Introduction to Gifts of the Holy Spirit

How did Jesus do all the miracles, healings, deliverances that he did? As God? Or as a human being empowered by the Holy Spirit? If as God, then no one else could have done them – but they did, disciples in the New Testament, and prophets in the Old Testament.

Philippians 2:6-7 says, “Who (Jesus), being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Jesus did not begin his public ministry until after being baptized by John the Baptist, after receiving the Holy Spirit, and after being tempted in the desert by Satan. He needed not just the authority his Father God had given him, he needed the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work he came to do.

One of the works Jesus came to do is prayer. Intercession. Did he need the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit to carry out that work? I think he did.

Throughout the gospels you can spot the various gifts (tools, equipment) of the Spirit in use during Jesus’ ministry. There won’t be a footnote saying “This was that gift,” but it was.

Under the mantle of Jesus, the disciples were able to do the same types of things Jesus did. How? They weren’t God… before Jesus died, they were using his extended power and authority. After Jesus died, they were using the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

There are three basic categories of Gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in the New Testament: ministry positions, ministry activities / functions, and ministry equipment (“power tools”). Lists can be found in:

Eph. 4:11
Romans 12:6-8, 13
I Cor. 12:28
I Peter 4:7-11
I Cor. 12:7-11

Whether praying for someone in person, or interceding for someone privately, God’s equipment is useful and beneficial. The gifts all originate in God – they are not worked up by the believer. They are given to help the body of Christ as a whole, whether the prayer is targeted to an individual or a group.

Ephesians 4:11 includes ministry positions in the body of Christ, jobs that may be permanent assignments or temporary ones. (The apostle Paul was an evangelist sometimes, a pastor sometimes, an apostle sometimes, a writer sometimes, and a teacher all the time.) Some believe there are five of these positions, others think pastor and teacher are combined into one – i.e., that a pastor should be able to teach as well as preach.

Romans 12 includes functions / activities in the body of Christ that God may call you to do, including prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, showing mercy and hospitality. The call to perform a task will of necessity include the ability to fulfill that task. Some of these activities may be long-term ministry positions, some may be temporary assignments.

Another list in I Cor. 12:28 includes apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helping, guidance, and different kinds of tongues. I Peter 4:7-11 includes hospitality along with speaking and ministering (serving). As you see, some of those are ministry positions, the others are equipment or enablements to help you fulfill your current task.

The list of spiritual gifts found in I Cor. 12:7-11 could be called “God’s power tools.” These are not positions, they are equipment given to a believer by the Holy Spirit for a current assignment. They may be given to a person occasionally, frequently, or nearly always – but whatever the need is at the time, the Holy Spirit provides whatever is appropriate to meet that need at that time. And thus they may change for that person from time to time.