For my “Come, Follow Me” studies recently I read 1 Corinthians 12 where the Apostle Paul discusses spiritual gifts. Paul was writing to the Saints in Corinth who were having some problems with unity among them. He told them that there are “diversities of [spiritual] gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:4) that come from Heavenly Father through the power of the Holy Ghost to faithful members of the Church. He names a few of the gifts but basically says that the list is endless. He says that spiritual gifts are given to bless the Church as a whole, and that every member has at least one spiritual gift.
The manual – New Testament 2019 Come, Follow Me – For Individuals and Families – suggests that we use Paul’s list of spiritual gifts as a jumping-off point for discovering our own spiritual gifts. Remember, Paul says that each of us has at least one spiritual gift and that we should earnestly seek more of them.
The manual suggests searching our individual patriarchal blessing if we have one because they sometimes mention certain gifts. I keep my blessing in my scriptures, so I can refer to it often. I read it over again today looking for spiritual gifts. I must confess that none jumped out at me. I found a lot of blessings, some good counsel, and even a warning or two, but I did not recognize anything that I would consider to be spiritual blessings.
The first spiritual gift that Paul names is the ability to testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God: “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Why is it significant that Paul lists a testimony of Jesus Christ as the first spiritual gift? I would guess that it is significant because faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. We feel no need to repent without faith in Him. We have no need to be baptized unless we believe in Him, and we certainly have need to join His Church unless we believe in His gospel.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said that when Paul wrote the word say, he meant know – no one can know that Jesus is the Christ unless the Holy Ghost testifies to them Spirit to spirit. (See History of the Church, 4:603). I can say that I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, because the Holy Ghost bore witness to my spirit that He is. I can claim this spiritual gift, and you can too! I gained my testimony by searching the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ and praying to know its truthfulness. I encourage all my readers to do the same. I know that the Holy Ghost will testify to you of its truthfulness because He testified to me.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke about gaining a testimony through the Holy Ghost:
A testimony is a witness or confirmation of eternal truth impressed upon individual hearts and souls through the Holy Ghost, whose primary ministry is to testify of truth, particularly as it relates to the Father and the Son….
Simply stated, testimony – real testimony, born of the Spirit and confirmed by the Holy Ghost – changes lives. It changes how you think and what you do. It changes what you say. It affects every priority you set and every choice you make (“Pure Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 2004, 40).
A testimony of Jesus Christ is only the first spiritual gift, and there are many others. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915-85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “Spiritual gifts come from God. They are the gifts of God; they originate with him and are special blessings that he bestows upon those who love him and keep his commandments” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 270).
The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote a list of thirteen basic beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are now known as the Articles of Faith. The seventh article of our faith says, “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth” (Article of Faith 1:7).
From the simple act of writing that Article of Faith I realized that I have another spiritual gift. I see visions – night visions, otherwise known as dreams. From time to time over the years, Heavenly Father gives me information in dreams. I received dreams before the deaths of both my mother and father. I did not recognize the dream about my mother as a vision until later, but I knew that the Lord had forewarned me about the death of my father.
I had a difficult time after my oldest son went into the mission field. I wanted him to serve a mission, but I did not want to be away from him. Heavenly Father knew that I was struggling and occasionally gave me information about my son in dreams.
Paul lists other spiritual gifts – word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. He explained that spiritual gifts are given to us to help us administer and serve in God’s kingdom and to help other people. Therefore, it is important that we learn to understand what the spiritual gifts are and what they mean. Paul wrote the following before he listed the spiritual gifts.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal
(1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
It is interesting that Paul writes about “the same Spirit,” the same Lord,” and “the same God” in the above verses. He obviously recognized that the gifts of the Spirit manifest the united work of the three members of the Godhead – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
The Apostle Paul discusses charity in 1 Corinthians 13. Since he describes charity as “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31) and says that it is the greatest among faith, hope and charity, I believe that it warrants a blog post by itself. In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul elaborates more on several of the gifts, among which is prophecy and speaking in tongues.
But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself, but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying (1 Corinthians 14:3-5).
I know that I cannot yet speak in tongues, but I was interested in a statement made by Elder Dallin H. Oaks about the gift of prophecy. He spoke about the difference between being the prophet, seer, and revelator and being a prophet.
The spiritual gift of prophecy is quite different. As we read in the Book of Revelation, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ (Rev. 19:10.) The Prophet Joseph Smith relied on this scripture in teaching that “every other man who has the testimony of Jesus” is a prophet [in History of the Church, 3:28]. Similarly, the Apostle Paul states that “he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” (1 Cor. 14:3.) Thus, in the sense used in speaking of spiritual gifts, a prophet is one who testifies of Jesus Christ, teaches God’s word, and exhorts God’s people. In its scriptural sense, to prophesy means much more than to predict the future.
… In our day, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith declared that “all members of the Church should seek for the gift of prophecy, for their own guidance, which is the spirit by which the word of the Lord is understood and his purpose made known.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 3 vols., Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Co., 1953, 1:201.)
It is important for us to understand the distinction between a prophet, who has the spiritual gift of prophecy, and the prophet, who has the prophetic office” (“Spiritual Gifts,” Ensign, Sept. 1986, 71).
The above statement by Elder Oaks reminded me of a statement made by Moses after seventy elders were called to help him with the Israelites. The seventy men were recognized as prophets, but two other men also had the spirit of prophecy. They were reported to Moses, and Moses replied, “… would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29).
After studying the words of Paul and Elder Oaks, I realized that I can claim a third spiritual gift, the gift of prophecy. I have a testimony that Jesus is the Christ. I testify of Him, I teach His doctrine, and I encourage people to follow Him.
I now know that I have at least three spiritual gifts. My first gift is a testimony that Jesus is the Christ given to me by God through the power of the Holy Ghost. I have the gift of vision – night visions or dreams – where I received information from the Spirit. I have the gift of prophecy in that I can testify and teach of Christ and encourage people to follow Him.
I left my studies with a desire to discover other spiritual gifts that I may have and to seek others. I can achieve this desire through prayer, fasting, pondering, searching the scriptures, and input from other people. As I diligently seek “earnestly the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31), Heavenly Father may even favor me with another vision. I hope so, and I encourage you to discover your own spiritual gifts.