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GIFTS STUDIED

 

 

 

 

Different kinds of approaches are needed when meeting people, and gifts of the Spirit are among them. The problem with the congregation, particularly in Western countries, is that people either have too few of these gifts or they fail to use them.

   Some theologians may say that gifts of the Spirit are not for our times. They may believe in the performance of miracles as described in the Bible but consider them to have been a gift given to the early congregation, not to our modern body of believers. Others may consider the fruits of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit to be   antithetical, even though they should complement each other.

   Next, we will study some important information about gifts of the Spirit.

 

WE SHOULD PRAY FOR GIFTS

 

It is clear from studying the Bible that gifts of grace are important. It is shown, for example, in what Moses said: ”Would God that all the LORD's people were prophets” (Num 11:29). Furthermore, letters of Paul give a positive idea of them. He encouraged us to pray so that we could covet earnestly the best gifts. He said that he himself speaks with tongues more than anyone else. He also encouraged Timothy to stir up the gift of God instead of neglecting it. Based on these verses, one can only conclude that gifts of grace are important and they should be sought for use as the building blocks of the congregation.

 

- (1 Cor 12:1, 4-11, 28-31) Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I would not have you ignorant.

4  Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all.

7  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with.

8  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9  To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11  But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 

28 And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I to you a more excellent way.

 

- (1 Cor 14:1, 12,13,18,19,26,31,32,39,40) Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy. 

12  Even so you, for as much as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the edifying of the church.

13  Why let him that speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all:

19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

26 How is it then, brothers? when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying.

31 For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

39 Why, brothers, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

 

- (2 Tim 1:6) Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.

 

- (1 Tim 4:14,15) Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

15Meditate on these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all.

 

- (1 Thess 5:19,20) Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

 

Gifts can help

 

- (1 Cor 12:7) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with.

 

The most important reason for gifts is that they benefit us all and help us. Excluding the gift of speaking in tongues that should build the person him/herself (1 Cor 14:4 He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the church.), gifts are meant to be used to help people. They are not an exhibit that we should use to flaunt our own godliness; their only purpose is to help others. If we use them with any other motive in mind then they are meaningless, and we have gone astray.

   The help we give should be directed to the spirit, soul and body of a person. Too often people concentrate only on the spirit and neglect making the soul and body whole. Spiritual life and salvation are, naturally, most important but a healthy soul and body are also needed because doctors or psychiatrists can rarely help people with all diseases and problems. God’s supernatural assistance can be more effective.

   The next passage is about making the soul whole, and the so-called Toronto blessing. In the Toronto blessing, many people were faced with God’s love but were also healed of wounds of the soul. Healing that usually takes an extensive length of time in pastoral care took place in a matter of minutes. We need such internal liberation as much as we need to save people and heal their bodies. In these activities, gifts can be a great benefit.

 

I first heard about the Toronto blessing from a newspaper. First, I considered the descriptions of people’s strange reactions odd. Suddenly, I got this completely certain piece of information within me:

   Those external phenomena are only the tip of the iceberg – in this revival, God renews and makes people whole deep inside, no matter how broken or wounded they are!

   I had always believed that God can heal physical illnesses and even grow people new limbs. Honestly, I had not believed that a broken or sick psyche could be made whole in the same way. I thought that such healing would always require an extensive process of pastoral care.

   Nevertheless, here it was: healing revival! (...) Inner healing and healing the wounds of the psyche in particular are precious miracles for the stressed people of our modern times. The different kinds of physical movements seem to be related to this process of liberation. Such reactions when inhibitions of the soul and locks in the mind are opened are familiar to any expert in psychology in therapy.

   There is no denying that the Spirit of God can in a matter of minutes achieve results for which people would have to engage in long-term pastoral care. (1)

 

Teaching. There are two extremes one can take in spiritual activity: fanaticism and religious zeal without the fruits and love of Spirit; and extreme formality with plenty of rituals, liturgy and ceremonies but with no place given for the acts of God. Both extremes are possible.

   Extreme practices are also found the expression of gifts of grace. There may be some people in the congregation who have been hurt because of the misuse of the gift of prophecy, for example. Some may have had a negative experience, thus they consider all prophecies and gifts to be wrong. They may consider the gift of prophecy cheap, as written by Paul:

 

- (1 Thess 5:19,20) Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

 

We should not deny gifts altogether, however. Instead, we should teach people how to use their gifts, as were students of the Old Testament prophets (2 Kings 2:3-7); students learned from more experienced people. We need guidance in how to use our particular gift so that it will work as well as possible. This can first be done on a smaller scale so that people who have been given a gift can more easily use it.

   A good example of teaching people how to use gifts of grace is found in 1 Corinthians Chapter 14, in which Paul teaches that a suitable amount of control and order are needed when using gifts. They should not be used whenever, in any order. A maximum of two to three people could speak at a time; if there was nobody to explain the message spoken in tongues then people should remain silent; assess and test the prophecies, and keep the spirits of the prophets subject to the prophets.

   We need to include more such instruction rather than to deny the use of gifts because of a couple of negative experiences.

 

- (1 Cor 14:6,7, 23-33) Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?

23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad?

24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

26 How is it then, brothers? when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying.

27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

30 If any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace.

31 For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

 

Furthermore, we should take into account certain important points when using the gift of prophecy, such as:

 

  • Prophecy is never the most important tool for receiving guidance but is one tool among others. It can, at most, confirm what we already feel inside. Usually, God puts all important matters into our hearts first.
  • This is defective, as Paul said (1 Cor 13:9): For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
  • A true prophecy is for edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Cor 14:3). A prophecy should express the tone and love of the Good Shepherd.
  • False prophecies touch on matters that are not the area of true prophecies, such as donation of money, encouragement to marry someone (even though you do not want to do so), or business operations. If a prophecy is being used to reinforce one’s position or lift the prophet up rather than Christ, then it is a false prophecy.  
  • False prophecies often deal with devastation and destruction or tell the day Jesus will come back (even though Matt 24:36 clearly states that we cannot know the exact date). True prophecies can also deal with devastation and negative issues, but always address them with a loving attitude. 
  • The person giving a false prophecy can appear out of control  (cf. 1 Cor 14:32: And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets). The false prophet may speak with an unnatural or high-pitched voice, and his face can often be distorted.
  • A true prophetic message usually is intended to draw people closer to God, at saving people and helping them feel God’s grace, but false prophecies often cause the opposite effect. They may cause people to sin, get a divorce, neglect obligations, feel fearful for no reason, become anxious, or wreck people’s prayers and spiritual life. These are activities that always come from the arch enemy.

 

Fruits. It is important to see that gifts are not given based on the maturity of people but through grace. The recipient may still be immature or a small child in Christ, as were the Corinthians. They had received every gift but they were still carnal, according to Paul. This is also possible today.

 

- (1 Cor 1:7) So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

- (1 Cor 3:1) And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.

 

Gifts are not the antithesis of fruits, as people often think. If people were to choose between the fruits of the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit, most would probably choose the fruits. They consider the fruits to be more permanent, which is naturally true but this is not what the Bible stresses. Gifts and fruits of the Spirit should complement each other, as they did during the life of Jesus Christ. In His service work, most gifts were at work but He also had the fruits of the Spirit. He was in no way fanatic, angrily enthusiastic or restless. He was quiet and humble of heart (Matt 11:29) and his work was built on the foundation of peace. The congregation should follow His example in spiritual life and when using gifts. This is what we should strive for.

   There is still another matter that we should address: What happens if we receive gifts with the wrong kind of attitude? Power may corrupt anyone if they lack humility and have too high an opinion of themselves. People can fall. As Paul wrote, Why let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall(1 Cor 10:12). Known men of God have warned people of the danger of success.

 

Reinhard Bonnke: People who have been given the privilege of being a channel of gifts of the Spirit should be especially careful. If people try to raise themselves on a pedestal, it will show. Spiritual gifts are not Oscars to be put on display; they are not rewards for work well done. Do not flaunt the weapons of God’s power. Do not turn a gift of the Spirit into a tiara, a necklace or a ring.

   The guardian of the door to your heart is called Humility. If you loose this guardian, the unguarded gate will soon fall and the enemy will get the best of you. (2)

 

Cesar Castellanos: I have noticed during the past few years that gifts of the Holy Spirit in people without character are a great danger. The Spirit has not yet developed or moulded such people. As explained before, this is as dangerous as giving a gun to a child: it can lead to major chaos. We have heard of terrible tragedies caused by young people in schools in the United States during the past few years. We are faced with a similar situation if a gift of the Spirit is being used by a person who is not determined. Gifts of grace given to us by God are courtesies with which we can expand His work. There will be a day, however, when the gifts cease to be, and then the only valuable thing will be the fruits of the Holy Spirit. (3)

 

Rick Joyner: Many people fall because they become less vigilant when their spiritual authority increases. This is one reason why so many people tragically fall at the latter stages of their life. The number of souls we have led to salvation or the number of possessors we have driven out is of no significance: if we do not stay with God, get closer to Him and reject evil, we are in danger. (4)

 

If there are no fruits. What if miracles happen but the person him/herself lives in sin? Is such a person a false prophet whose gifts are not from God? After all, Jesus did say, ”You shall know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:16), meaning false prophets.

   This does not have to be the case, at least not at first. It may be a person like the king of Israel, Saul, who first had the Holy Spirit in him but who later drifted away from God because he failed to control his life. This can happen to anyone. Common causes of sin include sex, money, fame and numbers.

   Demos Shakarian gives a strange example of this. Great miracles took place through a person; people responded to his call of salvation even though the person himself was living in deep sin. Was he like Saul, a person who was at first used by God, but then lost his anointment?

 

What was strangest about this man was that regardless of his excess interest in money, he had been anointed: he was a speaker inspired by God. There were more people than ever before at our meetings that summer, most people came to the altar and most miraculous healings took place. (...)

   Finally, the last Sunday afternoon came. More than 10,000 people were crammed in the enormous tent where Bob Smith (name changed) gave an impressive final speech. I thought that he was a great speaker and I was happy for him because the meetings had also raised a lot of money – he seemed to be so worried about money...

   (...) It was six weeks later when I heard about Bob Smith the next time. One day, he walked into the headquarters of Safety 3, skinny, unshaven and in shabby clothes. He looked all around broke. He told me his long and unlucky story, and asked for money to get to Detroit. I gave it to him. Three years later I heard that he had passed away.

   This was the first but not by any means the last time we came to face with this phenomenon: a person through whom God worked to help others but whose own life was in shambles. Sometimes, as in the case of Bob Smith, the problem was money, others struggled with women, drugs or sexual aberrations.

   Why did God choose to use such people? Was it the power of the Bible that worked regardless of the man using the power? Or was it the faith of those listening? I did not know. (5)

 

Copy gifts and false prophets. Laying on hands may be a means of receiving gifts of grace or healing. This is how Timothy received his gift when Paul and the elders lay their hands on his head. This is a way in which a person can receive healing, as Jesus said:

 

- (1 Tim 4:14) Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

 

- (2 Tim 1:6) Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.

 

- (Mark 16:17,18) And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

 

However, when laying on hands, we must follow the example of the Bible. This means that we should not allow anyone to lay his or her hands on us but only our elders (James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.) or reliable people, people in whose lives the fullness and fruits of the Holy Spirit can be seen. Yonggi Cho warned us about what may happen if we go to people in whom false spirits are at work. We may suffer wholly unnecessarily.

 

People who pray earnestly and eagerly for receiving the Holy Spirit should not allow anyone to place their hands on them while they pray. An evil spirit is very contagious, as are diseases that spread like epidemics. I have seen how filthy spirits have been transferred into people when someone who is possessed by evil spirits has placed their hands on them. When such a spirit gets into them, they suffer terribly until they are freed from it. If someone wants hands to be placed on him in prayer, he should always be sure that the people who do this are full of the Spirit of Truth. (6)

 

The warning above is important also because there are spiritualist gifts that resemble gifts of God and these gifts may be mediated by a person putting his or her hands on someone. They may speak in tongues, utter so-called words of knowledge or be clairvoyant simply because they are connected to spirits of divination, as the damsel mentioned in the Acts. Healing and other miracles may also occur, as in the case of Simon the sorcerer.

   The teachings and examples of the Bible about false spirits should be taken seriously. We also need the gift of distinguishing between spirits in order to tell the right from the false. This is difficult to do using natural abilities alone.

 

- (Acts 8:9-11) But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.

11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

 

- (Acts 16:16-18) And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show to us the way of salvation.

18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

 

There are spiritualist gifts. There are also people who claim they work for God but who are not His own. There may be people consciously claiming this in the congregation, or they may be people who do not know what their actual state is. There were such people during the times of the early congregation, and this has surely not changed. The Bible often refers to them but also shows us what will ultimately happen to these liars. We do not wish this fate on anyone.

 

- (Matt 7:15) Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

 

- (2 Peter 2:1-3) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not.

 

- (2 Cor 11:13-15) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

 

- (Rev 22:15) For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie.

 

- (Rev 21:7,8) He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

1. Veikko Pekki:Lisää, lisää!, p. 9,16

2. Reinhard Bonnke: Evankeliointi tulella käynnistää herätyksen (Evangelism by Fire: An initiative for revival), p. 201

3. Cesar Castellanos D.: Menestyvä johtajuus G-12 solumallissa (Succesful Leadership Through the Government of Twelwe), p. 102

4. Rick Joyner: Ennen taivasta (A Prophetic Vision for the 21st Century), p. 187

5. John ja Elizabeth Sherrill: Maailman onnellisimmat ihmiset (The Happiest  People on Earth), p. 76,79,80

6. YonggiCho: Pyhä Henki ja sinä, p. 100

 

 

 

Jari Iivanainen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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