Understanding Spiritual Gifts
By F.J. Turley
Paul writing to young Timothy, in what was probably his last letter, said these words, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also’, 2 Tim .2:2 (KJV). In the Amplified Version this verse reads, “And the instructions which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust as a deposit to reliable and faithful men, who will be competent and qualified to teach others also”
There is a tremendous need these days for good sound Bible based teaching on Spiritual Truths, especially in Pentecostal Fundamentals. Paul makes the point that the teaching of Bible truths should be in the hands of reliable and faithful men. It does not matter how gifted or talented the teacher is if he fails in the area of reliability and faithfulness. In other areas-Business, Industry, The Arts and the Professions this does not matter but in Church it is absolutely critical.
Fred Turley is such a man, the epitome of reliability and faithfulness. I have known him for well over 20 years and have had the privilege of working with him for years on the General Board of the United Pentecostal Church of Great Britain and Ireland.
Paul goes on to say that the Teacher should be competent and qualified. There are few men that have Fred Turley’s wealth of experience coupled with a genuine gift of communication, at times seasoned with irrepressible wit. He has demonstrated this over the past years in his work as Editor of “Pentecostal Truth”
The possession and operation of the gifts does not indicate spirituality in a person. Chapter nine brings this all into focus and leads us into a welcome balanced approach to “Understanding Spiritual Gifts”
Gen. Supt. (UPC of GB and I)
Ignorance is tragic wherever it is found, but ignorance concerning the things of the Spirit and especially the Gifts of the Spirit should be remedied and removed. That is why the apostle Paul commences his discourse in l. Corinthians 12 v1 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant”. With the advent of the Charismatic Renewal among many of the Historic churches, it is important that we know the scriptural teaching on this very important subject.
As the twentieth century church seeks to fulfil it’s God given mission in the world, it needs more than ever the power to pattern itself on the first century church, so that the anointing of the Holy Ghost can be effective through the diversity of gifts, that are already resident in the Body of Christ might become evident.
It has been said by many sincere Christians that the gifts of the Spirit were only for the establishing of the church and that they are no longer needed. The apostle Paul how ever states in 1. 12 v 28 “that God hath set in the church, apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healings, tongues.” If the church is still here and these gifts were set in-the church, then obviously the gifts are still here.
As a human body cannot function properly without it’s talents and abilities, so the church cannot function correctly as the Body of Christ without the “diversities of operations, through the same God working all in all” Through the gifts the indwelling Christ is revealed, and the saving purpose of God for the world can be accomplished.
The gifts also have a unifying ministry. In the body of Christ as Paul states “we have many members” and these gifts will unite the members to co-operate with each other, being interdependent on one another. “The foot because it is not hand, cannot say I am not of the body..the ear cannot say because I am not the eye, I am not of the body..” (1. Cor. 12. 11-25) The gifts of the Spirit are given according to verse seven of this chapter to “profit withal” This simply means that the manifestation of the gifts benefits all the members of the body of Christ, and not for the selfish enjoyment of the possessor. If this fact was fully appreciated many ministers who possess gifts of healings and miracles would use them to the benefit of the church and not to build great empires of personal wealth and glory.
A church devoid of the supernatural gifts is about as mighty as Samson shorn of his locks of hair. The spiritual Philistines of Satanic powers and principalities, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness, make sport of a church lacking the essential armoury provided by the Spirit. These gift are designed to present the church and it’s gospel as the true representative of Christ on earth. When John the Baptist asked if Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus did not appeal to his ancestry, or his place of birth, or to his knowledge of the scriptures, or his relationship to God his Father although these were proof enough. He simply said “Go your way and tell John what things ye have seen, blind see, lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached..”(Luke.7.22) It was the presence of the supernatural that was to convince not only John but also the Jews and their leaders of Christ’s authenticity and authority. The same must be said of the church, it is only as ” we go forth, and preach everywhere, the Lord working with us, confirming our word with signs following”(Mark.16.20), that we can claim to be the sole avenue to God the Father, and that our gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. l v 16). Paul also says to the Thessalonians chapter one verse five “our gospel came not in word only, but also in power.’ It was the healing of the impotent man at the gate Beautiful that silenced the Jewish leaders, for they “beholding the man which was healed standing with them ,they could say nothing AGAINST it” (Acts. 4.14).
It is therefore the privilege and responsibility of all the members of the church to enter into the realm of the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, seeking those gifts which equip us for the ministry that God has for us to perform. To those in authority and leadership, wisdom, knowledge and discernment, for those seeking to win the lost and build up the local churches, ie pastors and evangelists, faith miracles and healings, to those attending the local church and wanting to contribute to it’s spiritual growth and healthiness, prophecy, tongues and interpretation. We must always bear in mind that it is the Spirit who” divides severally as he will” (I. Cor. 12.11).
As the human body reveals the personality, character and virtues of the person concerned, so the indwelling Spirit of God through the body of Christ reveals the Christ who is the head of the body, through those dynamic gifts which are there for that purpose.
Let us then “covet earnestly the best gifts” (l. Cor. 12.31) and “desire spiritual gifts” (I. Cor. 14. 1).
The Body of Christ endowed with these great gifts can be “terrible as an army with banners” (SofS.6.4)
The nine gifts can be conveniently grouped in three sets of three,
Gifts of Revelation. Wisdom, knowledge, and discernment.
Gifts of Demonstration. Healings, faith and miracles.
Gifts of Expression. Tongues, interpretation and prophecy.
The Word Of Wisdom.
We are exhorted in Proverbs chapter four verse seven that “Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom” we know that wisdom is a divine attribute for He is called “the only wise God” (l. Tim. l v17). The scriptures also state that in Christ is “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. It is). It is then reasonable for Paul to put this gift of Wisdom as the first and most important of all the nine gifts of the Spirit. This gift then can be defined as “a communication or revelation from God to an individual of His Mind and Purposes, the unfolding of His plans and designs, and the ability to order the present in the light of such revelation.”
This definition will show that the wisdom mentioned here is completely supernatural and is not as some suggest just human common sense sanctified and used for godly purposes. All the gifts of the Spirit are supernatural. If this argument be applied to the gift of tongues it simply means that any person who is fluent in any language other than his own can consecrate it to the Lord, and thus he will be speaking in tongues. This is of course nonsensical.
We should also notice that it is a word of wisdom, by this is meant a fragment of the divine wisdom. For example if you should visit your doctor to ask for advice concerning some sickness he will not go into all his understanding of the human body, but will give you sufficient knowledge for your condition. He will give you just a word that you need. This is so with the Lord. Let us now consider some instances from scripture that will explain how this gift operates.
1) Noah.Preservation against impending destruction. ((Gen. 6. 6 v 13&14.)
The writer to the Hebrews says “Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet..prepared an ark..” By this gift Noah was informed of the coming devastation, and thus he was able to order the present in the light of what was to be. God knows the future and by this gift he can reveal it to us so that we can make the necessary arrangements to meet it.
Providing for the Coming Dearth. (Gen. 41).
In interpreting the kings dreams, Joseph by the word of wisdom was able to show what was coming over the first seven years of plenty and what to do to meet the demands of the seven years of famine. This fact is verified by Stephen in Acts. 10, “God gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh”
Preparing His servant for a Divine Commission. (Ex. 3)
The appointed time had arrived, and God was about to deliver his people from slavery. By a miraculous sign of the burning bush God gets the undivided attention of Moses and reveals to him by this gift his great intention to emancipate his people Israel. was now made aware of his destiny when God said “come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt” Through this gift Moses who perhaps thought he had failed God by what he had done, was now made to realize that God had had a purpose in it all ensuring that his servant was the better fitted to fulfil this great task.
Presenting the facts Concerning anothers Demise. (1. Sam. 3)
We know that as “yet Samuel did not know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him ” When the Lord called unto him he was not aware that it was God speaking directly unto him. However when he was told what to do by Eli, God through a word of wisdom clearly presented to him the fate of Eli and his household.
Previewing World Events. Disclosing End Time Conditions.
We read of this in Daniel chapter 2 . Daniel in verse 19 says “the secret was revealed in the night vision” and then in verse 23 he says, “God of my fathers who hast given me wisdom … made known unto us the kings matter.” Daniel also in verse 30 states the miraculous nature of his wisdom. Daniel was able to show to the king the coming empires and the future glory of the Kingdom of God. It is through this gift of wisdom that those prophecies concerning the return of Christ were given to Paul and Peter, the book of the Revelation was given to John by this same gift.
Predicting a time of personal Distress. (Acts. 21 v 11)
Through the prophet Agabus the Lord prepared Paul for the coming times of distress and affliction. I am sure that if this gift had been more in operation, many of God’s people, church officials and leaders would have been the better equipped to meet the times of persecution and distress and would not have been caught out by the circumstances.
Proclaiming his Rescue and Destination. (Acts. 27v24)
In the midst of what seemed to others in the ship certain death by drowning, Paul was given a word of wisdom by God assuring him of his and their safety and also of his eventual arrival in Rome. Through this gift God confirmed his servant Paul’s protection and fulfillment of his ministry and that no power of nature. could obstruct it.
With all the forgoing scriptural examples we conclude that through this wonderful gift, God has enabled us to be aware of the future, and by his grace we can be prepared to meet it. With such a gift in operation many of the difficulties that have, and will face the church could and
would have been tackled in a much better and wiser way. This gift is certainly needed for the leaders in the church, so that they can be made aware of coming situations and thus lead the people of God safely through.
The following story will illustrate this word of wisdom. During the service in a Pentecostal church, a man asked permission to address the congregation. This was granted, and while he was speaking, it was revealed unto the pastor that the man was living in sin, and that if he did not repent he would be mocked in the streets of the town. The man did not repent and when his sin was discovered he became the laughing stock of the whole community.
In closing this chapter we must make clear that the gifts of the word of wisdom and word of knowledge although totally different can also be inter-related and complimentary. As in the story just mentioned, the heart condition of the man living in sin was revealed, which is a word of knowledge but his eventual fate is a word of wisdom. This is true of the Biblical incidents already shown in this chapter. By the word of wisdom Joseph was told of the coming famine, by a word of knowledge he was able to prepare for it.
This is shown with John on the isle of Patmos in the Revelation, by the word of knowledge he knew the condition of the seven churches, and by the word of wisdom he knew their future and could thus accurately tell them about it. Let then those who need this gift “covet it earnestly” for it is one of the best gifts, and those members of the body of Christ pray that God will bestow this priceless gift upon those ministers who require it. God’s work will be enriched, protected and prepared to execute its mission on the earth, going forth in victory for the glory of God.
A modern example of this is of a young lady from Wales who had received a call to the mission field, but was waiting before the Lord find out the precise country she was to go to. The Lord showed her in a vision the ship she would travel on, the port she would arrive at, the strange houses she would visit, and the people she would see. She knew from their faces she was to go China. A few years later when she arrived to her adopted country, the vision became reality, for everything was as the Lord had shown her. The Word of Wisdom given her in prayer prepared her for the future and she was then able to order the present in her life according to what the Lord had prepared for her.
The Word Of Knowledge.
No doubt this twentieth century is renowned for it’s advance of knowledge This is a fulfillment of prophecy ” But But thou, O up the seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Dan. 12 v 4) The increase in natural understanding has brought forth universal travel. Therefore we must realize that as human knowledge has brought such benefits to mankind, how much more will the operation of the word of knowledge bring great blessings to the church of the Lord Jesus.
The Lord himself is the repository of all knowledge and understanding. “Great is our Lord, and of great power, his understanding is infinite” Ps. 147-5. Paul also extols this virtue of the Lord’s in Romans. ll. V
33-34 “0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out for who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?” Our precious Lord Jesus as the One true God revealed in flesh also had this attribute as recognized by Peter “Lord, thou knowest all things” (John. 21 v l7;) This gift was also found in the
church as Paul accepted it at Corinth. “that in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge” (l. Cor. l v 5). Turning to the second epistle chapter 8 v 7 Paul says again “Therefore, as ye abound in everything in faith, and utterance, and knowledge..” Undoubtedly this was the meaning behind Paul’s prayer in Ephesians chapter one, verses seventeen and eighteen, “that God may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. That the eyes of your understanding being enlightened ye may know what is the hope of his calling. And the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” As the word of knowledge is a revelation gift, Paul was expecting it to be manifest in the church here to open up the tremendous wealth in Christ for them to share and enjoy. Before considering the scriptural incidents where this gift is demonstrated we
must define it thus “it is a communication by God of the actions, thoughts, and condition of men, also facts that are hidden within God’s heart and only revealed by His Spirit.”
This definition again shows that this gift of knowledge is not human understanding given to God’s use, neither is it a deep knowledge of the word of God, it is a supernatural revelation from the Lord.
1) To Encourage God’s Servants. (I. Kings, 19 v l8)
The dejected prophet, who but a little while before had had such a resounding victory over the might of Baal on Mount Carmel, was now in the very slough of despondency. He was he felt the only representative of Jehovah, then came that Word of knowledge, “I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and, and every mouth which hath not kissed him..” What a revelation, the disheartened Elijah now had new courage to go and fulfil the commission of the Lord. What a precious gift this can be, as when the servants of the Lord smarting under the aggressive power of the adversary, receive such a word from God and arise with new strength and vigour.
2) To Expose Deceit and Hypocrisy. (Acts. 5. v l-11)
The wicked plot of Ananias and his wife, who sought to gain the same glory and recognition as did Barnabas in the previous chapter, did not succeed because Peter was in possession of this word of knowledge. Deceit and hypocrisy has been the bane of the church of God, and much damage has been done to multitudes of churches simply because this gift has been absent. We need this gift in operation today for the protection and preservation of the purity of the church. Notice the effect that the judgment of God brought upon the church, “Fear came upon all the church..” This word of knowledge can bring reverential awe upon us, and remove the flippant nature that many come to the meetings in, and pretend to be what they are not. It was this gift too that the deceit of Gehazi was unmasked by his master the prophet Elisha in 2. Kings. 5 v 27. “Went not my heart with thee, when the man fumed again from his chariot..” The conniving heart of Gehazi was shown to Elisha. One shudders to think what would happen in many Pentecostal churches if the gift of knowledge was exercised today.
3) To Effect the Call of God. (Acts. 9. v 10-16)It certainly came as a great shock to Ananias when by a word of Knowledge
God revealed unto him, the exact street, house, and condition of the man in the house. The street was called Straight, it was Judas’ house and Saul was praying. Following his dramatic conversion Paul was led into the experience of full salvation by a humble member of the church who had received through this gift God’s call upon this once hater of his Name. It is not only to the ministry that these gifts are available, but to ordinary disciples as was Ananias.
4) To Enhance Gospel Preaching. (John. 4 v 1-30)
We know according to Isaiah 1l. v 2 that “upon Christ would rest the spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge,” and this was wonderfully fulfilled as Jesus the evangelist preached to his one woman congregation the gospel. His ministry was effective when through this word of knowledge he diagnosed her past style of life (thou hast had five husbands) and her present condition (he whom thou now hast is not shine husband). Jesus knew the sinners secret history and present day mode of living, through this gift, and it was this revelation that compelled her to tell others of Christ, “Come see a man that told me all things that ever I did” We know that there are present day examples of this when gospel preachers have been able to reveal the condition of sinners hearts. The scriptures say of Jesus “he knew what was in man”(John.2v24-25) Evangelistic ministers possessing this gift can be mightily used of the Lord in convincing sinners of their need of salvation.
5) To Examine and Exhort the churches. (Rev. 2 and 3)
Through this gift of the Word of Knowledge, John exiled on Patmos could clearly picture the condition of each church and with great clarity could tell them all about their internal condition. He could tell them the remedy for their spiritual sicknesses. It is amazing today when some visiting preacher at a church through his ministry will pinpoint certain situations in that church, just as if he had been previously informed about it. It would be good for congregations to have an ear when the Lord speaks to them, and recognize this gift in operation.
It was through this same gift that Paul could write to the Ephesians chapter three verses three and four “How by revelation he made known unto me the mystery..whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.” He was exhorting them concerning the riches that are theirs in Christ and this word of knowledge was written into the letter they were reading. He further verifies this when writing to the Galatians, chapter one, verse eleven and twelve “that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man, for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by revelation of Jesus Christ..” The word of knowledge is needed today to reveal the true condition of the churches and also to enlighten the believers of their great riches in Christ through this gospel of redeeming grace.
6) To Encounter the Designs of the Enemy. (2. Kings.6 v 9-12)
The king of Syria was at war with the king of Israel, and set his army in certain places in order to ambush the Israelites, but on each occasion somehow his enemy knew the location. He called his servants thinking that one them was a traitor, but one of them said “None my lord..but Elisha the prophet..telleth the king of Israel words that thou speakest in thy bed-chamber..” By the word of knowledge Elisha was able to forestall the enemy. In the Acts of the Apostles chapter sixteen, Paul and his companions were followed daily by a young woman who cried out “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation..” No truer words could have been spoken, yet by the word of knowledge Paul knew that it was a design of the devil and she was a demon possessed person. Had Paul not been shown this fact, they could well have taken her into their confidence in the meetings that they were holding and the consequences could have been devastating. We “fight not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness Spiritual wickedness..”(Eph.6.12)therefore this gift will enable us to know the tactics of our enemy and bring about his defeat.
W.F.P. Burton who pioneered a great Pentecostal Work for God in what was then called the Belgian Congo, was lying in his hut dying of malaria, when all of a sudden he stood up, completely healed, full of vigor. His friends could not find any explanation for it. Whilst visiting England some years later, he stayed at Preston and a young lady came to him and by comparing diaries he discovered that the Lord had given her a word of knowledge and by revelation she saw him lying there almost dead, and she travailed in prayer until she saw him rise from his bed. The devil had brought that sickness in order to stop the great work being done! this gift defeated the enemy and gave victory to the Lord.
Enough has been said to show how impoverished the church is without such a dynamic manifestation of the Spirit of God. It is the duty of the believers to earnestly seek the Lord to endow his chosen vessels with this indispensable gift of God.
In recent years this gift has been used by many anointed evangelists, one well known one who whilst conducting a gospel meeting suddenly stopped preaching and turned and pointed to a young man in the
congregation and said, “Young man, the Lord has shown me that you are living in sin. You are not only smoking, but drinking heavily. Moreover, the Lord gave you a call to the ministry and you have ignored it. Again, you are suffering from T.B. in an advanced state of development, you are wondering how you can be healed. Is that right?” “Yes sir” came the reply. The evangelist told him to come out for prayer, if he did so God would heal him and restore him. He did just that and God wonderfully healed. This was a Word of Knowledge.
The Discerning Of Spirits.
In discussing this manifestation of the spirit we are treading on ground not many people are experienced in. with the increasing interest in the occult, wizardry, satanism, and the growing number of witches covens dabbling in both black and white magic, there is a greater need of this gift than ever before in the history of the church.
The scriptures leave us in no doubt as to the character of the spirits that are in the world today.
1) Unclean or foul spirits, (Acts 5,vl6; Matt, l0 v l, Acts, 8 v 7,) 2) Lying spirits, (1. Kings, 22, 22/23), 3) Evil spirits, (Acts, 19 v 12,Luke, 7 v 21) 4) Familiar spirits,(1. Sam 28, v 7) 5) spirits of infirmity, (Luke, 13. V ll.) 6) spirit of jealousy. (Num. 5 v 14) 7) spirit of divination, (Acts. 16.v16).).
We can see the fruits of these spirits at work in the world today. The lawlessness and the moral decadence that is rampant in every strata of human life. Undoubtedly these spirits are working overtime in bringing the world to it’s time of Armageddon as the unclean spirits seduce the people as recorded for us in Rev. 16, v l3-14.
It would be good for us here to consider what this gift is not, Firstly it is not the discerning of persons. Generally speaking this is simply a spirit of judgment upon someone. The Bible says “judge not lest ye be also judged.” This attitude of carping criticism from the pastor down to the door keeper is as John Wesley said “a gift that could well be buried in the depths of the ocean, without grieving the Lord at all” we say Amen to that. Secondly it is not the ability to have an insight into human nature. We do not need a supernatural endowment by God for that. To be able to decipher the character and natural disposition of other people is best left to those busybodies who relish such an acumen. Thirdly it is not as some think, the ability to read another’s thoughts. we know that Jesus knew what was in man and read the “thoughts in their hearts” (Matt. 9 v 4) as did Samuel with Saul. (l. Sam. 9 v 19). This however was an operation of the word of knowledge and not discerning of spirits. This third in the cycle of the revelation gifts can be defined as such, “the communication by God to an individual revealing the presence, source, and character of either good or evil spirits, and the ability to distinguish, the false from the true, the Satanic from the Divine”
1) This Gift Uncovers Satanic Strategy.
The mediaeval idea of Satan being a monster with great horns and breathing fire out of his nostrils is discounted by scripture. That he can be a roaring lion is true, but generally he comes and so do his false apostles “as transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ..Satan coming as an angel of light” We ought then to have this gift in operation in order to protect the people of God. It was such an occasion that happened with Peter. Satan influenced him to try and dissuade the Lord Jesus from going to the cross, for Satan knew that this would be his ruin. Jesus said “Get thee behind me Satan, for thou savourest the things that be of men and not of God’, Now we know that Peter was not devil possessed for it was of Judas, that Jesus said had a devil, but Peter was used by Satan to say what he said. (Matt. 16 v 23). Jesus used the gift of discernment to uncover the devils ploy. This incident shows us that unsanctified believers can be influenced by the emissaries of the devil. Jesus rebuked James and John when they wanted to call fire upon those that did not receive the Lord Jesus. (Luke 9.54-56) What a reversal for Christ, had he not known that this was of Satan. To do as the two disciples suggested would have given our Lord’s enemies just the ammunition they lacked in their attempts to bring him to judgment and death. By this gift of discernment Paul knew that “His thorn in the flesh was a messenger from Satan” (2. Cor. 12 v 7). Paul knew that the power working against him through the trials and persecutions was none other than an evil spirit, and that his assailants were but pawns in the hands of demon powers. As with the Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul, we should seek the Lord to manifest this gift amongst us so that “we can be strong to the pulling down of strongholds” (2. Cor. 10 v 4-5) Whether we like it or not, Spirit Baptized believers and churches are the main objectives of the powers of darkness. This great gift is like a sentry at the gates able to recognize the enemy even though he comes camouflaged as an angel of light.
2) Unveils False Doctrines and Teachers.
I. Tim. 4 v l and 2. Peter. 2 v l tell us of “seducing spirits, doctrines of devils, and false prophets bringing damnable heresies..” We know that Jesus told us to “beware of false prophets, coming in sheeps clothing, but within they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7. v l5). Paul also warns the believers about the “mystery of iniquity already at work..even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish..” As we look around the religious world of today _ we see so many preaching false doctrines and leading so many into the ways of error. This gift therefore is an absolute must for the Spirit filled church today. Many a foul demon is seeking to undermine the truths of one God in Jesus Christ, of the Acts 2. 38 standard of New Testament salvation, of the increasing need to maintain a rich experience of holiness, anticipating the return of the Lord Jesus, one of Satans favorite darts is to get us to compromise. As Jesus repulsed Satan in the wilderness by upholding the integrity of God’s word, so must we, for therein lies the pathway to victory. Happy that church, happy that organization that has men gifted with discernment “their garments will be white” and they will receive “that crown of righteousness” in the Day of the Lord.
3) Unmasks Demonic Possession.
What a blessing it was that Peter possessed this wonderful gift, when he followed Philip, who had such a mighty revival in Samaria. (Acts. 8) The local sorcerer, Simon by name who evidently held great sway over the inhabitants, professed salvation, was baptized in Jesus Name. Simon obviously did this in order to enhance his devilish powers and not because there had been any genuine repentance on his part. He was only interested in the performance of the miracles and signs. (v 13). When Peter came to lead the new converts into the baptism of the Spirit, Simon showed himself in his true colors seeking to possess the power of the Holy Spirit, he offered money to get what was a gift from God. Peter soon told him that “he was in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity.. his heart was not right in the sight of God… he needed to reopen, and be forgiven” Paul also exercised this gift when in Acts 13 verse 8 Elymas another sorcerer withstood them, but Paul filled with the Spirit “discerned what power was in this man and told him he was full suability, mischief, the enemy of righteousness..” The possessor of this gift is able right into the heart of those thus possessed with evil spirits.
In Acts 16 we see Paul again manifesting the gift of discernment. In the last chapter we saw how that Paul by the word of knowledge perceived that even though the young woman was telling the truth, the tone of her voice was not that which was divine and truthful. Therefore by this gift of discernment he was able to recognize the spirit animating her, that it was evil.
In Pentecostal circles we are prone to these people who come and pretend to be telling the truth, many of them “claim to perform miracles and healings in Jesus Name” but in that day the Lord will say “Depart from me for I never knew you.” With this gift we can also discern those who are false and give them no place among us. Jesus of course had this gift of discernment as he looked at those possessed “the devils would cry. Thou art the Holy one” The power to defeat the devil as did Jesus is in the church today. (Mark. 16. v 17) More than ever in these days it behoves us to “try the spirits whether they be of God..because many false prophets are gone out into the world..” (I. John. 4 v l)
4) Unfolds to us the Good Spirits.
It would be by this gift that Elisha would know of the presence of a heavenly company protecting them from the enemy, his servant of course knew nothing of them, and so the prophet asked the Lord to open his eyes and then he too saw them. (2. Kings. 6 v. 16-17) It was through this gift that the prophets would be able to see the living creatures such as Ezekiel, first chapter. Also John would through this gift have the revelation of the Lord Jesus and the living creatures in heaven as recorded in the book of the Revelation.
There is in closing this chapter a word of warning to those who would try and enter into the world of the spirit. The sons of Sceva tried to imitate Paul in dealing with evil spirits, and the man leaped on them and overcame them. (Acts 19. v 13-16) We see how that as Jesus Said, “Satan cannot cast out Satan”(Mark.3v23). The gifts of the Spirit cannot be trifled with. and if anyone reading this book has designs on receiving them, make sure you are in the right place spiritually, so that God can use you, that through the gifts you possess God alone will be glorified and the body of Christ edified. The gifts are given so that “every man may profit withal” (I. Cor. 12v7) This means that all may profit and receive blessing as the gifts are manifested. The gifts are for the church as a whole and not simply for self aggrandizement.
An example of this in recent years was a deeply spiritual, Spirit filled sister, who on several occasions had seen the Lord. At one time a beautiful face appeared before her smiling as if to ingratiate himself to her. She looked at the smiling face and then said “You are not my Lord” she had discerned with true spiritual judgment that the face was not Christ’s. Instantly the smile changed into a scowling monster, she called upon the Lord and face of the obvious demon disappeared. As we approach the end of the age, and the complete overthrow of the kingdom of darkness, Satan is making a determined attack upon the world, by enslaving people with his beguiling and pernicious activities, we need more than ever this gift to be manifested in the church.
The Gift Of Faith.
This gift of faith is the first in the cycle of the gifts of Demonstration, and I am sure would rank as one of the best gifts. The subject of faith runs through the Bible like a golden thread. Almost no other subject occupies so great a portion of the scriptures. Indeed we are told that “without faith it is impossible to please the Lord.” (Heb. ll v 6). Who cannot but be richly blessed and challenged when reading in that 11th chapter of Hebrews, those worthies of faith, who have left an indelible mark in the history of God’s dealings with mankind. Jesus upbraided those who had little faith and commended those who had great faith. This shows to us that faith can be possessed in degrees. Paul speaks of “your faith groweth exceedingly” (I. Thess. l v 3) The scriptures speak of “saving faith” (Eph 2 v 8), also of “sanctifying faith” (Acts. 26 v 18). Then we are told of the “fruit of faith” (Gal. 5v22) but this really means faithfulness or fidelity. We are told “of the faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude. 3.) However the gift of faith is a special quality and can be defined as this,” it is the ability to trust God unwaveringly to sustain one in all situations, for protection, or provision, and that whatever one says or desires, shall surely come to pass”
1) Faith for the Impossible.
Perhaps one of the greatest possessors of this gift is Abraham. He believed God in such a way as “he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith..being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was also able to perform.”Rom.4v20-211. That his wife should conceive and bear a son, he knew was impossible. The laws of nature forbade that such an event could take place. But what was impossible with man was not so with God when he found a believing servant who trusted His promises. This quality of faith can operate in such a way that the natural laws are suspended, and that which is impossible becomes a reality.
It was by this gift that Elijah could trust God to sustain him and the widow- woman on the meagre supply of oil and meal. (I. Kings. 17). This type of the gift of faith was when Elisha gave the woman the promise of the supply of oil. He believed God would do this for her, and God did. (2. Kings. 4.) One small cruse of oil became a veritable oil well for supply.
2) Faith for the Incredible.
When Daniel was challenged concerning his religious observances in praying three times to God, knowing full well the consequences of the decree against such people, he immediately went to his house and opened his windows towards Jerusalem. That was faith in action. His faith was such that he knew his God would not forsake him. Daniel spent the night sleeping peacefully among the lions. The king spent his night worrying about Daniel, expecting to see a small pile of bones on the floor of the den. Faith in God brought protection. To this king the incredible had happened. (Dan. 6.)
Elijah when he was in hiding by the brook Cherith exercised this gift. He was told by God that he would be fed by the ravens. Now the ravens are not birds to feed anyone but themselves and their families. Yet the incredible happened. God reversed the nature of the birds and they willingly came and gave to the Lord’s servant. Undoubtedly the gift of faith is essential in the raising of the dead. This was exemplified in both Old and New Testaments. Elijah and Elisha were so used of God. Jesus too showed this gift in raising those three people from the dead, namely Jairus’s daughter, the widows son and Lazarus. Through this gift Peter brought Dorcas back to life. (Acts.9v40) This gift operated through Paul when raising Eutychus from the dead after his tragic fall from the window. (Acts. 20. v l0) Now in such instances of the dead being raised, this of course is a miracle and we see both gifts of faith and miracles working together here.
3) Faith for the Inexplicable.
By the gift of faith we confound the greatest minds for this faith is known only to those within the church of Jesus Christ.
We see in Abraham once again this gift of faith. When God called him to leave his family and friends. He was told, “to go out not knowing whither he went”. The gift of faith operates when you cannot explain where you are going or why you are going. The gift of faith supersedes reason.
It was through this gift that the three Hebrew children could defiantly state that they would not bow down to the idol. They simply said “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us” (Dan. 3. v l7). The tremendous heat that was generated from the furnace meant those who came a little too close were burned to death. That was reasonable and could be explained. But these three children of faith were cast into the furnace. The king looked to see what would happen to them, but he saw a fourth with them the Son of God was walking also in the flame. It was inexplicable that they should survive, it was also a great mystery when they came out their clothes would not have smelt of smoke. This was a tremendous manifestation of this gift of faith.
It took the gift of faith when Elisha was confronted by the man whose borrowed axe head had fallen into the water. Elisha took a stick from a tree and cast it into the water and the axe head swam. How can you explain iron swimming? By this gift Jesus would have been able to walk on the water, you cannot explain how anyone can do that without sinking, faith is for the inexplicable. It is obvious that the gift of faith is the basis for the other two gifts of demonstration. Stephen “was full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people” (Acts. 6 v 8)
The Bible is full of such God glorifying examples of faith that space forbids us to tell you of them, but enough has been said to, I am sure create within us a desire to see this manifestation of the Spirit prevalent in the church.
Smith Wigglesworth has been called “The Apostle of Faith” and as a young man I was privileged to hear him preach on a number of occasions. Although he had not much of an education, he came to know and trust God in a way that not many have known Him. He believed God, he lived faith, preached faith, exuded faith, wherever he went. Although quite crude and rough in his dealings with those who came for prayer, yet when he commanded the cripple to run, he ran, the blind saw, deaf heard!, because of his great faith in God many who came to him for healing and deliverance, received not because they had faith, but because he had such faith. I have often heard him sing his favorite hymn “Have Faith
in God, the sun will shine, Though dark the path may seem today, His heart hath planned your way and mine, Have faith in God have faith alway.”
The Working Of Miracles.
The word miracle is applied to many things today. We talk of the miracle of life, the miracle of birth, miracles of grace. But this gift of the Spirit is a gift of demonstration. It can be explained thus,” it is a supernatural intervention in the ordinary course of nature, the reversal of accustomed order of working” Now we must realize any manifestation of this gift is not against nature, but above and beyond nature. It can be a suspending of the laws of nature, but it does not remove those laws. It has been said that the miracles of earth are the laws of heaven. This is so true. What is wonderful here on earth, is just ordinary in heaven. The word miracle is used and explained by the Greek words semeion, meaning sign, and dunamis meaning powers, or acts of power. Jesus said in Mark, 9.30 “no man, which shall do a miracle (act of power) in my name can speak evil of me..” Peter preaching on the Day of Pentecost said of Jesus “that he was a man approved of God..by miracles and wonders and signs”(Acts.2, 22) When Jesus was at the marriage at Cana he performed his first miracle (sign) showing who he was to all those present.(John. 2. 11) In the 23 rd verse of this same chapter we read “many believed in his name when they saw the miracles (signs) which he did” The working of miracles is not just given to reveal a persons power who possesses this gift, but to show as a sign or a proof of who they are in relation to the will and purpose of God for them.
The word of God is so full of miracles that we shall take just a few to show how this manifestation of the Spirit acted for and on behalf of those who were used by the Lord.
l) The Personal Use. Here are a number of recorded instances where this gift was used for personal evidence of the ministry” that God had placed within them. In Acts 13,7-12 we read of the sorcerer Elymus withstanding Paul’s ministry, to the deputy Sergius Paulus, and Paul
filled with the Spirit pronounced a season of blindness on the magician. This came to pass immediately. The mans eyes were not diseased, or impaired in anyway, but nature was suspended and overruled. This was to confirm Paul’s ministry for the deputy was “astonished at the doctrine and believed”
It would be a manifestation of this gift when the casting out of demons is taking place. Jesus in Mark 9.38-39 equates casting out demons with miracles. For the disciples saw someone doing this, and because he was not one of their company told him not to do it. Jesus however did not reject him. This is also seen in Acts 8 under Philips revival in Samaria, “the people gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did, for unclean spirits crying with loud voices came out of many..many with palsies and lame were healed..” You will notice that there are two gifts in operation here, working of miracles by which demons are cast out, and the gifts of healing upon those who were palsied and lame. Now I realize that in Acts 4,22 it says concerning the man at the gate Beautiful who was so mightily healed that” a miracle of healing was showed” Now we must realize that each gift is separate and distinct and here this healing is called a miracle. However we know that healing is miraculous. So of course is speaking in tongues, but it is not a manifestation of the working of miracles. All healings are miracles in a way, as is the New Birth, but the working of miracles is separate and performs on it’s own. We see Paul in Acts, l9, 11-12 “performing special miracles by God’s power, handkerchiefs and aprons were sent to the sick and possessed and they were healed and delivered” Again healings are connected with miracles. But in this respect the miracle is in the way
the healings were accomplished. Not by the usual way of laying on of hands, but in the vehicle of the aprons and handkerchiefs. We could also say that Jesus walking on the water and stilling the tempest would be by this gift, he controlled the elements, they obeyed him. This was done for his personal safety and the safety of others.
2) Provisioning Miracles.
The yew, first miracle Jesus did was one of these. At the marriage in Cana recorded for us in John 2, we see Jesus simply turning natural water into the most delightful wine they had ever drank. Without going
into great detail we see this gift operating for the children of Israel when the water gushed from the flinty rock. (Exodus. 17) also the woman who fed Elijah from the same barrel of meal, also fed her son and herself and it never diminished. (l. Kings 17) The feeding of the multitudes by Jesus was also acclaimed a miracle. (John. 6.26). That Christ could take a few loaves and fishes and feed thousands and then finish up with more left over than initially he had was indeed a great wonder and sign to the people. Our God is a God of miracles if we will only believe Him.
3) Peripheral Miracles.
By this I mean wonders in the outer atmosphere and the natural surroundings of the universe.
Elijahs’ pronouncement that it would not rain for three years, saw the suspension of the laws of nature. It did not rain until he gave it leave so to do. (l. Kings. 17. v l.) This was evidenced when Samuel was able call thunder to sound in the time of harvest. This was an unheard of thing. God overruled the forces of nature at the command of his servant. once again this is shown when Joshua told the sun and the moon to stand still. The “Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man” (Joshua 10.12-14).
In closing we see that God intended to confirm his Word and the message of the gospel by this means. Mark tells us that “these signs shall follow them that believe..they shall cast out devil, heal the sick, speak with new tongues, etc” and also that “they went forth preaching, the Lord confirming their word with signs following” (Mark. 16, 17-20).). This was fulfilled in the Acts of the Apostles, “many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (2.43) “by the hands of the apostles were wrought many signs and wonders” (5.12) Stephen “full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people” (6,8) The writer to the Hebrews also states this tremendous truth “this great salvation…spoken by the Lord, confirmed by those that heard him (the apostles) God bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost”
Surely it is time for the church to arise to its great possessions in the Holy Ghost and look for and pray for miracles as did the early church in Acts. 4 v 29 “and now Lord..grant unto thy servants all boldness to speak thy word, by stretching forth thy hand to heal, and that signs and wonders be done in the name of thy holy child Jesus” the place was then shaken with a great rush of the Spirit and then “with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus..”
Our hearts cry should be Lord please do it again as you did for people of Old in Egypt, and in Canaan, and in the early Christian days. He is “the same yesterday and today and forever..”
A lady known to me personally, a Mrs. Williams of Walsall contracted in her tongue an incurable complaint, this meant that quite a part of the tongue had to be removed. Unable to speak for quite a number of years she then attended a Divine Healing Crusade in the local town hall. At the evangelists invitation along with many others she presented herself for prayer. Unable to tell the minister her need, he simply prayed for God to do a miracle in body, as he prayed she felt her tongue grow to its normal length. Her husband had to fright of his life when she entered the kitchen and asked him what he wanted for his supper. God had overruled the law of nature and Mrs. Williams received a new tongue.
The Gifts Of Healings.
Divine healing is a subject that is known to all Christian people of whatever persuasion they may be. Right throughout the history of the church from the days of the apostles there have been great times of revival when healings have been performed. The Waldenses, Moravians, Huguenots, Covenantors, Methodists, all have records of such manifestations. Of course since the turn of the century with the out-pouring of the Spirit in the Pentecostal revival, divine healing has figured prominently, with the great healing or deliverance crusades conducted by numerous evangelists.
With the gifts of healings we come to the third of the gifts of demonstration. given. This gift can be defined as “the God given ability to bring healing to the sick without recourse to natural or medical means”
You will see, in the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians it states in verses 9,28 and 29 the GIFTS of HEALINGS, plural. It would appear that this is a composite gift in that as there is the variety of physical compalints and sicknesses, so there is a power within this gift to remedy every ailment.
l) It Consolidated Christ’s Ministry and Claims.
Without a doubt this gift was manifested in the human Christ, and by it, He substantiated his Messiahship. In Luke 4.16-21 Jesus reads the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 61,1-2. In those verses healing both spiritual and physical is mentioned. Jesus said “this day is the scripture fulfilled in your ears” The Jewish leaders and people who attended the synagogue were conversant with this scripture and here Jesus claims to be the fulfillment of this very important Messianic prophecy. His claims to this was in the promise of healing. When the disciples of John came to Jesus at the request of their leader to enquire whether Jesus was “the one who should come” the Messiah, Jesus simply told them to go and tell John “blind see, lame walk, lepers are cleansed, deaf hear…”the healings were the proofs of who he was. Mat. 11, 2-6. His fulfilling of prophecy was also shown in Matt. 8. 16-17 “when even was come they brought unto him those possessed with devils, and he cast them out, and healed those that were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Esaias, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” Healings were the proof of his ministry.
2) Confirmed the apostolic gospel.
When Jesus sent forth his disciples in the gospels he gave them ” power over sickness, death, leprosy as well as to preach the gospel” Matt. 10. 1-8. Their credentials were the supernatural gifts of healings. Just prior to his ascension Jesus gave them the charter for the church age. Mark 16.15-20. In this passage Jesus tells them to GO preach, and as they do he will confirm their word “with signs following” and this includes healing. As you will see from the reading of the book of Acts this was the pattern they followed. The healing of the lame man in chapter 4, the mighty healings wrought by the shadow of Peter in chapter 5, l5, and also Philip in chapter 8 at Samaria, verse 7. When they came together after the apostles had been before the Council because of the healing of the lame man, they prayed “Lord stretch forth shine hand to heal..signs and wonders be done in thy Name..chapter 4, 29-30. But this prayer also included “that the apostles might speak the word with boldness..” This gift of healing is to confirm not replace the preaching of the gospel. It is the gospel that saves and not miracles of healing. There are other instances in the Acts of this gift in operation without going into minute detail. The writer to the Hebrews sums it all up in chapter 2. verses 3 and 4, “the word spoken by the Lord and confirmed unto us by them that heard him, God also bearing them witness with signs and wonders, divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost”
3) Confounds the Opposers.
The Jewish leaders were very skeptical of the preaching of the apostles and this healing at the Beautiful Gate greatly incensed them, but in Acts 4 verse 14 it states “and beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it” When the gifts of healings are in operation they are a divine answer to the critic. This was so in the case of Jesus in John chapter 9 where the blind man was healed it says in verses 19-21 “the Jews did not believe concerning he that was born blind” but the fact of the matter was that his parents confirmed he was blind from birth. What the Jews could not allow was that he had been healed by Christ. But the fact of the matter was simply as the man himself said “once I was blind but now I see” He silenced them by a simple word of testimony. The supernatural silences the skeptics. Let us believe and pray for even more such manifestations of the healing power of Christ in the church, through his chosen vessels.
4) It Combats and Conquers the Power of Satan.
To enslave mankind in sin and sickness is the delight of the king of darkness. But through the power of the healing ministry of Christ in the church, Satan’s dominion can be broken. Luke 10,18 says “the seventy resumed with joy saying even devils are subject unto us in your name.. “Jesus said, “I beheld Satan fall as lightning from heaven, I give you power over serpents and scorpions and the power of the enemy..”Satans fall is as a result of the supernatural ministry in the church.
The woman Jesus healed with a curvature of the spine in Luke 13, v 10 to 16 was said to be “bound by Satan” The healing ministry of Christ conquered Satan. Thus it is with us today. By this gift we can bring the victory of Christ to be effective in releasing mankind from the tyranny of the devil. We refer again to Acts 10.38 ” Jesus anointed of God … doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil…” The local church should be a spiritual dispensary for the healing of the sick, it is by this means that we fulfill our God given mission in the world. Lastly we know that healing is in the revelation of the Name, for God says in Exodus 15,26 ” I am the Lord that healeth thee” in other words I am Jehovah Ropheca, I am the Lord thy health.” You will see right away the reason Jesus commanded, and the apostles obeyed, healing was performed in the Name of Jesus. This confirms the great truth that Jesus was the one true God revealed in flesh and that the Name of Jesus is the Fathers Name, if not Jesus had no right to tell them to use His name for healing.
Let us then press into our inheritance in Christ and enjoy the ministry of healing in our churches.
The Gift Of Prophecy.
Prophecy is the first of the three gifts of Vocal Expression and is obviously one of the best gifts for Paul lays such importance to it. It has been called “the poetry of the Spirit” for the spiritual wealth and blessing that can issue from the manifestation of this gift can bring a sense of heaven to the church…
Paul in l. Corinthians 14 encourages them to prefer prophecy rather than the gift of tongues, verse I,” but rather that ye prophesy” also in verse 5 “but rather that ye prophesied, for greater is he that prophesieth ” also in verse 39 “wherefore brethren covet to prophesy”
In the New Testament
we find three aspects of the prophetical ministry.
A) The Office of the Prophet.
This is shown in l. Cor. 12, 28 and Ephesians 4.11.
This is a ministry gift of the Lord to the church. It is second only to an apostle, but the one who possesses this gift has a ministry to the body of Christ as does a pastor or evangelist. It is plain from the Acts of the Apostles that certain men were endowed with this ability to bless and strengthen the believers chapter 13, verse 1,” there were in the church certain prophets and teachers.” See also 15, 32, and of course there was one named Agabus who predicted the famine in Acts 11 verse 2728 and Pauls coming persecution in Acts 21 verse 10-11. This however is distinct from the simple gift of prophecy.
B) The Spirit of Prophecy. Rev 19.10.
This would appear to be an anointing of the Spirit for a special time or a temporary manifestation of the gift, as in the case of King Saul in l. Samuel 10.10. Also Numbers 11.25 where the Lord took of the Spirit that was upon Moses, let it rest upon the elders.
C) The Gift of Prophecy.
This is a permanent endowment of the Spirit whereby a possessor of it will be used to bring messages from the Lord in the language of the area or nation. It is an inspired utterance communicating the mind of the Lord to His people. It is a forthtelling, a speaking on behalf of another. If there should be any prediction in the message this will be a word of Wisdom as was shown in chapter one.
1) The Range of the Gift of Prophecy. I. Cor. 12. 3, 31, 24.
The apostle Paul gives us the scope of the ministry of this gift.
a) To Edification.
This implies building, through this gift we are built up in faith and character. As we apply the prophetic instructions so we grow and advance. The speaker in tongues edified himself, but prophecy edifies the church. It is therefore essential that when any manifestation of this gift is operating we give heed to the word of the Lord, for by it we will build up the local church, establish and stabilize it in the faith and in an apostolic pattern.
This word in the Greek is paraklesis and means a calling near and from this root we get the word Comforter. Through this gift of exhortation the church is uplifted, strengthened, urged, and counselled. What a precious gift this is, when used it can bring such help and encouragement to the church perhaps going through a difficult time, or some believer battling against the onslaught of the enemy, God sends a word of comfort and help, he comes alongside us through this gift.
This means to solace, and console. In times of deep distress, great anguish of soul. When tragedy has struck the people of God, through this word of prophecy God solaces and comforts his people. This can be like the oil and the wine poured into the wounds of the man on the Jericho road by the Samaritan. The pouring out of the prophetical ministry can be as soothing and healing to the hearts of God’s people in their times of distress and severe trial. Of these three aspects Ellicots great rendering is “building up, stirring up, cheering up”
d) Learning. v 31.
It is the intention of God that his people be not ignorant of the things of the Spirit. When someone is prophesying we should listen intently for there is something that the Lord wants to reveal to us, something he wants us to learn about. Some secret of spiritual knowledge that he wants to impart so that we may be better instructed in the things of God. As we thus learn we are the better equipped to serve the Lord, and the local church can then fulfil it’s purpose as a God indwelt community.
e) Convincing. v 24.
If someone comes in who is unlearned or an unbeliever this gift will be a means of convicting and convincing them of the truth that God is indeed dwelling among you. The idea of unlearned and unbelieving is of someone who is not initiated in the things of the Spirit. Prophecy according to verse 22 serves mainly for those who believe, but since it is in the local language it can also be used of the Spirit to speak directly to those who are not in the church, and can result in their salvation.
2) The Restriction on the Gift of Prophecy. verse 29 says “Let the prophets speak two or three..and let the others judge..” This is designed to make sure that the ones with this gift do not monopolize the gathering of the saints. Such a gift should not be used in preference to the preaching of the Word. It should be used at such appropriate times when the people are worshipping the Lord.
It should not be allowed to interrupt the ministry of the Word of God. That is why Paul could say “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” and the prophetical utterances can and should be judged by the ministry set in the local church. This will ensure that what is said is in accordance with the revealed Word of God and is not the fanciful imagination of some fertile mind. For we should “prophesy according to the proportion of the faith ” Rom. 12.6. The faith spoken of here is that declaration of divine truth as revealed in the apostolic doctrines. If any prophecy denies any fundamental truth it cannot be of God. Therefore we have to judge or weigh the message so that nothing of the natural mind is entwined in it.
3) The Responsibility for the Gift of Prophecy.
Peter says in his second epistle chapter 1 verse 21 “prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost ” This helps us to realize that prophecy is inspired of the Lord, but the vessel through whom the gift is manifested should be both sanctified and sensitive to the anointing of the Spirit. Notice it is holy men who are used, the term moved by the spirit means borne along by the Spirit, they were under the Spirits control. It is only as the channel is clean and submissive to the Spirit that this gift can be used to it’s fullest potential. If anyone using this gift is not in the place spiritually then the gift and it’s message can be marred and misused.
So we see how blessed the use of this gift can be for prospering the Work of the Lord. We should heed the instruction of Paul to the church in Thessalonica, “Quench not the Spirit and despise not prophesying’s” chapter. 5 19-20. Let us therefore then “covet to prophesy” for by so doing we shall be used to the mutual benefit and advancement of the church.
Tongues And Interpretation Of Tongues.
Down through the Christian centuries since the death of the apostles God has seen fit at various times and in various places to pour out this gift upon the church. However since the beginning of this century speaking in tongues has become universal. When the phenomena of tongues first began it was rejected by many Christians, and there was stigma attached to those who accepted the message. In recent years great numbers in the so called historic denominations have received this gift and it has now become something of a status symbol among them. Whether or not they really know what they have received is often open to question, therefore it is essential that we know as much as possible about this very important operation of the Spirit in the church.
l) Proof of the Baptism of the Spirit.
The speaking in tongues is the scriptural, initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit came in wind and fire, these two symbols were proof of his coming and remaining, they were not repeated again, and they do not need repeating. We do not have to have constant proof of His presence. However the one remaining confirmation is the miracle of speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. Acts 2 is the birth of the church and this gift was in evidence and it was through this gift that those receiving the baptism were accepted as being filled with the Spirit. Acts 10,4546 Cornelius and his family and friends while listening to Peter preach were mightily filled with the Spirit. It came as something of a surprise to Peter and his company that God should pour out of His Spirit upon the Gentiles. But Peter could not deny this for it says “they heard them speak in tongues and magnify God” That was the sign. We know that in Acts. 19 after Paul had laid hands on the disciples of John, they too spoke in tongues. Although there is no mention of tongues in Acts 8 at S amaria, yet something supernatural occurred because Simon saw and heard something, because as a sorcerer, he wanted the power to do this. It is therefore logical that the same evidence that Peter and John had had would be the sign they would expect the Samaritans also to receive. That there is a difference between the sign of tongues at the Baptism and ministry of tongues in the church cannot be denied. However the content of the tongues is the same, the difference is in the operation.
2) The Personal Use of the Gift.
Paul gives clear guidance concerning the use of the gift for personal and private benefit. I. Cor 12.4 “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself’ for according to verse two “he speaketh unto God..he speaketh mysteries” This gift then when used privately in prayer is a means of building up oneself in the inner man. It is possible that Paul meant this when he told the Ephesians to be “strengthened with all might in the inner man by his Spirit”(3.16). Through the use of the gift we can be fortified and garrisoned against the power of the enemy. To edify means to build up, to erect, strengthen. After such a time of personal prayer and intercession, speaking in tongues to God, one arises feeling stronger and the better for it. Paul explains this further in verses 14-15 “I will pray in the spirit, I will sing in the spirit, as well as with the understanding” or known language. Therefore in communicating with God in this wonderful way we are elevated to a plane of supernatural proportions that exceed the natural mind, thus we are speaking mysteries or secrets unto God. By this means we are also “magnifying the Lord” as did Cornelius in Acts l0v46. and “speaking the wonderful works of God” as did they in Acts. 2 vu. Surely it is at times when “we know not what to pray for as we ought, that the Spirit maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered” that this gift in personal use is fully experienced. When you feel spiritually weak, or dry then spend time in prayer use the gift of tongues in speaking to God and you will find that this will remedy the condition and you will arise overflowing and empowered.
3) Public Use of the Gift.
Paul says in verse 26 of I. Cor 14 “when ye come together, every one hath a psalm, doctrine, a tongue, a revelation, an interpretation. “Then in the next verse he says “if any man speak in an unknown tongue let it be by two or at the most by three, and let one interpret” The meeting of the saints is the place for public manifestation of the gift of tongues. It is by this means that God speaks to us when the tongue is interpreted. Once again we see that Paul limits the speaking in tongues to two or three persons per meeting. As with the gift of prophecy, tongues is not intended to monopolize the meeting, there must be time for doctrinal expositions, and corporate worship. Those who speak in tongues in a believers meeting should do so only if there is a person with the gift of interpretation present otherwise “he should speak to himself, and to God” verse 28.
There are occasions when the gift of tongues can be used as a sign to the unbeliever. (v 20-22). This is taken by Paul from the prophecy of Isaiah 28.1 1. where God tells the Israelites that by the presence of foreign troops in their land, a sign is given to them to repent and turn to God. But as it says “for all that they will not hear me” It was a sign of impending judgment from God upon them. It is in this sense that tongues become a sign to unbelievers, it speaks of coming retribution. It is then through the preaching of the gospel can such a one be brought into the plan of salvation.
In the public use of tongues it is esential that someone interpret. The gift of interpretation is the supernatural ability to make known in the local language what has been spoken in another foreign dialect or tongue. Although the interpreter does not know that language, yet by the Spirit he can inpart the meaning of the tongues. It is not the translation of the tongue, this would require literal word for word explanation. The interpreter gives the meaning of the message, this explains why sometimes we can have a long message in tongues but not so long an interpretation and vice versa. It is also good and scriptural that one person interpret as Paul says in verse 27. This removes any confusion that can arise where there are present a number who possess the gift of interpretation. It is good in churches where there are a number who can interpret, that one person does not seek to exercise his gift to the exclusion of others. We should wait and allow the Spirit to use whom he will. Therefore these twin gifts of tongues and interpretation will bring blessing to the church, encouragement to individual believers and a sense of the presence of God that will be of inestimable value to the advancement of the local assembly of the
Now that we have concluded these studies of the Gifts of the Spirit, I hope that your understanding of them has been increased. I also hope that there has been created within you a desire to be used by the Spirit in one or more of these Gifts. You will ‘notice that it is the Spirit “that divides severely as He will” (12 v 11) it is important therefore to willingly submit to the Spirit and allow Him to bring forth the Gift that He desires you to manifest. The Spirit knows which Gift you can use to the profit of the church and as you surrender to Him He will ‘make known to you the particular Gift you will ‘be better used with. It is only as we allow the Spirit to use us that we will fill our place in the Body of Christ. Paul says in verse 7 ” the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal…”
By this he means that those who exercise their Gifts, profit the whole church. Let us all therefore ” desire Spiritual Gifts” and be “zealous of Spiritual Gifts and seek to excel to the edifying of the church.”
In order to effectively use the gifts of the Spirit Paul lays down some very important requirements. The gifts are not spiritual toys which we pick up and play with for a while. They are veritable treasures from God and need to be treated as such in order to get the highest spiritual good from them.
l) seeking for the Gifts.
Paul encourages the believers to definitely seek after the gifts of the Spirit. I. Cor. 1 2v3 1 “but covet earnestly the best gifts..” again in chapter 14 verses I and 12. “Desire spiritual gifts..for as much as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts..”
Tragically many believers today although knowing about the gifts, and very often enjoying the operation of the gifts in their churches are totally indifferent to them as a personal experience. We should thirst after the gifts of the Spirit with an intensity of heart as being in a parched land and seeking for a well or spring of water. The reason why some churches are devoid of any manifestation of the Spirit is simply because the members are not encouraged to seek after them. These precious gifts, when used by the saints as they gather together are a means of strengthening, and enriching the local fellowship. To be used by the Spirit to enhance the healthiness and tone of the local assembly cannot be a bad thing, for these ministrations of the Spirit bring such a sense of God’s presence that people will “report that God is in you of a truth” (14 v. 25) To receive the baptism of the Spirit according to John 7. v 37 Jesus said “if any man thirst he would then receive. If this is true of the baptism then it is equally true of the gifts. Pastors should be urging their people to seek and receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Total resignation to the Lordship of Christ is essential for those seeking and those possessing the gifts. 1. Cor. I 2. v 3 and 18 “No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost…God hath set the members in the body as it hath pleased him..” We are simply the members of the Body of Christ, He is the Head. As in the human body the head and brain motivates and controls the activities of the limbs and nervous system, and in order for the body to function correctly each member submits to the head, so it is in the Body of Christ. We cannot be an unruly member of the church and expect the Lord to use us in the supernatural manifestations of the Spirit. Paul says if the members do not co-operate in the body then there is a schism.” (12 v 25). This word schism carries with it the thought of mutiny, uprising and rebellion against authority invested in the Headship of Christ. This will then cause division, those using the gifts are so used to bring and maintain the unity of the church.
3) Singleness of Purpose.
Paul is very explicit in chapter 12 verses 13 to 27 that the gifts are to be used with one design, and that is for the functioning of the body of Christ in harmony. The one member cannot say he has no need of another one, or because he is not the member he wants to be he will not make any contribution to the working of the whole. We cannot choose what gift we want the Spirit to give us for they are “divided severally as He wills” That we can use certain of the gifts such as tongues, interpretation end prophecy for our own selfish enjoyment, or to get at other members in the church has been an embarrassment to many pastors with members so motivated. I have myself on a number of occasions heard those with the gift of prophecy or interpretation so clothe their language as to leave us in no doubt as to the ones they were addressing. They were either getting at someone, or giving someone the instructions they felt the offending member needed. We are to use the gifts with purity of intention and allow the Spirit to speak through us and not fabricate the message to our own ends.
4) Sanctity of heart.
It is not without reason that the discourse on the gifts of the Spirit have in the very centre chapter 13 for therein lies the true condition of any who minister in the gifts. It has been called the Love chapter and if we are not in this spiritual condition then we are falling below the standard required of us. Paul says “covet earnestly the best gifts, yet I shew you a more excellent way ” The more excellent way is not love without the gifts as some would have us believe but love and the gifts in concert with each other. George Jeffreys a pioneer of the Pentecostal Movement in Britain and perhaps the greatest evangelist there was up to the middle of the twentieth century used to say “If I had to choose between the gifts of the Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit, I would choose the fruit. But then I do not have to choose, I can enjoy both..” It is not without significance that Paul connects the “Walking, Leading, and Living in the Spirit with the fruits of the Spirit” Gal. 5. 16-26. Surely as you read the thirteenth chapter it displays the characteristics of the Spirit filled life. There you have purity of purpose when exercising the gifts. If we do not have love we are an empty clanging gong. If we do not have real love we are simply making an exhibition of ourselves even in an act of martyrdom. Paul says it profits him nothing, and he says “I am nothing” In other words without real heart purity we do not accomplish much spiritual good when using the gifts.
5) Supplying the Body.
In chapter 12 v. 7 we read” the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” and again in chapter 14. v l2″ seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church..” Paul is here showing them the gifts are not for selfish ends but to bring profit and edifying to the church. In Ephesians chapter 4, v l5-16 he says that we are to grow up into Christ, being fitly joined together and as joints supplying the body as a whole maketh increase of every part. Through the gifts of the Spirit we can be used to supply the spiritual needs of the church this in turn makes the members around us work effectually too. When we consider this co-operative aspect of the gifts it should enable us to see the importance of them in relation to the smooth running of the local church which in turn effects the overall cohesion of the church universal.
In view of all what has now been said I am sure that our appreciation of the importance of the gifts has been hightened and I trust that there has been a stirring within you to enter into this realm of spiritual power. Open up your heart to the Spirit of God, allow Him access so that He can impart His gifts unto you, then you will indeed be able to Understand Spiritual Gifts.
The Above Material Was Published By Torchlight Publications, Pages 1-35. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.