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Getting The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit: How And When Getting The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit: How And When

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Getting The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit: How And When

Written by: Andy Reece

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Jason DeRose
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Reviewed by
Jason DeRose

Jason DeRose, Managing Editor at Christian.net, uses his expertise in religion and journalism to deepen understanding of faith's societal impacts. His editorial leadership, coupled with a strong academic background, enriches the platform’s diverse content, earning him recognition in both journalism and religious circles.

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God has given us the gifts of the Holy Spirit to equip us in building the church. Discover these spiritual gifts, their purposes, & functions.

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The Lord blesses His children with more than enough and more than they could ask for. After ascending to Heaven, Jesus didn’t leave His disciples to continue His work by their strength alone. He provided all things that they will need in advancing the kingdom of heaven. Jesus promised the advocate, the Holy Spirit to help them, teach them, remind them, and be with them forever (John 14:26; John 15:16). When the Lord fulfilled His promise to his disciples on the day of Pentecost, the disciples received not only the advocate but also the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are spiritual gifts from God to His disciples. With the gifts of the Holy Spirit, every disciple speaks and functions in the name of Jesus.

In the letter of Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, he wrote to tell them about these spiritual gifts (ch.12-14). Paul explains that it is impossible for anyone to say ‘Jesus is Lord’ without the Spirit of God. Our salvation is a gift from God which means we cannot do anything to earn nor deserve it. In the same way, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are merely gifts from God and a product of the power of God’s Spirit enabling us. 

Every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17). The Holy Spirit is actively involved in all of these gifts. There are many gifts of the Holy Spirit in which God has given to us, and the gift we receive can be seen through our actions and characteristics. 

Who Is Qualified To Use The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit?

woman holding a cloth

Though there are many gifts of the Holy Spirit, there are nine that are specifically stated in the Bible (Corinthians 12). The Lord always qualifies the called. If you think that you need to first reach a certain level of spiritual maturity before you can use the gifts of the Holy Spirit, then you are certainly wrong. The grace and power of the Holy Spirit do not work that way. Why do you think the gifts of the Holy Spirit are called gifts if it needs qualification? When we receive the Holy Spirit, we also receive these gifts because the Holy Spirit is within us. To put it simply, we have the gifts of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit dwells in us. 

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are presented to followers and believers of Christ alone. When Paul wrote about the Holy Spirit in the Book of Corinthians, he was writing to a Church. The Church of Corinth already knew and had received Christ, but they still committed sins against the Lord; so Paul was writing to them to correct and instruct them. There are different kinds of gifts, but they are all given to believers by the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4). The Lord cannot give His gifts to unbelievers. Furthermore, verse 6 says “There are different ways the Spirit works. But the same God is working in all these ways and all people”. Christians receive the same Spirit and it is the same Lord who gives all things and works all things for the good of those who believe in Him. 

As Christians, it is not anymore a question of whether we are qualified or not. It is now a matter of our desire to be used by God. 

The Purpose of The Gifts

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Before we discuss each gift of the Holy Spirit, there is one important truth that we need to first realize about these gifts. The Holy Spirit is our helper as we carry out the mission of God into the world. We lack power and knowledge in effectively advancing the kingdom of God. In Romans 8:26, Apostle Paul writes of our weakness to pray; but he also writes that the Holy Spirit is here to help us to pray. So, we see that the Holy Spirit enables and strengthens us. Amazingly, we are given the gifts of the Holy Spirit to do the same thing— to strengthen others. 

The first question we should ask is not what spiritual gifts we want to possess but this: how can we use it to strengthen others? The purpose of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is to strengthen the body of Christ and our faith. The Lord did not intend for these gifts to be hidden nor does He intend it to be used for personal agendas. We find the purpose of our gifts in other’s needs and weaknesses. Before Paul listed down the gifts of the Spirit (v.8-10), he first said, “The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all.” Simply, he was explaining that God has appointed gifts in every one of us, and the reason we have these gifts is for the benefit of all believers. 

In the later verses of 1 Corinthians 12, after discussing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Paul writes about the varieties of function in the body of Christ (v. 12-26). There are many parts, but it all makes one body and all parts will take care of one another (v. 25). 

The Gift of Wisdom

Wisdom is the quality of being wise, coming up with sound judgments and reasonable decisions. It is more than just knowing because it also recognizes what needs to be done and the best way to effectively do it. It may mean having the wisdom to live positively through this deceptive world with the lies of the enemy constantly challenging their faith. Likewise, this gift also refers to Biblical wisdom. The Word of God is revealed only to man by the Spirit of God. We may not hear literally the voice of the Lord in our daily lives but the Spirit of God who works in us uncovers the truth in every Word of God. By human wisdom, it is unattainable to comprehend the words of the Lord in the Bible. The Lord reveals the meaning of His words through His Spirit dwelling in us. 

Wisdom comes from God. When we are faced with situations and dilemmas that seem impossible for us to overcome, the Lord provides wisdom so that we can know what to do. This is God revealing His ways to us. In our flawed and limited wisdom, difficulties can be very overwhelming, and emerging with the best solution to face our difficulties can be exhausting. James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”. We can always ask God for His wisdom. There can be various kinds of wisdom we can ask God. We can ask for Biblical wisdom, which is the understanding and application of God’s Word; for wisdom in living in this world that includes troubles and; the revelation of God’s word in the hour of our need. 

The Gift of Knowledge

woman reading a book

The Spiritual gift of knowledge or word of knowledge is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It enables us to comprehend entirely the Word of God. The Scripture is breathed out by God. Hence, we cannot understand it by man’s knowledge alone. The Spirit of God reveals to us the truths of His Word and plans through His Word. With the gift of knowledge, we do not just know the verses by their words but we receive the full understanding of what God meant when He spoke these words. 

Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction”.

Our understanding of the truths of God comes first from believing that he is a sovereign God and all knowledge comes from Him. Knowledge does not contradict the Scripture. It is based on and is always dependent on the Bible. Anything that goes against the Word of God is not knowledge but foolishness. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. If we want to use the gift of knowledge, we should be ready for corrections. Blessed are those who accept correction for they will surely acquire knowledge by listening to the instructions of the Lord. 

Yet, we also need to be aware that this knowledge does not mean knowing everything that God knows. We cannot reach the full knowledge of the Lord for He is an omniscient God. The gift of knowledge does not give us this ability. But, this knowledge allows us to perceive and understand things in a way the world cannot teach us but only through the help of the Holy Spirit. 

The Gift of Faith 

Faith is a gift from God. Yes, all Christians have faith in God, but for those who have the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith, their measure of faith is more than that of a normal person. Their trust in the Holy Spirit’s power is immense. Moreover, with faith, we wait for Him, trust Him, and continuously pray to Him. The gift of faith gives us the ability to have faith in Jesus beyond all reasonable understanding despite the circumstances we face. It eliminates all doubts and allows us to find our confidence in God alone. It’s resting in the assurance that God is in control and whatever happens, He will be with us. Furthermore, it’s this gift that empowers us to pray with boldness and confidence that the Lord can do all things. This is how powerful faith and prayer are when they’re together. It unlocks the supernatural.

Matthew 21:22 “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.”

With the gift of faith, all things are possible. Jesus said in Mark 11:22-23 “Have faith in God… Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” By faith, many people in the Old Testament obeyed and pleased God (Hebrews 11). It has the power to equip us with obedience and the understanding of who God is even without first comprehending evidence of who He is. Because that is faith.

Faith is the assurance of things not seen and the evidence of things hoped for. It is difficult for Christians to stand trials without the gift of faith. 

The Gift of Healing

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The Lord can heal any form of disease and sickness. During the years of Jesus’ ministry, he healed thousands of people who had various kinds of illnesses. Healing flows with Jesus’ words and actions. Today, healing happens in the name of Jesus. There is power in the mighty name of the Lord. God has given all authority and power under the name of Jesus. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord has given us the power to bind and command any sickness and disease to leave someone’s body. He also has given us the power to destroy the works of the enemy. All of this we can do in the name of Jesus Christ. 

The gift of healing is not the special ability to heal someone. Instead, it is delivering the healing that God has given to us. The gifts of the Holy Spirit aim to give glory to God. This gift in particular gives the glory to God and brings an end to the enemy’s work of inflicting someone with physical sickness. This gift needs the gift of faith to put confidence in God’s power that He is able to restore health. 

The Gift of Miracles 

Similar to the gift of healing, the working of miracles happens under the name of Jesus. A miracle is a supernatural event that logic and science can’t explain. It is sometimes described as a non-natural phenomenon. Philosopher David Hume defines a miracle as a transgression of a law of nature. There are many incidents in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments that show the miracles of God. One of which is the very popular parting of the Red Sea when Moses asked God for help (Exodus 14:21-31). Jesus also did various miracles during His time on earth, which includes His first miracle in John 2:1-12 when He turned water into wine in a wedding at five loaves of bread and two fish to feed more than five thousand who were listening to him as He taught God’s word (Matthew 14:13-21).

Not only can we see the miracles of God through nature and things, but the Word of God can miraculously transform a person from living a life of sin to a new life in Christ; a place where peace and joy can be found. The Lord works in ways to bring people to His Kingdom. He can change a person’s life the way He changed Paul’s life. For with man, this is impossible but not with God (Matthew 19:26) All things are possible with God. 

The Gift of Prophecy

man holding a microphone

Like the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, the reason for the gift of prophecy is to strengthen and help others. A prophecy doesn’t only refer to being able to see the future, but it is also declaring the message of God. This gift takes boldness, faith, knowledge, and wisdom to communicate God’s message. It is an amazing authority given to Christians to speak the message of God with the aid of the Holy Spirit.  The gift of prophecy is a very important gift both for the unchurched and the church. Additionally,  the one who prophesies has the responsibility to build up the Church, to strengthen it (1 Corinthians 14:4). 

Prophecies have a three-fold purpose (1 Corinthians 14:3). It is necessary for the strengthening, encouragement, and comfort of the Church. It is ordinary for believers to lose heart in their faith. Nevertheless, as Christians, trials, and challenges are inevitable. These are all part of our walk as we follow Christ. We stumble upon certain dilemmas that sometimes weaken our faith. Aside from these are issues even inside the church. There is no perfect sail on the faith lane and no perfect ship to carry us through it. Imperfections and shortcomings are present wherever we go. The purpose of prophesying helps the Church in coping and overcoming these difficulties. Prophesying strengthens the weak heart. It encourages the downcast soul. Moreover, it gives comfort to the weary. 

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are powerful, especially when used following its purpose. It should serve the reason why God has given it so that it will empower others to continually be faithful to God. 

The Gift of Discerning Spirits

Spiritual discernment is a grace gift to believers. It allows Christians to distinguish right from wrong and to guard us against the deceptions of the enemy. This gift helps us to assess and give appropriate judgment for varying occasions. With the discerning spirit, Christians can identify false teachings and prophets. The gift of discerning spirit empowers people to expose the lies and schemes of the devil. Since Satan will use any form of deception to lead people away from God, this gift enlightens them so they’ll be able to distinguish lies from truths. 1 John 4:1 reminds God’s people not to believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. This is because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 

Apostle John gives us a bit of quick advice on the spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood (1 John 4:2-3). It says “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” Christians need to always be on guard and dependent on God’s truth to combat the enemy’s deceits. 

The Gift of Tongues

person holding a bird

Speaking in tongues is our spirit talking to God. Men cannot understand that the one who speaks in tongues is not speaking to men but to God. No one understands the one who speaks in tongues for he or she utters mysteries in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:2). When God sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples on the day of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit comes with the manifestation of the gift of tongues. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, believers began to speak in different languages as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:4). The Book of Acts specifically identifies the languages that were spoken as told by witnesses. This is the most popular incident in which the gift of tongues manifested in the New Testament. 

Unlike the other gifts of the Holy Spirit which are beneficial to strengthening others, the gift of tongues builds up the one who uses it. This gift has nothing to do with stuttering and random babbling. And it is also not true that one cannot control it when the Spirit leads in enabling it. Found in 1 Corinthians 14:27, Paul spoke about orderly worship, he implores to them to let there be only two or at most three to speak in tongues. The one who speaks in tongues does not lose control over him or herself. 

The Gift of Interpreting Tongues

Since the gift of tongues is unknown to man, the gift of interpreting tongues helps edify the church. It is the Spirit of God revealing the meaning of the messages in tongues. Hence, through the interpretation of tongues, believers will know what the utterance was all about. In 1 Corinthians 14, Apostle Paul compared prophecy and tongues, urging the Corinthian brothers to strive to excel in building up the church. He said that prophecy is better than speaking in tongues unless someone will interpret it (v.5). For this reason, the gift will help build up the church. Furthermore, Paul advised the one who speaks in tongues to pray that he or she may interpret (v.13). Turning the desires to prayer is essential in asking for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

Desiring Gifts To Encourage Others

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Each individual has a special gift from the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6). And each gift is given according to their characteristics for the Lord always looks at the heart. In the writings of  Paul, God shows that He never wanted the gifts of the Holy Spirit to hide in the shadows of personal desires. There are varieties of gifts and diversities of parts inside the church. It is how the body of Christ functions harmoniously (1 Corinthians 12:14-19).

These gifts God has given to his people so they can help each other, build each other up, and encourage each member with the love of God. In the last verse of 1 Corinthian 12, Paul instructed the brothers in Corinth to earnestly desire the higher gifts. And it is astonishing that he then talked about love in the famous Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. Let all these gifts be done and desired in the name of love for God is love.  

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