There is great confusion within the different denominations as well as the overall body of Christ as to the Gifts of the Spirit. Do they still exist? Why aren’t they manifesting in me?
Throughout my Christian walk, I’ve been confused as to the Spiritual Gifts listed throughout the Bible. I know what they are, but I got confused as to why some people had certain gifts while others did not. In particular to the gifts of healings, why did I see so many sick people within the church? Were the gifts taken away during the establishment of the church? How come it seemed that Jesus and Paul seemed to be on opposite sides of the issue (Mark 16:17-18 & 1 Corinthians 12:29-31). Jesus says that signs will follow those that believe, but Paul says that not everyone will have healings, miracles, etc. The whole thing can get really confusing, and believe me, I was confused.
But then I remembered a promise that God said to us, that if we needed to understand something that He would come through as long as I had faith that He would (James 1:5-6).
I asked God this simple question, “God, I’ve healed through your power and authority, but how do the gifts work? I don’t understand what Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 12, please explain it to me.”
I’ve had enough conversations with God to know how He communicates with me. If he doesn’t answer right away, it means that I need to crack the good Book and He’ll direct me to the passage(s). Sure enough, the very next day, God put me right back in to 1 Corinthians 12 and reviewed the entire book and chapter for me. He broke it down and gave me the answers I needed while I read the verses. The answer was so simple and profound, I had to write it down, not only for myself (hence, this post), but for others that might be struggling with this exact came issue, so lets break it down.
So, what are the spiritual gifts?
Here are the passages in the New Testament that go over all the Spiritual Gifts:
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Romans 12:6-8 NKJV
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same 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.”
I Corinthians 12:4-11 NKJV
“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”
I Corinthians 12:27-31 NKJV
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”
Ephesians 4:11-13 NKJV
“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
I Peter 4:11 NKJV
In a nutshell:
- Word of wisdom
- Word of knowledge
- Gifts of healings
- Distinguishing between spirits
- Interpretation of tongues
From the standpoint of how they are used within a church (body of Christ), we get that in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6,
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same 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.”
So, lets say that I have the gift of teaching (diversities of gifts), I might use that gift as a preacher (differences of ministries), and I might use YouTube to minister (diversities of activities) within a church setting.
But what about the whole Paul thing, how are they distributed? Do I have access to all gifts or just one?
What we have to remember about any and all of the books of the Bible is keep thing in context as well as understanding who/whom the authors were talking to. Much of the whole “you get this gift and you don’t” is centered around the entirety of 1 Corinthians 12. We must understand the the whole letter was written to the body of Christ (a church), so Paul’s words were meant to be utilized within that setting. Paul was not speaking about a Christian or a pair of Christians going out and telling the Good News outside of the church. Keeping this mindset, that Paul was speaking to the body of believers and not to the individual, we can surmise two things about Spiritual Gifts:
- Within a church setting (body of Christ), gifts are given to certain people to serve the body. Some might have specific gifts while others might not, but all are (or should be) manifested (see the list above) to serve a purpose within a church.
- When you are out on your own or with a group, the Holy Spirit might dispense a gift(s) to help serve, establish authority, etc., among the lost. Those gifts might be taken away once the Christian is back within the body, as it is no longer needed because it is given to another member serving a function, but might re-appear when he/she is out again in the world.
To understand this further, I made a video where I explain what God told me.
Ok, so how do I find my Spiritual gift(s) and use them?
While there are tests, I’ve found them to be quite inaccurate. We have to understand that Spiritual Gifts are not “discovered” but received. They are dispensed by the Holy Spirit to those who desire them and asks God for them. They are usually imparted onto a Christian by the laying on of hands by church elders (1 Corinthians 12:14:1; 1 Timothy 4:14). So instead of trying to “discover” the gifts (which is what we would do with natural talents and gifts), we identify them by how they work in us, what they do through us, and the after-effects they have on us (how we feel after ministering). Here are some ways that may help you identify your spiritual gifts:
- What works easily and effortlessly? I know that many when ministering screw up their faces as though they are in anguish. Simply lay your hand on the sick person and wait for the healing power to flow through it. What works for you is best. But if you are prepared to wait for the gift you will conserve your strength and be able to pray for longer periods of time; and you won’t be exhausted after the meeting.
- What doesn’t cause you stress while ministering? I could teach all day, and would be so refreshed by the Spirit that at the end of the day I would feel able to continue if necessary. Stress comes from trying to minister a gift you don’t have. It’s good to know your gift and to do what comes naturally.
- What do others see in you and say about you? What do they believe your gift is? What has God promised you through credible prophecies?
- What things activate the gift? A lion roared at Samson and he tore it to pieces! The Philistines shouted at him and he took to them with the jawbone of a dead donkey! What activates your gift is the thing that challenges it: the twisted body of an arthritic; the helpless condition of a fever-stricken child. It rouses the ire of your spirit and surfaces the gift that opposes it. The word that best describes how you feel is indignant!
- What brings results, consistently? Rain, hail or shine. In season and out of season. Whether you feel 10 foot tall and bulletproof or you are battling the latest flu bug around, the gift just works regardless.
- What attracts unwarranted criticism from those who see how God uses you and are envious? We all make mistakes, but we don’t deserve the flak that comes our way at times.
- What do you pray about most, study most in the Bible, talk about most, preach on most, listen to most on your iPod, view on your iPad, and download to your phone?
One of the things that most of us crave in our Christian walk is to actually experience something supernatural and to see/experience real power. Paul was quite specific about this, that our faith in Jesus gives us power and not just lip-service:
“Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” ~1 Corinthians 4:18-22
For me, I’ve experienced the Gifts while on my own and have seen them dispensed within a church/group. It takes courage to “step-out” as it were and walk by faith. I have laid hands on those in the local jail, imparted words of knowledge, and offered encouragement that left the inmates dumbfounded and grateful, all for the glory of God through His Son, Jesus Christ.