The Gifts of the Spirit

Besides the power to witness, more love for others, and a greater understanding of God’s Word, through the Holy Spirit we can also receive what the Bible calls “gifts of the Spirit.” Of these, the apostle Paul wrote, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same [Holy] Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 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 gifts 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. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

The unseen gifts—wisdom, knowledge, and discernment

What is this special gift of wisdom that the apostle Paul is referring to here? It’s knowing how to correctly judge matters by applying the Word of God, the source of true wisdom. It’s knowing how to use the knowledge of God.

The spiritual gift of knowledge goes far beyond mental knowledge; it’s getting a glimpse of the heart and mind of God. You know things you wouldn’t otherwise know, because God shows them to you through His Spirit. Discernment is “keenness of insight or judgment”—in this case, specifically the ability to perceive the spirit and intent behind what others say or do.

These three gifts of the Spirit are largely unseen—they can’t be detected by the five senses—but what a difference they can make in your relations with others and how you deal with problems! “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17)

The unstoppable gift—faith

“If you have faith as a mustard seed,” Jesus told His followers, “you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

Every born-again child of God is given a measure of faith, and every Christian’s faith grows a little every time he or she reads, absorbs, and acts upon the Word of God. But to have especially great faith for certain things is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Take George Mueller (1805-1895), for example: He had great faith for God to provide financially for the work he set out to do. Mueller founded five orphans’ homes in Bristol, England, and in his lifetime cared for almost 10,000 orphans at a cost of many millions of dollars at today’s value—all money donated in answer to his prayers. That’s the gift of faith at work!

Many more otherwise ordinary people who received the gift of faith have also gone on to do great things for God, either by becoming missionaries or by changing their part of the world, right where they were.

The renewing gift—healings

Great multitudes followed Jesus, and He healed them all—including many who were beyond the medical help of His day or ours. (Matthew 12:15) At His touch, the lame could walk, the deaf could hear, the blind could see, and lepers and madmen were healed. (Matthew 11:5)

Even more amazingly, Jesus promised His followers power to do the same: “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will … lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18) “The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” So “pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:15-16)

The Word of God is the foundation of faith

Just as no good building is without a good foundation, there is no faith without the Word, because faith in God is built on His Word. So if you feel like you’re weak in faith, there’s a simple cure: God’s Word will increase your faith.

Faith comes, it grows, by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) As you faithfully read and study the Word, as you meditate on it and even memorize it, every word will inspire, strengthen, and increase your faith. Fill your mind and heart with positive, encouraging, strengthening, faith- building thoughts from His Word, and you’ll soon be amazed at the faith you’ll have—true faith, the kind that can stand any test, the kind that works miracles and the kind that lasts, built on the solid-rock foundation of His truth.—D.B.B.


Faith is not an achievement; it is a gift. Yet it comes only through the hearing and study of the Word. —Martin Luther


“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) —and so is that promise! Jesus is just as capable of healing sick bodies today as He was during His earthly ministry. If you have Jesus, this marvelous gift is at your disposal.

The showstopper gift—miracles

The English word “miracle” comes from the Latin mirari, to wonder at. Miracles grab people’s attention. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He per formed many miracles, which nearly always drew a crowd to whom He then imparted some important truth. The miracles weren’t really the main event; it was the words He spoke. The miracles benefited a few, but the “sermons” benefited all that heard—and many millions since.

Jesus also did the same through His first followers. Take, for example, the miracle healing that Jesus per- formed through Peter and John, which is recorded in the third chapter of the book of Acts: “Silver and gold I have none,” Peter told a lame beggar at the temple gate, “but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” With that, Peter pulled the lame man to his feet and the man was instantly healed and began “walking, leaping, and praising God.” And because this beggar had sat every day in front of the temple, practically everyone in the city knew him and knew that he had been lame from birth. After this miracle, a huge crowd gathered, and Peter “preached Jesus to them.” As a result, over 5,000 people became Christians that day. (Acts 3; 4:1-4)

Another example of how the Lord used a miracle to convince someone of the power of God and lead him to believe in Him is when the Roman proconsul (governor) of Cyprus called for the apostle Paul in order to hear what he had to say about Christianity. When one of the governor’s aides, a sorcerer named Elymas, tried to turn the governor against Paul, the Bible says that “Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on [Elymas], and said,

‘O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the Devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.’ And immediately a dark mist fell on [Elymas], and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” (Acts 13:9-12)

Jesus still performs miracles for and through His followers today. In fact He promises, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)

The guiding gift—prophecy

Through the gift of prophecy, Christians are able to receive messages from the Lord in which He gives love, encouragement, comfort, and up-to-the-minute instruction and counsel, tailored to the specific individual, situation, or need. Most prophecies come in the form of a “verbal” message which the individual “hears” in his or her mind, and delivers orally or records. Sometimes prophetic messages come by other forms of direct revelation, however, such as revelatory dreams and visions, which the Holy Spirit helps the person interpret.

The gift of prophecy is possibly the most important of all the gifts of the Spirit because it has so many practical uses that can accomplish such great and long-lasting good. “Desire spiritual gifts,” the apostle Paul advises, “but especially the gift of prophecy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NIV) Not only does it enable Christians to get the Lord’s perspective on any given situation and tap into His divine wisdom when seeking solutions to their problems, but it augments other gifts of the Spirit, especially the gift of faith. “Faith comes through hearing the Word of God” (Romans 10:17) —and that applies not only to His written Word, the Bible, but also to the words He gives today. You can use the gift of prophecy in private, or in the company of others.

There’s even a special promise for this gift: “And it shall come to pass [after the coming of the Messiah, Jesus] that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” (Joel 2:28) Under the Old Testament plan, God only spoke directly to a few of His chosen leaders and spokespeople, but since Jesus’ time this marvelous gift is for every one of His people—including you!

(For a detailed explanation of the gift of prophecy— how you can receive it, how to use it, and what it can do for you—read Hearing from Heaven in the Get Activated series.)

Jesus speaks anytime, anywhere, if you believe!


Hearing from the Lord is our spiritual nourishment.


The power is always on, the message is always there. God’s Spirit is like a broadcasting station, broadcasting all the time. All you have to do is throw the switch and tune in. You just have to have the vacuum and sincerely open your mouth and He’ll fill it!—D.B.B.

The uplifting gift—tongues

The gift of tongues is the ability to speak one or more unlearned languages—what the apostle Paul refers to as “the tongues of men and of angels.” (1 Corinthians 13:1) Sometimes these are earthly languages—tongues of men—as was the case on the day of Pentecost, when the apostles and others of Jesus’ closest followers were all filled with the Holy Spirit and preached to the crowds of foreigners in various languages which they had never learned. (Acts 2:1-11) More often, however, these tongues are heavenly languages, words of angels, which are unintelligible to the speaker or anyone else except through the gift of interpretation.

Tongues are mainly for your own encouragement, inspiration, and edification. Even when you don’t understand the words coming out of your own mouth, speaking in tongues thrills and uplifts your spirit. (1 Corinthians 14:4)

Speaking in tongues is also a wonderful way to pray and praise the Lord. Have you ever wanted to pray, but felt at a loss for words? Well, the Holy Spirit knows exactly what you need and what you should pray for, and the Spirit will pray on your behalf. It’s as if the Holy Spirit takes control of your tongue and speaks through you.

The ability to speak a language you have never learned is obviously a miracle, and yet it is one of the most common gifts of the Spirit. If you haven’t yet received this amazing gift of the Spirit, it’s there for you!

The revelatory gift—interpretation of tongues

Sometimes tongues are meant to be understood by the Lord alone, but other times they convey messages that the Lord wants you and possibly others to understand and benefit from. In order to get that benefit, you or someone else present must be able to interpret the message. The Lord knows exactly what is being said in tongues, and He will give you the interpretation if you ask Him and if it’s something you are meant to understand.

The gift of interpretation of tongues is virtually the same as the gift of prophecy. The only difference, really, is that the message first comes from the Lord in an incomprehensible tongue. Sometimes the interpretation comes like running translation, a phrase at a time; other times it comes all at once, after the message in tongues. Tongues and interpretation is a wonderfully uplifting way to hear from the Lord.






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