Gifts of the Holy Spirit - What, Why, and How (Article 19-18)
Over recent months, I have been moved to write much on the Holy Spirit. There are many misconceptions about what the Holy Spirit is and does. First to note is that the Holy Spirit is not an “it,” but a “He.” He, an equal and divine God Head, is God’s power and active force to serve His own purpose. (Micah 3:8; Luke 1:35). God sends out the Holy Spirit (His Spirit) to any place to accomplish his will—Psalm 104:30; 139:7. The Holy Spirit molds and shapes us by way of instruction and teachings to God’s will, which is to be one with Him. It’s also essential understand that until Christ’s ascension into heaven followed by the Day of the Pentecost there was no way to commune directly with God. Even Christ’s disciples had no knowledge or understanding of the Holy Spirit and its purpose until the Day of the Pentecost. "2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:1-4).
What are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit? It’s important to note that the “Gifts” of the Holy Spirit are not to be confused with the “Fruits” of the Holy Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control spoke to in Galatians 5:22-26. The gifts of the Holy Spirit include Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miraculous Powers, Prophecy, Distinguishing Between Spirits, Speaking in Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are changes in one’s nature, attitude and thinking as an outcropping in our abiding in Christ and taking on His Spirit (the Holy Spirit). The gifts of the Holy Spirit, however, are supernatural gifts given by the Holy Spirit to accomplish specific things according to God’s will.
Why Do We Receive the Gifts of the Spirit? Romans 12:3-8 addresses why the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are necessary and their purpose. "4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” In these verses, Paul provides an analogy of comparing our body and its various “members” and functions with abiding in the Body of Christ, which is the church, with He as the High Priest. Christ’s Body consists of many members, with each member having a specific function to perform. The specific tasks and roles are purposed to build up the Body of Christ, by way of service to Him. 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:7-13).
With tasks and functions to perform, each member is equipped to perform his assigned task and role within the Body of Christ. Spiritual gifts equip us to accomplish assigned tasks and purpose. Finally, the members of Christ’s Body, although different, are to work in unison so the body may function as one until we are unified in our faith and knowledge of Christ. It is by way of our faith and knowledge of Christ can its members received the fullness of Christ.
How Are We to Receive the Gifts of Holy Spirit? The Book of Acts tells us how we are to receive the Holy Spirit as a gift of grace, but not how to receive Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Luke explains in acts the process by which to receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38). The first qualifying factor is “repentance.” Repentance means to have a change in thinking and understanding, by way of the Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Peter, and Luke) the truth – that being the teachings of Jesus Christ. As you may know, what Christ represented and taught during his short ministry ran contrary to Jewish teachings and beliefs, especially by way of how the Messiah was to appear and how eternal life is obtained. The next and last qualify factor is to be baptized. Baptism is a believer’s commitment to obedience, symbolizing one’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, death to sin, and the resurrection into a new being by way of Christ’s works on the Cross. The baptism is also a believer’s testimony to his faith in Christ, believing, “He is who He says He is.” It is from this understanding of repentance and baptism that provides understanding to John the Baptist’s cries for repentance in the wilderness followed by a ceremony of submersing believers in water.
In answering the question, how does one receive the “Gifts of the Spirit,” we must refer to Corinthians 12:7-11. "7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 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. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” These verses point out that the Holy Spirit decides what gifts are given and to whom, and for what purpose. Again, it’s essential to recall that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given according to the needs of the Body of Christ for the sole purpose of building up the Body. It is not our benefit that we receive these gifts. The gifts are given for the benefit of the Body of Christ and for its purpose.
Summary. Receiving the Holy Spirit is a gift from God by way of His Grace (unmerited favor of man). One receives the Holy Spirit through repentance (a change of thinking and understanding of the Gospel’s truths concerning Jesus Christ and His ministry) and baptism. The “Gifts of the Spirit” (not to be confused with the “Fruits of the Spirit”) are special supernatural gifts given to members in the Body of Christ (the Church, of which Christ is the High Priest). These gifts are given to equip and enable the body’s members (believers) to complete their tasks and to fulfill their roles in building up the Body of Christ. The gifts are apportioned by way of the Holy Spirit’s determination, concerning the building up the Body of Christ.
Finally, it’s important that since the gifts of the Spirit are gifts of grace, their use must be controlled by the rule of love – the greatest of all the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)