The Gifts of the Spirit
I. The Gifts of the Spirit
The outpouring of God's Spirit molded together a spiritual body (group of believers) scripturally defined as the "church," (Ephesians 1:22-23). Supernatural manifestations of the Spirit occurred, commonly referred to as the "gifts of the Spirit." By "supernatural," it is meant that which cannot be explained or understood by human reasoning and is not restricted to "natural laws." No one should ever limit the power of God to work only through those things that the natural man understands, for He hath declared: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). The Apostle Paul, before teaching the Corinthians about the use of spiritual gifts, reminded them in I Corinthians 2:11 that: "The things (ways and thoughts) of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." This is not to say that man cannot learn the things of God, but rather that they are not perceived by worldly wisdom. Human reasoning is unable to digest spiritual truth.
A. The Gifts Are to Profit the Church
The spiritual gifts are given by God to His church to profit the church and its members. "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (I Corinthians 12:7). There are those today who contend that the gifts are no longer property of the church to be experienced. But there appears nothing in the Scriptures nor in the course of history to show when any of the gifts were withdrawn. The body of man has many members (hands, fingers, eyes, ears, etc.) So also is the body of Christ. There are many members of one body and all are important. Some may be more evident than others, but all are needed.
1. The Difference Between the Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit
The gifts of the Spirit are not to be confused with the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is spiritual grace in the character of the believer. All aspects of the fruit are to be possessed by every believer for use all the time. On the other hand, the gifts of the Spirit are divine enablements used in directing and blessing the church.
2. Great Care in Their Operation
There must be great care taken in the operation of the spiritual gifts. The Corinthian church had 'gone to seed" on some of the more "spectacular" gifts. Paul was writing the Corinthians to give them instructions on the regulations of the spiritual gifts in the church. (See I Corinthians 14.)
B. The Nine Gifts of the Spirit
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant" (I Corinthians 12:1). The gifts are placed in three distinct categories as follows:
1. The Gifts that Give Power to "Know" Supernaturally
a. Word of Wisdom
Natural wisdom according to the dictionary is the ability to apply possessed knowledge and experience. The "Word of Wisdom" and the "Word of Knowledge" are supernatural manifestations of the Spirit and exist on a plane infinitely above their natural and human counterparts. The "Word of Wisdom" has no more relationship to natural wisdom than the "Word of Knowledge" has to natural knowledge. The "Word of Wisdom" is supernatural and is not associated with the wisdom of this world. There could be times that the answer we need will not come by man's wisdom, but we will need a specific "Word of Wisdom" given by the Spirit a particular time for a particular situation.
It is the gift of the "Word of Wisdom," and implies a spoken utterance through a direct operation of the Holy Spirit at a given moment, rather than an abiding deposit of supernatural wisdom. The normal life of the church provides a constant need for wise leadership. Problems will occur, and delicate situations arise among the most spiritual believers.
- The way the apostles dealt with the problem of the daily ministration to widows in Acts 6:1-7.
- Jesus dealing with the question of the baptism of John (Matthew 21:23-27).
- The question about paying tribute to Caesar (Matthew 22:15-22).
The "Word of Wisdom" is therefore the supernatural revelation, by the Spirit, of Divine purpose: the supernatural declaration of the mind and will of God, the supernatural unfolding of His plans and purposes concerning things, places people, individuals, communities and even nations.
b. Word of Knowledge
Every Christian must endeavor to grow in "grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord." II Peter 3:18 The Bible does not state "gift of knowledge," but rather it states "Word of Knowledge." All knowledge is ultimately with the Lord," in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). It is therefore a reasonable thing to believe that the Holy Spirit can impart a manifestation of any part of the divine "all-knowledge" at any time, as He wilL An unction of the Spirit can impart to someone the "Word of Knowledge" which would be facts from God about people, places, things and even events which a person could not possibly know unless God revealed them to him.
Peter and Ananias and Sapphira. (Acts 5:1-10)
c. Discerning of Spirits
The Bible does not state that there is a "gift of discernment," but rather it states "discerning of Spirits." I John 4:1 admonishes us to ". . . believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God...." This gift is placed in the church so that there will be means to detect what is true and what is false. The gift of "discerning of spirits" is not only defensive; it can also be offensive in the sense that once an evil spirit is detected as operating through some human channel, that channel can then be delivered through the power of the name of Jesus Christ.
- Peters denunciation of Simon the sorcerer was based upon discernment of the spirit of his heart (Acts 8:23)
- Paul rebuked a spirit posssessing a girl at Philippi (Acts 16:16-18).
2. The Gifts That Give Power to "Act" Supernaturally
The spiritual gift of Faith is to be distinguished from that ordinary faith without which it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6). Saving faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8) but this is not the spiritual gift of Faith referred to in I Corinthians 12:9. There is a faith that comes by the hearing of the Word of God (Romans 10:17) but the gift of Faith comes by the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:7,9, 11). The gift of "Faith" is a measure of faith above that faith which all of us have as children of God. It is a special Faith quickened to us by the Spirit, as are the other Gifts of the Spirit. The Gift of Faith surpasses all reason, looks impossibilities in the face and turns them into miracles. Acts 3:4, 16. There could be a time in life that one could believe God for just about anything. Act upon that faith and rejoice in what God does through that faith.
b. Working of Miracles
The New Testament records that miracles took place such as:
- Dorcas raised to life. Acts 9:40. B. Eutychus raised to life (Acts 20:10).
- At Ephesus, God wrought special miracles (Acts 19:11-12).
The working of miracles is a Gift of the Spirit in which supernatural power is released by God through a person's life to effect an immediate supernatural healing or happening.
c. Gifts of healing
These special "gifts of healing" though given only to certain individuals, do not preclude all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ from laying hands upon the sick for their recovering (Mark 16:18), or all elders in the church from anointing with oil for healing (James 5:14). Such ministries are not dependent upon possessing any spiritual gift of healing. When the "Gifts of Healing" are in operation and hands are laid upon the sick, God can remove the cause of disease or affliction and healing ensue.
3. The Gifts that Give Power to "Speak" Supernaturally
Prophecy can be divided into two parts: Forthtelling and Foretelling. We must remember that prophecy will always be in harmony with God's Word. Prophecy will never replace the Bible or diminish its worth. The prophecy must always agree with the Bible. A prophet can prophecy but because a person uses the gift of prophecy does not make that person a prophet (Ephesians 4:11-13). The Gift of Prophecy is to bring edification, exhortation and comfort to the church (I Corinthians 14:3, 5) "Prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe" (I Corinthians 14:22).
There are different ways in which speaking with tongues is used in the Scripture.
- Initial evidence when receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:4, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:6.
- Speaking to God in prayer. I Corinthians 14:2, 14, 15; I Corinthians 14:4 "he that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself." The believer can speak in tongues in private devotion and there is no need for an interpretation.
- Addressing the church, coupled with interpretation I Corinthians 14:13-27.
- Interpretation of tongues—Notice that the Bible says "interpretation" and not translation of tongues.
When a person is used in bringing a message to the church through the "gift of tongues" there should be the gift of the "Interpretation of tongues" present in order to edify. I Corinthians 14:13 "Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret." A person must seek to excel to the edifying of the church. I Corinthians 14:12. If there is no interpreter present, the one speaking in the unknown tongue should keep silence in the church. I Corinthians 14:28. All the gifts of the Spirit should be under the control of the pastor. What a blessing the gifts, under proper direction, can be in the local church. The pastor should always have the oversight in the final judging of the operation of the gifts. (See I Corinthians 14:29, 33.) It is important (Verse 29) that there be some present who are capable of judging the operation of the Spirit.