As with most teaching regarding the Holy Spirit, the Spiritual Gifts have caused a great deal of conflict amongst believers. Some reject them, stating that they ceased to exist after the apostles died. Others accept them as part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the church today, but abuse and misuse them. The main area of contention concerns the use of the Gift of Tongues. The Bible does not state that the Gifts ceased, but nor does it teach that Tongues is the (only) initial evidence of the Baptism in the Spirit. In this study we are not going to debate the Cessation Theory, since we believe that the Gifts are for today. Before we examine the Gifts of the Spirit, we need to state certain facts regarding them. The apostle Paul wrote, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” (1 Corinthians 12:1), and it is certain that many believers are ignorant through lack of teaching or willing ignorant by not accepting the teaching of these vital truths.
The Giver of the Gifts
It is important to note that the Holy Spirit is the Giver of the Gifts. None of them are legitimately exercised when coming from the will of man, showmanship, or conformity to common practice within a church. “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Far too often the Holy Spirit has no part in the so-called manifestations in certain quarters. The Gifts must always be inspired by the Spirit.
The Greek words used
The Greek word translated in 1 Corinthians 12:1 as “spiritual gifts” is ‘pneumatikton’ which means ‘spiritual matters.’ Since this chapter concerns the Gifts of the Spirit, we know that they must be the spiritual matters in question. There are two words which are used in reference to the Gifts. The first is ‘charisma’ from which the Charismatic Movement derives its name, but scripturally highlights the fact that each of the Gifts is products of God’s grace rather than coming as a result of personal merit. The second word is ‘phanerosis,’ which literally means ‘a manifestation.’ Spiritual manifestations are open and visible by their very nature, which in turn implies that none of the Gifts are secretive.
For all the Church
Every one of the Gifts of the Spirit is for the whole Body of Christ (the Church). They are meant for our spiritual good, for they are “given to every man to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:7). This the reason why “God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28). Each of the Gifts is important to the Church, and none of them should be exalted over the rest. Some view the Gift of Tongues as being the most important, while others hold it to be the least. The fact is the most important Gift is the one the Holy Spirit chooses to utilise at any given moment. Because of abuse or neglect some Gifts are considered controversial, but this should not hinder us believing that the Holy Spirit can still make Himself known in such ways.
Some state that the Gifts were only for the first-century church, but Paul does not say that they are for a part of the church at some point in history. By dismissing the legitimacy of the Gifts theologians and preachers make the church something quite different from the one Christ intended. Instead of it being the Spirit-empowered Body of Christ, it has become merely a human organisation going through a series of religious motions. Without the Holy Spirit, those who attend such places, have little or no impact, and no power to live spiritually in Christ Jesus.
Part of the Great Commission
The Great Commission is found in Matthew 28:19-20 … “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,” but Mark’s version of this should not be ignore … “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:15-18). If we are to be obedient to our Lord then we must “observe all things” that He has taught us. Failure to do so is the reason why the Holy Spirit is not moving in countless churches, missionary societies, and ministries. Until the world is fully evangelised, or Christ returns, the church is responsible for teaching the whole truth as found in Scripture. A Christian or church trying to operate without the Gifts of the Spirit will never fulfil the destiny the Lord Jesus Christ intended for them.
In this short study we should have come to terms with the vital importance of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. We can condense the whole issue into one pertinent question, “Am I, as a believer, willing to believe all of God’s word?” Do not answer this question by making reference to some living or dead theologian, pastor, or writer, for some of these teach “for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9), and are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Instead, turn to Him who is “the Spirit of Truth” for He “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).