The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
How he wills to Work in the Church
And in the lives of individuals who are spirit filled
In one of his most informative Epistles as far as the Church is concerned, Paul discussed at length how the Holy Spirit should be regarded in the lives of believers. He gave special attention as to what might be expected of the Spirit when believers come together for worship and edification. In one significant passage of this Epistle—I Corinthians 12—he told of nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit that could be expected in a local congregational meeting. For many today, however, this is seldom known because most meetings are relegated to no more than one hour. The Pastor’s sermon comes as the climax of the hour. If we are to expect the Holy Spirit’s Gifts to be operational, we must allow Him the honor and the time.
As the days in which we live become more threatening, we stand in need of hearing from the Holy Spirit more than ever. We do remember He comes to us from God’s Throne. So the Gifts that come from Him come directly from the heart of God’s Kingdom.
In this article we consider the Gifts as they might work in the lives of individual Spirit baptized believers. As one of these, I’ve walked with the Lord over half a century and have studied the Word of God much. We can expect these operations of His Spirit—or, I should say we stand in need of seeing them—in this hour more than ever. So, we should expect them and yield to their coming both when we gather for corporate worship and when we walk the highways of obedience to the Lord.
Knowing these operations of the Spirit at work in our lives while we go about our necessary duties is one of the greatest boons to living as a Christian that one might know.
We are learning that He wants complete control of the reins of our lives. This, no doubt, is what Paul had reference to in Romans 8:14 when He said, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. To be led by the Spirit of God means to be under His governing hold and guidance continually.
To discover what He may do in us and with us, let us find out what Paul said He would do in a congregation of spirit led believers. I take some liberty in interpreting this, but there are two bases for my doing so. One, it is in line with what we observe the Holy Spirit doing in individuals throughout the New Testament, particularly as recorded in the Book of Acts. My other base is derived from the years I’ve known the intimacy of God’s Spirit. Nearly thirty of these have been together with my wife Glenda in the fields with the Lord. Together, we learned the value of His operations in our lives as we ministered. I would never take what He has done in us as a guide for what He will do in others, but it has served as an encouragement toward my believing that what Paul listed as the Gifts of the Spirit gives an indication of what He will do in any of us personally.
Paul named the Gifts in a list of nine. I am of the conviction that the order in which he placed them is significant. Before we look at them, however, we take note that each Gift, after the first one, is preceded by the word another. In English, there is no indication that there is any difference in the repeated use of this word. But this is not so in the Original. Paul used two distinctly different Greek words, both correctly translated another. There is, however, a fine difference in their intention. One word is allos which means “another of the same kind.” The other is heteros which means “another of a different kind.” The way he used these words presents the nine Gifts in three divisions—the first two, the middle five and the last two.
We will view the passage below as it comes from the King James Version of the Bible. The reference is I Corinthians 12:8-10. I pray that the notes I have placed throughout the passage do not make it too complicated. It is a passage to be studied. Read it in your own Bible and try to see the three divisions that are in it. They are each one significant. See carefully that 1 and 2 go together. Then 3 through 7 are together. Then we have 8 and 9.
If you were to place them in a pyramid, 1 and 2 would be the foundation on one side. Then 8 and 9 would be the foundation on the other side. Of the five in the middle, number 5 is at the pinnacle. This is the working of miracles. Wisdom on one side and tongues on other provide the main foundation on which all the others rest. Of all the Gifts, there is but one that we may implement at our own will. This is the Gift of tongues. This marvelous Gift edifies us—builds us up in the Spirit—for the other Gifts to come into operation.
Now, remember, as Paul gave them he was addressing how they would operate in a local congregation of believers. In this article, however, we are borrowing them to consider how they might work in an individual spirit-filled believer. Please allow me this liberty and please ask the Lord to help you understand what we are doing.
8For  to one is given by the Spirit the Word (Gr, logos) of wisdom;  to another (allos, to another of the same kind) the Word (logos) of (supernatural) knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another (heteros, to another of a different kind) faith by the same Spirit;  to another (allos, to another, the same as the preceding) the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another (allos, to another of the same kind) the working of miracles (the energetic release of power that brings possibility out of impossibility);  to another (allos, to another of the same kind) prophecy (propheeteia, words sent from God through a human vessel);  to another (allos, to another of the same kind) discerning of spirits;  to another (heteros, to another differing from the preceding) divers kinds (different sorts) of tongues;  to another (allos, to another the same as the preceding) the interpretation of tongues: 11But all these worketh (energeo, are energized by) that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing (distributing) to every man severally as He will.
Let me repeat: At the center of the Gifts is number 5, the working of miracles. If they were arranged in a pyramid, this one would be at the pinnacle. The four on each side would be supporting it. The word of wisdom would support one side, while divers kinds of tongues would support the other.
When the Holy Spirit was poured on the believers on Pentecost as told in Acts 2, the first manifestation in those gathered was that they spoke with other tongues (Acts 2:4). The word other is from the Greek heteros. They began speaking with other kinds of tongues. When the Spirit fell upon the Gentile believers, the evidence that they had received the Holy Spirit was the same—they spoke with tongues (Acts 10:46).
Those who speak in tongues given by the Holy Spirit edify themselves, as Paul explained in I Corinthians 14:4. This prepares the believers for the operation of the other Gifts. Thus tongues, like wisdom, support all the other Gifts.
As tongues is on one side of the pyramid, so wisdom is on the other. Following it is the word of knowledge. It must rest upon wisdom, or it could become a cause for trouble. Our best example of knowledge resting upon wisdom is in that of the Lord Jesus conversing with the woman at the well, as recorded in John 4:4-42. Read this passage in your Bible and take note how through the supernatural gift of knowledge Jesus knew all about this woman. He dealt with this knowledge on the foundation of wisdom .
We have no record that Jesus ever prayed in tongues, but all the other Gifts were operative in Him. Some have said in their ignorance that He spoke in tongues while on the cross: ...about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?—Matthew 27:46. This is a near quotation of Psalm 42:9 as it occurred in the Hebrew language which He knew naturally. He was not making use of the Gift of the Spirit called divers kinds of tongues because He never stood in need of being edified by them as we do who are natural born
About fifty years ago, the direction for my own life was set as a group of elders gathered around me to pray one afternoon in a camp meeting. What happened was in line with what Paul told Timothy: Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery—I Timothy 4:14.
As they started praying for me, I could hear the elders gathered round me speaking quietly in tongues. I learned later that they were edifying themselves. Eventually, one spoke clearly, “You are a teacher for the Body of Christ...” Much more was said that has remained with me. Nothing was so settling in my life as that of learning what the Holy Spirit would do in me and through me. Hearing that word, however, did not instantly make me into a “teaching teacher.” That would come after much study of the Bible, with the help of the Holy Spirit. I had my educational degrees, but from that day when those elders ministered to me, I came under the schooling of the Holy Spirit. The pains of living, coupled with God’s Word, as it became anointed by His Spirit, helped me on in the ministry that was laid upon me by that camp meeting presbytery.
On another occasion I happened to pass a brother on some stairs as I was coming down and he was going up. We had a brief conversation in which he said the Lord had been speaking to him that I had the calling of a Prophet on my life. I have seldom given what might be considered a “prophecy.” Since that conversation, however, I have been aware of a prophetic anointing as I’ve written or as I’ve taught. Often, when I’ve been aware of this particular movement of the Spirit within me, I’ve not felt it necessary to say “Thus saith the Lord,” nor to change the tone of my voice.
Never have I given life-direction for a person without there being another one with a prophetic anointing nearby to confirm what was said. This is to stay in line with what Paul said in I Corinthians 14:29, that when prophets speak there should always be another standing near to confirm. On the other hand, to a person who is alone a prophetic word or understanding might come, for instance, regarding some danger nearby. One might never see a bear just around the bend of a path, but walking alone, the Gift of prophecy, strengthened by the Gift of knowledge could well mean the saving of one’s life.
We find the Gifts as Paul named them to be a wonderful list of what the Holy Spirit will do in any believers who will give themselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ, and who will invite His Spirit to move throughout the days of their lives.
When we observe the Gifts at work in the early believers, we find they were practical operations of the Holy Spirit not only when they gathered with other believers, but also as they walked through the day-by-day affairs of their lives—some of which required the operation of miracles.
Many of us are learning that life has frequent occasions when our natural wisdom and knowledge fail. We also face frequent occasions that call for healings. And—we’re also learning that the only reliable guidance that can carry us safely through the narrow straits of life must often have within it the element of prophecy and the discerning of spirits.
I believe if we could have asked Paul, “Are these gifts you have listed only supposed to be in operation when we meet together as a congregation?”—He may have answered, “I have listed what the Holy Spirit will do in anyone in whom He has full rein. They may work at any time when His supernatural work is called for.”
We are laying aside the argument that says the Gifts are not for today. The hour is too urgent for us to even consider this. I am asking you to join with me in becoming ready to believe that the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence and the energetic release of His power will work in us and through us at any time, in any place. This can be so if we know Christ Jesus as Lord and are in communion with Him and the Spirit He sent from His Father’s Throne.
The most practical operation of these Gifts is set in motion through the Gift of tongues. A person who matures in relationship with the Holy Spirit might never have a time when he is not engaged in speaking in tongues. This need never be an obnoxious spiritual movement, nor must it always be known to others who may be with us. Speaking in tongues may be an entirely private working of the Holy Spirit, constantly edifying the person in whom it is in operation. Believe me, coupled with God’s Word and spending time alone with Him, nothing may be more practical or life-giving to a believer than the practical use of this Gift. Yielding to the presence of God’s Spirit and to His work in us will make our lives useful and meaningful in His Kingdom. As we learn to speak in tongues very quietly and privately, He will work through us without making us overly religious or annoying to those around us.
I am intrigued with what Paul said in II Corinthians 3:17, an amazing confession that should abide in our hearts at all times. See it: Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. The latter part of this verse could as well be interpreted as “there is freedom,” or “there is emancipation.” We can know this out in the highways and byways of life, in sick rooms, in jail cells, in stores, in factories, in schools. On we could go with the confession that there is no place where we do not need the energy and enabling power of the Holy Spirit. There is never a moment when we do not need what He can and will do in us. And there is never a moment when the work of His spirit cannot come into effect with us.
As a minister of the Gospel—or, I should say, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ—I’ve come to know that He wants constant access to my heart and mind. The longer I know Him, the greater becomes the conviction that He will “energize” His Gifts within us whenever there is need for their operation.
Before daylight one recent morning, someone I did not personally know called me to ask for prayer. His need was deep and the conviction in his heart was strong that he must have deliverance as soon as possible. With over a thousand miles separating us, we prayed. A miracle happened. He called again in the afternoon to tell, with a rejoicing heart, what the Lord had done in him when we prayed. If I did not know that the Holy Spirit would come to our rescue at anytime, I may have told him to go to some Gospel service nearby and wait for the movement of the Holy Spirit. I could have told him to go find some body of believers and there hope for his “emancipation” from the stronghold that he felt so urgently must be broken in him.
Daily, hourly, moment by moment, God’s Spirit is ready for us to acknowledge Him and allow Him to bring His work to pass in us, or through us. This is the reason I advocate the frequent—if not continual—use of the Gift of tongues. The frequent use of this Gift will keep us edified so that the other—often necessary—Gifts may come into operation at any time along life’s way.
That’s where we found God’s Spirit at work in Jesus—by the side of a road, on a stormy sea, in a sick room, in a place where there were little children. It was the case also with the disciples He left when He went back to His Father in Heaven. They let God’s Spirit use them outside the temple, in the jails—yes, especially in the jails—by the riverside, in private homes, in public gatherings. Wherever there were people. Wherever there were needs.
Please remember that the first operation of the Holy Spirit to come upon the believers gathered in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost was that they began to speak in other tongues. Most clearly, the New Testament Greek of this passage meant that they started speaking in a different kind of tongues, a language never before known. The same was the case when the Holy Spirit began to move among the Gentile believers. It was the case when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers in Ephesus when Paul laid his hands on them. On we could go.
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