The Gifts of the Spirit as described in 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 can be separated into three classifications:
1. Revelation Gifts. These are the Word of Wisdom, the Word of Knowledge, and Discerning of Spirits. In many situations there would be an overlapping of these gifts, in other words any two could work simultaneously. Through these gifts the Holy Spirit gives supernatural insight.
2. Power Gifts. These are Faith, Gifts of Healings, and Miracles. These gifts can also operate simultaneously. Through these gifts the Holy Spirit gives supernatural power.
3. Inspiration Gifts. These are Prophecy, Tongues, and Interpretation of Tongues. As with the other classifications, these gifts operate simultaneously. Through these gifts the Holy Spirit gives supernatural communication.
The simultaneous operation of these gifts is not confined to their classifications, for the Word of Knowledge may work alongside Miracles, or the Word of Knowledge may operate at the same time as Prophecy.
1. Revelation Gifts
a) Word of Wisdom
We all need wisdom to live the Christian lives on a daily basis. This kind of wisdom can be termed ‘common wisdom.’ In a chapter dealing with everyday life as a Christian, James writes, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). This wisdom is not the same as the Word of Wisdom. The Word of Wisdom is the mind of God revealed to the believer. It may relate to some future event, thus operating with Prophecy, or to some situation that appears to have no remedy.
b) Word of Knowledge
The Word of Knowledge is not natural intellect or common knowledge learned through experience. This gift reveals the mind of God for certain people, situations, places and events. Usually the Word of Knowledge deals with things of the present or past. Through this gift the prophet Elisha was shown exactly where the Syrian army was located, so delivering Israel from defeat (2 Kings 6:8-23). Peter had revealed to him the secret dealings of Ananias and Sapphira by way of supernatural knowledge (Acts 5:1-11).
c) Discerning of Spirits.
This gift is seen operating alongside the Word of Knowledge. This is not natural discernment that is used as when we make moral choices, evaluate circumstances, and situational ethics, instead is a Gift of the Holy Spirit that is given the moment it is needed. The believer is given an immediate sense of the motivating force behind a person or beneath the surface of a particular situation. It often means that he is given the ability to look beyond the natural into the spiritual world, that is, a spiritual awareness of the activity of demons at that moment.
2. Power Gifts
a) Gift of Faith
Every believer knows that he or she needs to grow in faith. The faith that we need on an everyday basis is derived from accepting that the Scriptures are true … “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The Gift of Faith is different from ordinary faith; it is a special faith that is given for a particular situation. Some have described this as ‘surge’ of assurance and confidence that a certain thing will come to pass. This special faith was referred to by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 17:20, and is seen operating in Elijah in 1 Kings 17.
b) Gifts of Healings
It is certain that this gift often includes the gifts of Faith and Miracles. In James 5:14 -15 we read how the prayer of faith can bring about the healing of a sick person. There are countless references to divine healing in both Testaments.
c) Working of Miracles
Every believer understands what a miracle is. Simply defined, it is the divine suspension of the natural order of things, such as walking on water, changing water into wine, raising the dead, and feeding 5,000 with a few morsels of food. We should understand though, that miracles are natural with God.
3. Inspiration Gifts
a) Gift of Prophecy
Prophecy, by itself, is a supernatural speech in a known language. In the Old Testament, and certain places in the New, it refers to forecasting or foretelling the future, i.e. the Prophets, Revelation and the sermons of Christ on Last Days events. Prophecy in the New Testament largely relates to the preaching of God’s word, or forthtelling.
b) The Gift of Tongues
This is the most controversial of all the gifts. Here we will limit ourselves to describing the gift, but in our next study we will look at the theory that suggests that the gifts (including tongues) have ceased. The Gift of Tongues normally means preaching God’s Word in an unknown (unlearned) language, as on the Day pf Pentecost (Acts 2). It may work with Prophecy to give Knowledge, Wisdom, or Discernment about future things. This is the public side of tongues. According to 1 Corinthians 14:2 there is a devotional (private) aspect of tongues also.
c) Interpretation of Tongues
Plainly stated, all public words in Tongues must be interpreted into the common tongue so that others can know what the Spirit is saying. The Gift of Tongues is of no use if there is no Interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:6-9).
The Gifts, regardless of one’s theological position, are powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the church of Christ. Though each one can be in operation independent of the others, very often they work simultaneously. Even here God has unity and order. That the Gifts are available today will be proven in our next study.