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BIBLE PROPHECY
A Beginning of Global Governance - #1 in a series
Prophetic Signs that we are in the End Times
The Earth Charter's Spiritual Agenda - #2 in a Series
The New Age Influence at the United Nations - #3 in a Series
Jesus is the Messiah Prophesied in the Old Testament
Like a Thief in the Night - The Rapture of the Church
The Coming War of Gog and Magog, an Islamic Invasion?
Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Prophecy Comparison
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Should We Study End-Time Prophecy?
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Gifts of the Spirit Study – The “What” and the “Why”

 The gifts of the Spirit are mentioned in a few places in the New Testament, but the most thorough listing of these gifts can be found in Paul’s first letter to the Church in Corinth: 

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” – 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 

Paul uses a couple of different words when talking about spiritual gifts.  In 1 Corinthians 12:1, Paul uses the word, pneumatikon, or “spiritual things.”  The use of this word emphasizes the source of these gifts as being spiritual.  Even a cursory reading of the passage above will demonstrate Paul’s point that all of the gifts are from the same Spirit – the Holy Spirit. 

After verse 1, Paul shifts to another Greek word, charisma.  The plural form of this word, charismata, is the word from which we derive “charismatic.”  Charisma refers to a gracious work of God, or something that God bestows with grace.   

It’s clear that these gifts are dispensed to believers by the action of the Holy Spirit.  The bestowing of these gifts is an act of grace, rather than obligation.  These “manifestations” (v. 7), are given for a purpose that serves the “common good.”  In other words, these are not meant or designed for individual exploitation or edification, but rather for edification of the church.   

Much of this section of 1 Corinthians was written so that Paul could counsel the believers in Corinth on the proper use of spiritual gifts.  It is evident that certain parties were misusing these gifts – probably for personal edification and glory, rather than for the common good.  An example of this is Paul’s exhortation that tongues not be spoken unless interpretation is forthcoming (see 1 Corinthians 14:2-19, 27-28).  

Some interpret Paul’s counsel and rebuke as a message to stay clear of these misused gifts.  This makes no sense to me.  The slogan, “What others do poorly, don’t do at all,” is found nowhere in scripture.  It is true that misuse of spiritual gifts can pose a stumbling block for some and should be avoided, but wise use of the gifts is something we are to seek out. 

1 Corinthians 12:31 says, “But eagerly desire the greater gifts.”  Paul elaborates in chapter 14, verse 1: “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”  Later, starting in verse 26, Paul directs, “When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.”  This points to the earlier-stated purpose of the gifts being for the common good.  This common good is the “strengthening of the church.”  Paul’s final admonition in this regard is given in chapter 14, vv 39-40:  “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”  

In the coming sessions of this Bible study, we will begin breaking down the individual gifts listed by Paul.  We will also clear up some myths and misconceptions on spiritual gifts, and study the relevancy of the gifts of the Spirit in today’s church.

 

 



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