The gifts of the Holy Spirit are often one of the most misunderstood parts of Christianity.
The truth is, there’s a very simple purpose behind the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There’s also a very simple reason why the Bible doesn’t have one definitive, exhaustive, list of the giftings.
It’s important to first establish your heart motive and drive for exploring the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
These gifts were given to us to build each other up, to help each other and to help establish the church across the world.
What does the Bible say about the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
The Bible lists gifts of the Holy Spirit in four different places: Romans, Ephesians, Isaiah and Corinthians.
Different church traditions and denominations have ended up focusing on one list more than the other, or parts of lists. This is just natural, human behavior. We’re drawn to what we love, what affirms us and what makes sense to us!
Having four different lists of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Bible demonstrates what a diverse group of giftings it is. It suggests that the multitude of gifts will be experienced differently, and to different extents, by Christians.
Between the four lists the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in scripture are:
Interpretation of tongues
Wisdom and understanding
Counsel and might
Knowledge and fear of the Lord
In Ephesians 4, Paul says:
“Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit: They’re More Normal Than You Think
Did you grow up in a charismatic church? If not you might find some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit a bit weird. Prophecy, words of knowledge, tongues can all come across as a bit strange at first. Some people even question whether they are still true and relevant today.
A great starting point for understanding the gifts of the Holy Spirit is to focus on some of the gifts you definitely will have encountered already.
For example, do you know someone who is just wonderfully generous? Maybe you have a friend who can just get the measure of someone instantly? You’ve probably experienced the spiritual gifts of generosity and discernment.
Is your church leader or pastor really good at distilling complex Biblical truths into an enjoyable sermon? Maybe they’re operating under the spiritual gift of teaching. Perhaps you know someone who is incredibly caring, who really walks with people through the hard times in life. They’ve probably got a pastoral gift.
So many of the ways we all encourage and love each other is empowered and made possible by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Tongues, Prophecy And Healing: Where Do I Start?
Just like the gifts of wisdom and teaching, gifts of the Holy Spirit like prophecy are given to us to encourage each other. Though they might feel more ‘supernatural’, they are supposed to be as normal for Christians as our ability to forgive when we’ve been wronged, or to be merciful no matter the situation.
As Christians, we believe in the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, who comes to dwell in us upon accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit is not just a mere force or influence, but a person, who empowers us to live a victorious Christian life. One of the ways the Holy Spirit empowers us is through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are part of how we reveal and communicate God’s incredible love for people. A prophetic word can demonstrate how much God has planned for a person, which can make them feel so loved. A word of knowledge can reveal God’s sovereignty and make a person feel seen, heard and loved.
Understanding these gifts can deepen your faith and help you to live a more purposeful life. They can empower you to be a real force of good and love to the people around you.
How Does The Holy Spirit Give Gifts?
The Holy Spirit lives in us when we accept Christ as our Saviour. Admittedly that’s a difficult concept to get your head around but if you take some time to linger in prayer and quiet down your thoughts you’ll be able to tune into the whispers of the Holy Spirit in you.
As the Holy Spirit resides in us He empowers us with a multitude of spiritual gifts. It’s natural and feels effortless. You may draw upon a spiritual gift all the time without even realizing it!
One frequent way of the Holy Spirit equipping us with a spiritual gift is by giving us promptings or nudges throughout the day. It may be a nudge to say something kind to someone. Or, maybe a thought to buy a gift or drop in on someone. Remember, don’t write those moments off as just chance or your own thoughts, the Holy Spirit is in us and is always releasing ways for us to love one another better. It’s just up to us to tune in and respond.
How Can I Receive The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit?
In Ephesians 4: 7 Paul writes:
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”’
And in 1:13 we find Paul’s explanation of the moment we are filled with the Holy Spirit:
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth…you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance”
The use of the phrase ‘included in Christ’ is a helpful way to understand how this all works. When you accepted the truth of Jesus into your life you became ‘included in Christ’. The moment you became a Christian your journey of becoming more like Jesus and restoring your place of intimate connection and oneship with God began.
All you need to do is accept Jesus as your savior, recognize the truth of God as your creator and live your days in pursuit of God. From the moment you say yes to God, you have everything needed to live a life filled with the goodness and love the gifts of the Holy Spirit can bring.
What is the purpose of the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
We have in us everything needed to live just as Jesus did. We have been given the gifts of the Holy Spirit to equip us to overcome darkness in this world, establishing and demonstrating Jesus’ great defeat of death, and bring light to every corner of this earth.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not about power or building a platform. They are about showing people just how loved they are. The gifts of the Holy Spirit make it possible for us to bring supernatural solutions to people, be it healing or wisdom. The gifts are part of what makes it possible for us to flood people’s lives and the broken areas of the world, with light.
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