A Spirit-inspired ability to speak spontaneously in a language, whether human or angelic, without having learnt it.
This gift differs from all the others in that it may be used in two ways, one of which is for the benefit of the bearer of the gift. When spoken privately the gift is for self-edification; if spoken publicly in a gathering of the church, it is to be interpreted and is for the building up of the Church.
It is a gift to be prized and used. Paul said, ‘Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy’ (1 Cor. 14:5) and ‘I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in the church …’ (1 Cor. 14:18-19) ie a public context.
Many would see speaking in tongues as a confirmation of being baptised in the Spirit. Although this could be considered the norm it cannot be incontrovertibly proved from scripture. In the reports of people being baptised in the Spirit in Acts there is usually explicit evidence they spoke in tongues, but not always e.g. Acts 2:3-13; Acts 8:14-17; Acts 9:17-19; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:1-6
Ability to give up voluntarily money, material possessions and a comfortable lifestyle and to live amongst the poor of a particular society in such a way as to be one with them in their poverty, in order to serve the Lord i.e. to be as Jesus to them.
Writing to the Corinthians Paul teaches of the over-riding importance of love whatever the exercise of spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 13:1-3). In this list of gifts he includes ‘giving away all I have’.
Further, consider Jesus who, ‘though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich’ (2 Cor. 8:9).
This gift is distinct from the gift of giving where, though having and continually using that gift, one may still be rich and so be able to continue to give liberally.
The gift is perhaps an intense example of a general teaching by Jesus in Luke 14:33 where he teaches that we are to count the cost of discipleship: ‘…any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.’
Word of Knowledge
Revelation, given by the Holy Spirit, of facts or information beyond the previous knowledge of the person to whom it is revealed concerning a situation, person or thing, for a specific purpose.
This is a gift that Paul refers to when writing to the church in Corinth (1 Cor 12:8; 1 Cor 13:2). It is a gift that often unlocks a closed or hidden situation e.g. Peter confronting Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10). It is also used to identify people who have, perhaps, a need of healing; it raises faith and expectation since it gives the assurance that ‘God knows about my condition’.
Word of Wisdom
Insight, inspiration or revelation as to how best to apply given knowledge to a specific situation or need in accordance with God’s mind and purposes.
This is another of the gifts referred to in the Corinthian letter (1 Cor 12:8). We are all told to seek God’s wisdom e.g. Jas. 1:5 ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.’ But there are times when God gives a ‘peculiar wisdom’ such as when Solomon was confronted with the need to judge between two women who had recently given birth where one of the babies died and both women claimed to be the mother of the living one (1 Kings 3:16-28).
As we come to the end of this section on Spiritual Gifts within the Discover and Serve series I would remind you that all gifts are from God as He wills; they are of no credit to the bearer who has the responsibility to deliver them for the edification and up-building of the church. Let us be faithful in fulfilling the responsibility God has entrusted to us.