Going Deeper on Spiritual Gifts

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The Message Of Wisdom:

This gift is a revelation of divine counsel. It gives supernatural insight into some particular need or problem and brings practical application of God’s Word. It does not come through our meditation or preparation, but comes directly from the Holy Spirit (Luke 21:13–15). When the Holy Spirit dispenses a message of wisdom a limited but adequate portion of insight is given to meet the specific need.

The gift does not raise us to a new level of wisdom, nor does it prevent our making future mistakes. It only allows us to temporarily draw on God’s unlimited storehouse for the situation at hand (Romans 11:33).

It may bring guidance to the assembly of believers, as in Acts 6:2–4; 15:13–21. It may give wisdom against adversaries (Luke 21:15), as in the case of the apostles and Stephen (Acts 4:8–14,19–21; 6:9–10).

We must not depend on human wisdom for the work of God or to develop our faith (1 Corinthians 2:5). If we lack wisdom we are to ask God for it (James 1:5).

Message Of Knowledge:

This gift gives divine insight into the truth of the gospel and its application to Christian living. It goes beyond what our own study of the Word can bring. As Paul says, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:12). Many believe it may also include a partial revelation of God’s secret knowledge of the plans or actions of others. An example of this may be seen in the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–10). However, nothing in the Bible indicates a message of knowledge is meant to reveal where to find lost articles or what disease or sin a person may be suffering from—though the Spirit can reveal these things according to His sovereign will.

Faith:

Faith as a gift is not saving faith. It is a miraculous faith that meets unusual opportunities, as did the heroes of Hebrews 11 and as Elijah did when he confronted the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:33–40). It can also include the ability to communicate or build faith in others, as Paul did when the ship was about to be wrecked at the Island of Malta (Acts 27:25). This he often did (2 Corinthians 3:4–6).

Gifts Of Healing:

In the Book of Acts miraculous healings caused many to turn to the Lord for salvation. Both “gifts” and “healings” are plural in the Greek (the original language in which the New Testament was written), thus there is not one “gift” of healing but many to meet all kinds of sickness and disease. The gift of healing is not for the one who ministers the gift. It is for the sick person—the one who receives the gift. When Peter said to the lame man “what I have I give you” (Acts 3:6), he meant the Spirit was giving him a specific gift of healing to give the lame man. The Spirit did not give Peter a reservoir of healing gifts in himself. He had to look to the Lord and receive from the Spirit a new gift for each sick person who was healed. Peter recognized also that God is the Healer and He alone must receive the glory (Acts 3:12–16; Exodus 15:26). The Spirit will also encourage an atmosphere of faith, love and acceptance that will help the sick person to receive.

Miraculous Powers:

These deeds of mighty supernatural power produce results that glorify God and defeat Satan. Miracles are distinguished from healings in that miracles include a demonstration of God’s power in an unusual measure beyond the physical body. This can include spiritual deliverance from demonic forces, physical deliverance of God’s people in ominous life-threatening situations (Acts 12:6-19), a positive change of favor in the midst of difficult circumstances, and timely provisions for human need (Matthew 14:13-21).

Prophecy:

To prophesy means to speak for God. The gift has a threefold purpose: “everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3–4). This “edifies the church” (Acts 15:32). In Acts, those regularly used in this gift were called prophets. However, the Holy Spirit can use any believer. Every manifestation of this gift must be weighed by other members of the congregation to see whether it is in line with Scripture and to determine what God wants us to do concerning the prophetic message (1 Corinthians 14:29).

Distinguishing Between Spirits:

Gifts of distinguishing between spirits may be given in a variety of ways. Sometimes it may be used to “judge” or “weigh” prophecies. Sometimes it may be the means of protecting us from satanic deceptions. John warns us not to believe every spirit, but to test them “to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Some manifestations come from the human spirit, some from demon spirits. The Holy Spirit can show us the difference. This does not mean one can go around announcing what spirit is in each person. The Holy Spirit gives the gift on specific occasions when it is needed.

Tongues And Interpretation:

Tongues are Spirit-directed languages from heaven. They are unknown, even to the one who speaks them. When people speak in tongues the Holy Spirit anoints them and they are spiritually edified (strengthened and built up) through union with God. This edification happens without one ever knowing what is said. Such edification is experienced individually by the one who prays in tongues.

The Holy Spirit edifies the church body of believers much differently. For the entire group of believers to be edified, tongues must be followed with an interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:4). The interpretation of tongues is given in the language of the congregation. It encourages the people and moves them to praise and worship the Lord. The interpretation is not necessarily word for word. Rather it expresses what the Spirit is saying in a way that is clear and understood by all. This is necessary in any translation. For example, Psalm 23:1 is only four words in Hebrew, but it consists of nine words in English in the King James Version and eleven words in the New International Version.

Some say the gift of tongues is not important for it is mentioned last. However, the order in the various lists is not always the same. All the gifts are important.
The apostle Paul did not neglect tongues for he said, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you” (1 Corinthians 14:18). In the same chapter he also said, “Do not forbid speaking in tongues” (14:39). Paul asked only that “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” in the worship service (14:40).

The whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation emphasizes that God is a speaking God. Perhaps that is one reason why Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 to 14 gives so much attention to tongues, interpretation, and prophecy, with special emphasis on the importance and value of prophecy to edify the believers and touch the hearts of unbelievers. That is what happened when Peter stood up to speak on the Day of Pentecost. He spoke as he was inspired by the Spirit. Peter didn’t prepare or develop the message beforehand. The Holy Spirit spoke through him as a gift of prophecy. As a result 3,000 were saved and added to the Church.

Filled with the Spirit

I heard an interesting story the other day. The story was of a Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, CA on New Years Day. A beautiful float was coming down the parade route when it sputtered and ran out of gas. The Parade was temporarily halted and team members scrambled to get a gallon of gas of to the float to get it moving again. Ironically the float was representing the Standard Oil Company. In spite the availability of plenty of gas the float had died due to a lack of maintenance.

Christians need to maintain their lives as well. The Bible commands followers of Jesus to live “filled with the Spirit”. From the following verses we can see that living a life with the intellectual knowledge of Jesus without a spiritual surrender is unacceptable.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.                  –  Ephesians 5:18       

Under the Influence. In the verse above, living full of the Spirit is contrasted with drunkenness. Why does God use that comparison? Just as alcohol consumption affects every aspect of our bodies (our vision, our hand eye coordination, our judgment, our speech, etc) so also does the Holy Spirit. There should be a sense in which we are “under the influence” of the Spirit in our everyday lives!


Repetition. Being filled with the Spirit is an experience that was replicated again and again in the book of Acts. Those first believers were filled over and over again (Acts 2.4; 4.8,31; 6.5;7.55;11.24;13.9, etc) The tense of the verb ‘to be filled’ in Ephesians 5.18 connotes a constant refilling. Believers often call this the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. No doubt the initial experience is certainly referred to in Scripture by this term. But constantly refilling so that the believer is “full” of the Holy Spirit is due maintenance of the Christian Life.


I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. – Luke 24.49

Essentiality. What does Jesus tell us about the Holy Spirit in Luke 24.49? That being filled is so essential that he must request that we not do the works of evangelism, healing, preaching or any other ministry without being full of the Spirit! God wants us to be active in the ministry but knows that the powers of darkness are supernaturally equipped and that the believer cannot withstand the enemies attack without the Spirit’s fullness.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Ephesians 6:10-18


Receiving the Spirit. So how do we receive the Holy Spirit? Every believer receives the Holy Spirit at his conversion. However, being ‘baptized in the Spirit’ and being filled with the Holy Spirit are subsequent to that initial experience of salvation . The simple answer is to ask in faith. Read what Jesus taught his disciples about the Holy Spirit in Luke 11.9-13.

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[a] a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” – Luke 11:9-13


 I urge you to begin seeking this experience with God by faith. Ask and trust that God wants you to receive the Holy Spirit. If you would like additional materials to study please feel free to leave a question in the comments below or contact me at dtinberg@berwynag.org.