Some people will function in one or more of the nine “power tool” gifts on a nearly permanent basis: Oral Roberts and Kathryn Kuhlman and the gifts of healing, for example. Others will operate in different gifts on different occasions, such as pastors or revivalists.
Randy Clark operates in the gift of knowledge a great deal, and it is frequently combined with gifts of healing in an unusual way – he “feels” a migraine, or a hip pain, etc., and knows someone in the congregation is suffering from that ailment. As he calls it out, that person responds in faith and healing occurs.
The Holy Spirit makes these gifts available for the church but he won’t force any of them on anyone. If you want him to use you, ask him. I Cor. 12:31 tells us to covet (zealously desire) the best (most useful, advantageous) gifts. If you are building a house, what would be the most useful – a power saw or a hammer? It depends on what you’re doing. God’s tools are appropriate for the task and available to those who request them.
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Cor. 12:7-11 NIV)
The first group of these is Word Gifts, where God enables a believer to say certain things:
• The gift of prophecy — a message from God for the group or for an individual.
• The gift of tongues — God’s message in a language unknown to the person speaking.
• The gift of interpreting tongues — after God’s message in tongues is given, the person or someone else gives the meaning of it – usually not a word-for-word translation, but an interpretation.
The second group of gifts is Sign Gifts, where God enables a believer to do certain things:
• The gift of faith — God enables a person at a given moment to believe something without human reasoning or logic. The result is that he then prays or speaks (commands) something in the name of Jesus and what he asks or says will come to pass. This kind of faith is not natural, reasonable or logical: it is supernatural.
• The gifts of healing — enables a believer to be God’s instrument to bring healing to someone who is sick, whether spiritual, psychological or physical. Notice – this is the only gift that is plural.
• The gift of miracles — a manifestation of God’s power whereby some obstacle is removed or opportunity seized in a way that could only come from God’s intervention into human affairs. This gift is a sign of God’s presence and power and, therefore, often a source of belief to many.
The third group is Intellectual Gifts, where God enables a believer to know certain things:
• The word of knowledge — God gives a believer certain information he could / would not get from natural sources.
• The word of wisdom — God gives a believer insight into His mind or plan in a given situation and enables him to put this insight into words of advice, understanding, or direction. For instance, how to use the information he gave in a word of knowledge.
• The gift of discerning of spirits — God reveals to a believer the source of certain behavior or action, whether it comes from the Holy Spirit, a human spirit, or an evil spirit.
These gifts are not something we possess inherently like a talent or a learned skill, but ways in which God works through a person as needed.
They are meant for the good of others, not simply for – and sometimes not even including – the person through which God provides a gift. (I like to think of this as being a conduit for the Holy Spirit’s power, like an electrical power cord.)
Our motive in allowing the Holy Spirit to use us in these gifts is simple — love. God’s love for people who need His help, and our love for Him, allowing him to use us to demonstrate his love to others.
We will look at these gifts and how they are useful in prayer and intercession in more detail in coming weeks.