World of Faith

Spiritual Gifts – Part Three: Fully Equipped

May 20, 2007
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Last week I continued this series on “Spiritual Gifts” that is serving as segue between the series on “Changing Our Thinking,” and the series on “Leadership,” which will begin next week. It is important to recognize the different spiritual gifts, how they operate, and their respective purpose(s), because God often uses spiritual gifts in the leadership of others. Further, the ascension gifts of Eph. 4, which are the topic for this week, ARE leaders themselves in the body of Christ, and thus they need to be recognized as well.

Before I begin to discuss the ascension gifts in earnest as part of this week’s installment, lets review what I covered last week. I believe, along with our different personalities, that God has “wired” each of us as believers with different spiritual gifts, so that we can serve and edify (and if we’re in five-fold ministry), equip the body of Christ. Four key passages identify specific spiritual gifts: Romans 12:3-8, 1 Cor. 12:1-11, 1 Cor. 12:27-31, and Eph. 4:7-16, and last week I covered extensively the two passages in 1 Cor. 12. The first of these two passages, 1 Cor. 12:1-11 (NKJV) says, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one in the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” Paul begins here by saying he doesn’t want the believers at Corinth to be unaware of spiritual gifts and he admonishes them that “no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” Paul’s point here is that the Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus Christ with any manifestation that the Holy Spirit brings. The gifts Paul mentions in this are manifestations of the Holy Spirit by their very nature. Paul also emphasizes in this passage that the Holy Spirit works these different gifts in each believer who has received the gifts as enduement of power for service. I also noted last week that the Greek word that Paul used for these gifts in 1 Cor. 12:1-11 is the same Greek word, “charisma,” which Paul used in Rom. 12. All these gifts are essentially graces that God gives us when we receive the baptism in (or infilling of) the Holy Spirit, subsequent to our salvation. However, the specific gifts in 1 Cor. 12:1-11 are manifestations, i.e., graces for the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself in us and to others through the gift. Thus, the purpose for these gifts is not only to serve the body, but also to edify, which means to build up. I then went through and discussed each of the gifts mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:1-11, and discussed them in further depth. I encourage you to go back and read that portion of last week’s installment if you missed it.

After I discussed the manifestation gifts, I also began to discuss the various gifts that Paul lists in 1 Cor. 12:27-31 (NKJV), which states, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” Last week, I addressed a few general aspects of this passage. Not everyone has all of the gifts. Not everyone is an apostle, prophet, teacher, or a worker of miracles. Not all have gifts of healings, or even deliver messages in tongues (this is different than using one’s prayer language) to someone else that needs interpretation, and even not everyone will be gifted to interpret. However, God has appointed gifted believers differently, and we should earnestly desire the best gifts (like the gift of prophecy) and do all this in love. But, I believe that because the Bible interprets itself, one cannot read this specific passage in a vacuum. One must read this portion of 1 Cor. 12 in the context of another significant passage, Eph. 4:7-16 (NKJV), which states, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ (Now this, ‘He ascended’ – what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” The purpose of this passage is to explain that the ascension gifts, which are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, are Christ’s gift(s) to the body of Christ. Conceptually, unlike the serving gifts of Rom. 12 and the manifestation gifts of 1 Cor. 12:1-11, both of which are given by the Holy Spirit, these five specific gifts in Eph. 4 are given by Jesus Christ to His body. They were given when Jesus ascended to heaven and the overall purpose of each of the ascension gifts is to fill all things and equip the saints for the work of the ministry. That’s why the subtitle of this week’s installment is “Fully Equipped.” Without the ministry of the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, the pastor and the teacher, no believer can be fully equipped to do the ministry and service that God has called him or her to do. Nor will any believer be completely edified and perfected (matured) so that there is unity in the body to the extent that the body of Christ will be the new man it is destined to be. Instead, without the ministry of the ascension gifts, believers will be mere children and spiritually immature, “tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine,” and simply will not grow. Thus, these five ascension gifts are necessary so that the body of Christ may be made complete and so that the body can edify itself in love.

Before I discuss each of these five ascension gifts in turn, I must make another important distinction between these gifts, and the gifts that Paul lists in Rom. 12 and 1 Cor. 12:1-11. Not only does Jesus Christ Himself, in contrast to the Holy Spirit, give these gifts, but also Paul uses a very different word for “gift” in this passage. Rather than using the Greek word “charisma,” which Paul used in the other two passages, Paul uses the Greek word “doma,” which essentially means the thing (or in this case the person) is the gift itself. Thus, the gifts are not graces or manifestations of the Holy Spirit, but persons that Christ gave to the body of Christ so that we may be made perfect, complete, and mature.

Now, the first gift that Paul mentions specifically here in Eph. 4 is the gift of the apostle. Before I discuss how this gift operates, it is important to remember that it is the person himself who Jesus has gifted as an apostle that is the gift to the body of Christ. Further, it is also important to understand that the gift of apostle is for today; God still has apostles who function in the body of Christ. Some Christians will say that the gift of apostle has ceased in the body of Christ, and that Jesus no longer has dispensed this gift. One of the arguments given for this erroneous conclusion is that there are no more persons in the body of Christ who qualify to be an apostle. According to the proponents of this theory, there are certain scriptural signs or “marks” of an apostle, which all apostles must have, or else they are not a true apostle. The Scripture reference used as a proof-text for this argument is 2 Cor. 12:11-12 (NKJV), which states, “I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.” Basically, some say Paul infers certain “signs of an apostle” here that confirms his apostleship is true. To a certain extent, this thinking is correct. Paul does mention “signs and wonders” here, and that is his real point, that apostles and prophets will confirm their validity with signs, wonders, and the miracles. However, nothing in this passage indicates other “signs,” “marks,” or “qualifications” for an apostle, such as the qualification that apostles must be eyewitnesses of the risen Lord. Some scholars do teach based on Acts 1:21-22 that being an eyewitness of the risen Lord is a qualification. But that isn’t what Acts 1:22 teaches. Acts 1:21-22 (NKJV) actually says, “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” According to verse 22, the quality of becoming a witness is something that occurs after the apostle is chosen, not beforehand. In other words, once the person is chosen as an apostle, then such a person becomes a witness of the resurrection. However, there is also a second reason why being an eyewitness of the risen Lord is not a qualification for a true apostle. The word here is “witness,” and not “eyewitness.” According to Acts 1:8, we’re ALL called to be witnesses to the resurrection as a testimony to the world; the same word used for “witness” in Acts 1:22 is the same word used in Acts 1:8. So, the only real mark or sign of an apostle is that signs, wonders, and miracles as a demonstration of God’s power accompany his ministry.

But how does an apostle actually function? How does the gift of apostle edify the church today? Eph. 2:19-22 (NKJV) states, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Thus, apostles, along with prophets, whom I’ll discuss later, are responsible for laying a foundation in the lives of believers. Apostles are to functionally equip the saints for the work of the ministry as an ascension gift unto Christ’s body. But apostles also have other functions as part of their role to equip the saints. The Greek word for “apostle” in Eph. 4 is “apostolos,” which literally means according to Thayer’s Lexicon “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.” So, apostles will have specific functions for specific groups of people. Not everyone is an apostle to everyone. If the New Testament provides a biblical model, like it should, the apostle Paul was specifically an apostle to his spiritual sons, Timothy and Titus, and thus one can conclude that apostles will plant and oversee various churches, and be pastors to pastors and church leaders. This is their specific function in laying a foundation in the lives of the saints, and they are seasoned ministers in that regard.

The second ascension gift that Paul mentions in Eph. 4 is the gift of the prophet. Again, it is the person himself who Jesus has gifted as a prophet that is the gift to the body of Christ, and thus this gift is to be distinguished from the gift of prophecy, which is a grace and/or manifestation of the Holy Spirit, given by the Holy Spirit, to minister to believers in order to edify them. The purpose of the gift of the prophet, like the other ascension gifts, is to equip the believers so they can fulfill that which God’s called them to do. Paul uses the Greek word “prophetes” for this ascension gift, and “prophetes” means according to Thayer’s “one who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence his organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as relate to the cause and kingdom of God and to human salvation.” More specifically, the gift of the prophet in the New Testament, according to Thayer’s, “are associated with the apostles; discern and do what is best for the Christian cause, foretelling certain future events; and in religious assemblies are moved by the Holy Spirit to speak, having power to instruct, comfort, encourage, rebuke, convict, and stimulate their hearers.” So, prophets equip the saints by laying a foundation in the lives of the saints (Eph. 2:20), and do so by instructing, comforting, encouraging, rebuking, convicting, and stimulating those who hear them.

The third ascension gift that Paul mentions in Eph. 4 is the gift of the evangelist. It bears repeating that it is the person himself who Jesus has gifted as an evangelist that is the gift, and thus there is no gift of evangelism. All believers are called to evangelize, but it is the purpose of the evangelist to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, which in part involves being a witness and evangelizing the lost with the Gospel. The Greek word that Paul uses for this ascension gift is “euaggelistes,” which according to Thayer’s means, “a bringer of good tidings,” and so it is an evangelist who is not only gifted in winning the lost to Christ, but also training believers in doing the same, as every believer is called to go out and win the lost as well.

The fourth ascension gift that Paul mentions in Eph. 4 is the gift of the pastor. Now some Christians teach that there are only four gifts in Eph. 4, and it is the gift of pastor-teacher. However, 1 Cor. 12:28 recognizes a specific gift of the teacher, separate from the pastor. At the conclusion of this week’s entry, I will discuss how the various gifts in 1 Cor. 12:28 interact with the ascension gifts of Eph. 4. But for now, because teacher is distinguished in 1 Cor. 12:28, I cannot conclude it is a gift of “pastor-teacher” in Eph. 4. Instead, I will treat pastors and teachers as two separate gifts. The Greek word that Paul uses for this gift is “poimen.” Thayer’s offers two definitions for this term: “A herdsmen, esp. a shepherd, he to whose care and control others have committed themselves, and whose precepts they follow;” and “The presiding officer, manager, director, of any assembly: so of Christ the Head of the church.” Thus, the pastor is one who equips the saints for the work of the ministry by being a shepherd and spiritual leader, and one who essentially is the presiding officer, manager, or director of a local congregation. Biblical examples would be Timothy and Titus, who oversaw local churches, and who related to Paul as their apostle.

Lastly, the fifth ascension gift that Paul mentions in Eph. 4 is the gift of the teacher. This gift is also mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:28. It is the person himself who Jesus has gifted as a teacher that is the gift, and thus this ascension gift must be distinguished from the serving gift of teaching, which is a grace of the Holy Spirit available to all believers. The Greek word that Paul uses for this gift is “didaskalos,” which according to Thayer’s means, “one who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of man; of those who in the religious assemblies of the Christians, undertook the work of teaching, with the special assistance of the Holy Spirit.” Thus, the teacher is one who equips the saints for the work of the ministry by teaching the things of God and the duties of man. It is such a person that is a more seasoned minister than one who operates with the serving gift of teaching.

Now, before I close this series on “Spiritual Gifts,” it is important to discuss how the gifts in Eph. 4, the ascension gifts, interact with those that Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 12:28. Again, 1 Cor. 12:28 (NKJV) states, “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.” We’ve learned through that series that apostles, prophets, and teachers are ascension gifts that were given by Christ to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. We’ve also learned that the gifts of miracles, healings, and tongues are manifestation gifts given by the Holy Spirit, i.e. graces of the Holy Spirit that allow for the Holy Spirit to manifest the gift in the life of a believer. But, two obscure gifts are listed here and nowhere else in the Scriptures: the gift of helps, and the gift of administrations. How do these two interact with the other gifts? The Greek word that Paul uses for the gift of helps is “antilepsis,” which according to Thayer’s means “to aid or help.” Specifically, Thayer’s mentions as an example “the ministrations of deacons, who have care of the poor and the sick.” Now, I do not believe this gift is really a gift at all. To me, “helps” is a ministry, and not a gift, and like the manifestation gifts listed earlier in 1 Cor. 12, the “gift of helps” is a gift available to all, except those who are ascension gift ministers (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers). The reason why I draw this distinction is found in Acts 6:1-4 (NKJV), which says, “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’” Another definition that Thayer’s offers for “helps” in 1 Cor. 12:28 is “a laying hold of, apprehension, perception, objection of a disputant.” Those who serve in ministry of helps are to lay hold of, apprehend, and perceive in order to solve a dispute, or a problem, as to effective render aid to those who are senior church leaders. It is the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers who are to give themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word. Yet the saints are to do the work of the ministry, in the case of Acts 6, to meet these other needs, and attend to a disputed matter. So what then is the gift or ministry of administrations? The Greek word that Paul uses in 1 Cor. 12:28 for “administrations” is “kubernesis,” which according to Thayer’s means “governing, government, rendering wise counsel, to steer a ship.” I believe the gift of “kubernesis,” or “governments,” or “administrations,” is essentially the same as eldership in the local church, or pastoral ministry. Many people have asked me why the gift of pastor is neglected in 1 Cor. 12:28, since three other ascension gifts are mentioned. The reason why perhaps could be Paul’s inclusion of “kubernesis” instead, because one of the definitions for “poimen,” the Greek word that Paul uses for “pastor,” is “the presiding officer, manager, director, of any assembly: so of Christ the Head of the church.” Conceptually, there is no difference between one who presides and one who governs, renders wise counsel, or steers the ship of a local church. It is the senior pastor who sets the vision for the local church, who oversees and governs the affairs of the local church, who steers the ship of the local church metaphorically. Thus, anyone who is an ascension gift minister under Eph. 4 would be considered an elder in the local church body and would have the gift of administrations or “kubernesis” to effectively give themselves to “prayer and the ministry of the word.”

So that concludes our series on “Spiritual Gifts.” Next week, I am going to begin a new series on “Leadership.” The concept of leadership is different compared to eldership. Elders are essentially ascension gift ministers, but leaders are those who have influence in the local church body. There is a difference between senior-level church leadership, who are essentially church elders, and church-wide leadership, which is a broader group. I will discuss these concepts further next week, and fill in some of the gaps as well, as I begin a new series on “Leadership.”

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Spiritual Gifts – Part Two: Wired to Edify

May 13, 2007
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Last week I began a new series on “Spiritual Gifts” that will serve as a segue between the series on “Changing Our Thinking” and the new series that will debut later this month on “Leadership.” I believe it is important to recognize what spiritual gifts are, and how they operate, because God often uses spiritual gifts in the leadership of others. Also, some spiritual gifts, specifically those mentioned in Eph. 4, the ascension gifts, ARE leaders in the body of Christ, and thus we need to recognize them as well.

Before I begin this week’s installment, here is a short review of what I covered last week. I believe, along with our different personalities, that God has “wired” each of us as believers with different spiritual gifts, so that we can serve and edify (and if we’re in five-fold ministry), equip the body of Christ. Four key passages identify several of these spiritual gifts: Romans 12:3-8, 1 Cor. 12:1-11, 1 Cor. 12:27-31, and Eph. 4:7-16, and last week I looked in-depth at Romans 12:3-8 (NKJV), “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Paul addresses here that we should be sober in thought, and not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. We are not to be prideful, and lift ourselves up, but remain in the fear of the Lord. Paul also wrote later in Rom. 12:16 (NKJV), “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” Paul also makes the point that God has given each of us a measure of faith, and we need to exercise it accordingly, as the measure of faith corresponds to a measure of grace that God has also given us as well.

In Rom. 12:4, Paul then address that although we are each members of the body of Christ, not every member has the same function or spiritual gift, and so because we are interdependent, we need each other, and we need to identify and recognize, and make use of the spiritual gifts of each other, so that we can all be served and edified, and in the case of the ascension gifts, equipped for every good work that God has called us to do. Then Paul begins to discuss the serving gifts themselves in verse 6. I invite you to review last week’s installment of this series to catch you up on the different serving gifts of Romans 12, in their specifics. However, there were some key points that Paul made that are important as we look at the gifts that edify, which are found in 1 Cor. 12:1-11. First, the word Paul uses in the Greek for “gifts” is “charisma,” from which we get the word “charismatic” in English. Paul used this word in Rom. 12, and he also used it in 1 Cor. 12. As I said last week, the gifts Paul mentions here, both in Rom. 12, and in 1 Cor. 12, are really graces to do something. The gift of teaching, for example, is really the grace to teach, and this gift functions differently than the gift of teacher, which is an ascension gift. I will address that point later in the last section of this week’s installment. The best definition that Thayer’s Lexicon offers for “charisma” is this: Grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit. Thus, I believe that the Holy Spirit empowerment or enduement with power for service for Christians comes when Christians have received the baptism in or infilling of the Holy Spirit.

That leads us to the first text for this week’s installment, 1 Cor. 12:1-11 (NKJV), “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one in the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” Paul is very adamant here that he does not want the believers at the church in Corinth to be unaware of spiritual gifts. He begins this section of his epistle with a warning that “no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” Without going off a tangent, Paul emphasizes here that the Holy Spirit will glorify God, especially the Son of God, Jesus Christ, with any manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Paul then makes an admonition that was very similar to his key points early in Romans 12, emphasizing it is the Holy Spirit works the different spiritual gifts, which are manifestations of the Holy Spirit, in each believer who has received these gifts as enduement of power for service. Before I discuss each of the gifts in turn, there are a few key points I wish to make as well. Again, the word that Paul uses here for “gift” is the same word he used in Romans 12, “charisma,” and so all of these gifts are graces that God has given us when we receive the baptism in (or infilling of) the Holy Spirit, subsequent to our salvation. However, these gifts are manifestations in their very nature, i.e. they are graces for the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself in us through the gift. The purpose is not only to serve the body, as I developed last week, but also to edify the body of Christ, which means to build up. Paul makes that point in 1 Cor. 14, and so that’s why the sub-title for this week’s installment is “Wired to Edify.”

The first manifestation gift that Paul identifies in 1 Cor. 12 is the “word of wisdom,” i.e. the grace of the Holy Spirit to manifest a “word of wisdom” through a gifted believer, to benefit or edify someone else. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, Paul used the phrase “logos sophia” for this gift. The word “logos” basically means the spoken word. Specifically, Thayer’s Lexicon defines “logos” as “a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea; what someone has said: a word; the sayings of God; a decree, mandate, or order; of the moral precepts given by God; what is declared, a thought, a declaration, etc.” Thus when the word “word” is translated “logos” in the Greek, we are dealing with a word said by a living voice, in this case, the Holy Spirit. Thus, a “word of wisdom” will be a specific kind decree, mandate, or moral declaration straight from God Himself. Thayer’s Lexicon also defines “sophia” as “wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters.” Thayer’s then divides “sophia” or wisdom into two categories: the wisdom of man, and the wisdom of God. Of course, it is this latter category of wisdom that God gives in the gift of the word of wisdom. Thayer’s defines this God-kind of wisdom as “supreme intelligence, such as belongs to God; the wisdom of God as evinced in forming and executing counsels in the formation and government of the world and the scriptures.” Thus, a “word of wisdom” will be more than just applied knowledge, but will be the very mind of Christ (see the last series on “Changing Our Thinking”) that you need for a given situation. It will be wisdom straight from the Holy Spirit that is supreme intelligence for a given situation. The Holy Spirit will manifest such a “word of wisdom” through a gifted believer, to benefit or edify someone who requires the “word of wisdom,” and thus that person is the ultimate recipient, and is thus edified by the gift.

The second manifestation gift that Paul identifies here is the “word of knowledge,” i.e. the grace of the Holy Spirit to manifest a “word of knowledge” through a gifted believer, to edify someone else. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, Paul used the phrase “logos gnosis” for this gift. Thayer’s Lexicon defines “gnosis” as “knowledge signified in general intelligence and understanding,” and further as “especially of things lawful and unlawful for Christians; moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living.” The main difference between this gift, and the gift of the “word of wisdom,” is that the substance of this gift will be more general intelligence, and not supreme intelligence, which is applied intelligence, or wisdom. However, this gift operates very similarly to the gift of the word of wisdom. The Holy Spirit will manifest a “word of knowledge” through a gifted believer, to benefit or edify someone who requires the “word of knowledge.” It may be as simple as fact about the person to be edified that the gifted person would otherwise not know, except that the Holy Spirit tells him so. For instance, if you had cancer, and didn’t tell me, the Holy Spirit could tell me, and I could tell you, so that I could also tell you (and I’ll cover this in a moment) that God wishes to heal you. Such a situation would actually be several manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit working together. The fact you have cancer is a “word of knowledge.” That God wishes to heal you is actually a word of wisdom that you as the beneficiary must receive. Then there is the gift of faith and the gift of healing, which would work together to actual bring healing to your body, and set you free from the cancer. Again, I’ll discuss each of these manifestation gifts in turn, but this is just one practical example to see these manifestation gifts in motion.

The third manifestation gift that Paul identifies is the gift of faith, i.e. the grace of the Holy Spirit to manifest faith through a gifted believer in order to edify someone else. As the example in the above paragraph illustrates, if I am praying for God to heal you, then I am going to have to believe God to heal you, and such will require supernatural faith. The Bible is clear that God has given every person a measure of faith, as it pertains to salvation. However, a certain level of supernatural faith is required in order for you as a gifted believer to believe for someone else to receive what God has for him, such as a healing. Thus, the Holy Spirit will manifest faith through a gifted believer to benefit or edify someone else.

The fourth manifestation gift that Paul identifies is gifts of healing, i.e. the grace of the Holy Spirit to manifest healings through a gifted believer in order to edify someone else. In the practical example above, this is the actual healing that you would receive, as a result of the Holy Spirit directing me to believe and pray for you to be healed of cancer. The Greek word for this manifestation gift is “iama.” Thayer’s Lexicon defines “iama” as “healing, remedy, or medicine,” and thus the gifts of healing, or “iama,” are divine healing, remedy, or medicine for any disease, infirmity, illness, etc.

The fifth manifestation gift that Paul identifies is the gift of workings of miracles, i.e. the grace of the Holy Spirit to work miracles through a gifted believer in order to edify someone else. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, Paul used the Greek phrase “energema dunamis” for this gift. The Greek word “energema,” from which we get the English word “energy,” basically means, “a thing wrought, an effect, an operation.” Thus, this gift is a working, or an effect, or an operation of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word “dunamis” means “strength, power, ability,” and further as “power for performing miracles.” In other words, this gift is the grace of the Holy Spirit to manifest God’s divine, miraculous, miracle-working power through a gifted believer to edify someone else, because the beneficiary will receive the miracle they need. As a practical example, it could be a healing, but also a deliverance from demonic oppression, or some other kind of miracle the beneficiary needs from God.

The sixth manifestation gift that Paul identifies is the gift of prophecy, i.e. the grace of the Holy Spirit to prophesy through a gifted believer in order to edify someone else. Paul uses the same Greek word for “prophecy” here that he also used in Rom. 12. As I stated last week, that Greek word is “propheteia,” which is “A discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; esp. by foretelling future events.” Thus, prophecy is a revelatory gift, it is divine inspiration that declares God’s purposes, and it especially can be by admonishment, comfort, or the revealing of hidden things. It can be the foretelling of future events, but that isn’t necessary. It is also not just divinely inspired preaching and teaching of the Word of God, which is something very different. However, this kind of prophecy, as a gift, operates slightly differently than the gift of prophecy in Rom. 12. Here, the Holy Spirit will manifest the gift of prophecy as a grace through a gifted believer to edify someone else. While the result is the same as in Rom. 12, the operation is not just a grace, but is slightly different, because it is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit available to all.

The seventh manifestation gift that Paul identifies is the gift of discerning of spirits, i.e. the grace of the Holy Spirit to discern spirits through a gifted believer in order to edify someone else. Paul used the Greek phrase “diakrisis pneuma” for this gift. Now, some Christians will identify this gift as just plain discernment, but that’s not what the Scriptures say about this gift. The Bible clearly teaches that all believers should exercise discernment, especially concerning moral issues of right and wrong, but that isn’t what this manifestation is about. Specifically, this manifestation gift is the discerning of spirits, and Thayer’s Lexicon defines “diakrisis,” the word for “discerning,” as a distinguishing and judging. Further, Thayer’s defines “pneuma,” the Greek word for “spirits” as “a life-giving spirit; a human soul that has left the body; or a spirit higher than man, but lower than god, i.e. an angel,” and this term can be “used of demons, or evil spirits, who were conceived as inhabiting the bodies of men,” or “the spiritual nature of Christ.” Thus, the manifestation gift of discerning of spirits involves the grace of the Holy Spirit to enable a gifted believer to judge spirits and distinguish them to determine whether the spirits are of a godly or demonic (evil) origin. This gift would then edify someone else because once an evil spirit has been identified, then the same gifted believer can exercise his authority in Christ and cast the evil spirit out, in Jesus name.

The eighth manifestation gift that Paul identifies is the gift of different (or diverse) kinds of tongues, i.e. the grace of the Holy Spirit to speak in an otherwise unlearned language, be it heavenly or of man, a message to someone else. I could do an entire teaching on the gift of speaking in tongues. However, I am going to only discuss some highlights of this manifestation gift. First, the Scriptures are very clear that there are different (or diverse) kinds of tongues. Some will say that the gift of tongues is a known language. However, Paul said in 1 Cor. 13:1 (NKJV), “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” This Scripture clearly gives at least two different kinds of tongues, those of man (or earthly languages), and those of angels, or a heavenly language. So, not every tongue is a known language, because I don’t know any human that speaks angelic language. Further, there is only one manifestation of tongues in the Scripture where it was clear it a human language. In fact, many manifestations of tongues in the Scriptures do not even specify whether the tongues uttered by the recipient of the gift was a known language. Another misconception of the gift of tongues is that tongues are an “ecstatic utterance.” According to Thayer’s Lexicon, Paul used the word “glossa” for tongues, and the word “glossa” basically means “language.” However, according to 1 Cor. 12, it is the Holy Spirit who manifests this gift, so it cannot be “ecstatic.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines “ecstatic” as “Marked by or expressing ecstasy; being in a state of ecstasy; joyful or enraptured.” It also defines “ecstasy” as “Intense joy or delight; a state of emotion so intense that one is carried beyond rational thought and self-control.” If the gift of speaking in tongues is an “ecstatic utterance,” then it is not a gift of the Holy Spirit at all, because you do not have to drum up emotions in order for the Holy Spirit to manifest the gift of tongues. So, contrary to some beliefs, the gift of tongues is not an “ecstatic utterance.” So, what IS the gift of tongues and how does it operate? The gift of tongues is the grace of the Holy Spirit operating in a gifted believer to deliver a message in an unknown language (either a human language or angelic) to someone else, so that the other person is edified. The Scriptures are also clear that such a message in tongues must be interpreted in order for there to be edification, and thus the next gift.

The ninth and last manifestation gift that Paul mentions is the gift of interpretation of tongues, i.e. the grace of the Holy Spirit to interpret a message delivered in the gift of tongues, so that someone else (the recipient of the message) is edified. Paul is very clear in 1 Cor. 14 that the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues MUST work together, or else NO ONE is edified. The purpose of all these gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12 is to edify other people, primarily believers, and so tongues must be interpreted for there to be edification. There is not much to say about this gift. The Holy Spirit will manifest this gift by having a believer interpret what was already said through the gift of tongues. So, this is the last manifestation gift that Paul identifies in this section.

Before I conclude this installment (and I apologize to my readers for the length), I believe it is important to go through one other section of 1 Cor. 12, and that is 1 Cor. 12:27-31 (NKJV), “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” I am going to address some more about this passage in next week’s installment. Three of the gifts listed here (apostles, pastors, and teachers) are gifts specific to Eph. 4 (the ascension gifts) and so I will cover them in greater detail next week. So, if you are wondering whether the gift of apostle is still for today, then “tune in next time.” Two of the gifts mentioned here, the gift of helps, and the gift of administrations, are specific to this passage, and are only mentioned here in 1 Cor. 12:28, in all of the New Testament. Because I believe the gifts of helps and administrations are directly tied to the ascension gifts of Eph. 4, I will develop these gifts further as well next week. However, this passage is very clear that not everyone has all the gifts. Not everyone is an apostle, prophet, teacher, or a worker of miracles. Not all have gifts of healings, or even deliver messages in tongues (this is different than using one’s prayer language) to someone else that needs interpretation, and even not everyone will be gifted to interpret. However, God has appointed gifted believers differently, and we should earnestly desire the best gifts (like the gift of prophecy) and do all this in love. There is much more I could say about this passage, but I will save much of that for next time, when I will look again at this passage, and I will also look at the ascension gifts of Eph. 4, which enable us as believers to be “fully equipped” for what God has called each of us to do, in terms of our respective ministries. That will then conclude this series on spiritual gifts, and segue “World of Faith” into the next series on leadership.


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Spiritual Gifts – Part One: Wired to Serve

May 6, 2007
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This week I am beginning a brand new series on spiritual gifts. Originally, I was going to begin a series on leadership and influence, but because I’ve been thinking about spiritual gifts so much lately, I thought it would be necessary to have a short, three-part series on spiritual gifts that would lay the groundwork and a foundation for the series on leadership and influence that will follow.

A while back I did a series on “What is Charismatic?” which covered a lot of the basic issues concerning spiritual gifts, but the purpose of this series is to cover spiritual gifts in a bit more depth, and with some other nuances that were not really discussed before.

I believe, along with our different personalities, that God has “wired” each of us as believers with different spiritual gifts, so that we can serve and edify (and if we’re in five-fold ministry), equip the body of Christ. There are four key passages that I believe identifies several of these spiritual gifts: Romans 12:3-8, 1 Cor. 12:1-11, 1 Cor. 12:27-31, and Eph. 4:7-16. In this week’s installment, I will look at the passage in Romans 12. Next week I will cover BOTH passages in 1 Cor. 12. And in the third installment, I will cover the ascension gifts in Eph. 4, and explain how those five gifts function differently than the others in Romans and 1 Corinthians.

So, let’s begin by looking at Rom. 12:3-8 (NKJV), “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” The first point that Paul addresses here is that we are to be sober in thought, and not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Paul also wrote in the second half of Rom. 11:20 (NKJV), “Do not be haughty, but fear.” Paul speaks here of the fear of the Lord. In Proverbs, it is written that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.” So, we are not to be prideful, and lift ourselves up, but remain in the fear of the Lord, and be sober in our thinking. Paul also wrote later in Rom. 12:16 (NKJV), to drive this same point across, “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” It is ironic that I just completed a series on renewing the mind, and now that I am discussing spiritual gifts, this issue of being like-minded comes up again. We are to be sober in our thinking towards one another, as well. We cannot become prideful about our spiritual gifts. But the second point Paul makes here in Rom. 12:3 is that God has given each of us a measure of faith. What Paul is emphasizing here with this second point is that the measure of faith each of us has — we need to exercise it accordingly. This is discussed for each spiritual gift, but I believe that the measure of faith corresponds to a measure of grace that God has also given us as well.

Then, in verse 4, Paul address that although we are each members of the body of Christ, not every member has the same function. These different functions, of course, are different spiritual gifts, which Paul lists beginning in verse 6. But before he discusses the spiritual gifts specifically, Paul makes an important point in verse 5. We are all part of the ONE body of Christ. We are members of one another. We are interdependent, and we need each other, and we need to identify and recognize, and make use of the spiritual gifts of each other, so that we can all be served and edified, and in the case of the ascension gifts, equipped for every good work that God has called us to do. So then Paul writes in verse 6, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.” At this point, I need to make some general comments about these seven spiritual gifts I am about to mention. First, the word Paul uses in the Greek for “gifts” is “charisma,” from which we get the word “charismatic” in English. The best definition that Thayer’s Lexicon offers for “charisma” is this: Grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit. In contrast to the gifts mentioned in Eph. 4, these serving gifts I believe are graces (some translators believe “charismata” should be translated as gracelets), and so each of the seven serving gifts listed here are really the grace to do something, whatever the gift happens to be. For example, the gift of teaching is really the grace to teach, and this is a different gift compared to the gift of teacher, which is listed in Eph. 4, and has a different purpose. Lastly, one other comment before I discuss these seven spiritual gifts more specifically. According to Thayer’s, these grace-gifts are received because of the “power of divine grace operating on the recipient’s souls by the Holy Spirit.” I believe that the Holy Spirit empowerment or enduement with power for service for Christians comes when Christians have received the baptism in or infilling of the Holy Spirit. I discussed this topic further in the “What is Charismatic?” series, but I would just like to emphasize that spiritual gifts do not come at salvation, but when the believer has received the baptism in (or infilling of) in the Holy Spirit, which empowers the believer with spiritual gifts for service in the body of Christ. Acts 2 describes this experience as the Holy Spirit coming to rest ON the believers, and Eph. 5:18 describes this experience as a filling of the Holy Spirit. At salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell our hearts, but at baptism in the Holy Spirit, we are empowered and filled with the Holy Spirit to serve, and that is important to remember, as we begin to study each of the seven serving gifts here in Romans 12.

The first gift that Paul identifies is the gift of prophecy, which is really the grace to prophesy, and without going further, I believe that Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians that this grace is available to everyone. Paul writes, “You may all prophesy,” but at the same time, not all are prophets. I will develop this point further next week, so for this week, I’d just like to explain how the grace to prophesy functions. I believe that the function of the gift of prophecy is two-fold. There is a foretelling function, as regards to future events, and a forth-telling function, of past and/or present events. According to Thayer’s, “prophecy,” or “propheteia,” the Greek word, means this: A discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; esp. by foretelling future events. So, prophecy is a revelatory gift, it is divine inspiration that declares God’s purposes, and it especially can be by admonishment, comfort, or the revealing of hidden things. It can be the foretelling of future events, but that isn’t necessary. As I will discuss next week, there are gifts of the word of knowledge, and the word of wisdom, which would be a past or present fact about a person(s), place, or thing, and the gift of prophecy often interacts with the gift of the word of knowledge and the gift of the word of wisdom. But the key point is it is revelatory discourse that declares the purposes of God in the earth. It is not just divinely inspired preaching and teaching of the Word of God, which is something very different.

The second gift that Paul identifies is the gift of ministering, which really means the gift of serving, or rather the grace to serve. The word in the Greek that Paul uses here is “diakonia,” from which we get the word “deacon” in English. The first definition that Thayer’s offers for this word is “service, ministering, especially of those who execute the commands of others.” Clearly, those who have the grace to serve are those who follow those who have the grace to lead. Those who have this gift therefore are ministering at the command of others. Another definition that Thayer’s offers is “the office of the deacon in the church.” While I disagree with the concept that a “deacon” is an “office” in the church, being a deacon is a function, which is different than the function of elders. The first appointment of deacons is found in Acts 6:1-4 (NKJV), which says, “Now in those days, when the number of disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and SERVE tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.” Thus, the deacons were those who were appointed to serve and meet the daily, practical needs of the saints (here the widows), and the elders (for lack of a better term) devoted themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. By the way, the “ministry of the Word,” really is the study of the Word of God as to prepare the student to PREACH and TEACH the Word of God. This is why I believe Paul makes the point in 1 Cor 9:14 that those who preach the Gospel should make their living by the Gospel.

The third gift that Paul identifies is the gift of teaching, which is really the grace to teach. Paul uses two Greek words here, but I will focus on the first one, “didasko,” from which we get the word “didactic” in the English language. The primary translation that Thayer’s offers for “didasko” is “to teach.” More specifically, “to impart instruction, instill doctrine, to explain or expound a thing, or to teach one something.” Thus, one that has the gift of teaching will do these things — such a person will have the grace to impart instruction, the grace to instill doctrine, the grace to explain or expound on a thing, etc. This gift is also different than the ascension gift of teacher (1 Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11), which has a different purpose that I will cover in two weeks.

The fourth gift that Paul identifies is the gift of exhortation, which really is the grace to exhort. Again, Paul uses two Greek words, and I will focus on the first one, “parakaleo,” from which we get the Bible word (in English), Paraclete, which is a name for the Holy Spirit. The reason why the Bible calls the Holy Spirit the Paraclete is because the Holy Spirit is to come along side the Christian believer and provide comfort, consolation, etc. Thus, one with the grace to exhort has a similar purpose. Thayer’s translates “parakaleo” as “to call to one’s side, to address, speak to, which may be done in the way of entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.; to admonish, to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort, to instruct and to teach.” Thus, one who has the gift of exhortation, i.e. the grace to exhort, will be able to speak to others in this manner.

The fifth gift that Paul identifies is the gift of giving, which is really the grace to give. Paul uses the Greek word “metadidomi” for this grace-gift, which means according to Thayer’s “to impart.” Thayer’s also translates this grace gift as “to share a thing with any one,” and also “he that imparts with his substance.” Thus, one who has the grace to give, and the gift of giving will impart, share, and give of his substance, and should do so with liberality (generously).

The sixth gift that Paul identifies is the gift of leadership, which is really the grace to lead. Paul uses the Greek word “promistemi” for this grace-gift, which means according to Thayer’s “to set or place before, to set over, to be over, superintend, or preside over; to be a protector or guardian, to give aid, to care for, or give attention to.” One who has this gift will have the grace to lead and to set over, preside over, give aid and care for whatever God has entrusted that person with as a stewardship of ministry or service. This gift is different from the 1 Cor. 12:28 gift of administration, which is translated from the Greek word “kubernesis.” I will develop that thought next week, but this gift specifically is the grace to lead in a serving capacity.

Lastly, the seventh gift that Paul identifies is the gift of mercy, which is really the grace to show (or demonstrate) mercy. Paul uses the Greek word “eleeo” for this grace-gift, which means according to Thayer’s “to have mercy on, to help one afflicted or seeking aid, to bring help to the afflicted or wretched, etc.” Thus, one who has the gift of mercy, or who has the grace to demonstrate mercy will be drawn to and help the afflicted, bringing whatever aid is necessary to relieve such affliction, for that is the motivation behind one with the gift of mercy, that is to aid the afflicted and relieve their suffering.

So, those are the seven serving gifts of Romans 12, which are really graces to serve the body of Christ in specific ways, whether it be the grace to prophesy, the grace to serve, the grace to teach, the grace to exhort, the grace to exhort, the grace to give, the grace to lead, or the grace to show mercy. Remember that Paul emphasized that we are to be sober-minded about these gifts, and should recognize and identify the graces that God has given each of us, because we are members of one another in the body of Christ, although with different functions (with different graces). Further, we need to exercise our faith in each of these graces, in proportion to our faith; if the grace to prophesy, then in proportion to our faith, if the grace to serve, let us use that as we have faith; if the grace to teach, let us use it when we teach; if the grace to exhort, let us use it when we exhort; if the grace to give, let us do so liberally; if the grace to lead, let us do so diligently; and if the grace to show mercy, let us do so cheerfully. Whatever God has given us the grace to do, let us do so according to the measure of our faith. Amen.


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Spiritual Gifts and Leadership – An Intermezzo

May 3, 2007
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Dear Readers,

I’ve been fairly busy the past few days, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about spiritual gifts. I was about to start a series on leadership, but I am putting that on hold. Hopefully, by the end of this week, I am going to share Part One of a new series on “Spiritual Gifts,” and how we are all wired. It will be a short series, probably three parts, and the the last part will be a great segue into the series on leadership and influence.

Jonathan


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