So what are the 9 Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
Spiritual gifts are an incredible blessing in the life of a Christian. When you become a Christian, you are called by God the Father, redeemed by the work of God the Son, and immediately indwelled by God the Holy Spirit. Yes, God himself takes up residence in your heart and blesses you with benefits from the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit becomes your beacon in all things, leading you in truth, convicting you of your sin, and guiding you through the work of sanctification. He also bestows spiritual gifts to every Christian.
A crucial thing to know about the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit is that they are not talents that we naturally have. A Christian who is a gifted athlete, talented musician, or famous artist is not displaying a spiritual gift when their talent is put on display. The Holy Spirit may certainly use these natural talents when working through the spiritual gift given to a believer.
Someone who is a naturally gifted speaker may be given the gift of prophecy. But a spiritual gift is a gifting that can have no other explanation except that it came from God.
So what are the 9 spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit? We will look to 1 Corinthians 12:4-11:
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”
The purpose of the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit
After reading through this passage, one question that naturally follows is, why? Why does each Christian receive a spiritual gift? What’s the purpose behind receiving a supernatural gift of knowledge, wisdom, or faith?
The purpose is simple. The present day purpose of spiritual gifts is to edify the church and glorify God. We’ll see later how some spiritual gifts were primarily used to authenticate the gospel in the apostolic age as well.
This purpose laid out in 1 Peter 4:10-11. Peter says “as each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” You are meant to use your gifts to serve one another!
But the practice of these gifts doesn’t stop with you. Peter states that the higher and ultimate purpose of these gifts is “that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).
Let’s take a deeper look at these spiritual gifts.
The 9 Gifts Of The Holy Spirit
The Word of Knowledge
This spiritual gift, simply put, is the supernatural ability to understand the Bible. Have you ever read a book written by someone who has this gift of knowledge? Maybe you’ve sat in a Sunday School room under a teacher who has this gift. These gifted individuals are able to study a passage of Scripture and draw out incredible truths.
This gift is not given just to people who have gone to seminary or hold high college degrees. It could be given to absolutely anyone whom the Spirit chooses, regardless of education. Your spiritual gift is not dependent on your inherent ability. God’s work cannot be confined by any human limit.
This gift can be played out in the lives of researchers, teachers, and writers. There are some whose greatest joy in life is study and so they do. They study things most consider to be outdated or useless and the Spirit opens their eyes. They discover amazing truths that glorify God in a way others cannot.
Paul expounds on this gift in his letter to the Colossian church. He says he has “not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9). The spiritual gift of knowledge is supernatural insight gained from the Scriptures.
The Word of Wisdom
Have you heard the saying “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad”? This is the exact same difference between the gift of knowledge and the gift of wisdom.
A Christian with the gift of knowledge is able to put an intricate skeleton of facts together. However, a Christian with the gift of wisdom puts flesh and blood into the facts.
They are supernaturally able to practically apply biblical truths to your life. This gift greatly encourages other believers in their faith journey.
So often, Christians find themselves growing weary in the midst of trials. Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to understand key biblical truths when life around you is falling apart. But imagine if that’s the moment you meet someone with this spiritual gift.
By God’s grace, they may be able to look at your situation and circumstances and apply a biblical truth perfectly. They might be able to explain something you’re struggling with in a way that clicks instantly inside your brain. This gift is such a necessary gift in the fellowship of the church.
While many who have this gift who go into counseling, others who posses this gift help their children. Additionally, other are teachers who practice this gift as well. The spiritual gift of wisdom benefits so many.
The Gift of Prophecy
This spiritual gift simply means to publicly proclaim God. We see this gift used throughout the entirety of the Scripture. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke amazing prophecies that would be fulfilled by Christ. However, the apostles, who had this gift, spoke endlessly about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We still see this gift today as many people proclaim God’s truth to those around them. In 1 Corinthians 14:3, we see that the one who has this gift “speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.”
Further more, we discover later on in chapter 14 that not only is the gift used to edify believers but it ministers to unbelievers. It causes them to “worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you” (14:25).
However, you must be careful with this gift. There are many who claim to be prophets these days, but their message contradicts the Bible. We even see that there were some in the Corinthian church who claimed to be a prophet but were saying Jesus was accursed (1 Corinthians 12:3). Paul quickly dismisses that as unbiblical.
So how do we know if someone who is proclaiming Christ can be trusted? Paul gives us a very simple answer. Test them by the word of God.
do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21
While the apostle’s message was authenticated by miraculous signs and wonders, you have the entire written word of God by which to test someone’s message!
Does the speaker’s message align with Scripture? Then listen up! Does it contradict the gospel? Run.
The Gift of Faith
Every believer is called to a saving faith. Additionally, every Christian is meant to live a life by faith. But the person who has the spiritual gift of faith is a wonderful, unique gift to the church.
Have you met someone who is surrounded by impossible circumstances but has an unwavering faith? Do you know someone who has gone through the unimaginable but has always held fast to God’s word? Have you known a person who has started a ministry with little to no resources and watched their faith grow?
Possessing the spiritual gift of faith is a serious, supernatural faith in God in the midst of impossible storms. The church needs people with this gift.
Horacio Stafford is the author of the old hymn “It is Well.” He and his wife, along with his four daughters, were meant to cross the Atlantic together by boat, but he decided to stay home at the last minute for business purposes. The ship Horacio’s wife and daughters were on was involved in a horrific wreck.
His wife survived, but all four of his daughters were killed. When he received noticed from his wife of what happened, he took the next ship to see her and wrote the lyrics to “It is Well” on the voyage.
This is the kind of supernatural faith that is seen in this spiritual gift. Horacio just learned that all of his children had died in an accident. Yet, even in his grief, he could write the words ‘it is well’ because of his faith.
This gift is seen when one is surrounded by insurmountable hardships and heartbreak but clings to God despite it all. For those who do not have this gift, it’s the most life-changing encouragement to be around someone who does possess it.
The Gift of Healings
This is one gift that was primarily used to authenticate the gospel in the time of the early church. While you have the complete New Testament today that recounts the gospel, it was still being written in the time of the early church. So the Holy Spirit bestowed incredible, amazing gifts that were used to prove the gospel to be true.
We see the perfect picture of this gift in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus raised people from the dead. He helped blind men see. He healed those who had been crippled at birth. Jesus’ healing were instant and complete.
When Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, “the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him” (Matthew 8:15b). She was healed and had no recovery time afterwards. She immediately started serving!
Jesus’ healings confirmed to the world that he was God. Additionally, the spiritual gift of healing in the apostles confirmed the gospel they were proclaiming. The entire point of this gift is to prove who God is and proclaim the great and glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.
Does God still heal people today? Absolutely! God’s power is more than capable to heal any sickness or disease. Does God promise every believer will go through life without sickness and pain? No.
There are many who teach that if you believe in Jesus Christ, you will live a healthy and wealthy life. This makes healing essential to the life of the believer. But this simply isn’t what we see in scripture.
James and Peter talk about Christians facing many kinds of trials (James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6-7). Paul, himself, faced things you and I have probably never faced – imprisonment, beatings, shipwrecks, starvation etc. Stephen was stoned to death.
Jesus told his followers that “in the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). While Christians today may face many illnesses and sickness and are not guaranteed physical healing, the gospel provides everything we need to face these trials.
And that is a gift in itself.
The Working of Miracles
John MacArthur defines a miracle as “a supernatural intrusion into the natural law which can have no other explanation than that God is acting.” There are countless examples of miracles in Scripture. From the parting of the Red Sea, manna falling from heaven to the Israelites, to water being turned to wine, God has proved that he is miraculous.
This was another key spiritual gift that proved Jesus was God and authenticated the gospel. The miracles the apostles worked went beyond perfect circumstances lining up. They defied nature. The signs and wonders they performed drew so many to the gospel.
Just as in the time of the early church, you must be careful not to place your hope in the miracle. Signs and wonders are amazing, but God is the ultimate hope of the believer.
The Discerning of Spirits
Charles Spurgeon once said “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”
The spiritual gift of discernment is not the ability to tell the different between something Christian and something satanic. This supernatural gift is the ability to tell the difference between something that is biblical and something that sounds biblical but isn’t.
Paul points to an instance of this gift being used. As mentioned before, the Corinthian church apparently had someone prophesying that Jesus was accursed. It would seem they needed clarification that just because this was said in the church, did not mean that it was biblical (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).
People with this gift are a valuable resource to protecting the church. Jesus said
beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves ~ Matthew 7:15
The Holy Spirit bestows this gift to believers as a means of glorifying the truth and dispelling the lies.
Different Kinds of Tongues
This is another miraculous spiritual gift that God used to confirm the gospel. We see the best picture of this gift in Acts 2.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. ~ Acts 2:4-6
When the spiritual gift of tongues first arrived, it happened in the epicenter of Jerusalem. People from multiple nations were present when this happened. Hundreds of native languages were witness to this gift. And God worked in an amazing way.
The apostles began proclaiming the gospel in every language that was represented around them. However, the apostles themselves did not know how to speak these languages apart from the Holy Spirit. But because of this gift, suddenly the gospel was unhindered by any language barrier. On that particular day, “about three thousand souls” were added to the kingdom (Acts 2:41).
Can God still use this gift today? Absolutely. There are stories of Christians preaching the gospel to someone only to find out later they were speaking a language they had not studied. But we see the primary manifestation of the gift of tongues in the time of the apostles as the gospel began its spread.
The Interpretation of Tongues
This gift was vital in early church. Paul alludes to the fact that the gift of tongues was the gift everyone wanted. It was over-present in church gatherings and was beginning to create disorderly worship. This is what he says on the matter:
But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning…Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:6-10; 13
Remember, the whole point of spiritual gifts is not to edify yourself but to edify the church and glorify God. Paul reminds us that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
The gift of interpreting tongues was crucial to maintain the order of church services and the integrity of the gospel. As with any spiritual gift, it is easy to shift your focus from God to the gift. Spiritual gifts are amazing. They are unbelievable and supernatural! But they are always meant to point us to Christ. This gift is a God-given reminder of that.
So what’s my spiritual gift?
After reading through this list of the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit, you may be wondering, “Well, what’s my spiritual gift?” Do you have the gift of prophecy? Maybe you have the gift of faith? Perhaps you have a gift of discernment?
What would you say if the answer to all three of those questions was yes?
This passage of Scripture and others that speak on spiritual gifts show us the primary gifts of the Spirit. But if spiritual gifts teach us anything, it’s that God cannot be confined.
Think about it like this. Most modern music is comprised of twelve notes. That’s it. Only twelve. Of course there are different octaves these notes can be found in, but at the end of the day, there are only twelve.
But think about how much music is in the world. Think about how many different genres there are. How about how many different orchestral masterpieces we have in the archives. What about how many musicians have lived throughout the ages and how many different songs they’ve written in their careers.
The amount of unique songs in the world today is countless. All from just twelve notes.
The Holy Spirit acts similarly with your spiritual gift. While we may have only looked at nine spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians, the amount of unique manifestations is endless.
Rather than trying to pinpoint what your spiritual gift is, take heed of Paul’s encouragement to “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). If you are walking by the Spirit, living a life worthy of the calling you’ve received, you can rest assured that the Holy Spirit is working through your spiritual gifts.