Exercising Spiritual Gifts

Exercising spiritual gifts enables us to help build up the Body of Christ and to manifest the Kingdom of God to the waiting world through accompanying signs and wonders.

How Did Jesus Perform Miracles?

Golden Sun Rising Above the SeaHow Did Jesus Perform Miracles? The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Source: ©dovapi/Depositphotos.com

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).

As obedient followers of Jesus seeking to do the works that He did, it will help to ask the following question: How did Jesus perform miracles?

To answer, let's first consider what Jesus was really like. Our belief and understanding of Jesus will help determine how we can do His works by exercising spiritual gifts and ministering to others.

Who Is Jesus?

We read in Scripture, "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory" (1 Timothy 3:16).

Jesus is the Son of God, one with God the Father, and one with the Holy Spirit. His Incarnation is a mystery beyond our human ability to explain and for that reason, people tend to make Jesus so unearthly, that they cannot relate to His human life and earthly ministry.

So, how did Jesus perform miracles? To answer this question, we really need to move past our mystical, religious views of Jesus and accept that while retaining His deity, He temporarily gave up His glory and became fully a man.

Embodied in human form (incarnate), Jesus surrendered the use of His divine abilities. Note that He did not renounce His divine abilities or attributes; He voluntarily surrendered His use of them.

Scripture says, "[He] emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]" (Philippians 2:7 AMP).

What Was Jesus Really Like?

Isaiah prophesied of Jesus's physical appearance: "For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2).

Jesus didn't appear different from the other men around him when He walked the streets of Jerusalem. If His appearance had been in any way remarkable, The New Testament writers would have mentioned it.

For certain, Jesus would not appear as He does in the Old Masters' paintings, dressed in radiant robes, wistfully gazing Heavenwards as if to pray, with a golden halo radiating from His head.

If Jesus walked through your local shopping mall today, it's unlikely that you would notice Him.

He would have woken from a night's sleep, showered, applied deodorant, combed His hair, gotten dressed in ordinary street clothing, walked to the mall, and He might even stop by the food court to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a toasted bagel.

Jesus got tired, He got hungry, He sweated in the heat, He shivered in the cold, and He displayed normal human emotions.

Before starting his ministry, He learned to read and write, studied the Hebrew Scriptures (likely the Septuagint (LXX) Greek-language version that was common then), worked as an artisan, and led a quiet life in an ordinary Galilean town. Nothing "beyond usual."

However, after Jesus had begun His earthly ministry, He DID appear "beyond usual" for He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and He spoke with accompanying signs and wonders.

And guess what? Jesus wants us to appear "beyond usual" by exercising spiritual gifts and doing the same works that He did!

Remember, 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).

If Jesus says that we can do the SAME works, wouldn't we need to be endued with the SAME abilities to do those works? Therefore, Jesus had to be equipped with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the SAME gifts of the Holy Spirit that He has made available to us!

Was Jesus Exercising Spiritual Gifts?

So, what gifts of the Holy Spirit did Jesus exercise? It happens there are numerous examples of Jesus exercising the gifts (supernatural abilities) of the Spirit in The New Testament. However, for the sake of brevity, let's look at just one example of each gift.

Jesus Exercised the Three Revelation Gifts

  • Word of Knowledge: Jesus exercised a word of knowledge when He perceived the thoughts of the scribes and Pharisees who wanted to accuse Him of blasphemy (Luke 5:21-26).
  • Word of Wisdom: Jesus received a word of wisdom on how to deal with the Pharisees and the Herodians who attempted to catch Him in His words over the payment of taxes to Caesar (Mark 12:13-17).
  • Discerning of Spirits: Jesus discerned an evil spirit when He delivered an epileptic boy (Matthew 17:14-18).

Jesus Exercised the Three Power Gifts

  • Miracles: Jesus performed a miracle whenever He gave sight to the blind, cast out demons, and raised the dead (Luke 7:21-22).
  • Gifts of Healing: Jesus exercised gifts of healing throughout His ministry and at times He healed all who came to Him (Matthew 4:23).
  • Faith: Jesus exercised the gift of faith when He cursed the unproductive fig tree (Mark 11:12-14; 20-23).

Jesus Exercised the Three Utterance Gifts

  • Prophecy: Jesus often spoke prophetically and on the night of His betrayal, He clearly prophesied that Peter would deny him three times (John 13:37-38).
  • Different Kinds of Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues: These two utterance gifts are the only gifts for which there isn't definite biblical proof of Jesus exercising them.

I did find one occasion in The New Testament that might possibly offer a hint that Jesus exercised the gift of tongues.

We read in Scripture, "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit …" (Luke 10:21). Whether Jesus rejoiced in tongues, I'll leave it with you to decide. I have no difficulty in believing that Jesus prayed in unknown tongues.

Some might say, "Jesus was the Son of God, so why would He need to pray in tongues?" My reply is, so why would Jesus need to pray at all? And yet, there's more references to Jesus praying to God the Father than anyone else mentioned in the Bible.

The more we push Jesus into a mystical religious realm, then the harder it is for us to believe that we could ever do His works.

However, the more we can relate to the MAN Christ Jesus, the more faith we'll have to follow His example by doing His works and ministering to others.

Did Jesus Have an Advantage?

Some people might argue that Jesus had a huge advantage over us when it comes to exercising spiritual gifts. After all, He was born without sin!

It is true that lacking our sinful nature, Jesus could walk in a sure faith not compromised by feelings of unworthiness, guilt, doubt, or fear.

However, we must NOT accept Jesus's sinless nature as our excuse for failing to do the same works that He did. After all, the central message of The New Testament is that Jesus endured the cross to rescue us from the consequences of mankind's rejection of God.

His sacrificial death on the cross paid the penalty for our crimes against God's law once and for all, satisfying the holiness and justice of God. As Jesus says, "It is finished!" (John 19:30b).

Scripture Text Mark 2:5Son, Your Sins Are Forgiven You (Mark 2:5)
Source: ©Hriana/Depositphotos.com

We read in Scripture, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2).

Jesus in human form was tempted to disobey God. Satan tried to entice Him away from the right path, BUT Jesus never allowed Himself to go His own way with no thought of God. He never missed the high mark of His calling.

Because Jesus was tempted and knows our human weaknesses, He's able to effectively intercede for us as our High Priest in the presence of God the Father.

Scripture says, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Therefore, to be proficient in the gifts of the Spirit, you must be clear about your rescue from disobedience and despair. You must make a 180 degree turn from what you were doing and obey God. You must know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are forgiven by God, then your conscious will be clear.

Scripture says, "For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:13-14).

The Greek word συνείδησις (syneidēsis) means conscience, the soul as a voice within sensing what is morally good and bad, or having second thoughts.

So, if your conscience is cleansed from doubts, guilt, and second thoughts, then you can expect to exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit and serve the living God as Jesus did.

Do you need more assurance?

Jesus says, "'You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you'" (John 15:3).


So, How Did Jesus Perform Miracles?

Some people claim that Jesus didn't need to walk in the gifts of the Spirit because He's God, and God is all powerful. But, remember, Jesus had emptied Himself of His divine powers and taken on a human form. Therefore, Jesus needed to rely on a divine power beyond Himself.

So, if you're questioning how YOU could possibly perform miracles, you need to ask yourself, "How did Jesus perform miracles?"

Scripture says, "'MOST ASSUREDLY, I say to you, the Son can do NOTHING OF HIMSELF, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does …'" (John 5:19-20, emphasis added).

And Peter says, "'God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power …" (Acts 10:35).

"I will readily admit that we are not God. We cannot do in ourselves what God can do. But God created us as human beings, and if we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit and His presence in our lives, we should be able to do what Jesus, the Son of Man, was able to do in His earthly ministry. …

"I am persuaded that our Lord Jesus, while He was on earth, did not accomplish His powerful deeds in the strength of His deity. I believe He did them in the strength and authority of His Spirit-anointed humanity."

—Tozer, A. W., Jesus, Our Man in Glory (p. 60). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

It's beyond certain that Jesus performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit resided within Him, so Jesus had all the attributes of the Holy Spirit — all His fruits and all His gifts (supernatural abilities).

We need to keep reminding ourselves that Jesus's miracles, signs, and wonders were preformed through His human nature that He shares in common with us.

Let's suppose Jesus suddenly appeared beside you and asked you to minister to someone's need using the gifts of the Spirit, the nine gifts that He has made available to you. What would you do? Would you say, "Jesus, since you're here, you go ahead, and do it."

However, a similar situation happens in prayer meetings when someone expresses a need, let's say for healing. Instead of ministering to the need by exercising spiritual gifts and power of the Holy Spirit, someone launches into prayer asking God to do it! Meantime, He's sitting on His throne waiting for us to do it! Is it any wonder that we see so few results?

Hopefully, you would realize that Jesus was giving you His authority and approval to minister, and you would step out in faith and exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit while expecting the same results as though He was the one ministering.

Purpose of Exercising Spiritual Gifts

Tumbling Waterfall, Rapids, and RiverExercise the Gifts of the Spirit and Do the Works of Jesus
Source: ©Kirkjufell/Depositphotos.com

Once we believe in Jesus and have His Spirit living within us, we can ask for and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit along with the nine gifts (supernatural abilities) that He supplies.

However, it's only by obediently stepping out in faith and exercising the gifts of the Spirit that we can minister to the needs of those whom we encounter in our daily life.

Exercising Spiritual Gifts in Believer's Meetings

When the Holy Spirit is permitted to operate freely in a believer's meeting, He tends to hover over those assembled and distributes to believers on an individual basis, gifts (charismata) to answer specific needs in the Body of Christ.

The Apostle Paul writes, "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills" (1 Corinthians 12:11).

Scripture says, "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).

For instance, the Holy Spirit might gently nudge (quicken) someone to give a word of prophecy, and if that person doesn't respond, He'll move on to nudge someone else to give it, and so on until someone obeys and speaks the prophetic word.

The Holy Spirit might also be nudging someone to dispense a gift of healing in the same meeting, and nudging someone else to give an unknown tongue and its interpretation.

Sadly, if the Holy Spirit's nudges are ignored or quenched, then the opportunities for blessing are missed and the people are deprived of potential benefits. By failing to respond, we are depriving people of their blessing.

Paul writes, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" (1 Corinthians 12:7).

One reason for exercising spiritual gifts in gatherings of believers is to unite the believers in the faith and build up the Body of Christ.

Paul also 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).

Therefore, out of love for our fellow believers, let's arrive at meetings with our faith built up and ready to minister the gifts of the Spirit to meet the needs of the Body of Christ.

Exercising Spiritual Gifts When Ministering to Individuals

There are times when the Holy Spirit might call on you to minister to an individual. It might be someone in your church, your workplace, your circle of friends, or even your family.

Be aware that several gifts of the Spirit might need to be exercised together because each has its unique characteristics. You might have to exercise two, three, or more gifts at any given time when called upon to answer a specific need.

For example, you might need to exercise a word of prophecy, or a word of knowledge accompanied by a word of wisdom, or maybe discernment of spirits with a word of wisdom followed by a miracle when an evil spirit is cast out.

The nine gifts can be likened to the instruments in a nine-piece orchestra. The conductor will call on one or more instruments at any given time to perform the musical number.

Similarly, you have nine gifts of the Spirit ready for use, and the Holy Spirit will call on one or more gifts at any given time to perform the work that's needed.

Jesus Was Exercising Spiritual Gifts

For instance, let's consider the miracle that Jesus performed in Capernaum while staying at Simon Peter's house. Jesus was teaching, and the crowd not only filled the modest house, but people gathered in the street outside the door eager to hear His message.

Home of the Apostle Peter in CapernaumThe Ruins of Simon Peter's House In Capernaum
Source: ©Don Bell

Houses of that time in Israel often had a flat tiled roof, reached by outside stairs and used for extra living space and for sleeping on hot summer nights when cool breezes off the Sea of Galilee about 30 meters distant would have been most refreshing.

Four men had carried their paralytic friend to the house believing that Jesus would heal him. Seeing the crowd of people, they carried him up the outside stairway and onto the roof where they removed a section of tiles and lowered the young man on his mat down to where Jesus was seated.

Engraving of Jesus Healing the Paralytic ManJesus Healing the Paralytic Man at Capernaum
PD Source: Engraving by Bernhard Rode, 1780

We read in Scripture, "When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you.' And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 'Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?' But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, 'Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven you," or to say, "Arise, take up your bed and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins — He said to the paralytic, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."' Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!'" (Mark 2:5-12).

Carefully reread the above Scripture and see how many gifts of the Spirit you can identify.

Jesus used at least five gifts of the Spirit on this occasion:

  • Word of knowledge
  • Discerning of spirits
  • Word of wisdom
  • Faith
  • Working of Miracles

The Holy Spirit often ministers to the heart of the matter, so Jesus received a word of knowledge that revealed the man's condition. He forgave the man's disobedience to God (sin) to relieve him of the burden of guilt and shame that he had been carrying. The man could now believe himself worthy to release faith and accept healing for his body.

Jesus then "perceived in His spirit" that some of the scribes were accusing Him of blasphemy. The Greek word ἐπιγινώσκω (epiginōskō) means to perceive, to gain knowledge, to be fully acquainted in a discerning manner.

Blasphemy could lead to a serious charge that was punishable by death. The Holy Spirit had given Jesus knowledge of the scribes' treacherous hearts through the gift of discernment of spirits followed by a word of wisdom on how to best respond to the serious situation developing.

Jesus confronted the scribes with clever questions followed by a release of faith and working a miracle of healing. It was not a gift of healing since the cure was instant. The miracle sealed His right to pardon the man for falling away from the right path, and it silenced the scribes.

The crowd who saw the man pick up his sleeping mat and walk home would simply have said that an amazing miracle had taken place. They would not have realized that Jesus was exercising spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit to do the miraculous work.

Remember, Jesus did not perform miracles through His deity; He performed miracles through His Spirit-filled humanity.

We read in Scripture, "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38).

After we have examined how each gift of the Holy Spirit operates, you'll be able to read other miraculous accounts throughout the Bible and identify the various gifts working in concert to meet the need.

Some people suggest that you cannot define the operation of the gifts, but each gift of the Spirit is very distinctive. To skirt round their functioning, reveals the lack of understanding that's prevalent when it comes to the nine spiritual abilities known as gifts of the Spirit.

The Gifts Flow Seamlessly

The nine gifts of the Spirit flow seamlessly the moment they're needed. Yes, you will be conscious of each gift and its operation at the beginning, but as you gain experience in exercising spiritual gifts, and as you sharpen your spiritual senses, the nine gifts will start to flow automatically without having to think about them.

When you encounter a sudden need, you won't need to ask, "Holy Spirit, what gift should I use?" You will immediately minister to the need as the Spirit prompts using the supernatural abilities that He has supplied.

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, emphasis added).

Exercising Your Spiritual Senses

The more your spiritual sight and hearing are exercised, the more you'll become acutely aware of the Holy Spirit's promptings. That's why you should seek to operate the gifts in public whenever you get the opportunity, so you can grow in faith and increase your confidence.

For example, when the Holy Spirit gently nudges you to prophesy, don't sit waiting for a bolt of lightening from Heaven or for someone else to begin speaking. God's wanting YOU to speak.

Just step out in faith and do it!

You say, "But my heart's really pounding, and I'm unsure whether it's the Holy Spirit or me!" Sorry, but that's normal. That's why it's called stepping out in faith!

I would love to promise that it will get easier, and it will to a point; however, we must accept that faith will always be required when exercising spiritual gifts.

As we read in Scripture, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

So, BELIEVE in God. HAVE FAITH that He won't leave you standing there empty handed! He won't let you down!

Begin Exercising Spiritual Gifts

God has made each of us a unique individual, and He will always manifest His gifts through our uniqueness. For that reason, neither I nor anyone can teach you step-by-step how to exercise any of the nine spiritual gifts. Holy Spirit will lead and guide you in operating them.

However, what I can do is share what the gifts are and what they are not, so you can better understand the functioning of a gift. Then, whenever the Holy Spirit nudges (quickens) you to manifest a gift to meet the needs of an individual or to bless a gathering of believers, you can be obedient and step out in faith.

When you're new to the gifts of the Spirit, it's always best to start exercising spiritual gifts in a small group of believers and to have someone seasoned in the gifts nearby, so there's support and correction available if needed.

Proficiency in the gifts requires time and practice; it doesn't happen overnight. God will give many opportunities to exercise the gifts of the Spirit, and He will never ask you to do something beyond your capabilities. So, be obedient to step out whenever He asks.

After instructing on the gifts of the Spirit, Paul writes, "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD. But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:37-40, emphasis added).

Above all, don't simply read the information on this website and do nothing. It's no accident that you are here reading this!

God desires YOU to become proficient in exercising spiritual gifts, so you can do the works of Jesus to help build up the Body of Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.

This completes the 5-part series introducing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Use the Menu below to return to the beginning or to review the other topics.

The Bible says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

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