Spiritual Gifts for Believers
|February 8, 2016||Posted by Pastor Viju Mathai under Bible Study, Holy Spirit||
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1Co 12:7 “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
GENERAL PERSPECTIVE The Holy Spirit is manifested through a variety of spiritual gifts given to believers (1Co 12:7). These manifestations of the Spirit are intended for the upbuilding and sanctification of the church (1Co 12:7). These spiritual gifts are not the same as the gifts and ministries mentioned in Ro 12:6-8 and Eph 4:11, whereby a believer receives the power and ability to minister in a more permanent manner in the church. The list in 1Co 12:8-10 is not necessarily exhaustive, and the gifts may occur in various combinations.
- The manifestations of the Spirit are given according to the Spirit’s will (1 Cor 12:11) when need arises and according to the believer’s eager desire (12:31; 14:1).
- Some gifts may be manifested through an individual on a regular basis, and a believer may have more than one gift to minister to particular needs. The believer ought to desire “gifts,” not just one gift (1Cor 12:31; 14:1).
- It is unscriptural and unwise to assume that because someone exercises a spectacular gift, that person is more spiritual than one who has less spectacular gifts. Furthermore, possessing a gift does not mean that God approves of all a person does or teaches. Spiritual gifts must not be confused with the fruit of the Spirit, which relates more directly to Christian character and sanctification (Gal 5:22-23).
- The Spirit’s manifestation through gifts may be counterfeited by Satan or false workers disguising themselves as servants of Christ (Mt 7:21-23:24:11,24; 2Co 11:13-15; 2Th 2:8-10). The believer must not believe every spiritual manifestation, but ought to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world”
INDIVIDUAL GIFTS. In 1Cor 12:8-10, Paul lists a variety of gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to believers. Though he does not define their characteristics here, we can glean from other passages of Scripture what they might be.
- Message of wisdom. This is a wise utterance spoken through the operation of the Holy Spirit. It applies the revelation of God’s Word or the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to a specific situation or problem (Ac 6:10; 15:13-22). It is not, however, the same as having the wisdom of God for daily living. The latter is obtained by diligent study and meditation on God’s ways and Word, and by prayer (James 1:5-6)
- Message of knowledge. This is an utterance inspired by the Holy Spirit that reveals knowledge about people, circumstances or Biblical truth. It is often connected closely with prophecy (Ac 5:1-10; 10:47-48; 15:7-11; 1Cor 14:24-25).
- Faith. This is not saving faith, but a special supernatural faith imparted by the Holy Spirit that enables the Christian to believe God for the extraordinary and miraculous. It is a faith that moves mountains (1Co 13:2) and is often found in combination with other manifestations such as healings and miracles
- Gifts of healing. These gifts are given to the church to restore physical health by supernatural means (Mt 4:23-25; 10:1; Ac 3:6-8; 4:30). The plural (“gifts”) indicate healing of various illnesses and suggests that every act of healing is a special gift of God. Although gifts of healing are not given to every member of the body in a special way (1Cor 12:11,30), all members may pray for the sick. When faith is present, the sick will be healed. Healing may also come as a result of obedience to the instructions of James 5:14-16
- Miraculous powers. These are deeds of supernatural power that alter the normal course of nature. They include divine acts in which God’s kingdom is manifested against Satan and evil spirits.
- Prophecy. We must distinguish between prophecy as a temporary manifestation of the Spirit (1Cor 12:10) and prophecy as a ministry gift of the church (Eph 4:11). As a ministry gift, prophecy is given only to some believers, who must then function as prophets within the church. As a spiritual manifestation, prophecy is potentially available to every Spirit-filled Christian (Ac 2:17-18). Concerning prophecy as a spiritual manifestation:
- Prophecy is a special gift that enables a believer to bring a word or revelation directly from God under the impulse of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 14:24-25,29-31). It is not the delivery of a previously prepared sermon,
- In both the OT and the NT, prophecy is not primarily foretelling the future, but proclaiming God’s will and exhorting and encouraging God’s people to righteousness, faithfulness and endurance.
- The message may expose the condition of a person’s heart (14:25) or offer strengthening, encouragement, comfort, warning and judgment (14:3,25-26,31).
- The church may not receive such prophecy as an infallible message, for many false prophets will enter the church (1Jn 4:1). Therefore, all prophecy must be tested for genuineness and truth (1Cor 14:29,32; 1Th 5:20-21) by asking whether it conforms to God’s Word (1Jn 4:1), whether it promotes godly living (1Ti 6:3), and whether it is uttered by one who is sincerely living under Christ’s lordship (1Co 12:3).
- Prophecy operates under God’s will and not the will of humans. The NT never indicates that the church actively sought revelation or direction from those claiming to be prophets. Prophecy was given to the church only when God initiated the message (1Cor 12:11; 2Pe 1:21).
- Distinguishing between spirits. This gift is a special Spirit-given ability to properly discern and judge prophecies and to distinguish whether or not an utterance is from the Holy Spirit (1Cor 14:29). Toward the end of the age when false teachers (Mt 24:5) and distortion of Biblical Christianity will greatly increase (1Ti 4:1), this gift will be extremely important for the church.
- Speaking in different kinds of tongues. Concerning “tongues” (Gk glossa, meaning language) as a supernatural manifestation of the Spirit, the following must be noted:
- Tongues may be an existing spoken language (Ac 2:4-6) or a language unknown on earth, e.g., “tongues . . of angels” (1Cor 13:1). Such speech has not been learned and is often unintelligible both to the speaker (14:14) and to the bearers (14:16).
- Speaking in tongues involves the human spirit and the Spirit of God intermingling so that the believer communicates directly to God (i.e., in prayer, praise, blessing or thanksgiving), giving expression or utterance at the level of one’s spirit rather than the mind (1Cor 14:2,14) and praying for oneself or others under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit apart from the activity of the mind (1Cor 14:2,4,15,28; Jude 20).
- Tongues in the congregation must be accompanied by a Spirit-given interpretation that communicates the content and meaning of the utterance to the community of believers (1Cor 14:3,27-28). It may contain a revelation, knowledge, prophecy or teaching for the assembly (1Co 14:6).
- Speaking in tongues within the congregation must be regulated. The speaker may never be “in ecstasy” or “out of control” (1Co 14:27-28).
- Interpretation of tongues. This is the Spirit-given ability to understand and communicate the meaning of an utterance spoken in tongues. When interpreted for the congregation, tongues function either as a directive to worship and prayer or as prophecy. The body of believers can then participate in this Spirit-inspired revelation. Interpreted tongues can thus be a means of edification as the whole congregation responds to the utterance (14:6,13). The gift may be given to the one who speaks in tongues or to someone else. Those who speak in tongues should pray also for the gift of interpretation (1Cor 14:13).