Once we have determined the purpose of the Gifts of the Spirit, i.e. unification of the body, edification of its members and ultimately the glorification of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7), we turn next to understanding what they are and who is to use them. There is a common understanding of many of the gifts in the nomenclature of the culture we live in as 21st Century American Christians that is removed from what Paul was teaching the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
Interestingly enough, the Corinthians had issues with mystical understandings of things like “Words of Knowledge” being a special secret revelation to the minds of the higher initiates in their pagan belief system that exalted one above another as being the more spiritual. I must say again that this letter is written primarily from a Corrective Perspective and we must keep this in mind. Paul writes to the Colossians; “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3 ) This knowledge is revealed in Christ. It is the “Right use of His Word.” Gifts of counseling and teaching. These fit the rule of use we saw last time that they must unify and edify the Body as a whole. And so if we use the Apostle’s criteria to judge we will find proper direction in understanding these gifts.
As we consider gifts like Faith, Healings and Miracles we can see these are gifts that are given to confirm the messages that are spoken by Jesus and the Apostles; Hebrews 2:1-4 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? As we see them used in Scripture they were always followed by a direct address of the Cross of Christ, the guilt of the hearers and the need of faith and repentance and the forgiveness of sin.
Acts 3:6-19 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them–walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 17 “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
Prophecy is a declaring of God’s will that may or may not involve a predictive element. Acts 15:32 “Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.”
Discerning of Spirits is a gift of discernment concerning the prophets or teachers of God’s Word. 1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Different kinds of Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues. Is another miraculous SIGN that demonstrates the authenticity of the preacher. I realize that there is yet another type of tongues that is mentioned in Chapter 14 and we will get to that in its place.
For now we can group these gifts into a couple of categories:
- Gifts like Knowledge, Wisdom, Prophesy, Discernment, that are about conveying the Word of God to God’s people.
- Gifts like Miracles, Healings and Tongues that verify the message of the ones preaching and teaching, especially on the mission field.
- There are other gifts not mentioned in this list such as; Service (Romans 12:7, 1 Peter 4:11) Exhortation, Giving, Leading, Mercy (Romans 12:8) Speaking (maybe another way of saying exhortation? 1 Peter 4:11) These are used for the building up of the Body apart from teaching or getting people saved.
The important part of all of this is that “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one” (1 Corinthians 12:7) and “the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually” (1 Corinthians 12:11) So every Believer has a gift to be used in the service of the Body. EVERY BELIEVER! They do not need to be some miraculous ability as many think of these gifts to be. They are plain ordinary services to the people of God and yet they are Gifts of the Spirit that enable and empower us to do them in extraordinary ways. What is yours? How are you using it for the Unification and Edification of the Body of Christ and to the Glory of Christ?
I encourage you to listen to the audio of the message for some more details on the definitions and also to learn a bit more about how to determine your own Spiritual Gift and who to begin to use it as God intends.
Listen Here To Each One