Spiritual Gifts

 Spiritual Gifts

 

 

      To start with, the Greek word for gift is charisma. So, what is a spiritual gift?  It is a favor received without merit on the part of the one receiving it and in a technical sense, extraordinary powers bestowed upon individuals by the Holy Spirit. In 1 Peter 4:10, Peter says, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God”. There are many gifts listed in the New Testament and they are all ‘spiritual’ gifts. Most of these gifts have a natural basis in natural talents and abilities and the Holy Spirit uses them. There are some gifts that have a supernatural basis and work in a miraculous manner. I believe that the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 are those gifts. So, I am going to use the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 in the order that they are given.

      The first gift listed is the ‘word of WISDOM’. Why do you think that wisdom is listed first? I believe that Paul wanted everyone who read this chapter to understand that wisdom is needed in the use of all the gifts that are listed. Without the use of wisdom in the use of these gifts, they will be used improperly. I want you to see that Paul had wisdom. In 2 Peter 3:15, Peter says, “Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you”. So Paul, in his letters, wrote them with the wisdom of God. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:20, “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” The answer to that is yes. In verse 23, Paul says, “We preach Christ crucified”. In verse 24, he says, “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” In verse 30, he says that Jesus is made wisdom unto us by God. When people think of wisdom they think of Solomon. Look at Matthew 12:42 and Luke 11:31. They both say that a ‘greater’ than Solomon is here. Jesus is doing the talking in those verses. He is talking about Himself. In James 3:14-18, James contrasts the wisdom of this world, (bad), with the wisdom of God, (good). In 1 Corinthians 3:19, Paul says that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. True wisdom comes only from God, not man or knowledge or anything of this world. So, what is wisdom? In Matthew 13:54 and Mark 6:2, the people were astonished at the wisdom of Jesus. In Luke 2:40, Jesus grew and was filled with wisdom. JESUS is WISDOM. Read the 4 gospels and study the things that Jesus said and did and you will see what the wisdom of God is all about. James 1:5 says, if you lack wisdom, ask God for it. I wanted to explain what wisdom was before I said anything about the gift, ‘the word of wisdom’. The easiest way to explain this gift is to point you to 2 persons in the bible who had the gift. In Psalm 111:10, David says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. In Proverbs 9:10, Solomon says the same thing. Solomon also says in Proverbs 15:33, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom”. These are words of wisdom. There are many more persons in the bible that had received the gift. The gift is a special word of God that comes to a person and it is a word of wisdom.

      The second gift listed is the ‘word of KNOWLEDGE’. This is not worldly knowledge. If you go to college to become a lawyer or whatever, you gain worldly knowledge. This is an education, not a spiritual gift,. I am not saying that education is not good because I believe that education is very important to all individuals and the Holy Spirit can use it to help you spiritually. As Christians, we believe that the bible is the word of God, and was written by men inspired of God. Those men wrote the first manuscripts of each book of the bible. As far as I know, there are no original manuscripts to be found. All manuscripts are copies. In seminary or Christian colleges you learn Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic to help in your studies. The problem is, that many scholars cannot agree on the interpretation of many verses. What I am saying is that many scholars take their knowledge of the languages and study the scriptures scientifically. We shouldn’t throw away any of their teachings or commentaries that we read because we gain a lot of knowledge from them. The Holy Spirit is the final interpreter of all scripture. So don’t close your mind to anything, but allow Him to open up the word to you. Remember, that from one manuscript, we have gotten so many that we can’t count them. But also remember, that God has preserved the bible these many years, so that it resembles the one He originally wrote. If we are diligent in reading and studying the bible, the Holy Spirit will reveal the true meaning of scripture to us. There are no contradictions in the bible. If we find any, they are in our own minds. Jesus used His knowledge of scripture to rebuke Satan after His 40 days of temptation. He used wisdom in the choices of the scripture that He quoted. Wisdom helps us use the knowledge we have in a Godly way. In Proverbs 1:7, Solomon says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. In Isaiah 11:1-3, Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would have the spirit of wisdom and knowledge. Again, Jesus is our example. Look at Him and see what knowledge is. The gift we are speaking of here is not knowledge itself, but the word of knowledge. What would be an example of a word of knowledge? For this we have to look at Paul. 1 Corinthians 13 is what we call the ‘love chapter’. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul explains what the meaning of love really is. Before the Corinthian letter was written, all of the first century church had heard of love but did not know the true meaning of it. Paul was given a word of knowledge from God that enabled him to explain to them the true meaning. That is what a word of knowledge is. A person receiving a word from God that explains something that no one else has been able to explain.

      The third gift listed is ‘FAITH’. What is faith? The dictionary says, it is believing in God without proof, trust, religion or spiritual things. The bible has only one explanation of what faith is and that is found in Hebrews 11:1, which says, “Faith is the substance, (assurance), of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. The word substance can also be translated as confidence. It is the substantial quality or nature of a person. In other words, steadiness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution, firm trust. It is a conviction of the truth of anything or belief that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God. The second word in that verse is ‘hoped for’. That is, favorable and confident expectation and happy anticipation of good. The ground on which hope is based is found in Colossians 1:27 at the end of the verse: (Christ in you, the hope of glory). The next word is ‘evidence’, meaning, ‘to bring to light, expose, that by which invisible things are proved’, (and we are convinced of their reality). ‘Not seen’ is the last word and it means exactly what it says; ‘Something that you cannot see with your eyes or feel with your hands’. How do you get this faith? Paul gives us the answer in Romans 10:17, where he says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. He doesn’t say talking, he says hearing. There are many ways of hearing, but the key is the word of God. We can hear when we read the bible. Listen to preaching or teaching as long as it is about the word. If we don’t pay attention, we are not listening. In Galatians 5:22, faith is listed as a fruit of the Spirit. As a fruit, we are to let it flow through us to help others grow in faith. The fruit are not just for the individual that has them. Faith is the foundation of our belief. It is invisible, but we can see the results of it. The faith listed in 1 Corinthians 12:9 is not a saving faith, but a wonder working faith. I believe that the three gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are listed first, and the order in which they are listed is for a reason. Wisdom is the first and we see that Jesus is ‘wisdom’ and our example. We follow Him and use that wisdom in the knowledge we learn. Again, Jesus is knowledge also and through His wisdom and knowledge we gain the faith needed. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith”. All that I have written so far is of regular faith. So what is this special faith of 1 Corinthians 12:9? For an example, turn to Matthew 9:20-22. It’s about the woman with the issue of blood. She said within herself that if she could just touch the garment of Jesus she would be healed. The faith that she had was that wonder working faith. This kind of healing had never been done before. Her faith came from the Holy Spirit and she acted on that faith and was healed. There is another event in Matthew 14:35-36 where a lot of people came to be healed of Jesus by touching His garment. But that was at a later date and does not necessarily mean that it was the same kind of faith that the woman had.

      The fourth gift listed is the ‘gift of HEALING’. The first thing we want to notice is that the word gift is used here only. It is not used for any other in this list of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. They are all called gifts in verse 4, but healing is the only one that the word gift is used with. What does the word gift mean? In 1 Corinthians 12, it means a favor, which one receives without any merit on his or her part. Now, what is healing? It is restoring the sick miraculously. God can use doctors to heal and they may perform a miracle in the cure but that is not the gift. These gifts show extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ. Now the receipt of these gifts is due to the power of divine grace in their souls by the Holy Spirit. In verse 4, the word diversity is used and it means different kinds of gifts. All gifts are bestowed on believers by the Holy Spirit and are for the edification (building up) of the church. In verse 9, the word gift is used for healing. Notice that it is pluralized and we can take this two ways. First of all there are many different ways of healing. Too many people say that the laying on of hands only does faith healing. Jesus is our example and He used many different methods to heal people. The second way is to change the plural from gift and put it on healing. In other words: the gift of healings. Many scholars do this. That could mean all different kinds of diseases. I believe that it does not matter which one is plural. A faith healer, if he or she is a true faith healer, can heal any disease in any way the Spirit leads them to. This gift is listed fourth for us. As we study the word, we gain wisdom and knowledge and our faith grows and if we receive the gift of healing it will not overwhelm us. An example of this gift is found in Acts 28:8. Paul prays over the man and he is healed. To me, that is not the special gift of 1 Corinthians 12:9. To me, it would be in Acts 5:15-16, where the people lay in the street waiting for the shadow of Peter passing by to heal them, and all were healed. All healings are miracles in them-selves.

      The fifth gift listed is the ‘WORKING of MIRACLES’. I like what the dictionary says about it. “A wonderful happening that is contrary to or independent of the known laws of nature.” The Greek word for miracle is dunamis, which means power. We get our words dynamo and dynamite from it. The person who is endowed with this gift, ‘the working of miracles’, cannot do anything on his or her own. No human being can perform a miracle by himself or herself. They have to be led by the Holy Spirit. The power comes only through Him. Without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, there will never be any power. A miracle is a work of super natural origin and character, something that could not be produced by any natural means. We cannot explain a miracle. So the best thing to do is to not try. There are many instances in the bible where various persons have performed a miracle but I am only going to use two of them and the word miracle is not even used. First, In Acts 20:7-12, Paul was preaching late into the night and a young man who was sitting in a window of the third loft fell asleep and fell to the ground and died. Paul went down and fell on him and embraced him and brought him back to life. Paul had the gift of working miracles, but did he raise all the dead to life? No, only where the Holy Spirit lead him to. Secondly, In Acts chapter 7, we have the sermon of Stephen. In verses 55-56, Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, looks up into Heaven and sees Jesus at the right hand of God. We do not have a telescope that we can use to see that far, but Stephen did it with his eyes. He was given the gift

      The sixth gift listed is ‘PROPHECY’. First, let’s look at what a prophet is. Three elements that enter into the true conception of a prophet are revelation, inspiration and utterance. The prophet is a proclaimer of a divine message: A person to whom and through whom God speaks. In the Old Testament, the prophet was usually a foreteller or predictor of future events, like Micah. In Micah 5:2, Micah predicts the birth of Jesus taking place in Bethlehem 700 years before it happened. The prophet also reveals the word of God. In 2 Samuel 24:11-13, the prophet Gad goes to king David to tell him that the Lord has given him, (David), 3 choices of punishment for his sin in calling for a census. When David makes his choice of punishment, God begins the punishment. Jonah was a prophet and in the book of Jonah, Jonah is told in 1:2 to go to Nineveh and cry (preach) against Nineveh. He rebelled against God and was swallowed by a big fish. After he repented the fish vomited him out. In 3:2 the Lord speaks to him again and tells him the second time to go to Nineveh, but this time the word used is “preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” Prophecy is not necessarily or even primarily fore-telling, it is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means. Much of the Old Testament is predictive, like Micah 5:2. In the New Testament, John 11:47-53, the leaders of the nation took counsel as to what to do about Jesus and in verse 50-51, the High Priest prophesied. Prophecy is speaking the word of God, whether in reference to the past, present or future. Today, there are still some prophets around that predict future events but they are few and far between. Most of our prophecies today come from preachers and teachers who are listening to God and speaking out His will.

      The seventh gift listed is ‘DISCERNING of SPIRITS’. What is discerning? It is distinguishing between different utterances, whether they proceed from true or false spirits. Judgment is involved in discernment. The more we study the bible, the more we will understand what the word means and the more we are able to recognize or distinguish if something that we are hearing or reading is true. In 1 Corinthians 11:29, Paul says, “Not discerning the Lord’s body”. That means that they did not recognize what the body and blood of Christ represented. Everybody has the capability of discernment, but that is not the gift. The gift can be given to anyone and there’s no studying involved in it. I want to use two examples of the gift. First, in Acts 5:1-10; we have the story of Ananias and Sapphira, who sold property and brought the money to Peter. They lied about the sale price by saying their gift was the entire sale price when it wasn’t. How did Peter know that they were lying? It was by the gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit. The second is in Acts 16:16-18, where we read of a soothsayer following Paul and saying things. Even though they were true, they grieved Paul because of where they were coming from. How did Paul know that this was an evil spirit? He had the gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit. God is not a respecter of persons, so anyone can receive the gift.

      The next gift is the gift of tongues, but before I get into that, I want to mention something else. A lot of people ask the question, why don’t we see any of the gifts anymore? All the gifts are for the edification, (building up), of the church. The first century church did not have the New Testament in written form like we have, so they needed these gifts to help them grow. Today, we have the bible, and it is the help we need to build up the church. We read and study the bible and listen to preaching and teaching to help us. These gifts are still around and they are seen once in a while when God has a special word to give to the church. The bible is the best gift that God has given to us for the building up of the church.

      The eighth gift listed is ‘TONGUES’. This is the most controversial gift of all in Christianity. First of all, I believe that it’s a heavenly language and not a worldly one. Tongues is a supernatural gift of speaking in an unknown language without learning how to speak it. This language only comes from the Holy Spirit as a gift and there is no way that anyone can teach it. This gift began at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to the apostles in their prayer room in the form of cloven tongues of fire that came upon each of them.  They were filled with the Holy Ghost and began speaking in other tongues. This is recorded in Acts 2:1-4. This is the heavenly language and not a worldly one. In verses 5-7, Luke tells us that devout Jews out of every nation under heaven were in Jerusalem and when they heard of this they gathered and couldn’t believe that they heard them in their own language. Everyone wants to put the emphasis on the speaking rather than on the hearing. In the room, the emphasis is on the speaking, but here, the emphasis should be on the hearing. They all spoke in the heavenly language, but the crowd heard them in their own language. If they were speaking in other languages, why did some of them think that they were drunk? Because they didn’t understand the language they were speaking. In verse 15, Peter stood up with the other 11 to speak. The speakers were 12 in number. In verses 8-11, the areas from where these devout Jews came from are more than 12. So, how did they all hear in their own tongue? By the heavenly language and the Holy Spirit interpreting it into all the worldly languages. This is why I believe that when we talk about the gift of tongues, it has nothing to do with a worldly language. The gift of tongues was used improperly in the first century church as well as it is today. This is the only gift that Paul writes a whole chapter about to help us understand how, when and where to use it. 1 Corinthian 14 is that chapter. The very first thing that Paul says is follow love. Why do you think the love chapter, chapter 13, is put between the gifts chapter, chapter 12 and the instructions chapter on tongues, chapter 14? Paul wants people to have love in the use of tongues and one thing that love says, is that it does not seek it’s own. When you speak in tongues in the hearing of others, you are forcing tongues on them. In verses 1-5, Paul, in speaking of tongues, says that prophesying is better than tongues. Why? The person who speaks in tongues does not speak to man, but to God, unless he speaks in a congregation with an interpreter. Then he becomes a prophet and what he says edifies the church. This is not the gift of prophecy, but the gift of tongues. Paul wishes that everyone spoke in tongues, so that means that there were some in the church that did not speak in tongues. In verses 6-11, Paul is still talking about tongues and he says that there is no profit in tongues because there is no understanding for the church. It only edifies the person. Understanding is most important, that’s why Paul uses musical instruments to show us that without knowing what is played by the sounds, the music has no value. If a missionary comes from a foreign land to speak in one of our churches and he or she cannot speak English, a translator is used; otherwise there is no understanding. The same goes for tongues. In verses 12-17, Paul says, “how can a person say amen at the end of someone praying in tongues when they understood not what was said”. The word amen means be it so, or you agree with whatever the person has prayed. In verses 18-22, Paul says that he could speak in tongues more than any of them, but he would rather speak 5 words that they understood than 10 thousand words in tongues that they could not understand. He wants to teach them, the church, and to do that he has to speak their language. In verses 23-25, Paul says that if the congregation is speaking in tongues and any visitors come in, they will think that you’re crazy. But if they are speaking a language, they may be led to God. In verses 26-33, Paul asks why are so many things going on in the services that are not edifying the church. God is not the author of confusion, so Paul directs them in how to conduct their services. Verse 34 is usually taken out of context. Paul says, “Let your women keep silence in the churches”. What Paul is saying is that women are not allowed to speak in tongues in a congregation. This whole chapter is about tongues, so that is what Paul is referring to here. Nothing else. The very last thing that Paul says in verse 40 is, “Let all things be done decently and in order”. None of the gifts are badges of honor. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit, Who gives them to whom He chooses. These gifts are to be used with love. That’s why the love chapter, chapter 13, is put between the gifts and the correct uses of tongues.

      The ninth gift listed is the ‘INTERPRETATION of TONGUES’. There is a difference between translating and interpreting. In translating, one person knows the language of the speaker and translates it into the language of the hearer. In interpretation of tongues, the speaker does not know what he is saying and the interpreter doesn’t know what he is saying either. There is no knowledge of the words. Paul teaches us that in a congregation no one is to speak in tongues unless there is an interpreter. No interpreter, keep quiet. If there is an interpreter, Paul says that you can do it 2 times or at the most 3. Let us use all the gifts wisely as the bible directs.

      There are many more gifts listed in other books of the bible. They are all spiritual gifts and come from the Holy Spirit. All those gifts that are listed, like preaching and teaching, are given to individuals who can use them everyday. The gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are one time gifts. In other words, once the person has spoken a word of wisdom, that’s it. That person does not have anything else to say unless the Holy Spirit gives that person another word. The preacher and teacher receive wisdom and knowledge from the Holy Spirit through their studying and reading, but it’s not the same, as it remains with them. There are so many gifts that people have that are in the background. No one sees them, but they are there. My wife had the gift of gab. Not that she talked a lot, but she could speak to anyone at any time and minister to them without ever having to think of what to say. People were drawn to her and they were comfortable enough with her to know they could talk to her about anything. That is a gift and there are lots of people who have that gift. We should use every gift that the Lord has given us no matter how small we think it is.

 

Bill Gauthier

 

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Category: UNCLE BILL
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  1. Rose says:

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