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The Persecuted Church


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Pt.4 the Spiritual gifts

Because one has something to say about the abuse or dysfunctional application of the gifts they are often categorized as a non charismatic, a cessationist. This simply is not true. We are to all test the spirit, the teachings and the gifts (1 Thess. 5:21; Heb.5:14 Discern evil- kakos- worthless, depraved, or (objectively) injurious.

There was no prophecy for 400 years to Israel before Jesus was announced. Prophecy diminished in history according to God’s will. The spiritual gifts are given by God to operate when he deems then necessary, not summoned by our own will.

Gal. 5:5-6 Paul states “but faith working through love.” The gifts operate through faith and faith operates through love, as he states in v.13 through love serve one another. One must be surrendered and willing to serve others. So the gifts are to be used with right motives.

There was no prophecy for 400 years before Jesus was announced; so prophecy diminished in history according to God’s will. The gifts are given by God to operate when they are necessary, not summoned by our own will.

Gal. 5:5-6 “For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”

Then Paul also states “but faith working through love.” The gifts operate through faith and faith operates through love

Gal. 5:13 through love serve one another. One must be surrendered and willing to serve others. So the gifts are used with right motives and not abused for self interest.

Rom 12:3-5 ‘For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”

Next Paul explains that faith (trust in God) plays a main part in our function of the gift he has given us.

V. 6 -9 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”

God brings out the gifts after we are grounded in the word and grow in the faith, not before.

The gifts do not focus on the person that is operating the gift, but on Jesus, the Spirit will always point to and lift up Jesus (Jn.15:26). People who are lifted up and accept becoming the center of attention, such as a healer or miracle worker grieve the Spirits work, they hinder Him. The Spirit wants us to focus and have more trust in the Lord, not man. Many desire gifts of power, miracles, healing, and prophecy -- all these gifts can bring attention to ones self and are to be more careful in use than the practical gifts of helps or mercy.

Just as the Spirit regenerates and gives new life in the new spiritual birth, they are able to give life to the hearers and recipients of their activity.

He sent gifts to men when he ascended (Eph. 4:8), first to establish the foundation of the church, Eph. 4:11-12: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” And the church was given gifts to minister to one another and others outside the body.

The gifts for servant leadership, which are listed as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers or a combination of them i.e. apostles-prophets; pastor-teachers, depending on your interpretation.  The gift of a foundational Apostles are no longer available today (only in a lesser degree as missionaries who begin churches).  The teachings of the foundational Apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20) are what the Church is built upon, they were delivered and we were being built on them from the beginning of the church. So certain offices were clearly apostolic in nature with certain accompanying gifts. Paul makes this distinction in

2 Cor. 12:12 “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.” Yet he also says the church is gifted. And here is where so many confuse things.

In 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul writes, "to each one is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given the word of Wisdom by the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; ...to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all theses things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills."

Paul then uses the analogy of how our bodies have many parts, each with its own function, but all are important to the whole to function correctly.

God will give you a burden for people, as you pray and serve you will also learn what your gift is and how to use your gift to minister to others, i.e. either by evangelism, or through help and serving. God never gives a gift that will quickly exalt a person to a position over others without the person serving others in the gift first.

There are various ways the gifts express themselves through individuals. You can have the Lord manifest a spiritual gift when it is necessary and may not be seen again for a long time. 1 Cor.12:.4 to individuals “He distributes as He wills,” and, He brings them into use when it is necessary.

We need to be careful not to become so enamored with a spiritual gift, or an experience rather than seeking God through His Word which is plainly given. Can God instruct us without our continually reading the word? It is easier to pull the reigns of a horse trained then one that needs to be broken in. Can we have understanding of the things of God without His instruction? We are told wisdom is in His word, Christ is this wisdom. We are told in Scripture the Spirit is sent to bring to remembrance what Jesus said, which is written down. He will use whatever knowledge we have of Him already. He is not communicating new revelation but instead giving us an accurate understanding of the revelation already written.

Spiritual gifts are not natural talents we are born with but were given when we are spiritually born. They ae only given at the time of our salvation (I Cor.12:13) because it is then the Holy Spirit resides in us. Gifts that come from the Holy Spirit, these were not there before He was present because we were not believers. They are not given before, nor after salvation, but with salvation. When we are baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, the Holy Spirit resides in us and we receive our spiritual gift[s], we may not know of them nor develop in using gifts until later even though they are our possession.

God may also refine, enhance and sanctify the natural abilities we have that he wants to use for his kingdom, but these are not Spiritual gifts.

I have seen pastors walk around the room and stop, and speak over people telling them what their spiritual gift is. Thinking they are prophesying as Paul did with Timothy. Sitting in a chair or up on stage calling out so called words of knowledge each time is not how these gifts work. Jesus used the spiritual gifts in active conversations with people as he was engaged in ministry, evangelizing, ministering to their needs. For us it is the life of Christ that ministers through us to others.

There are no personality tests to identify your spiritual gifts that would be accurate. Making a list of likes and dislikes is hardly a measure of how one can know their ministry or gift. That is psychology. God often gives us what we do not like to do and empowers us beyond our natural abilities to accomplish His will.

Paul’s statement in I Cor. 12:31 “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” is often misinterpreted to seek after a certain spiritual gift we desire, but this ignores the whole context of chapters 12-14. He is not speaking to individuals but the church as a whole. Paul is saying to stop valuing tongues so highly, but desire to see the other gifts. He tells them to “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:1) Paul goes on to say after explaining the gifts functions 1 Cor. 14:12 “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.” So it is not for ones self, to be made important but for others to be ministered to.

The word zealous is from the same root as the word as desire spiritual gifts. It means to look intently for the opportunity, not quenching the Spirit.

All Spiritual gifts are given (1 Cor. 12:11) by God. No pastor can decide which gift a person is to have, nor pass his own on to whomever he desires. One cannot pray for a specific gift and expect in faith to receive it, since all gifts are sovereignly given by God for the calling of each individual. And Eph.2:10 tells us of our works, “God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” In other words, they are part of His overall plan for our lives.

We can develop our spiritual gift through a continual use by faith (Rom. 12:6), or neglect it and have it diminish in its use (I Cor. 12:26). For example if you are a teacher of the word and you stop for years, you still have the gift but you will not be as refined as you once were when you were using it daily. The same would be for evangelism.

Every believer has at least one gift. There is no believer without a spiritual gift (Rom. 12:6; I Cor.

12:7, 11, 27) and no one person has all the gifts (I Cor. 12:29-30). This is why we are called the body of Christ (He being the head).

We need to ask what is the purpose of the gift and how is it being used to see if it is genuine. The word charisma occurs in the New Testament in the Pauline Epistles, the exception of 1 Pet. 4:10, various lists of the charismata are given (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; 28-30)

A spiritual gift is “God-given ability for service,” given to believers for the purpose of ministering to the Body so that the health of the church is maintained. We are to seek to edify the church, (it is other centered) and we are not to seek the gift itself.

The spiritual gifts are for ministry. Some think they can be of the world, love the world and function in a spiritual gift. No. There are even those who say psychics have a spiritual gift! The Holy Spirit, who is God gives the gift to fulfill our calling in Christ. It is to exalt Christ to give him glory and not just by someone saying the words but is seen by the intent.

The Bible teaches that Spiritual gifts are for the building up of the body so that everyone can do ministry unto the Lord. The spiritual gifts do differ in value; there is an order of importance in the gifts (I Cor. 12:28). The church is an assembly, like bricks in a temple, each being placed and to be active in their gift and talents (both those given spiritually by the Holy Spirit and natural talent’s to serve the Lord and his people). They are to build up and edify the local body and to empower a person’s service to the Lord.

What are the functions of spiritual gifts?

To understand the gifts correctly we must go to Jesus, because Jesus had all the fullness of the Spirit, so all the gifts he needed functioned freely in his ministry. We do need to understand that not all the gifts were seen in his ministry- he never spoke in tongues, or interpreted tongues. However he did speak and understand several languages.

Together we make up the fullness of Christ in the body. Eph 4:7-8 “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men."

I remember years ago a prophet from India came and taught at a small meeting we had that each of us have all the gifts. He called himself a prophet and this only proved he was not.No member functions in all the gifts and is a body unto themselves. If one was to have all the gifts they would be the fullness of God; only Jesus is.

All the spiritual gifts show a characteristic of Christ. The gift of mercy shows the heart of God; the gift of serving shows the life of Jesus. We serve God by our gifts, the practical gifts: helps, mercy, giving, the gift of service are necessary components, they may be of less attention but more in importance. They exhibit God’s love, as love suffers along with someone who is struggling and weak. And without love as the foundation the gift only becomes something to point to man instead of Jesus. A bunch of noise to attract attention to self.

The gift of teaching is mentioned and practiced more than any other for it instructs us in the ways of following our Lord. A natural talent in a teacher is not the same as a spiritual gift that is developed by the Holy Spirit. In the same way a musician who has talent before he was a believer does not automatically mean he should be a worship leader. Some who are teachers in schools that can read and communicate well, does not mean they are pastor material. In other words, it is a calling from God, not a job, but a ministry. There are some have had a calling but allowed the world and it’s the philosophies to be a greater influence than Jesus and have become hirelings.

A healthy church concentrates on people and allows gifts to be used to build and help equip the people (Eph.4). Jesus is people centered. Leadership functions to help others find their gifts and calling in the body so that it is a healthy functioning body that expresses Christ to those around them. The leaders are also to maintain order when spiritual gifts are exercised. When they are not in order they are to be pointed out to correct their usage and not let others be misled.

We are told the Corinthian church came “short in no gift,” (1 Cor. 1:7). They were in today’s vernacular a charismatic church; they exercised all the gifts. Yet Paul rebuked them because they were out of order, not because they were exercising counterfeits. Though if not corrected it may come to this.

1 Peter 4:10-11 “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Corinthians 14:1-22 the word “edification” is continually used (3 times v.5, 12, 26); the Greek word is “oikodome”, meaning the act of building, or building up; to promote another’s growth. Each reference is used for the edification for the whole church. v.1 “Pursue love” is the overarching theme.

Ungifted are those who do not know of their gift yet or do not believe in the gifts.

There are two different Greek words used for "spiritual gifts": "Now concerning spiritual gifts brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant"(I Cor. 12:1) Paul uses the term "pneumatikos" which translates as "spirituals," what is of the Spirit; the emphasis being on the source of the gifts ... the Holy Spirit. While the fruit of the Holy Spirit exhibits different characteristics of Christ produced by our abiding in the vine (Him), likewise the gifts vary in their use.

God's gifts are still active because we have the Holy Spirit who is the giver of the gifts. But there are qualifications; we pray for miracles, and healings, these do not accompany us like they did the chosen foundational apostles (who were limited to a certain number).

For those who are strict cessationists, who say there are no more spiritual gifts operating, this would obviously include teaching, helps, mercy, etc., that are empowered by the Spirit. This would mean that the natural talents are what directs them and the Holy Spirit is involved on a diminished level to teach and minister what was written. The Spirit helps one in their gift, and in teaching would help the teacher extrapolate the basic meaning and even the deeper meanings. To say there are no gifts operational is not what Scripture teaches the church.


pt.5 definitions and functions

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