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The Gift IS the Holy Spirit

As we travel teaching and training on Holy Spirit ministry, we frequently encounter misunderstandings that can create unnecessary barriers for individuals learning to operate in the things of the Spirit. One prevalent misconception is the belief that people may or may not possess any spiritual gifts, or that they might have certain gifts but not others. Many spiritual gift tests available online operate on this principle, suggesting that individuals typically have one or two specific gifts and that the challenge is to identify them to fully step into ministry. This traditional understanding is both limiting and incomplete.

Jesus provided His disciples with clear instructions as He prepared to leave them. In Acts 1:4–5, 8, He states:

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit... But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

In this passage, what is the gift we are to receive? Jesus was explicit that the disciples wouldn’t be successful until they had this encounter with the Holy Spirit.

Similarly, in Luke 11:11–13, Jesus says:

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Once again, what is the gift? The gift we have received is the Holy Spirit, who has come to empower us in every way.

Understanding the Manifestations of the Spirit

Holding onto this truth, let's delve into 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul provides instructions on recognizing and moving with the Holy Spirit:

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

Notice the wording in verse 7: Paul emphasizes that these are "manifestations of the Spirit." These are often referred to as “Gifts of the Spirit,” but it is more accurate to consider them as manifestations of the Spirit’s presence. The true gift is the Holy Spirit Himself. These and other demonstrations of the promised power are simply the natural outflow of His presence within us.

Situational Access to the Spirit's Manifestations

This understanding shifts our perspective: none of these manifestations are exclusive to any one individual. 1 Corinthians 14 begins with an exhortation to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts,” which can be interpreted as desiring all of them. Paul even explicitly states he wishes everyone spoke in tongues and, even more, that they would prophesy.

The phrasing “to another” in chapter 12 doesn’t indicate exclusive ownership of that manifestation. Instead, it indicates situational access. For instance, just because someone has operated in the gift of prophecy doesn’t mean they own it. Rather, the Holy Spirit manifested prophecy through them at a particular time.

This doesn't mean that someone can't flow in a particular gifting with more ease and affect than others. A person will often demonstrate more success in a particular manifestation but that has more to do with experience, confidence, and skill in recognizing the Spirit in that area than an ownership of a particular gift.

Embracing the Fullness of the Holy Spirit

With this understanding, there is no need to feel helpless or powerless in any situation. Knowing that the true Gift is the Holy Spirit, and He resides within us, empowers us. The Holy Spirit manifests Himself through various ways such as healings, tongues, prophecies, words of knowledge, and wisdom, etc. Even if someone has never seen a healing or given a prophetic word, it doesn't mean they can't or that the Holy Spirit wouldn't use them in that situation.

By recognizing that the Gift is the Holy Spirit Himself, we open ourselves to the full range of His manifestations. We are not limited by predefined notions of which gifts we possess. Instead, we are empowered to operate in any manifestation of the Spirit as He determines, thereby fully stepping into the ministry and work that God has called us to. This understanding encourages us to seek, desire, and be open to all the ways the Holy Spirit might work through us, enriching our ministry and our personal spiritual journeys.

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Amen! He inhabits and raises/manifests the gifts as warranted (in His assessment of need). We “recognize” the “raising” and then employ it in the moment. Great explanation and, yes we must be on guard to avoid “institutionalizing” gifts (aka “your specific gifting”) lest we fall into a potential trap of limiting ourselves and others.

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