The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The gifts of the Spirit are given to believers for the profit of all and the edification of the body of Christ. Certain parts of the body of Christ don't believe that the gifts are currently in use. Some of the church does believe in the gifts of the Spirit, but does not operate in the gifts during church meetings. There are also elements of the charismatic church that operate in the gifts, but have incorrect doctrine about the gifts. This teaching will touch on the basics for the believer who has little understanding on the gifts, and it will also expand on improper doctrine taught in the church for the believer who has more understanding on the subject.
Some in the church do not believe the gifts of the Spirit are in operation today. The Bible, however, does not say this. Therefore any teaching that states the gifts are not currently in operation has come from man. The apostles of the first century church never taught that the gifts of the Spirit would cease. Jesus warned us about believing the doctrine of men taught by the religious leaders. The warning is still very relevant today.
There are parts of the church who confess they believe in the gifts of the Spirit, but they never actually talk about them, teach them, or allow believers to operate in them. Their church meetings are conducted in such a way that there is no freedom for the gifts of the Spirit to operate. The church service is packed with programs and a predetermined schedule. Believers are simply not given any room to function in the gifts of the Spirit.
Confusion over Spiritual Gifts
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 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. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (I Corinthians 12:4, 7-11 NKJV)
This scripture lists nine spiritual gifts. Even though only nine are listed, there could be many more spiritual gifts. Romans 12:3-8 mentions a few other spiritual gifts that believers can operate in. Other spiritual gifts are mentioned in Exodus 31:1-7.
We must note the context of 1 Corinthians 12. Paul is saying, "to one believer a gift is given. To another believer a different gift is given." Paul does not say that every gift is given to every believer. The scripture says that the gifts are distributed "individually as He (the Holy Spirit) wills." It does not say "the gifts are distributed as we will." We are commanded to earnestly desire the best spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31), but that does not mean that we will get all the gifts we want. The Holy Spirit gives the gifts as He desires.
A believer may operate in more than one spiritual gift. In fact, maybe certain believers have been given all nine of the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. God can do whatever He wants to do. There may be some believers that only function in one or two gifts of the Spirit, while other believers operate in three or four gifts. The point that needs to be made is that not every believer will be given all nine of these gifts. In fact, most believers do not function in all nine of these gifts. Paul elaborates further:
And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (I Corinthians 12:28-30 NKJV)
The point Paul is making is that not all believers are called to the office of the apostle. Not everyone is called to be a prophet or a teacher. Paul stops with three offices, but the list could continue. Not every believer is called to be a pastor. And not all Christians are called to the office of the evangelist.
Then Paul moves on to spiritual gifts. All believers will not operate in the working of miracles. Some believers will, but every believer will not. All believers do not operate in gifts of healing. Some do, but not everyone. Paul only mentions four out of the nine gifts in the passage. However, this can be applied to the rest of the gifts just as it is applied to the five ministry offices. Not every believer will function in the word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, gift of faith, and the gift of prophecy.
Not every believer can prophesy, even if the charismatic church teaches that everyone can. The Bible does not say this. The Holy Spirit through Paul says the exact opposite in 1 Corinthians 12:28-30. However, there will always be leaders in the church who take scripture out of context, because their hearts want it to say something that it does not. Unfortunately the charismatic church is horrible at this. We must be grounded in the word so we do not drift off into deception.
In 1 Corinthians 14:1, Paul tells us to especially desire that we can prophecy. He goes on to say in verse five that he wishes we all could prophesy. Paul does not say that we all can prophesy, but only that he wishes we could.
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (I Corinthians 14:26-33 NKJV)
We first must understand the context that Paul has set. Paul is speaking in the context of when the entire city church comes together (1 Corinthians 14:23). There would have been thousands of believers, just as there are thousands of Christians in any given city in America today. Paul says, "Let two or three prophets speak. For you can all prophesy one by one." Paul is saying that the two or three prophets can all prophesy one by one (three maximum). He is not saying that the city church of thousands of people can all prophesy one by one. If that were the case, the church meeting would have lasted a week. Yet many in the charismatic church insist that "you can all prophesy." These people take the scripture completely out of context to make it say what they want.
I will also note that Paul is talking about prophets in the passage above. He is not referring to those operating in the gift of prophecy. The Greek word that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use in 1 Corinthians 14:29-32 means prophet (not gift of prophesy). The Greek word used for prophesy in the rest of 1 Corinthians 14, simply means "prophesy" (or the gift of prophesy). There is a big difference between a prophet and someone operating in the gift of prophesy. Paul was inspired to use a certain Greek word in verses 29-32. The Holy Spirit wanted to speak about prophets in these verses, not believers who operate in the gift of prophesy. The Holy Spirit does things for a reason and He does not make mistakes.
Prophecy - Edification and Rebuke
But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. (I Corinthians 14:3 NKJV)
Much of the time, the gift of prophecy will operate through believers to bring edification. The gift will function to build believers up and strengthen them. This includes encouraging words of comfort and peace, such as speaking into the person's destiny. The Lord will demonstrate His deep love and compassion through this gift. My wife and I have been deeply blessed by the gift of prophecy operating through believers over the years.
If therefore the whole assembly is assembled together and all speak with other languages, and unlearned or unbelieving people come in, won’t they say that you are crazy? But if all prophesy, and someone unbelieving or unlearned comes in, he is reproved by all, and he is judged by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed. So he will fall down on his face and worship God, declaring that God is among you indeed. (1 Corinthians 14:23-25 WEB)
The scripture also indicates that the gift of prophecy can at times be used to reprove a person. The Greek word used in his passage for "reproved," also means: to convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove. The scripture states that if a unbeliever comes in to church, and he is told a fault by a believer functioning in the gift of prophecy; the unbeliever will be discerned, judged, or examined. The secrets of his heart being revealed, and he will fall down on his face and worship God.
Paul demonstrates the use of a "negative" prophesy of rebuke in Acts 13:6-12. Paul was "filled with the Holy Spirit" and prophesied judgment on an unbeliever who was operating in sorcery. The judgment of God fell on the sorcerer and he became blind for a season.This prophetic word of rebuke opened up the proconsul to the gospel, which influenced the entire region. The Holy Spirit knows what He is doing, and He is greater than all our doctrines. We must never put the Holy Spirit in a box with our foolish doctrines.
There are some influential leaders in the church teaching that the gift of prophecy is only for edification, exhortation, and comfort. As one can see from the scripture, this is not the truth. The gift may operate most of the time in a edifying way, however it can clearly be used to bring a reproof. It is great error to ignore certain scriptures because we do not like them. This is how false doctrine is created. We must love the Word more than we love our own way or opinion. If we love our own beliefs more than what the Word says, we will modify the Word to fit our beliefs. We must be careful of leaders who do this in these end times.
The Gift of Tongues
There is a difference between the gift of tongues that functions in front of the entire church, and the prayer language of tongues that comes with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When a believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit they receive a prayer language of tongues. Every believer can have this experience. For more on this, please see my teaching on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Not every believer will function in the gift of tongues that operates before the entire church. The Holy Spirit will distribute this gift as He wills. When this gift does operate in the church, there must be an interpretation that goes with it. The Holy Spirit will give the interpretation to the believer who gave the tongue, or He will give it to another believer in the church. Leaders should make time for these gifts to function in the church. Faith without works is dead.
Decently and in Order
We understand through Paul's epistle that three believers should not be giving a tongue at the same time, or there should not be multiple people prophesying to the entire church at once. People operating in these gifts should not interrupt the speaker. These are basically common sense issues that we have an understanding of in the church today. However, if things are truly to be done decently and in order, the gifts of the Spirit should be given room to operate in the corporate meeting. If the gifts are not allowed to function, I would suggest that everything is not being done decently and in order.
As we discussed, praying in tongues as a prayer language is different from operating in the gift of the Spirit. If the pastor or leader asks the whole church to pray aloud together, a believer may pray in their prayer tongue. If a believer desires to pray or sing in their prayer tongue during worship, this is also completely acceptable (as long as it is not disrupting others). Believers may pray in their prayer tongue during a meeting, as long as it is not disrupting the meeting and causing confusion. Paul was addressing gatherings that were out of order in the city church of Corinth.
We must also always make room for the Holy Spirit. He may chose to come upon a gathering as He did in Acts chapter two with an explosion of spiritual fire and chaos. Sometimes God's definition of "decently and in order" is different than our definition of "decently and in order." We must always be willing to yield to Him. If the Lord chooses to step into the room and cause people to shake and fall down under the power of the Spirit; that is His right. He is the King and He does as He pleases. Who are we to tell Him what He can and can't do?
If we do not love, the gifts will profit us nothing, and we ourselves are nothing. Love is the key.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (I Corinthians 13:8-12 NKJV)
Currently the body of Christ are as children. Because we are generally still immature, we only know in part and prophesy in part. However, when we put away childish things and mature by means of loving others; we will see more clearly (as face to face). Now we only know in part, but once we come to maturity (full age); that which is in part will be done away with. The gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues, and the word of knowledge will be done away with when we come to maturity (that which is perfect has come). When we are truly operating in love, Christ will let us see with clarity into other people's lives. We will no longer prophesy in part or operate in a partial word of knowledge. We will see into their lives as if looking into someone's face. When love is perfected in us, we will prophesy in full and know in full. Once we love, the Lord can trust us with fullness. Since we are not walking fully in love and maturity, He can only trust us with knowing in part and prophesying in part. Gifts without love and maturity can do great damage.
Jesus operated in the fullness of the Spirit because He loved and He was mature. Jesus had given up His power and had to be anointed by the Holy Spirit just as we do (Acts 10:38). However Jesus did not function in the word of knowledge. He moved in the Spirit of knowledge. Jesus did not move in the gifts of the Spirit, He was anointed with the seven spirits of God. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2 NKJV)
This is the realm in the Spirit that is open to those who walk in love and maturity. May we be those who follow in the footsteps of Christ. We must pursue Christ first and foremost. By making Christ our primarily pursuit, He will transform us into His image. As we are being transformed into His image, we will begin to love like He loves. This will bring us in to maturity, and the fullness of the Spirit will be open to us. Christ will only release fullness to His mature sons and daughters.