Christian Ministry

gifts of the Holy Spirit
Gifts of the Holy Spirit

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April 1999
What Are Spiritual Gifts?

Spiritual gifts can be defined as drives, opportunities, and results given to us by the Godhead to achieve God's supernatural goals. Each person who is born again into God's kingdom takes on a "debt of love" which is designed to motivate a believer to fulfill the law of God. Thus, we are instructed in Romans 13:8 to "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." You see, God gives us spiritual gifts so that we may pay our debt of love.

What Is the Purpose of Spiritual Gifts?

The Spirit-filled experience is more than just "speaking in tongues." In reality, it is coming into the fullness of the gifts and fruit of the Spirit as outlined in the New Testament (I Corinthians 12:7-11; Galatians 5:22-23). In speaking of the gifts, however, exclusivism is never implied. The gifts are placed in the church as resources to be utilized at the point of need for ministry in the body. This means that not every believer will have the same gifts as every other believer. Rather, the Holy Spirit is the Author and Dispenser of the gifts to bring about integrity in worship and kingdom expression

The full potential of a life, a marriage, a family, or a church will not be experienced until there is a clear, Biblical understanding of spiritual gifts. For this reason, the Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 12:1: "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant."

In I Corinthians 12:7-11, the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed. Their purpose is specific - to "profit" the body of the church. The Greek word for profit is sumphero which means "to bring together, to benefit, to be advantageous," which is experienced as the body is strengthened in its life together and expanded through its ministry of evangelism. These nine gifts are specifically available to every believer as the Holy Spirit distributes them (I Corinthians 12:11). They are not to be merely acknowledged in a passive way, but rather are to be actively welcomed and expected (I Corinthians 13:1; 14:1).

Who Is Given A Spiritual Gift?

Every Christian is given a spiritual gift as soon as he or she becomes born again. At that very moment the Holy Spirit will unite with that person's spirit (Romans 8:16-17). When we are born physically, we possess certain natural abilities. When we are born again spiritually, God takes these natural abilities and turns them into the means by which He can work through us supernaturally. Jesus "gave gifts unto men ... For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith..." (Ephesians 4:8, 12-14).

How Many Gifts Does Each Christian Have?

There are three types of gifts: motivation, ministry, and manifestation. We only have one motivational gift and the possibility of many ministry and manifestation gifts. These gifts are outlined further below. The Apostle Paul writes:
"Now there are diversities of gifts (motivation gifts of the Father), but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, (ministry gifts of the Son) but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit (gifts of the Holy Spirit) is given to every man to profit withal"
(I Corinthians 12:4-7).
What is the Apostle Paul trying to tell us? Well, he is simply saying that there are three categories of spiritual gifts:

Three Categories of Spiritual Gifts

Source Reference Category
Gifts of the Father Romans 12:6-8 Motivation
Gifts of the Son Ephesians 4:11
I Corinthians 12:28
Gifts of the Holy Spirit I Corinthians 12:7-11 Manifestation

The gifts of the Father are motivational gifts. The Greek word for "gift" is charisma which comes from the word char meaning "joy." Charis is the Greek word for grace, which is God giving us the desire and power to do His will (Philippians 2:13). The term motivation is simply defined as the work of God's grace.

These seven gifts (which can be found in Romans 12:6-8) seem to characterize basic motivations or inherent tendencies in a person by reason of the Creator's unique workmanship in their initial gifting. A believer usually displays one dominant motivational gift although he or she may have a small mixture of the other six. Peter writes, "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (I Peter 4:10). Thus by having one primary motivational gift, we are able to nurture and develop it.

The gifts of the Son (Jesus Christ) are administration or ministry gifts. The term administration comes from the Greek work diakanion from which we get our English word deacon. This word relates to the ministries and outreach of the local church. These gifts (Ephesians 4:11; I Corinthians 12:28) are pivotal in assuring that the motivation and manifestation gifts are being applied in the body of the church.These gifts are confirmed by ordination.
(I Timothy 4:14).

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are gifts of manifestation or operation. The term operations comes from the Greek word energeia. Its English equivalent is energy. As God gives power through our motivational gift, the effects produced by it are the operations or manifestations of the Spirit. These nine gifts of manifestation (I Corinthians 12:7-11) are given to profit the body of the church.

To summarize, it is our responsibility to develop our motivational gifts, it the church's responsibility to confirm ministry gifts, and it is the Holy Spirit's function to reward the use of the gifts for the profit of all.

The Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Although I briefly highlighted the three categories of gifts from the Godhead, the remainder of this teaching will only focus on the third set of gifts: the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

God has given His people nine mighty gifts of the Holy Spirit to enable them to mature spiritually, edify others, and do the work of the ministry. Although these gifts of God are perfect, the manifestation of these gifts are sometimes not so perfect because they are manifested through an imperfect channel: men and women.

However, perfect or imperfect, it is still God's will that the Church have all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation and that every believer be open to the working of these gifts in their life. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul confirms this statement when he exhorted God's people by writing: "That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 'So that ye come behind in no gift;' waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 1:5-7). Therefore, these gifts are not only essential for spiritual maturity and ministry, but they also prepare you for Christ's return.

The gifts are the spiritual senses of the Church. Just as we have five physical senses that allow us to function in the natural realm (world), so we also have nine gifts of the Holy Spirit (the "spiritual senses") that enable us to function properly in the spiritual realm.

These gifts are identified in I Corinthians 12:8-11
"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discering of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."
These nine gifts can be broken down into three categories:

  Revelation Gifts - gifts that reveal something   Power Gifts - gifts that do something   Inspiration Gifts - gifts that say something

Purposes of the Gifts
  • Spiritual maturity
    You cannot strengthen someone who is weak unless you are mature yourself. Spiritual gifts help you mature so you can edify the Church and strengthen others
    (I Corinthians 14:12).

  • Edification
    Spiritual gifts are used for the edification of the Church and are tools that bring us into spiritual maturity: "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church."
    (I Corinthians 14;12)

  • Credentials
    A credential is having evidence or testimony concerning your authority. When the gifts are displayed, it publicly confirms that you are a true believer, an ambassador of God: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover ... And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." (Mark 16:17-18,20)

    We are identified as believers through the gifts of the Spirit: "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost..." (Hebrews 2:4)

  • Spiritual Prosperity
    I Corinthians 12:7 declares, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." The gift of the Holy Spirit can be compared to a precious stone which brings prosperity. Proverbs17:8 says that "A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth."
Can We Have All of The Gifts?

The revelation, power, and inspiration gifts were all operative in the ministry of the Apostle Paul. God wants you to have these gifts of the Spirit; that is why the Bible encourages us to "covet earnestly the best gifts..." (I Corinthians 12:31).

How to Receive These Gifts?

These nine spiritual gifts come by prayer, so ask for them, desire them, pray to receive them, and covet earnestly the best gifts (I Corinthians 12:31).

Personal Rewards of Spiritual Gifts

Knowing we have a gift that is an asset to the body of Christ, we are able to achieve a deeper level of self-acceptance and purpose in life. As we exercise our gifts, we experience personal fulfillment and a deep sense of joy. By concentrating on our gifts, we achieve maximum fruitfulness with minimum weariness.

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Spiritual Gifts
Wisdom Knowledge Discernment
Faith Healings Miracles
Prophecy Diverse Tongues Interpretation

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This teaching was written by David Holt Boshart, Jr.
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