Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual gifts are very important to the body of Christ. It is exciting to learn about these gifts which God has made available to His children. Without these gifts, the church cannot exist or move ahead. As believers, we must learn all we can about spiritual gifts. The series were written by Robert L. Brandt.

Gifts of Healing, Working of Miracles, Prophecy

The final three lessons of our course are on the nine gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. In the last lesson we studied the first three gifts—the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, and faith. We saw that all of these gifts are manifestations of God’s power. We also learned that all of these gifts are supernatural. None of them are possible to obtain by human means alone.

Another thing we learned was that all of the gifts of the Spirit have a common purpose. They are all to build up the body of Christ.

In this lesson, we will study three more gifts of the Spirit. We are learning about them in the order they are listed in your Bible. Some scholars place them in a different order. However, since all of them come from the Holy Spirit, the order in which they are studied is not important. We will note that the operations of these gifts overlap at times. Sometimes several gifts seem to appear at once.

You may have already sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to you in regard to the operation of these gifts. You will want to be obedient to His voice. Prayer will help you. When you sense the Holy Spirit moving upon you, yield to Him. It may not be easy at first, but if you desire to be used of God, you can be a blessing to His body, the church.

Gifts of Healing

Gifts of Healing Defined

“. . . to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:9). The King James Version says, “to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit.”

Healing means “making whole or well.” Gift means “grace, favor, kindness.” It is important that we think about the word gifts. Gifts is plural. Plural means “more than one.” In this case, gifts means “more than one gift of healing.” We will learn more about this later.

Gifts of healing, then, are manifestations of God’s grace, His favor, and His kindness.

Howard Carter says the “gifts of healing are manifestations of the power of God in the sphere (area) of disease.”

These gifts flow out of the Spirit, through the believer, and then to the people in need of healing. Gifts of healing are given for the needy. They are manifested through believers. So it is not good to say a certain believer has a gift of healing. It is better to say by the Holy Spirit and through the Spirit-filled believer, gifts of healing are manifested in the church.

Gifts of Healing Explained and Illustrated

Sickness, disease, infirmity. These are all common to man. Even believers have them. They are the results of man’s fall into sin.

This does not mean that a person is sick because he has sinned. His disciples asked Jesus, “Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents’ sin?” Jesus answered them, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned” (John 9:3).

Sometimes people are sick because they have sinned. Jesus once said, “…See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” (John 5:14).

Whatever the cause of the sickness, disease or infirmity, God usually desires that we should be healed. However, sometimes the Holy Spirit will not give healing to some people who seem to need healing. There are several reasons for this.

  1. Unbelief. “Everything is possible for the person who has faith. The Father at once cried out, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”’ (Mark 9:24).
  2. Failure to relate properly to the body. “. . . For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (are dead)” (1 Corinthians 11:29-30). Not discerning the Lord’s body means not recognizing other members of the Lord’s body as part of His body.
  3. Special reasons. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

Whom May the Holy Spirit Use to Bring a Gift of Healing?

Is manifestation of gifts of healing limited to certain people? Surely the Holy Spirit will use whomever he can to bring gifts of healing to people in need, but these gifts will flow more freely through those baptized in the Spirit.

However, the gifts of healing are likely to be manifested more often through church leaders. This is because their whole lives are given to ministering to people. Also they may have more contact with people who have a need.

Look at this list. You will see whom the Holy Spirit used in the gifts of healing in Acts.

  1. Peter and John (apostles) Acts 3:1-11.
  2. Peter (apostle) Acts 5:15.
  3. Philip (evangelist) Acts 8:5-7.
  4. Ananias (unknown believer) Acts 9:17-18.
  5. Peter (apostle) Acts 9:32-34.
  6. Paul (apostle) Acts 14:8-10.
  7. Paul (apostle) Acts 28:7-9.

In this list, most of the healing came through apostles. We understand this because the book of Acts is a record of the acts of the apostles.

The Apostle James gave special instructions to another group who might have gifts of healing. These were the elders.

“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church” (James 5:14, KJV). This teaches us that the Holy Spirit will give gifts of healing through church leaders. The Holy Spirit may also use any believer in a gift of healing, as he did Ananias.

What Types of Sickness, Disease, and Infirmity May Be Healed?

“Jesus went. . . healing every disease and sickness” (Matthew 9:35). The same thing happened in the early church. “And crowds of people came in from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing those who were ill or who had evil spirits in them; and they were all healed.”

Now, we will look at the different sicknesses, diseases, and infirmities healed in Acts.

  1. Lameness {infirmity) Acts 3:2.
  2. Illness (sickness) Acts 5:16.
  3. Palsy (paralysis), lameness (infirmity) Acts 8:7.
  4. Blindness (disease or infirmity) Acts 9:17-18.
  5. Palsy (paralysis) Acts 9:33.
  6. Lameness (infirmity) Acts 14:8-10.
  7. Fever (illness), dysentery (disease) Acts 28:8.

We can safely say, there is no sickness, disease or infirmity that cannot be healed through the gifts of healing.

Some mention should be made of gifts of healing. This gift is mentioned three times in the twelfth chapter of 1 Corinthians (vs. 9, 28, 30), and each time it is in the plural. It is the only gift of the nine of which this is true. Each of the others is a gift. Although we do not know the reason for the particular distinction between this and the other gifts, we can be sure that the gifts of healing are enough for every need.

It may well be that gifts mean that certain believers are used by the Holy Spirit to heal certain kinds of sickness, disease or infirmity. For instance, in Acts 8, Philip was used of the Spirit to heal lame people, and those with palsy. In more recent times, a man greatly used in gifts of healing was Smith Wigglesworth. He was used in healing internal sickness and diseases.

At this point let us remind ourselves, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

How Do Gifts of Healing Work?

We must learn there is no set pattern. This is seen as we examine the main cases of healing in the New Testament. There, healing was by

  1. a touch, a spoken word (Matthew 8:3).
  2. a spoken word (Matthew 8:5-13). (Note: The person who was healed was not present to hear the spoken word.)
  3. a touch (Matthew 8:15)
  4. a touch, a spoken word (Matthew 9:29).
  5. a command (Matthew 12:13).
  6. placing mud on blind eyes and a spoken word (John 9:6).
  7. a command, a lift with the hand (Acts 3:6-9).
  8. a spoken word, a command (Acts 9:34).

We note the most common method of healing happened by the spoken word. It is important to remember this. A touch with the hand, a lift, or some other act may help another’s faith. However, it seems God works most through a spoken word. The early church leaders did their works by a spoken word. It seems reasonable that God will still direct the gifts of healing to people in the same way.

Our conclusion, then, is that the gifts of healing are manifested through believers as the Holy Spirit leads.

How Does a Believer Know when He Has a Gift of Healing to Share?

Again, as with other gifts of the Spirit, we believe the person who is to manifest the gift will sense it deeply in his own spirit. Samson’s experience in the Old Testament illustrates this. “The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands” (Judges 15:14). Samson was not used by the Spirit to heal. He was used, however, to do mighty deeds. From his experience we can get some idea of what our experience will be as the same Spirit seeks to manifest Himself through us.

No believer has the gifts of healing at his own command. He has them only as the Spirit wills. Some may experience the operation of the gifts more often than others. But this is because they have learned to move by faith under the Spirit’s direction. This is a great secret.

Purpose for the Gifts of Healing

The over-all purpose for all of the Spirit’s gifts, as we have seen, is the building up of Christ’s body. Some gifts do this in one way, some in another. The gifts of healing do it by enabling the members to be healthy and well physically. The whole body of believers is helped as individual members prosper physically

Gifts of healing are often present in an evangelist’s ministry. They attract people to the hearing of the gospel. Early believers prayed, “Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:30). Then God answered, “The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people…more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number” (Acts 5:12, 14).

So, we see the purposes of the gifts of healing are to meet the physical needs of the body of Christ, and to help bring people to Jesus.

Working of Miracles

Working of Miracles Defined

“to another miraculous powers” (1 Corinthians 12:10). The King James Version says, “to another the working of miracles.”

The Greek word for “miracles” is dunameis. From that word comes the English word “dynamite.” Dynamite is an explosive. It has great power. It is used for moving great rocks, for destroying old buildings, and for many other purposes.

The word is used in the phrase “working of miracles” as meaning “supernatural power to do things which are otherwise impossible.”

Howard Carter says, “The working of miracles . . . is a supernatural manifestation of the power of God that alters (that is, changes), suspends (that is, lays aside), or in some other way controls the laws of nature.”

Working of Miracles Explained and Illustrated

By looking at the accounts of some miracles in the Bible, we can increase our understanding.

Miracles in the Old Testament

Many miracles are described in the Old Testament. We will list only a few. Read each story carefully.

  1. Moses brought water out of a rock (Exodus 17:1-6).
  2. Israel crossed the Jordan on dry land (Joshua 3:l5-l7).
  3. Joshua made the sun stand still (Joshua 10:12-13).
  4. Elijah prayed down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:37-38).
  5. Elisha made an axe-head float (2 Kings 6:1-7).

Miracles in the Life of Jesus

Listed below are a few of the miracles connected with the ministry of Jesus.

  1. Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11).
  2. Jesus calmed the stormy sea (Matthew 8:23-26).
  3. Jesus and Peter walked upon the water (Matthew 14:22-31).
  4. Jesus fed many people with a boy’s lunch (John 6:5-14).
  5. Jesus raised a man from the dead (John 11:1-44).

Miracles in the Early Church

Miracles in the Old Testament might be explained by the fact that great prophets performed most of them. Jesus’ miracles might be explained by the fact that He was the Son of God. The miracles in Acts must be explained some other way. Most of those in Acts were done through very common men—fishermen, tax collectors, and the like. How did they do miracles?

Before we answer that question, let’s look at several miracles which are described in Acts. Note that it is not easy to say which mighty work is a miracle and which is a gift of healing. And it makes no difference, because they flow out of the same Spirit. “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them” (Acts 19:11, 12). Here is a list.

  1. Escape from prison (Acts 5:17-20).
  2. Dead raised (Acts 9:36-41).
  3. Escape from prison (Acts 12:5-17).
  4. An enemy of God blinded (Acts 13:6-11).
  5. No problem from snake bite (Acts 28:1-6).

There is one secret to all of these miracles being fulfilled. It is not the using of great men. It is not men with unusual powers of their own. It is not even the ability which men get in school. It is simply the power of the Holy Spirit. The “dynamite” of the Spirit is manifested to meet a great need in behalf of Christ’s body. Often it was to move some obstacle and continue spreading the gospel.

Let us look at one of the miracles in Acts more closely. It is the raising of Dorcas from the dead in Acts 9.

After Dorcas had died, Peter was called on to help. Peter knew he could not raise the dead, but he knew the power of God could. He also knew that if he was to see a miracle he must pray. Prayer would make him a channel for God’s power, so a miracle could happen. So he prayed. Then it happened. The Holy Spirit moved deep in Peter’s spirit. He spoke to Dorcas! Her eyes, long closed in death, opened, and she sat up very much alive!

In another lesson we learned that omniscient means all-knowing. God is all-knowing. Now we add a new word omnipotent. It means “all-powerful.” God is all-powerful.

By the gift of working of miracles, the Holy Spirit manifests the power of God through the believer. That power makes the impossible happen.

Purpose for the Working of Miracles

Why have miracles? Some say because they would like to see a miracle. They want to see it because they enjoy the unusual. Others want miracles for other very selfish reasons. At one time, Jesus was not received by the people in a certain village. The disciples were angry. They asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”” (Luke 9:54). Notice Jesus’ response. “But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village” (Luke 9:55-56). In other words, Jesus was saying, “No miracles will be done for selfish purposes.”

Miracles, like all other gifts of the Spirit, have one leading purpose. That is to build up Christ’s body. One of the ways working of miracles does this is by removing obstacles which hinder the gospel. When believers need miracles for this reason, they will see more miracles.

In Acts 5, the obstacle to spreading the gospel was a set of prison doors. The apostles were in prison for preaching. Through a miracle the obstacle was removed. The prison doors were opened, and they went on preaching.

In Acts 13:6-11, Paul was seeking to convert a certain governor. Yet, he ran into an obstacle. A magician, named BarJesus, tried to turn the governor away from the gospel. The Holy Spirit used Paul to work a miracle, by making Bar-Jesus blind. In that way the obstacle was removed.


Prophecy Defined

“. . .to another prophecy. . .” (1 Corinthians 12:10).

According to one Bible scholar, prophecy means “prediction,” that is foretelling. Another Bible scholar says it means “public exposition,” that is preaching or forthtelling. We will understand best what prophecy means if we understand how it is both foretelling and forthtelling.

Prophecy should not be thought to be the same as ordinary preaching. Like the other gifts of the Spirit it is supernatural.

Ralph M. Riggs, an American Bible scholar, says prophecy is “speaking one’s own language in the power of the Holy Spirit, or divine ability to forthtell as well as to foretell.”

Prophecy Explained and Illustrated

In Lesson 3 of this course, we studied the gifts of ministry. We learned that one of those gifts was prophets. “He gave . . . some prophets” (KJV). Christ, the Head of the church, is named as giver of these gifts. Now we are studying the gifts of the Spirit. In our present lesson, the giver of the gift of prophecy is the Holy Spirit. “To one there is given through the Spirit . . . prophecy” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).

What is the difference between prophets and prophecy? The gift of prophets is the gift of full-time leadership to the body. The gift of prophecy is the gift of inspired utterance. The gift of prophets is for a rather small number of the body’s members. The gift of prophecy can be experienced by all of the members. “you can all prophesy in turn” (1 Corinthians 14:31).

The difference between the office of the prophet and the gift of prophecy is this. All who have the office of the prophet will prophesy. But all who prophesy do not have the office of a prophet.

Prophecy, because of its nature, is perhaps the greatest of the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. Paul says, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” (1 Corinthians 14:1). The King James Version says, “Desire spiritual gifts, but rather (most of all) that ye may prophesy.”

So we see, prophecy is a very important gift. We must seek to understand it well. It is especially important because it is the greatest of all nine gifts for building up the body. It is the gift which makes the body come alive in a special way. Through it believers are built up and sinners are moved toward God. “But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand[a] comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner” (1 Corinthians 14:24).

Purpose for the Gift of Prophecy

  1. Forthtelling. The great value of forthtelling was made clear on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was poured out, and almost at once the gift of prophecy was manifested in Peter’s sermon. That was no ordinary sermon. A day earlier Peter could not have preached it. At the heart of his sermon was the mighty power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Peter spoke ideas that were not his own. They came from the Spirit.

Prophecy is a natural result of being filled with the Spirit. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he prophesied. When the Ephesian disciples in Acts 19 were filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke with tongues, and prophesied (Acts 19:6, KJV).

True prophesying is done with God’s ability and power. Believers may be talented for speaking. They may be able to preach great sermons. But no one can truly prophesy apart from the Holy Spirit (See 1 Peter 4:11).

The believer who prophesies speaks to men. “But everyone who prophesies speaks to men” (1 Corinthians 14:3, KJV). The question is, what does he speak to men? What does he tell forth? He speaks and tells forth the Word of God. But don’t all preachers and teachers do that? Yes. However, in prophecy, it is not so much what or who speaks forth as it is how he speaks forth.

Through the gift of prophecy the Holy Spirit can also bring to the speaker’s mind what he would not have thought of himself. Surely that was true of Peter’s great sermon described in Acts 2.

  1. Foretelling. To foretell means to tell something before it happens. We have already learned that God knows everything. This means He knows the past, the present, and the future. Man does not by his power know the future. Only through the Holy Spirit can he know something of the future. Through the gift of prophecy, the Holy Spirit can cause a believer to speak forth something about the future.

The Old Testament prophets often foretold the future. Telling the future was a great part of their ministry. Usually the purpose was to awaken people to their need of God. Jonah was one of those who foretold the future. He prophesied, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned” (Jonah 3:4).

Evil men sometimes predict the future. They are called fortune-tellers. Paul had an experience one day with such a person. “Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future” (Acts 16:16). God is very much against this way of telling the future. It is of Satan. As believers, we must not have anything to do with such things, “…Let no one be found among you …who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD…” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12).

Satan is always a destroyer. He seeks to destroy faith. He seeks to destroy believers. He seeks to destroy the body of Christ. Any foretelling of the future he may inspire is aimed at destroying. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

God’s work is always to save. Sometimes through the gift of prophecy the Holy Spirit saves the body of Christ from suffering. (Read Acts 11:27-30.) At other times, through the gift of prophecy, His body is prepared for coming suffering. (Read Acts 20:23; 21:10-13.)

Believers can be tempted to use the gift of prophecy to help them know what they should do. This is not a safe thing to do. We will learn more about this when we study the gift of tongues.

Instructions for Use of the Gift of Prophecy

1 Corinthians 14:29-40

  1. Prophecy must be according to the faith we have. (See Romans 12:6.) The Holy Spirit can work through the believer only according to the faith in the believer’s heart. To prophesy without faith is to speak forth out of our own hearts. This makes it very important for the believer to pray much, to know God’s Word, and to be filled with the Spirit.
  2. Prophecy must be limited and judged. (See 1 Corinthians 14:29.) God desires that there be order in the public service. It appears Paul is saying, “Don’t just go on and on prophesying. Give time for those who sit by to judge.” Judge means “to judge correctly.”

Other believers are to judge or evaluate with careful thought what may be said in a prophecy. Why? Because those who prophesy are human. They can speak by the Holy Spirit. But, people may also speak out of their own spirit or even out of an evil spirit. Those who sit by are to listen and decide, with the help of God’s Word, if what is said agrees with the Word. If it does not agree with the Word they are to cast it aside. For example, if a prophecy was given telling the people they should curse the name of Jesus, that prophecy must be cast aside.

  1. All may prophesy. (See 1 Corinthians 14:31 and 1 Corinthians 14:5, 24.) This tells us every believer may be used by the Holy Spirit to prophesy. The gift is not only for church leaders, it is for all Spirit-filled believers.
  2. Those who have a prophecy to give do not have to speak forth. The person who prophesies decides when he will prophesy, and when he will not prophesy. He is not under some sort of spell which makes him unable to use his own will. Read 1 Corinthians 14:32-33.
  3. Those who are used by the Holy Spirit in the gift of prophecy must be willing to take instruction and to be corrected. (See 1 Corinthians 14:37.)

Purpose for the Gift of Prophecy

The gifts of the Spirit are for building up the body. Each gift has its own special way for building up the body. Paul tells us how prophecy does this. “But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3). The King James Version says, “He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort” The believer who prophesies speaks forth to encourage and to comfort others. As others are encouraged and comforted, they are built up spiritually. And as they are built up spiritually, the whole body is helped.

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