In our previous sermon, we ended on the note that spiritual gifts are given to us when we are born again. They are:
A. From the Father: James 1:17; 1 Corinthians 8:6
B. Provided by the Son: Ephesians 4:7-8, 11
C. Given and administered by the Spirit: 1 Corinthians 12:11
This morning, we will resume by looking at the Diversity and Unity of Gifts.
DIVERSITY AND UNITY OF GIFTS
12:4-6 4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are differences of administrations [ministries], but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of operations [activities], but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
From hereon in the following verses, Paul lists some nine spiritual gifts and just so you know, he lists more in other places. So you may be wondering, “Pastor, if I am a gifted child of God, what is my gift?” Let me tell you that one of the most amazing and sometimes challenging realities of this passage is that Paul simply lists these gifts.
This is what is clear to me. Somehow, Paul doesn’t spend time defining or describing these gifts; simply lists them like he is in a hurry or because he has a lot of things to address. Anyway, listing the gifts at least implies for me that the Corinthian believers most probably knew what he was talking about and also what he meant and he gave us just enough. So, even though you may discover and recognize your gift, you don’t decide your role in the Body of Christ; the Holy Spirit does. Let me give you a list of the different spiritual gifts. As I list them, see if you will hear your name mentioned, ok? The gifts are:
Then, at the end of the chapter Paul describes roles in what seems to be a priority order: First, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, workers of miracles followed by gifts of healings; helps; administration, then tongues are mentioned again.
We know that the Holy Spirit is always present in and among Christians. We know as well that the purpose of the manifestation of the Spirit is to benefit the entire body, the whole church family and not just the individual possessing that particular gift. Now, as Paul begins to mention different manifestations of the Spirit, he starts with the word of wisdom, (v.8). I will have you know that these have been categorized as “Revelatory Gifts.”
(A) REVELATORY GIFTS
As Revelatory Gifts these include or encompass Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Discernment because by their nature or function they reveal what is hidden. Before we look closely at them, let me provide a quick summary of each one of them:
- Word of Wisdom refers to having supernatural knowledge and being able o apply that knowledge in a godly and proper way.
- Word of Knowledge refers to having supernatural knowledge of facts and information not otherwise known and, which God alone can reveal.
- Discerning of Spirits refers to having the supernatural ability to distinguish between spirits such as good and evil, truth or deception, prophecy or clairvoyance, which is satan’s equivalent.
And church, I want you to remember that the purpose of these is to give Him all the glory.
1. Word of Wisdom
v.8 wisdom – what is wisdom or, the word of wisdom?
The reference to “word” indicates that this is a speaking gift and it is Peter (1 Peter 4:11) who gives us an increased understanding of this. This is the unique ability to understand God’s Word, His will and having the skills to apply this understanding to life. With such a gift, you are able to speak forth the wisdom of God, especially in an important situation, as shown in Stephen when the people in the synagogue tried to dispute with him. The Bible says 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. (Acts 6:10). Another example is where we are encouraged thus: 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him, (James 1:5).
It is a spiritual gift, and I have known people gifted with wisdom, haven’t you?
From the definition I have given you, you know right away that we are not talking about common sense, because wisdom is not common sense; it is uncommon sense. My point is that you can be unsaved and yet have common sense but people who have this gift make wonderful counselors. Look at what Peter wrote about Paul: 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; (2 Peter 3:15).
2. Word of Knowledge
v.8 knowledge – what is the word of knowledge?
This gift is the unique ability to declare knowledge, which could only be revealed supernaturally, as shown in Jesus (Matthew 17:24-27) or Paul (Acts 27:10, 23-26). It is also the ability to understand and speak God’s truth. The bearer of this charismatic gift is able to obtain insights into the mysteries of the Word. God Himself imparts this knowledge to the individual.
Let me hasten to say that it doesn’t say or mean that you know everything.
You know our old enemy, right, and he is always imitating what our God does. Well, satan’s counterfeit of this gift is clairvoyance. Quickly, clairvoyance is the supposed ability to see what is not normally seen: the supposed ability to perceive things that are usually beyond the range of human senses. Maybe the following synonyms will aid in your understanding of satan’s work: psychic power, divination, second sight. satanic knowledge don’t provide insight into doctrinal truth hence that is the reason why the Bible warns us against false prophets, preachers, teachers, etc.
But as a believer who has this gift you can, through the Holy Spirit, know things that you couldn’t otherwise know. Ask yourself, how did Simon Peter know that Ananias and Sapphira were telling a lie (Acts 5)? How did he know that? He wasn’t there when they did their real estate deal? He had a word of knowledge. Sometimes too as a preacher, you preach and say something and later find out that it was happening somewhere. You see, God uses the word of knowledge gift to convict others. In summary, the Word of Knowledge is not:
- Natural knowledge
- Academic knowledge or excellence
- A profound knowledge of the Bible
- Knowledge of God through close communion with Him
There is something that I want to clarify so that you don’t leave here confused with respect to what the Bible refers to when it talks about the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. We have to know the difference, all right?
Look at this with me for a moment. From life’s experience, we know that one may have great knowledge, maybe even supernatural knowledge, yet have no wisdom from God in the application of that knowledge. That’s a fact. As Christians, we are also aware that we must always use discernment in the reception of a word of knowledge, remembering that satan tries to mimic what God does and will act as a source of supernatural knowledge. So even if a word is true, it does not mean that God is the originator or that the one speaking the word is truly representing God.
Let us turn to 1 Kings 13, where a young prophet trusted the word of an old prophet who said God had given him (the old prophet) a word for the young prophet; the latter listened to the old prophet and what happened? A lion ate him when he followed the old prophet’s word. So be careful of those “God told me” people who have the habit of sounding spiritual and saying “I have a word for you; God told me to tell you this…”
3. Gift of Faith
v.9 faith The gift of faith
This is not the faith that every believer is supposed to have and neither is it “saving faith” (Ephesians 2:8) which we have when we accept the Lord as our Saviour. This is a gift of the Spirit to the believer in order that he might believe God for mighty miracles and works of God. It is also called wonder-working faith. It is a special gift whereby the Holy Spirit endows the bearer with such supernatural, extraordinary confidence in God’s promises, plans, providence, power, and presence so that he is able to take uncharacteristically heroic stands that you and I cannot take. And what is the purpose? So they can undertake God’s work in the church, both for the present and the future.
Look, the Lord knows what He is doing. He has always known what He has planned and what He will do with and through His children. And that is why I take issue with the charisprobra. When they fail in their attempts, are unable to heal or accomplish whatever it is that they promise their audience, this is the faith they blame their audience for not having! But as you can see, this is not the “regular” faith; this is one of, a special one of the Holy Spirit’s gifts.
As I said, all Christians have faith in a general (saving faith) sense, but this gift is referring to a specific (perseverance) sense, which is exercised in persistent prayer and endurance, what we call intercession. So though faith is an essential part of every Christian’s life, the gift of faith is distinct from saving faith. Instead, it is the unique ability where the bearer of this gift can trust God against all circumstances, just like the three Hebrew boys did when they were thrown into the fiery furnace, like Peter did when he walked out of the boat onto the water (Matthew 14:22-33). You know, the gift of faith is described in Ch 13:2 where it says “if I have faith that can remove mountains…” so this faith is indeed mountain moving faith.
If you want examples of people with the gift of faith check the Biblical “hall of faith,” in Hebrews chapter 11 where the writer describes many believers who, faced with insurmountable challenges, drew on some kind of faith that I don’t have and which I consider very extraordinary, so remarkable and so very supernatural that you will consider them superhuman too. I just gave you some examples but think about this: tell me if you can, in all honesty, spend one hundred and twenty years,1-2-0, constructing a humongous vessel of a boat, on top of a mountain when, up to that particular point in time, never was ever heard, not even a peep among humans, any such thing as rain? Rain? What is that? Soon, people will be looking up and asking “What is that?”
4. Gifts of Healings
v.9 healings – gifts of healings
This is supernatural healing that comes from the Holy Spirit and is far beyond any natural means of healing. Interestingly, the Greek word for healing is plural and therefore we should be saying healings and it sure makes sense because there are all kinds of healings: mental, physical, spiritual. So as it comes from the Holy Spirit, it points to God’s healing power, whether given or received, and we see examples throughout the New Testament and since. At various or certain times in the New Testament, the Apostles received power from the Holy Spirit to cure diseases and cast out demons. This is the gifts of what? Healings.
You know something else? Look at the crusades going on, carried out by some televangelists and charisprobra. They inform us that they can heal any time, when they feel like it, at their whim. But obviously, it is not the case because in the New Testament, this gifts of healings wasn’t a power which always resided in the Apostles. How do I know that? Because Paul couldn’t heal Timothy but rather told him to take some medication (1 Timothy 5:23), neither could Paul remove a thorn, which was in his own flesh. Do you see my point, the message that the Holy Spirit wants us to understand today? The Bible wants us to understand that this power was given on extraordinary occasions and according to the Lord though we could say that in general it was most probably more often so. After all, Jesus performed a lot of healing.
Beloved, God has endowed this gift on whomever He chooses to so you don’t have to be a physician to have this gift. And in case you are wondering about the charisprobra that you see on T.V., let us leave them to God because for sure, they, all of us will answer to God in due time. But I believe that there are people who have gifts of healings and it is evident throughout the Bible!
Another thing, and that is that we ought to be grateful and thankful to God for doctors, nurses, orderlies, all those who work in the hospitals and we ought to pray for them too; not all doctors are on the up-and-up but God does use doctors otherwise, why would the Bible say in Luke 5:31 (Matthew 9:12, 13; Mark 2:17): “And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
In this verse, it is clear what Jesus is saying in His answer to the people, that sick people need doctors and medicine; that sounds like good advice to me.
5. Working of Miracles
v.10 Working of miracles: Literally dynameis, or “acts of power.”
I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul lists “the working of miracles” separately from the “gifts of healings.” What it suggests to me then is that even though this gift may include some form of healing, it is a gift that does more than healing. Further, when we look at the miracles of Christ, we can split them into two:
- Nature Miracles, for example Jesus walked on water, created food
- Healing Miracles,
So to define it, a “miracle” is simply a supernatural intervention by God in the ordinary course of nature and where that extraordinary intervention also yields incredible results that demonstrate God’s Omnipotence, His authority and His supernatural power and supremacy over His creation. Don’t ask me to repeat that. In other words, what I’m saying is that this is when the Holy Spirit, choosing to “over-ride” the laws of nature works in or through the bearer of this gift to accomplish His purpose.
Recognizing this, we want to take note that gifts of healing and working of miracles often operate in conjunction with the gift of faith, as in Acts 3:1-8 when Peter and John went up to the temple, saw, stopped and healed the lame man who had asked them for alms. I want to emphasize again that these miracles are not done on the whim of the individual, as if the power to heal or work miracles was by their will and at their permanent disposal. Instead and as gifts for the benefit of the church and to God’s glory, they operate as an individual is prompted by God and given the faith to perform such work (Acts 14:8-10 is another example). Albeit, and as afar as I am aware, no apostle is ever reported to have done a miracle in the natural realm. If you are thinking about the handkerchiefs in Acts, that was a healing miracle where we learn So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them (Acts 19:12).
I know that some of you are chafing to ask, “So then Pastor, do you believe in miracles? Are miracles being performed today? What of what we read about in some Christian magazines?” And my answer is that of course I do believe in miracles and I do because I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in the Holy Spirit and I believe in the Holy Bible. So, for me to say that there are no miracles is to question God’s power and thereby limit Him. Now, about whether there are miracle workers today, that’s another question but there probably are though I do not know, neither have I met any.
I recall when I was young, Oral Roberts visited Ghana and the news was that he was performing miracles, healing miracles that is. Throngs went to his crusade and later, it was in the Ghanaian dailies that deaf and mute who attended had been healed. Now, my dad was an ear specialist and he had a school for the Deaf and Mute. It turns out that some of these who supposedly were “healed” came from his school and I knew them too.
Were they healed? No! My dad was displeased and consequently he wrote to the papers in objection to the alleged “healing,” even providing evidence that the students were still under his tutelage and in his school. If I recall rightly, my dad used speech therapy so deaf students were encouraged to learn to try to talk more while using less sign language. The results of the speech therapy were what the crusade claimed as supernatural miracles being performed. You would think that the media would have verified these claims even before reporting on them.
Before I get off of this gift, I want us to note also that miracles are not much good in converting the lost. Matter of fact, sometimes, Jesus had to step over the miracle mongers in order to do His ministry.
Another thing, when you study the bible, you will see that miracles came in groupings or clusters:
- The miracles surrounding the creation (Genesis)
- The miracles surrounding redemption/exodus of the Israelites (Exodus)
- The miracles surrounding Elijah and Elisha’s ministry (Kings)
- The miracles surrounding Job to Malachi
- The miracles surrounding the incarnation (the Gospels)
- The miracles surrounding Jesus’ ministry and resurrection
- The miracles surrounding the apostles’ ministry (the Book of Acts), and
- The miracles prophesied for the last days (Revelation)
By the way, did you know that John the Baptizer whom Jesus called the greatest prophet of all time never performed a miracle? I’m in good company if I never performed a miracle. The Bible says in John 10 that John the Baptizer was filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb BUT he never performed any signs/miracles (John 10:41).
(B) MOTIVATIONAL GIFTS
When I mention Motivational Gifts, by this I am including the following, ranging from, and including Prophecy, Ministering/Serving/Helps, Teaching, Giving, Exhortation/Encouragement, Administration/Leadership, Mercy (Romans 12:4–8).
The motivational gifts are also supernatural abilities that God endows His children with at their new birth. When you look at them, they are practical in nature and they all serve the purpose of revealing God’s personality to us. As God’s representatives, these gifts describe the inner motives of the Christian servant. In several pages of the Bible, but most particularly the Books of Jude and Peter, on the contrary, the warning we are given of the motives of false prophets is stark. Their motives in counterfeiting what God does are exposed and laid bare so that believers don’t get deceived but amazingly so many still are! As Christians, we ought to question both the motives of those who claim to be God’s shepherds and the source of their “giftings”.
While we have some time left, let us look at the gift of prophecy.
6. Gift of Prophecy
v.10 Prophecy This is the forth-telling of God’s message, proclaiming publicly God’s Word and to this definition the connotation of prediction is attached in particular situations. But prophecy always has to be in accord with God’s Word and His current work. Sometimes prophecy has the character of foretelling the future, as in Acts 21:10-11 and Acts 27:21-26. Let us read Acts 21:10-11 as it is shorter; it says, talking about the prophet Agabus: 10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judæa a certain prophet, named Agabus. 11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
Is this clear to you? We see the element of prediction in these two verses. I want us to note these other things too as they are key, that, there are:
- The Office of the prophet like Isaiah and Jeremiah, and
- The Ministry of prophesying like Isaiah and Jeremiah
But the best definition for this gift is in 1 Corinthians 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. You know, what Paul is communicating to us in this verse is about divinely inspired speech and prophets speak to edify, exhort and encourage. Someone said:
(1) “Edification” is “to build up”
(2) “Exhortation” is “to fire up”
(3) “Encourage/Consolation” is “to shore up,” to “comfort”
In case you are not aware, I prophesy every Sunday morning and Tuesday evenings when we get to together as a church and you hear me preach. I tell forth, speak forth the wonders of the Word of God. Don’t forget that.
7. Discerning of Spirits
v.10 Discerning of Spirits: this can also be translated “distinguishing of spirits.” I don’t have to convince you that satan is the great deceiver, do I? In John 8:44, Jesus Himself called satan the father of lies. You don’t have to turn to it; I will read it quickly 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Why did Jesus say that? Because satan parades around as an angel of light, pretending to be the Holy Spirit thereby deceiving even the every elect so Jesus wants us to have the capacity or the ability to tell the Holy Spirit from the evil spirits. you see, there’s only one Hoy Spirit but there are many false spirits; satan can’t be everywhere at the same time and having these demons, when one fails, satan will send another to try and achieve the victory over you that he’s looking for. So we need this gift of discernment.
This gift gives the bearer the ability to recognize lying, familiar spirits and also enables the bearer to ferret out deceptive and erroneous doctrine. You can check out these references, Acts 17:11 which talks about the Bereans and 1 John 4:1, which cautions believers thus: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. If you have this gift, then you are a guardian, a watchman.
Today, the church needs this gift so much. Look at the teachings going on around us! We have aladura preachers all over the place looking glorified in their suits and it seems like they have taken over Christ’s church. All across Africa they are the new charisprobra. I was at a meeting of pastors where the keynote speaker said sometimes he doesn’t have to prepare sermons; he just shows up behind the pulpit on Sunday and speaks out what the Holy Spirit puts in his mouth. I mean, what nonsense is this? But you see, this is what is happening and this pastor, from Australia, has a big following. So we need people with the gift of discernment to help us flush out these false marauding spirits who, with their demonic lies, are masquerading as the Holy Spirit.
This gift of the Holy Spirit, via the bearer gives the church supernatural insight into the spirit world, exposing what spirit is behind a person, what foul spirit is driving the preacher, teacher or the situation they control. So the bearer, with the power of the Holy Spirit, is able to discern and reveal the kind of spirit that is in operation behind a supernatural manifestation, whether it is evil, whether it is human, or whether it is the Holy Spirit. O, how we need this gift today!
The ability to tell the difference between true and false doctrine, and between what is of the Holy Spirit and what isn’t is so important. Listen, here are a few more references that I want you to consult when you have some free time, (Acts 8:18-23; 16:16-18). You will be reading about someone to whom Peter boldly said “Thy money perish with thee” and about a certain damsel who was possessed with a spirit of divination and who, through soothsaying made her masters rich while for many days she nagged and ceaselessly grieved Paul and his company by relentlessly claiming, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.”
The thing is that we live in a world that is full of malevolent spirits, filthy, vile, wicked, lying, evil spirits, demons. They are dirty and rule peoples’ hearts and so Jesus said, Matthew 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” Why? Because satan is never on Christ’s side; he hates Christ and so as an adversary he will seek any means to undermine God. And because he can’t attack God what does he do? Attack the closest and dearest thing to Christ: the believer, you and me!
He doesn’t care about the unsaved because the heart of every unbeliever is the devil’s palace. So these demons are lying spirits lying around in decadent hearts and satan, transforming himself into an angel of light constantly seeks to counterfeit what God is doing.
In the second half of Matthew 12:30 Jesus says and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth. You see, satan is a wolf in sheep clothing and what does the wolf do? I know of at least four things that the wolf does:
- it seeks the sheep
- it scatters the sheep
- it snares the sheep, and
- it snuffs out their lives
So you see why God has given some people in the church the spiritual gift to discern, to distinguish? Such gifted people can witness something and say: “That is not of the Lord; it is of the devil.” Look at the list on the overhead; it contains scripture references on how satan camouflages himself to deceive:
- he deceives with a false, tempting message (Genesis 2:16-3:5)
- he sends lying spirits into the mouths of prophets (1 Kings 22:21-23; 2 Chronicles 18:20-22)
- he can speak right after God speaks (Matthew 16:23)
- sometimes people who seem to say the right things are really from the devil (Acts 13:6-12; 16:16-18)
- he appears as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)
- he can work/perform deceptive miracles (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10, Revelation 13:11-14)
- he infiltrates the church with false teachers (Jude 4, 2 Peter 2:1-2).
As such, church, we need to test the word of anyone who claims to speak from God (1 John 4:1-3). Oh, how we need the gift of discernment in the church today!