AN INTRODUCTION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT’S GIFTS – 2

Bible Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21

We need to carefully differentiate between Christ’s ministry gifts to the church [Ephesians 4:11] and the gifts/manifestations of the Holy Spirit in Corinthians.

With Christ’s ministry gifts, the person is the gift and the ministry is a life work. With the manifestations of the Spirit the person has a gift, but it only takes a few moments to give, even though its impact might last for a long time.

Paul says, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” [1 Cor. 12:7]. The Greek verb in this statement is the continuous present tense. It should read, “To one is regularly given by the Spirit, a word of wisdom,” and so on. When the Holy Spirit has given a person a gift it would be quite normal for that gift to be regularly manifested through them. Although that person might regularly exercise that one gift, the Holy Spirit can minister through that person other gifts as He sees necessary. We must never forget that the Holy Spirit, not the person he uses, is of the greatest importance.

It is difficult to separate the gifts of the Holy Spirit into distinct categories because they are so closely related to each other. Derek Prince likens them to the colours of the rainbow. It is easy to see the different colours in a rainbow, but there is not a single point where you can say, for example, where indigo ends and violet begins. They blend into one another. Miracles and healings are closely related. The discerning of spirits and the word of knowledge overlap each other. Although we will look at each of the gifts of the Holy Spirit individually, we must always remember that they do overlap each other.

Although the gifts of the Spirit overlap each other, it is nevertheless helpful to look at each one individually. The nine manifestations or gifts of the Spirit that are mentioned in Corinthians chapter twelve can be divided in to three separate groups. They are:

Gifts to REVELATION [to know] – These are the word of wisdom [verse 8],

the word of knowledge [verse 8], and the discerning of spirits [verse 10].

Gifts of POWER [to do] – These are the gift of faith [verse 9], the gifts of healings [verse 10] and the working of miracles [verse 10].

Gifts of UTTERANCE [to speak] – these are prophecy [verse 10], tongues [verse 10] and the interpretation of tongues [verse 10].

Finally, It should be emphasised that we should “Pursue love and earnestly desire spiritual gifts” [1 Corinthians 14:1]. The fact that these gifts are given sovereignly by the Holy Spirit, does not mean that we are to passively wait for them. God wants us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts! Tomorrow we will begin to look at the “word of wisdom.”

 

Questions:

In what way do the ministry gifts of Christ differ from the gifts of the Holy Spirit as set forth in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10?

What are the key elements of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in our Bible reading today?

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT’S GIFTS

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:31-14:1

There are several matters that we should consider before we take a look at each of the gifts of the Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 in more detail.

Firstly, I am sure that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were not meant to be limited to use in the local church, but also have immense value in a much wider context, and especially on the street and in evangelism. Most of the nine manifestations of the Spirit recorded in Corinthians were also evident in the ministry of Jesus. It was certainly a word of knowledge that led Ananias to prophesy over the newly converted Saul of Tarsus [Acts 9:10-19].

Secondly, Paul is writing to correct the Church in Corinth about the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and therefore, in this case, it is in the context of their use in the church. Several times in this letter Paul uses the phrase, “when you come together” [see 1 Corinthians 11:18,20,23; 14:23,26]. Paul is also deeply concerned about the unity of the Body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:12,13,27]. The gifts of the Spirit functioning properly should never cause division in Christ’s body. The emphasis in chapter fourteen is clearly that both prophecy, and tongues accompanied by interpretation should build up and edify the church. It is almost certainly not from God if it does not edify and build up the church.

Thirdly, the Holy Spirit distributes His gifts to each person as He chooses [1 Corinthians 12:11]. They are not earned by long or faithful service, academic study or research. When the Holy Spirit manifests Himself, it is through different people, and at different times, but always for the profit of everyone [1 Corinthians 12:7]. In the fellowship of Christian believers it should always be in an orderly manner [1 Corinthians 14:26-40].

Fourthly, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not an evidence of spiritual life. It is actually possible to become very proud because you feel that God has worked through you in a particular way. The Church in Corinth was strong in the manifestations of the Spirit, and yet weak in holiness and lacking in spiritual understanding. Jesus made it clear that we know what a person is like by the fruit of their lives [Matthew 7:20].

Fifthly, between 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 is the great chapter about love. If we move in the supernatural realm of the gifts of the Spirit but do not have love then it is of no value and unprofitable [1 Corinthians 13:1-3]!

Questions:

Why is it important that the criteria for judging spiritual life is not the way a person ministers the gifts of the Spirit but in the fruit of his or her life?

How does Paul use the human body to illustrate both the unity and diversity of the Church?

Read 1 Corinthians 12:31. What is the more excellent way? What do you think it means to minister with love when using the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit?

CHARACTER AND ABILITY

Bible Reading: Galatians 5:16-26; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10

One of the loveliest Biblical pictures of the Holy Spirit is the dove. The wings of the dove are beautifully and symmetrically formed, but can you imagine if one of the wings of the dove was missing? If it could fly with just one wing then it would surely fly in circles. If a church places all of its emphasis on the fruit of the Holy Spirit [see Galatians 5:22-23] and neglects the gifts of the Holy Spirit, then it will fly in fruit circles but never reach its destination. Conversely, if all the emphasis is on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, then it will fly in gift circles and equally not reach its destination. A church that achieves its God-given purpose needs both the fruit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is all about character, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given in order that we might do God’s work more effectively. Growing in Christ-likeness is desperately important, but equally important is the ability to serve God effectively.

A man I knew had a problem with the roof of his house. The leaks were getting worse and he needed to have the roof repaired. He found the name of a roofer in the local advertisements. Thinking it right to check on his references first, he discovered that the man would do a great job and repair his roof to the highest standard. However, he was also told that the man would over-charge him and even steal from him. He had ability but no character!

The man with the roof problem looked for someone who could be trusted and another roofer was recommended to him. He was told that this man was a kind and gracious man who would never cheat or steal. The only problem with him was the standard of his work, and the roof would possibly leak again within five years. This man had character but no ability!

We need both character and ability. If we lack in either of these then our service for Jesus will be seriously impaired. Looking at the ministry of Jesus we see Him operating in love and with compassion, but also we see gifts of healing, knowledge, wisdom and miracles in abundance. Can you imagine how it must grieve the Holy Spirit when a church places all its emphasis on the fruit of the Spirit but does not have the power to see the sick healed, the dead raised, the demonised set free, and is not able discern between a deceiving spirit and the Holy Spirit at work in the congregation?

Questions:

Why do you think it is that churches tend to emphasis the fruit of the Spirit more than the gifts of the Spirit?

How can we see a greater balance between the fruit and gifts of the Spirit both individually and in the church?

What would you consider to be the greatest hindrance to people moving in the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit?