Looking at most churches I have attend, even, or especially, within the Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations, it is hard to believe that God’s Spiritual Gifts actually still exist. Yet God still gives them and He gives them for the strengthening of His Church. I know this, because Paul says so in First Corinthians 12:7,
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (ESV).
What exactly did Paul have in mind when he said this? Well, Paul clarifies it in the next four verses, First Corinthians 12:8-11 saying,
“For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (ESV).
Yes, God still gives them, and there is no scripture in the Bible which contracts this assertion! The fact that Spiritual Gifts are not on display in practically all of our churches does not mean that they are not still given, or that they should not be there, or that they are not there. To me, it just means that we have lost the plot and are relying on our own abilities, rather than on God. By doing so, we are making gods of ourselves and are in rebellion against God.
It grieves me that God’s own Spiritual Gifts are not flowing fully in all our Churches today. Perhaps this is one reason why most of the churches are so powerless in our society today. We think we can take the lies and distortions of the world and repeat them to God in a “holy way” and expect in doing so, we can overcome the enemy who birthed these lies. No, we overcome only by the Blood of the Lamb, by the Word of the Lord and by our Faith. For as First John 5:4 says: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”
As if to make the point and purpose of God’s Spiritual Gifts very clear to us, Paul reaffirms them again in First Corinthians 14:26 saying: “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”
I ask you: when was the last time, if ever, you heard a Church leader ask for a song, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation, and all for the benefit of the body? When is the last time your Church did a spiritual healing? Yet God gave His Spiritual Gifts for the building up of the Church, for the strengthening of the Church, and His Church, means You and I, the congregation!
In the early Church, God’s Spiritual Gifts abounded in all Church congregations and this is recorded in the Bible. What is not recorded in the Bible, is any word of God’s Spiritual Gifts ceasing, or God withdrawing them!
The following will show just how widespread were God’s Spiritual Gifts in the early Church. By simple execution of our faith in our Churches today, I sincerely believe we can improve on the Biblical record, for I have that trust in God! We must need to step out in Faith and God will meet us and in us, complete Acts 29.
What is the biblical record? The following gives an indication.
Prophecy: In the churches of –
Romans 12:6 “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith.”
First Corinthians 12:10 “to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”
Ephesians 4:11 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers..”
First Thessalonians 5:20 “Do not despise prophecies …”
Acts 13:1 “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene …”
Non-Apostles who worked in God’s Spiritual Gifts:
Acts 11:28 “And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).”
Acts 21:10-11 “While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'”
Acts 9:10-19 “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”
But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.”
The Gift of Miracles:
First Corinthians 12:10 “to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. “
Galatians 3:5 “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith …”
The Gift of Tongues:
Acts 2:1-13 “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?
Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians–we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Acts 10:40-48 “but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.”
Acts 19:1-7 “And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.”
And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.”
On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.”
Acts 8:14-25 “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!
You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”
And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.”
First Corinthians 12-14 ” Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed…… So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order. ”
For the most part, the early Christians listed above were ordinary folk, but they seemed to have an extraordinary faith; a faith which seems to be lacking in most western churches today. But the Church worldwide is under great persecution, and one thing God does when His Church is under persecution is to grow faith in His people. The Church of Rome in the first three centuries after Christ, attests to this fact as tens of thousands died a martyr’s death, rather than deny the Lord Jesus Christ as their God and Saviour.
As I close this article, one questions remains on my mind. If I am grieved at the lack of the expression of God’s Spiritual Gifts in our churches today, How do you think God feels?