By C. M. Becton
From the Day of Pentecost on, the Church was and is the most exciting institution in the world. There was a glory, a wonder, and a miracle at every street corner. Let me say once again that God had provided in the baptism of the Holy Ghost and the resultant gifts of the Spirit the means for the reproduction of His divine character and faculties in His church. Surely, the prophetic words that Jesus uttered near the end of His earthly ministry are now being fulfilled: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12).
Let us take a look at some of these “greater works” which the apostles did through the gifts of the Spirit. Let us see how the gifts operated in the lives of the disciples and in all of the early church.
We will begin with the three gifts of revelation and see how they worked. The gift of the Word of Wisdom and the gift of the Word of Knowledge are very closely related. Although they do at times work independently of each other, they usually operate as a team. When God reveals man’s secrets by the supernatural, He will usually at that time provide supernatural wisdom as to what to do about it.
One of the earliest incidents of this is recorded in Acts chapter five. Ananias and Sapphira were about to perpetrate one of the first acts of hypocrisy upon the newborn church. Ananias and Sapphira conspired between themselves to keep part of the money they had received from selling their land. This was their right, but they did not have the right to try to make themselves look good by lying to Peter and pretending that they were giving their all!
Peter could not know about their deceit, but the gift of the Word of Knowledge began its supernatural work. Peter asked, “Why hath Satan filled shine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” (Acts 5:3).
What was going to be the punishment meted out by God against this dastardly deed? The Word of Wisdom moved in to let Peter know and so he spoke it out to Sapphira when he said, “Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out” (Acts 5:9).
Paul, expressing supernaturally revealed knowledge, admonished the captain and the sailors on the ship that was to take him to Rome, “I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship but also of our lives” (Acts 27:10). Shortly afterward a storm drove the ship toward the rocks, and all hope that they should be saved was abandoned. Then the supernatural words of wisdom prompted Paul to say, ‘And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; l; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, Cod hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:22-25).
When a blinded Saul shuffled into Damascus, every follower of the Lord was greatly afraid of this zealot who had so vigorously persecuted them. Somehow someone must get to him and tell him what he must do to find God. But all the Damascus believers were scared of Saul! Then the gift of the Word of Knowledge and the gift of the Word of Wisdom came into full operation as Ananias answered the call of the Lord: “Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight” (Acts 9:10-12). Detailed facts and instructions were given to Ananias, not through a natural means, but through a most astounding supernatural method. Praise God! The early Christians probably wondered, what will God do through His church next? Reports of the astonishing acts of the Spirit sifted among them rapidly. But God was just beginning.
One day as Peter was praying on the housetop, God prepared him for his next great move. He showed Peter a vision that at first repelled the apostle. What was he to do about the unusual vision that he had just received from God? It did not take long for Peter to find out that the Spirit always moves in time as once again the gift of the Word of Knowledge and the gift of the Word of Wisdom worked together supernaturally to let him know the exact number of men at the door seeking him. He was instructed to “Arise, therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” The result?
A whole household of Gentiles were saved. (See acts 10.)
The third gift of revelation is the Discerning of Spirits, and the understanding and use of this gift are becoming more important with each passing day. Wrong spirits and false spirits are sometimes difficult to recognize. But this is no problem for the Lord. Elymas had a lot of people fooled, but his veneer was peeled away as Paul set his eyes on him and said, “O full of all subtilty and all mischief thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10). Elymas fooled most of the people all of the time, but he could not fool God for a minute!
Paul, used by God with the gift of Discerning of Spirits, discerned the evil spirit in the woman at Philippi: “But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour” (Acts 16:18). Seducing spirits, lying spirits are responsible for doctrines of devils and damnable heresies. If it were not for the gift of the Discerning of Spirits, these seducing, lying spirits could even deceive the children of God.
The next group of gifts can be classified as gifts of power. We call the gift of Faith, “faith of the moment” because this gift, like the others, is not a continuous operation. Faith arriving from the Word of God becomes a permanent part of our lives. The gift of Faith is temporarily imparted for an express use. The New Testament is replete with examples of the gift of Faith being manifested, but I mention only one to you; and that is the working of faith in Peter when he said to the lame man at the Gate Beautiful, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). Peter later explained why the lame man could go through the Temple walking and leaping and praising God: ‘And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:16).
Of the nine gifts of the Spirit, the Working of Miracles is the most sensational and dramatic. The act that can be achieved through human strength or ingenuity cannot be classified as a miracle. The young man who fell asleep while sitting in a window as Paul was preaching and plunged down into the street below and was taken up dead could tell us a whole lot about miracles after Paul, through the Working of Miracles, restored him to life.
The Bible tells more in a few words than I could describe with a whole lot concerning the gifts of Healing: “There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one” (Acts 5:16). Please understand that the person being used by the gifts of Healing does not have the power to heal everyone; allowance must be made for the sovereignty of God and the sick person’s attitude and spiritual condition. Even Christ was limited in this miracle-working ability by the unbelief of the people. The gifts of Healing in operation does much to turn people to God and to convince unbelievers of the truth of God’s Word. It is also a means of inspiring faith and giving courage to God’s people.
The third category includes the gifts of inspiration. The term “prophecy” has many meanings. Perhaps to understand the gift of Prophecy more clearly, we can approach it from what it is not. The gift of Prophecy is often confused with the prophetic office, but the first is a gift and the second is an office. The gift of prophecy is only an instrument; it does not in itself convey the power to predict the future or to foretell. It simply means, “One who speaks for another.” Sometimes the gift is confused with preaching, for there are times when preaching is referred to as prophesying. But to treat the gift as preaching is to rob it entirely of its supernatural character. Sometimes preaching may go into the gift of Prophecy, and that is when the Spirit takes over and prophecy begins to come forth. The minister is speaking things he did not prepare for. Actually, the gift of Prophecy is similar to the gift of Interpretation except it is not preceded by the gift of Tongues. It is supernatural utterances in a known tongue. It could be that the gift of Prophecy came upon James when he said, “The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.” How comforting are these words, and that is one of the purposes of prophecy. Paul said, “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” Thank God for the comforting!
And now a word about the gift of Tongues. Tongues have several uses, one not to be confused with the other. It is first of all the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. And this has never been done away with. It is still the same today. Tongues are used to magnify God and to edify or build up oneself. Sometimes it becomes a sign to an unbeliever, awakening within that lost soul a spark of faith. And then it is one of the nine gifts.
Paul very carefully gives the guidelines for the use of this gift in chapter fourteen of I Corinthians. Paul wrote that he had rather speak five words with his understanding, that by his voice he might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue; however, he did not do away with the gift of tongues with his statement. If his statement were to do away with speaking in tongues, why did he also write, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all”? He was merely stressing the fact that there was a time for all things, a time to preach or teach in a known tongue, but he also left room for a time to speak in the unknown tongue. When the gift of Tongues is part of a service, it should be accompanied by the gift of Interpretation. If there is no interpreter in the service, the person speaking in tongues should either be silent and speak to himself and to God, or pray that he might interpret. Please be fully aware that it is interpretation and not translation; sometimes the interpretation is not the same in time or length as the utterance of the tongues.
Perhaps these vocal gifts were being used in the church at Antioch when, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2).
What a set of power tools! The Great Designer has fashioned them so that the work of the church can he accomplished easily and rapidly. The Lord is going to do a quick work in these last days so that He may return very soon for His Bride.
The Above Material Was Published By The Pentecostal Herald, October 2001, Pages 8, 10, 11. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.