World of Faith

Spiritual Gifts – Part Two: Wired to Edify | May 13, 2007

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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