Understanding Spiritual Gifts


What exactly is a gift? A gift is an object given to somebody without the hope of payment or something in return. A gift can also be referred to as a present or a token. An object received as a present does not necessarily have a monetary value, but may instead be a symbol of affection, friendship or other sentiment. Generally speaking, a gift is intended to be free although gift-gifting may involve an implied expectation of repayment.

It has become somewhat of a cliche to refer to gifts as being the essence of any given celebration. The Gift of Quality Time, however, should really be seen as the essence of any given occasion. On many levels, gift giving involves the sharing of time, and the social media world is making this more personal, as well as more convenient. Gifts can be exchanged via social media platforms with the giver’s circle of friends immediately after the exchange, allowing for quick evaluations and responses to concerns and requests. For many, this ease of sharing offers an avenue for greater self expression through gifting.

Speaking of “gifts,” there are countless offerings from all cultures around the world. Gifts range from food and drink to spiritual gifts. From religious to cultural practices, gifts represent a range of offerings from the common to the more extraordinary. One type of gift is prophecy. Prophecy is not so much a “gift” per se, but more of a “prophetic practice.”

In the book of Acts the Apostle Peter encourages the people in Antioch to prophesy (Acts 15:4). In this passage we see an early example of prophecy as an individual ministry. The term itself denotes the ability to speak foreign languages and, in its application, refers to the ability to speak to God in the language of His people. The gifts of prophecy and tongues are both foreign languages that can be interpreted by those who speak the same languages as you do. A true interpreter of the Greek or Russian languages would be able to render a prophecy into either of those languages, but not both.

Another common gift among Christians is tongues. Tongue is a term which, in its basic meaning, identifies the manner in which one can use his or her two hands to utter words in a speech, song, or writing. This ability is possessed by everyone born of the spirit, but in particular is emphasized among Christians by their use of the gift of prophecy. Among other gifts of prophecy, tongues is probably the most versatile and least difficult to learn, since it is part of an overall system of learning to have the understanding of God expressed in prayer, worship, and conversation.

In addition to the ability to speak in both languages, the gift of prophecy also requires the ability to discern those whom God has chosen for the Ephesians from those whom He has chosen for the Gentiles. Those chosen by God must then be instructed in what they should observe concerning the way of the gospel, and how they should speak in regard to the mission of the Church among the Gentiles. Those chosen by the Holy Spirit are required to preach the Word of God to every man, woman, and child in every place, converting them by the word and by the power of the Holy Ghost to the right way of life. Those who have been gifted with the gift of prophecy have been called forth by the Holy Ghost to dwell among the Gentiles and to give instruction concerning the Word of God and its exhortation.

A number of churches view the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and prophecy as a special gift of the Holy Spirit, but some see this as being a part of the gifts of men. It is probably just as important, however, to view the gift of prophecy, or any other gift as a part of the gifts of salvation. If God had wished all people to be taught by the gift and profession of the Holy Spirit, He would certainly have made it part of the perfect gift of salvation. The New Testament holds that salvation is a free gift, not a matter of right deed.

People who are saved are usually blessed with supernatural gifts. If a person does not have the proper spiritual gifts, he cannot be saved. Although there are many denominations, for the sake of simplicity we could say that those who are saved have no supernatural gifts. Anyone who claims to have supernatural gifts except him or herself is making a false claim, for the gifts of the Holy Spirit are available to all people. When Paul and Silas were sent by the angel Gabriel to talk to the Children of Israel before their birth, the sons of God expressed in the languages of the Twelve, their mystical and divine experiences through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.