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Chapter 16. Receiving Spiritual Gifts

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"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:4).

What are the gifts of the Spirit?

All of the workings of the Holy Spirit are gifts from God. However, the term "Gifts of the Spirit" is used in the Bible in a special sense (also referred to as "spiritual gifts"), and in addition to the Spirit's other work. As a new creature, you have been sent the Holy Spirit by Jesus as a gift, and are now eligible to receive the gifts of the Spirit.

"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues" (I Cor. 12:8-10). "And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers" (Ephes 4:11).

There are many gifts and ways to integrate specific gifts into today's church. An indepth list, along with additional study texts are provided later in this chapter.

What are the purposes of the gifts?

"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (I Cor. 12:7).

To "profit withal" means to contribute, collect and advantage. The gifts of the Spirit are given in order to contribute to the completion of the whole.

"For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephes. 4:12-16).

The word used for "perfecting" means complete furnishing. The word used for "edifying" means architecture, structure or building. So, gifts are given in order to build and complete the body of Christ (the church) through ministry (service). This includes the goal of adding more people to the church and helping solidify and unify those already in the church. The distribution of different gifts to all believers makes the strong point that all believers are needed to do their part, and that no one person can be independent or self-important.

"The promise of the Spirit is not appreciated as it should be. Its fulfillment is not realized as it might be. It is the absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so powerless. Learning, talents, eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner be won to Christ. On the other hand, if they are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of His disciples will have a power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them the channel for the outworking of the highest influence in the universe" (Christ's Object Lessons328.1).

Gifts of the Spirit: The special infusion of the Holy Spirit's influence into your ministry, empowering an existing or new talent, that makes you effective in connecting to another person spiritually for the benefit of the church.

When are the gifts given?

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).

The Spirit has always actively worked to convict you of truth, repentance and your need of a Savior. But, when you accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit can move into your being. The gifts of the Spirit can then occur at any time.

What is the "outpouring" of the Spirit?

The outpouring of the spirit on the day of Pentecost, was a fulfillment of the Israelite Feast of Weeks (the second of three annual gatherings Deut. 16:9-10, 2 Chron. 8:13), occuring fifty days from Jesus' resurrection (the Israelite offering of first fruits). The feast was a type, or symbolic, of Jesus "raining" the Spirit on the early church in order to "grow" the church for the "harvest". Another outpouring, the "latter rain" falls upon the remnant church near the end of time in order to "ripen" the church just before the final "harvest" when Jesus returns.

The outpouring of the Spirit at the beginning and end of the Christian church's growth, also occurs at the beginning and end of the individual believer's growth. After you learn about Christ (seed is planted), are drawn to Him and accept Him, the Holy Spirit "rains" upon you (former rain), giving you new life (germination) and many gifts to help you grow (seedling). Later, when you are almost spiritually mature (note: this can happen at any age), the Holy Spirit increases His power within you (latter rain), which invigorates and refreshes you anew, bringing you to a fully transformed character (ripeness/maturity).

"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord, Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain" (James 5:7).

The Spirit is always working to help save souls, before and after they accept Christ. But, once Christ is accepted, the Spirit can be "poured out" in the believer's life in an abundant stream, or an outpouring. In the same way, the Holy Spirit was always at work helping God's people since the beginning (2 Pet. 1:21, Psalm 51:11, Is. 63:10), but after Christ died, rose, ascended to heaven and received all authority, the Spirit could then be fully "unleashed," or "poured out" onto His church. This is why it can be said that the Holy Spirit was not yet "given" until the day of Pentecost. It had not been poured out in the fullest sense until Christ completed His work on earth and began His priestly work in heaven. Until then, the Spirit had been restrained in some ways, just like He is restrained from fully working in us until we accept Christ and fully surrender everything to Him.

"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" (John 7:38)).

The timing of these rains is important to bring the grain (souls) to ripeness and prepare them for harvest. But, rain also falls between these outpourings and the husbandman has other work that also needs to be accomplished. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurs when He decides, and His timing is impeccible. Pray for it, but continue to work, learn and be transformed while you anticipate an even greater and fuller power of the Holy Spirit.

The Outpouring of the Spirit: A special increase; a full unrestrained stream; a markedly greater abundance of any or all of the activities of the Spirit.

The outpouring of the Spirit is not limited to the gifts of the Spirit, but can involve any of the Spirit's activities. If the Spirit is poured out, the recipients can experience great repentance, great enlightment in the truth, new depths of love, and/or the gifts of the Spirit in greater abundance.

Is the Baptism of the Spirit the same as the outpouring of the Spirit?

As we already studied, the Bible teaches that one must be baptized by the Spirit, or fully immersed in the Holy Spirit's influence, daily. It is an ongoing event. On the other hand, the outpouring of the Spirit is a special event. The baptism of the Spirit refers to the bestowal of any of the Spirit's activities (such as manifesting fruit, being led into the truth, receiving gifts, etc). The outpouring can also encompass any or all of these activities, but comes with even more power. The key is to be fully submitted (baptized/immersed in the Spirit), and God will lead you through each step of the Spirit's work, including receiving the gifts of the Spirit, and also receiving an outpouring of the Spirit in your individual life when the time is right.

Who receives which gifts?

There are many different gifts given. Each person may receive any number of them. Not everyone receives the same gift(s). The Spirit coordinates everything perfectly.

"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit...But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will" (1 Cor. 12:4,11).

Those who receive less gifts are not appreciated less by God.

"For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not" (2 Cor. 8:12).

God expects returns corresponding to what He gives. This is evidenced well in the parable of the talents, where each person was expected to do all he could with what he had, whether he had much or little (see Matt. 25). Every contribution from a willing heart, no matter how small, is highly valued by God and has eternal results.

"If they are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of His disciples will have a power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them the channel for the outworking of the highest influence in the universe" (FLB 292.9).

"One worker may be a ready speaker; another a ready writer; another may have the gift of sincere, earnest, fervent prayer; another the gift of singing; another may have special skill in explaining the Word of God with clearness...It may seem to some that the contrast between their gifts and the gifts of a fellow laborer is too great to allow them to unite in harmonious effort; but when they remember that there are varied minds to be reached, and that some will reject the truth as it is presented by one laborer, only to open their hearts to the same truth as presented in a different manner by another, they will hopefully endeavor to labor together in unity" (ST, March 15, 1910 par 5-7).

Special gifts for special circumstances

Gift of Tongues

The gift of speaking in tongues (one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit described in I Cor. 12:4-11) was abundantly given to new believers in New Testament times. This met a need that was urgently needed at that time; to provide the ability to spread the gospel to people of other nations who spoke different languages. This enabled the gospel to be spread at an amazingly rapid pace. Not all believers were able to speak in tongues (I Cor. 12:27-31), but there were many who were given this particular gift. There are some, even in our current time, who have manifested this gift in similar situations, enabling them to overcome language barriers in sharing the gospel.

Gift of Prophecy

The gifts of the Spirit didn't end in the Apostle's day. All of the gifts, but especially the gift of prophecy, are poured out in abundance in the last days.

"But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come" (Acts 2:16-20).

The Bible prophecy of the red dragon in Revelation 12 symbolically portrays the devil waging war on God's church (the woman). The remnant of the woman, or the last part of God's church that remains before His second coming, is said to have the "Testimony of Jesus Christ".

"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17).

The angel speaking to John later reveals that the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy.

"And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10).

God's church, during the time of the end, will keep God's commandments and experience the prophetic gift.

"Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:6-7).

Putting your gifts to work

Note that the gifts of the Spirit are not talents or natural abilities in and of themselves. God has abundantly bestowed these things on all humanity, regardless of whether they are new creatures or not. But rather, the gifts are a special infusion of the Holy Spirit's influence into a believer's ministry that makes them effective in connecting to another person spiritually (however, a gift can also involve a new talent or ability being bestowed). This infusion makes the person's abilities effective in witnessing for Christ. Without the infusion, no eloquence, skill or talent could win any soul for Christ.

Receiving the gifts of the Spirit is one of the many indicators that you have become a new creature. These gifts will thrill your heart, because you become part of a living movement, organized by the most advanced leader ever known, integrated as a critical component, and able to experience first hand the remarkable power and workings of the Holy Spirit to save humans.

Take a moment to consider the many gifts you see at work in those around you and how you may more fully utilize your own special gifts to save others. (Visit the Spiritual Gifts Resource Center to complete a questionnaire to discover your gifts and learn how to implement them.)
  • Prophecy
  • Ministry
  • Teaching
  • Exhorting
  • Giving
  • Ruling
  • Administration
  • Showing mercy
  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge
  • Faith
  • Healing
  • Miracles
  • Discerning of spirits
  • Speaking in tongues
  • Interpreting tongues
  • Helping
  • Government
  • Evangelizing
  • Apostles
  • Pastoring
  • Hospitality
  • Art
  • Sewing
  • Construction
  • Maintenance
The following verses are used for gift identification: Rom. 12:6, 1 Cor. 12: 1-30, I Cor. 14:1-40, Eph 4:1-16, Heb. 2:4, 1 Peter 4: 9, Ex 36:1, and Luke 11:9-13.

"Those who consecrate body, soul, and spirit to God, will constantly receive a new endowment of physical, mental, and spiritual power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of His own Spirit, the life of His own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth His highest energies to work in heart and mind. The grace of God enlarges and multiplies their faculties, and every perfection of the divine nature comes to their assistance in the work of saving souls. Through co-operation with Christ, they are made complete in Him, and in their human weakness they are enabled to do the deeds of Omnipotence" (GW 112.3).

"There is a yet deeper significance to the golden rule. Everyone who has been made a steward of the manifold grace of God, is called upon to impart to souls in ignorance and darkness, even as, were he in their place, he would desire them to impart to him" (Mount of Blessing, p. 193).

"But Christ uttered a sorrowful fact when he said, 'If the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?'...The Lord Jesus Christ, the Anointed One of God, is seeking to assimilate our characters to his own. Although we profess great things, we are represented as salt that has lost its savor, and as entirely worthless, unless the Holy Spirit can use us as channels by which to communicate to the world the truth as it is in Jesus...We are to represent to the world his love, both in words and works" (Signs of the Times, Nov. 7, 1895).

Next Bible Term: Manifesting Fruit
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