What are spiritual gifts? We can see spiritual gifts operating in the pages of scripture and it is encouraging to study the variety of them. Most of us go to Paul’s writings for a list of the various gifts he had observed. He writes of two classes of spiritual gift – Firstly those brought by all believers into a gathering (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) and secondly those believers who embody or are anointed with a ministry gift whose function is to build up and equip the Family of God (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11). At the beginning of this chapter Paul clearly identifies that in either case the gifts are under the administration and control of Holy Spirit, not of man.
1 Corinthians 12:11 But the one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing separately to each one as He desires.
In places around the world, we can see spiritual ministry gifts operating at the will of man. Some people operate in spiritual gifts who are not glorifying Jesus, but glorify themselves. In this article I am talking about spiritual gifts and ministries that do glorify Jesus, further the Kingdom of God and help people in their spiritual growth. Whenever this is happening it is motivated by the Love of God and does not seek to take from other people.
We all carry tendencies to be predisposed towards certain gifts. However, a fully formed “Son of God” (gender-neutral term in this article) will be able to function in all spiritual gifts just as Jesus did. As far as I can see, if one gift is working, there are usually other gifts working alongside.
A key to understanding this is that Holy Spirit knows exactly what He wishes to do in any situation. He will work with an available son to bring that about. All sons are of course predisposed more towards some gifts than others, but when spiritually mature are able to work with our Father to bring any gift to the need it is intended for. All of these gifts are supernatural. We have natural and supernatural abilities. This article is about supernatural gifts that flow as Holy Spirit wills.
Man cannot anoint and appoint you to function in an embodied gift. Because the body graces (gifts) flow from Jesus Life within, our Father anoints you in His personal dealings with you as part of the deep and personal walk you enjoy with Him. His aim is to grow you step by step and anointing by anointing into full sonship, familiar with all of His anointing and Graces and able to partner with Him without hesitation and with the care each situation needs.
There are major growth steps all of which process through depth of relationship with Him to standing as a son of God walking the earth, helping Dad to manifest the Kingdom as he desires. All of this comes by gift from God Himself, man cannot initiate any of these stages. We are called into each stage of learning by revelation alone. We begin to grow into the gift, as He teaches us what it looks like. That will have differences from son to son because each of us is uniquely made by Him. Then as we grow man begins to recognise the results of that oneness with Him. Then comes the real temptation to revel in what is happening when continued focus on Him and what He wants to do next is most needed.
Unfortunately our present Christian culture is full of formulas replacing real relationship with our Father and disposed toward one man one office paradigms which present limitations to the process of spiritual growth within sonship. Thankfully that does not stop us from embracing a full personal walk with our dear Father moving in every direction and revelation He wishes to lavish upon us.
Results of Gifts of The Holy Spirit
Not many seem to think about why the gifts of the Holy Spirit work so well in us, and what the effect of a well brought gift is in a person’s life on multiple levels. I have found that it helps to know what He is doing in us. We can be more peaceful and loving and less self-conscious about passing a gift on when we understand what He is doing.
The person we are His messenger to is more important than the gift we are bringing to them so loose the self-conscious performance thing and relax. Then our help is not fragmented and incomplete by anxiousness as we miss the quiet promptings He gives us about what to do or say next.
The situation He gives into
Matthew 13:3-8 describes different types of ground in us, which have different characteristics of growth. These different types of growing situations have different hazards and different possibilities. However Holy Spirit wishes to deal with all of them and he does so through us by giving a gift or gifts that open up the ground, or clear it so growth can happen in good ground. At the end of Matthew and end of Mark, Jesus’ Great commission has these elements :-
- Disciple all nations
- Go preach
- Signs follow beside us as we go
The good ground is what is needed for the seed. Holy Spirit will be aiming to bring about good ground at all times. We can expect spiritual gifts to flow when we are in a prayer ministry situation or a discipling situation.
In both, there are problems that need to be either dealt with or broken in order to open up good ground. The gifts He gives will break the yokes of slavery to stuff that we think we need. Isaiah 58:6 He will engage in the breaking of idols and images that are conscious or non-conscious dependencies to us.
What is the power of words? Job 19:2 “break me in pieces with words”. Man’s words will often damage, just as Job's friends words did. (See the article - A wounded Spirit) When the words we speak are God’s words stuff is accurately dealt with, comfort is given and strengthening is received.
We have been writing and talking in other places about the ways of achieving better relationship with our Dad, Jesus and Holy Spirit. That means zoning into His zone within us. When we are focussed there we are in a surrendered place so He can trust us to glorify Him by doing what He asks and not pursue what we think is the best way in a situation.
Dad has a Chosen diet for each one of us. Being helpful to another, means speaking what Dad chooses for someone and not what we think. John 7:16; John 6:38; John 17:8; We must listen in, in an in-tune way to know what to sow. Then He will trust us with a gift of the Spirit to open someone up, or to break a rocky bit of ground instantly into good ground to sow in. We must sow His seed, not pursue our own good ideas of what to speak or teach.
It is all about trust. Jesus consistently taught to act from and live in the love of God, Paul got it right when He said that Love (agape) is the more excellent way, (1 Corinthians 13) and the application is that when we are zoned into Him, we care with His love and compassion. When we care for people like that He, Holy Spirit will trust us to give one of His gifts to a person, and He will be expecting us to keep listening for the next thing for that person.
This opens up more possibility and power for the functions of evangelism, pastoring/counselling, teaching and discipleship etc. Dad expects all of it to be done out of His love, with Him supplying prophetic words to open people up for His word. Our part is to be His partners and to see the big picture of what He is trying to achieve. Then we see a Gift of The Holy Spirit as a part of a wider and ongoing powerful process in each person that stimulates personal spiritual growth.
Being prophetic and the gift of prophet
Being prophetic does not mean we are a prophet. It is obvious in any group of people that some are more prophetic than others. For example, all of the people of God can prophesy Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; 1 Corinthians 14:5, 24, 31; , but not all know the times and seasons of our Father’s heart for a group, an area or a nation. Bringing a first category “gift of the Spirit” is being like a postman delivering mail. The gift is for the person or the group who needs it not for the delivery agent.
For example, part of the function of prophet is being Dad’s emissary to whomever He sends a word to. He begins to prepare a person for functioning with Him as His prophet to the church, but the operation of this sending is raw at first and matures as the person grows and matures in their relationship with Him and in wisdom.
We need this growing shift in our thinking and teaching because being a gift of prophet is not primarily about bringing a series of things He wishes to say, but about showing His nature to people and the church by a heart and mind full of His nature and attitudes. The things He wishes to say come through that and the whole thing becomes an operation of grace.
Remember this is all under Holy Spirit’s control as stated in first Corinthians 12:11. He decides which gift to give through a believer at any particular time, and He decides which function to anoint an available son with, according to need. This is all need-based as He sees it but not as man does. Man likes to possess and control however Paul is quite clear here I think, that it is as we continue to submit to Holy Spirit’s control that this all happens in the best way. It is therefore our part to pursue the depth of personal relationship with Him that allows the maturing process.
Being pastoral and the gift of pastor
Being pastoral is about caring for others and their needs. We are all called to do this in discipling others to walk more fully in Christ. However the gift of pastor is an anointing to pastor which can feel like a bubble of intense fellowship forming around two or more people with a communication flow that is heartfelt for all involved. A flow of His love, peace and power is there. This is supernatural, and flows of words of wisdom, knowledge and power are all part of it.
Imagery of the shepherd’s rod and staff are found in scripture, especially Psalm 23. The rod is light weight and not for beating the sheep with, but has a hook at the end to catch and guide a sheep back to safety and good pasture. The staff was primarily for warding off predators. A shepherding son who is pastoring as anointed is using Holy Spirit’s rod and staff prophetically to bring correction and a guiding influence to someone. It is just as much comfort to someone anointed to pastor to use His rod and staff as it is for the one receiving guidance and a good feed.
Shepherding should flow from the heart of one who is connected to our Father’s heart and mind. It should flow through a son of God with power and great love, and a genuine concern for the sheep. The rod and staff give the ability to shepherd, set boundaries and call His sheep into the good places to stand. This is the function of pastor to the church. I believe it is misunderstood and in practise today, pastoring can have its base in man’s natural abilities rather than God’s anointing power. Jesus spoke about the difference between a genuine shepherd and a hireling John 10:12, 13.
Being evangelic and the gift of evangelist
The word evangel simply means good news. All of the family of God sow seeds in others’ lives whether they realise it or not. The more closely we walk with our Father, the better that happens. Every time we speak about something God has done we are being evangelistic, because everything He does is good.
The gift of evangelist is a supernatural anointing to use the good news of the gospel to encourage other Christians and to bring belief to unbelievers and Christians alike. This anointing is often like fire burning inside a person that is linked to their mouth, while stirring up others to believe, to trust Jesus to save them and calling all in their hearing to stronger places of believing. It appears that some evangelists are also harvesters, reaping the results of the seeds sown by others, while others encourage the Family of God to be more involved in God’s harvest.
Teaching and the gift of teacher
All believers are called to disciple Matthew 28:18; Mark 16:15 which means they are called to teach to some extent. There are other scriptures that describe different levels of natural teaching; however, the gift of teacher goes deeper and wider than most of these and it is supernatural in its full operation.
A teacher of the Kingdom and scripture often spends quite some time in preparation of each teaching. This is partly because a teacher is wired to want to know about the subject and curious about every part of it, and because Holy Spirit will spend time with a teacher preparing and leading them through scripture, inspiring them to write, and searching out meanings, contexts and relevant culture in relation to the message.
When a teacher is teaching, he may or may not feel like there is anointing on his teaching, but there often is. Anointed teaching satisfies hunger and brings clear understanding of a matter. Anointed teaching describes the attributes of God, man and living in this world as a Kingdom oriented son of God. It will always glorify Jesus and will therefore be Spirit-led.
Being apostolic and the gift of apostle
The word apostle simply means sent one. All believers are sent into this world to establish, or manifest the Kingdom of God and in that sense we are all apostolic. The gift of apostle causes a son of God to be a gift to the church in establishment of new missions and fellowships, and in correcting and aligning existing ones as a loving father would. Wherever and whenever Holy Spirit anoints a son of God with Apostle anointing, he goes as an emissary of the Kingdom of God and oozes the flavour and power of the Kingdom while he is on a mission.
The word translated as miracles here is the Greek word dunamis, which means power more than anything else. It is fair to translate it in this way because this anointing is all about miracles. Not just miracles (or dunamis power) from single gifts from Holy Spirit but it is as though this son of God is carrying or giving out bundles of miracles, so that some may be seen as wonders. Jesus operated in both. In some instances He ministered single miracles (pool of Bethsaida or the man with the withered arm etc), and in others He carried out creative or deliverance miracles to all who came to Him Matthew 8:16; Luke 4:40; .
Gifts of healings
This anointing and function can also result in someone delivering individual or multiple healings that are not dependent on the faith of the people receiving the healing. This gifting often accompanies an anointed preaching or word of knowledge ministry. Holy Spirit is leading and guiding the person moving in this gift, which may be to bring healing to all or many present at the time. Acts 5:16; Luke 6:17-19
This not someone helping another person as man would. An anointing of helps goes with joy and the flow of the Spirit. As I have seen this gift in action, someone who is anointed with helps gets very blessed by helping and feels connected with God and manifests the presence of God as they help. They will also flow in words of knowledge or wisdom, knowing how to help in unusual or amazing ways that bring glory to God.
This is not someone who does administration or paperwork after the ways of man, but a spiritual administrator who is anointed to bring people and/or resources together so that the variety of natural and spiritual gifts can be brought into play in the best ways. Some apostolic and prophetic gifts will have administrations working with them. Some of those we call intercessors pray in this. When an administration anointing issues a call into the spirit as Holy Spirit directs, other gifts come to the work. I think Jesus calling His disciples is a good example of this.
Varieties of tongues
The operation of this gift has often been seen while a son of God is preaching to people of different cultures. He will be thinking in his natural tongue, and may be speaking in his natural tongue but those listening will hear in their language which may be unknown to the preacher. Some of these men have done this in many nations and do not need an interpreter while Holy Spirit is anointing them to speak. Others trust Holy Spirit to speak the message they have been given through them, and speak in tongues. The people hear their language, surrender and repent. (The evangelist Tommy Hicks is a good example of this).
2 Corinthians 12:28 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.
There are other gifts mentioned in scripture in the old and new testaments that are gifts of different kinds to achieve Holy Spirit's purpose.
As a son of God flows (or works) with Holy Spirit in anointing and grace, he talks about the things our Dad has done and what He is like. This is being His witness of power and grace. The Family of God needs more of this, and I believe that we are entering a time in history where we will see much more manifestation of mature sons of God. This will release much more power and grace through the Family of God, producing more personal spiritual growth and more mature sons into the work of the Kingdom.
The door to greater spiritual growth hinges on what we accept about our identity. Some of us need to ask Dad to show us who we really are, and Whose we are, and then believe the large things He has to say to us. Then we will release ourselves to grow into Jesus’ likeness by being healed and delivered from all the damage and junk in our soul. All of this goes with deciding to be strong and mighty in aligning our conscious life with Dad and pouring out His nature from His spirit within us.