“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
In 1 Corinthians 12 it gives us a list of nine gifts of Holy Spirit. We should at least have a very short or common understanding of what each one may be. But in overemphasizing the full defining of these gifts can often lead to great debate or confusion. There are many different views of which are defined certain ways. And the Bible never gives an exclusive precise definition of each. Let me say this, what’s more important to you? Accurately functioning in the gifts of the Spirit or having every specific thing figured out about the study of them?
Here are some common understandings of each gift of the Spirit.
Word of Wisdom
There are two different definitions of this gift that are commonly found. One is the revealing of the prophetic future under the anointing of God (this is also often thought of as prophecy). The other way it has been defined is a supernatural revelation by the Spirit of God concerning the divine purpose in the mind and will of God. It may also be explained as God given wisdom concerning how to handle or apply instruction in a situation. Again, God works through his people in all of those ways so I personally do not get overly wrapped up in a detailed definition and think this gift has a one dimensional aspect.
Word of Knowledge
A common understanding of this gift is the revealing of a fact in existence which can only be supernaturally revealed. It cannot be seen, heard or known naturally.
I remember a time when Holy Spirit spoke to me a individuals exact problem and even what their thoughts were concerning the problem they were dealing with. Later Holy Spirit told me they were about to make a decision and come talk to me about it. Two days later the person called me and wanted to meet. When we met the day after this individual confessed everything Holy Spirit had already told me. This was somewhat startling to me because of how detailed and specific everything really was. But this was God’s way of preparing me for a situation and how to handle and minister through it.
Gift of Faith
Many would define this in a similar way of God’s impartation of supernatural faith beyond human means.
John Osteen gave a testimony a few years before he passed away about what lead up to him developing Lakewood Church. He said he was in a small building when God gave him the vision and plan to grow, develop and build Lakewood. I remember him saying, “it was as if I could not doubt.” He said even though the task was so huge he never had one thought of doubt in the matter. To me, this represents the gift of faith perfectly, it’s a supernatural faith that is given by God for a situation or task.
Gifts of Healing
This can be God supernaturally healing the sick. A person can be given by the Spirit of God a gift to pray for a particular kind of disease. There are many ways to be healed. Many would even say there may be as many gifts as there are diseases. This is why the term is in the plural form.
My wife had bodily pain one day that was extremely uncomfortable for her. I remember that I wasn’t feeling “spiritual” in any way but she insisted I prayed for her. My wife then told me how the pain left her body instantly as I layer my hands on her and prayed.
Effecting (Working) of Miracles
This is when God works through a human instrument. A person doing a supernatural act by divine energy of the Holy Spirit.
An example of this could be when God told Moses to lift up his staff and then the Red Sea was parted. And also a great New Testament example would be Jesus feeding the 5,000.
Here is another gift that the understanding of it can vary a great deal from person to person. Again, don’t get caught up too much on a particular way to define it. Some would say it is the anointed speaking forth of words of edification, exhortation and comfort, words supernaturally given to the Church from God. And that there’s no element of revelation in it such as word of knowledge. Others would shift over to more of a personal prophecy type of understanding where there would most definitely be word of knowledge influencing that ministry. There is prophetic concerning future events, individuals, and groups etc. So generalization of prophecy can cross over each other and cause confusion on the prophetic
The first prophecy I ever gave to a Church Body was very short and it was concerning our worship. Once the prophecy was given it spoke to the heart of the people to a degree where we all began to “enter into” worship and something beautiful happened that day. The atmosphere shifted and the word brought faith to our hearts that caused us to encounter God through our worship.
Distinguishing (Discerning) of Spirits
Some would say this gift is the discerning of good and evil spirits (angels and demons). And others would even say it goes further than that and allow us to comprehend what’s influencing the human spirit. However, no matter the extent of the definition you must understand this is not the gift of suspicion. I’ve heard so many people find faults, be suspicious, and just believe the worst in others and call it discerning of spirits.
Various Kinds of Tongues
This is the gift of proclaiming in a group a message form God in a language not necessarily understood by the person giving it. This is different from what many would know as “praying in the Spirit.” And beyond this you will hear a variety of understandings of how this actually functions.
Interpretation of Tongues
This could be understood as without any mental faculties being involved, the message giving in another language is interpreted supernaturally by the Holy Spirit through another person. Some think someone must hear it in their own language or the person speaking must speak it in a actual language that they personally do not know. However the Bible doesn’t specifically say either and the scripture used can be looked at and interpreted a few different ways. So again placing more emphasis on something than what’s there is not always the best.
I’ve personally heard a tongue once and Holy Spirit impressed upon me very strongly what exactly that meant with the interpretation. I didn’t hear it in my own language, I heard the Lord in my own language but not the tongue necessarily.
These are just a few common understandings of the nine gifts of the Spirit. On our next blog we will examine how do we know Holy Spirit is moving upon us to function in one of these gifts? And how does He communicate these gifts to us?