Tonight we want to continue our study of the subject of the gifts of the Spirit. We’re going to be considering several selected passages of Scripture. First of all, tonight we will take another step, and we will talk about the definition of the specific spiritual gifts.
Christ revealed Himself first in a human body, through which all His attributes were manifest. And He has a new body today, since His human body has gone into glory, His new body is the Church, a spiritual body. We who know Jesus Christ are that body, and every Christian is a vital member of the body. And just as a human body must work together and totally to be healthy, so we must function in interdependence upon each other in order to be one body united.
Now, God has set in order a plan for the orderly function of the body. And the plan is this: each believer has certain grace gifts, charismata or pneumatika certain spiritual gifts. And these gifts the Holy Spirit gives a believer and then ministers through that gift to the rest of the body so that your gifts are not so much for you as they are for the other members of the body of Christ. Through these gifts, then, the Holy Spirit ministers to the other members of the body, and this network of intermutual ministry strengthens every part and allows the whole body to grow strong and healthy.
Now, last week we saw some of the basic principles regarding this divine plan. Just let me read them and make brief comment. Principle number one, spiritual gifts are important and essential for the health of the body. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:1, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning spiritual gifts. And that phrase is a phrase that He uses only four other times – the Holy Spirit uses only four other times in the New Testament. Each other time it deals with one of the cardinal aspects of salvation.
So, in terms of importance, the spiritual gifts concept ranks with the doctrines of basic salvation, because it is that important for us to understand. It is the life-and-death issue of the health of the body of Christ.
All right, the second thing, the Holy Spirit is the source of these gifts. They are not sought. You cannot go after them to seek them. Principle number two, the Holy Spirit is the source of these gifts.
Principle number three, we’re still reviewing. If you weren’t here last week, the tapes are available on all of this series. Principle number three, the gifts are not natural abilities. They are sovereignly bestowed manifestations of the Spirit’s power through divine enablement. And as I said last week, the Holy Spirit may elect to use a man in the area of his natural ability and gift him in that area or He may not. Sometimes our natural aptitude is used; sometimes it is not. And the point is the Holy Spirit gives these gifts sovereignly.
Principle number four, there is no hierarchy in the gifts. All the gifts are equally important, equally necessary, and equally honored.
Principle number five, gifts are no sign or guarantee of spirituality. Some people have the idea that if you have a certain gift, you’re automatically spiritual. That is not biblical. All believers possess them, even carnal ones. And the gift can be counterfeited and operated in the energy of the flesh. Having a particular gift is no guarantee at all that you are spiritual. It is also not a guarantee that you’re always right.
We saw how in 1 Corinthians 14 it even says that those who were prophets had to get their minds together, and you had to hear the word of two or three of them before you could make a decision. Just because you have a gift doesn’t mean you’re always right. Gifts can be misused. The greatest living example of that was the whole Corinthian problem. They were in the midst of misusing their gifts. So, we see that the possession of a gift doesn’t guarantee spirituality or infallibility on the one who exercises it.
Principle number six, the gifts, when rightly exercised in the Spirit, have the promise of divine energy. When you really operate our Spirit-given gift in the energy of the Spirit, you find that there is power as a result of it. When wrongly used, however, 1 Corinthians 14:33 will show you want happened. When you exercise your gift wrongly, it says, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
In other words, when you misuse your gift or exercise it in the flesh, it doesn’t bring about unity; it brings about confusion. And so, the gifts, when rightly exercised in the Spirit, have the promise of divine energy. That’s why Peter says in 1 Peter chapter 4 and verse 10. He says, “If you’re going to speak, and you have the gift, then do it in a godly fashion. If you speak, speak as the oracles of God. If you minister, do it as the ability which God gives. In other words, use your gift in the energy of the Spirit.
Principle number seven, when the gifts are used, the body profits. The body of Christ must be one for the sake of edification and resultant testimony. The only way we will ever be healthy and build up is if we profit together. And the way we profit is in the exercise of these gifts. Both the one who exercises his gift profits, and the rest of the body, to whom the gift is ministered. As I minister to you, you’re built up; as you minister to me, I’m built up.
Principle number eight, the gifts of the Spirit are distinct from the fruit of the Spirit. Now, we didn’t get into that last week. In Galatians 5:22 and 23, we have an important catalog of the fruit of the Spirit. And it says this, “For the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.”
Now, the fruit of the Spirit are attributes which every Spirit-walk Christian possesses. Fruit of the Spirit are characteristics; gifts of the Spirit are services. And that’s the distinction. Every believer walking in the Spirit has love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control – all of those. Those are characteristics of a Spirit-walk believer. Gifts are the service of that believer. And while you’re serving, those gifts should also, at the same time, be manifest.
Principle number nine, you can have a gift and not be using it. In a great, theological statement, most Christians are in this situation. And that’s why Paul is an – Paul, talking to Timothy, is an example, where he said, “Stir up the gift.” You know? You can have a gift and not use it.
Principle number ten, spiritual grace gifts come in combinations. I believe that Christians have more gifts than they think they have. I look at the apostle Paul, and I can’t figure out any gift he didn’t have, frankly. You look over there in Paul’s writing to Timothy, who was, in a sense, a lesser light in terms of popularity than Paul. And in 2 Timothy chapter 4 Paul says this, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word” – he obviously had the gift of prophesy – “be diligent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort” – he had the gift of exhortation – “with all longsuffering and doctrine.” He also had the gift of teaching. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”
Now verse 5, “Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist” – he also had the office of evangelism – “make full proof of thy ministry.
So, evidently Timothy had a combination of many things, and that’s simply an illustration.
There you have ten basic principles regarding spiritual gifts. I’m going to leave it at that, and I’m going to let you look up those verses; let the Spirit of God be your teacher. We want to look at the gifts specifically.
And may I apologize, at this point, to you who have not been here in the past. We are trying to cover a lot of territory, and because of this, we are skipping over a long, lengthy review. And if you’d like to catch up, as I said, we have available those tapes, which you can either purchase or check out of the library and hear the messages that lead up to this one. And this is rather a technical one from some standpoints.
All right, now we come to the spiritual gifts. And we want to look at these specifically tonight and see what each of them is so that you might understand what your gifts are in order that you might operate your gifts in the energy of the Spirit, that the body might be healthy and that our witness might be effective.
Now, there are two kinds of spiritual gifts: permanent, edifying gifts, and temporary, confirming sign gifts. There are two kinds of gifts: permanent, edifying gifts, and temporary, confirming sign gifts.
First of all, there are the permanent gifts which edify or build up the body. They are gifts which do not cease, which began in the early Church and still go on today. The first one there is the gift of prophecy.
Now, in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and verse 10, it say, “to another” – in the middle of the verse – “to another prophecy.” That was one of the spiritual gifts. In Romans chapter 12 – don’t try to chase around with me on this; I’ll read them to you – in Romans 12, verse 6 it says, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy.” One of the gifts, and the first one on the list – the first permanent gift was the gift of prophecy. That means preaching; it does not mean foretelling the future. It does not mean reading the crystal ball. It is the gift of preaching. It means to tell forth. That’s exactly what it means: to tell forth, to declare. It is the gift of preaching.
Now, here comes a very important thing, and we’re going to be interjecting some things along here that are going to tie together at the end. But I want you to get this; this is critical to understand, and interpretive issue. There is a gift called the gift of prophecy, and there is a ministry called a prophet. The gift of prophecy and the man who is a prophet are two different things. And I want you to hang onto this for a minute. The gift of prophecy is not to be confused with the office of a prophet.
I’ll show you what I mean. First Corinthians 12:28 shows us the difference. In verse 10 of chapter 12, it says prophecy is a gift. In verse 28, it says, “And God hath set some in the Church” – some what? – “some apostles, some prophets, some teachers.” Now, that is not a gift; that is a man. Do you see it? In verse 10 you have the gift of prophecy or preaching. In verse 28 you have the office of a prophet, and they are different. And unless you understand this, you do not understand the nature and the character of this particular spiritual gift.
Now, notice in verse 28 of 1 Corinthians 12, that It says, “And God hath” – and it doesn’t say given a grace gift, it says – “God hath set” – etheto, which means God has appointed. And it says, “God has set some” – and the some does not refer to gifts; it refers to men. Down in the middle of verse 28 it says, very importantly, after the teachers, it say, “after that miracles, and gifts of healing, and helps.” In other words, the gifts are made distinct by the little phrase “after that.”
God established certain men in the Church, and on top of that, He gave certain gifts. You see what I’m getting at? The gift of prophecy is distinct from the office of a prophet. And I’m not talking about an Old Testament prophet; I’m talking about a Church prophet – early Church prophet.
Now I want to show you another verse, Ephesians 4:11. Very important. And here you have the same thing again. These are not gifts in Ephesians 4:11; they are men. You might put it this way: they aren’t gifts; they’re gifted men. Verse 11, “And he gave some” – some what? some gifts? no, some men – “apostles; some more men, prophets; some more men, evangelists, some more, pastors and teachers.” Now, those are not spiritual gifts; those are gifted men given to the Church. Verse 12, “for the perfecting of the saints.” See? We need leadership in the Church, don’t we? And so, God has not only given every member of the body of Christ certain gifts, but he’s given the Church in total certain gifted men. And a prophet and a gift of prophecy are thus distinct.
Now may I add this: that a prophet – the New Testament prophets, the early prophets – belonged to a special call – watch this – for a special time in history. They belonged to the first century Church, the apostolic era. There are no – quote – prophets today anymore than there are apostles today. There are neither of those today. They undoubtedly had, as one of their gifts, the gift of prophecy. Right? If they were prophets, they undoubtedly had that gift. But they were a special breed for the beginning years of the Church, and they have ceased to exist.
Though the prophets have ceased – and I’ll show you why in a minute – the gift of prophecy or preaching still goes on, doesn’t it? I hope it does. The gift is still going on. The office of prophet has ceased. And the Greek word, as I said, for prophesy simply means a foreteller or a preacher. And that’s why in 1 Corinthians 14, verse 1, he says, “Follow after love and desire spiritual gifts” – again, in the expression of your service, plural – “but rather that you may preach.” Every time you see that word, you can pronounce it preach.
Verse 3, “But he that preaches speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” And he compares it here with tongues in verse 4, “He that speaks in a language or a tongue edifies himself, but he that preaches edifies the Church.”
In other words, preaching was a dominant thing. And you know there’s kind of a running deal today where people are kind of putting down preaching, and they want to get together in these little groups and just – you know, nobody wants to be the preacher, and nobody wants to exalt himself – supposedly that’s what you have to do if you’re a preacher – and they sort of put preaching down. Preaching is still a gift of the Spirit, and it is to be sought in the ministry and meeting of the Church.
He says, “Seek as a body to prophesy or preach.” No service of the body would be complete without a declaration of God’s truth. The preaching of the cross is still central in the meeting of the church. And there are many attempts to deemphasize it. Some churches have one preaching thing a week, Sunday morning, and that’s it. Well, that is not putting prophesy in the exalted place that it belongs: preaching. It’s the greatest gift from the viewpoint of importance, because it edifies and builds the body.
Now, what was the standard of measure for true preaching? Verse 37 of chapter 14, here is the standard for true preaching, “If any man think himself to be a prophet” – in other words, you think – and this is the early Church, again – if an early Church individual thought he had the gift of a prophet – “let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” Do you know what the standard was of a prophet? Whether or not his words squared with the words of Jesus Christ. That was the standard.
Now, there are no more prophets, friends. But you know that the gift of preaching is exercised unto the same standard? What is our standard as we preach? Peter said what it is, “Let him speak as one who speaks the oracles of” – whom – “God.” Our standard for preaching is just the same. The standard for preaching today is not TIME magazine, Newsweek, or politics. It’s not somebody’s philosophy or a book review; it’s the Word of God. That’s our measure for preaching.
Paul knew this in 1 Corinthians chapter 2. Great section on this. “I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
You say, “There’s an ignorant man.” No, there’s not an ignorant man.
Verse 3, “And I was with you in weakness and fear and much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” – and if I could claim a verse that I would like to see in my own life, that would be it – “that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men” – have you ever met anybody whose faith stood in the wisdom of men? Boy, are they vulnerable – “but in the power of God. However we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this age” – or this world – “nor the princes of this age, that come to nothing: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world” – or before the ages – “unto our glory: which none of the princes of this age know: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
The apostle Paul says our message is clear, verse 13 of the same chapter, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” The prophet office has ceased. It ceased with the apostolic church. The gift of prophecy continues; the standard is the words of Christ and the Word of God. That’s the standard.
And it’s interesting, I think, that the true preacher gives forth the Word in the energy of the Spirit. That’s the true preacher. There’s a lot of false ones. Interesting, too, is the fact that in the early Church, this seems to be the gift most widely distributed. And just to have the gift of preaching is does not necessarily mean you have to exercise it in a formal sermon. Not at all.
The gift of preaching could be to children. It could be to young people. It could be to teach a class of adults. It could be to 2, or 3, or 10,000, or anything in the middle. The gift of preaching is a Spirit-given and Spirit-energized ability to proclaim the truths of Jesus Christ in the energy of the Spirit of God with results. And it doesn’t have to be standing in a pulpit; it can be in a small group at any age level.
Now, some of you have the gift of preaching. Maybe you can’t stand up here and preach a sermon, but you have the gift of preaching. You can declare your faith to somebody in the energy of the Spirit with God-given results. And you may sit back and say, “Well, I get so nervous.” I’m trying to tell you last week, it doesn’t matter what your natural abilities or disabilities are, if you have the Spirit-given gift of preaching, and you find that you’ve – that the Word of God comes through you with power and penetrates the hearts of people, no matter how large or how small the group, that’s the gift of preaching.
Now, let me add a thought: though this is a special gift – I’m going to add this thought every time in every one of these gifts – though this is a special gift given to some, and only some, all Christians are to be preachers to some degree, aren’t they? “You shall be my witness.” All of us. So, some have a special gift; they stand out a little bit, but all of us are to be preachers to some degree.
All right, gift number two, the gift of teaching. Romans chapter 12, verse 7 – don’t look it up; I’ll just read you these initial verses – “He that teacheth” – on teaching – another gift of the Spirit is the gift of teaching. Now, again, this gift is distinct from the teacher. There is a gift of teaching, and then there is a teacher.
Look back at 1 Corinthians 12:28 again, “And God set” – etheto – appointed in the Church apostles, prophets, and” – what’s the third one? – “teachers.” Ephesians chapter 4, verse 11, says the same thing: apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastor, teacher. There is again, friends, a distinction between the gift of teaching and the office of being a teacher.
You say, “Well, now, wait a minute. Did the office of teaching end?” No, it did not. The office of teaching still exists. It still goes on. The only two offices – God still has appointed teachers, doesn’t He? And appointed pastors and appointed evangelists – the only two that He does not have anymore, that ended with the apostolic era, are the apostles and the prophets.
You say, “Well, MacArthur, I mean what gives you the liberty to do that? How do you know those are the only two that don’t exist?” Very simple, it’s in Ephesians chapter 2 and chapter 3. Now, he’s talking about the Church and how it was built. Are you ready? Ephesians 2:20, and he’s talking about all Jew and Gentile becoming one in the Church, and it says in verse 20 the whole thing, “is built upon the foundation of the apostles and” – what? – “prophets.” Now go down to chapter 3, verse 5, “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets.” Now, the apostles and the prophets were the foundation of the Church. Dr. Ironside said, “Please, friends, you do not put the foundation on the 20th story. The foundation belongs at the beginning.” And the Church began on a foundation of apostles and prophets. And then it moved from there, and continuing ministries belonged to teachers, pastors, and evangelists. Those are the three existing ministries that followed the foundational ministries of apostles and prophets.
And so, again, we have the same kind of a dichotomy. There’s one – it’s one thing to have the gift of teaching; it’s another thing to be an appointed teacher. Teachers were appointed in the early Church and given specific position to teach. And that’s true today. Has God set some men to be teachers? Obviously they’ve been lifted up above others. Some of the great professors in evangelical seminaries, some of the great Bible teachers that traveled the world, some pastors who have obviously been placed by God to teach the Word, all of these are divinely-appointed teachers given to the Church.
And on top of that, they have the gift of teaching. But you, believers, may have the gift of teaching and not be appointed to a teaching office in terms of a total ministry to the Church. Do you see the difference? And since it is not – since teaching is not a foundational ministry, it’s not included in Ephesians 2:20 or 3:5 – since it’s not a foundational ministry, it’s still going on and God still has His teachers, doesn’t He? Still appointing them as teachers who sort of have a shepherding ministry over the flock. God still gives the gift of teaching and still grants certain men to be teachers of the body.
But may I quickly add there are many body members who have not been called to a ranking position as teacher, but who yet have the gift of teaching. Now you say, “Well, what’s the difference between preaching and teaching?” Well, one is proclamation, and the other is study or research or communication or dialogue. “Teaching is the ability,” says Pentecost in his book, “to take a newborn babe in Christ and teach that babe the truths of the Word of God.” It’s one thing to begin to declare and proclaim; it’s something else to sit down with a newborn babe, put your arm around him, and instruct him in the things of God. That’s the gift of teaching. I mean, it could be in a Sunday school class, it could be in a home, it could be a one to one counseling situation. It could be with any age or any number of people teaching.
But some have the gift of proclaiming and some have the gift of just bringing along that new babe and instructing him in the basics, some have both gifts. Preaching to an assembly is one thing and sitting down to personal instruction of a babe in Christ is something else and that’s what teaching was.
The teachers in the early Church were to take the new converts and nurture them. That’s the gift of teaching. Now here again, teaching is a special gift. Every Christian does not have the gift of teaching, but every Christian is to be in some sense a teacher isn’t he?
We are all responsible for that in some sense. Let me show you why I say that. In Galatians 6:6, it says this – I’m going to read it right now – “Let him that is taught in the Word” – you getting this? – “Let him that is taught in the Word share with him that teacheth in all good things.” In other words, for every believer there is to be an interaction of spiritual truth.
You have the same thing over in 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 2, “And the things that thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also. Verse 14 of the same chapter, “Of these things, put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. But that they study to show themselves approved unto God, workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” Every believer’s responsibility is to teach at some level. Verse 24, “And the servant of the Lord” – any believer, anyone who serves – “must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to” – what? – “teach.”
So, you see, in a sense we all are to be teachers, aren’t we? And yet, although all of us are teachers, some of us have the gift of teaching, and some of us rise above that, have the office of teacher.
And I want you to notice that teaching and preaching is a balanced ministry. It’s kind of evangelism and edification. It’s – the preaching is motivation, and the teaching is instruction. See? The go side by side.
Third gift is the gift of faith. And this is an interesting gift. First Corinthians 12:9, “To another faith by the same Spirit” – faith is one of the Spirit-given gifts; no question about it. Verse 2 of chapter 13, “Though I have the gift of preaching, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith” – now, there you’d have, under the term “all faith,” the same concept of the gift of faith. Now, some people have the gift of faith. Every believer has faith as a fruit of the Spirit. Right? One of the fruits of the Spirit is faith. We all have it. As I say, with every gift, we all are to exercise it to a degree just because we’re believers. But some have the gift of faith, and they rise a little higher in the body of Christ in order to exercise that gift to the other members. We all need to have faith, but some have the gift of faith. That’s a grace gift.
All of us – I mean even in Romans 12, doesn’t it say that we have the measure of faith? In other words, whatever gift we have, we have the faith to operate it. So, we all have faith, but some have the gift of faith.
Now personally, I believe this – and I think there’s much scriptural corroboration for this – I believe this could just as well be called the gift of prayer. It is not just faith in something for no reason. Why, “If anybody asks Me believing, you’ll receive.” Right? Faith is what moves the hand of God. This could well be the gift of prayer.
You know, some Christians just have a way of laying hold of God in faith and energizing the Spirit, don’t they? I told you about old “Pappy” Reveal who was so fantastic. That man had the gift of faith, the gift of prayer. He – I told you once that he prayed that he needed a station wagon for his mission. He prayed, “God, give me a station wagon,” and he got three or four of them within two weeks. That man could lay hold on the throne of God in prayer. He believed God, and God was activated by his faith. Some have the gift of faith. Some of you people have that gift. Exercise that gift because the rest of us desperately need you to.
The gift of wisdom. All right, the fourth gift. The fourth gift is wisdom. And that’s in 1 Corinthians 12:8, “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom.” Wisdom is a spiritual gift. Now, there’s one guy I know had this gift, and that’s Paul. Back there we just read 1 Corinthians 2. You know, he kept saying it over and over again. He said, “We speak wisdom. Not the wisdom of this age; we speak the wisdom of God.” Listen, that man had wisdom. He had the gift of wisdom.
And what do you say? “Well, what is the gift of wisdom?” That is the ability to see deeply into the mysteries of God. That is the kind of insight that sees what the natural eye can’t see, that hears what the natural ear cannot hear, and the natural heart can’t imagine. That’s the ability to take a simple phrase of Scripture, or a simple truth of God and dive into it and pull out of it all the spiritual truth and mystery that’s there. Paul had that gift. And that also the gift of wisdom is the ability to take that and apply it to life. See? That’s what wisdom is.
If you want a simple definition of wisdom, it’s this: the application of spiritual truth; the ability to take spiritual truth and apply it to life. Dig it out and put it into practice. This was one of the requirements of deacons, you know, that they be able to do this. Not only have insight into the mysteries of God and great spiritual truth, but to be able to apply it.
Now, some people have the gift of wisdom. They can – some – you know, you wonder about some people. You know, they can take a verse, and you look at it and just say, “Well, isn’t that a nice verse.” See? And – you know? And somebody comes along and rights 49 volumes on that verse. And you know people will say, “I – how did you get that out of that verse?” See? Some people have been given – it’s nothing human, and it’s nothing you’ve done, and it’s nothing you’re responsible for; it’s a Spirit-given gift that allows a man to be able to dig into the mysteries of God and apply them practically to life.
Now again, all believers are to have wisdom to some extent, aren’t they? Just like we’re to have faith, and just like we’re to teach, and just like we’re to preach, we’re to have wisdom. Colossians 1:9 – don’t look these up; I’m going to read them to you – Colossians 1:9 says, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire” – to the Colossians; listen – “that you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom.”
Paul said, “You believers ought to all have wisdom.” James said in 1:5, “If any man lack wisdom, let him do” – what? – “ask of God.” In a sense, we all are to have wisdom, but some have the gift of wisdom. They rise above to minister to the body in a unique way. So, the gift of wisdom.
Five, the gift of knowledge; that’s in chapter 12, verse 8, also in 1 Corinthians, “the word of knowledge.” Now, if wisdom is the application of truth, knowledge is just the facts and nothing more. Knowledge is understanding the facts; that’s it. Scholarship in a human sense. And you know there are a lot of people like this. There are scholars who dig into the Scripture and they can just – they work in research. Some people spend their whole life studying ancient manuscripts and archeology and all kinds of scholarly problems and exegesis and eisegesis and history and all kinds of other things. And they spend their whole life – I heard one guy one time, he gave a whole big series of lectures on the doctrine of the homoousios. And it started on Monday; and Thursday we finally found out what he was talking about. He was going on and on and on, and nobody even knew what was happening.
There are people who are able, by the Spirit of God, to spend their life in searching out the things of God in terms of knowledge of facts. And boy, you want to know something? Upon the work of these men, we build our faith. Do you know that? This Bible didn’t drop out of heaven like this, friends. This was over the years and years and hours and lives of labor to determine which manuscripts were right, and the principles, and the research of scholars. And you want to know something? Sometimes those with the most knowledge have the least wisdom. The absent-minded professor: all the facts and runs into the walls and loses his papers and can’t apply any of it to his life.
You see, knowledge is the academic side of it, and some men have the gift of knowledge. Wisdom is the application side. Knowledge is academic; wisdom is application. Now, some Christians have both of those, praise God. Some have neither, and some have either one.
Now remember, none of these operates on human ability. Just because a man has an IQ of 165 doesn’t mean he has the gift of knowledge or the gift of wisdom. Some of the wisest people I’ve ever met didn’t have an IQ like that, but they had obviously the Spirit-given gift of wisdom. I can think of one illustration – perfect, graphic illustration of an individual like that.
These are Spirit gifts; they’re not intellectual; they don’t come about by education; they come about by sovereign act of the Spirit. And they may not come to someone who’s particularly intellectual. Just because a man has insights into Scripture doesn’t say anything about his IQ.
Now, let me add this thought again. Even though there’s a gift of knowledge, aren’t we all responsible to have knowledge? Aren’t we all responsible to study to show ourselves approved unto God? Didn’t Paul say to the Colossians, “I want you to be enriched in all knowledge”? In 1 Corinthians 1:5, “That in everything you are enriched by Him, in all knowledge.” In verse 30 of 1 Corinthians 1, he says the same thing, “But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
In other words, both wisdom and knowledge are to belong to the believer. And yet, even though we’re all to have these, there is a certain sense in which some are especially gifted and rise above to minister to the body, as in the case of every other gift.
Six, the discernment of spirits. First Corinthians 12:10 lists this gift. Some have the discerning of spirits. Now, God wanted to protect the Church from false doctrine. God wanted to protect the body of Christ from people coming in with teaching the wrong thing. So, He gave certain members of the body the ability to determine who was right and who was wrong. Some people have the ability to discern spirits. That is whether it’s of God or Satan.
Now, because the body faces continual opposition from a host of demons – and evil spirit beings they are, because this is always going on and these demons always pose as messengers of light, trying to counterfeit the gifts of the Spirit and sap the energy of the Church, because of this, God gave certain gifts so that men could discern what was of God and what was of Satan. And natural insight can’t determine it. And I’ll tell you something else: no board on earth, or no committee on earth can determine it either unless there’s somebody there who has the gift of discerning spirits.
Now, Peter had this gift, and that’s – talk about a reversal, Peter had the gift of discerning spirits. And I think that’s very humorous. And that shows you how God doesn’t particularly care what your problems are, or what your physical aptitudes are; He gives you the gift at His own free will through the Spirit. Acts 5:3, listen to this, “Peter said, ‘Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?’”
Now you say, “How did Peter know?”
And I’m sure that’s exactly what Ananias said. “How do you know I lie to the Holy Spirit?” I’ll tell you how he knows. He had the gift of discernment. He knew Satan had filled the heart of Ananias. He discerned that in the energy of the Spirit. And you want to know something? Listen, Peter wasn’t really the big hotshot in that area. If you go back in your Bible a little bit to Mark chapter 8, you’ll hear Jesus say to him, “Get thee behind Me, Satan.” Now, maybe that helped Peter to understand the problem a little bit. It’s the same Peter who was possessed of Satan, who then became gifted by the Holy Spirit to discern when a man was filled with Satan or one of his demons. So, it doesn’t have anything to do with our background or your natural aptitudes. Peter had that gift; what a switch.
And yet, is it not true that every Christian, in a sense, is to be discerning? Well, certainly it is. If you read your Bible carefully, you’ll read these words in 1 John 4:1. Listen, “Beloved, believe not ever spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone into the world.” Every believer is to do that. Every believer is to be sensitive to spirits, whether they’re of God or Satan. So you see, we all are to do that, and yet some of us are gifted as discerners for the health of the body. Do you see how this works? And you’ll see even more when I conclude.
Gift number seven. And with gift number seven, we come to the love gifts. Now, all the gifts are to operate in love. That’s the meaning of chapter 13. It doesn’t matter what gift you have, if it doesn’t operate in love, it’s fleshly. All of them are to operate in love. They have to. Look at 13:1 to 3. No matter what you do, if it isn’t in love, it’s nothing; it’s worthless. If your gift isn’t operating in love, it doesn’t mean anything. Why? Because the one thing Christ wants in the body is – what? – love. Love is what He wants. So, all the gifts must be ministered in love.
Now he shows three love gifts. Now although all the gifts are to be ministered in love, and love is the fruit of the Spirit, and we’re all supposed to love, yet there are three distinct love gifts that rise above to minister to the body. The first one is the gift of showing mercy. The gift of showing mercy. And that’s in Romans 12:8. Now really, if you want a simple translation, it means to do loving kindness; that’s what it does. It means the acts of loving kindness.
Now, some people can’t preach a sermon, and they can’t really articulate, but they can do little deeds of loving kindness. The gift of the Spirit that just manifests itself in a compassionate kindness, not on a human level. But it is Christ’s love manifested by the Holy Spirit through the believer to the body. It’s not just sympathy. It’s not exercised out of duty; it’s Holy Spirit kind of love. And some people just have that gift of compassionate love that causes them to do things of kindness to people.
You know, some of the greatest testimony in the world is given without a word spoken. You know that? And love is expressed without saying a thing. You say, “Well, then, does that mean if certain people have the gift of showing love, that the rest of us don’t have to?” No. No. Obviously we all are. You look at it in James 2:15, and it says this, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, ‘Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled;’ notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” Isn’t that good? “Oh, you’re naked and don’t have anything to eat? Well, go in peace, and I hope you find something.” That’s real good.
In other words, the implication is obvious. It behooves you to be merciful. Why, if you offer a cup of cold water in His name, you’ve done it as unto Him. Paul, writing to the Galatians kind of nailed down the same basic thing in chapter 6, verse 2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” That’s for every Christian, isn’t it?
Think of another one, too. Right, 1 Corinthians 12:25, here it is, “That there should be no schism” – or division – “in the body; but that the members should have the same” – what? – care one for another. So, we’re all to be showing kindness. And yet some have the gift of kindness to minister to the whole body.
Now you say, “Well, I don’t understand all the distinctions.” Well, I don’t either, but the Spirit of God does, and He knows what He’s doing.
All right, the next love gift is exhortation, number eight, and that’s in Romans 12:8 also. Now, this gift is very important, and you might get the wrong impression by reading the word “exhortation.” Let me give you what it means. The Greek word is paraklēsis or paraklēsis, let’s see – I can’t remember where the accent is – any way, it’s paraklēsis. And paraklēsis is the act done by the paráklētos. Now, I know that straightens it out. Yeah, praise the Lord. All right, paráklētos means one called alongside to help. And the paraklēsis is the deed done by the one who comes along to help. Exhortation is not standing in the pulpit browbeating people. It’s not even a public gift. The gift of exhortation is the ability to get along some by – alongside somebody and comfort them with love. That’s what exhortation is.
The paraklēsis gift is one of the most wonderful and precious of all the grace gifts. It’s the word from which we get the word “Paraclete” which is the Holy Spirit’s title, isn’t it? Jesus said, “If I go away” – John 14 – “I’ll send you another Comforter” – Paraclete, one who will come alongside and help you. Why even Jesus, 1 John 2:1, “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The word “advocate is paráklētos, one called alongside to help.
The paraclete, in the power of the true Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, is used by the Spirit to come alongside members of the body to minister comfort, and consolation, and encouragement, and counsel, and exhortation. He is not a blustering individual who stands in the pulpit; he’s energized by the Spirit to come alongside a believer who needs comfort, or care, or ministry, or counsel, or love and just ministers to him in that way. That’s exhortation.
As the showing of mercy – we might say this, as the gift of showing mercy is the acts of love, the Paraclete gift is the words of love. It’s the words of counsel. It’s the words of comfort. It’s the words of exhortation.
And again, although there are some who have this gift, and some of you have the ability, given by the Spirit and his energy, to just comfort people. You have this love and this desire to just sympathize and share words of counsel and words of comfort. Some of you who are in our counselor corps obviously are responding to this gift, and this is the gift that qualifies you most of all to exercise the counseling ministry in the body of Christ.
But in the sense that some of us have it, that’s also true that we’re all to be paraclete, aren’t we? We’re all to put our arms around each other and help. And that’s what the writer of Hebrews was trying to say in Hebrews 3:13. Listen to this – let’s see, yeah, 3:13, “But exhort” - and it’s the same word, paraklēsis, go alongside – “one another daily.” See? For every believer. We’re to put our arms around each other every day and comfort and counsel and share. And even though that should be true of all of us, there are some who rise above and have the gift of paraclete or paraklēsis.
Paul had it. Boy, he really had it. He had all these gifts. But, of course, he was strategic at the early Church. But Paul had this because, you see, in 1 Thessalonians, remember what he said to the Thessalonians? He said, “We didn’t come to you like this, or like this, or like this. We were as a nurse cherishing her children. We were” – and I love this; he says, “We were gentle among you.” Paul had that gift to just express himself in gentle counsel.
Then you have number nine gift, the gift of giving. That’s a love gift. The gift of giving. And I daresay, last week, if I asked you all to circle your gift, you hurried past this one, hoping and praying you didn’t have it. But number nine is a gift of giving.
Now, this is a love gift, friends, and this gift has direct reference to the material ministry: food, clothes, money, houses, whatever it is that you desire to give. This is a Spirit-given gift. It is related to the Holy Spirit’s supervision of everything that you possess, and it doesn’t relate at all to how much you have. Do you know that some of the people who have the gift of giving are the poorest people around? And I’m sure there are some other people who have the gift of giving but do not exercise it.
No, the gift of giving doesn’t have anything to do with your pocketbook. It has only to do with the sovereignty of the Spirit of God, who has given you the gift of giving. And this means that you come to the aid of those who are in need.
Now, it seems obvious to me, too, that along with the idea of the gift of giving, for some people there may come a surplus of funds as well so that they can be able to give to a great extent. That may be true as well. But the gift of giving is to provide for the needs of others who cannot supply their own needs.
You know, if our church and the Church of Jesus Christ was one, like it should be, we wouldn’t even have to be on welfare, folks. We ought to be taking care of our own. The New Testament says we are to care for the widows and the orphans. And we are to supply the needs of each other. There’s no reason for us to be all hooked up with governmental agencies except that we’ve gotten ourselves so messed up over the years that we could never untangle ourselves.
But ideally, and working toward that goal, we should be supplying the needs to each other. If those who had the gift of giving would release themselves and work that gift, in the energy of the Spirit, that could happen.
Gift number ten.
Now, may I add again that every Christian is to give, right? Second Corinthians 9 says that. Let me just show you that verse real quick, 2 Corinthians 9:7 and 8. It doesn’t let any of us miss the joy of giving. “Every man” – every man, get it? – “Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.” That’s the point. Every man. Every believer.
All right, ten. In ten we have two gifts which are the same: government or ruling. Government is the term in 1 Corinthians, and ruling is the term in Romans 12. These are the gifts of administration. They belong to those who are in places of spiritual authority; those who are, for example, pastors, teacher, or evangelists would exercise this particular gift. In the place of authority, this would be a gift which would be necessary, and the Holy Spirit would give it.
In 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 and verse 12, “We beseech you, brethren, to know them who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.” Some people have just the place of being over the others; to care for them, not to lord it over them or to hammer them down, or to subject them, but to teach them and instruct them. In verse 13, “– and you ought to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” So, you better love your pastor.
First Timothy chapter 5 gives another one. Verse 17, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine.” And all that I am, in this church, and in terms of New Testament, is an elder. I’m no different than you. I’m not Reverend Anybody; I’m just me, and I happen to be an elder, and I happen to be appointed by God to teach, and to teach the word and doctrine. And consequently, with that is great responsibility, but with it also, by the great grace of God, is honor.
Then in Hebrews chapter 13, you have the same thing from another angle. Verse 7, “Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their manner of life.” Verse 17, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account” – you see, that’s the hook. We may get the honor, by the grace of God, but we also are accountable to God for the kind of leadership. “They must give account that they may do it with joy and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
Verse 24, “Greet all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints.” Don’t ever go out the door without shaking hands with the pastor. Oh, you didn’t see that in that verse? That’s pushing it, obviously. But the pastor or the elder or the presbyter, or whatever he may be – and that’s all referring to a pastor – who is given oversight of the flock has the gift of government or ruling. And there are many other – many ministries in the world: missionary organizations, executive positions with all kinds of things where they also have this gift.
Now, obviously, we all can’t have the gift of ruling. If we all did, there would be a whole lot of chiefs and no Indians. So, we can’t have that. But in the same sense, doesn’t the Bible teach every believer to rule his own house and to rule his own spirit, and to subject his own body? So, in a sense, we are to keep the rule over this area, aren’t we?
All right, the 11th, ministry or helps. Ministry or helps. Ministry or helps. Now, both of these mean service. These are gifts of assistance. And the early deacons had this gift. The word “deacon” from the Greek word diakonia. Diakonia means service. That’s all it means. It means literally servants. Deacons means servants. They had the gifts of ministry or helps. They’re helpers, workers, people who labor behind the scenes. Maybe you don’t have the gift of teaching, maybe you work in some capacity over here or there, and you find the Spirit of God energizing you, and wonderful things are happening, and love is there, and a oneness is there. That’s the energy of the Spirit operating through the gift of helps or the gift of ministry.
Now, may I also add that this gift, like all the others, is common to all Christians in its lesser sense? We are all to serve, aren’t we? None of us can say, “Well, I don’t have the gift of service; consequently, I don’t have to serve anything.” We all serve one another.
In Galatians chapter 5 and verse 13 it says, “For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh” – watch this – “but by love serve one another.” We’re all called to serve. But some are especially grace gifted for the service of the body.
Now, those are the permanent, edifying gifts. Eleven of them. Now I want you to see the key to everything I’ve said. Here it comes. And with this we’re going to stop, and we’ll continue with the remaining gifts next week.
Here is the key to everything. Don’t miss this. Every gift – now watch it – every gift that we have mentioned was characteristic of Jesus Christ. Did you get that? Every gift was characteristic of Jesus Christ. He had every one of them in its fullness. All right? He had ever one without exception. He was preacher. He was teacher. He was faithful. He was wisdom personified. He was knowledge in the flesh. He was the discerner of spirits, wasn’t He? He was the shower of mercy. He was the true Paraclete. He was the giver. He gave more than anybody ever gave. He was ruler and leader, and He was servant and minister. Every single one of these gifts was a characteristic of Jesus Christ. And I believe if you composite those 11 gifts, you have the picture of Jesus Christ. He was all those things.
Now watch this. Christ in the flesh was all of those. Now – here’s the key – when Christ left this world, He formed a new body. Right? And what is that body? The Church. But that body, the Church, is to do just what His fleshly body did, isn’t it? To manifest His nature. Right? So, naturally, if all of those things were part of His fleshly body, all of them will also be a part of His spiritual body the Church. What are these gifts, my friends? They are the reproduction of the attributes of Christ into His body, the Church. That’s what they are.
All these are now in the new body of Christ, the Church. They are grace gifts given to the Church by the Holy Spirit in order that the Church may be the continuing life of Christ, in order that in the world we may radiate His person and His attributes. And, friends, that’s why if we do not operate these gifts, we do not radiate Christ. We must exercise the gifts if we’re going to truly reflect Christ. All these gifts are given to the body that the body might radiate Christ.
Now, I’m going to take it a step further. I’m going to drive it right to you. Did I also not say every gift, all the way along the line, in a lesser sense than the spiritual gift, every one of these principles should be common to all Christians? Did I not say that? Every single one of us Christians should have every one of these to a lesser degree than the gift end of it.
You say, “Why that?” Because of this, friends. You know what you were called to as a Christian? You were called to be like – whom? – Jesus Christ. So, naturally, everything that characterized Him should be true also in you. And if your testimony is going to be totally effective, the world is going to have to see in you the very reflection of Jesus Christ Himself.
Now, do you see what we could do to this world if all this took place? If you and I were living examples of Christ, and if as a total body we reflected the total nature of Jesus Christ? Can you imagine how devastating our testimony would be? It would be the two-fold testimony of the witness of every member and the witness of the body in total. Right?
Remember our sermon on the witness of the body? Those are the exact two things we said we must do: witness individually as members in Christ’s likeness, witness as a body in Christ’s likeness. And Christ has given us every single ingredient to make it happen. All we have to do is be willing to do it.
You’re not even to live your own life. Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live” – what? – “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” We’re to radiate Christ as individual members; we’re to radiate Christ in the exercise of the gifts at the next level up so that we shall be like Him. And as Paul said, He has called us to be conformed to the image of His – what? – Son.
You see how really important it is that we know our spiritual gift and operate it? That our body witness might be effective, and that each of us, in a lesser degree in the gift, exercise all these attributes that we might be like Christ.
Friends, it’s really exciting to think about. You – individually, you are the continuing ministry of the life of Jesus Christ. Did you get that? That’s heavy. You are the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ. And you want to know something else? Together, we also, collectively as a body, are the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ. And when we are what we were redeemed to be, then the body will be what it was gifted to be, and the world will see a clear witness.
Father, we thank You tonight for Your Word. We thank You for teaching us again principles that are absolutely essential to the health of the body. Lord God, we just pray that each of us, with understanding and in the energy of the Spirit, might operate our gifts – not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and that we might be used to make the body of Christ one in love and witness, and then, Father, in our own individual lives, that our testimony might be clear because we’re like Jesus Christ. This we pray in His name, amen.
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