Living life as a Christian is a rewarding experience.
God generously bestows upon us not only the ultimate gift of life but also a collection of powerful spiritual and mental skills and abilities that guide us on our journey.
The Book of Isaiah described the nature of these gifts, where we understand that we can receive them via the Holy Spirit if we heed the principles and commandments of Christianity.
So what are these gifts, what exactly is the ‘Holy Spirit,’ and how can we go about opening ourselves up to receive more of these gifts when we need them most?
We’re diving into the scripture to answer these questions and more.
The Holy Spirit, as you may have heard of throughout your experiences with Christianity, is a common feature of all the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Samaritanism, Christianity, and Islam).
It refers to the internal experience of God’s presence that can provide divine direction or intuition in a person’s life.
It often arises during prayer, but it‘s also present in other religious experiences like church-going, song, and meditation.
Having an experience with the Holy Spirit is how many people claim to hear or understand the word of God. Through the Holy Spirit, we can be in communion with the Almighty and receive a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge that can guide us in troubling or difficult times.
The Holy Spirit of God is something we can all experience in our own lives through a well-developed prayer practice and our own inner capabilities relating to the fruits of the Spirit.
And it’s through the Holy Spirit that we, as Christians, can begin to explore and experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But what are these gifts, and where do they appear in the Bible?
We know of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit from a range of verses across the New Testament.
The Book of Isaiah 11:1-2 shares information on a selection of spiritual gifts:
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord — and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”
As does Corinthians 12:8-10:
“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.”
And, finally, the relationship between Christ and the gifts is explained in Ephesians 4:7-13:
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.”
Through these Bible verses, we learn of the sacred and miraculous nature of the gifts. We also learn that it is because of Christ that we are able to receive the gifts of the spirit — and that we are to use them to help build God’s kingdom on Earth.
There are many different ideas about each of the seven gifts.
Between theologians, historians, and linguists, though, there’s a general understanding of the core meaning behind each gift, which we describe below.
Considered by many to be the most fundamental gift, given its first place order in the scripture, the gift of wisdom combines intellectual knowledge with emotional understanding.
Like wisdom, understanding offers the illumination of one’s purpose by connecting all learned truths together. Understanding helps you appreciate scripture, prayer, and communion with God.
Counsel is a kind of divine intuition. You receive counsel through the Holy Spirit, understanding his word so that you are able to follow the most righteous path.
Fortitude, relating to the virtues of mental and emotional strength and endurance, allows you to maintain your faith, even in the face of derision.
The gift of knowledge is the ability to understand just a piece of God’s perspective, as one who knows everything there is to know. The gift of knowledge is but a taste of the awesome knowledge of God.
Piety is the humble acknowledgment of the ultimate power and control of God. It’s reverence for creation itself, the working of miracles, and Jesus Christ, through whom we may experience salvation.
Despite its label, this gift isn’t one of anxiousness or horror but one of joyful awe at the existence of our Lord — an exciting experience of wonder at the majesty and grandeur of God.
There are a few other gifts and qualities described in the Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Septuagint texts, but they are not generally accepted as the core seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
These include the gift of mercy, the gift of prophecy, the gift of miracles, the gift of faith, the gift of teaching, the discerning of spirits, and the gift of tongues (also called the speaking in tongues).
Though some people will describe them as normal functions of the mind, we can consider the gifts as similar to supernatural ability — the empowerment of our God-given abilities to do good for ourselves and our communities and to resist Satan and evil at large.
You can edify your ability to receive and experience the gifts by maintaining a prayer practice, reading the Bible, and living your life according to the principles of the Christian doctrine.