The Real Gifts of the Holy Spirit :: By Jerry McDermott

Isn’t that a strange title? The actual title should be, “The genuine gifts of the Holy spirit versus the erroneous ones being proclaimed.” This subject is necessary to discuss as the virtues, attributes, and/or the Fruit of the Spirit are being taught as the gifts. Only some Evangelical, Pentecostal, and a few others have embraced the correct proclamation and usage.

Historically, the early church Fathers were knowledgeable about the gifts but usage dwindled afterward. In the Reformation there was a split as some leaders claimed that the gifts were only for apostolic times. The Roman church introduced the gifts as part of Vatican II. The reform was known as the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, which flourished for a while.

The problem with longevity was lack of teaching in seminaries as well as fear of laypeople gaining prominence with usage of the gifts. Furthermore, in some Protestant churches, some gifts, especially tongues, were not accepted.

I personally heard a monsignor tell his flock that while there was prayer group in their parish, it was just not for him. Guess what?  If the renewal was not for the pastor, then it was not for the rest of Catholic folks either. We held the prayer meeting in the parish church hall but the attendees were mainly Evangelicals. The weekly meetings overflowed with gifts of the Holy Spirit. Too bad the parishioners remained ignorant of God’s special love.

Continuing with the major premise, some could say, “I know about the gifts as our pastor mentioned them. However, regardless of church or denomination, or within a church or on TV, many times the gifts are being confused with virtues or the Fruit of the Spirit. The Roman church took another approach, listing seven gifts of the Holy Spirit as wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord (Catechism. Second Edition. Page 450). However, these attributes are actually the sevenfold Spirit of God whereby Jesus would have true spiritual vision (Isaiah 11:2-3; Revelation 4:5)

The nine heavenly-given gifts should not be hard to quantify as Paul told the Corinthians that he did not want them to be ignorant about spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:1-11).  Here they are according to function:

Word Gifts: Tongues, Interpretation, Prophecy

Intellectual Gifts: Wisdom, Knowledge, Discernment

Power Gifts: Healing, Miracles, Faith

After Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues is usually the first gift received. It is an unlearned language for prayer or conversation. The many qualities of the Fruit of the Spirit erroneously mentioned as gifts by some are fully revealed in Galatians 5:22. We will discuss the individual gifts later, but first let’s deal with some naysayers.

Inquiry no. 1: “I am already Born Again (or Saved); why do I need spiritual gifts?” You don’t! You can go through life as a nominal Christian without being concerned about building the kingdom. Examining the life of Jesus and the early apostles and disciples, we can see that the church was really established on Pentecost when the gifts were given.

Inquiry no. 2: “Since Jesus was God, how do you expect us to perform like Him?” The answer is so simple. If Jesus had not put His Godhead aside, why would He need to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Actually, He put His divinity aside as was proven in Philippians 2:6 where Paul said that Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in in human likeness and humbled Himself. Hopefully, you will see that Paul also said that our attitude should be the same as Jesus who humbled Himself.

Inquiry no. 3: “Jesus said we would accomplish more than Him. How can this happen? (John 14:12). Are we supposed to somehow become divine?”  Scripture shows that the apostles performed many of the same actions as our Lord. What Jesus meant was that since the church will become so large, more numerous healings and miracles will take place than He could accomplish by himself.

You may wonder where I’m going. Follow me; I’m going back to the Jordan River where Jesus was just baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. In addition, John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus would baptize people in the Holy Spirit and fire. This was a prophetic view of the forthcoming Pentecost of the followers of Jesus in the upper room. After His infilling, Jesus then started His public life with the power of the Holy Spirit. After His death and resurrection, He appeared to His followers who were fearfully hiding in a locked room. Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:24).

On another occasion, He was with them again, and said, “Within a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5b). He then said, ”You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, yes, even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is the call to extend the kingdom which is the work of each Christian in the post-apostolic period. As Jesus and the apostles needed the gifts, we also need them to be fruitful as well as successful.

Here are some examples of gift usage in the New Testament:

Discernment: “Test the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1).

Tongues: “I wish you all spoke in tongues” (1 Cor. 14:5).

Prophecy: “Love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:1).

Interpretation: “Let him who speaks in tongues, pray that he may interpret” (1 Cor. 14:13).

Faith: “Speak and do not keep silent” (Jesus to Paul-Acts 18:9).

Wisdom: “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18). Ex: Solomon in the Old Testament.

Knowledge: Peter’s knowledge of the schemes of Ananias and his wife                (Acts 5:1–11).

Healing: “Jesus, the Christ, heals you. Arise and make your bed” (Acts 9:33-34).

Miracles: Paul being bitten by a viper without any effect (Acts 28:4-5).

These nine gifts are not exclusive, as scripture shows many other gifts of the Spirit. Here are some examples:

Transported: “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee” (Luke 4:14). After the Eunuch’s baptism, Phillip was transported to Azotus (Acts 8:39).

Dance: David danced before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14). “Let them praise Him in the festive dance” (Psalm 49:3).

Infused Skills: Bezalel and other craftsmen were endowed with every skill for worship in the building of the temple (Exodus 31:1-11).

Anointing: A special awakening, aroma, or awareness of the Holy Spirit.

Translated: People raptured to heaven: Enoch, Elijah, and Jesus.  John & Paul had a round trip as some people are experiencing today.  

Friendship: Humanity began with friendship with the Lord, but it was lost in Eden. Jesus has always tried to effect a personal relationship with His followers now, as Heaven is an eternal friendship with God for believers.

Now back to the virtues and Fruit of the Spirit. They are a lifestyle rather than a power entity. However, they enable the person to be more diligent and successful in building the kingdom. Hopefully, you can imagine a farmer’s field representing the unsaved and ready for the harvest as we are probably the last generation.

While we have reviewed the heavenly dispositions known as the charismatic gifts, the greatest gifts are our Salvation and Eternal Life.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3) words spoken by Jesus.

“Even so must the Son of man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” ( John 3:14) Jesus’ words.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) words spoken by Jesus.

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13a).

By receiving Baptism of the Holy Spirit, you have the indwelling of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit which also includes the gifts of the Spirit. These are released in your spiritual life by the Baptism of the Spirit just as the apostles received power at Pentecost.

Prayer For The Baptism of The Holy Spirit

Come, Lord Jesus. I truly accept you as my Lord and my God and my personal Savior. Come now and fill me with your Holy Spirit, baptizing me with your Holy Spirit; and send me forth to be able to share your great love and concern.


Review of the book: Gifted-How God Is Glorified by the author


On Jerry McDermott has a way of conveying deep and profound truths in a “coffee table chat” sort of way that is both unintimidating and demystifying for the unlearned or inexperienced in the Biblical spiritual gifts. With a rich history of his own personal experience, Jerry marries the hands-on and experiential with solid Biblical examples and references. This book will be beneficial to both the new and mature Christian alike. One cannot but be enriched by this practical, complacency-challenging study on delving into the deeper spiritual life!


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