Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. (1 Cor 12:1).
Informed, Not Ignorant
As the above Scripture indicates, God desires for all believers to be INFORMED, NOT IGNORANT concerning the manifestation gifts of the Spirit, just as He desires for us to be informed about every other matter of the Spirit realm. Yet, there is perhaps more ignorance regarding this one matter than any other.
One of the remnants ostensibly of the Dark Ages in the Church that is still prevalent in many churches today is the ridiculous hypothesis that ignorance about spiritual matters perceived by some to be potentially erroneous is the best way to avoid deception. In other words, one should emulate the ostriches and bury his head in the sand so as to not even look upon anything which may be unorthodox or different than the traditional beliefs of the denomination or sect of which they are a part. Many denominational churches still teach that kind of childish and medieval-like behavior even for their adult church members pertaining to the matter of the Baptism in the Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit, and some other related spiritual matters. Non-Pentecostal/Charismatic preachers and church leaders admonish their parishioners against becoming involved with groups espousing the Baptism and the Gifts with such foolish statements as “you better stay away from those ‘tongue-talkers’ and those ‘holy-rollers’ and those ‘snake-handlers’ lest some of that what they’ve got might get on you!” Again, the premise of their thinking, in sum, is that ignorance and avoidance of anything different than the traditional doctrines to which they ascribe is the way to prevent deception.
Nothing could be further from the Truth! Even the pagan Bereans had more spiritual sense than that, for when they heard the preaching by Paul of “another Way” than what they had known, they “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Ac. 17:11). The only way to know whether a teaching is true or false is to examine it in the light of Scripture. The deception preventative prescribed by God’s Word is to “Test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; to that hold fast” (1 Thes. 5:21, A.B); and the only way we can test and prove any spiritual matter is by comparing it to Holy Scripture. If God’s Word says it, then it is so. If it’s in the Bible, it is truth!
Ignorance is not bliss, but stupid. Ignorance or avoidance of something is no safeguard against deception. God said His people are destroyed because of “LACK OF KNOWLEDGE” (Hos. 4:6). Lack of knowledge, or ignorance of the Truth, is what causes people to be destroyed. Knowledge itself never destroys—lack of knowledge does. It’s not even knowledge of the untrue or the erroneous that destroys us, but rather lack of knowledge of the Truth!
Believers must always receive truth by faith, and never fear it! It is fear of deception that we must reject. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6); walking in fear rather than faith is not pleasing to God. The fact of the matter is that fear of anything, deception included, as the story of Job proves, will not only not protect us from it, but it will actually produce it. As Job said, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me” (Job 3:25). Faith in God and His published Word, the Bible, is our only true protection against evil and deception. That’s why Jesus said to pray this way, “Our Father, which art in Heaven…deliver us from evil.”
Fear is an evil spirit not given to us by God, but emanating from Satan (2 Tim. 1:7). Fear is the opposite of faith and produces the opposite results of faith. Faith is a real, effectual spiritual force of the Kingdom of God that produces those things that are desired (cf., Heb. 11:1). Fear, on the other hand, is a real spiritual force of the kingdom of Satan that produces the things that are not desired. Again, Job said, “The thing I have feared the most has come upon me!” Sixty-three times in the King James Version of the Bible, God issues the command, “FEAR NOT!”
Moreover, believers need not fear deceiving spirits—they have already overcome them (cf., 1 Jn. 4:1-6).
Love of and acceptance of the TRUTH is the only safeguard against DECEPTION and subjection to false signs and wonders (2 Thes. 2:7-12). It is those who refuse to become informed about and matured in the matter of spiritual gifts that will be more and more vulnerable to deception and false signs and wonders.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH—knowing the Truth—is the only thing that will protect you from deception. Familiarity with the true spiritual gifts is the only thing that will protect us from accepting counterfeits. One of the best illustrations of that truth is U.S. Treasury agents, who handle thousands of genuine bills all day every day. They can spot a counterfeit in a second, just by the feel of it, because they handle so many millions of the genuine. Their elite training to readily detect fake bills is based preeminently on familiarization with the genuine, not concentrating on the counterfeits.
Supernatural gifts from God are the genuine—the real thing! Supernatural gifts of the Spirit originated with God, not the devil. Counterfeit signs and wonders do exist (2 Thes. 2:7-12)! Satan is the one who counterfeits the genuine gifts of God, not the other way around! The very existence of occult counterfeit signs and wonders is proof-positive of the existence of the genuine supernatural gifts of God. How do we detect, discern, or distinguish the counterfeit from the genuine? Not by ignorance of the genuine, but by as thorough a knowledge and familiarity with the genuine as possible! Like the U.S. Treasury agents and personnel, we become so knowledgeable of and familiar with the real that we can spot the bogus in a nanosecond!
The Charismata, or Spiritual Gifts, or Manifestation Gifts of the Spirit, however you refer to them, emanate from the Holy Spirit Himself, and are therefore part and parcel of God and His Kingdom and Divine Truth. Thus, we must not fear the Giver, The Holy Spirit, or the giftings He gives, or reject Him or them. To do so is insulting to God! Shying away from or resisting any aspect or element of the Kingdom of God because of fear of deception is itself deception and is precisely what the devil wants to cause believers to do, so that they will not be able to use the supernatural weapons of their warfare (2 Cor. 10:4) to defeat him and his kingdom. Neutralization is the closest thing to victory Satan can ever hope to achieve, but it’s all he needs to achieve. To him, fear-driven retreat is tantamount to defeat!
A Trio of Gifts from the Trinity
In the Kingdom of the Triune-God, good things come in threes. Trinitarians espouse and expound the Truth that the Godhead consists of three Persons, as opposed to three manifestations as non-Trinitarian Oneness or Modalist Pentecostals contend. All Three Persons verily God, perfectly unified in essence and purpose, yet simultaneously separate and distinct—one God in Three Persons Trinitarians maintain.
“God so loved the world that He GAVE…” (Jn. 3:16). In this—the one most familiar and quoted of all Gospel verses—is reflected volumes more than what all the commentaries of Christian doctrine and theology have ever been able to suppose and propose. Add to it the fathomless precept of “the summing up of all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10) and human ruminations of who God really is soar to such sublime heights so as to dizzy the most stolid and grounded of souls.
The preponderance of Scripture propounds over and over the phenomenal Truth that the One true Triune-God to whom traditional orthodox Christendom ascribes, avows, and serves is the Supreme Giver. It is undeniable and unavoidable that giving is a central attribute of the nature of God. He is “the God of all grace” (1 Pet. 5:10). He is so full of grace (charis, Gr.) [giftings], ever-lasting love and kindness, and mercy that endures to and throughout all generations (Psa. 100:5; et al.), that He simply cannot help Himself but to GIVE! He is a God of bountiful GIFTS and GIVING! When He gave us His only begotten Son, He GAVE all and the best He had to give. One of His names is El-shaddai, which means “the God who is MORE than enough,” also demonstrates His nature of superfluous benevolence. When God gives, He gives in overflowing, abundant measure. It only follows then, as a brief aside, that anyone who purposes to emulate God and His attributes, in addition to all else, must also be a wildly generous and hilarious GIVER! (1 Cor. 9:7)
Now let’s turn our attention to this trio of gifts bestowed unto believers by the Trinity. I will speak about each one only briefly, in that our main focus here in this volume is the Manifestation Gifts of the Spirit.
Now there are varieties of GIFTS, but the same SPIRIT. And there are varieties of MINISTRIES, but the same LORD. And there are varieties of EFFECTS (operations, KJV; energizings, lit. Gr.), but the same GOD who works all these things in all persons. (1 Cor. 12:4‑6; NASB)
In these verses, the Spirit reveals through the Apostle Paul the truth that there are three distinct sets of supernatural spiritual giftings, each bestowed by and emanating from a different Member of the Godhead. To say it another way: The revelation of this passage is that each Person of the Godhead has a different set of gifts that emanate from that Member of the Trinity, which He bestows unto believers. Each set of gifting, in the system I espouse for these gifts, begins with the letter “M” in English; in order of their mention, they are: Manifestation Gifts, Ministry Gifts, and Motivation Gifts. While the primary subject matter of this book is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, it is almost irresponsible and negligent to address the matter without mentioning the Gifts of the Spirit or Charismata that inure to those who receive it, which I will do in this chapter only cursorily. I deal with them in greater depth in other books.
The Manifestation Gifts of the Spirit (Charismata)
“Now there are varieties of GIFTS, but the same SPIRIT.” (1 Cor. 12:4)
The HOLY SPIRIT distributes MANIFESTATION GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT (cf., v. 7) (Charismata or Charismatic Gifts), which are supernatural empowerment bearing witnesses of the risen Christ (cf., Ac. 1:8), as He wills unto all Spirit-Baptized believers. This set of divine endowments is delineated in First Corinthians 12:7-11. They are NINE (the number of the Holy Spirit in Scripture) in number, and can be divided into three categories of three gifts each:
- REVELATION Gifts: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits;
- POWER Gifts: healings, miracles, faith;
- PROPHETIC or VOCAL Gifts: unknown tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy.
The Apostle Paul’s entire dissertation in chapters 12, 13, 14 of First Corinthians concerns the nine supernatural “manifestations of the Spirit.” All nine of these gifts of the Spirit, according to the above-cited Scripture context, are FOR THE COMMON GOOD, that is to say, they are primarily manifested in the public forum, for the corporate benefit of those assembled. The implied import is that these manifestations are most likely to be manifested in the public, typically congregational, forum (“where two or three are gathered together in My name”) as opposed to the private and personal life of an individual believer, though that by no means infers that manifestation in the latter scenario is precluded or prohibited.
It is in this public congregational forum that the manifestations of the Spirit are most frequently and commonly manifested and demonstrated. For instance, the working of miracles, the gifts of healings, and faith seem to be activated and manifested more commonly “where two or three are gathered together,” for “the COMMON good,” than they are in the personal life of an individual for the “private” benefit of that individual. This demonstrates the importance of the corporate anointing (Jn. 14:12).
The verses immediately following the listing of the Manifestations of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:12-27) seem to be focusing on and emphasizing this matter of these manifestations being especially operational in the corporate Body of Christ, which, though it consists of individual members, is individual members related to and needful of one another and assembled together corporately. “But one and the same Spirit works all these things (the Manifestations of the Spirit), distributing to each one individually as He wills.” The “will” of the Spirit seems to encompass an especial preference for distributing these manifestations and causing them to operate as the corporate Body of Christ congregates together, reinforcing the Lord’s insistence that we be continually cognizant of our need for one another (cf., 1 Cor. 12:21). For instance, while it is possible for a sick believer to lay hands upon himself and effect healing or recovery, that seems to be a less common occurrence; rather, it seems that healing virtue is more often released into the body of the infirmed through the laying on of hands by another believer.
The Function of the Charismata or Charismatic Gifts
The Charismatic Wind that began to blow across Christendom in 1960 came to activate believers who would believe and receive the Holy Spirit and His manifestation gifts in the operation of His supernatural POWER. The effect of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father (Ac. 1:4-5), which Jesus bestows upon every believer who will but ask Him (Mat. 3:11, Lk. 11:13), is that “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive POWER to TESTIFY about Me with great effect” (Ac. 1:8, L.B.). It is “POWER” to be “witnesses” of Jesus to a lost and dying world that is bestowed upon believers when they receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The Greek word translated “power” in this text and others in the New Testament is “dunamis,” which connotes “SUPERNATURAL ENABLEMENT.” Thus, the import of Jesus’ statement is that with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit we receive supernatural enablement to be vessels for the manifestations of the Spirit through us in order to give testimony of the viability of the resurrection power of Jesus! Upon being endowed with power from on high, Spirit-baptized believers become witnesses of Jesus primarily to the world (i.e., unbelievers).
The Ministry Gifts
“And there are varieties of MINISTRIES, but the same LORD.” (1 Cor. 12:5)
The “Lord” and Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, endows “some” (Eph. 4:11) select believers of His choosing with HIS MINISTRY GIFTS for the spiritual development (edification and education) and governance (non-authoritarian steerage, pilotage) of the Church. When He was baptized in the Spirit, Jesus Himself was endowed with these giftings by the Father and operated them during His fleshly ministry. Thus, in that they were bestowed unto Him by the Father, through the Helper, the Holy Spirit, they are HIS, the Lord’s, giftings as the Head of the Church to bestow upon whomever He wills and chooses. It is vital to understand that it is the LORD, as the functional Head of the Church, as opposed to human hierarchies, and as such He appoints whomever HE elects to these offices of function, and anoints them with these supernatural enablements. Only “some,” not “all” (cf., 1 Cor. 12:28ff) believers are so appointed and anointed. This set of giftings, also known as the Fivefold Ministry Offices (functions), is delineated and their functions are explained in Ephesians 4:7-13. They are FIVE (the number in Scripture for divinely bestowed giftings of grace) in number, which are: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
The Motivation Gifts
And there are varieties of EFFECTS (OPERATIONS, KJV; ENERGIZINGS, lit. Gr.), but the same GOD who works all these things in all persons. (1 Cor. 12:6)
GOD THE FATHER bestows the MOTIVATION GIFTS, which “energize” (literal meaning of “function” [NASB] and “office” [KJV] in Romans 12:4) each individual believer with a specific function or ability, and is the believer’s primary motivation in life, whether discovered or undiscovered by the person. These “energizings” are innate talents, abilities, or enablements God the Father infuses into the internal makeup of people, and, I believe, become especially viable when individuals become a “new creature” in Christ by virtue of the infusion of the Holy Spirit at the New Birth. While some believers may be able to function in some degree in a number of these giftings, there is always ONE which motivates (moves, energizes, impels) them primarily. These gifts are delineated in Romans 12:4-8. They are SEVEN (the number of the Father’s Sovereignty and Perfection) in number, which are: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling, showing of mercy.
It is vital that the Body of Christ, individually and collectively, understand the critical differences between these giftings, offices, and functions; especially the differences between the Manifestation Gifts and the Ministry Gifts. One of the things that much of the Body has been confused about is the difference between the transient “power” [dunamis, Gr.] (cf., Ac. 1:8) distributed by the Holy Spirit, according to His will, unto believers to “minister” unto others, and the “authority” [exousia, Gr.] inherent in the Fivefold Ministry Offices (functions) with which the Lord as Head of the Church anoints believers of His election and appointment. This widespread confusion and lack of knowledge regarding these two separate and distinct matters has produced untold problems and wreaked incalculable spiritual damage in the past. Great, in this hour of rampant deception from “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons by the means of the hypocrisy of liars” (1 Tim. 4:1-2), is the Church’s need for clear, unambiguous, precise, and authoritative (i.e., apostolic) teaching regarding these graces lavishly bestowed by the Triune-God unto the co-sovereign Betrothed of Christ, the Lamb’s Wife! So desperate is Her need to appropriate and assimilate all the supernatural grace God is dispensing in these “perilous times” that are made so because men have become:
lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:1-7)###
This article is an excerpt from my latest book, DUNAMIS! Power From On High! I encourage you to read the rest of what I have to say on this vital topic in the book. Check out the book from which this article is adapted (click on book cover):
Read a New York Times article concerning what scientists have discovered about speaking in tongues: A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues