Charismatic Gifts

The 9 charisms of 1Cor.12 are gifts given to serve the community, which the exception of the gift of tongues which is "to build up one's self (1Cor.14:4). These charisms are mentioned three times in 1Cor.12:8-12, 28-30, and the gifts of prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues are specially treated in 1Cor.14.

The 9 gifts or charisms of 1Cor.12 can be divided in 3 classes:

1. Three Charisms of the mind:

  • The word of wisdom.
  • The word of knowledge.
  • The discernment of the spirits.

2. Three Charisms of action:

  • The gifts of healing.
  • The working of miracles.
  • The gift of faith, that faith that moves mountains (Mt.21:21, Mk.11:22-23).

3. Three Charisms of the tongue:

  • Prophecy.
  • Speaking in tongues.
  • Interpretation of tongues.

1. The Word of Wisdom (1Cor.12:8):

The Word of Wisdom is often considered to be the most important charismatic gift, as Wisdom is the first of the 7 gifts for sanctification (Is.11:2). It is a "Word", an "utterance" an "expression", you have to say it to have it!. It is the main gift of the ministry of the "apostles", also the first ministry listed in 1Cor.12 (28, 29).

Most of the sermons of Jesus involve the Word of Wisdom: the Sermon on the Mount, the Sermon of the Bread of Life, the Sermon of the Last Supper, and the Sermon of the End of Times (Mt.5, 24, Jn.6, 13). They are intended to give us wisdom, to know the secrets of God, to help us to live the wonderful adventure of being a Christian. A Charismatic is just a Christian, nothing more, nothing less! Any preacher is supposed to express the Word of Wisdom.

2. The Word of Knowledge (1Cor.12:8):

It is also a "Word", an "utterance", you have to say it to have it!. It is less often used in the Gospels, but most impressive: God gives a person a specific knowledge about a person or situation that could not be known otherwise, unless God revealed it.

When Jesus told the Samaritan woman, "you have had five husbands and the one you have now is not your husband. The woman got excited and went to the village shouting, "come and see a man who told me everything I did!, could he not be the Messiah?" (Jn.4:18, 28).

When Jesus said to Nathanael, "before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you". Not much said, but Nathanael got excited and replied, "Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (Jn.1:48-49).

Peter told Ananias and Sapphira a Word of Knowledge when they were doing something apparently good, giving a gift to the Church; "Ananias, how is that you let Satan fill your heart and why do you intend to deceive the Holy Spirit by keeping some of proceeds of the money for your land? Who obliged you to sell it? And after it was sold, could you not have kept all the money? You have not deceived us but God"...and the results were most impressive: Both, Ananias and Sapphira died instantly! (Acts 5).

In Charismatic meetings, the Word of Knowledge that is often excersized can be most impressive: "There is a man here who is Mormon, and he is being healed now of his left arm"...and the Mormon comes out shouting and crying, raising the left arm he could not move for 20 years...and he becomes a Catholic...and it is the most exiting episode in that meeting, everybody is praising the Lord with great incredible joy!

3. The Discerning of the Spirits (1Cor.12:10):

This is an important gift to distinguish the good and bad spirits, the true and false prophets. Because "even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as ministers of salvation" (2Cor.11:14-15). Jesus warns us three times that at the last times will come "many" false prophets, and false Messiahs, that will mislead many" (Mt.24:4,11,24). See also 2Pet.2 and 2Tim.3.

A bad spirit can ruin a Prayer Group or an entire Christian parish or community, and Satan can counterfeit any charism of the Spirit ...there are many false churches of Christ, many false apparitions...the discerning of the spirits is gift much needed today!.

A Word of Caution: When issues arise that require the wisdom and input of an authority, the best practice of discerning of the spirits is usually to follow the recommendations of your priest your pastor and bishop.

4. Gifts of Healing (1Cor.12:9):

This is a special charism but every Christian, every believer in Christ has this gift, as promised by Jesus Christ himself. "These signs will accompany those who believe: They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mk.16:17-18). This promise is not just for those who are very saintly, or for those who have great authority or knowledge of the Bible or theology, but for "those who believe", for any Christian, for you!

This was an important ministry of Jesus, and an important reason why the crowds were around Him (Mt.4:23-25, Jn.6:2). And every time Jesus sent the disciples to preach he gave them, to all of them, he gave the same order: "Cast out devils and heal the sick" (Mt.10:1,8, Lk.9:1, 10:9,17, Jam.5:15). And that's what the disciples did with great success (Act.5:12-16, 8:6-8, 19:11-12).

There are many ways God bestows the gifts of healing: by the laying on of hands, by anointing with blessed oils, or with blessed water, or by just praying, or using a relic or a crucifix. God also heals through doctors and nurses. Just pray for the sick, in the name of Jesus, and let Him do it the rest.

5. The Working of Miracles (1Cor.12:10):

This gift is different from healing in that it does not depend on the laws of nature. On the contrary, it is an event over nature, against the laws of nature, "a wonder", a "mighty work" produced by the power of God, beyond the power of any known physical law to produce it.

6. Faith (1Cor.12:9):

It is probably the most important charism of the gifts of action: The gift of Faith is kind of power that can move mountains of Mt.21:21 "Truly I say to you: If you had faith and did not doubt, not only could you do what I have done with the fig tree, but you could even say to the mountain: Go and throw yourself into the sea and it would be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer full of faith, you will receive".

This is the charism of faith: To remove the mountains of hate and envy and prejudice and abortion, and to start a TV program without any money, or to find shelter for millions like Mother Theresa, or to help millions like the Red Cross, or to convert thousands of Hindus without knowing their language like St. Francis Xavier did, or to go on with joy in your hard job or marriage or apostolic work.

There are three kinds of Faith in the Gospels:

    1. Saving Faith, to become a Christian.
    2. The Fruit of Faith, for character, for faithfulness, fidelity (Gal.5:19).
    3. The Charism of Faith, to move mountains, the Faith of power.

And of this kind of Faith as Charism, the Gospels show people with faith, with little faith, and with great faith:

1. With faith: The leper, the blind, the paralytic, the regular people – they got healed!

2. With little faith: It is curious, they were the Apostles, the only ones whom Jesus called "men of little faith." Scripture references can be found in (Mt.8:26, 14:31, 17:20, Lk 8:25). On one occasion, Jesus told the disciples, "Because you have little faith. If only you had the faith of a mustard seed, you could tell that mountain to move from there to there, and the mountain would obey. Nothing would be impossible for you" (Mt.17:20). A mustard seed is like powder, in a pinch there are thousands of seeds.

3. With Great Faith: And it is also curious, the only two people Jesus said had Great Faith were "two pagans", not Jews: The pagan Roman centurion of Mt.8:10, and the pagan Cananite woman from outside of Israel, from Tyre-Sidon of Mt.15:28.

Like the apostles, we need to pray: "Increase our faith" (Lk.17:5-6).

7. Prophecy (1Cor.12:10, and chapter 14):

This charism Prophecy, is an important gift and is mentioned 22 times in 1Cor.12-14, and it is available to every Christian! Every Catholic was proclaimed Prophet, Priest and King, at Baptism, and in the Sacrament of Confirmation was confirmed as Prophet, Priest, and King.

A Priest is someone who speaks to God about men, who prays for men. A Prophet is someone who speaks to people about God, or from God, he is a spokesmen of God to men.

This is a gift by which God, through a person, speaks a message to an individual or to the whole Christian community. It is God making use of someone, to state what he thinks about the present situation, what His intention is for the future, or what He thinks they should know or be mindful of right now. It is not primarily or necessarily a prediction of the future.

The prophetic office is for edification, instruction, consolation, and exhortation of the believers of a congregation (1Cor.14:3).

St. Paul explains that an individual of the congregation may prophecy in tongues and then it is to be interpreted by someone who has the later gift (1Cor.14:5).

A word of caution: We already mentioned in the gift of discerning of the spirits that at the last times there will be many false prophets, so, watch out, and discern!

8. The Gift of Tongues (of various kinds) (1Cor.12:10, and chapter 14)

This charism is mentioned 57 times in the New Testament and a charism that is available to all Christians. Jesus said: "these signs will accompany those who believe: ...they will have the gift of tongues" (Mk.16:17). The key element here is that the gifts are for "those who believe."

There are at least two kinds of gifts of tongues:

    1. The one mentioned in 4 verses of Acts 2:4,6,8,11: "They began to speak other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak", "and the crowd was excited because each heard them speaking in his own native language", and the disciples were all Galilean.
    2. The other kind of "speaking in tongues" or "praying in tongues" is mentioned three times in 1Cor.12:10,28,30, and referenced again twelve times in 1Cor.14:1-33.

See: Charismatic Prayer

Catholic Charismatics believe that God gives the gift of praying in an "unknown tongue" to anyone who seeks it. The person is able to speak this new language of praise to God or repentance, even though the individual does not understand what is being said. It is the Spirit of God within the heart praying. St. Paul says, "the Spirit too comes to the aid of your weakness; for we don't know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexplicable groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will" (Rom.8:26-27).

Moreover, the one who speaks in tongues should pray to be able "to interpret those tongues", so the congregation can be built up. In fact, Speaking in Tongues plus the Interpretation of them, amounts to Prophecy (1Cor.14:13, 27-28).

9. The Interpretation of Tongues (1Cor.12:10, and chapter 14)

The Interpretation of Tongues is not a translation of what the other said, but an Interpretation: For example, one may pray in tongues for 2 minutes, and another interprets the message in maybe 10 seconds.

When someone in the assembly speaks in tongues, there should also be someone there who interprets those tongues to build up the Church. Otherwise pray in tongues which builds up or edifies your own spirit. (1Cor.14:27-28).

Adapted from Public Domain

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