Activating your spiritual gifts requires anointing, faith, and persistence. Discover how you can cooperate with the Holy Spirit and begin to operate the gifts in love and bless the lives of others.
Just before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He commanded His followers not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus says, "'But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth'" (Acts 1:8).
The Greek word δύναμις (dynamis) means miraculous power. Jesus implies that after you have received the baptism of the Spirit, this miraculous power will be manifested whenever the gifts of the Spirit are exercised.
Activating your spiritual gifts requires the power (anointing) of the Holy Spirit. The power is for service; it's for doing the works of Jesus. It's not to make us appear "spiritual" or to make us feel good at prayer meetings.
The fullness of the Spirit enables you to do the works of Jesus and draw people to Him. It's to build up the Body of Christ, and so advance the Kingdom of God.
Jesus Himself was anointed from Heaven as the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and filled Him to overflowing with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
We read in Scripture, "When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, 'You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased'" (Luke 3:21-22).
Scripture also says, "Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil …" (Luke 4:1-2).
The Greek word πειράζω (peirazō) means to tempt, to entice, to test for the purpose of finding out how someone will behave in certain situations.
Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into a place of solitude where He fasted and prayed and had his faith tested in preparation for His ministry.
And if Jesus fasted and prayed and had His faith tested, how can we can expect to be led by the Holy Spirit into ministry situations without the testing of our faith?
James, the brother of Jesus writes, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4).
The Greek word ὑπομονή (hypomonē) means patience, patient continuance, constancy, and cheerful endurance under pressure.
Proficiency in exercising the gifts of the Spirit requires patience, persistence, and endurance. But don't worry. The Holy Spirit will start you off slowly in exercising the gifts of the Spirit and give you greater responsibility according to your progress.
Activating your spiritual gifts is not easy; it comes with a cost:
Scripture says, "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).
Paul writes, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is IN you? …" (2 Corinthians 13:5, emphasis added).
By knowing beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is IN you, you can also know that all nine gifts of His Holy Spirit are IN you as well. Remember, you don't just have part of the Holy Spirit; you have ALL of Him including His gifts.
Scripture says that after His testing, "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee …" (Luke 4:14).
And after we've been filled with the Holy Spirit and have received His gifts, we have the same power (dynamis) that Jesus had to activate and minister them.
Receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit is like receiving one HUGE gift with nine smaller gifts inside it. While that's over simplifying, you get the picture. To further clarify, each of the nine gifts is contained within the one large gift!
Activating your spiritual gifts is as simple as opening (exercising) the gifts, one at a time, and you have a total of nine gifts to open.
Each time you begin to exercise a gift of the Spirit you are opening a gift, and Jesus is patiently waiting for you to open them ALL by faith. It's just that simple!
It's the same principle when activating your spiritual gifts. Jesus gave us His Spirit so that we might receive and use the nine supernatural abilities (gifts) of the Holy Spirit to do His works.
He will never force these gifts on us. It's up to us to RECEIVE His gifts.
Sadly, some believers activate only one or two gifts, when they could be exercising them all. They pick and choose the one or two they like, or the ones they think are easiest or less controversial, and they refuse to exercise faith for the rest.
They could be enjoying a more fulfilled, more productive life while blessing the lives of others, but they make the choice not to activate the gifts.
Jesus has made all gifts of the Holy Spirit freely available to us at a tremendous cost — His death on the cross. So let's receive and activate them by faith to do His works in love and bless others.
Here are some frequently asked questions that often get raised by Christians who are seeking how to activate spiritual gifts while needing some assurances.
Since the gifts are part and parcel of the Holy Spirit, you will never lose them. The Holy Spirit is IN you, so His gifts remain IN you.
However, if you never use them, they lie dormant and hid within you. It's unlikely you'll openly manifest them, and it's unlikely you'll have signs and wonders following you!
You will still have all nine gifts of the Spirit, but by ceasing to use them, the enemy can sow seeds of doubt and attack your confidence. You'll find yourself growing rusty in their operation.
Don't put it off any longer. Restore your confidence and bless others by activating your spiritual gifts!
We read in Scripture, "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29).
God cannot take back the gifts and be true to His Word. The Holy Spirit is in you, and He cannot be separated from His gifts. Make no mistake, if you have the Holy Spirit in you, you have all His gifts.
It explains why celebrity evangelists who have gotten caught up in scandals have continued to manifest the gifts of the Spirit. Eventually, without a turnaround, disobedience to God will impair one's ability to hear the Spirit clearly, and operation of the gifts of the Spirit will become less effective.
YES! Men and women and boys and girls can exercise all nine gifts of the Holy Spirit equally without distinction. Both male and female are considered equal in the Kingdom of God.
Activating your spiritual gifts has absolutely nothing to do with complementarianism, a theological view held by some (ALWAYS question the manmade "isms").
Scripture says, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, THERE IS NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:27-28).
When you invite Jesus into your life and become spiritually awakened (born again of the Spirit), you receive the Holy Spirit, and He arrives with ALL His gifts; however, they become much stronger and more prominent after you receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Some followers of Christ have exercised the gifts of the Spirit without knowing it or without being aware of what happened despite the fact they hadn't received the baptism with the Spirit.
For instance, some believers have received a word of knowledge and called it a "gut feeling." Some have been overjoyed that a prayer for healing was answered without realizing that they had dispensed a gift of healing.
And some have thought themselves lucky to have made a right decision without realizing that God had given them a timely word of wisdom. God in His mercy is good to us!
NO! It's the believer who exercises the gift, but it's the Holy Spirit who empowers! This is an important concept to grasp and once understood, you will have greater confidence when activating your spiritual gifts and exercising them.
Don't be shocked or be misled by faulty religious thinking and miss this truth. Carefully consider the following:
God did NOT make us robots! He may give us the prophetic message, but we do the prophesying. We are the ones who choose to manifest the gifts.
Paul writes, "For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (1 Corinthians 14:31-32).
The spirits of the prophets are subject (under obedience) to the prophets. God gives us the words, but WE decide to do the prophesying or not.
The same working principle applies to all the gifts of the Spirit.
Scripture says, "And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him" (Acts 28:8).
So Who does the Bible say healed the father of Publius? It says that Paul did. Paul prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.
Scripture says, "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people" (Acts 6:8).
Who did wonders and signs? Stephen.
Yet another Example:
Scripture says, "And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed" (Acts 8:6-7).
Who did the miracles? Philip.
And finally, another example:
Scripture says, "Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: 'Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?'" (Acts 3:11-12).
Peter acknowledged that he and John had made the man walk, but he was careful to add that it wasn't through their own power or goodness; it was through the power (anointing) of the Holy Spirit.
Remember: God the Father does not do the works of Jesus! Why? Jesus said that WE should do His works!
So let's stop pestering God to heal or to rebuke demons in those situations when He has given us the supernatural ability to do the work!
Jesus says, "'Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father'" (John 14:12).
By activating your spiritual gifts (supernatural abilities), you can do the works of Jesus. Realize that Jesus has placed the gifts of the Spirit under YOUR control, and YOU can choose to manifest them or not.
The Holy Spirit will NEVER control your actions or force you to manifest His gifts.
Once we've examined the gift of discernment of spirits, you will understand how demons counterfeit the gifts of the Spirit by controlling the individuals under their influence.
For instance, someone delivering a demonic message under forced utterance has no choice but to speak. That's why we must get busy and do the works of Jesus and deliver people from spiritual bondage.
The Holy Spirit's gifts are operated in love and by freedom of choice in sharp contrast to the counterfeit.
Scripture says, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:16-17).
We are ALL called to exercise the nine gifts of the Spirit to do the work of Jesus and advance the Kingdom of God.
We read in Scripture, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22).
Each of us needs to ask ourselves, "Am I a doer? Am I doing my part?"
Scripture says, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, EACH OF YOU has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26, emphasis added).
By activating your spiritual gifts and manifesting the works of Jesus as God intended, signs WILL follow you, and people WILL recognize the presence of Jesus and be drawn to Him.
Realizing that they've been heading in the wrong direction, people will turn around and come alive spiritually. And you will see the Kingdom of God advance.
The nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are yours to receive. The Holy Spirit doesn't withhold the gifts from you. He means for you to receive the gifts because you need to activate them to do the works of Jesus.
I've often been asked, "Can one person receive ALL nine gifts of the Spirit?" The answer is YES! Absolutely!
Let's examine carefully what the Apostle Paul taught concerning the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, keeping in mind that his frame of reference is their use in gatherings of believers.
Paul writes, "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all" (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
Paul is simply saying, there are gifts given by the Holy Spirit, there are ministries given by Jesus (Ephesians 4:11-12), but it's God the Father who's the originator.
Paul goes on to explain that these spiritual gifts (supernatural abilities), nine to be exact, can be called upon by any believer to meet a variety of needs as the Holy Spirit prompts:
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills" (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
Unfortunately, some have interpreted Paul's words to mean that only one gift is given to each individual. But, that's simply not the case. Paul is listing the MANIFESTATIONS, and we need to distinguish between the gift (supernatural ability) and its manifestation (demonstration).
The word MANIFESTATION is the key that opens the above passage of Scripture to our understanding. The dictionary definition of manifestation means to show, to demonstrate, to reveal something.
Paul is actually listing the "manifestations" of the various gifts and keeping that in mind, carefully reread the same passage of Scripture:
"But the MANIFESTATION of the Spirit is given to each man for the profit of all: for to one [manifestation] is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another [manifestation] the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another [manifestation] faith by the same Spirit, to another [manifestation] gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another [manifestation] the working of miracles, to another [manifestation] prophecy, to another [manifestation] discerning of spirits, to another [manifestation] different kinds of tongues, to another [manifestation] the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills" (1 Corinthians 12:7-11, emphasis added).
There are nine gifts (supernatural abilities) listed and each has its matching manifestation. Always remember the relationship between the gift and its manifestation. The name of the gift simply describes its manifestation. For example:
Again, Paul is listing each gift's MANIFESTATION. He's not talking about one gift being given to one person!
Looking at it another way, let's say that God has blessed you with the ability to sing and thereby bless others. Your developed natural ability to sing lies dormant and hidden within you until you open your mouth and begin to sing. Your ability to sing manifests a song.
When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you possess ALL nine spiritual gifts because they are ALL parts of Him. You don't just receive part of Him; you receive ALL of Him.
The Holy Spirit lives within you with ALL His gifts, and they are ALL available and ready for you to manifest at will. But, those gifts will lie dormant and be hidden within you until you step out in faith and begin to manifest (exercise) them.
Never forget, the nine gifts (abilities) of the Spirit are yours to receive! The Holy Spirit doesn't withhold the gifts from you. He means for you to receive the gifts because YOU NEED THEM to do the works of Jesus. But, you need to "receive" them to activate them.
Paul writes, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" (1 Corinthians 12:7).
The Greek word συμφέρω (sympherō) translated as "for the profit of all" means to bring together, to contribute in order to help.
Clearly, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit's gifts is given to each believer in a meeting for the profit of the entire body of Christ.
Paul writes, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, EACH OF YOU has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26, emphasis added).
So how does this work? Let's say that you and your friend Max are attending an evening's prayer meeting. The Holy Spirit hovers over the believers gathered and knowing their needs, He determines which gifts will meet those needs and which believers He will prompt to manifest them.
You might be prompted by the Holy Spirit to "manifest" a word of prophecy, and your friend Max might be prompted to "manifest" a gift of healing, or maybe one of the other gifts.
Later, in another meeting, you might be the one prompted by the Holy Spirit to manifest a gift of healing, and Max might be prompted to manifest a word of prophecy, and so on.
All nine gifts are inseparable from the Holy Spirit because they are all parts of His nature. Because He is IN you, all nine gifts are resident IN you. They are all available for you to use at will, whenever He prompts you to activate them.
Each gift is manifested at the time it's needed, and the Holy Spirit decides which gift is needed, and whom he will prompt to manifest it.
Scripture states: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …" (Galatians 5:22-23).
When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you also possess ALL nine fruits of the Spirit because they, like the nine gifts of the Spirit, are ALL parts of Him.
You cannot separate the nine fruits from the Holy Spirit because they are all parts of His nature; therefore, all nine fruits are resident in you, and they are increasingly manifested (revealed) as you walk in the Spirit.
As we grow and mature in Christ, the spiritual fruits will correspondingly ripen and manifest in our lives transforming our personalities to reflect Jesus.
Nobody would ever suggest that you could only manifest one fruit of the Spirit and lack the remaining fruits! So why would anyone suggest that you could only manifest one gift of the Spirit and lack the remaining gifts?
It makes only perfect sense that ALL nine gifts can be exercised by the believer, so don't hesitate in activating your spiritual gifts
Paul clearly taught that we can receive all nine spiritual gifts. Consider the three Utterance Gifts:
Clearly, it can be seen from the above Scriptures that one person can expect to manifest all three Utterance Gifts. It also holds true in principle for the three Revelation Gifts, and the three Power Gifts.
It's the Lord's will that each believer excels in ALL nine gifts of the Holy Spirit!
That's why Paul writes, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, EACH OF YOU has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26, emphasis added).
When believers gather, the Holy Spirit can prompt ANY individual to exercise ANY gift (or gifts) for the edification of all believers.
Don't become confused when Paul writes, "Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts …" (1 Corinthians 12:30-31).
The answers to the above questions is clearly NO, NO, and NO.
Not everyone will lay hands on the sick despite the fact they can. Some individuals will, and some will choose not to.
Not everyone will speak in tongues despite the fact they can. Some individuals will, and some will choose not to.
Not everyone will interpret an unknown tongue despite the fact they can. Some individuals will, and some will choose not to.
You'll find in any group of believers, not everyone will choose to walk in the nine spiritual gifts despite the fact they can. Disappointing but true.
It has nothing to do with personality types, education, intelligence, or outward appearances. It has everything to do with an individual's free will, and the Holy Spirit will never violate anyone's free will. Never.
Jesus says, "'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled'" (Matthew 5:6).
The degree we hunger and thirst can determine the degree we'll push aside our excuses and fears, and be filled to overflowing for ministry. We have to ask ourselves, "How hungry and thirsty am I, really?
Each of us is called to minister the gifts of the Holy Spirit in love to edify, exhort, and comfort others.
We read in Scripture, "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10-11).
We always have within us a gift (supernatural ability) to meet someone's need, and we should manifest it out of love, as a good steward of God's grace.
Paul writes, "But earnestly desire the best gifts …" (1 Corinthians 12:31).
So, what are the best gifts? That's easy. The best gifts are simply those that best meet the current needs. And, since we're encouraged to desire the best gifts (in the plural), we can expect to receive more than one.
Paul also writes, "And yet I show you a more excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:31), and he follows with Chapter 13, the familiar Love Chapter.
Love is the motivation for activating your spiritual gifts. Since we are ambassadors of God's love, we are called to expend ourselves by manifesting the gifts of the Spirit to free people from sickness, disease, and bondage, and the signs and wonders will point them to Jesus and His Kingdom.
Paul sums up by saying, "Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts …" (1 Corinthians 14:1). That's the believer's course of action in a nutshell.
Motivated by our love for people, we minister the special ability (gift) that's needed, when it's needed, with the supernatural power which the Holy Spirit supplies.
Begin activating your spiritual gifts, and you will increasingly find the Lord working through you to meet the needs of those around you. And by doing so, you will find your place in the Body of Christ.
Scripture says, "A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men" (Proverbs 18:16).
After activating your spiritual gifts, you'll be amazed at opportunities you will have to lead people to Christ and share the good news of the Kingdom of God!
Don't worry, everything will become clear once we examine each gift in detail.