Jan 09 2007
Spiritual Gifts: Are they still in operation? And if so, what are their parameters and guidelines?
The subject of Spiritual Gifts can be a little confusing for many people. Much of this has to do with lack of proper education, preconceived ideas of what the gifts are intended for, as well as what can only be described as blatant misuse in some of our churches.
So, what exactly are these gifts and are they still in effect in today’s churches? And what about being baptized in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues? Do these two topics have a relationship to each other?
Our position on these subjects is a definitive yes, we believe they are still in operation and we will explain our thoughts in greater detail throughout this letter. But before we do I would like to draw some much needed attention to a far more important topic.
The topic I am referring to is that of being “Christ Centered” in our worship services. Whether we are Pastors, Worship Leaders, Elders, Teachers, or Parishioners, we have an obligation to keep the cross of Jesus Christ as our focal point in all matters as it relates to our Teaching, Instruction, and forms of Worship.
The moment we begin to realign our priorities in such a way as to draw attention away from the redemptive power and grace of Christ, and salvation through faith in his shed blood, we have lost our course and we need to readjust.
No matter how sincere or well intended a person, or group, may be in their efforts, we can not allow ourselves to drift away from our primary goal which is to expound on the salvation of our souls through faith in Christ.
Now the question at this stage might be, “Why are you belaboring this point?” The reason is that Spiritual Gifts, though very scriptural, have proven themselves throughout history to be a ripe opportunity for believers to misalign their primary objective, which is to exalt Jesus Christ in an unbelieving world. And this we do so that the Holy Spirit might draw people to repentance.
As this relates to the operation of Spiritual Gifts in our local congregations, I have seen churches split over their misuse and the damage caused by false prophets and misspoken words is very sad and frustrating. I have also seen believers get so wrapped up in an emotional high that Christ became little more than a side note in their worship services, and people coming in from the outside would have thought they were out of their minds.
(For Reference: Read 1st Corinthians 14:22-25)
Alright then, enough said on the topic of being “Christ Centered”. I think the objective here has been addressed sufficiently for the time being. Let’s move on to a more detailed explanation on the validity of Spiritual Gifts as well as being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
What I would like to do here is offer some narrative on our thoughts and then give scriptural support for these ideas. For those who are not familiar, or may have some confusion with these concepts, the scriptures do provide for the continued operation of the gifts, as recorded in 1st Corinthians Ch. 12-14, as well as being baptized, or filled, with the Holy Spirit as detailed throughout the book of Acts. Now then, here are our observations.
1) Spirit Filled:
Let us begin with the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” and we will proceed from there. First of all, we are “all baptized by one Spirit into one body” when we accept Christ, 1st Corinthians 12:13. What this means is that we receive the Holy Spirit when we accept salvation, for it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that the Father draws us to repentance through faith in His son.
As we will see however, there is a subsequent infilling of spiritual power that does take place after salvation. But one should also understand that our salvation is not contingent upon this experience, it is simply intended to be empowerment for service. And this empowerment is not a substitute for the diligent study of scripture either, for these two are meant to work together. For reference on this please read 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
(Also Note: That the term, “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” can also be referred to as being “Filled with the Spirit” and this is expounded on at length in the book of Acts.)
In many of the passages in Acts that mention being “Filled with the Spirit”, it is recorded there was an initial visible sign that this had taken place. And the scriptures are pretty clear that this initial visible sign was “Speaking in Tongues”. It is also fairly evident that this experience was subsequent to, and at times closely followed, salvation.
For reference, let us consider the following verses:
2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
(Note: This passage records the initial infilling of the Holy Spirit for New Testament believers. These people were already saved and had been “baptized by one Spirit into one body” when they accepted Christ. And yet this was a separate and distinct event that took place on the day of Pentecost.)
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
(Note: What was it that Simon saw that made him want to purchase the Spirit from Peter and John? – Also note that verse 16 is not trying to say that these believers had not been born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, only that they had not been filled with the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts Ch.2)
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
(As a side note, it is difficult to pass on verse 47 for those who hold to the belief that water baptism is a prerequisite for salvation, since only those who are already saved can receive the Holy Spirit.)
15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”
19:1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
(Note: Notice once again that the writer here details two separate events. The first is when they acknowledged the Messiah as Savior and were baptized in water. The second is when Paul prayed for them and the Holy Spirit came upon them in power.)
In times past, and in an effort to thwart the numerous passages which support speaking in tongues as being the initial, physical manifestation of being filled with the Spirit, some have tried to cite a verse found in 1Corinthians 12:30-31 which reads;
1 Corinthians 12:30-31
30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
And now I will show you the most excellent way.
But what these people may have failed to realize is that there is a fundamental difference between the “Gifts of the Spirit” as described in 1st Corinthians versus being “Filled with the Spirit” as described in the book of Acts.
Regarding the Gifts of the Spirit, Paul says;
1 Corinthians 12:7-11
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 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. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
Here we can see Paul explaining that it is the Holy Spirit who determines the division of spiritual gifts among the body of Christ. Not all of us will prophesy, not all will work miracles, and not all will give a message in tongues for the purpose of interpretation. But Paul made it clear that speaking tongues for the purpose of personal edification was very legitimate. Let’s read the following.
1 Corinthians 14:2-4 & 13-17 & 26-28
2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
13 For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16 If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.
26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two-or at the most three-should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
Notice here that Paul goes out of his way to explain that believers may very well be praying in their spirit, (or praying in tongues), for the purpose of personal edification. He also states that if there is no interpreter they should stay quiet and speak between themselves and God.
But my question is this, if the “Gift of Tongues” had no interpretation why were these people speaking in tongues at all? And why would Paul tell them that it was ok as long as they were quiet and orderly?
The reason is that the “Gift of Tongues” was not in operation if there was no apparent interpretation for the church. However, these people were still able to pray in tongues. And why is that? It is because these Christians were “Spirit Filled” believers and the initial, physical manifestation of being Spirit Filled, according to scripture, is speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
(Note: For Reference, please reread the aforementioned scriptures from the book of Acts.)
2) For all who believe:
It is important here to relate that even though the Holy Spirit determines which “Gifts of the Spirit” will be granted unto believers, the scriptures are clear that the infilling, or “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”, with the ability to pray tongues and glorify God, as has been evidenced by the preceding verses, is available to all born again Christians.
Note: Here are some passages for our reference:
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
In fact, all four Gospels record John’s statements on this issue. So, based on this information, and along with the other scriptures that we have reviewed, what is our conclusion on this matter of being Baptized with the Holy Spirit?
A) It is a separate and distinct experience from salvation, (although at times the experience may occur in quick succession to salvation.)
B) Salvation is not contingent upon this experience, (however, it does appear to be the normal practice for New Testament Christians.)
C) It is available and intended for all who are born again and have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
3) What Now?
For those who have found that these scriptures bear witness with your heart, the question at this point may be, “Ok, so how do I receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and how do I pray in tongues?” “When I ask God about this nothing happens.”
The answer to this comes in two parts, but they are both related to faith. Not the kind of “Name it, Claim it” faith that so many foolish men have taught God’s people over the years, but a sincere Godly Faith that wishes to draw close to God and be empowered for His service.
The first part is that we need to sincerely believe that the scriptures related to this subject are true and still in effect in God’s church today. There is nowhere in the biblical record that states that this New Testament experience faded away with the early Christian followers. It does state in 1st Corinthians that when perfection comes there will be no need for the former things which had been instituted, but Christ has not yet returned. Here is the passage for reference:
1st Corinthians 13:8-12
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
The second part is related to what may be called “Obedient Faith”. Meaning this; If we really believe that being filled with the Spirit is still applicable to our lives as believers, and if we believe that is it the Lord’s desire for all of his people to operate in this capacity, we can then pray to this effect and ask God to fill us. But then comes the obedient part, and this is where so many people tend to get hung up.
Once we have believed and prayed; it is you that will have to take the step of faith and begin to pray in the Spirit with God’s help. God will not work your mouth for you and the Holy Spirit will not “possess” you as an evil spirit would. As has already been stated, the infilling of the Holy Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost in the 2nd chapter of Acts. And He stands willing and ready today to fill us if we will only believe, pray, and then step out in obedient faith.
4) Spiritual Gifts:
Now that we have examined being filled with the Spirit, where do Spiritual Gifts come into the equation and what is their purpose? And is there a reason that we covered the Baptism in the Holy Spirit before we took a closer look at this topic? Yes, there is.
It is in our opinion that being filled with the Spirit was intended to be the primary doorway by which the 9 Gifts of the Spirit, as recorded in 1st Corinthians Ch.12, begin to come to fruition. This is not to say that people who have not spoken in tongues could not have the gift of discernment, or the working of miracles, or any other gift, but we do believe that being spirit filled for the purpose of worship and empowerment for service is very biblical.
Before we proceed further, let us reiterate that spiritual empowerment, along with a faithful and diligent study of God’s Word, should be an inseparable pair in our daily lives. In short, if we have all Scripture and no Spirit we are at a loss. And likewise, if we have all Spirit and no Scripture we are equally hindered.
Overview of the Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
In my research I have found an article which gives a very nice overview of this topic, and was written by: Rodney W. Francis & Alistair Taylor.
The article is free for use in ministry and I have included it in this post. I have also included a link to the corresponding web site.
“Why is it that the Pentecostal Churches are growing at such a phenomenal rate? Is it possible they have the Gifts of the Spirit which we have not?” (Dr. Donald Coggin, former Archbishop of Canterbury).
“A church where Charismatic Gifts in all their wonder and variety are not in evidence is something less than the Church founded at Pentecost” (Donald Bloesch).
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit have been given to build the Church and make it whole. We neglect them to our own loss. The Holy Spirit has been given, complete with nine beautiful Gifts, to help us to minister the love, life and power of Jesus through the supernatural.
In this “School of the Spirit” we desire to know more about the Gifts, what they do, how we can release them in an exciting practical way, and then to develop them through our becoming more excellent (1 Corinthians 14:12) in the ministering of them.
Let’s look at the Greek terms that are used to describe Spiritual Gifts:
· In 1 Corinthians 12:1 Paul uses the word “pneumatikoi.” It is usually translated “spiritual gifts,” but a more literal translation would be “spiritual things” or more simply “spirituals.” It is derived from the word “pneuma,” another Greek word used in Scripture to describe the Holy Spirit of God. “Pneumatikoi” tells us the gifts are activated by the Holy Spirit (Who is already in us) rather than by natural ability.
· In 1 Corinthians 12:4 Paul uses the word “charismata” which is most often translated simply as “gifts”; the term “gifts of grace” would more accurately describe the meaning of the Greek. This is Paul’s most popular word for Spiritual Gifts and it denotes that they are bestowed by the Spirit as an act of divine grace. The Gifts are such that they are freely given to anyone who desires them.
· In 1 Corinthians 12:5 Paul uses the word “diakonia” to describe Spiritual Gifts. The word is translated in the New Testament into the following English words (numbers of times in brackets):
It is a firm reminder that the gifts are for the well-being of others. The verb “diakoneo” is used in Mark 10:45 by Jesus where, speaking of Himself He says, “the Son of man also came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” How we need to have that attitude in our desire to bless others through the Spiritual Gifts.
A Personal Challenge:
Think about the place of Spiritual Gifts in your own life. Can you write down some of the gifts God has used you to bless others, say in the last two years?
· Are you satisfied with the way you flowed in those gifts?
· What do you think you need to do to let them flow more regularly?The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are our “tools” to enable us to minister to others in a God-glorifying way.
PURPOSES OF THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:
o To build up the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14: 4,12).
o To encourage (1 Corinthians 14:3,31).
o To comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3).
o To praise God (1 Corinthians 14:16, NIV). The KJV uses “bless” and “giving thanks.”oTo build yourself up (1 Corinthians 14:4; Jude 20).
o To win people for Christ (1 Corinthians 14:23-25).
· The woman at the well (John 4).
· The healing of the lame man (Acts 3:1-11).
· Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-16).
· The appointing of the seven deacons (Acts 6:3-10).
· The girl with the spirit of divination (Acts 16:16-34).
· To instruct (1 Corinthians 14:31, NIV). The KJV uses the word “learn.”
The aim of God is to raise up a strong army that is equipped to do the same works that Jesus did. Spiritual Gifts in operation are a part of that purpose. Paul makes it very clear that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are for every believer (1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 14:31). It is not God’s intention that the Gifts be confined to a “spiritual elite” or to a limited number of “superstars.” God intends that every believer manifests Spiritual Gifts. That means YOU!
When using Spiritual Gifts our motives and words must be checked against the standard of love. Pastor Ray Macauley (South Africa) adequately reflected the importance of love when he said:
“The foundation for the power of God to move is the love of God.”
WHAT ARE THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
“The Gifts … of the Holy Spirit are the transrational (“beyond the mind and understanding”) manifestations of God. They are given by God for the purpose of ministry taking place for the good of the Body of Christ” (the late John Wimber, “Vineyard,” U.S.A.).
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the (Holy) Spirit – that is, the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit – for good and profit.
To one is given in and through the (Holy) Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same (Holy) Spirit;
To another (wonder-working) faith by the same (Holy) Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit;
To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight – that is, the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose; to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues.
All these [achievements and abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same (Holy) Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses”
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11, Amp.).
The Gifts are divided into three categories of three:
1. GIFTS TO SAY: Prophecy, Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues.
2. GIFTS TO KNOW: The Word of Wisdom, The Word of Knowledge and The Discerning of Spirits.
3. GIFTS TO DO: The Gift of Faith, The Gifts of Healing and The Working of Miracles.
1. GIFTS TO SAY: (speak out):
THE GIFT OF PROPHECY (1 Corinthians 12:10):
Definition: “The Gift of Prophecy is the special ability that God gives to members of the Body of Christ to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His gathered people, a group among them, or any one of His people individually, through a divinely anointed utterance” (David Pytches).
Example: Zacharias (Luke 1:67-79).
The Greek word for prophecy, “propheteia,” implies that one is speaking for another; speaking on behalf of God. We are exhorted to specifically desire to prophesy.
(1 Corinthians 14:1,31)
Prophecy is designed by God to:
1. Strengthen the Church (1 Corinthians 14:3).
2. Encourage the Church (1 Corinthians 14:3).
3. Comfort the Church (1 Corinthians 14:3).
4. Instruct the Church (1 Corinthians 14:31).
5. To affect unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:24).
Prophecy touches the Church at its point of need. It is based on revelation … the revelation of God’s love, care and desire for His people to be built up. It is not to be used to criticize or “bash” the Church.
MANY KINDS OF TONGUES (1 Corinthians 12:10):
Definition: “The Gift of Tongues is the supernatural ability to speak to others and/or to God in a language or utterance never learned by the speaker” (Dr. Bill Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ, U.S.A.).
There are two approaches:
1. That The Gift of Tongues, when coupled with The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues, is equal to The Gift of Prophecy.
2. The second approach suggests that tongues is expressing praise to God, and therefore any interpretation is also in terms of prayer, praise or thanksgiving to God Himself. The emphasis is that true Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues are directed toward God rather than directed from God to the Church.
“The man who speaks in a ‘tongue’ addresses not men (for no one understands a word he says) but God: and only in his spirit is he speaking spiritual secrets” (1 Corinthians 14:2, J.B. Phillips).
“For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the (Holy) Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things [not obvious to the understanding].
But [on the other hand], the one who prophesies – who interprets the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching – speaks to men for their upbuilding and constructive spiritual progress and encouragement and consolation” (1 Corinthians 14:2-3, Amp.).
On the day of Pentecost the tongues spoken were interpreted as “we do hear them speak … the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11).
It was Godward rather than “man-ward.”I believe the Gift of Tongues as in 1 Corinthians 12 is different to the tongues we receive at our baptism in the Holy Spirit.
THE GIFT OF INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES (1 Corinthians 12:10):
Definition: “The Gift by which God made intelligible what was hidden from all” (Leon Morris).
The word “interpretation” here is from the Greek “harmeneia” meaning “explanation” or “full interpretation” (Bullinger’s). It is the ability through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to bring understandable meaning to an inspired public message in tongues. If one accepts that The Gift of Tongues is directed toward God in the form of prayer, or praise, or thanksgiving, or exaltation of the Name and Majesty of God, then The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues will be of the same character.
Dr. Michael Harper (U.K.) said: “We should expect the interpretation to be mainly an expression of prayer or worship and, therefore, different from a prophecy.
“It is a Spirit-inspired declaration of praise, exaltation and honoring of God Himself.
2. GIFTS TO KNOW:
THE WORD OF WISDOM (1 Corinthians 12:8):
Definition: “The supernatural application of knowledge” (Rev. Dennis Bennett, U.S.A.).
“Wisdom” is “skill, cleverness, the right application of knowledge.
“The Word of Wisdom gives us the skill in knowing how and when to minister accurately by the Holy Spirit into peoples’ lives. It makes the timing right and enables the other Gifts to make a significant impact.
THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE (1 Corinthians 12:8):
Definition: “The revelation of facts past, present or future which were not learned through the efforts of the natural mind” (Rev. Dennis Bennett).
“God-given disclosures” (Michael Green).
· Jesus telling Peter where to find his taxation money – in a fish’s mouth! (Matthew 17:27).
· Ananias in the conversion of Paul (Acts 9,22 and 26).
· Cornelius in finding Peter, who then was instrumental in bringing the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles (Acts 10).
The Purpose of The Word of Knowledge:
1. To bring supernatural encouragement.
2. To give confirmation to what God has already been saying or doing.
3. To give insight and understanding of what is ahead in the purposes of God.
4. To help in counseling/evangelistic situations.
5. To unlock hindrances to healing/unanswered prayers.
6. To give strategies in spiritual warfare.
7. To reveal where sin is being covered up.
8. To open up a meeting or situation for God to move.
THE GIFT OF DISCERNING OF SPIRITS (1 Corinthians 12:10):
Definition: “The Gift that gives the Christian insight into the supernatural world. The Gift is to enable the person to know the motivation behind a situation or person” (Rev. Alistair Taylor).
The word “discerning” is from the Greek word “diakrisis” meaning:
· “a thorough judging” (Young’s);
· “a distinguishing, discerning clearly, discriminating” (Bullinger’s);
· “recognizing or perceiving clearly (the differences)” (Collins).
Example: The Apostle Paul discerned a spirit of divination in a girl (Acts 16:16-40).
This Gift is for the discerning of good spirits more than the evil spirits. Someone has said there were only one-third of the angels who fell from heaven with Lucifer, which means that two-thirds are still on God’s good side. Two to one!
Some Purposes of The Gift of Discerning of Spirits:
· Being aware of good people and the good spirit that motivates them, i.e. gentle, sweet, loving, faithful, etc.Example: Jesus talking of Nathanael (John 1:45-51).
· Counseling situations: discerning the genuine from the dishonest (truth from lies).
· Revealing error in individuals or ministries, e.g. when Peter spoke to Jesus and then was rebuked (Matthew 16:21-23).
· Evaluating the operation of Spiritual Gifts.
3. GIFTS TO DO:
A GIFT OF FAITH (1 Corinthians 12:9):
Definition: “The mysterious surge of confidence which sometimes arises within a person faced with a specific situation or need” (the late John Wimber).
This can apply personally, or for others, or for Christian projects, i.e. finance for church building.
“Faith” here is translated from the Greek word “pistis” meaning:
· “faith, faithfulness, steadfastness” (Young’s);
· “firm persuasion, the conviction which is based upon hearing, not upon sight or knowledge; a firmly relying confidence in what we hear from God in His Word” (Bullinger’s).
· Daniel in the lions’ den (Daniel 6).
· Financial provision for church buildings, projects, etc.
· Ross Tooley (Y.W.A.M.) standing in a queue to buy an airline ticket with no money in his pocket.
THE GIFTS OF HEALING (1 Corinthians 12:9):
Definition: “To supernaturally bring cure for the sick, physical, spiritual and emotional; to make whole in the fullest sense of the word; saving from disease and its effects” (Rodney Francis).
Notice this Gift is in the plural: “Gifts.”
“Healing” in 1 Corinthians 12:9 is translated from “iama” meaning:
· “a cure, healing” (Strong’s);
· “healing, (the termination denoting the complete act; the result or product of the act)” (Bullinger’s).
Healing was a vital part of Jesus’ ministry. He taught His disciples to follow His example and also heal the sick. It should be an ordinary part of our lives and ministries.
Example: Paul on the island of Melita (Acts 28:1-9).
THE GIFT OF THE WORKING OF MIRACLES (1 Corinthians 12:10):
Definition: “A remarkable or surprising event that happens by the direct intervention of God, not following the general known laws of nature” (Dr. David Yonggi Cho, South Korea).
The word “working” is, of course, an action word and is translated from the Greek word “energema” meaning:
· “an energy, inworking” (Young’s);
· “to be in work, to be effective, active, operative, to energize or be energized” (Bullinger’s).
The word “miracles” is translated from the well-known word “dunamis” meaning:
· “act of power” (Young’s);
· “special miraculous power (usually by implication a miracle itself) (Strong’s);
· “capability, power to do anything; then, power, might in action … a miracle as wrought by divine power; a work, with reference to the power required for its performance” (Bullinger’s).
· Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:25-33).
· Joshua commanding the sun to stand still (Joshua 10:12-14).
· Jean’s dad praying for the child who was healed of a club foot.
· The man thrown out of the meeting in Ruatahuna, N.Z.
· Late Rev. David Sugar (Fiji Islands) delivering deaf and dumb people.
· Frank Skierski (U.S.A.) praying for broken down machinery.
This Gift is desperately needed to impact an unbelieving Christendom and an even more unbelieving world!
So here we conclude a very brief overview of the nine beautiful Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
If you are desirous of flowing more freely in these Gifts, apply yourself to the following practical pointers:
1. Ask God to help you.
2. Set aside time so that God can speak to you.
3. Confess any sin, fears, doubts or unbelief that is in your life, so you can be a much more effective instrument in His hand.
4. Cultivate a strong desire for the Gifts.
5. Expect God to use you.
6. Work alongside people who are already flowing well in the Gifts. Learn as much as you can.
7. Seek an impartation for a greater release of the Gifts.
8. Always remain teachable.
9. Work within the guide-lines/frame-work set by the Leadership of your local church.
Special thanks goes to Rev. Alistair Taylor (U.K.).The basis for “An Overview of the Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit” has been taken from “Spiritual Gifts” (by Alistair Taylor), International Bible Institute of London, U.K. and developed by Pastor Rodney W. Francis (New Zealand).