By Stan Davidson
Statement of Faith: God promised that all believers would have power after receiving the Holy Ghost. This power is made manifest through various gifts of the Spirit. The New Testament Church is governed through gifts given by the anointing of the Holy Ghost. Every gift of the Spirit should be in operation until the second coming of Jesus Christ.
“So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus.”
-I Corinthians 1:7
Introduction: It is quite clear that God places great emphasis on the ministry, or what one might call the pulpit ministry. A church without clear leadership will evolve into a chaotic operation where no one is edified and many are wounded. One must understand the authority of the ministry if he is to properly understand the role of the gifts of the Spirit. Misuse of the gifts and lack of understanding of proper spiritual authority has caused many to fear the operation of the gifts of the Spirit, but the church is not apostolic without them. It is through these gifts that the ministry operates. The principles of their proper usage are taught in the scriptures, so every Christian should desire to learn to use them correctly. It is through the gifts of the Spirit that the church is governed in Christ’s physical absence. All apostolic ministries must operate under the direction of the Holy Ghost and through the channels of spiritual gifts. Through proper understanding of the work of God’s Spirit in the church one can find his own ministry and feel the gratification of doing the will of God. Failure to recognize the gifts of the Spirit makes any quest for God’s will an exercise in futility, usually resulting in spiritual stagnation. A child of God is fulfilled only when God’s Spirit finds in him a channel through which to operate.
To Govern the Church
Ye Shall Receive Power
Acts 1:8 promises the New Testament believer that supernatural power will come when he is filled with the Holy Ghost. This power will enable him to effectively witness for Jesus. When a child of God witnesses in faith the gifts of the Spirit will be in operation. A person does not have to be a great orator to win someone to Christ, for the Spirit will enable those who step out in faith. When the words that will help another come to the mind of the child of God the Spirit is at work within the believer. This operation is not mystic, but the result of simple faith in God’s Word. God has given Christians power tools to carry out His work.
The Holy Ghost is also identified as a teacher. In John 14:26 Jesus promised that the Comforter would teach all things and bring all things to remembrance. This does not excuse the Christian from study, but it does give hope that God will illuminate one’s mind with the correct words at the proper time. The child of God must not trust in his own ability, but in the power of God.
Revealed by the Spirit
I Corinthians 2:9-12 informs the reader that the natural eye cannot see and the natural ear cannot hear what God has for His children. These verses are often used in reference to heaven, which is definitely one of God’s promises, but there is much more truth to be drawn from this principle than this one promise. Everything about the realm of the Spirit is beyond human comprehension. It is the Spirit that reveals these truths to believers.
The Spirit of Jesus Christ
One will better understand the role of the Holy Ghost in governing the church if he will accept the fact that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Jesus teaches this truth in John 14:16‑18. “He has been with you and shall be in you…I will come to you.” It is only proper that the Spirit of Jesus should govern the church that bears His name!
Led by the Spirit
Romans 8:9 reveals that one must have the Spirit to be called a child of God. “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Verse 14 further identifies the sons of God as those who are led by the Spirit. No matter what its historical claims may be, if the Spirit of God is not currently leading a church its members are not the sons of God! God’s legacy is not a title or position occupied by a man, but a true anointing from heaven. Men do not govern the church. God rules the church through the Holy Ghost. Anything else is denominationalism! God’s church has organization but it is not a denomination.
He Gave Gifts
Ephesians 4:8 teaches that, when Jesus ascended on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men. This is another way of saying that, after Jesus purchased liberty for sinners, He gave gifts to men to enable them to govern the church. The gifts of the Spirit actually do this work. A godly leader will be led by the Spirit of God. This is why men and women who are anointed of God should be heeded even in their youth. The wisdom is not that of the speaker. It belongs to God.
The Lordship Rule
Is every claim to God’s anointing to be accepted without question? Absolutely not! Two important truths can be found in I Corinthians 12:3. These principles can be identified as the Lordship Rule. 1) No man speaking by the Spirit of God will call Jesus accursed. John 15:26 says the Comforter will testify of Jesus! 2) No man can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Ghost. Some have misinterpreted this to mean that anyone who says that Jesus is Lord is of the Holy Ghost. This passage is really saying that the only way one can call Him Lord is through the infilling of the Holy Ghost. “Lord” means “supreme in authority, or master.” Jesus Christ is not Lord of one’s life until He is resident in the individual through the baptism of the Holy Ghost. What does one learn from the Lordship Rule? No one speaking under the anointing of the Spirit will call Jesus accursed, and since He is the Living Word, no one will contradict His Word when anointed of God. Also, one is not ready to speak in God’s stead if He has not received God’s Spirit!
The Gifts of the Spirit
I Corinthians 12:4-6 mentions the word “same” three times. It also mentions diversities and differences. The theme throughout the chapter is the “oneness” of the body. A body has many parts, each with it’s own function, but there is just one body. As it is with the members of the body, the various ministries of God’s church are not in competition with one another. There is “sameness” and diversity. When each individual finds his respective place in God’s service there is harmony in the body. There is no schism in a group that is totally in tune with God. The “same” element in these verses is the Spirit. Verse three says Spirit, verse four says Lord, and verse five says God, and it has been shown in a previous lesson that these three are one. Within the oneness of the body of Christ there is a diversity of gifts, differences of administrations, and a diversity of operations. Remember that the church works in unity, not uniformity. Uniformity requires exactness but unity allows for diversity. I Corinthians 12:8-10 lists nine gifts of the Spirit. They are the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. These gifts can be divided into three categories: 1) To Know, 2) To Act, and 3) To Speak.
The Word of Wisdom – Wisdom is the proper use of knowledge. Supernatural wisdom is best defined as extraordinary wisdom in extenuating circumstances. In dealing with the spirits of the enemy in the end time one has to rely upon wisdom beyond that which is natural. A word of wisdom is the direction given to an individual in a dire situation that will enable him to conquer his adversary. The church cannot afford to rely on human judgment when facing the issues of this day! The writer of the chronicles of Judah (I Chronicles 12:32) said that the men who came to anoint David as the king of Israel “had an understanding of the times and knew what Israel ought to do.” There is a great need for the wisdom of the Spirit in this generation.
The Word of Knowledge – The word of knowledge quite often works in conjunction with the gift of prophecy. A fact is revealed, and then prophesied, publicly or privately. Remember that these gifts are supernatural. This knowledge is not something that is learned naturally, but something given by God.
Discerning of Spirits – The natural mind cannot comprehend what is transpiring in the realm of the spirit. Without a true knowledge of the adversary one cannot deal with these spirit beings without suffering defeat and frustration. The Holy Ghost will quite often reveal the nature of one’s spiritual adversary. However, there are individuals whose greatest gift is suspicion. One must become skilled in the knowledge of the operation of the Spirit lest he be shamed for his error.
Faith – This gift must be distinguished from the common faith of the believer. The gift of faith is that which goes beyond what is normal. There is a divine confidence that comes to a child of God in distressing situations that is greater than the common faith that produces salvation. This faith brings miracles, confidence to lead others to victory, or boosts someone in crisis or trauma. It is placed in the action category because it always results in action.
Working of Miracles – Lesson Six was about divine healing. God is a miracle worker and is anxious to demonstrate His power for a believer. These instantaneous acts can be of the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or financial nature. The possibilities are unlimited! Revival often begins with great miracles. The Christian should expect them!
Gifts of Healing – Gifts of healing are distinguished from the working of miracles in that healing can be a process. For example, a person may be terminally ill, but God begins a healing process that eventually results in a clean bill of health. Notice also that “gifts” is plural. This is referring to the individual acts of healing. When the specific sickness is cured God gives a “gift of healing.” There is no passage in the Bible that insinuates that an individual has a resident gift of healing which responds at his will. The gifts of the Spirit are not the personal property of the individual.
Prophecy – Prophecy works in harmony with preaching and teaching. Preaching and teaching are the result of study and progressive revelation, but prophecy is instantaneous revelation. It is sometimes difficult for the hearer to discern what is the result of the progressive revelation of study or the instantaneous revelation of prophecy, but be assured that the speaker knows the difference. Prophecy can also be “interpretation without the tongues.” This can be a message to an entire congregation or to an individual. The word of knowledge and the word of wisdom are quite often revealed through prophecy.
Divers Kinds of Tongues – Because of the confusion caused by misinterpretation of this teaching it is necessary to explore it in greater detail. The confusion is not the fault of the Bible but of the many interpreters of scripture. Many seek to explain this concept away because they have never had the experience. The gift of divers kinds of tongues is not to be confused with the evidence of the initial infilling of the Holy Ghost. There is a devotional tongue and there is the gift of divers kinds of tongues. Some use I Corinthians 12:30 to teach that not everyone who receives the Spirit will speak in tongues. Previous lessons have established the truth that all individuals who receive the Holy Ghost will speak in tongues. This verse is in reference to the gift of divers kinds of tongues, which is not given to every Christian. The governance of the church, not the new birth experience, is at issue here. According to I Corinthians 13:1 there are tongues of men and angels. In I Corinthians 14:14-15 Paul speaks of praying with the spirit and praying with understanding. The gift of divers kinds of tongues is not really prayer, fof the message must be interpreted. If it goes forth three times and is not interpreted the speaker should keep silent. (I Corinthians 14:27-28) Also, there should not be more than three messages given even when they are interpreted. The individual should then speak to himself and to God. In verse 18 Paul proclaimed that he spoke with tongues more than all of the Corinthians. This first letter to the church at Corinth was written to correct some serious problems, one of which was the misuse of the gifts of the Spirit. The Apostle told them to desire spiritual gifts but use them in a way that edifies the entire body.
Interpretation of Tongues – Every demonstration of the gift of divers kinds of tongues must be accompanied by an interpretation. This gift is self-explanatory. God will reveal the message to the one giving the tongues or to another individual. These messages will verify a preached message or simply bring edification to the body. God does not usually give the entire message to the interpreter, but will most often give a few words with which to begin. When the speaker steps out in faith the remainder of the message is revealed as he speaks.
Gifts, Operations, and Administration
A key point is made in I Corinthians 12:7. These gifts are given for profit. God will not use them in a way that is not profitable to the body. They are not for humiliation or embarrassment. Also, verse 11 reveals that the gifts are the work of the Spirit, “dividing to every man severally as he will.” In other words, the gifts are not the personal property of the individual. They are meted out by God when there is a need and return to Him when the need is met. No man has a gift that can be summoned at his will. God has the gifts and they are given to man when needed. Some individuals are used in one area more than others because of their faith. However, no person has the power to call upon a gift at his discretion. They are divided as God wills. Some have interpreted Romans 11:29 to mean that, once a gift has been given, it always remains on that person. However, the primary subject of that chapter is Israel and the Roman attitude that God had removed Israel so that He could graft in Rome. Paul explained that God was not sorry for His calling to the Jews and He yet would accomplish His purpose and have mercy upon them. Indeed, an examination of the entire chapter will reveal that this does not mean God will never remove an anointing or gift. The very Israel he referred to as not “repenting for giving them their gift and calling” was cut off the vine. He cut them off because of unbelief. God does not repent for (regret) the gifts He gives, but it is possible to be cut off.
Gifts, Helps, and Governments
Verse 28 of I Corinthians 12 teaches that the gifts include the ministries that God has given to preside over the church, and they are placed first in the chain of authority. Some scholars have insinuated that the operation of the gifts removes the need for pastoral and pulpit ministry. The same New Testament that teaches the gifts instructs the church to remember those in authority. (Hebrews 13:7) The ministry positions are listed first, second, and third in the chain of authority. First come apostles, secondly prophets, and thirdly teachers, and then comes the other gifts, helps, and governments. Ephesians 4:8-12 further explains the role of the ministry. Reading these verses omitting verses 9 and 10 makes them easier to understand.
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and
gave gifts unto men….And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some,
evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the
work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: ”
The purpose of the ministry is to perfect, or fully equip, the saints. No operation of the gifts of the Spirit will override this fact. I Corinthians 14:29 speaks of those who are to judge while the gifts are being administered. This is no doubt one of the functions of the ministers. But God has given helps and governments to work hand in hand with the anointed ministers, and everyone must operate under the anointing of the Spirit and be open to the operation of the gifts.
The Spirit of the Prophets
I Corinthians 14:32-33 is important to understand. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. These verses follow the exhortation to keep silent when there is no interpretation after three messages go forth. The speaker can control his actions. At times, to avoid confusion, one needs to remain silent no matter how strongly he feels the anointing of the Spirit!
When Will the Gifts Cease to Operate?
That Which is Perfect
It is very important to properly identify “that which is perfect” in I Corinthians 13:8-12. It has been taught by some that this passage is referring to the completion of the New Testament canon, which was not available in its fullness when Paul wrote this verse. This doctrine teaches that the gifts of the Spirit are “that which is in part,” and they will be done away with when “that which is perfect is come.” They believe that the gifts of the Spirit operated until the New Testament was written. Yet Paul also speaks of tongues ceasing, prophecies failing, and knowledge vanishing away. There is no doubt that his subject is still spiritual gifts, for chapters 12 and 14 both cover the subject. Even the love chapter, chapter 13, is based on the subject of the operation of the gifts. Paul is showing that love is a more excellent way to administer them. But this time of the cessation of the gifts is also identified as a time when “I shall know even also as I am known. ” Few scholars deny that this is a reference to Christ’s second coming and the Christian’s eternal abode with God. So that which is perfect has to be a reference to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Believers now see through a glass darkly, or see into the future only through eyes of faith. But then Christ shall be seen face to face. It is impossible that this passage is referring to the completion of the New Testament. Jesus Christ is the perfect one who will return. Only then shall the gifts of the Spirit cease!
Until He Comes Again
The key verse of this lesson, I Corinthians 1:7, confirms this interpretation. Every gift of the Spirit should be in operation until Jesus returns. These gifts will govern the church until Jesus comes. Only then shall they cease!
Conclusion- A church without the gifts of the Spirit is a carnal church. No amount of rejoicing and concert can take their place. The Lord gave the gifts to govern His followers in His physical absence. I Corinthians 12:31 instructs the student to earnestly covet the best gifts. I Corinthians 14:37-39 says to covet to prophesy and forbid not to speak in tongues. Paul’s admonition is a good place to conclude. “If any man is spiritual let him acknowledge that this is true. If any man is ignorant let him be ignorant!”
Open Book quiz- Student Copy,
1) Complete this sentence from the lesson text: “No matter what its historical claims may be, if a church is not currently being led by the Spirit of God,…”
2) According to Ephesians 4:8, what did God give to men?
3) List the two truths in the Lordship Rule.
4) List nine gifts of the Spirit found in I Corinthians 12:8-10.
5) Divide these gifts into the three categories mentioned in this lesson.
Category 1____________ 2_____________ 3______________
Gifts 1) 4) 7)
2) 5) 8)
3) 6) 9)
6) Preaching and teaching are the result of progressive revelation, but prophecy is what?
7) The word of knowledge and the word of wisdom are quite often revealed through what?
8) If tongues go forth three times without an interpretation, what is the speaker to do?
9) What does the lesson mean when it says that the gifts of the Spirit are not the personal property of the individual?
10) When will the gifts of the Spirit cease?