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The Holy Spirit & His Gifts

The church of our day is diverse. It is comprised of numerous groups and organizations, denominations and individuals, each one purporting to “have the truth”. At times we seem to be fighting and arguing with each other and there are certain people who appear to specialize in tearing others apart and “exposing them”. Problems, foolish behaviour and excesses do exist and they may always be like that until Jesus returns—but the genuine also exists. Our “problem” is being able to tell the difference, but this should be relatively easy. There are several ways to ascertain the truth.

If we truly believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life; that He is the door and that He always spoke the truth, He told us: My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27. He also stated that we can hear other voices, adding that we can learn to tell the difference and flee from the false. We can therefore hear His voice. If that is not so, then Jesus is a liar, but He is not. The devil is the liar.

Jesus also told us in John’s gospel that He would send the Holy Spirit to us for several specific purposes, namely to teach us truth, to guide us and lead us, to reveal Jesus to us and to reprove the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. If we refuse to accept that vital part of His ministry, we are in a form of unbelief and are cheating ourselves of understanding truth.

In those portions of scripture, Jesus had been addressing the religious leaders, or the Pharisees. They were “expert theologians”, but devoid of understanding, or what we could call “revelation” and He chastized them for their attitudes. When we speak of “revelation” today, many religious folk are shocked, thinking that we are advocating something new, or adding to scripture, but that is not so. See Revelation 22:17-19, 2 Timothy 2:14-26, 3:1-7, 16-17. It simply means that we have not “seen it yet”.  For example, after His resurrection, the Lord met two of His apostles on the road to Emmaus. They were having a heated theological debate, but did not recognize Him. It was only after “opening up” scripture to them that they saw Him.

Paul spoke of this in Ephesians 2:15-23, 3:1-6, 14-21 and when he shared his testimony in Philippians 3.

By endless debates and arguments, people who do not know God may never come to know Him. Instead of seeing The Church that Jesus said He would build, they see division and argument, differences in opinions on how to worship, how to live in a manner that pleases God, legalism, formalism, pomp and ceremony, man made traditions and never come to the truth.

The problem is that the people who ever attend a church, never read a bible and do not know anything about God avoid “Christianity” completely. If heaven and hell are real, which I believe to be true and the salvation experience when one meets the Lord Jesus Christ is real, which I also believe to be true, the theological debates and opinions that exist can in essence lead to an eternity in hell in a Christ-less existence.

Rather than fight each other as Christians, it would be better to present the Gospel message, to follow the example set by John the baptist and point to Jesus as he stood aside and declared that He was the lamb of God! Speaking of the Lamb of God, the book of Revelation is all about the Lord Jesus Christ. It contains history and prophecy that has been fulfilled, is being fulfilled and will be fulfilled.

My presentations are all designed to point others to Christ. They may often seem to contradict the accepted “norm” and thus seem controversial to religious minded people, but are aimed at stimulating individual and personal study of God’s word, changing mindsets and instill a hunger for more of God in the realities of life.

What you are about to read is a topic that I know has been well documented by others before and I initially thought that another would be superfluous. It appears that much misunderstanding, if not confusion, still exists in many peoples’ minds however and I find this distressing because many good people are simply and unnecessarily missing God’s best for them. This is not right!

Please stop for a moment and pray before you read further. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you. This is what Jesus said that he would do. In John 14:17, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth-
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.
All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ John 16:13-15.

For more than fifty years, I have found this to be so very true for me and for many others. He has made Jesus real; revealed truth; guided and encouraged me and has occasionally lovingly chastised me for being naughty.

He is also the one who touches our hearts and stirs our spirits to tell us that we need salvation.
He also said-

...I am going away to the One who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going.
Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you.
But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.
And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.
The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.
Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.
Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.“There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.
All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ John 16:5-15

It is a subject that gives me great joy to present to you, that, as I said, is already a much discussed topic, so I initially thought that it would be totally unwarranted.
Many  people I know and to whom I minister have revealed that this topic is not as well understood as it should be. It was evident that, despite years of being believers, many folk do not fully understand even the fundamental basics of Christianity, let alone deeper subjects. They are simply not being taught.

When I started teaching about the gifts, I thought of my own early experiences and the ways that the Holy Spirit gave me understanding on these things to allay initial fears or misconceptions and to show me the importance of His graces—for they are gifts indeed.
Because they are gifts, we cannot earn them. Nor should we attempt to earn them. Such a thing is not possible and I personally regard that as insulting the Holy Spirit. We receive them, graciously and humbly and should endeavour to put them to the best use for the purposes for which they were given. What is a gift? Webster’s Dictionary defines a gift as-

  • Something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation A notable capacity, talent, or endowment
  • The act, right, or power of giving
  • To endow with some power, quality, or attribute

When someone offers you a gift, I believe that you have to do one of two things. One is to receive it and the other is to reject it. By rejecting the offer, it is very likely that you offend the one offering that gift. Once a gift is placed in your possession, we believe that it then belongs to us and that it is not withdrawn.
The vast misunderstanding that prevails in many areas of the church occurs because of lack of understanding. It simply amazes me how religious opinion, religiously based commentaries, denominational stances and false assumptions without ever getting to the root of the matter exists. Theological debate often leaves people in a confused state, or rigidly set in a negative bias against the gifts with common elements quoted totally without thyme or reason leaving a large part of the church powerless. Two main areas of concern are-

  • The tongues talking issues:
    Much confusion exists in people’s minds as they mix the gift of tongues with the initial manifestation of speaking in other tongues as people receive the Holy Spirit. Some spoke about “getting tongues” instead of “receiving the Holy Spirit”. Others thought that once that they spoke in tongues as per scriptural injunction that they had the “gift of tongues” which technically speaking is incorrect as we shall see later.
  • The question of the best gift:
    The prevalent errors arise when love is brought into the equation, linking it to the gifts. Love is of paramount importance of course, but is never included in the list of the gift. Love is part of the very nature of God and is in this light not a gift at all, but a fruit of the Spirit. We shall look at this in due course.

This may sound like I am splitting hairs on terminology, but false perceptions (mostly due to lack of knowledge of the truth) can at times cause harm in people’s lives, hinder them from receiving the fullness of God’s blessing, or perhaps offending or grieving Him.
Our studies therefore are designed to present this biblical truth to you in a simple, logical manner with the aim of being a blessing and an inspiration to you.

Another preacher told of a man who visited an Arab country for business purposes. When proceedings had finished, this gentleman was looking forward to returning home and his hosts told him that they wanted to present him with a gift. He graciously declined, simply wanting to go to the airport and fly back home, but they insisted. They explained that it was their custom and would be offended if he did not accept, so he agreed and said that he would like a golf club. They agreed and he returned home.

Some time later a man he did not know came to his home and asked him to accompany him to take delivery of his golf club. The businessman had been thinking of a golf club, such as a driver, iron or a putter, but they were thinking of a golf club complete with clubhouse, greens, lakes and the like.   They were saying the same things, but had totally different things in mind.

Christians can say similar sounding things, but have totally different concepts on what God really did say in His word.

I have found this to be very true even in my own experience because I was raised from childhood by God-fearing parents who were lay leaders in our denomination, but the things of the Spirit—the things we are discussing here were completely wrong, despite the way I was raised and cherished the relationships. My father was what we called the Priest’s warden, appointed to essentially run the parish administration wise. Priests temporarily boarded in our home. I was christened and confirmed, attended Synod, became the protégée of one of the priests, took communion, was much involved in all the parish activities but lacked one thing. I was not “saved”. The new birth experience was never taught at all. I eventually drifted away from the church, but a seed had been planted inside me and it took twenty-six years to grow. On September 1st 1968 at 7:30PM, I met the Lord Jesus Christ and was born again. I am so precise about this because it was indeed a supernatural encounter with the Living God, much like the encounter a man called Saul had on the dusty road to Damascus (i).

A month-long crusade was being held by another church in town. It was one of those churches I knew were in town but never bothered to investigate who they were, what they did or what they believe. I simply formed and opinion! Mutual friends who attended that church invited me to attend and, not wanting to offend them, tentatively agreed, kept putting it off. At that time, my younger son Gary took ill and was admitted to hospital with an incurable ailment that was causing the ball joint in his left leg to decay. The doctors could not help because they really did not know what it was and what to do about it. They showed me the condition in x-rays and it was alarming. These dear friends asked if they could pray for Gary and I readily agreed. Jesus healed him and he returned home in the closing days of that crusade. I went to the last two meetings and it was on the last night, I met the Lord. My onw early experiences were dramatic, but one thing that vivdly stands out is the fact that the bible became real to me and what I read in it lined up precisely with the things that happened to me. The manifestaation of the Holy Spirit was one element that drew my attention and this is precisely what Jesus said His role would be.

I share these things because God has not changed (ii). Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (iii) and His word has never changed (iv). The people I knew then and many of those I know today have changed the rules. They believe that the days of miracles are over. They believe that people like the apostles and prophets no longer exist. They do not believe that speaking in tongues is valid and necessary today and they certainly do not believe that the Gifts of the Spirit remain in operation today.

Many wonderful people can read the bible and not see it the way God sees it. They may have a pre-conceived religious mind-set about things and not see that the days of miracles and the things of the Spirit are far from over and that they are valid and vitally necessary. They are looking at a “nine-iron” but God is looking at the whole “golf course”.

Notes: (i) Acts 9:1-6 (ii) Malachi 3:6 (iii) Hebrews 13:8 (iv) Matthew 24:35a

Core Text

With regard to spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.
You know that when you were pagans you were often led astray by speechless idols, however you were led.
So I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are different ministries, but the same Lord.
And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all.
For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11

See also Romans 12:1-8 Galatians 5:22-25 Ephesians 4:1-16


Our study outline is as follows-

Jesus' Command
Overview and Purpose
The Gifts Defined
The Vocal Gifts (a) Prophecy (b) Divers Tongues (c) Interpretation of Tongues
The Revelation Gifts (a) The Word of Knowledge (b) The Word of Wisdom (c) Discerning of Spirits
The Power Gifts (a) The Gift of Faith (b) Working of Miracles (c) Gifts of Healings
The Best Gift
The More Excellent Way 
Prophets and prophecy
Practical issues, Addressing error, problems and misuse

Jesus' Command

In John chapter fourteen, the Lord made some profound statements that were almost like a direct command, “Do not let anything disturb you”. He told them, “You believe God, so believe Me”! It was powerful! It was a command! That rattled their cages because they were living out of natural, sense reasoning and what He said demanded faith. One of the major problems in the church today is the intellectual approach that nullifies the very power of the word of God and all but nullifies true faith. Paul talks in depth about such matters in the first few chapters of his letter to the church at Corinth. The mind that is not renewed is at enmity with God!

He then talked about Heaven and I have been there! It is a very real place and what a place! You cannot use natural reasoning at all and can never argue about a real experience that is biblically sound.

The sometimes fierce debates over talking with tongues talking and the Gifts of the Spirit more often then not emanate from those who do not exercise them and try to reason it out. You can’t!

He spoke about His return before saying that anyone who wanted to see the Father should look at Him. What was stated next makes many people gag, but it is there! 

Jesus said that those of us who truly believe would do greater works than He. This does not only mean more in quantity although there are more of us now, but more in degree or intensity.He never had a motorcar or jet airplane. He never wrote a book, but the book of life is written about Him. He did not have the Internet or TV.

Those factors alone dictate that our effectiveness should be much greater than it is. There are certain things that we alone can do simply because of the era in which we live and He knew that too.

He then said what I regard as a command. It is a conditional promise, “If you love Me, keep My commandments”.

It could not be simpler than that. There is a little word called And, that links this with a very powerful promise.

If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever John 14:15-16.

It would appear that the conditional word “If” means that if we reject the Holy Spirit, we are not keeping His commandments and do not love Him!

The other comforter is as we now know, Allos Paraklētos, who is someone else Jesus said was just like He—the Holy Spirit. By His own mouth, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is a very real person who will live with us and live in us! This was unprecedented.

Never before had anyone stated that there would be such an indwelling of the Spirit of God.

In the Old Testament, the Spirit came upon men, but now, He can come to live In men.

Jesus then said that some of the work that the Holy Spirit would do is to teach us all things (and all means all) and bring all things to our remembrance (and help us to recall things in God).

In John chapter 16, Jesus elaborated. In John 16:7, He said that He was telling the truth; that it would be better for us if He departed and sent the Spirit to us, adding that He is the Spirit of Truth!

The Holy Spirit never lies! He never boasts. He never draws attention to Himself. He is always faithful in glorifying Jesus and He receives things from Jesus and reveals them to us. This basically sums up the promises Jesus made to us concerning the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately many professing believers deny Him! They are cutting themselves off from the source! If the Holy Spirit is to teach us the way Jesus said, then the act of denying the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit is tantamount to telling the Lord that He lied and that the Holy Spirit does not reach us all the truth. Their denials do not make sense.

Preachers try to build a ministry or start a church without the equipment necessary to get the job done and wonder why it is so hard, or why people are leaving in droves.

Jesus did not commence His ministry until He received that anointing and ability, yet many people deny this, thinking that such things were only temporary! Wrong! They are here until He returns.

Jesus said that He would build His church and allow us to work with Him, but He supplies all the tools, abilities and talents and all of the materials required. If the Holy Ghost implements all this in our lives and we cut Him off, it is totally illogical.

Jesus never lied and His prayers were always answered! Therefore what He said and prayed to happen as seen in John 20:22 had to have happened when He Breathed on His disciples and told them to Receive the Holy Spirit.

They received the Holy Spirit!

Forty days later after teaching the disciples about God’s way of doing things, He commanded them to stay in Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit. If they had already received the Holy Spirit, they had to have received The Holy Spirit, but this time in a different manner or dimension. 

The first mention was about bringing life to them. Jesus told Nicodemus about the necessity of being born of the spirit (John 3:16). The Spirit of God is the one who tells people that they need Jesus. He pokes them and prods them and stirs the hearts of men when the Gospel of the Kingdom is preached so that the hearer responds. At that point, He enters their lives and we call it getting saved, or born again.

Jesus breathed on them then, but He also wanted them to receive another administration or aspect of the Holy Ghost that has to do with equipping for service. He was about to depart and pass the baton onto them. He had to equip them for the task and it happened like that in His ministry.

Jesus never performed one miracle until John baptized Him in water and the Holy Ghost came upon Him!

He is called Christ, but this is not His Surname. It is a title! The word Christ is Christos, which is taken from the word Chriō. It means Anointed. He is the Anointed One and He ministered in and with that anointing. He did not enter public ministry until the Spirit of God came upon Him! If this was so vitally important for Him, It should be just as important for us today.
The principles have not changed. The word of God has not changed. The Holy Ghost has not changed. The needs of mankind  have not changed. We need this anointing just as much as Jesus did.

People’s needs are still the same today so the answers are the same. Modern day technology can help us in the natural realm, but the ministry aspect has not altered one iota.

Jesus the Anointed one ministerd with that ministry that anointing.
We are called “Christ-ones” and if this is true then by substituting the word Christ for Anointed, we are supposed to be the “Anointed-ones”, 

Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-3 in His first public sermon recorded in Luke 4:14-21. It reads-

THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

He knew that these men needed what He had on a permanent basis, so set the disciples up to qualify for this anointing to come upon them also. We need it too.

The Old Testament priests were anointed for ministry, but the anointing oil could never be applied directly to the flesh. The blood had to first applied!

None of us are any different. The blood has to be applied first, before the anointing can come and this is precisely what Jesus did.

People say that this was only for the disciples, but it was not restricted to the twelve. Luke 10 says that there were 70 others, thus making 82 disciples. We also know that many of His disciples left him from John’s account in John 6:66. When they all went out on temporary assignments, every one of them came back with glowing reports, but that was pre-Pentecost and thus temporary.
120 people were in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost including Mary, the mother of Jesus. Historians say that this prayer meeting could have started with up to 500 people!
1 Corinthians 15:6 states that 500 brethren saw Jesus after His resurrection, so the concept that there were only 12, is erroneous.

Jesus' command has not changed. He told those folk to get on with the job, but wait first until the Holy Spirit came on them. Part of this enabling and equipping comes from the Gifts of the Spirit. Without them, we are trying to go about God's business without God's tools.

In Acts 2:2-4, on the Day of Pentecost, the promised Holy Spirit was poured out upon the waiting Church with visible and audible signs and they began to speak in the tongues predicted in The Great Commission. The believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and were so thoroughly enabled by the Spirit’s power that everywhere their ministry was marked thereafter by the supernatural.

The Apostles were not mere guardians of orthodoxy and neither should we, because we are all ambassadors of Christ and are to be equipped with Divine capabilities. There is a Divine work to do and there must be Divine power with which to do it.

The Church’s mission is much more than promoting a great philosophy or calling people to a new morality. It is delivering men from the bondage of Satan and emancipating men and women into the liberty that Jesus obtained for us. It is to do what Jesus did. 

I could summarize it as being comprised of three major elements—Teaching, Preaching and Healing.

Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease and sickness among the people. 
So a report about him spread throughout Syria. People brought to him all who suffered with various illnesses and afflictions, those who had seizures, paralytics, and those possessed by demons, and he healed them.  And large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan River. Matthew 4:23-25

Philosophizing and moralizing can be done with mere human capabilities, but delivering from bondage, bringing to repentance and faith and changing one’s whole way of life by becoming a brand new creature requires an anointing of the Holy Spirit
(2 Corinthians 3:4–6).

Certainly, God accepts and honors all human talent dedicated to His service, but He enhances that dedicated talent with the Spirit’s glow lifting it to a new level. God can and often does take natural capacities and transform them into spiritual operations. See Exodus 35:29–35; Romans 15:13, 14; Titus 1:7–9; 2 Timothy 2:2.

Overview & definitions
The vocal gifts

The first group of Gifts we shall consider are the three Vocal Gifts comprising the Gifts of Prophecy, Diverse Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues.

These are the Gifts that say something.

The order in which the Gifts are mentioned has been chosen purely for convenience sake and ease of study.
We consider every one of the Gifts of equal importance, because each individual Gift is best applied for a particular need or circumstance at a given time.

The revelation gifts

The following group of Gifts we shall consider are the three Revelation Gifts, comprising the Word of Knowledge, the Word of Wisdom and the Discernment of Spirits.

These Gifts are the ones that Reveal things.

The order in which the Gifts are mentioned has been chosen purely for convenience sake and ease of study. We consider every one of the Gifts of equal importance, because each individual Gift is best applied for a particular need or circumstance at a given time.

The power gifts

This group of Gifts are what I call the Power Gifts, or Gifts that Do something. They are powerful and as with all the Gifts operate by faith. 

Anyone who is spirit filled may operate in them. They are not restricted to full time ministers, but to anyone who seeks and receives them. A good example is found in Acts 9:10-12, when Ananias had his experience with the Lord who instructed him to go to Saul and minister to him.

Ananias was not one of the first apostles. We do not know if he ever preached or pastored a church, but what he did in obedience to the Lord’s command has had a profound affect on all of Christianity and he flowed in the Gifts. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if he had refused to go to Saul. 

The point I want to make is that anyone, preacher, layman, man, woman, boy or girl, educated or not, ordained or not can receive and flow with the Holy Spirit in all of these things.

Practical matters

To bring this topic to a conclusion, we shall share some practical matters that may be of help to you.

It is evident that much misunderstanding, misconceptions and misuse have occurred, but we cannot discount these gifts simply because of error and other mistakes, They are provided to help us in everyday life and in ministry life. We need balance.

The following shares things that are valid and practical

 I think I have covered most of the major issues and will leave you with this-

Covet earnestly the best gifts (for you) and apply the love principle.

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