Introduction: Last week, we discussed the baptism of the Holy Spirit
and, in a general way, we discussed the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
This week I promised you that we would get into a study of the
specific gifts. What are they? How do they work? Which one(s) do you
think you have? Why are some of them hiding? Let’s get specific and
dive in to our study of the Bible!

  1. Overview of the Gifts

    1. Last week we learned from 1 Corinthians 12:7 that gifts of
      the Holy Spirit are given for the “common good,” not the
      glory of a specific individual or individuals. Let’s
      continue and read 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. What gifts do
      you see here? List them. (Wisdom, knowledge, faith,
      healing, powers, prophecy, distinguishing spirits,
      tongues, and interpretation of tongues.)

      1. What grouping do you see in these gifts? Do they fall
        naturally into general categories? (Wisdom,
        knowledge, distinguishing spirits and prophecy are
        gifts of intellect. Faith, healing and powers are
        gifts of demonstration. Tongues and interpretation
        of tongues are gifts of communication.)

      2. Would the importance of some of these gifts change
        with time and circumstances?

        1. Would it change with advanced technology? For
          example, in the class discussion last week,
          someone suggested that a gifted surgeon
          displayed the power of the Holy Spirit. Others
          disagreed. Would gifted doctors living in an
          area reduce the need for the gift of healing?
          (This is certain: without the presence of gifted
          doctors, the only way difficult cases could be
          healed would be through the special healing of
          the Holy Spirit.)

          1. What role do doctors play in healing? (I’m
            reading a popular book about the history
            of influenza. It brought into focus the
            fact that the great scientific
            breakthroughs in vaccines were simply a
            way to trigger the natural defense systems
            of the body. God has given our bodies
            extraordinary powers of healing.)

        2. If we don’t see some of these spiritual gifts
          now, what explanation do you have for that? Are
          they hiding because we are unworthy? (Read
          1 Corinthians 12:11.)

    2. Let’s turn next to the specific gifts.

  2. Gifts of Intellect

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:8. What do you understand to be the
      gift of “the message of wisdom?” (The Greek can be
      understood as “wise words.”)

      1. Whose wisdom are we talking about? Is this just the
        old, wise man (or woman) in the church congregation?
        (This is God’s wisdom working through an individual.)

      2. Is this a special gift of the moment, or is this the
        result of the working of the Holy Spirit in a
        person’s mind for decades? (It could be a moment of
        inspiration of wisdom, but I tend to believe that
        those with “wise words” are those who have been lead
        and taught by the Spirit for a long time.)

      3. Would this be a gift for preachers? (It would be
        helpful for sermons to be wise. But, this would seem
        to be a gift to help direct the church. We are not
        talking just about spiritual instruction, but more
        about practical decision-making.)

    2. Look again at 1 Corinthians 12:8. What do you think is the
      “message of knowledge?” (The Greek can be read “word of
      insight.” This is the illumination of an issue.)

      1. How does it differ from the “message of wisdom?”

      2. Do you know someone who possesses a lot of
        information, but is not very wise? (In this context,
        I think the difference between wisdom and knowledge
        are not as great as they are when we use them in
        secular terms. Here, the insight is from the Holy
        Spirit. The difference is that the word of insight
        helps us to understand the words/mind of God. The
        word of wisdom helps us to understand what we should
        do with our understanding of the will of God.)

        1. As an example of this, we know that God does not
          want us to lie. But how we apply this knowledge
          might vary with the application of the wisdom of
          God, right? (Compare John 16:12-13. Jesus made a
          judgment on how much of the truth He would
          reveal to the disciples at that present time.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 12:10. What do you think is the gift of
      prophecy? (Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-3. Paul tells us that
      the gift of prophecy is of particular value. It seems that
      in large part it combines the gift of wisdom and knowledge
      for the “strengthening, encouragement and comfort” of the

    4. Re-read 1 Corinthians 12:10. What do you think is the gift
      of the “distinguishing between spirits?”

      1. What kind of “spirits” are we talking about? What
        kind of a problem does this address?

        1. Are the “spirits” only “the Holy Spirit” and
          “what Joe thinks is right, but says the “spirit”
          told him?

        2. Or, can there be a darker side to this? Can the
          “spirits” include demons? (It could be all of
          these. I believe people have told me the
          “spirit” led them to do something that was
          merely their own preference or desire. See
          1 John 4:1. On the other hand, 1 Timothy 4:1
          speaks of “deceiving spirits and things taught
          by demons.” Distinguishing between spirits is a
          way to tell the Holy Spirit from all contenders
          – both evil and foolish.)

  3. Gifts of Demonstration

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:9. What do you think is the gift of
      “faith?” (Be careful here. It hardly seems that Paul could
      be writing about “saving faith” because we all have this
      if we are saved. To get a better idea of the type of
      faith referred to here, read Matthew 17:20 and
      1 Corinthians 13:2.)

      1. What kind of faith do you see in Matthew 17:20 and
        1 Corinthians 13:2? (This is faith that causes
        miracles. It makes mountains move. It casts out

      2. Many times over the years I have been with other
        elders when we anointed someone with oil to heal
        them. ( James 5:14) None of the targets of healing
        jumped up immediately healed when the anointing
        ended. Indeed, some died later. My wife told me
        that, like a pack of cigarettes, I should make an
        advance disclosure of this to all who ask me to help
        anoint them: “This has never worked when I was doing
        this before.”

        1. Is it “okay” not to have the gift of faith?
          (Read 1 Corinthians 12:11. The Holy Spirit
          determines who gets what gifts.)

        2. Let’s examine James 5:14-16. Is James writing
          about the gift of faith when he says, “the
          prayer offered in faith?” (I hope so. I would
          normally pass my experience off as weakness in
          my faith or my sinfulness, but this week I read
          a Philip Yancy article in the back of the latest
          issue of Christianity Today. Yancy was
          interviewing a 90-year old pillar of faith in
          the evangelical community who admitted he had
          never seen a real, live, instant miracle of
          healing. But, he was still looking and

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 12:9. How is the gift of healing
      different from the gift of faith? (It seems to be either a
      “lesser” gift or a specific manifestation of the gift of
      faith. Word Pictures in the New Testament ties this gift
      of healing to James 5:14, thus suggesting that James was
      specifically referring to specific spiritual gifts and not
      the ordinary faith possessed by every Christian.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 12:10. What is the gift of “miraculous
      powers” and how does it differ from the gifts of faith and
      healing? (Read in Acts 13:8-11 what Paul did to Elymas
      through the power of the Holy Spirit. Not all miracles
      are “positive” in their effect.)

  4. Gifts of Communication

    1. Again look at 1 Corinthians 12:10. Assume the gift of
      tongues simply refers to a foreign language, can you
      imagine a situation where you would need the gift of
      interpretation of tongues? (Yes. I once accidentally
      showed up at a Korean church. I thought it was an English-speaking church. It would have been helpful for me to have
      the gift of interpretation then!)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 14:2-5. Is Paul talking about foreign
      languages here? (The argument that Paul is speaking only
      of a foreign language is a hard sell. Why would Paul say
      that this person only speaks “to God?” Why would Paul
      write “no one understands him?” Why would Paul call a
      foreign language “mysteries with his spirit?”)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 14:9-12. However you understand the
      gift of tongues, what is Paul’s “bottom line” on this
      gift? (You need to seek to have those gifts that can be
      understood because those kinds of gifts build up the
      church. Unintelligible words do nothing to build up the
      church, but rather create confusion. The gift of tongues
      which helps the common good is the gift of communication.)

    4. Friend, what are you doing to build up the church? We all
      have at least one spiritual gift to help build up our
      church. Will you determine today to exercise your
      spiritual gift(s) and start building?

  5. Next week: The Fruit of the Holy Spirit.