Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts


But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” – 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

One of the great teachings of the apostles has been left behind by our local churches.  We say that we desire Spirit-filled church services and Spirit-filled lives.  But unless we understand the work of the Holy Spirit within us, how will we know when it happens?
Teaching the subject of Spiritual gifts is hard.  The text itself is not hard, but when teaching something new it can often be interpreted as false teaching.  If I were to show you a miracle, would you doubt it?  If I were to speak in tongues and another gifted with interpretation spoke to translate it, would you consider it more like a circus side-show act than a spiritual gift?  If you were sick, and I laid hands on you to heal you, would you accept that the Holy Spirit works through the hands of healing, or would you doubt? Would it make you uncomfortable? 

The Holy Spirit has not stopped working these gifts just because we don’t understand them or believe in them.  Your belief in His work does not weaken His ability.  He will do what He desires to do.  His is the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity, and fully God.  We cannot weaken God by our unbelief or our lack of understanding His ways.
In confession, let me just say that I’m a poster child for not believing the works of the Holy Spirit.  I wasn’t brought up in a church that taught about the Holy Spirit or as He was called, the Holy Ghost.  If someone had walked into our church and started speaking in tongues, I’m certain that they would have been asked to leave!  The first time I heard someone speaking in tongues, which is often called a prayer language, I have to admit I thought Satan was at work!  Yet, God chooses to teach us more every single day, and my belief in His gifting has grown.  My hope is that yours will too.

There are nine spiritual gifts in all, which are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11:
·        The Word of Wisdom

·        The Word of Knowledge

·        Faith

·        Prophecy

·        Discernment

·        Healing

·        Working of Miracles

·        Speaking in Tongues

·        Interpretation of Tongues

These gifts are given to all that are saved, having the Holy Spirit living within, and only to those that are saved.  1 Corinthians 2:11-16 explains that the nature of man does not understand the things of God because they must be spiritually discerned (understood).  No one knows that is hidden in your spirit except you, because your spirit lives within you.  Likewise, no one knows the things of the Holy Spirit except those that have received Him.  We have received the mind of Christ, meaning we have the understanding of His Spirit within us.  Verse 12 in the passage says that we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
The Spiritual gifts were not given so we could amaze and astonish our friends.  They were not given as special rewards to those closest to Him.  And they were not given so that we could put ourselves on a pedestal, boasting of the gifts He has given. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all”. Verse 11 says “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.  God works these in us – it has nothing to do with our abilities, and therefore we cannot take pride in His gifting.  God also determines who He gives each gift to and distributes them “as He wills”. You can pray for the gifts or a specific gift, and God may choose to honor your prayer. 

The gifts do serve specific purposes, the first of which we’ve already read.  They serve to show the Holy Spirit within us, as they are the “manifestation of the Spirit”.  When Peter walked by the sick and they were healed by the power of his shadow, no one doubted that the Holy Spirit worked within him.  When the lame walked, blind saw, and leapers were cleansed, the unseen Spirit of God was seen at work in Jesus.  Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”.
The gifts are used to bring unbelievers to belief in the invisible God.  Throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, the many miracles of God served this very purpose, creating belief in Him.  God could have dried up the Red Sea long before the Israelites escaping Egypt got there.  But instead He chose to part the sea, and show them He was with them.  He could have changed Pharaoh’s heart, provoking him to set them free without the ten plagues.  But in turning the water to blood, sending plagues of frogs, lice, boils, and darkness He caused the Israelites who had been living in idolatry within Egypt to once again believe in Him.   

They are also used to strengthen the church.  Words of Knowledge can be spoken to someone as confirmation of what God has already told them.  Discernment can be used to understand the motives of men and women, and whether they enter the congregation to help or to hinder. (Yes, Satan sends his army to church too.)  Extraordinary faith can be given to allow the church to believe God for things that seem impossible. 
Jesus speaking of the coming of the Holy Spirit said in John 14:12, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”  We are able to do these greater works not because of anything in ourselves, but because He has risen, and His Spirit has been sent.  In verses 16-17, And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. The Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Comforter, living within us.  The Spiritual Gifts are one of His ways of helping us.


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