Romans 12:1-8, chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians, and Ephesians 4:7-12 are the primary scriptures revealing spiritual gifts.
A prayerful meditation on those passages would be profitable. Dwell on those scriptures for as long as the Holy Spirit draws you into them. This could be an hour or several months. Subchapter 1.1 reveals how to read them.
Please prayerfully consider the following words from the Father, along with my prayerful explanations:
1) How to develop spiritual gifts:
- "8 For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, by the same Spirit; 10 and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of languages; and to another the interpretation of languages. 11 But the one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing to each one separately as he desires" (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).
Everyone doesn't get the same gifts (v 8). The Holy Spirit chooses who receives each gift (v 11). If you read the passage beginning from verse 3 you will see that "Spirit" in verse 11 refers to the Holy Spirit. So, we don't do something to "develop" a spiritual gift. They are gifts. Gifts are received. Spiritual gifts are not aptitudes. They are supernatural. If you look at the list it is evident that they are supernatural. The first two gifts mentioned are the word of wisdom and word of knowledge in verse 8. These two spiritual gifts are gifts of "words". So, verse 8 revealed God's supernatural placement of words into the heart of one member to minister to another.
2) Do spiritual gifts exist today?
- "8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages (tongues), they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:8-12).
This is part of the longest section of scripture about spiritual gifts in the Bible, chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians. Only three gifts are mentioned in this passage, prophecy, knowledge and tongues. But, I believe that the passage speaks to all spiritual gifts. Spiritual Gifts will "cease" (v 8) and be "done away with" (v 10) when the "complete has come" (v 10), when we see Christ "face to face" (v 12), at which time we will "know fully" instead of "know in part" (v 12), knowing as we have been "fully known" by God (v 12).
We will not "know fully" as God has "fully known" us (v 12) until we stand before Him in the next age. 1 John 3:2 states "we know that when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is." We will be like Him when we see Him. So, scripture explicitly states exactly when spiritual gifts will end. That day has not come for those of us who are alive in this world. It will come in the next age.
scripture does not say that spiritual gifts have ceased in the present age... it also does not say that every gift will be present in every culture, in every time period, within this age.
3) Do we have to pray and meditate to receive spiritual gifts?
- "Therefore let him who speaks in another language pray that he may interpret" (1Corinthians 14:13).
Here Paul specifically instructed some to ask for the spiritual gift of interpretation. So, asking for specific spiritual gifts is appropriate. It would be appropriate to say "if it be Your will" when you ask for a specific spiritual gift, since the Holy Spirit distributes them "as he desires" (1 Corinthians 12:11). Conditions for effective prayer are presented in subchapter 4.11.
If you ask for spiritual gifts by praying the prayer which 1 Corinthians 14:13 instructs us to pray, you are praying a scriptural prayer. I say that it is a scriptural prayer because it is a prayer which Christ, the apostles or prophets instructed us to pray. As you pray this prayer you are praying scripture... you are praying the heart of God. So, as you pray scripture, praying a scriptural prayer, you are meditating on scripture. You are involved in intimate communication with God through His word. This is Christian meditation. So, yes, meditative prayer is a way to receive a spiritual gift. But, your not having prayed this meditative prayer will not preclude the Holy Spirit from giving you any spiritual gift He choses, according to His will.
4) Do we get to pick our gifts?
- "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all miracle workers? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with various languages? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts" ( 1 Corinthians 12:28-31).
From the context of the passage, the answer is "no". No particular spiritual gift is received by all believers.
Remember 1 Corinthians 12:11 which was quoted in paragraph 1 above. "But the one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing to each one separately as he desires." The Holy Spirit decides who receives which gifts. The Holy Spirit has been granted authority over the distribution of spiritual gifts.
Regarding the gift of tongues, 1 Corinthians 14 has much to say: "he who speaks in another language speaks not to men, but to God; for no one understands; but in the Spirit he speaks mysteries" (14:2) So, tongues is prayer in another language. The verse says "he who speaks in another language (tongues in most translations) speaks not to men, but to God;" Speaking to God is prayer so tongues is prayer. Mysteries are spoken in this prayer. The mysteries are for the building up of the church (14:5).
One who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret (14:13) so that the result will be that he may pray with the spirit (tongue) AND the mind (14:15). Then the ungifted (without the gift of interpretation) can understand and say "amen" on hearing the prayer prayed in both tongue and mind (14:16). So, speaking in tongues and one's prayer language are the same thing because tongues is prayer. "But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the assembly, and let him speak to himself, and to God" (14:28). So, we see again that tongues is prayer ("speak to himself, and to God"). Prayers in tongues are to be prayed silently if no interpreter is present. Then verse 39 says "don't forbid speaking with other languages" (tongues).
I must pray: "Father, make us one. Please repair the schism that exists in the body of Christ over tongues. I know that you are not pleased with this division. Only You can bring unity!" Amen.
I prayerfully request that all who are reading these words will join me in this prayer.
5) Does possession of gifts mean that we are spiritual?
Paul's letter to the Corinthian church indicates that possession of spiritual gifts doesn't mean that we are spiritual. In that letter, he indicated that the Corinthian church had various spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:26-29), but was not "spiritual" (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). To the contrary, they were "babes in Christ" and fleshly.
Paul wrote that the Corinthian church was not spiritual:
- "Brothers, I couldn't speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly, as to babies in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren't yet ready. Indeed, you aren't ready even now, 3 for you are still fleshly. For insofar as there is jealousy, strife, and factions among you, aren't you fleshly, and don't you walk in the ways of men?" (1 Corinthian 3:1-3).
Although not spiritual, here are some gifts the Corinthian church had:
"26 What is it then, brothers? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has another language, or has an interpretation. Let all things be done to build each other up... 29 Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the others discern." (1 Corinthian 14:26-29). So, we see that the Corinthian church had the gifts of teaching, tongues, interpretation and prophecy. "
So we see that a church may be fleshly and unspiritual while possessing and exercising spiritual gifts. So, while we are to desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1) we must "walk by the Spirit" as described in subchapter 4.7.
By the way, "Revelation" could have referred to "word of wisdom" or "word of knowledge" from chapter twelve. And a prayerful reading of 1 Corinthians 12-14 will reveal that the gift of prophesy in the New Covenant is different from what was done by Old Covenant prophets. Various attributes of this gift are mentioned in those chapters, none of which were foretelling of the future.)
At this point, I would like to address the possible misuse of spiritual gifts before I explain how to identify your gifts in section six below. The misuse of spiritual gifts can drive seekers away from the church who might have been greatly blessed if the gifts had not been misused. "If therefore the whole assembly is assembled together and all speak with other languages, and unlearned or unbelieving people come in, won't they say that you are crazy?" (1 Corinthians 14:23). I know of seekers were being greatly blessed in a congregation until everyone began speaking in tongues simultaneously. After that, they never returned. They actually had the response that 1 Corinthians 14:23 prophesied they would have. They thought that the worshipers were "crazy". No congregation is perfect or even near perfect. But errors do have consequences. There should have been at most three who prayed in tongues but only if an interpreter was present: "If any man speaks in another language, let it be two, or at the most three, and in turn; and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the assembly, and let him speak to himself, and to God" (1 Corinthians 14:26).
6) How do we recognize the spiritual gifts which the Holy Spirit has chosen for us?
First, let's look at a list of spiritual gifts:
From 1 Corinthians 12:1-12: Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Distinguishing of Spirits, different kinds of languages (Tongues), Interpretation of Tongues.
From 1 Corinthians 12:28-31, the following are added: apostles, prophets, teachers, helps, governments (administrations).
From Ephesians 4:7-12 the following are added: evangelists and shepherds.
From Romans 12:1-8 the following are added: service, exhortation, sharing, leading and mercy.
As we PRAY these passages in context, it is clear that spiritual gifts are granted to children of God, that children of God may participate in God's eternal plan to "draw all men to himself" (John 12:32). Spiritual gifts are all used in making disciples, either towards the growth of existing disciples or conversion of unbelievers into disciples.
So, what does prayer and meditation have to do with recognizing our spiritual gifts? Chapter 4 reveals how the Endorsed Prayers are our first step in our part in the disciple making process. As we pray the Endorsed Prayers, with knowledge of the workings of the Holy Spirit (chapter 3), we will see how the Holy Spirit works through us to make disciples. We will see which spiritual gifts are operating in us. Small group meetings are one of the primary avenues to exercise spiritual gifts (subchapter 4.13).
As we PRAY scripture, we interact with God. As we PRAY scripture in our interactions with believers and unbelievers, we are engaged in the spiritual battle He has chosen for us. He then works through us, through the gifts He has given. The gifts He has given become evident as we prayerfully interact with other believers... often in a small group setting. If we aren't engaged in spiritual warfare, we simply are not engaged in the type of activity in which spiritual gifts are used and revealed. So, if you are not involved in spiritual warfare... making disciples... you will not see the gifts God has given you. They must be used to be observed.
7) Authority to do Kingdom Work
"Pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:38).
We do not have the authority to take kingdom work upon ourselves. We are to ask. In Matt 9:38, Jesus instructed his disciples to ask "the Lord of the harvest" to "send out laborers into His harvest". Then He sent them. Jesus instructed them to ask. God decided who to send, when to send them and where to send them. Peter understood that he was under authority when he said "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." We ask Him to command us to the work. When He commands, we go. We are under authority. We are to obey His spirit (Hebrews 3:7-8). You may pray for years that God will send you before you recognize His response. Subchapter 3.1, titled "Spiritual Authority and the Spiritual Realm" reveals powerful and eye opening scriptures regarding authority. These passages may be received through prayerful meditation.
8) Miraculous Healing, Signs and Suffering
All of the spiritual gifts are miraculous. But the obviously and visibly miraculous gift of healing is a sign rather than God's working to remove the suffering of the world. Micro-subchapters 4.6e through 4.6j present scriptures on this issue. Suffering will not be removed until Paradise as shown in chapter 6, "Fellowship with God in Paradise: The Seventh Path." Chapter 5 "Fellowship with God in Pain" presents a Biblical view of suffering.
Lord of Heaven and earth, Creator of all that is good and pure, grant Your gifts through Your Holy Spirit into those who read this page and into all Your children throughout the world, removing all obstacles, demolishing all strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4) to accomplish the objectives of Your will in each nation, in Your appropriate time, which You have chosen, for Your glory and our benefit.