The Spiritual Gifts
Chapters 12–14 of 1 Corinthians deal primarily with the subject of spiritual gifts. The apostle Paul wrote, “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 12:8-10). Let us examine these gifts:
The word of wisdom: The person who has this gift is not only wise, but he is able also to explain the truth to others.
The word of knowledge: this knowledge is man’s ability to understand spiritual truth and put it in an systematic manner to share it with others. This understanding of truth comes from the study of the Scriptures, or directly from God by inspiration.
Faith: this kind of faith enables its possessor to do exceptional works for God (Matthew 17:20; 21:21; 1 Corinthians 13:2).
Gifts of healing: these powers are like those done by the apostles (Mark 16:18; Acts 3:2–8; 14:8–10; etc.). They include healing of the sick and to receive answers to prayer. Those with this gift, possessed divine knowledge and direction in their work, and healed only those whom God directed them to heal.
Working of miracles: this was a special gift performed under divine direction. Nevertheless, it is the duty of those not possessing this gift to pray for miraculous answers if God so chooses.
Prophecy: this is the power to speak authoritatively for God either by foretelling future events or by declaring God’s will for the present (Exodus 3:10, 14, 15; Deuteronomy 18:15, 18; 2 Samuel 23:2; Matthew 11:9, 10; 2 Peter 1:21). God speaks to men through Prophecy (Numbers 12:6; Amos 3:7). Visions, dreams, enlightenment of the mind, are ways in which this gift of prophecy works (Numbers 12:6; Revelation 1:1–3). God intended that this gift of the Spirit should especially identify His end time church (Joel 2:28, 29; Revelation 12:17; 19:10).
Discerning of spirits: this is the ability to differentiate between divine and false inspiration (1 John 4:1–3). Christ warned His church that false prophets would come especially in the last days, and all should be on the warned to reject them (Matthew. 24:4, 5, 11, 23–25). Satan will send false prophets and support them by supernatural miracles to deceive the world (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:13, 14).
Kinds of tongues: this is the ability to speak with a known tongue to reach people when there is a language barrier.
Interpretation of tongues: This gift was needed to interpret the messages imparted (1 Corinthians 14:27, 28).
God’s Wisdom in Distributing the Gifts
All the different gifts of power given to the church are endowed by the Holy Spirit, who ministers in and through the believers. Since God controls the working of the gifts of the Spirit, it can be concluded that they must all be in full unity with His overall plan for the carrying out His work in the church. The knowledge that all the gifts come from God should be sufficient to ban any element of pride in their possession.
All who surrender to Christ and become members of His church on earth, no matter what their nationality or social or economic status or intellectual attainments, have the assurance that the Holy Spirit will equip them with the gifts of the Spirit to enable them to perform their Christian duties with a high degree of effectiveness.
The Holy Spirit distributes His gifts to believers in accordance with His knowledge of their capacities and the needs existing in the experience of each individual. It is not an arbitrary division, but one based on supreme understanding. The great objective of preparing the church to meet God without spot or fault at the coming of Christ is the controlling factor in the distribution of the gifts (Ephesians 4:12, 13; 5:27; Revelation 14:5).
Some people today are taught that everyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues. But Paul counsels, “Desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God. for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine” (1 Corinthians 14:1-6). Among the gifts of the Spirit, Paul attached greater importance to the gift of prophecy than to the gift of tongues.
In His service,