Understanding the Holy Spirit

 Leadership Empowerment School of Ministry


Empowering Those who Empower Others with a Knowledge of God and His Ways



Part 1: The Person Of The Holy Spirit


Chapter One

The Person of the Holy Spirit


1. Introduction

Sometimes there is misunderstanding in churches concerning the work of the Holy Spirit.  One reason is that His work usually secret, internal, and invisible.  He hides himself behind the Lord Jesus Christ and works on the most inward parts of man.  As Jesus said, "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:8)."


2. His Deity

A. The Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit is God

1. Isaiah 6:8-9 and Acts 28:25-26

2. Acts 5:3-4 -- to lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God

3. Luke 1:5 -- the "power of the Most High"


B. The names given the Spirit show him to be God.

1. "The Spirit of Christ" -- John 14:26; Rom 8:9

2. "The Comforter" -- John 14-16 (14:16)

3. "The Spirit of Promise" -- Ezekiel 36:27; Joel 2:28; Luke 24:49; Galatians 3:14

4. "The Spirit of Truth" -- John 14:17

5. "The Spirit of Grace" -- Heb 10:29; Zech 12:10

6. "The Spirit of Life" -- Romans 8:2; Revelation 11:11

7. "The Spirit of Adoption" -- Romans 8:15

8. "The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation" -- Eph 1:17


C. His attributes and activities show him to be God.

1. He is eternal -- Heb 9:14

2. He is omniscient (all-knowing) -- 1 Cor 2:10-11

3. He is omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) -- Ps 139:7-10

4. He is omnipotent (all-powerful) -- Luk 1:35


3. His Personality

The Holy Spirit is described as the third member of the Trinity (Mat 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14).  He is equal in importance with the Father and Son. As are the Father and Son, he is a person with intellect, emotions, and will.  Attributes that show the personality of the Holy Spirit are:


A. He has a mind -- Romans 8:27

B. He has thoughts -- 1 Corinthians 2:11

C. He has a will -- 1 Corinthians 12:11

D. He loves -- Romans 15:30

E. He reveals -- 2 Peter 1:21

F. He teaches -- John 14:26

G. He speaks -- Revelation 2:7

H. He intercedes -- Romans 8:26

I. He commands -- Acts 16:6-7

J. He testifies about Jesus -- John 15:26

K. He leads -- Galatians 5:18

L. He can be grieved -- Ephesians 4:30

M. He may be blasphemed -- Matthew 12:31-32

N. He may be resisted -- Acts 7:51

O. He may be insulted --Hebrews 10:29

P. He may be quenched -- 1 Thessalonians 5:19


4. Symbols for the Holy Spirit

A. Fire -- Isaiah 4:4; Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; Acts 2:3-4.

Fire involves judgment, purging, purification, boldness, and zeal.  Fire warms, lights, spreads, and consumes.  The description of the Holy Spirit as fire shows the reality of his convicting an individual of sin and regenerating and purifying that person.


B. Wind or Breath -- Eze 37:7-14; John 3:8, 20:22; Acts 2:2

This shows the mysterious, independent, powerful, and unexpected working of the Holy Spirit.  The symbol of breath vividly shows the life giving and creative power of the Spirit.


C. Water -- Ezekiel 37:7-10, 47:1; John 3:5, 4:14, 7:38-39.

The Holy Spirit is a river of life.  As such, he cleanses, refreshes,  and maintains life.


D. Oil -- Lk 4:18; Acts 10:38; 2 Cor 1:21; Heb 1:9; 1 Jn 2:20, 27

These passages refer to the anointing in the Old Testament for priests, prophets, and kings.  Here, the Holy Spirit is providing the preparation needed for the ministry of believers.  Oil describes usefulness, fruitfulness, healing, beauty, life, and transformation. 


E. A Dove -- Mat 3:16; Lk 3:22.

The dove is the symbol for peace.  Represented as a dove, the Spirit is shown as gentle, tender, innocent, mild, pure, and patient.


F. A Seal -- 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13, 4:30; 2 Tim 2:19.

This legal symbol represents ownership and the completion of a transaction.  The Holy Spirit shows that Christians are God's property.  It conveys security and assurance for the believer (Rom 8:16).


G. A Pledge -- 2 Cor 1:21-22, 5:1-5; Eph 1:13-14.

The Spirit represents only the first part of the Christian's inheritance.  The Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is a guarantee of eternal life. 


These descriptions of the Spirit are meant to show what He is like and what He does.  We do not say that the Spirit Himself is fire or a dove or oil, but that in some ways He is like those things.  They help us to understand Him.


5. We Need the Holy Spirit for Ministry

The apostles had been with Jesus daily for three years, had heard all of his teaching, had learned from his example, and had been involved in his mighty deeds and ministry.  But Jesus claimed that this was not enough.  He said that they should not begin their own ministry after his death and resurrection until they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).  The Holy Spirit would enable them to minister in power (Acts 1:8).



"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses..."    --  Acts 1:8



Study the following passages about the Holy Spirit, following the three steps of Bible Study.  Write down the main point(s) of each one, and one or two ways you will apply this to your own life:

John 14:15-27


Main Points










John 16:5-16


Main Points











Chapter Two

The Holy Spirit in History


1. The Spirit in the Old Testament

The Holy Spirit worked differently and played a different role in the Old Testament than in the New.  That is not to say that the Holy Spirit is different now than he was in the Old Testament era.  He is still the same God, but his role has changed to some degree.  The nature of God never changes, it is always consistent (Malachi 3:6).  That does not mean, however that he does not change his manner of interacting with people.  This fact is true when speaking specifically of the Holy Spirit also.


A. The Holy Spirit was Creative

1. Participated in creation of world -- Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 33:3, 104:29-30; Isaiah 32:15. 


2. Involved in sustaining life -- Job 33:4 claims, "The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life."  Whether Christian or unbeliever, every person is sustained physically by the Spirit's creative and abiding power (See also Eze 37:10; Dan 5:23; Acts 17:28).


B. The Holy Spirit Inspired and Empowered

1. Inspired the words of the prophets

a. A prophet is a person who allowed himself to be used to speak the words of God (1 Sam10:6, 10; Eze 2:2).


b. A prophet spoke to the people all that God revealed.


c. The prophet of God is contrasted to false prophets in Eze 13:2-7.  Here, false prophets are said to prophesy from their own minds, without inspiration from the Spirit.


d. Inspired the writers of Scripture.  The Scriptures were written in perfect accuracy and with the Spirit's divine authority

-- 1 Pet 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Tim 3:16


2. Empowered those working in the Lord's behalf.

a. Bezaleel in building God's tabernacle (Ex 31:3-5)


b. Gideon and others to act as judges (Judges 6:34)


c. David to be king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:13)


d. Joseph, Moses' elders, & Joshua with administrative abilities (Gen 41:38; Num 11:25; Deut 34:9).


e. The Israelites to wage war against her enemies (Jud 3:10, 11:29)


2. The Spirit in the Life of Christ

A. The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus for ministry.

He did not simply come upon Jesus from time to time, but Jesus was filled with the Spirit -- Luke 1:32-34


B. The Holy Spirit's role before the ministry of Jesus

1. The birth of John the Baptist

a. Birth was miraculous -- Luke 1:36

b. John was filled with the Spirit from birth -- Luke 1:15

c. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit -- Luke 1:41

d. Zechariah was filled with the Spirit and prophesied -- Lk 1:67


2. The birth of Jesus

a. Mary conceived through the power of the Spirit -- Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35

b. Simeon -- Luke 2:25; 2:26-27


C. The Holy Spirit's Role at the Baptism of Jesus -- Matt 3:11-16; Mark 1:8-10; Luke 3:16-22


D. The Holy Spirit's Role during the Ministry of Jesus

1. The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus for ministry -- Lk 4:18


2. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where He was tempted -- Lk 4:1, Mark 1:12

a. full of the Spirit as He went

b. returned "in the power of the Spirit" -- Lk 4:14


3. The Spirit gave power to heal, deliver, teach, etc... -- Lk 4:18, Mt 12:25-28, Acts 10:38


4. Filled Jesus with joy -- Lk 10:21


E. The Holy Spirit's Role at the Resurrection of Jesus -- Rom 1:14, 8:11; 1 Pe 3:18


3. The Spirit at Pentecost

A. Jesus poured the Holy Spirit on believers -- Acts 1:8.

This power was given that the disciples would spread the news of Jesus and his kingdom throughout the earth.


B. Pentecost saw the foundation of the Church by Jesus and through the Holy Spirit.

No longer would the Spirit "come upon" God's followers at various times in their lives.  The Spirit would indwell each believer. The giving of the Spirit to believers by Christ set these people apart.



Part 2: The Work Of The Holy Spirit


Chapter Three

The Indwelling Spirit

The coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 is very important for believers today.  Not only was it the founding of the church, but it was also the empowering of the church.  The church was created to carry out and continue Christ's ministry.  Of course, it would be impossible for a mere group of men and women to continue this ministry without divine enabling.  That empowerment came in the person of the Holy Spirit, given and sent by the Lord Jesus Christ.  That Spirit started the church some 2,000 years ago, and it is that same Spirit who sustains it to this day.



*. The Spirit indwells us to produce in us the CHARACTER OF CHRIST


*. The Spirit empowers us to perform through us the MINISTRY OF CHRIST.


1. The Indwelling of the Spirit

The Spirit takes residence in the heart of the believer upon conversion in order to transform the new Christian into the character of Jesus.  This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is new to the present age.  It was not like that in the Old Testament.  In John 14:17, Jesus told his disciples that the Spirit who was at that time "abiding with you" would one day "be in you."


During the Old Testament age, the Spirit of God was with his people and "came upon" them from time to time.  But in Ezekiel 36:25-27, God promised that he would one day put his Spirit IN his people.  This prophecy saw its fulfillment in Acts chapter two.


This means that every Christian has the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in his innermost being.  That is why Paul refers to the body of a believer as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).


He dwells in us to produce in us the character of Jesus.  This includes his love, patience, righteousness, his compassion, gentleness, and all of the other character traits that can be ascribed to the Lord.  In Jer 31:33, God promised that the time would come when he would write his law on the hearts of his people.  He meant that God would give us the desire to follow Him, and also the ability to do so. We would not follow God only because of an external law, but from an internal reality.  It is through the indwelling of the Spirit that this is accomplished.


A. The Convicting Spirit -- Conversion

The work of the Spirit begins even before a sinner is converted.  The Holy Spirit works on the hearts of individuals to convict them of their sin.  Jesus stated it this way:

"...And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has been judged"   (John 16:7-11).


Conviction is simply convincing or proving one to be wrong..  

B. The Life-Giving Spirit -- Regeneration

1. What happens when a person 'gets saved'

At some point in life, you became a Christian through the work of the Holy Spirit.  We call this "regeneration," the giving of new life, or being born again.


Rom 8:9 tells us that if you do not have the Spirit, you do not belong to Christ.  On the other hand, if you have been reborn in the Spirit, you have been adopted by God the Father and become joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:14-17).  The moment you trusted in Jesus and received him into your life as your Lord and Savior, several things happened:


a. you were forgiven for your sins (1 John 1:9);


b. you were identified with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection so that you became a new creature (Rom 6);


c. the Holy Spirit came to dwell within your body (Rom 8:9).


2. Since the regenerative ministry of the Holy Spirit is completed at the point of salvation, this tells us three facts about this work of the Spirit.

a. Regeneration or salvation occurs at the point when Jesus is made Lord over your life.  No further prayer, seeking, or fasting is necessary.  The Spirit has translated you from the kingdom of the world to the kingdom of God, from the fleshly to the spiritual.  You are indwelt with the Spirit.


b. You do not always feel the Spirit within you.  In most cases, when you are saved and indwelt with the Spirit of God, you do not look any different, you do not sound different, and very often you do not feel different.  However, as time passes, you begin to see changes in your life that the Spirit produces. 


c. You are sealed unto the day of redemption.  This legal term shows that you are marked by the Spirit as "God's property."  The indwelling Spirit is proof that you are a Christian and a child of God.  See Rom 8:162 Cor 1:21-22Eph 1:13-14, 4:30; and 2 Tim 2:19


C. The Maturing Spirit -- Sanctification  

Sanctification is the term used to describe the process of setting something apart for special use -- the process of "making holy."  The purpose of the Spirit indwelling the believer is to mature him.  This sanctification is a gradual process, done over time, which sets the Christian apart from the world, sin, and Satan.


1. Sanctification can describe one of two things.

a. First, sanctification is something that happens the moment a person gets saved.  Once a person accepts Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, he is indwelt by the Spirit and sanctified or set apart from the world.


b. In another sense, sanctification is a process.  Even though there is a radical change in the a person when he receives the Holy Spirit, there are still the influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil to overcome.  In this sense sanctification is a maturing process.  The Holy Spirit does not work magically: He works though the continued transformation of the character of the believer.


2. The Holy Spirit works with the Christian to conform that person's character to that of Christ.

This is done through the production of the fruit of the Spirit in the life of a believer.  As the Spirit of God is given freedom in our lives, he produces within us the fruit of the Spirit -- Galatians 5:22-23.


These nine traits give us a good description of the character of Jesus.  To the extent that these characterize a person's life, that person is living a holy or righteous life.  They are described in Galatians 5 as "fruit" because they should be a very natural outcome and evidence of a persons inward faith.  A Christian should not have to force or strain to produce such fruit just as a mango tree does not have to strain itself to produce mangos.  All that is necessary is natural growth.  If we are yielded to the Spirit and growing in him, these things will be naturally produced in our lives.


2. Four Kinds of People

It is obvious that not all Christians are producing the fruit of the Spirit. What then, do we need to do to see these things become realities in our lives?  Read 1 Corinthians 2-3.  In these two chapters, Paul answers this question.  Paul had started the church in Corinth and had spent some time there before moving on to other towns and churches.  As he wrote the Christians in Corinth, some two years later, he was writing in response to some of the problems that he had heard the church was experiencing.  In chapters two and three, Paul describes the process of spiritual growth, and in so doing describes four kinds of people.


A. The Natural Man -- 1 Cor 2:14

This natural man Paul describes is the unbeliever.  Because he does not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, he cannot understand spiritual truth.  His life can be described as living in darkness, his flesh controlling his life, and as producing the works of the flesh described in Gal 5:19-21.  This is a description of every person before they are saved by Jesus.


B. The Spiritual Man -- 1 Cor 2:15

The spiritual man is the person who has so yielded his life to the Spirit's working that the Spirit reigns over every part of his life.  He is able to receive and apply spiritual truth.  The fruit of the Spirit is evident in his life and his character resembles that of Jesus.  The spiritual man should be the goal for every Christian.


C. The Weak Christian -- 1 Cor 3:1-2

Paul is looking back at the time two years before when he was with the Corinthians.  At that time, they had only been Christians for a short while. They were no longer natural men (unbelievers), but they were not yet spiritual men.  They were still very young in the Lord and were "baby" or weak Christians.  The Spirit of God was indwelling them, and because of this they were able to receive some spiritual truth.  But the Spirit had only had time to work in few areas of their lives.  The result was that they still lived in many ways like natural men.  Therefore, Paul had to give them special treatment.  He could only give them "spiritual milk" (elementary teaching on the Christian faith) because they were not yet ready for anything more advanced.


The key to what Paul says here is that this was a normal situation for a new Christian.  You do not expect a lot from a baby.  A baby cannot act like an adult or understand what an adult can understand.  God does not expect baby Christians to be mature.  As the "baby" feeds on good food, he will mature.


D. The Willful Christian -- 1 Cor 3:2-3

At the time Paul was writing this letter, it had been two years since he had left the city of Corinth.  They should have been maturing and taking on more of the character of Christ by this time.  They should have been ready to understand some of the more difficult truths of God's word.


But they had failed to grow.  They were still not able to receive solid food, because they were still worldly.  Even though they were new creatures in Christ, with the Holy Spirit indwelling them, they were acting as mere men -- men who did not have the Spirit.  Paul was telling them that something was wrong.  They had refused to submit to the Spirit and allow him to produce changes within their lives.


This type of Christian may be referred to as the willful Christian.  The willful Christian has the Holy Spirit in his life.  He has been a Christian long enough to grow, but he has resisted the Spirit.  He lives his life much like a natural man.  His life is characterized by sin and defeat; he is one of the most miserable creatures on the face of the earth.  Sooner or later, if he is going to be released from this misery and become useful to the kingdom of God, he must repent or be broken of his own willfulness by God.


3. How is the Christian to mature? 

1 Corinthians 3:2 tells us that the answer lies in receiving spiritual food.  As a spiritual book, the Bible is the source for this food.  It was inspired by the Spirit, and as we read it this same Spirit which is dwelling within us illumines its meaning.  This is the Spirit's work in the life of the believer.  He mediates God's word to the Christian so that this person understands the will of God and matures in his faith.  As we read and study the Scripture, the seed of the Word plants within our hearts and grows into the fruit of the Spirit.  If you are spending time in study of God's Word, searching it with a humble heart, and allowing it to teach you and change you, the Holy Spirit will apply it to your life and you will grow from a weak to a spiritual Christian. 


As we will discuss in the next chapter, the Spirit also works to empower Christians for the work of ministry.  But this aspect is not as important as his sanctifying work.  An example can be seen in the life of the Corinthian church.  Here is a body who had been richly gifted for ministry: miracles, healing, tongues, and prophecy were common.  But they were immature -- they had not let the Spirit mature them.  Their ministry was not nearly as effective in that city as it could have been had they been more submissive to the working of the indwelling Spirit of God.


Chapter Four

The Empowering Spirit


1. Names of the Spirit's Empowering Ministry

This empowering or equipping ministry is called by many different names.  Today, many call this the "baptism of the Holy Spirit."  Others call it the "filling of the Spirit," or "anointings" from God.  In addition to these names, the Bible frequently refers to the empowering ministry as the Spirit of God "coming upon" a person, being "poured out" on a person, or "falling upon" a person, or simply being "on" a person.


It is important not to get too concerned with names.  The Bible discusses this aspect of the Holy Spirit's work in different terms, so we can do the same: the most important fact to be grasped is not the name of this ministry, but its power.


2. The Availability of the Spirit's Empowering Ministry

The Spirit of God was active to empower men during the Old Testament era, but this ministry was very limited.  Only a chosen few were ever given the privilege of receiving the Spirit's empowering.  However God promised that the time would come when this empowering would be available to all.  We see this promised clearly in Joel chapter two.  Joel writes: "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Even on my servants, both men and women I will pour out my Spirit in those days." (Joel 2:28-29)


In Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), he declared that the time spoken of by Joel had arrived.  The empowering of the Spirit became available to all of God's people when he established his Church.  Unfortunately, while the empowering of the Spirit is available to all Christians, not all Christians experience it.  Many Christians live their entire life in defeat and frustration, never realizing that the power of God is available to them through the Holy Spirit.


3. Receiving the Empowering

A. The Time of the Empowering -- The ministry of empowering may or may not begin at salvation.

1. The Disciples

a. They seem to have been indwelt by the Spirit on the very day Jesus rose from the grave (John 20:22).


b. It was more than a month and a half later, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), that they were empowered.


2. The Samaritans

In Acts 8, many Samaritans believed and were saved.  Later on, they received the empowering of the Spirit.


3. Paul

Paul was converted to Christianity and received the indwelling Holy Spirit on the road to Damascus (Acts 9, 22:3-16, 26:9-18).  It was three days later, however, when a disciple named Ananias laid hands on Paul and prayed for him to be filled or empowered by the Holy Spirit.


4. Cornelius and His Household -- Acts 10

They were filled and empowered by the Spirit while Peter was still preaching the Gospel to them.


There is no clear rule about when the empowering of the Spirit is received.  Sometimes it happens at the same time as salvation, and sometimes later.  When we lead someone to Christ, we can also lead them to ask God for power for ministry.  Just because someone is new to the faith does not mean they should not begin their ministry immediately.


B. Empowering is not Usually Automatic or Permanent

1. Need to seek it -- Lk 11:9-13


2. One does not become an effective minister just because he is a Christian


3. The Bible says to eagerly desire spiritual gifts – we do not get them just because we are saved -- 1 Cor 14:1,39


4. After the initial baptism, there needs to be subsequent times of filling and additional anointings of the Spirit for specific purposes  (Acts 2:4, 4:29-31; Eph 5:18)

a. The disciples were filled on Pentecost, and also later (Acts 2:4; 4:29-31)


b. Eph 5:18 commands believers to "be filled with the Holy Spirit."  The word "to fill" indicates a continual and habitual practice.  It could be translated as "Be continually (or repeatedly) filled with the Holy Spirit."


C. Empowering is Usually Sudden

1. In his empowering ministry, God works through a sudden outpouring.  This fact is shown in the biblical language of "baptism in the Holy Spirit."  Biblical baptism is an immersion or dunking into water.  Baptism in the Spirit is an immersion into his power.  It is not a process, but a sudden drenching.  It may take time to wait for it (Acts 1:4), but when it happens it is sudden.


2. That is why a very young Christian can exercise great power.  A brand new Christian who has received the Spirit's empowering is able to receive words from the Lord, can pray for the sick and see them healed, can speak with other tongues, can have a sudden increase in his faith for a miracle, and can prophesy and reveal the secret of men's hearts.  These things are possible because the exercise of God's power is not dependent on growth.  God's power is freely given to any of his children who truly desire and seek it.


4. Results of the Empowering

A. New Desire for Praise and Worship -- Eph 5:18-20.

The presence of the Spirit gives us a desire for intimacy with God that can only be satisfied in praise and worship.


B. Supernatural Manifestations

The ability to function in any of the gifts of the Spirit


C. Spiritual Discernment

When you are empowered by the Spirit, you will gain discernment and perception in the spiritual realm.  You will be able to understand what the Lord wills and to hear His voice.


D. New Ability in Ministry

This is the reason for the empowering -- Acts 1:8.   This is not something that is only reserved for pastors.


5. Leading People in to the Empowering of the Spirit

A. Teach them what the Bible says about this experience.

It is good for them to begin with a solid biblical understanding of this ministry of the Holy Spirit.  It is also good for them to be committed to growing to maturity through the Spirit's indwelling ministry.


B. Have them confess any known sins to God and lead them to pray for God' empowering.


C. You may lay your hands on their head as you invite the Holy Spirit to come upon them and empower them.

This is not absolutely necessary as shown in Acts 2, but it is helpful in that it increases expectation on the part of the one praying for power.


D. Encourage them to relax and receive what God is doing.


E. If the person has indicated a desire to receive the gift of a prayer language (tongues), lead them to pray for the releasing of this gift upon them.

Encourage them to attempt to express this gift.  If nothing happens at this time encourage them to try again later when they are alone with God (they may be nervous or intimidated by those around them).


F. Pray with them for the impartation of the other gifts of the Spirit which may be helpful in their ministry.


G. There will be a tendency on the part of the person, especially if they do not "feel" anything, to believe that nothing has happened.  There are two possibilities here:

1. Nothing may have happened if the person has impure motives or is living a life of "hidden" sin.  This can be solved by repentance.


2. God has empowered this person, they just have not "felt" it yet.  The devil will attempt to discourage him by claiming that "nothing happened."  On the contrary, this Christian has been empowered.  He may not see this power, however, until he has need of it.


H. Get back with this person at a later date to discuss what God is doing in their life and to encourage them.


I. Rejoice with this person that God has touched them.

Encourage them to meet with other Christians to learn how to use God's empowering in mature and edifying ways.


J. Teach them that this is not a one-time experience.

Show them the need to be repeatedly filled.


Prayer Time

Spend time now praying for people in the class who desire this baptism of the Holy Spirit, but have never experienced it.  It may be good to first worship the Lord and offer up your lives to Him in a fresh way. 



Chapter Five

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

These gifts are simply the Holy Spirit within us manifesting the continued ministry of Christ in the world.  They help us to be more effective in the ministry God has given us.


The term gift (charisma or the plural charismata in the Greek) is simply a term which describes a manifestation of grace within the community of believers.  As such, they are undeserved, cannot be earned, and are examples of God's unmerited favor.  Paul lists various gifts in several different places: Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-8; 12:28; and Ephesians 4:11.  To aid our understanding of these different gifts, we will examine them under the three broad categories of motivational, manifestation, and ministry gifts.  These categories are not biblical, but they can help us to understand the them better.



Motivational Gifts

Rom 12:6-8


Manifestation Gifts

1 Cor 12:8-10

Ministry Gifts

1 Cor 12:28;

Eph 4:11


1 Pet 4:8-11;

1 Cor 7:7; Eph 3:7-8


message of wisdom




message of knowledge








gifts of healing




miracle working




discerning spirits

helping others


showing mercy





speaking in tongues




interpretation of tongues








Examine these passages.  You will note that some of the gifts appear in different categories.  For example, the gift of prophecy appears in all three.  We will discuss this in more detail below, but it goes to show its importance (and the fact that my categories are imperfect).


1. Gifts of Motivation (Rom 12:6-8)

A. These are functions performed within the Church


B. Given for several reasons:

1. keep us from thinking of ourselves more highly than we should (12:3)


2. teach us to rely on others who perform different functions within the body of Christ (12:4-5)


3. provide a sense of belonging to the whole body; you are needed to make the body of Christ complete (12:5)


C. Serve as motivations for ministry (Perhaps God has given you the ability to get wealth, your motivation for ministry may be that of giving)


D. Christians should have characteristics of all of these, but may function most effectively in one.


Prophecy:  Proclaims the truth with an emphasis on the consequences of obedience to the truth and the consequences of rejecting the truth (See 1 Corinthians 14:1, 3; 2 Timothy 4:2).  Note that prophecy is not necessarily the telling of future events before they happen, although this is also a valid (but small) part of the prophet's role.


The prophet will by nature expose sin.  He must be careful, however, when he exposes sin to also seek restoration of the sinner (Galatians 6:1).  The prophet will be very concerned with the truth and will have a strong desire to see justice done.  The danger is that the prophet becomes unforgiving -- treating the sinner the same as the sin -- and making truth more important than the life of the untruthful one.


Service:  Meets the needs of others and frees them to be able to fulfill their callings (See Galatians 5:13; Colossians 3:23-24).


The one who has the gift of service will want to meet the practical / physical needs of his brothers and to free others from tasks which hinder their ministry.  The servant should be careful that they do not let their acts of service override their own responsibilities, or start many different "service projects" without completing them.  Another aspect of the servant is that he will desire to take on the burdens of others. 


Teaching:  Explains the truth that enables the learner to make accurate and complete decisions (See Colossians 3:16; Matthew 28:19-20).


The teacher desires to present the truth systematically to the learner.  He will be alert to false teachings and explain misunderstandings.  He must be wary of the tendency to place this systematic presentation of facts over the person of the learner and practical application of the truth.  Although he should watch for false teaching, he must be mindful not to simply dismiss others just because they do not agree with him or have proper "credentials."  He should avoid arguing over minor details.


EncouragingPromotes maturity and provokes others to grow in the faith (See Hebrews 3:13, 10:25).


The encourager desires the believer to attain spiritual maturity.  He ministers comfort, consolation, encouragement, and counsel to other members of the Body in such a way that they feel helped and healed.  He should avoid looking at the problems of others as projects rather than focusing on the person.  He should remember that God's word develops maturity, not the encourager.

Hebrews 10:25; Acts 4:22, 36; Romans 15:30


People with this gift are able to offer strength, reassurance, and affirmation to those who are wavering.  They enjoy being with the weak and the unstable.  Exhorters are highly motivated to see others grow spiritually in practical daily living.  They help people with words of love.

This person tends to be emphatic, more expressive than inhibited, responsive, and impulsive.  This gift can be used with individuals, pastoral counseling, Sunday school classes, and ministering with people in crisis and difficult situations.  It can be developed by studying Scripture and having and understanding of suffering and needs.  Memorize Scripture.


GivingEntrusts others with the assets that God has given to them in order to maximize their stewardship and God's kingdom (See Matthew 10:8; Luke 6:38).             


The giver will give of himself and his resources, motivating others to give.  The danger of this is that the giver may use his giving to control others or to have others look to him as their source rather than to God.  The giver should be concerned with how his giving will be used (stewardship) and that it may corrupt others.  However, he should watch that he does not give too sparingly or that he delays his giving too long --2 Cor. 8:1-7.


Givers are prompted to give even when needs are not obvious.  The question is not "how much of my money I give to God, but rather how much of God's money I keep."


This person tends to have an intense burden to meet the needs of others. They will often live considerably below their income to give.  They are more lighthearted than depressed, have a high sense of empathy, and are more sympathetic than indifferent.


This gift can be used in any church program supporting ministries and helping individuals within the church.  This gift can be developed by being sensitive to the needs of others -- do not limit God.


Leadership:  Establishes goals and develops methods that enable the achievement of those goals (See 1 Corinthians 14:40; 1 Timothy 3:4-5).


A leader is a visionary: he can envision the end results.  He sets goals in accordance with God's purpose for the future, and communicates these goals to others, through instilling vision, motivating and directing people to accomplish those goals for the glory of God.  But he must be careful not to view people as a means of achieving these goals.  A leader also has the ability to delegate work and to take hard tasks and break them down into achievable tasks.  In doing this, though, he cannot use delegation as a way of avoiding work or put projects or goals ahead of people.  A leader should also desire loyalty from his associates, but not through favoritism.

1 Tim 5:17; Acts 7:10; 15:7-11; Rom 12:8; Hebrews 13:17; Luke 9:51


Showing Mercy:  Seeks to remove distress and is willing to share in other's burdens (See Matthew 5:7; Galatians 6:2).


This person will be sensitive and will empathize with the hurting.  He is genuinely empathetic and compassionate to individuals who are suffering, and he ministers to them the love of Christ.  He should not, however, lean primarily on his emotions (of course, when you minister to the hurting, you cannot but help to involve your emotions.  This can be very fatiguing and emotionally draining.  The mercy giver must attempt to stay somewhat detached).  The one who has this motivational gift will want to remove the source of pain, but he should be mindful of God's purposes (which may be disciplinary).  Finally, he must avoid having people look to him as the source for emotional stability rather than God.

Mark 9:41; Acts 16:33-34; Luke 10:33-35; Matthew 20:29-34, 25:34-40; Acts 11:28-30



These people engage in one on one relationships.  They show a practical, compassionate love.  Kindness comes naturally from them and they expect no repayment.  They may find it hard to be firm and avoid disciplinary actions even when it is needed.  Mercy helps people mainly through deeds of love. They have a strong desire to remove the cause of people hurt.  This person tends to have a high sense of empathy, is good natured, and talks well and easily with others.


This gift can be used in giving out food and finances to the needy, and in leading mercy teams to the sick and poor.


Cell Groups

Discuss the working of these motivation gifts in your own lives.

-       Do you sense that the Lord is gifting you in one of these areas?  What makes you think so?  What have you learned about how you can be more effective in this gift?


-       Are there any of these that you have a special desire for?  Spend time now praying for each other that God would gift you in ways that will be helpful as you seek to serve the Lord.


2. Manifestation Gifts (1 Cor 12:8-10)

A. Special, supernatural abilities; manifestations of God's power


B. Believers may operate in more than one of these


C. Given by the Spirit as He chooses (12:11)


The ability to Know supernaturally:

Word or Message of Wisdom

This is the supernatural ability to speak wisdom to those whom we minister to (See Mat 11:19, 13:54; Mk 6:2; Lk 21:15; Act 6:3, 10, 7:10; Rom 11:33; 1 Cor 1:30; Col 1:23, 2:3, 4:5; James 1:5, 3:13; Rev 13:18).


Word or Message of Knowledge

This is a supernaturally inspired statement of fact (See Rom 2:20, 11:33, 15:14; 1 Cor 1:5, 12:8, 13:2, 8, 14:6; 2 Cor 2:14; Eph 3:19; Col 2:3; 1 Tim 6:12; 1 Pet 3:7; 2 Pet 1:5).


Distinguishing between Spirits

This is the supernatural ability to discern a person's spiritual character and motivation, as well as evil spirits and their activity.  Discerning spirits can be checked by two tests: Doctrinal (1 John 4:1-6) and Practical (Matthew 7:15-23).  See 2 Kings 5:20-26; John 1:47-50, 2:25, 3:1-3; Acts 5:3, 8:23, 16:16-18. 


The ability to Act supernaturally:


This is a special gift of faith when it is needed in difficult circumstances. It is distinguished from saving faith and general faith in the promises of God (Heb 11:6).  See 1 Kings 18:33-35; and Acts 3:4.


Miraculous Powers

These are supernatural abilities to perform miracles, usually differentiated from healing (below).  See John 14:12; Acts 1:8, 5:12-15, and 19:11-12.


Gifts of Healing

The plural of the word "gift" probably refers to different kinds of healing.  These gifts are the supernatural ministering of health to the ill through prayer.  This gift sometimes accompanies the evangelist and is used to attract people to the gospel (Acts 8:6-7, 28:8-10).  Not everyone is healed for a variety of reasons,  such as God's sovereignty, the sick person's attitude and spiritual condition, their unbelief (Matthew 13:58), and other causes we cannot determine.  This gift is the addition to the believer's ability in general to pray for the sick (Mark 16:18; James 5:14).


The ability to Speak supernaturally:


This is an utterance inspired by the Holy Spirit which can be understood by the intellect.  It is the result of spontaneous spiritual revelation (Acts 15:32, 21:9-10; 1 Corinthians 14:29).  Prophecy is given by God to strengthen, encourage, and comfort other Christians.  Note:

1. The inspiration of prophecy today is not equal to that of Scripture.  Therefore, Scripture should be used to judge prophecies (1 Corinthians 14:19).


2. Because prophecy occurs through a human medium (i.e. God uses humans to speak to humans), prophecy can be incorrect (See Jeremiah 23:16; Ezekiel 13:2-3).


3. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 gives several simple guidelines to follow for the operation of prophecy:

a. do not quench the Spirit by despising the prophetic

b. test the prophecy (with Scripture and discernment of spirits)

c. hold to what is good

d. reject what is not good



This is speaking supernaturally in a language never learned by the speaker. There seem to be two different aspects to this fact.  The tongue may be a human language as in Acts 2 or it may be in a non-human, heavenly language like Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13:1 as the "tongue of angels."

1. It may be interpreted for the entire congregation, and thus build everyone up (1 Corinthians 14:5.


2. It may be given as a sign of God's presence.  As such, it is praise to God (1 Corinthians 14:2) and builds up the individual speaking (1 Corinthians 14:4).  This use is often described as a Christian's personal "prayer language."  Paul claims that such a word, without an interpretation, should not be given within the church setting (1 Corinthians 14:6-12).  We will discuss this prayer language in our final chapter.


3. While prophecy is given for the believer, tongues is given as a sign to the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 14:22).


Interpretation of Tongues

This gift is the interpretation of the supernaturally uttered tongue into the common language (i.e. it makes the message in tongues intelligible for all).  It is an interpretation which comes from the Spirit and not the intellect. When tongues are properly interpreted, the two gifts work together on the same par as prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:5).


A. Controlling the Manifestation Gifts

Many argue that the dangers of misusing these gifts outweigh the benefits.  This argument is only half true.  There are dangers involved with these gifts, as shown in the Corinthian church -- Paul wrote in part to correct their misuse of these gifts.  But at the same time, their proper use builds up the church like nothing else can.  The Holy Spirit does not completely takes over the body of a person.  When the gifts are present, so is the person's will.  For example, Paul spoke in tongues more than did the Corinthians, but he chose to speak in an understandable language to them to instruct them (1 Cor 14:18-19).  Therefore, we can see that the gifts can be controlled so that they may be used in a decent and orderly manner (1 Cor 14:32-33, 39-40).


1. Balance (1 Cor 14:5-19)

The Corinthians had come out of balance in the area of tongues.  Paul reminds them of the need to interpret and prophesy.  Further rules for the use of tongues (vs 27-31):


a. There should be no more than three messages in tongues within any given church service or meeting, and never at the same time.


b. There should be an interpretation for each.


c. If there is no interpretation, then the person giving the utterance should remain silent and pray to God (to show him his error).


d. Similar rules are given for the prophets (verses 29-31).


2. Edification (1 Cor 14:12, 22-25)

The purpose for the gifts is to build up the church by encouraging believers and converting the lost.  If a gift is manifested which does not build up, it is not from God.


3. Wisdom (1 Cor 14:20)

Use common sense when administering the gifts.


4. Self control (1 Cor 14:32)

The person given an utterance can control that utterance.  If the timing of the utterance would make it disorderly, then the speaker should not speak (if a person is unsure that they should speak, encourage them to approach the pastor quietly and share it first with him).


5. Orderliness (1 Cor 14:40)

Orderliness requires that the use of the gifts be done for the common good. Anything done that results in disgrace or disorder does not have its origin in God.


6. Be Teachable

The whole context of chapters 12-14 show that the Corinthians practiced the gift, but did so incorrectly.  Paul writes to them to correct their mistakes and to teach them how to use the gifts properly.  Note that he did not ask them to stop using the gifts.


7. Love (1 Cor 13)

The greater context of the use of the gifts is that of love.  Only a true understanding of love, as portrayed in chapter 13, can show us how to use these gifts properly.


B. Receiving the Manifestation Gifts

In discussing receiving the gifts, we should note first that God is sovereign and will do whatever he wants (1 Corinthians 12:11).  Sometimes gifts are given without anyone asking for a gift.  However, God generally works in "cooperation" with man.  He can pray for and receive certain gifts.  Second, we should be submitted to this will of God.  We need to want what God wants us to have and have pure motives (i.e. we should not want "spectacular" gifts to promote ourselves).  Third, we should have faith.  Go to work and expect God to equip you for the task.


C. Testing the Manifestation Gifts

1. Doctrinal Test:

This is the first and foremost test.  Whatever is done must be strictly biblical.


2. Loyalty to Christ:

1 Corinthians 12:3 records the probability that someone in the church at Corinth, claiming to be under the Holy Spirit's inspiration, cried out "Let Jesus be cursed!"  This, of course, was not from the Spirit of God (12:3; Matthew 16:16-17; 1 John 4:1-2; Revelation 19:10).  When a heartfelt confession is made that Jesus is Lord, it comes from the Holy Spirit (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3).


3. Love Test:

This test has to do with the sanctifying work of the Spirit.  the Corinthian church had many worldly problems that Paul dealt with.  Paul instructed them that Christian character and right living must be their primary goal.  If the gift cannot be seen in light of Paul's description of love, it must be rejected.


Class Discussion

Have some students give testimonies about how God has used them in different ones of these gifts.  Try to hear from people about different gifts, not just all testimonies about one or two.



3. Gifts of Ministry (1 Cor 12:27-28; Eph 4:11)

A. List of functions in the Church


B. Given by God to prepare His people for works of service so that the body of Christ might be built up (Eph 4:12)


C. Unite us in faith and in knowledge of Jesus (Eph 4:13)


D. Help body become mature (Eph 4:13)


Ephesians 4

The Apostle

The apostle is an emissary or ambassador.  He is one who is sent forth.  The gift God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ which enables them to assume and exercise general leadership over a number of churches with an authority in spiritual matters that is recognized and appreciated by those churches.

Example of Paul: Titus 2:1, 1 Thess 1:1, 2:6; Eph 3:7-8


The apostle is the person God has given to the pastor and church leaders.  They can go to apostles for counsel and help. The apostle is a peacemaker and a problem solver.  People with this gift may be used to start churches and / or are sent out ones that lay a foundation for a church or ministry.  They have the overall picture in focus and are not restricted in vision to the problems of the local church.  This gift is related to the gift of evangelist and prophecy.


This gift can be used to plant new churches, ministries, and missionary sending groups.  It can be developed by having a clear understanding of the purpose and function of the church, and must be a student of the Bible.


There is debate among Bible scholars whether the office of apostle still exists.  This is a valid question because in the New Testament, the qualifications of an apostle were:

-       that the person must have accompanied Jesus' earthly ministry from his baptism to ascension; and

-       the person was a witness to Jesus' resurrection (Acts 1:15-26). 


Paul, of course, did not meet both of these criteria, but was considered an apostle nonetheless because of his unique experience with the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9; 1 Cor 15:7-8).  Since none of us today can accurately claim apostleship in the sense the early church did, some argue that the office is no longer extant.  However, it seems the office is still open in the sense that some individuals: 1) serve as ambassadors for the kingdom of God  and 2) others have the ministry of the apostle in the sense that they are gifted in the area of taking the gospel into unreached areas and planting churches.  Some denominations refer to their leadership as "apostles," something that is quite acceptable.


The Prophet

As we have already discussed, the prophet is a spokesman for God, proclaiming God's divine message for the church with power and clarity, in a timely and culturally sensitive fashion with a view toward correction, repentance and edification..  When this gift is the predominant means of ministry in a person's life, he may be rightly said to function in the office of the prophet. 

1 Cor 12:10,28; Eph 4:11-14; Rom 12:6; Luk 7:26; Act 15:32, 21:9-11


Prophecy deals with present and future events.  Prophets use their energies in making pronouncements concerning public righteousness and they are usually severely critical of contemporary culture.  They have a stormy hatred for sin and are concerned about identifying and eliminating sin so that others will be motivated to avoid sin.  They are good at exposing sin, but restoring the sinner is not their specialty.  They are loyal to truth even if it means standing alone and suffering for doing what is right.


This person will tend to have a strong self image, a strong sense of duty, be individualistic.


This gift can be developed by knowing Scripture, remaining consistent with Scripture and truth in their own lives, and by being aware of current trends and crisis situations.


There are three types of biblical prophecy:

-       There is the ordinary ministry of prophecy as discussed above under manifestation gifts.  This strengthens, encourages, and comforts (1 Corinthians 14:4, 22).

-       There is the authoritative announcement of God's will in a particular case such. as the prophets of Antioch separating Paul and Barnabus to their missionary calling (Acts 13:1-3).

-       There is the prediction of future events as can be seen in the ministry of Agabus (Acts 11:28, 21:4, 10-11).


The ministry of the prophet, aside from strengthening, encouraging, and comforting, provides confirming guidance (Acts 15:32), rebuke (Eze 18), warning (Acts 11:27-30, 21:8-11), judgment (Joel 3:12), and vision and preparation (Luke 1:76).  When a prophet gives a message, it is to be judged: it should give a confirmation in a direction that the Lord is already leading (Rom 8:14).  Remember:  The Scriptures are also prophetic (2 Peter 1:19-20) and as such are the perfect prophecy. All present day prophecy is subject to the Bible.


The Evangelist

The evangelist is one who announces the good news of God to the world in such a way that they respond in faith and become disciples of Christ. The evangelist also helps other believers to do the same.

2 Timothy 4:5; Acts 8:5-6, 26-40; 14:21, 21:8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4


This is the gift of spiritual reproduction.  It is a people intensive gift.  Evangelists look for or create opportunities to share Christ.  This gift can be expressed by presence, proclamation, or discipleship.  They have an intense desire for others to come to Christ.  They also want to show others how to share their faith.


They tend to be very social, like people, get along with others.  They can serve in areas that greet unbelievers, pulpit ministries, witnessing teams, church planting, missions, and on individual bases.  They can develop their gift by learning various methods of sharing their faith, by remaining connected in their local church, memorizing Scripture, and knowing how to defend the faith without offending the person.


The best example of an evangelist can be seen in the ministry of Jesus (Luke 4:18, 43, 7:22, 8:1, 20:1). Another great example can be seen in the ministry of Philip (the only person in the New Testament to be specifically called an "evangelist" (Acts 21:8).  Some of the characteristics of the evangelist's office shown in the life of Philip are:

-       He took the message of the gospel to unbelievers (Acts 8:5-25).  This message centered on Christ and his work, and was attested by signs and wonders.  He led his converts to be baptized by water.  He used others with different ministry gifts to help his evangelism.

-       He was a member of a local church in Jerusalem.

-       He exhibited godly character which was discerned by the church leaders (Acts 6:1-7).

-       He was touched by infirmities of those around him and ministered to their needs (Acts 8:6-7).


Note that Timothy was called to function primarily in the office of the pastor (below), but Paul encouraged him to "do the work of an evangelist" (2 Timothy 4:5).  This shows, along with Matthew 28:18-20, that everyone should attempt to evangelize although some are more skilled and gifted than others.


The Pastor

The pastor is the shepherd who tends his flock.  This entails more than just feeding them (i.e. preaching), it requires that he be an overseer (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

1 &2 Tim; Titus; Eph 4:11-14; John 10:1-8; 1 Pet 5:1-3



Pastors tend to have a high sense of empathy.  People in need are drawn to them because of a pastor's sensitivity to hurt feelings.  People with this gift can serve as pastors, small group leaders, or on visitation teams.


The job requirements of the pastor are:

-       feeding (through preaching the word of God, John 21:17).

-       leading in the direction God would have them follow (John 10:3-4; Hebrews 13:7; 1 Peter 5:2-3).  This includes leading by example and keeping church members from going astray.

-       protection from sin (John 10:27).  This is done by preaching God's truth and correcting errors.


The Teacher

The teacher is one who instructs, explains or expounds, and imparts doctrine.  Mat 28:19-20 shows that teaching is a major ingredient in making disciples.  Those who teach do not only provide information, they teach principles and applications of Scripture which creates disciples who live in response to God's will.  Teaching includes doctrine, but also the pursuit of righteousness (Titus 2).  The ultimate aim of a teacher is the formation of godly character. 

Ephesians 4:11-14; Romans 12:7; Acts 18:24-28; 20:20-21



Teaching should produce action. People with this gift have the ability to understand, and then clearly explain and apply the word of God to the lives of the listeners.  They move others to desire to act out the truth.  They have a hunger to learn the truth, attain it, and share it.  Teachers enjoy studying.


This person tends to be creative, imaginative, and authoritative when explaining things, and likes to see things clearly. This gift can be used in Sunday school, Bible classes, pulpit teaching, and training in all areas of ministry.  It can be developed by having a foundation in the Bible and by continuing to search for truth and apply it to your life. 


Characteristics of a teacher include:

1. He must know the Word of God (Mk 12:18-27; 2 Tim 2:2)

2. He must be able to answer difficult questions (Mat 22:15-46).

3. He must establish and ground believers (Titus 2:1).

4. He must be teachable himself (Rom 2:21).

5. He must teach by the example of his lifestyle (Mat 23:13; John 13:12-17; Acts 1:1).

6. He has strict accountability before God (James 3:1).

7. He must beware of false teachers.  False teachers can be seen because:

a. they teach false doctrine (2 Tim 4:3);

b. they place the traditions of man over God's word (Mat 15:8-9)

c. they have improper motivation (Titus 1:10-11; 2 Pet 2:3).


1 Corinthians 12:28

The Worker of Miracles

Miracles are intended to impact the observer by showing God as an active force within the world, having a vital interest in what happens to us.  They tend to focus faith.  Those observing miracles are confronted with the knowledge of God and are forced to accept or reject him.  We must remain wary of the false signs and wonders which will grow in number in the last days (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).

1 Cor 12:10,28; Acts 9:36-42, 19:11-20, 20:7-12; Rom 15:18-19; 2 Cor 12:12


Those with the Gifts of Healing

This is the Spirit given ability of certain members of the Body of Christ to serve as human agents through whom it pleases God to cure illness and restore health apart from the use of natural means.  God's healing shows his willingness to be involved in the physical and emotional lives of his creation.  It was a primary part of Jesus' ministry, was continued in the disciples' ministries, and is continued in the present through the Church.  Healing will always remain a mystery: God heals some and does not heal others.  Ministers should be very careful in concluding that someone is not being healed because of lack of faith.  Many great men of faith suffered sickness and disease: Job (2:7); Paul (Galatians 4:13); Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23); Elisha (2 Kings 13:14); Trophemus (2 Timothy 4:20); Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30); and Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:1).  God has the power to heal and often does.  He sometimes does not.  However, we continue to pray with faith.

1 Cor 12:9, 28; Acts 3:1-10; 5:12-16; 9:32-35; 28:7-10


Those with the Ability to Help

These people channel their talents in order to help others be more effective in their ministries.  Take Aaron and Hur as an example of biblical helpers.  They helped Moses in his intercession for Israel by holding up his arms during prayer (Exodus 17:8-16).  Today, these ministers might care for the needy (Acts 20:35), help lead church worship, teach children on Sunday, or clean the church.  These ministries are vital.

Romans 16:1-2; Acts 9:36; Luke 8:2-3; Mark 15:40-41


People with this gift have the ability to attach spiritual value to the accomplishment of physical tasks in the Body of Christ.  He enjoys serving when it helps others to accomplish their ministry.  This gift is people oriented.


The person with this gift tends to be patient, listens to others, and has a difficult time saying "no" if they are asked for help.  This gift can be developed by volunteering and discovering the areas of service that most fit your areas of passions.


The Administrator

This is the Spirit given capacity that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ which enables them to understand clearly the immediate and long rage goals of a particular part of the Body of Christ to devise and execute effective plans for the accomplishment of those goals.

Acts 6:1-7; 27:11; Luke 14:28-30; Titus 1:5


This is the person in charge of getting the ship to its destination.  They are able to see the overall picture, anticipate every possible situation that could go wrong, clarify goals, develop strategy, and effectively use resources.  Administrators work with the leader's goals to get the job done by planning, monitoring, and evaluating its effectiveness.


This person will tend to be skilled in details, thorough, and careful.  He or she makes decisions on facts.  This gift can be used in ruling various committees, missions structures, and overseeing projects in any ministry.  It can be developed by learning organizational and management skills. 


The Speaker in Tongues

Refer to the discussion above.


The divine enablement that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to receive and communicate a message of God to His people through a language, natural or divine, which has never been learned.  The gift of tongues is also a private spiritual language (14:28) used to speak to God in praise and for self-edification.

1 Corinthians 14:13-19; Acts 2:1-13, 10:44-46, 19:1-7; Mark 16:17



The people with the gift of tongues speak in an unknown language but it needs to be interpreted to edify the Body of Christ.  This gift is used for the edification of the body of Christ.  A prayer language is private and not intended for the body as a whole.


Interpretation  (12:30)

This is the Spirit given capacity of certain members of the Body of Christ to make known, in the common vernacular, a message of given in tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:10, 30, 14:13, 26-28



The person with this gift is simply explaining the message of one who is speaking tongues.  This is a supporting gift equivalent to prophecy.  This gift should be exercised when a public message is given in tongues to edify the church.


1 Peter 4:8-11

Hospitality (4:9)

This is the divine enablement that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to care for people by hosting them in a variety of ways.  They have a God given desire and ability to provide food, shelter, and care for new or needy people.

Romans 12:9-13; 16:23; Acts 16:14-15; Hebrews 13:1-2



People with this gift seem happier with guests in their home.  They are concerned with meeting needs and not making an impression on guests.  They are people with an open door.  This gift can be used to welcome new members, visiting guests, and strangers.  They can provide warmth and friendliness in the church setting or in their home.


Other Gifts

Celibacy  (1 Corinthians 7:7)

The divine enablement that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to remain unmarried and enjoy it, not suffering any undue sexual temptation.  The purpose for this gift is that the person may devote themselves completely to ministry.

1 Corinthians 7:7-8; Matthew 19:10-12



This gift cannot stand alone.  Being unmarried should allow a person to be more effective in the use of whatever other gift or gift-mix God gives.  Celibacy is a lifestyle for all Christian singles.  God will enable some singles to remain single their entire lives as their calling.


Missionary (Ephesians 3:7-8)

The divine enablement that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ which enables them to live and minister their other spiritual gifts effectively in a second culture. 

1 Corinthians 9:19-23; Acts 8:4, 13:2-3, 22:21; Romans 10:15


The Ongoing Development of Spiritual Gifts

As you discover and develop your spiritual gift(s), you will experience each gift in varying degrees depending on the ministry, periods of service, and life.  Each gift should be nurtured and developed as time goes by.  Your giftedness will help you to evaluate your effectiveness for ministry.  It will also provide you an outline for the way God will direct your life's path.  Knowing your passions and gifts will open doors of opportunity and reaffirm God's unique and purposeful design for your life.  Continue to listen to the Holy Spirit, be empowered by His strength for ministry, and serve Christ with a servant's heart.

Opportunities to serve are throughout the church.  Continue to serve the Lord through your gifts to advance the Kingdom of God.  "We are God's workmanship created to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do."  Ephesians 2:10


In conclusion, I would suggest that you seek the function of these ministry gifts and not the office.  Make yourself available to be used by the Holy Spirit without qualifications.  Often, someone seeking  important offices become self important.  Seek the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Gal 5:22-23).  There is no self importance in this fruit.  In turn, God will equip you to be an effective minister for his kingdom.


Chapter Six

Ministering in the Spirit


1. Principles for Ministering in the Spirit

The best example of a ministry empowered by the Holy Spirit is found in the life of Jesus.  Matthew describes his ministry in this manner: "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity (9:35)."  There are at least four principles we can learn from Jesus in Mark 1:


A. Motivation

Jesus' motivation was compassion for the hurting (Mt 9:35-36; Mk 1:41, 8:2).  Compassion can keep your ministry going even when you are physically, emotionally, or spiritually drained.  Simply showing your love to hurting people is often ministry enough.


B. Opportunity -- Mk 1:14-15, 21-26, 28-29

We see the simple fact that Jesus went about looking for people to minister to.  He opened himself up to ministry to every person that he encountered, whether a demon possessed man in the synagogue, Peter's mother-in-law, those brought to him, or to the leper.  Jesus did not choose whom he would minister to.  It seems that he let the Holy Spirit create these "divine appointments."  As he ministered to these people in the power of the Holy Spirit, we note that his opportunities for ministry increased.  Soon people were being brought to him -- he did not have to go and look for them.  So, we can say that a minister should look for opportunities to minister wherever he is, and as he is successful his opportunities for ministry will likely increase.


C. Communion -- Mk 1:35

Luke tells us that Jesus left the temptation in the wilderness "filled with the Holy Spirit."  This was his source of power for ministry.  We should also note that the specific description of Jesus' prayer in Mark 1:35 comes after Jesus had spent the previous night in an intense time of ministry.  He must have been fatigued, both physically and spiritually.  Jesus was returning to his source of power.  So, we can say that a minister, like Jesus, should spend time in prayer to receive power for ministry.  Spiritual power for ministry is simply an outflow of communion with God.


D. Patience -- Mk 1:1-14

Presumably, Jesus began his ministry around the age of thirty.  He waited for God's appointed time to begin.  He realized the time was at hand after he was baptized by John in the Jordan (Mark 1:1-11), and after he had withstood the devil's temptation (Mark 1:12--14).  It is at this point that we read for the first time that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1, 14).


2. Praying in the Spirit

A. General guidelines

1. Not every Christian must speak in tongues.  There is a tendency with those who speak in tongues to consider themselves "more spiritual" in some way than those who do not.  We must fight this tendency.


2. The possibility is there for all believers to speak in tongues.  Some, because of tradition, background, ignorance, or fear choose to not exercise this gift.  That is their choice.  Our duty is not to look for converts to the message of tongues, but to lead individuals to a relationship with Jesus Christ.


3. Compared to many other areas of our faith, tongues is not very important.  In the context of 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul tells us that love is primary, and as far as the gifts are concerned, the edification of the body is paramount.  Because of this, it should not be a source of strife.


4. Tongues are not necessarily evident when someone is baptized in the Spirit.  A tongue- speaker should not have to tell someone that they are a "Spirit-filled Christian;" this fact should be evident through his life.


B. What is praying in tongues?

Paul differentiates between two different types of prayer in 1 Cor 14:14-15.


1. Praying with understanding, or praying with the mind, is normal, vocalized or internalized prayer in a language in which you are comfortable.  In this prayer, your mind and will are involved: your mind provides the content of what you pray; your will expresses your desire of seeing that content come to fruition. Praying with understanding is spiritual, beneficial, and something Paul chose to do himself.


2. Praying with the Spirit is very similar to this.  Your will is again active as you vocalize your prayer to the Lord.  The vocal content, however, is different.  Paul tells us that this prayer is expressed in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:13), and because this is an unlearned language, the mind is unfruitful (14:14).  Your mind is still conscious and aware, but it is not supplying the words that are spoken.  There is content to what is being prayed, but this content is being provided by your spirit rather than your mind.


Praying in tongues: Your spirit expressing itself to God in prayer in a language that your mind cannot understand.


C. The Purpose of praying in tongues

1. Public tongues

a. a sign of judgment on unbelievers (1 Cor 14:20-25)

b. addresses the church with a message from God (1 Cor 14:5-6)


2. Private use of tongues.

In 1 Cor 14:18-19, Paul says that he speaks in tongues more than the Corinthians, but not in public.  When he meets with them publicly, he speaks in words they can understand.  In 14:2 he shows that the private use of tongues is a means by which one can speak directly to God and not to men.  Why should one seek this devotional prayer language?


a. This prayer will edify your spirit (1 Cor 14:4; Jude 20).  A time of intimacy with God by praying in the Spirit strengthens your spirit and draws you closer to God.


b. This prayer will enable your praying (Rom 8:26-27).  There are times when you feel the need to pray, but your mind is too tired or preoccupied to concentrate.  There are other times when you sense a need to pray, but you do not know exactly what to pray for.  At these times, praying in tongues is helpful.  This "Spirit assisted prayer" allows you to express your most intimate needs (many of which we are not aware of ourselves) to God through the Spirit's intercession.


c. This prayer will enable your praise and worship (1 Cor 14:2, 15-16).  How often do you feel inadequate to express to God your love, devotion and awe?  Praying in tongues allows you to express the great  "mysteries of the Spirit" and offer praise to God.  In addition to prayer, Paul mentions singing and praising in tongues.


d. This prayer will equip you to stand against your spiritual enemy (Eph 6:10-20).  In this passage, Paul lists the spiritual armor God has given us to withstand the onslaught of the enemy.  Essential to this armor is the constant prayer in the Spirit.  As it is a form of protection for you and your family, so is it a means of asking the Lord for protection of those who work for him.  Paul asked that the Ephesians include him in their prayers.


*As prayer in tongues is spoken to God and not to men, it is not necessary that there be interpretation.  However, when you pray for the power to interpret, you may receive deep spiritual insight and direction.


D. Who can speak in tongues?

1. Every Christian who opens himself up to the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.


2. Paul admits in 1 Cor 12:30 that everyone does not speak in tongues, but states in 14:5 that he desires all to speak in tongues and prophesy.

Here, he is speaking very clearly of the public gift of a word in tongues in a worship setting.  These statements do not imply that some Christians cannot function in tongues.  He is simply showing as he did in 12:11 that the Spirit distributes the gifts as he desires.



Not everyone is called to be a teacher, but all are called upon to teach at times (Heb 5:12).  You may not move in the gifts of healing, but you may on occasion pray for the sick and see them healed.  In the same way, you may never receive a word in tongues for your congregation.  In contrast to this, Paul urges that we pray in the Spirit at all times.  This, then, is not a gift that comes and goes, but a gift that is a constant part of the Christian's life.  Although we all have different functions and different strengths in ministry, we are all called to pray in the Spirit.  Every Christian may pray in tongues as a personal devotional language, but not every Christian will speak in tongues in the setting of a church service.


E. How do I receive this gift?

1. Examine your heart.  Search for underlying doubts and fears and confess them to God.


2. Pray and ask God for this great gift (it may be helpful for others to pray with you).


3. Trust that God has answered or will answer your prayer.  Tongues may manifest immediately or come later.  Be patient and wait on the Lord's timing.


4. Speaking in tongues is an act of the will.  God will not overpower you and begin speaking through you like a medium.  Your spirit is speaking to God.  You must at some point step out in faith and begin to speak.  You may begin haltingly at first, but soon the language will flow from your mouth.


5. Note that it is likely the devil's attacks against you will increase after this gift is released in you.  He wants you to be separated from God.  He wants to keep your communion with the Lord to a minimum.  The Christian's prayer language is a dangerous thing to the enemy, so be prepared to withstand new levels of spiritual warfare.



Action StepsWrite down some things you will put into practice this month as a result of the teaching about the Holy Spirit: