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Unveiling the Power and Purpose of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

1. Introduction


The word for gifts in Greek is charismata, derived from the word charis, meaning grace. Therefore, the gifts of the Spirit are grace manifestations. The characteristics of the word charis are permeating. They are grace, gift, favor, joy, liberality, and pleasure. According to 1 Corinthians 12:1, 4, and 11, the operation of the Holy Spirit is the source of every gift; they are spiritual manifestations. The manifestations are hidden in some way by their very nature because of their supernatural nature. Their supernatural characteristics differentiate them from similar types of manifestations which can be produced through the natural abilities of the believer. The word pneumatikos means spiritual in nature. Spiritual means of the Spirit. These manifestations come from the realm of supernatural power.


The latest charismatic and Pentecostal theologies reveal a reluctance to deal with the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, and his gifting. This is a tragedy because the church needs a clearer understanding of this member of the Trinity and his gifts. Conversions are not enough. Although in many instances we have progressed beyond conversion to the baptism of the Holy Spirit and tongues-speaking, we are not making sufficient progress in exploring the depths and beauties of the manifestations to their fullest potential. The church's ministry must consist of ministries. In other words, every Christian, every member of the body of Christ must know what the Holy Spirit has for him. Since every believer has been given at least one spiritual gift, he, in turn, can minister to the body.


1.1. Setting the Foundation: Understanding the Role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian Faith


The English words "spirit" and "spiritual" and the Latin words "spiritus" and "spiritus" come from the Hebrew word "רוח" (ruah), which denotes the wind, the breathing and the breath of God, the wind of God, the vital principle in general, the living principle that comes from God and returns to God when people die, the soul and the mind. That's why the verb translated "breathed into" in Gen 2,7 is נָפַח, denotes God's act of giving spirit-life to the man differentiating Adam from the remaining created beings. In the NT, most of the times, the Greek word "πνεῦμα" (pneuma) is used with the same meanings of the Hebrew word "רוח". "Πνεῦμα" denotes also the particular divine role realized by the Holy Spirit in the Covenant history since the OT times and even before.


This valuable article aims to provide guidelines to recognize and apply the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our context today. To be able to achieve this purpose, I will provide a brief biblical-theological foundation about the Spirit in the Bible. Only after setting this foundation, I will be able to describe and explain in a meaningful manner the specific gifts of the Holy Spirit Paul refers to in 1 Co 12, 28-30 and in other New Testament passages. In the article, I will then stress the distinction between charismata and religious and moral virtues because otherwise, some misunderstandings can arise from the contemporary literature on business and spirituality and because, as I will argue, gifts are not enough for being able to discern which project promotes true spiritual growth.


1.2. Importance of Discovering and Utilizing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit


The wise individual will seek and pray to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He or she will want to know and serve God through the Spirit, being spiritually renewed in the image and likeness of God. Special gifts accompany the reception of the Holy Spirit. Discovering these special gifts is important for the spiritual growth of the individual. For only through the use of special gifts of the Holy Spirit may growth in holiness be realized. When these attributes are united with the love bestowed by the Holy Spirit, the individual is truly a force for good and an instrument unconsciously used as necessary by God to build at the Kingdom. Requests for and manifestation of God's spiritual gifts require humility and total dependence on Him as the Giver, in a spirit of unselfishness and above all of love. All of the powerful gifts of the Holy Spirit may not be on display on the outside of an individual. As the recipient strives to use them continually, gifts of the Holy Spirit occupy a much more important place in God's plan, that of reaching out to hearts under His guidance to bring about spiritual rebirth.


2. Theological and Biblical Background


The gifts of the Holy Spirit are spiritual dispositions that enable a person to consider the world and the things of God with God's own saving perspective and perform activities that are beneficial to others for their salvation. There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, all of which are connected to serving the salvation of our fellow human beings. Traditionally, the scholars of the Church attribute seven gifts to the Holy Spirit by reading the prophecy of Isaiah. To some of these gifts, the Old Testament Scriptures allude, while others are the subject of explicit mention in the New Testament. It is important to keep in mind that these dispositions correspond to how God, in creating every person, makes him or her an image and likeness of God. In other words, they are the faculties that sustain supernatural life. Because of these dispositions, reason is raised to supernatural gifts. This, in turn, facilitates the knowledge of the saving plans of God so that a person can adopt his way of being as their own. This means having a will that is in harmony with that of God—for instance, fully adhering to the law that leads to happiness by living as children of God.


2.1. Exploring the Greek Origins and Meanings of 'Gifts' and 'Holy Spirit'


The use of the Latin word 'donare' in the title translates to 'gift' and from it were derived the current terms 'donation' and 'donator', which we understand without difficulty. It also served to translate into Latin the Greek verb 'didónai', used for the word 'give' of the New Testament. It was a term that is used frequently by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; slightly less in the letters of Saint Paul and progressively less in those of Saint Peter, Saint John and Saint James. But there is no other place in the entire New Testament where the term 'give' is used as frequently as the Acts of the Apostles. The second word 'Holy Spirit' belongs to theology. The Greek adjective 'hágios' did denote primarily something that is 'devoted to the Divinity' and could be used both to qualify something directly or in the sense that what happened was under God's influence. So, the expression 'Hágion Pneûma', more than designating the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, served to define what was 'coming from God', that is to say, 'inspired by God'.


2.2. Scriptural Foundation: The Role of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament


There is a misconception that the power of the Holy Spirit was first introduced to believers in the New Testament during the Day of Pentecost. We must understand that the Holy Spirit played a part in God's covenant relationship with man before the New Testament. The role of the Holy Spirit is deeply rooted in the Old Testament, deeply flowing into the New Testament. Even though God's promises did not come into fruition until Jesus' ascension to His heavenly throne, as believers of Jesus Christ, we now have the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Actually, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost did not reveal the availability of the power of God's Spirit for everyone. The presence of God through the Holy Spirit caused the anointing of God to be upon those who were seeking His face. There are examples in the Old Testament where the Spirit of the Lord came upon individuals for particular reasons and for a specific purpose.


3. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit


In turn, they enable us through the workings of the Holy Spirit to become better friends and companions of God. They equip us to become, so to speak, divine instruments of love and goodness through which God himself can act to fulfill his universal plan of salvation that embraces all places, times and people, both present and future, and goes far beyond the confines of earthly life. In brief, the gifts of the Holy Spirit provide the essential supernatural basis for our relationship with God in order that under the guidance of both our free will and reason we may respond in a manner pleasing to him, as faithful stewards of the graces that we hope will enable us to reach our final destiny with honor.


This brings us to the third group of graces conferred by the Holy Spirit. These are his special or extraordinary gifts, that is, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They belong only to God's special people and never are granted to the rebellious. They are entirely a matter of charity and demonstrate a new association with God. These gifts are not only signs of God's wisdom and justice in choosing himself as the first end of our love; they are also signs of his love for us. He precious gifts of God's love who has created us in his own likeness and endowed us with a special dignity, calling us to the friendship and favor of God and admitting us to companionship with him in the way he shares with us the communication of his good things. They are supernatural and are designed primarily to help us lead those lives of virtue, charity and holiness that will enable us to attain our eternal destiny.


3.1. Categorizing the Gifts: Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Discernment, Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues


Each of these gifts is the subject of entire books and Paul has little to say about the specific gifts, so we will address them only briefly. Wisdom has several meanings in the Bible. Here wisdom refers to spiritual wisdom that allows an individual to see into the mysteries of the universe and to understand the underlying structure of reality so that he/she can make appropriate decisions. Wisdom is related to faith; without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is not a natural consequence of the person having the faith but is dependent on God's enabling a person to believe completely in His ability to do the supernatural. The person who has the gift of faith can often do impossible things for God. The gift of faith differs from saving faith; this gift allows individuals to believe God completely about any matter and do something impossible for them. You may be in a situation where God will enable you to free Him to act powerfully that you could not do so on your own.


Categorizing the gifts: Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Discernment, Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues - In the first part of 1 Corinthians 12, Paul lists wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation of tongues as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There are two ways to break down the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul lists nine gifts in the first part of 1 Corinthians 12 and the gifts can typically be divided into three categories of three each. Wisdom, knowledge, and discernment are the gifts of revelation; healing, miracles, and the gift of faith are the gifts that reveal the power of God; and prophecy, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues are the gifts of utterance. Another way to categorize the gifts is that of their purpose and outcome: the gifts reveal truth or knowledge, demonstrate the power of God, or express the mind or heart of God. These gifts are given to the church but their purpose is to reveal to the church, the world, or God Himself something of His nature, His will, or His purposes for the moment. The purpose of these gifts is to glorify God.


3.2. Understanding Each Gift in Depth: Definitions, Functions, and Biblical Examples


The Purpose Statement of Each Gift in the Bible. The following is what I consider to be the purpose of each of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. The purpose is encapsulated in a single sentence for each gift and includes the means used, the end, and the method.

There is no necessary connection between the ability to do great signs and the size of either your faith or God's purpose for you.


The more fully we understand the purpose of each gift of the Holy Spirit, the better we can seek God's help in using it effectively. Part of understanding the function of each gift correctly is an understanding of its definition and potential scope. In many cases, we can best understand what a gift may include by considering specific examples of this type of work in the Bible. Therefore, we shall also look at some important stories and miracles found within the Bible as a means of examining the depth and range of each individual gift.


4. The Purpose and Function of the Gifts


The end result is that the church and individuals who make it up should reflect the love and the nature of the Lord Jesus to the lost and dying world, so that all who come in contact with the church will, of necessity, desire to become disciples too. The gifts of the Spirit equip the believer for his service in the church. Many of the members who should be able to give do not minister because they do not know the power of the Holy Spirit. They have let the conviction and shame (see vs. 1 - "covet earnestly spiritual gifts") caused by the personal demonstration of the gifts by others exhibit the operation of gifts, rob them of the blessing available, and grieve the Holy Spirit (Grieve (GB) - to be affected with sadness or regret). The Holy Spirit imparts the power promised by Jesus in Acts 1:8. The key to the demonstration of the power once again is the Holy Spirit and the use of the gifts.


The purpose and function of the nine gifts are clearly seen in Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians. When used in the church, they minister: 1) edification, 2) exhortation, 3) comfort, 4) instruction (Vs. 3, also vs. 12 - "so you may excel in the edifying of the church"). The body or membership of the church is edified or built up, as well as directly receiving the benefit of the blessing (blessing (GB) - praise; a declaration of God's goodness; divine favor). They are extolled or encouraged and consoled. They profit from the gifts because they learn to become conditioned to respond favorably to the word of the Lord. The sensitivity cultivated by the use of the gift makes them better disciples and carriers of the Gospel. Consequently, there is an increase. Not only do the recipients grow so that they may obtain the promise and plan of God for their individual lives, but also they become a more effective part of the whole group.


4.1. Empowerment for Ministry and Service


The purpose of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in today's believers is exactly the same as it was in apostolic days and in all days when men are ready to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh as set forth in the Scriptures. The Word is clear in declaring this fact, and also tells us that the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every person to profit with it.


Gifts are given to a community. Let's take the examples of the Apostles and Paul. Both were endowed with great power. Paul said, "I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning spiritual gifts" (1 Cor 12:1); yet many Christians are quite ignorant about them. Even those who think that they know the gifts well are often not making use of even one of the many gifts of God. The term spiritual gifts in this place does not refer to the talents a person has, such as the ability for handwriting, cooking, etc., but to the special spiritual talents a believer receives from the Holy Spirit when he is baptized with the Spirit as we read in 1 Corinthians 12. These power-gifts have been given for the purpose of testifying of the Son of God and His death upon the cross to the world that does not know Him. They serve to confirm the Word of God concerning Him who was crucified. His Word is power in cleansing Holy Ghost fire.


4.2. Building Up the Body of Christ: Unity and Edification


In either case, these enabling adamic characteristics are to be used as visible signs of the Spirit's presence and activity. And, by employing these God-designed talents and abilities, individual believers are then empowered to play a part in the task of building up the body of Christ.


This distinction reflects the fact that many of the spiritually-inspired gifts serve dual purposes. These gifts not only fulfill a general role and responsibility, but are a manifestation of the favor of God and a means by which credit and esteem are to be given to God. Other gifts are identified as being spiritual functions, established through the design of the Father, for the purpose of providing support for Christ the Son.


It is the Holy Spirit, who dwells within those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, who provides the empowering force by which giftedness is manifested. Functioning as the divine dynamic of the church, the Holy Spirit enables each believer to fulfill a particular role and collectively, provide a cohesiveness within the body. Within the structure of the church are found two types of giftedness. They are timelines, which are directly associated with the programs and purposes of the church.


5. Practical Application


Understanding that the Holy Spirit will not come upon you for no reason will help you unlock the power of the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Reason will be your friend and guide in understanding not only the fruit but also the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The greater your understanding is based on God's Word, the more wisdom you will possess in applying both the fruit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Always, however, be on your guard, for the devil also performs great signs and miracles for his purposes. The Spirit of God works with the power of love, mercy, and wisdom; the spirit of the devil works with power to fool, to kill, and to deceive. Reason will help you separate the sheep from the goats when they are all clothed as sheep.


As you apply both the fruit and the gift of the Holy Spirit, you will need one powerful tool: reason. Reason makes both the fruit and the gift of the Holy Spirit extremely powerful because it helps us understand the power and purpose for their use. Do not be mistaken in the face of false gifts and fruit. Everything that is of God has a reason, for He is the most logical and reasonable being.


5.1. How to Discover Your Spiritual Gifts


Step 1. Know the gifts. Much of this book has been concerned with helping you become acquainted with the gifts. Its chapter on the spiritual gifts assessment has identified and explained the individual gifts, and its testimonies have shown how they can make a profound difference in lives. But probably more important than any of its sections is the last in this chapter: the opportunities for making a spiritual gifts inventory and taking a spiritual gifts assessment. UMSpirit was created solely for that purpose! Perhaps your church has another computer program or questionnaire that can be used to this end. However you do so, become aware of the gifts, their signs, and who among you has been gifted with what.


Step 2. Ask God. This is the most important of the suggestions here. Request God's divine guidance in determining your gift or gifts. Pray for the Spirit's help in opening your heart to listen to yourself and others. Seek also to obtain somewhat from God a humble realization that no one is better or more important than another. It is the variety of gifts that makes the body of Christ whole and unified. The hand may be just a hand, while the eye may be just an eye, but the body needs both, together with feet, and ears and all the rest, to function properly. Pray to be a member of the body able to contribute and to learn from others.


5.2. Cultivating and Developing Your Gifts Through Practice and Discipleship


The Grace of Exercising Good Judgment - Judgment is necessary to keep honest and be effective. You'll also need some standard to help you make judgments for the good of others. Your standard must be true, fair, effective, and understandable - acceptable behavior that can be explained to those affected. What standard could be better than Mark 12:31? "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus cited this quote from Deuteronomy as part of the two most important commandments. The gift of discernment of spirits can help you decide if you're looking out for too much from yourself and others, or too little. Whether you're being generous or too lenient, fair and respectful or critical and cruel in your expectations for yourself, neighbors, and family, as well as in recognizing the expectations of others of you.


Cultivating and Developing Your Gifts - A sports analogy is useful here. Any pro basketball player has shot several million jump shots to train for the critical "money shot" at the end of the game. The best players also have the experience, discipline, and understanding to decide whether to take that final shot or to be sure a teammate with a better chance will take it. Countless basketball hours in practice, pickup games, and professional games under their belt have refined their reflexes, body mechanics, judgment, and confidence in themselves and in their team. They've made enough points to learn what works. In the same way, having love for God and being well-practiced in using the gifts of the Spirit is necessary for good judgment and effective results.


6. Conclusion


It will give them a heart which is more open, more prayerful, more joyful and at the same time more compassionate and sensitive towards the needs of others, and a life completely permeated by the Holy Spirit. A renewed Church will emerge as an eschatological community which will witness effectively that Christ has, in God's compassion, conquered the spirit of evil. Such a community will even embody a dimension of life which, following the example of the Lord, is entirely dedicated to the blessing of God and to the sanctification of man. Such a witness will be greatly enhanced by lived communion with Christ, by drawing from the source from which He himself draws in order to speak to today's world with "words that teach and the performance of practical works." This is the Church which, at the dawning of the third millennium, will appear before the world totally updated and ever ancient, zealous to fulfill the "single mission of caring for people."


At this time when the Holy Spirit is being poured forth with renewed grace upon the Church and upon the world, Christians are called to engage in preparation and more spiritual openness, to develop greater docility to the action of God's Spirit. Only with the grace that comes from Him can we offer our human cooperation to the divine action which makes us fit to share in the divine life. May the Holy Spirit guide those who are entrusted with preparing the Church for the great Jubilee as they seek to achieve the ambitious goals contained in the request for a "New Pentecost." Such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit of the Father and of the Son will enable the People of God to display Christ's unchanging countenance to the world: a different, renewed, serene, and courageous countenance.


6.1. Summarizing the Key Points and Takeaways


Everyone who is "born of the Spirit" has a supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit working in his life through gifts from the Holy Spirit. The common factor in the manifestation of the gifts is the Holy Spirit. Good results, lives changed, souls won, is the litmus test the gifts are in operation. The Holy Spirit will never use anyone in a way that will not be in accordance with the Word of God. Your personal consecration and anointing will be what will cause the gifts of the Holy Spirit to operate through you. The Holy Spirit will not manifest his gifts through you if your heart does not live in a way he tells you in his Word how you must live and act. The purpose of being a manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus a reality in the life of the members of the body of Christ and to bless and lead a person into the reality of the New Birth. A personal relationship with the Holy Spirit is an absolute must before any of these gifts are going to operate through you. Our personal fellowship with the Holy Spirit in our prayer closet is what is going to cause the gifts to flow out of us and touch other people. When you harnessed the love and power of the Holy Spirit you will possess the kingdom of Jesus through the signs following.


6.2. Encouragement to Step Out in Faith and Activate the Gifts


Among many human individuals, I am Sammy Reese. I am an ordinary guy who came to the gifts of the Holy Spirit through unplanned subject matter study, and self-help, and the desire to help my neighbor. My goal is to share my understanding and experience with you, and to encourage those who have questions and doubts, so that anyone and everyone willing has the opportunity to step out in faith and to activate the gifts in a good and effective way. These gifts have had a powerful effect upon me and others with whom I have been associated, and who are known to me, and can provide the same love, power and effective help to all others who will listen and respond to this message. This especially applies in these End Times, relative to scriptural prophecy and history, and the events and attitudes of the present day. Small people doing small things in small places will change the world. We all have a small place in our hearts, and we are all small until we accept God's commanding presence in our hearts. If you honestly desire to know more about the Holy Spirit, why he is present among us, and what he offers, then my greatest hope is that the journey within will lead you to a better relationship, joy and success with his Power and his Presence.


The Bible gives us core guidelines on the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Romans 12, 1 Cor 12, Ephesians 4, as well as 1 Peter 4. The gifts can also be seen in others, for example: certainty of faith among the fruits of the Spirit; prophecy, healing, etc. also appearing in the ministry of Jesus, and several prophets of the Old Testament; and even in other cultures when mutual trust and understanding is present between the partners, and in teaching of righteousness between tribal initiation rites. There are other gifts such as the discerning of spirits, which are mentioned elsewhere in scripture, such as the temptation of Jesus, the selection of Joseph and his vision; Daniel, and the use of his own authority as the Son of Man to forgive sin, complementing his use of the gifts of healing, prophecy, tongues and interpretation and the discerning of thoughts, such as in the condemnation of the thoughts of anyone who prayed long prayers, and in the desire to pray for Peter.


May the peace of God dwell within you throughout this week. If you've been touched by today's message and wish to explore deeper faith, join us for Sunday services at AFM in Canada. Together, we can grow in love, strengthen our community, and uplift each other in our spiritual journeys. We look forward to welcoming you into our family. Blessings and grace be upon you.

 

Senior Pastor

Leo T Mukumba

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