What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how can you receive them?
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are supernatural powers of God, that are given to those who believe in Jesus Christ, so they can be used by God to encourage and strengthen one another. The gifts of the Holy Spirit build us up, make us healthy and whole and help us mature in Jesus Christ, so his light can shine brightly through us in the world.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit cannot be earned. God gives them to whom he chooses. The original Greek word for gifts of the Spirit is ‘charismata’ which means ‘a gift of God’s grace’. Grace cannot be earned. God gives his supernatural gifts to his children because God loves us, because he wants to help us and because he wants to make us strong and mature.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit say nothing about your character.
Somebody can be a new convert and receive the spiritual gift to heal the sick, speak in tongues or prophecy. This gift can operate very powerful right from the start. But that doesn’t mean this person has a godly character or makes the right choices. All of us need to develop a godly character that chooses sacrificial love over selfishness and honesty above lies.
Besides the gifts of the Holy Spirit the Bible also speaks about the FRUIT of the Spirit (Galatians 5). Only when we walk in the fruit of the Spirit will the gifts of the Spirit work through us in a healthy way. Gifts are given right away, but fruit of the Spirit grows as we learn to walk in love, honesty and obedience.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Bible
The following bible verses sum up the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To bring across the message clearly I used the translation of ‘the Living Bible’. Feel free to read this part in other translations to have a better understanding:
‘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.’ (1 Corinthians 12:6-12)
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are supernatural
The gifts of the spirit surpass the functions of our own intellect. God’s supernatural power can accomplish much more than the human intellect will ever be able to do. God’s Spirit can accomplish in a second what human beings wouldn’t be able to do in a hundred years.
People can give biblical teaching intellectually but it will not have the same impact as when a person is teaching under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
The first is just theological knowledge that will only touch our intellect. The mind of a person can remain unchanged while listening to even a thousand intellectual teachings. Only when somebody speaks through the authority of the Spirit of God will the spirit of the person listening be touched and a deep inner change be realised. Only the Spirit of God can transform our heart.
Spirit beings in a spiritual world
Man is a spiritual being. We have a body, but that is only our temporary earthly house. We are a spirit created to the image of God who is Spirit. That is why the spiritual dimension in and around us is much more important than the intellectual, earthly, human and material dimension. We are spiritual beings living in an earthly body. We need God’s spiritual gifts to build us up spiritually.
The visible world is governed by the invisible. The natural is created by the spiritual (God is Spirit).
‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.‘ (Ephesians 6:12)
Life as a child of God is a spiritual life in a spiritual dimension
Our enemies are spiritual. The strongholds that need to be destructed are spiritual. The chains that hold people captive are spiritual. That’s why
‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.’ (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)
The intellect is powerless against a spiritual adversary. Only when our intellect is surrendered to the Spirit of God will it become useful. Our thinking will be transformed by the insight God’s Spirit gives us. We will see with our spiritual eyes reality as it is. Theory will change into living reality.
Jesus Christ was depending on the Holy Spirit
Jesus Christ did not operate on his own power and insight but deeply depended on the Spirit of God. It was only from the moment the Spirit of his heavenly Father had descended on Him that Jesus Christ started to teach the Word publicly. (Luke 3:22, 4:1, 4:14, 4:18). First He was filled with the power of the Spirit. After that He started his ministry: preach, heal and cast out demons.
Because Jesus spoke from the Spirit the bible scholars were astounded of the authority and power that came from his words. That’s why Jesus said:
‘The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.’ (John 6:64)
Jesus calls us to follow his example! In the Bible Jesus Christ says that the same power is given to us:
‘I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.’ (John 14:16)
‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.’ (John 14:26)
‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8)
Not a theory but the Spirit of God
Anybody can read the Bible and produce a beautiful sermon. But not everybody can produce the love, the power, the life, the joy, the freedom and the salvation of God Himself to the audience. Only the Spirit of God can do that. That is why complete surrender to the Spirit and dependence on Him without leaning on own power and wisdom is necessary to be a servant of God.
That’s why Jesus didn’t choose any scribe as his disciple. His disciples were ordinary people without much theological knowledge. Jesus taught them by associating with them personally and after that He said: ‘Wait for the power of the Spirit to come upon you. Then you will become my witnesses’. (John 14-17, Acts 1-2)
Even Paul said that his knowledge as scribe was trivial:
‘for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him. (…) That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.’ (Philippians 3:10)
Paul said he didn’t come to preach to people with human wisdom because he did not want to convince them with exciting words. Paul wanted to speak in the power of the Spirit.
‘so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.’ (1 Corinthians 2:5)
This is an important principle which is often overlooked in many western churches. That is why the Bible says in 1 Peter 4:11:
‘If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.’
The effect of the gifts of the Holy Spirit
It’s not easy to sum up all the effects the gifts of the Spirits have in us. It’s just so much! If the Spirit of God really starts to move in and through a person the effects are amazing.
What will the gifts of the Holy Spirit achieve?
- Revelation of Jesus
- Conversion and sanctification
- Experience of the love of God
- Realisation of how close God is
- Building up and encouragement
- Comfort and strengthening
- Healing and deliverance
- Correction and exhortation
- Exposing of lies
- Confirmation of God’s will
- Change of heart
- Joy and peace
- Growth and maturity
- Power and breakthrough
- Boldness to testify
- New hope
- Believe the impossible
- Vision and direction
- Trust in God
- Unity with the children of God
- And so much more…
Summarized you can say that the gifts of the Spirit build up God’s children, make them strong and healthy, let them grow and bear much fruit so God will become visible in our midst. It is then that we do not only have a dogma but the presence of the almighty God through which also unbelievers are deeply touched.
Unity and love are crucial
To experience all the effects of the gifts of the Holy Spirit it is necessary to function as a Body. That means you will act in humility and love. God gives his gifts to all of us. It is only when people – who are all totally different and are used in different ways by God – start serving each other with their gifts, that the fullness of God’s power and love will become visible. That is why love and unity amongst Christians is so important. Respect each other, count the others higher than yourself.
Don’t live based on your own interests and your own needs. People who are driven by selfishness and use the gift of the Spirit for their own benefit will cause damage. Love and a humble heart are crucial. Because God is love.
How do you receive the gifts of the Spirit?
The gifts of the Spirit are gifts. Receive them therefor as a gift, just like a child. The gift is given freely and the more we live like a child in simple faith the more the gift can be used. In order to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit we first have to be filled (or baptized) with the Spirit of God. Click this button to find out how to receive the Holy Spirit: