Blog, Five Minute Friday

5 Unpopular Spiritual Gifts

“Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.”-1 Corinthians 12:3 ESV

Everyone has been given a gift by the Holy Spirit to be used for the encouragement and conviction of believers. Most people ignore the Holy Spirit and his gifts (I was one of them!), or they acknowledge some gifts and not all of them. I think by doing either of these things, we ignore an important aspect of God’s character-his omniscience and omnipotence. Since we are the temples of God, we can exhibit God’s power to know things that only God would know. This doesn’t mean we can become God-far be it! Rather, we can be used by God to tell the truth. Yet, anyone who claims to do this must be verified by what Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 12. Any person exhibiting any of these five things must not contradict the gospel. So, what are the five unpopular spiritual gifts? Read below:

  1. Tongues

If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret.-1 Corinthians 14:27 ESV

I’m not very fond of tongues. The first time I experienced tongues was at a friend’s church, where worship music was playing and women were speaking in the “prayer language.” This frightened me and made me want to run out of that church. Now I realize that tongues are a legitimate gift of the Holy Spirit, but the usage of them must be verified. In order for tongues to be useful, an interpreter must be present. Also, I believe that tongues may be two parts: a language and a heavenly language. The  heavenly language is for the body to understand a message from God, using the measuring stick from above. The second is the ability to learn a new language quickly for ministry. Peter and the other disciples spoke different languages so that they would be able to witness to people from other nations. I believe some people are still given this miraculous ability to learn the language so that they may witness to a specific people group. One of my family members was able to learn Russian within a week so that he could witness to people in the Ukraine and other previous Soviet Union owned countries. This miracle is evidence that God gifts some people with the ability to learn another language to become his ministers.

  1. Prophecy

Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign[c] not for unbelievers but for believers.-1 Corinthians 14:22 ESV

When I think of the word prophecy, I think of books like Isaiah or Revelation, which contain prophecies about the future. A prophecy is a word from God for his people, which is why Paul wrote that prophecy is for believers, not unbelievers. Isaiah and Revelation were for Christians and Jews so that they may believe God has a plan for them. In the same way, any new words of prophecy must align with the prophecy already written or reveal something personal for the life of a believer. For example, my friend was prophesied to be a great writer. That is something directly for her, not for anyone else. She has succeeded in this and it gave her assurances that God is working in her life. This is not unbiblical at all, but should be taken with a grain of salt. Prophecies aren’t commands but are words of wisdom for believers.

  1. Healing

“And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.’ And immediately he rose.”-Acts 9:34 ESV

In the New Testament, the disciples were given the ability to heal people in Jesus’ name. Yet, most people think this working of healing is limited to the New Testament era alone. On the contrary, I believe healings happen often if faith is present and if God wills it to be so. There are many true stories of how God miraculously healed people, whether it was themselves or someone they loved. Either way, God is still working to show his power over all ailments and how only he is the true healer.

  1. Discerning spirits

“The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were healed.”-Acts 5:16 ESV

What is an unclean spirit? In modern terms, unclean spirits are demons or words that err from truth. Since only a select people can see angels and demons, many Christians choose not to believe in the spirit world. However, the spirit world is real, which is why the authors of the New Testament remind us our war is not against the flesh, but against the spirits of this world. Those spirits manifest themselves as ghosts or “friendly” spirits, but that is just a disguise for their true nature. Every unclean spirit has a desire to overcome a Christian that is opposed to them.  People who are gifted with this ability either don’t realize it is a good thing, ignore it, or embrace it to banish spirits from tormenting other Christians. God is more powerful than any unclean spirit, which is why Christians do not need to fear unclean spirits and draw close to God.

  1. Miracles

“When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!'”-John 6:14 ESV

Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish and had enough food to fill 12 baskets after he was finished. Jesus passed this ability to perform miracles to this disciples by giving them the Holy Spirit. The ability to work miracles is then given to Christians not for show, but as a sign that God lives and has power over the world. In fact, any Christian who “performs a miracle” without pointing to God in humility should be warned against. Instead, miracles are for those who need a sign that points out how Jesus is God. I think this is why we don’t see these type of miracles here in America-because Americans reject those signs in favor of “science.” Rejecting this spiritual gift makes me sad though, for miracles are meant to bring glory to God in all things.

“But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”-1 Corinthians 12:18 ESV

“Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”-John 21:22 ESV

God give a spiritual gift to each believer, and I would highly recommend discovering your spiritual gift. You can take a test here. When you discover your spiritual gift, you can use that gift to benefit the body of believers. Every spiritual gift is necessary for the body, as Paul attests in 1 Corinthians 12. But no gift should be considered better than the other and Christians should focus on following Jesus, as he commanded to Peter. Peter was trying to question Jesus’ purpose for John, but the truth is that Jesus wants each of us to focus on him and let all work out according to his will. Yet, all of these gifts are nothing compared to the universal gift given to Christians: love (see 1 Corinthians 13). Love is greater than all things, and it unites us together against the evil in this world.

Photo Credit: Smoke by Stuart R. Saffen

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