate together with the word of knowledge (i.e. Genesis 6:13-18; 19:29: 45:5-8; Exodus 31:1-11; 36:1; Acts 8:26-29; 9:10-16; 21:12-14; 27:10, 23, 24; Revelation 1:10-20).
Word of Knowledge – Holy Spirit allows you to know something you didn’t learn by natural means (Luke 8:17); supernatural revelation by Holy Spirit of certain facts about people, places or things in the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:11); what He wants us to know at a certain time about something in the present or past (i.e. 1 Samuel 9:20; 10:2; 1 Kings 19:18; 2 Kings 5:26; 6:26; John 4:7-26; Acts 5:1-3; 9:10-12; 10:9-19;Revelation 1:10-20); it can be supernaturally manifested through a vision, dream, an angel, gift of prophecy or interpretation of tongues; may work together with other gifts e.g. discerning of spirits, faith, gifts of healings, word of wisdom.
Discerning of spirits – Holy Spirit reveals what spirit is at work behind a supernatural manifestation whether it is divine, demonic or human; (to discern means supernatural insight into the spirit world by seeing or hearing); He can also reveal to you the motivation of the heart.
What some people call discernment because they know something by the Spirit of God may actually be a word of knowledge or known by the inward witness. We can develop in discernment (1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Kings 3:9; Hebrews 5:14; Hosea 14:9; Philippians 1:9-11) but there isn’t a gift of discernment only a gift of discerning of spirits.
It is important to remember that when the Holy Spirit shows us something about another person we are not to judge them (Matthew 7:1,2; James 4:11). We should ask Him what we should do with the information and then follow His leading. Sometimes it is just to intercede for that person or situation or it may be to do spiritual warfare by using the authority Christ has given us by casting out demons (Luke 10:19; Mark 16:17).
We don’t need the discerning of spirits to know when something is out-of-order or doesn’t line up with the Word of God. There is an abiding anointing that each believer has from the Holy Spirit who leads, teaches and guides us away from deception (1 John 2:26, 27). He empowers us to know and discern because it is part of our new nature.
We should be led by the Spirit of God who dwells in us, follow His inward witness (Romans 8:14) and get into the Word of God for ourselves. Not every believer will have the gift of discerning of spirits operating in his or her life but every believer can be led by the Holy Spirit who is our guide. The inward witness of the Holy Spirit is not the same as seeing into the spirit world through the gift of the discerning of spirits. It is also different from a word of knowledge whereby you may know a spirit is operating but not see it.
Three Declarative (Speaking) gifts:
Prophecy – message from God of edification (to build up), exhortation (a calling nearer to God, an invitation) and comfort to men and to edify the church spoken through a person in a known language (1 Corinthians 14:3, 4); forth-telling or speaking forth; inspired utterance that does not come from our own reasoning processes and intellect; simple prophecy does not include revelation or fore-telling (prediction) which may come from a person in the office of a prophet through the vehicle of prophecy; we can all have the gift of prophecy because we are told to desire this gift (1 Corinthians 14:1, 29). God wouldn’t tell us to desire it if we couldn’t have it! We can all prophesy yet not all are prophets. Prophecy can be used in our prayer lives as well as we see from the book of Psalms and in Ephesians 5:19.
Unknown tongues – speaking in a language unknown to the person speaking (whether heavenly or human); available to every believer (Mark 16:17); it is the initial evidence of being filled or baptized with the Holy Spirit; when we speak in tongues, we’re not speaking to men but to God; however, in the spirit we are speaking mysteries and magnifying God; praying in tongues edifies or builds us up and refreshes us (1 Corinthians 14:4; Isaiah 28:11, 12); we can also ask for the interpretation of what we are praying (1 Corinthians 14:13-15); public use of the gift of speaking in tongues must be interpreted and edifies the church; tongues are a sign to the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 14:22).
Interpretation of tongues – supernatural understanding of the general gist of the message spoken in tongues; it is not a direct translation; must accompany tongues spoken publicly in the church (1 Corinthians 14:27) and we can ask for this gift for tongues used in devotional prayer (1 Corinthians 14:13-15)
These gifts should be used publicly in the church with order for edification and not misused causing confusion (1 Corinthians 14:26-28) since God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). We are not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).
Three Dynamic (Power) Gifts – (many times working together):
Gifts of Healings – supernatural manifestation of healing of sickness and disease without any natural source or means (medicine or science); i.e. divine healing by laying on of hands; anointing of oil; speaking a word, etc. through a special manifestation of the Spirit from one person to another person in need; separate from people healed directly by believing God for themselves through faith in His Word; purpose is to deliver the sick and destroy the works of the devil in the human body.
Working of miracles – instantaneous, creative, divine acts of power not explicable by natural or scientific laws flowing through a person; supernatural intervention in the ordinary course of nature; not related to healing only i.e. feeding of the 5,000 with 2 loaves & 5 fish-Matthew 14:13-21; turning water into wine – John 2:1-11; dividing of a river with a cloth mantle – 2 Kings 2:14; delivering God’s people from Egypt and dividing the Red Sea until they passed over – Exodus 7-14.
Faith – supernatural confidence to expect or receive miracles (Daniel 6:23; Mark 4:38), a manifestation of the Holy Spirit of special faith; sustained or continuous in action; it is not the same as saving faith (Ephesians 2:8); as general faith (Mark 9:23; 11:24; Romans 10:17; 12:3); nor is it the same faith that is a fruit of the Spirit which is given to develop our character (Galatians 5:22); it works together with other gifts i.e. to raise the dead and cast out demons.
Evidence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be seen in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon people e.g. prophets; kings, priests, etc. since He didn’t dwell inside until salvation was available after Christ’s death and resurrection. The gift of prophecy in the Old Testament was fore-telling concerning the children of Israel and Christ. Jesus Christ fulfilled all of the prophecies concerning Him. Also the gifts of tongues and interpretation of tongues is only manifested in the New Testament church since the Day of Pentecost.
Ministry Gifts vs. Spiritual Gifts
Romans 12:1-8 discuss ministry gifts and offices which Jesus gives (Ephesians 4:7-16) and are different from the spiritual gifts and operations mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12.
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:1 – 8 (NKJV).
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the Saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NKJV).
The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:31 to earnestly desire the best spiritual gifts. What would they be? The one/ones that are needed at the time! He also says in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 that we should pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that we may prophesy. Seek them with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). When we hunger and thirst for the things of God and His righteousness, we will be filled (Matthew 5:6; 7:7, 8).
No one has received all that the Holy Spirit has for them. The Lord is always seeking to release more to us through His supernatural gifts. Paul is not just speaking to us as individuals but to the church, the body of Christ. We are to serve God with the ministry gifts Jesus has given (Ephesians 4:11-13) and the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has distributed to each as He wills according to what is needed at that time (1 Corinthians 12:11). We should stay within the grace God has given us in ministry and spiritual gifts, where He has placed us in the body of Christ.
However, we are to stir up the gifts He has given us (2 Timothy 1:6, 7) which we can do by being consistent in prayer and praying in tongues which helps us to access the mind of God, learning to use His gifts by grace through faith while growing in character and walking in love. Because God is love (1 John 4:8), whenever we discern the love of God flowing through us toward someone, we need to realize that He is reaching out to them through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and all we have to do is just follow Him by faith!
Another way to stir up these gifts is by being sensitive to our spiritual senses i.e. sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell just like we have these natural senses. When we purposely offer or present our spiritual senses to Him, we will receive His Divine input in increasing levels as we hear, see, touch, taste or smell things by the Spirit.
Knowing who we are in Christ; understanding and using the spiritual authority we have been given (Luke 10:19), walking in the Spirit, His anointing and power and being led by the Spirit are very important. Ask Holy Spirit to bring revelation and to open the eyes of your understanding (Ephesians 1:17-23) as you read, study and meditate on scriptures that show who He is, how He works in our lives, and His gifts and their operation in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12-14). Jesus is walking the earth today through us by the Holy Spirit. We need the fullness of His power for this time!
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9–10 (NKJV).