Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Spiritual Gifts, Pt 2 (excerpts from the book)

Question 2. By whom were they given?
Look again at the 1 Cor passage. It seems very clear that the gifts are given specifically by the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul wants to leave no doubt about the origin of spiritual gifts. Look down a little farther to verses 11-13. One of the keys to understanding spiritual gifts is contained in verse 13.This speaks of the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit and its significance in terms of empowering us to do what God has for us to do. 
You can see here that it is the Holy Spirit that bestows these gifts to believers. He can do that because He is God. Now, some people seem to have a hard time with the whole concept of the Holy Spirit being God. They would agree that the Bible teaches a triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but then seem to want to relegate the Spirit to second class Godhood. Remember, the Holy Spirit is God! He has all the same attributes as the Father and Jesus the son. He can do whatever He wills to do.
I think it is possible that the reason some people have difficulty with this concept is because the Holy Spirit does not exalt Himself, but He exalts Jesus, but the Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father and the Son and we should obey His instruction to us. Remember what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit in John 16:7-11
“7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”(NIV)
 Even Jesus relied on the power of the Holy Spirit while He was here in human form. Remember that Jesus set aside some of His divine attributes while He was on earth. He was in perfect relationship with the Father and the Spirit, relying on the Holy Spirit to help Him accomplish the mission that was set before Him by the Father.
The work of the Holy Spirit is so important that Jesus said in Mt 12:31 that anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. As you can see then, our belief about the person of the Holy Spirit is extremely important. When Jesus taught about being born again, He said that our second birth is the birth of the Spirit into our lives and that the Spirit would teach us, guide us comfort us and empower us. If you want to look at some of the scriptures concerning this, you can look at Matthew 28:19; Mk 3:16, 13:11; Lk 11:13, 12:12; Jn 3:5-6, 7:39, 16:13-15.
Question 3. When were they given?
Read Acts, chapter 2 verses 1-5. No legitimate biblical scholars disagree that this day of Pentecost (50 days after the feast of Firstfruits) was the first indication that the Holy Spirit began imparting the spiritual gifts to the fledgling church. In fact, most would say that this day is the very birth of the church. Peter explains what took place in verses 17 through 20 and indicates that this began the period of the “last days.” These first gifts were imparted as the believers were filled with the Spirit and verse 4 says “as the Spirit enabled them.” That phrase is critical to our understanding of spiritual gifts.
Question 4. Why were they given?

Let’s go back to Romans 12 and start in verse 1 (thru 5). Notice that Paul connects the list of gifts to teaching about offering our bodies as living sacrifices and being connected together as one body. In the Corinthian passage He says this. 1 Cor 12:7 “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” He goes on in the rest of the chapter to explain that this is all a part of being able to work together as one body and that not all have the same gifts. This was done intentionally, so that we would be interdependent on one another. This destroys the concept held by some that you can be a “lone ranger Christian,” and do not need to fellowship on a regular basis with a body of believers. God purposely gave different gifts to keep us in need of one another to fulfill His purpose for the church.
Next post will discuss the controversy surrounding the gifts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Spiritual Gifts: Pt 1 (Excerpts from "The Spiritual Gifts" book)

The Spiritual Gifts:  Are they for Today’s Church?
Over the years, a controversy has brewed over spiritual gifts and whether they are operating legitimately in the church today. Some say that these gifts, or at least some of the gifts are not available today and so any claim of their manifestation is illegitimate Others disagree and say all the gifts should operate today, just as they did during the early church period. I want to take a scriptural look at this topic because I believe that our understanding of this subject has great bearing on the life of the church.
Why is this an important topic for us to study? Is it essential for salvation? No, it is not, but it is extremely important in our personal relationship with the Lord and certainly affects the work of the ministry that God has for each one of us. How we see and understand the gifts of the Spirit affects how we relate to each other and the world around us. It can dictate the type of ministry we have, so we need to have a firm grasp of what we believe about spiritual gifts.
Look at what Paul says in 1 Cor 12:1 “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.”  The word gift is not really there. It should really say “about spirituals.” It is possible that the word gifts is implied, but looking at the context, it seems likely that Paul was speaking about people, who were gifted but misusing the gifts. In either case, Paul will keep us from being ignorant concerning the gifts. The word in Greek for spiritual, is from the root word pneuma and denotes its’ divine origin.
Here is the Strong’s definition for gifts; NT:5486 charisma (khar'-is-mah); from NT:5483; a (divine) gratuity, i.e. deliverance (from danger or passion); (specifically) a (spiritual) endowment, i.e. (subjectively) religious qualification, or (objectively) miraculous faculty: (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
 When you put this together, it is clear that these gifts have a divine origin.   
So, let’s follow Paul’s exhortation and jump in to the scriptures with both feet to see what it says about this subject. In order for us to understand the teaching about spiritual gifts, we must ask ourselves some questions.
  1. What are they?
  2. By whom were they given?
  3. When were they given 
  4. Why were they given?
Question 1. What are they?
 Let’s start by looking at the passages that specifically describe these gifts. There is two lists given in the New Testament. The first in Rom 12:6-8; “6 we have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
The second list is found in 1 Cor 12:8-10; “8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”
Without going into detail right now, let’s sum up this list 
  1. Prophesy
  2. Serving
  3. Teaching
  4. Encouraging or exhortation
  5. Giving
  6. Leadership
  7. Mercy
  8. Message of wisdom (utterance in ESV) (word of wisdom in NASU)
  9. Message of knowledge
  10. Faith
  11. Healing
  12. Miracles
  13. Distinguishing between spirits
  14. Various kinds of tongues
  15. Interpretation of tongues
Next Post- Who distributes the gifts and when were they given?
(If you would like a copy of the book, just look to the right side of the blog for information)