Now today, I believe we will be concluding our look at the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. And I want to again reiterate that we are studying this, not to win an argument against the skeptics and not to simply grow in our knowledge of these gifts; we are studying this subject so that we can experience these gifts more in our lives. Yes, we are looking at these nine gifts in order to receive more of a manifestation of them in first our own individual lives and then in our times gathering together. This is why we spent nearly the first half of this series covering three very foundational ways in which we can see more of a manifestation of the Spirit.
We then began studying the three vocal gifts (different kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy). We spent a little extra time looking at these gifts because the apostle Paul spent much more time explaining them as well:
We first looked at prophecy and learned that this vocal gift is different than the office of a prophet. This is a gift of the Spirit that we all should desire to operate in (see First Corinthians 14:1). We learned that prophecy can be defined as a supernatural utterance given by the Holy Spirit in a known language. In other words, it is God-inspired speech that speaks into the other people’s lives to where they are edified, exhorted, and comforted (see First Corinthians 12:3). And, finally, we learned that we can prophecy in several different ways—not just the traditional way of giving a one on one “thus saith the Lord.” We can also prophecy in song, in writing, in preaching & teaching, etc.
Then, the following week, we looked at the gift of different kinds of tongues and saw that tongues apparently has different types or classifications. We saw that there are both the tongues of men and of angels according to First Corinthians 13:1—meaning, tongues is not just the ability to speak in another earthly language. So, we learned that while not everyone can speak in the ministry gift of tongues and tongues as a sign to the unbeliever is given as the Spirit wills, there is our heavenly prayer language that all believers have the God-given right to speak in (Mark 16:17). That kind of tongues is the prayer that speaks directly to God and builds us up individually. So, we looked at the myriad of benefits of this type of tongues in our own, individual lives, and there are some awesome benefits to utilizing our personal prayer language.
Then last week, we looked at the three revelation gifts of the Spirit and saw that just as the vocal gifts “say” something, the revelation gifts “know” something. Yes, these three gifts see and know things about people, and then enable that person to minister more effectively to the person the Holy Spirit has revealed these things about.
We first looked at the gift of discerning of spirits—which, contrary to popular belief, is not a gift of discernment. While every born-again, Spirit-filled believer has a certain measure of discernment, this gift enables us to have insight into the spirit realm and distinguish between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of God. And we learned that the reason that this gift is so important to the church is because we need to have the supernatural ability to perceive these spirits in specific situations in order to get better results when helping people. Yes, this gift is important in order to set people free. We need this gift in order to identify the cause of many spiritual, emotional, and physical problems that people experience so that we can get them delivered. But we also learned that not only are we given this gift to be able to distinguish the activity of evil spirits in the lives of people such as sickness & disease, fear & doubt, etc. but we are also given this gift to help us discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. So, we can see why this gift is so important in our lives.
Then I combined our study of the next two revelation gifts—the word of knowledge and word of wisdom—because oftentimes you will see these two gifts work hand in hand. Again, we saw that just as with the discerning of spirits, many use the incorrect terminology when describing these two gifts. You will hear believers saying that they have the “gift of knowledge” or the “gift of wisdom,” but these gifts are not just natural knowledge and wisdom. No, they are a supernatural “word” of knowledge and wisdom from the mind of God—meaning, they are simply small fragments of God’s vast knowledge and wisdom that are communicated to us as the Spirit wills and for the edification of the body of Christ.
Now we learned that the word of knowledge is a fact from the past or present, while the word of wisdom is direction for the present or future. In other words, the word of knowledge is a supernaturally revealed piece of information that either has happened or is happening and the word of wisdom is the direction or guidance that is supernaturally revealed to us for what is happening or what will happen down the road. And we saw that these supernatural statements from the Holy Spirit are not always the obvious, spectacular ones. Sometimes they are extremely subtle and it’s important that we act on or speak out the information given to us.
Church, we need these three revelation gifts working in our lives because there are going to be times where simple knowledge and wisdom is not going to be enough to help others and avoid dangers ourselves. We will continuously need the supernatural wisdom, knowledge and discernment of the Holy Ghost to walk in the supernatural life that He has called us to walk in.
THE POWER GIFTS
FAITH, WORKING OF MIRACLES,
& GIFTS OF HEALINGS
THE PROMISE OF POWER
Now the third and final category of gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to us are what I would call, “the power gifts.”
Now this is an appropriate title for certain manifestations of the Holy Spirit because when Jesus prepared His disciples for the gift of the Holy Spirit, He referred to Him as power. We see this in Luke 24:39 when Jesus said, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
Notice here that Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “the Promise of the Father.” Why does He refer to the Holy Spirit this way? It is because time and time again in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is forecasted and prophesied as to come. Therefore, He is the Promise made by the Father.
But what is He the Promise of? He is the Promise of Power! Hallelujah! Jesus said here that when the Promise—the Holy Spirit—comes from on high, we will be endued with power. The word “endued” means to be “clothed.” And what will we be clothed with? With power!
Jesus said something similar in the Book of Acts: In Acts 1:8, He said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
So, again Jesus said, when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, what we are receiving is “power.” I say all of this to say that with the Holy Spirit comes power! He is the power of God, and He is the Promise of that power! Amen.
POWER WITHOUT MEASURE
Now it is important to realize two things regarding the Holy Spirit:
Number one, when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit there is a certain measure of power that we all receive an equal measure of. And this is described in Mark chapter 16.
Well, when Jesus said what He did in Mark 16:17-18, we must understand that these signs simply follow those that believe. Jesus did not say that these signs are given as the Spirit wills or that only certain believers are given these gifts. No. Jesus said that the following signs of power will follow the believer in Christ.
And what are some of these signs that follow us through the power of the Holy Spirit? Jesus said, “In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
You see, all of these signs through the life of a believer are manifestations of God’s power and flow through our lives because God has given us the authority to administer them! Yes, every believer can (and should) cast out demons! Every believer can (and should) speak with new tongues! Every believer can (and should) tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy! Every believer can (and should) be able to eat or drink anything harmful or deadly and it by no means hurt them! And, last but not least, every believer can (and should) be laying hands on the sick and seeing them recover. These things are supposed to accompany every believer in some degree or another and are all a part of the measure of Christ’s gift—the Spirit of Power.
However, there is something else that needs to be understood: And that is that there are gifts that the Spirit gives that go beyond this measure. There are gifts of power that He manifests as He wills that are not a part of this list.
For example, notice that Jesus says here that one of the signs that follow the believer is speaking in tongues. Now we know that Paul said that one of the gifts of the Spirit is the diversities of tongues, right? Well, as we learned, there are different kinds of tongues that are given to the body of Christ. There is the gift of tongues that is available to everyone who is baptized in the Holy Spirit for their own private devotional time and for their own personal edification. That was the kind of tongues that Jesus was referring to in Mark chapter 16 that is for every believer. However, there are other measures of tongues that are given as the Spirit wills which I call ministry tongues, tongues as a sign, etc.
But notice also that Jesus said that another sign that should follow every believer is the laying on of hands—the laying on of hands for the purpose of ministering healing to the body. Now this too is different than the gifts of healings that Paul referred to as a gift of the Spirit. Yes, we all have a measure of the power that enables us to go about doing good and healing all who are oppressed of the devil. Just because God uses one to minister His healing power into someone’s body does not mean that they have a “gift of healing.”
So, my point is that while the Holy Spirit has been given to believers to administer healing power, that measure of power is walked in by our faith. In other words, a born-again, Spirit-filled believer can lay hands on people and see the Lord’s healing power make people well, but there is another measure of healing power that does not require faith on either the minister’s part or the one being ministered to’s part. This is one of the things that makes these power gifts “supernatural.”
So, let’s begin talking about these “power gifts” by talking about this particular gift of power I just briefly referred to— the “gifts of healings.”
GIFTS OF HEALINGS
Now again, like it is with most of the gifts we have already covered, there are those who attempt to water down these supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit and turn them into natural things. In this case, there are many people who say that the “gifts of healings” are simply those whom God has blessed with the ability to be doctors, nurses, etc. No, no, no! Doctors & medical science are just a natural means of healing. These gifts of healings & other methods of divine healing are a “supernatural,” not a natural means of healing!
But notice that this gift is not called the “gift of healing” but rather “gifts of healings.” In other words, the word “gifts” is plural and the word “healings” is plural. So, what does this tell us? It tells us the same thing that the gift of “diversities of tongues” told us—that there are different kinds of gifts of healings.
You see, Paul could have called this gift—the gift (singular) of healings—and that would mean that there is a gift that imparts different kinds of healings. And that is partly true. Paul could have also called this gift—the gifts of healing (singular)—and that would have meant that there are different kinds of gifts that bring healing to people. And that would have also been part of the truth of what this gift of the Spirit is.
But the Apostle Paul said that this gift of the Spirit is “the gift(s) of healing(s)” (i.e. multiple gifts of different kinds of healings). In other words, this means that Paul is describing different kinds of gifts of different kinds of healings.
You see, the same principle exists with this gift as did with tongues. While there are the tongues that every Spirit-filled believer can operate in, there are also other kinds of tongues that only certain parts of the Body can operate in. Likewise, there are different gifts of healings that are given. There is the gift given to all believers where we simply lay hands on the sick and see them recover and then there are the other gifts of healings where people are healed in other ways supernaturally.
So, let me explain what this means: It means that just as there are different kinds of tongues that the Holy Spirit gives us—some for one purpose and others for another purpose—there are different kinds of gifts of healings that are used for various purposes. For example, some people may have more success with healing cases of bad backs, where another may have a stronger anointing to heal cancer cases. In other words, the Lord will sometimes specialize on the kinds of healings He will want to do through an individual believer.
Now people in the body of Christ tend to err in one or both of these areas: Certainly, there are natural means of healing that we need to be abide by such as eating good and healthy foods and physical exercise. Certainly, there are spiritual laws of faith and expectation that receive healing supernaturally in our bodies. But there is another way. I said, there is another way to receive healing—and it is through the gift of the Holy Spirit called gifts of healings. This is a supernatural manifestation of physical, mental, and emotional healing that overrides natural laws or even spiritual laws. It is a gift of healing given solely by grace.
Now many “charismaniacs” who believe in healing tend to err on the side of thinking that since God does still heal today that they can defy these other natural and spiritual laws and be sustained through these supernatural gifts of healings, but so is not the case. God does not want His bride depending on gifts of healings to live healthy and whole lives. He expects us to live by the laws that this world operates on, such as eating right and exercising and also living by faith and believing God to keep us. But these like to flock to healing meetings and get their drive thru breakthrough. They run to the healing evangelist who is certainly used in these gifts but this is not God’s best. Certainly, it is necessary to have these gifts as we will learn but they should not be a crutch that we lean on in our time of need. We must live by the laws of the land in order to eat the fruit of the land. Amen.
But this particular gift of the Spirit—gifts of healings—are simply “gifts,” and that means that they are not earned. No, we don’t have to do anything to receive our healing when this gift of the Spirit is in manifestation.
This is why you hear of mockers and scoffers who, for instance, go to a healing evangelist’s meeting and end up getting completely healed themselves. And at the same time, you see other people in those same meetings who are supernaturally healed by just worshipping God. There is no laying on of hands. There are no nutritional supplements being given. No, thousands are healed simply through the gift of healing that is on that evangelist’s ministry.
But at the same time, those gifts of healings can be lost. We hear of this often—how a person gets healed at a special meeting with no signs or symptoms of the infirmity and then the symptoms return days later. Did that mean that they never got healed? Not necessarily. What needs to be understood is that these supernatural gifts of healings that are given from the Lord must be maintained through our faith, authority, and from just good sound wisdom.
Let me give you a couple of clear, biblical examples of the “gifts of healings” in operation:
One good example is found in John chapter 5. In this chapter, we see the healing of the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda, and in this story, we see how there was a supernatural phenomenon taking place where an angel would come and stir the waters to where whoever got in first was healed. Church, that is a perfect example of one of the various gifts of healings—because how many of you know that it was supernatural, and it was certainly a gift for whoever entered those waters first? But we also see another gift of healing taking place as Jesus healed this man with no apparent faith on his part. You see, Jesus healed thousands of people throughout the gospels but in most of the specific cases of healing, the person who received from Him had faith to receive. But not this guy! Jesus approached Him, initiating the healing Himself.
But it was not just Jesus who operated in the gifts of healings (nor was it just the apostles either); we see in the Book of Acts where the Evangelist Philip (not to be confused with the apostle Philip) preached in Samaria. In Acts 8:5-7, we are told— “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.”
Notice that here in Samaria, Dr. Luke makes specific mention that those who were paralyzed and lame were healed. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that people with other infirmities were not healed, but by specifically mentioning this shows me that there was a gift of healing in operation here because Philip was apparently super successful with healing those who were lame and paralyzed.
Now on that note, I believe that we can see here that oftentimes it is the office of an evangelist that tends to operate in the gifts of healings along with the next gift we are going to look at, the working of miracles. I believe it is possible that we can see this in First Corinthians 12:28.
WORKING OF MIRACLES
Now regarding the working of miracles, this gift is very important as well. Therefore, we need to expect this gift of the Spirit to be manifested in our lives, churches, and ministries to the same degree that we expect tongues, prophecy, etc.
The Holy Spirit recently showed me something profound: He showed me how the majority of the Spirit-filled, charismatic community believes in the gifts of tongues & prophecy. We teach it. We expect it. And guess what? We walk in it. Well, what if we began to teach in this working of miracles with the same conviction? What if our churches began to expect that when someone is baptized in the Holy Spirit that miracles were to naturally become a part of their life like we believe these vocal gifts come? Do you suppose we might experience more of a manifestation of miracles in our churches? I guarantee you that we would!
But you see, many believers have the notion that miracles are a greater category of gift than the others. They believe in their heart that they are rarer than all the rest of the gifts. But this is simply not true.
Miracles are to be as common in our lives and ministries as any other manifestation of the Holy Spirit. But, again, why aren’t they? It is because of our unbelief. It is because we have categorized miracles as infrequent and, in many cases, obsolete.
And I’ll give you a good example of this: We all have experienced the greatest miracle in our life the day we were born again. There is no greater miracle that we can witness and experience than the salvation of our soul. I mean, for God to replace our dead spirit with the spirit of Christ and thereby washing us of all our sins and making us the righteousness of God in Christ. Friends, there is no greater miracle than this! Most would consider someone being raised from the dead as the greatest miracle if asked. But I tell you—the greatest miracle is the raising of our spirit from the dead! Hallelujah!
But I can assure you that if we truly believed that God can work a miracle as much as we believe He can save a soul, we would see too many miracles to count. Let me say it this way, if we believe we can see the dead raised as much as we can see a sinner saved, we would see the dead raised. It is just that simple.
Jesus actually taught this same principle in the instance of the healing of the paralytic man who was let down through the roof by his friends (see Mark 2:1-12) Do you remember the response of the religious leaders when Jesus looked at the man and said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you”? The Bible teaches us that when they reasoned in their hearts saying “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” that Jesus, perceiving the thoughts of their heart, answered and said to them—“Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you.’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? Well, the answer is found in Jesus’ point—that one is no easier than the other! Now, of course, Jesus was making the point that He had the authority to speak on behalf of His Father and offer forgiveness, but I want you to see that the complete restoration of movement in the body of a paralyzed man is just as easy to see as the forgiveness of one’s sin. Amen! In fact, it is actually quite amazing that we more readily believe in forgiveness than we do miracles in the natural realm. But do you know why? It is because we cannot see the forgiveness and salvation. Therefore, we are not tempted to walk by sight because we cannot see it. Physical and natural miracles, on the other hand, are seen. Therefore, we have more of an opportunity to have unbelief.
But we don’t have to! I said, we don’t have to! We can get to the place where it is not only just as easy to say, ‘Rise up and walk’ as it is to say, ‘God will forgive you right now’; we can get to the place where it is just as easy to see someone rise up and walk as it is to see someone forgiven of their sins. Amen and Hallelujah!
So, what is this gift of the Spirit Paul called the “working of miracles”? The “working of miracles” is a supernatural intervention by God in the everyday, ordinary course of nature. In other words, this gift of the Spirit is God, through the Holy Spirit, interrupting the natural laws governing this earth. For example, a miracle would be things we see in the Bible like the parting of the Red Sea, the sun standing still, the floating ax head, (good) earthquakes that open prison doors and unlock chains.
Now it should be noted here the terminology: Paul called this gift— “the working of miracles.”
Actually, this word used to translate “working” is the same word used in First Corinthians 12:6 when Paul said that there are diversities of “activities” but the same God who works all in all. As we have already seen, this means that there are different ways that God works through the various gifts and ministries given to the body. In fact, these are the only two times this Greek word energema is used in the New Testament.
So, what does this teach us about this gift of the Spirit? It teaches us that what comes before the miracle is an activity or a working. What do I mean by that? I mean that there is an action or a work of faith that always precedes the miracle.
This is why I believe that the gift of faith usually works hand in hand with the working of miracles. Why? Because there is usually a supernatural, special faith that is deposited in the heart of someone before they step out and see the miracle.
But let’s look at the first miracle that our Lord and Master ever performed because it shows to us how this gift of the Spirit comes forth:
In John 2:1-11 we have the account where Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.
Well, this is no doubt a manifestation of the gift of the Spirit called the working of miracles because for water to be supernaturally turned into wine is certainly a change in the natural course of nature. But what we need to understand is that there was certainly a “working” that preceded this miracle.
First, we have the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, exhorting the servants with the words— “Whatever He says to you, do it.” You see, herein lies the key to miracles: It is in simply doing what the Lord tells us to do—no matter how strange, no matter how impractical, no matter how unorthodox, no matter how inconvenient! No matter what; just do it! (Sorry Nike; this started with Mary 😊)
Well, in this case, Jesus tells them to fill the six water pots of stone up with water. How ridiculous does this sound? Why? They need wine, not water! This would be a waste of time, and we need to be looking for wine, not playing in the water! All of this would be normal, natural thoughts that a person might have if told to do what Jesus told these servants to do. Well, it would also be the mentality of the person who did not see the miracle too.
You see, there has to be some sort of cooperation between us and God for the miracle to occur. He will tell us to do certain things that just don’t make sense in order to position us for a miracle. But if we don’t “just do it” then we won’t “just see it.” It is that simple.
In fact, if you look at the instances of most miracles recorded in the Bible, you will find that there were some pretty strange directions given that led to the miracles like “Go dip in the Jordan seven times! Throw a stick in the water! Stretch out your rod! Strike the rock! Speak to the rock!” On and on and on, you see God giving specific directions and when those directions were followed—leprosy was cleansed, axe heads floated, plagues came upon God’s enemies, and water came out of the rock.
There was a cooperation, and then, there was a demonstration! And why? It is because God requires faith! Faith always precedes miracles! There is to be a working on our part—not just “works” but the “works of faith” (First Thessalonians 1:3)—and when there are those corresponding actions of faith that are based on what God has said, then we see miracles. Amen!
And this leads us to this final power gift of the Holy Spirit: the gifts of the Spirit simply called “faith.” Now many see this gift of the Spirit called, in the King James Version, faith, and say, “See, not all have faith. It is a gift of the Spirit.” Well, that is not completely true.
You see, there is a difference between our own faith and this gift of faith that the Holy Spirit gives: For instance, in Second Peter 1:1, Peter addresses his letter “to those who have obtained like precious faith” with him and the others who had called on the name of the Lord. What this means is that every believer has obtained faith, and not only just any faith, but faith that is of the same value and of equal specialness to that of even the great apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ! Wow! Now that is awesome stuff! So, yes, we all have a measure of faith (see Romans 12:3)—not just some of us.
So, we all have faith, and this faith is capable of growing exceedingly (see Second Thessalonians 1:3). We all have the capability to walk in mountain-moving, devil-stomping, life-changing faith! But this gift of the Spirit differs from the measure of faith that we have all received in that it is a supernatural endowment of special faith that transcends what we could receive with our own faith.
You see, as we have seen, our faith grows. We have all obtained like precious faith—having received the measure of faith. But that does not mean that we have all arrived at the place of mountain moving faith. We must let our faith grow by first hearing the Words of faith and then by putting it into practice by exercising our faith.
But sometimes there is a need for us to be at the place where we have not arrived through natural progression. Sometimes we need greater faith to be dropped into our hearts so that we can receive something for either ourselves or for someone else like we need the gifts of healings when we might not be at the place physically and spiritually to receive healing ourselves.
And there is another faith that can be had that far transcends where our faith is at. This faith can remove the largest of mountains, create planets, and give life to anything that needs it—and this is God’s faith!
Friends, I can assure you, there will be times that our own levels of faith in the Lord will not be enough to get the job done with what He may be asking us to do for Him. Here is an example: Say God has been manifesting a gift of healing through you from time to time to heal a few minor ailments or illnesses on a few people. Your confidence and faith levels are then starting to build up because God is now starting to use you in this manner and you now have had a few good successes on these smaller illnesses. But then all of a sudden God tells you to walk up to a paraplegic, lay hands on him, and then command him to get out of his wheelchair and start walking. All of a sudden you can immediately sense in your mind and in your spirit that your own levels of faith are not going to be good enough or high enough to try and do this, as you have never tried to heal someone of something this heavy before. And this is where the Holy Spirit will now be moving in big time so this miracle can be fully accomplished for the Lord. The Holy Spirit will then manifest His own divine faith in you so you can now believe and operate on that faith—so you will now have the actual courage to walk up to this person, lay hands on him, and then tell him to get out of that wheelchair and start walking.
Sometimes it will take higher levels of faith to receive a major miracle from the Lord, and where our faith levels will not be high enough or good enough to be able to do this, this is where the direct faith of the Holy Spirit Himself will then move up in us and pick up the slack with our own imperfect faith levels so God can then manifest the miracle that He will be looking to do through us.
Sometimes God may ask you to do something that will be out of your comfort zone. Fear and panic will immediately set in because you have never done what He is now asking you to do. This is when the Holy Spirit is needed to step in and give you another measure of God’s faith to help.
You know, it shouldn’t even need to be said, but there is a BIG difference between where we are at in our faith and where God is in His faith—A HUGE DIFFERENCE! I mean, have you spoken any planets into existence lately? Of course not!
Well, that is why this gift of faith is needed: It is because there are times in our life when we either personally need help in believing for something or when we need to operate at a greater level of faith for the benefit of one that we are ministering to.
And this is what this gift of faith is—It is a temporary impartation of His faith. Amen! In other words, it is the gift of faith by God taking a little amount of His faith and giving it to you for a specific situation.
Picture it like this: You have faith and God has faith. He obviously has a lot more faith than you and I do. So, this gift of faith is God taking a small portion of His faith and giving it you to borrow temporarily. Amen! Isn’t that awesome!?!
This is why I do not like to just call this gift of the Spirit—faith. I like to call it special faith—that is, faith that is different than our own faith which we have received. It is a temporary borrowing of God’s wonder working faith (see the Amplified Bible’s translation of First Corinthians 12:9) so that we can operate at a higher level than we are at at that time. Hallelujah!
Now concerning some New Testament examples of the gift of faith in operation, it is difficult to put a finger on one because, like I said, there is our own faith that can move mountains if it is fed & cultivated. So, when it might be a gift of faith versus our own faith, we can only speculate. But a good rule of thumb would be to continuously work on growing our faith while also believing God for this gift of faith in the times where we need it. Amen?
Again, our faith—that is, the faith that has been put into every born-again believer and the faith that we walk by everyday—this faith comes by hearing. Romans 10:17 tells us this. This gift of faith, however, does not come by hearing—nor does it come by any effort on our part. It is completely a gift. This means it does not have anything to do with us. The development of our faith certainly does have to do with decisions we have made, but the gift of faith operating in our lives has only to do with our decision to hunger after it.
And as I have repeated time and time again throughout this series, we have been on for some time, hunger is the key to seeing the manifestation of these power gifts in our life, but not only just these power gifts, but all of the gifts of the Spirit.
THE FRUIT OF HUNGER
In Acts chapter 4, we have the account of the church gathering together after Peter and John were threatened by the chief priests and elders.
Well, we see in this passage of Scripture how, when they knew they had a need for God’s help, they gathered together and raised their voice in one accord.
You know, while things like prayer can certainly be done in vain and outside of faith, they can also be done in great faith and as an expression of this hunger that I am talking about.
Fasting is a good example of this. There is not really any power in the fact that we are not physically eating (except, of course, the health benefits of this), but the power that can come through fasting is in the hunger. No, I am not talking about the physical hunger that comes as a result of fasting; I am talking about the hunger in our hearts that provokes the fasting to start with. Amen!
So, the fact that this church began seeking the Lord and lifting up their voice in one accord was proof positive that they were hungry for His gifts and totally dependent on Him. And they specifically prayed that the Lord would grant them boldness to speak His Word by stretching out His hand to heal and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of His holy Servant Jesus. Amen!
Friends, what they were praying for here were the power gifts—the gifts of healings and the working of miracles to be accomplished by the boldness received through the gift of special faith.
And look what happened next! “And when they had prayed, the place where they had assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.” Saints, you know you are praying right when God starts shaking the house!
But it all began with hunger! And this is a major point that I believe the Holy Ghost is trying to get through to us through both this message today and also through this entire series!
I want you to take the things that have been reported to you here at High Point Church on these Sunday mornings and take them home with you. Go, therefore, and begin to seek God with your family, seeking after the manifestation of this power. It can be had by all—by all who seek after Him with all of their heart.
And this is what happened here: In verse 33 we see that with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
And that is my prayer for all of you—that all of us would experience great power through our lives and ministries and give witness to the power of His resurrection. Great grace be upon you all. Amen.
So, today, we will continue in our study of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And again, we are not studying this for theological purposes or to win an argument with someone. We are studying this to, prayerfully, receive more of a manifestation of these nine gifts of the Spirit in, first, our own individual lives, and then in our assemblies.
Therefore, we spent the first three weeks of this series covering three very foundational ways in which we can see more of a manifestation of the Spirit. And they are as follows:
And what are these manifestations of the Spirit? They are listed by Paul in First Corinthians 12:8-10 when he says, “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 and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
Now, as we’ve seen, these nine gifts of the Spirit can be broken down into three groups of three:
We first looked at prophecy and learned that this vocal gift is different than the office of a prophet. In other words, like one is able to teach the Scriptures but that doesn’t mean they are in the fivefold ministry office of a teacher, we all can be used in prophecy but that doesn’t make all of us prophets.
We saw that prophecy can be defined as a supernatural utterance given by the Holy Spirit in a known language. In other words, it is God-inspired speech that speaks into the other people’s lives to where they are edified, exhorted, and comforted (see First Corinthians 12:3). And the reason I add to this definition of prophecy “in a known language” is because tongues is almost identical, however, it is a supernatural utterance given by the Holy Spirit in an unknown language—meaning, tongues also provides edification, exhortation, and comfort, but it does this for us, not others.
This is why the apostle Paul spent the time he did exhorting the church to desire that they may prophecy and not just to speak in tongues only. It is because our heart’s aim should be to build others up in love, which is what prophecy does.
And we learned that we can prophecy is various ways. It is not just one on one, “words” that we give and receive. No, we can prophecy in song, in writing, in preaching & teaching, etc.
So, what we learned is that, like with all the gifts, we need to desire that we may prophecy more and then step out and begin stewarding this gift in our lives by opening our mouth and letting God fill it with His words. Yes, we can begin to sing more! We can begin to write more! We can begin praying for others more! This is turning on the valve and letting those rivers of living water flow up out of our bellies and out of our mouth. Amen.
Then, last week, we looked at the gift of different kinds of tongues and saw that this gift has different types or classifications. We saw that there are both the tongues of men and of angels according to First Corinthians 13:1—meaning, tongues is not just the ability to speak in another earthly language. If it were, then Paul would have never said in First Corinthians 14:2 that when someone speaks in an unknown tongue that they are speaking to God and no man understands him. Amen? No, while there certainly is another type of tongues that supernaturally speaks in other earthly languages, there is also that heavenly prayer language that everyone who believes the gospel can speak in (Mark 16:17).
And so we saw that there are, in my estimation, three different classifications of tongues: Number one, there is the tongues that are meant to be a sign for the unbelievers. In other words, this is the tongues that they spoke in on the Day of Pentecost and everyone heard them speaking in their own native tongue. It was a sign for those to testify that God was among this group in the upper room which led to many becoming born again. Number two, we have the ministry gift of tongues—that is, the ministry office of tongues that not everyone can operate in. We saw that this was the type of tongues Paul referred to in First Corinthians 12:30 when he asked the question— “Do all speak with tongues?” Obviously, not everyone speaks in this type of tongues, nor does everyone operate in the interpretation of those tongues. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t all speak with the third type of tongues that speaks directly to God and builds us up individually, nor does that mean that we can’t all also desire that we might interpret our own tongues so that our understanding of what we are praying isn’t unfruitful. And we looked at the myriad of benefits of this type of tongues in our own, individual lives. It is awesome stuff, church!
So, now that we have looked at the vocal gifts, let’s move on to what I would call the “revelation” gifts. The reason I call them this is because the following three gifts “know” something. Yes, they see and know things about people, and then they enable us to minister more effectively to the person the Holy Spirit has revealed these things to us about.
So, let’s look at these three revelation gifts in detail and learn more about what we should be desiring to see happening in our lives.
THE REVELATION GIFTS
WORD OF KNOWLEDGE, WORD OF WISDOM,
& DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
I would like to begin with the gift Paul called “discerning of spirits.”
DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
Now notice that Paul did not call this gift, “the gift of discernment.” You will hear this phrase thrown around many Christian circles, but it is important to realize that the Bible makes no mention of a “gift of discernment.” Sure, there is a certain degree of spiritual discernment that every believer has the ability to walk in where the Holy Spirit shows us things, but my point is that there is no mention in the Scriptures regarding a gift of the Spirit called “the gift of discernment.”
What many refer to as a gift of discernment that they possess is really just a knack for criticism and fault finding. They like to spiritualize their vice by saying, in their arrogance, that it is a gift that God gave them. No, friends, no one has a gift of discernment, but some do operate in the gift of the discerning of spirits.
So, what is this gift of the Spirit? Well, notice the terminology used in the New King James version: Paul called “the discerning of spirits.” Most other translations say that this gift is the supernatural ability to “distinguish between spirits.” Therefore, the discerning of spirits is the supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to have insight into the spirit realm and distinguish between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of God.
You see, the word “discerning” comes from the Greek word diakrisis which means to “distinguish, differentiate, or pass judgment.” But, like we said, it is not a gift that gives one the ability to pass judgment on people. No, it is the ability to be able to correctly judge something behind the curtain of the spiritual realm, which could certainly be a spirit motivating and inspiring a person.
Church, we need to understand that the spiritual realm is more real than this physical realm that we live in and can contact with our five physical senses. In fact, God created the natural world through the spiritual world. So, we should be able to accept this truth that the spirit world is more real than the natural because the spirit world is the parenting force.
But my point is that the spirit world is very real and, in this world, there are angels in abundance and demons on every corner. In fact, if our eyes were to be opened to see clearly into the spirit realm, our jaw would likely hit the floor. We would see the most giant and majestic angels encamped around us, but we would also see the most ugly and vile demons as well.
This is the real world out there, saints—and God has given us the ability through this gift of the Spirit to perceive these spirits in specific situations.
And someone might say, “Well, Trey, I’ll pass on this gift. I’d rather not see anything that would scare me like this.” But do you think that this gift is given to freak us out? No, God gives us this gift of discerning spirits because He wants to help us and help others.
You see, this gift is important in order to set people free. We need this gift in order to identify the cause of many spiritual, emotional, and physical problems that people experience so that we can get them delivered.
For instance, this gift is extremely useful in the area of deliverance and healing. Sometimes in these situations, it is extremely important that we are able to discern a specific spirit that is causing their afflictions so that we can speak to the specific mountain that is keeping them in bondage. I am convinced that the reason that some stay sick or stay afflicted is because the one doing the ministering has not correctly identified the root cause and are praying amiss and are taking authority over the wrong things. Friends, we need this gift in order to distinguish what we are specifically taking authority over so that we can have better results when we pray.
You see, sometimes the person might be experiencing panic attacks or extreme anxiety because there is a spirit of fear that has attached itself to them. Sometimes a person might be in bondage to a certain lust of the flesh because they are bound by a spirit of lust. This is why it is so important to be able to discern the activity of a spirit in a person’s life. It is because in both of these situations the world and the church have their own ideas as to what the person is dealing with. For instance, with the anxiety, the world will just immediately label the person with some mental medical condition and try to band-aid the problem with medicine. Well, there might be a medical condition involved because people can certainly be sick mentally and emotionally like they are sick physically but sometimes people’s condition is a result of demonic activity. Likewise, in the church, if a person is dealing with a bondage to any lust of the flesh, we immediately say the problem is their flesh. But we need to understand that sometimes a spirit can be involved. Sometimes the problem can be an unclean spirit that is causing the unclean lusts.
Now this same principle applies to physical sickness as well. How many times do you see Jesus, when praying for a sick person, identifying their physical infirmity as some kind of spirit? He referred to some as a spirit of infirmity, a deaf spirit, a dumb spirit, etc. My point is that sometimes in order to get the correct results when praying for the sick, we need to be able to discern any spirit that might be involved in the sickness. Sometimes I think we just lay hands on people and pray for their healing when maybe we should be casting a spirit of infirmity out of them. I believe that it is much rarer that it is a spirit which is at the root of a sickness, but we see it sometimes in the ministry of Jesus nonetheless.
But not only are we given this gift to be able to distinguish the activity of evil spirits in the lives of people such as sickness & disease, fear & doubt, etc., but we are also given this gift to help us discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Let me explain:
Matthew 24:24 says that in the end times, if it were possible, even the elect will be deceived by what the Apostle Paul called “seducing spirits and doctrines of demons” (First Timothy 4:1).
Well, it would not be possible for us to be deceived by these evil spirits if we operated in this gift of the discerning of spirits.
Now let me say this but, with some doctrines and teachings, we do not necessarily need this supernatural gift to discern bad doctrine. I mean when someone is constantly making an appeal for your money by using strange methods like “If you sow $100 into my ministry then in 100 days God will bless you.” All you need to discern the error in that is just a little common sense (i.e. natural discernment).
But some error is much more deceptive than that and you will need to be operating in this gift to be able to discern it. The reason why is because Satan is very sly and, as Paul told us, he knows how to transform himself into an angel of light and a minister of righteousness in order to slip error into our lives. In First John chapter 4 we have the Apostle John’s take on this.
So, there are ways in which all believers can spiritually discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error, but in some cases, we will need this supernatural gift of the spirit to be able to discern the activity of a wrong spirit lacing the truth with lies.
So, this gift of the discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability of the Holy Spirit to differentiate between spirits (i.e. as we have just seen—being able to discern the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error). It is also the supernatural ability of the Holy Spirit to be able to distinguish a spiritual presence behind a situation, action, or message—meaning, we can perceive the presence of good and evil spirits behind a peculiar circumstance. It is a knowing in your spirit that comes by supernatural revelation concerning the source, nature, or activity of any spirit.
The discerning of spirits is a supernatural gift given at any particular moment that enables one to discern the presence of any spirit and to differentiate between what type of spirit is behind something like a situation or words (i.e. an affliction or a message).
THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE & THE WORD OF WISDOM
Now I am combining our study of the next two revelation gifts because oftentimes you will see these two gifts work hand in hand. Usually the word of knowledge will be given and then the word of wisdom will follow. However, this does not mean that you cannot operate in one independent of the other. But the fact is, they are so similar in how they operate that it makes sense to talk about them together.
Now, again, the terminology is important here: Just as we saw with the discerning of spirits, many use the incorrect terminology when describing these gifts. Yes, you will hear believers saying that they have the “gift of knowledge” or the “gift of wisdom.” But these gifts are not just called knowledge and wisdom; they are called the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom.
So, these gifts of the Spirit of the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom are not just natural wisdom or knowledge that one can accumulate. No, they are a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom that are given supernaturally by the Holy Spirit.
So, what does this mean? Well, first of all, we need to understand that they are both a reference to the knowledge and wisdom of God: now we know that God is omniscient. This means that He knows everything. He is all-knowing. We also know that God possesses all wisdom as well. True wisdom comes from God. The Scriptures say specifically that God alone is wise. So, when Paul says that the Spirit will give us the gifts of a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom, this means that He will give us, of the complete knowledge and total wisdom that He possesses, a word of that knowledge and a word of that wisdom. Amen.
A great example of this is with the word of knowledge: The Greek word used for “knowledge” here is the word gnosis. This word describes a complete or thorough understanding of a subject.
We see this word used in Ephesians 3:19 in reference to Paul’s prayer for this church to know the love of Christ. He prayed in the first half of this verse that we would know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.
This seems like an impossible statement, does it not? How can you know something that passes knowledge? Well, the key to understanding this is in understanding the difference between the Greek words for “know” and “knowledge.” The word “know” comes from the Greek word ginosko which literally describes an experiential knowledge. Ginosko was more of a broad, general knowledge than the word that was used for “knowledge” here. Can you guess what the Greek word Paul used for “knowledge” here is? You guessed it! It is the same word gnosis as he used in the word of “knowledge.”
So, when Paul prayed that these saints would know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, he was praying that they would experience the love of Christ that could never be fully comprehended. In other words, He wanted them to taste in their minds just a bite of the love of God that they could never fill themselves up on. In essence, we could say that Paul was praying for them to have a word of knowledge concerning the love of Christ because he was saying, “Hey guys, you’ll never be able to completely exhaust the knowledge of God’s love, but I’m praying that you’ll get a word of the knowledge of His love!” In other words, he was praying that they would get a word of that knowledge. He was praying that they would taste and see that the Lord is love and He is good.
And that is exactly what the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom are. They are simply “words” that are given to us in specific and strategic moments that originate from the complete knowledge and understanding of the all-knowing and the alone wise Creator of all things.
And, no, I am not referring to “word” as in He only gives us one actual word, but “word” as in He gives us a communicated thought or a statement.
The Greek word used for “word” in both of these gifts is the Greek word logos which describes “a transmission of thought, a word of explanation, an utterance, a divine revelation; a statement, instruction, or oracle. It is a divine promise, a divine doctrine, or a divine declaration.”
So, when we see this word logos being used, we need to understand that it is more than just one actual word. It is the transmission of a thought from the mind of God. For example, the Bible is referred to as the living and powerful Logos of God (Hebrews 4:12). Well, the Bible is not all of that which God knows. It is not all the history of the human race. You know, there was likely a lot left out between Genesis 1:1 & 1:2. There were over 2,400 years of human history in those 50 chapters of Genesis. The Bible is also not all the truth and wisdom that there is in the world. It does not hold all the answers to every problem that anyone will ever have. But do you know what the Bible is? It is all of the knowledge and wisdom that we need concerning salvation and concerning knowing who God is and what His will is. In essence, the Bible is a “word of knowledge” and a “word of wisdom.” It is the Living Logos!
So, to summarize, we can conclude that these gifts of the Spirit called “the word of knowledge” and “the word of wisdom” are simply small fragments of God’s vast knowledge and wisdom that are communicated to us as the Spirit wills and for the edification of the body of Christ.
Now the word of knowledge is a fact from the past or present, while the word of wisdom is direction for the present or future. In other words, the word of knowledge is a supernaturally revealed piece of information that either has happened or is happening and the word of wisdom is the direction or guidance that is supernaturally revealed to us for what is happening or what will happen down the road.
Now these can certainly happen in a spectacular way. For instance, early in my Christian walk, I had been specifically praying for the gifts of the Spirit to operate in my life and was particularly focusing on the word of knowledge. Well, I go to work that day and while I was standing at one part of the store, I heard the bell ring from the front door opening. I never turned to look at who was coming in, but after a few minutes, I had this “knowing” (almost like a vision) that there were a couple of kids in the back stealing cassette tapes (I guess that kind of dates meJ). Well, I put down what I was doing and went back to the music section, and sure enough, there they were stealing tapes.
Now that was more of a spectacular manifestation of the word of knowledge, but these gifts also manifest in much less spectacular ways but no less supernatural.
Sometimes the word of knowledge comes almost like an impression or a thought. Maybe we are outside the house doing something and we just have an impression that there is something wrong inside. So we go in the house and walk in on a fire that just began on the stove just in time to put it out before it got out of control. Maybe we are standing in church and just have a thought come in our mind that the person in the seat in front of us is going through a divorce. So, we tap them on the shoulder and ask them if they were and they break down in tears.
I give these couple of examples to illustrate how gifts like the word of knowledge can come almost like a thought or an impression and are not always with the bells, whistles, and fireworks.
The word of wisdom is no different: It too can be a subtle statement of wisdom that is communicated to our spirit that is not readily identifiable.
Now this is easier to understand when we understand what the word of wisdom is. Again, God holds all wisdom for every situation, right? He has the correct answer for every question or situation that we have. He has the right answer for every impossible question like— “Should we pay taxes to Caesar?” or “The law says to stone her. What do you say?”
In both of these examples, the Holy Spirit gave Jesus the exact word of wisdom that He needed to answer those trap questions. God alone is wise!
And for those situations that we are presented with—whether it be us personally or someone else conveying their issue to us—God has the word of wisdom that we need. He can give us the answer in that moment.
I see this one in my life a lot. When I am confronted with situations that people are going through and they come to me for counsel, it seems like the Holy Spirit is always so faithful to give me words of wisdom for their particular situation.
Now understand me, I am not just talking about general wisdom. This is not just something that we have accumulated through years of experience. I am talking about supernatural wisdom that can come through the mouth of babes.
Two situations I am thinking of in particular are as follows:
Number one, when I was a young child, my parents and I were on the way home from church, I was playing with my toys in the back seat as my parents were murmuring amongst themselves about something that they heard the pastor say. Of course, I don’t remember this but my parents said that while they were expressing their disagreement with what he said, I spoke up and said, “Y’all ought not to be talking about that.” Immediately, when they heard those words, they knew it was the Lord. Now I believe that was a little bit of prophecy but also a word of wisdom too.
Another example is when I was in Bible College in Colorado Springs, me and a couple of other guys were sitting at a table in the breakroom and a spiritual question was raised that no one knew the answer to, including myself. Well, at that very moment the Lord gave a word of wisdom to the question that was asked and I knew the answer.
I say all of this to say that a word of wisdom is a “word” from the infinite wisdom of Almighty God who has the answer for every one of life’s problems and questions. He knows! He sees! He understands!
But like I said earlier, these two gifts like to work together: For instance, maybe we are standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and we just have a knowing in our hearts that we need to call someone at that moment. Then it turns out that that individual was just asking the Lord to give them a specific answer to a difficult situation they are in. So, the Lord gave us a word of knowledge that we need to call them and then once we get in touch with them, He follows it up with the answer to their situation by giving us supernatural wisdom to share with them.
But think back to that example I used just a moment ago where the Lord shows us that the person in the seat in front of us is going through a divorce: Well, He does not just give us info like that for nothing. He gives us those words of knowledge so that we can either pray for them, give them encouragement, or give them a word of wisdom! So, as that lady turns around and we tell her that the Lord has shown us that she is going through a divorce, we need to open our mouths wide and begin to encourage her, expecting a word of wisdom might soon follow. For instance, the Lord might say through us: “The Lord has shown me that you are going through a divorce. I also believe the Lord is showing me that the problem is that you have been fighting this battle yourself (another word of knowledge). So, stop fighting him, fearing that you will be taken advantage of. Give to him who asks of you and you will see me fight this battle for you.” Now those last two sentences were a word of wisdom. Notice that the first two parts of this were a word of knowledge—where we supernaturally knew of her divorce and then that she was fighting in her own strength. Then, the second part was a word of wisdom, because it held the wisdom of what to do in light of what she was going through and what she was currently doing.
So, can you see how much we need these revelation gifts working in our lives?
We need the gift of discerning of spirits to distinguish between the spirit of truth and error in the things we hear as well as to distinguish between the problem someone might be having in their life. This gift will help us help others more effectively while also helping keep us from those seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.
We also need both the gifts of the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom so that we give people the information they need in their life. Yes, the word of knowledge will help us to tap into the omniscience of God so that we can see and know what someone has or is going through. And when we share this with that person, it’ll let them know that there is a God out there who loves them and cared enough about them to show their struggles to another person. Yes, the word of wisdom will help us to give people the answers and solutions that they need in their life as well. This gift will give people divine direction that will turn their situation around. Amen.
So, again, earnestly desire these revelation gifts to operate more in your life and in the lives of those around you! Seek after them with all your heart—for as you wholeheartedly desire these gifts, your mere human knowledge and wisdom will turn into “revelation” and you will see and know things that your eyes have not seen nor have your ears heard. It’ll be supernatural—the supernatural life! Amen!
So, let’s quickly recap what we have covered in the first three parts of this series. We have spent the first few weeks of this series laying a foundation that will, prayerfully, lead us into more of the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And this is what I am interested in, church—us experiencing the Holy Ghost’s gifts in our lives, not us just accumulating more head-knowledge. I hope that is your desire as well—which is exactly what we talked about last week:
Last week, we talked about quenching the Holy Spirit—which we learned is not us offending Him through our sin and transgressions. No, we learned that we quench the Holy Spirit when we “despise” both His gifts and His fruit. And to despise these things is not to hate them or be against them in any way. No, we saw from First Samuel 2:30 that to despise something is to essentially dishonor it. In other words, despising spiritual gifts is to simply lightly esteem them, not necessarily to be in opposition to them.
So, what we learned from this is that in order to keep from quenching the Holy Spirit, we need to do the exact opposite and start “desiring” prophecy (see First Corinthians 14:1) and to “covet earnestly” the best gifts (see First Corinthians 12:31). Amen? So, let’s go from simply not trying to quench the Holy Spirit to actually fanning the flame of the Holy Ghost through having hearts that long for and desire these gifts.
But this is not the only key to experiencing the gifts of the Holy Spirit: We saw in part one of this series, that they are called “gifts” for a reason—and that is because they are not earned or to be worked for. So, another key to experiencing the gifts of the Spirit in our lives is we need to understand that we already have the gifts! Yes, they are already in us! So, we ought to stop trying to get something that God has already given us, but simply put to use what we already have.
Which is what we went into great detail about in part two of this series: We learned what our responsibility is, if we already have the gifts inside of us. We looked at the Great Commission where the Lord told us to— “Go, therefore, … into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature!” We saw from this that since we have all been commissioned to go everywhere and minister to everybody, the question is not whether or not we are to do this; we need to be ready and willing at all times to let the gifts of the Spirit flow up out of our spirits. And we do this by putting ourselves in the position for the Holy Spirit to use us through practicing on people and simply being aware of what He is showing us when we are around others. Practice makes perfect, church! So, you are going to have to step out in faith on these things—trusting that the Holy Spirit will use you and I when we put ourselves in position to be used.
Someone might have been thinking over these past few weeks, “When are you going to get into the gifts of the Spirit?” To which I would respond— First, I’m trying to get the gifts into you! Amen?
So, again, we have three very foundational ways in which we can see more of a manifestation of the Spirit in our personal lives and in our corporate gatherings:
THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SPIRIT
Now as we’ve covered the first six verses, let’s move on to First Corinthians 12:7. In it, the apostle Paul says, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”
Notice here that Paul calls the various gifts of the Spirit, the different ministries of the Lord, and the diversities of activities of God, the “manifestation” of the Spirit.
Now if you have traveled in many of our charismatic circles for any period of time, you know that this word “manifestation” is used a lot. We say things like— “I am just waiting on the manifestation of my healing” or “Please agree with me that my prosperity will manifest.” What we mean when we say this that we desire what God has already promised, performed, etc. to come from the spiritual realm into this physical realm. In other words, we want it to come to pass in this physical, tangible arena so that we are experiencing it in our lives.
Now, the truth is, we can have all the promises in the world of divine health, prosperity, etc. but if we do not have any manifestation of these spiritual realities, then those promises don’t do us any good, do they? In other words, if we are not experiencing these things, then what purpose do these promises serve? No, we need the manifestation of God’s promises—and that includes the gifts of the Spirit.
For instance, we might have the promise that the Lord is always with us—never to leave us nor forsake us—or the promise that the Holy Spirit abides with us forever, but it sure is nice and beneficial to have the manifestation of Him from time to time. You see, there is a difference between God always being positionally with us—that is, with us in the spirit realm—and Him being with us in the physical realm. While we certainly need to understand that the Lord is always with us by faith, we also should desire to see Him manifested in our midst from time to time as well. Yes, we also need the manifestation of the various gifts that God has given to the body of Christ.
Then notice how Paul says that this manifestation of the Spirit “is given to each one.” No, not just some of us. No, these gifts and ministries have been given to each member of the body of Christ. Therefore, each one of us has spiritual giftings. This does not mean that we each have them all, but each of us have been specifically delegated certain “manifestations” of the Spirit. Now we must embrace this truth even if we don’t recognize what our gift is. In other words, since the Word says that each one has been given a gift and a ministry, then we receive that truth by faith and not by experience.
Finally, Paul goes on to say that these various manifestations of the Spirit have been given to each one of us “for the profit of all.” Now herein lies the purpose for these manifestations of the Spirit. It is not just so that we can look good. It is not so we can say, “Look at me! I’m being used.” It is for the profit of all! In other words, God uses us to benefit others.
You see, we all profit when all the different members of Christ’s body operate in their specific gifts. As Paul also uses for analogy, we are a body—and for one member of the body to not function and do their part, causes the rest of the body to suffer. Most of us have experienced an organ or a member of our physical body not working the way it was designed to, and we suffered for it. Well, that is what happens when one member of Christ’s body is not doing their part. The rest of us suffer for it.
But I also believe this is the pure way to see more of the manifestations of the Spirit in our lives: It is to have the heart to be used so that others would be profited, and not so that we would benefit ourselves. In my opinion, this is a more excellent way to earnestly desire the best gifts as Paul exhorted us to do in First Corinthians 12:31; it is to seek them out of our love of helping and profiting others. Church, we always must check our motives, asking ourselves the question— “Why am I seeking what I am seeking? Is it out of my desire to benefit others or myself?”
So now, this week, let’s move on to verses 8-10 and begin looking at these nine individual gifts of the Spirit: In these verses, Paul says, “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 and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
First of all, notice how Paul worded his listing of these nine gifts: He made sure to include the phrase “to another” before each one. But why? Evidently, he wanted to make sure his readers understood that these nine gifts are not going to happen in everyone’s life the same. To one, they will predominantly see the working of miracles manifested in their life. To another, they will mainly be used in both the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom. And I could go on and on, but the point is that to one is given certain gifts and to another is given different gifts. However, the very fact that Paul encourages us to earnestly desire the best gifts shows us that we don’t have to just throw our hands up in the air, saying, “Well, I guess this is my gift and that is all I will ever operate in.” No, we can hunger for and seek after more; just leave the distribution part up to the Holy Spirit.
Now one way to do that is that as you pursue them in prayer, leave room for the Holy Spirit to drop His desires into your heart. In other words, submit your will to His will and let Him direct you into what specific gifts you are to pursue. As we saw in verse 10, He distributes to each one individually as He wills. So, this is a good place for us to pray something to the effect of— “Lord, I desire the best gifts in my life. Nevertheless, you know what is best for me and those around me. Therefore, not my will, but your will be done.” And then, if He places certain gifts on your heart to pursue, then diligently seek them with all your heart. Amen?
Now these nine gifts of the Spirit can conveniently be broken down into three groups of three:
THE VOCAL GIFTS
DIFFERENT KINDS OF TONGUES,
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES, & PROPHECY
Now, this week, I want us to begin looking at the vocal gifts. We will spend a little more time on these three—mainly because the Holy Spirit chose to have the apostle Paul spend more time on them. On that note, did you know that tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy are the only gifts of the Spirit that any explanation or directions are given concerning (See First Corinthians Chapter 14)? So, since that is the case, I believe we should spend a little more time discussing these three vocal gifts of the Spirit.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF TONGUES
So, let’s begin with what the King James version calls the “diversities of tongues,” but as we begin with this spiritual gift, we need to dispel some false doctrines that permeate much of the church regarding this gift. Why? It is because it is important that we know why we believe what we believe. No, we do not need to just blindly embrace our charismatic traditions but we need to find Scriptural reasons for the things we believe. And that is especially important regarding the subject of tongues.
You see, a good portion of the church today believes that the gifts of the Spirit (especially the gift of tongues) passed away with the apostles and now that we have the Bible, we do not need tongues, nor any other gift of the Spirit. This teaching comes from First Corinthians 13:8-12, where the Apostle Paul says when that which is “perfect” has come, that which is in part will be done away with (and he specifically mentions tongues as being one of those things that will pass away). Now there is a specific group of Christians that say the Bible is that which is “perfect” and since it has come, tongues and all of the other gifts of the Spirit have passed away.
Now, although I do believe that the Bible is indeed perfect, I also believe that it is a huge stretch to say that is what Paul was referring to here. If you read those Scriptures in context it is rather obvious that Paul was talking about God’s kingdom coming and us receiving the fullness of our salvation. The main reason I can say this is because, along with tongues ceasing, Paul also said knowledge will end. Now we all know that we are all still growing in knowledge, so how can we say that now that we have the Bible, we know all things just as we are known? The only time we will know everything just like God knows us is when we receive our glorified bodies and are not limited by this carnal mind that we now have. No, that which is perfect has not come yet and therefore praying in other tongues is still available to us! Amen!
Now there two ways of interpreting what Paul meant in First Corinthians 12:10 by “different kinds of tongues”—both of which are possible correct interpretations: One is that he is referring to different kinds of languages—which could describe different languages that we speak here on the earth or different languages that are spoken on earth versus in heaven (See First Corinthians 13:1). Another interpretation though is that he is referring to different classifications of tongues (i.e. different families of tongues). In other words, this would be the different supernatural types of tongues that edify us and others.
Let’s begin with the first possible interpretation (i.e. different kinds of earthly languages) by looking at First Corinthians 13:1:
First Corinthians 13:1 says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels…”
First of all, we do need to understand that the word “tongues” just literally means “languages.” So, when Paul said that the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to speak with the tongues of men and of angels that just literally means that we are enabled by Him to speak with the languages (plural) of men and the languages (plural) of angels.
Now this is an important point because notice that it is not just the supernatural ability to speak in another language from the earth that we are able to speak with; there are also other languages from heaven that we have been equipped to speak with. This squelches the idea that tongues are just speaking other earthly languages because, while it certainly involves that, there are many more kinds of tongues that we can speak that haven’t even originated from the earth. Like the kind of tongues Paul was referring to in First Corinthians chapter 14 when he said that when one speaks in a tongue “no one understands him.” If tongues was only earthly languages then someone would understand it, right? It is for this reason that I like to refer to our personal prayer language as our “heavenly language.”
But there are those out there who like to water down this gift of tongues by saying that it is just God giving someone the ability to learn and speak in another language or He has given someone certain linguistic abilities. No, no, no! What we need to understand about all of the gifts of the Spirit is that they are “supernatural”—they are supernatural gifts given by the Holy Spirit that are not earned nor learned. Just as it was in Acts chapter 2, tongues are the supernatural ability to speak in another language that the speaker never had any knowledge of.
Another point that needs to be made here is that if the Holy Spirit gives us the supernatural ability to speak in different kinds (plural) of earthly languages and even different kinds (plural) of heavenly languages, who are we to judge what is coming out of another man’s mouth or even our own mouth?
You see, there are many who have deemed their own prayer language as not being legit because it doesn’t sound like another language. They think because they only hear a couple of apparent syllables that they are not being given utterance from the Holy Spirit or, if they even believe that it is the Holy Spirit giving them these couple of words, they think they are wasting their time if they were to spend any time speaking them out.
First of all, do you know what every language on the earth today sounds like? On top of that, do you know what all other languages have sounded like from the beginning? The obvious answer is no! No, you do not know every dialect from times past! Heck, there are even languages that we do have the opportunity to hear here in the United States that only sound like two or three syllables. Have you ever been in a Vietnamese or Korean nail salon? Well, that sounds like two or three syllables too, doesn’t it? Hey, we could be speaking caveman for all we know—giving glory to God! But I am convinced that most of the time (not that I claim to know what every language sounds like either), we are speaking in the tongues of angels, and we have no clue what that is supposed to sound like, so don’t question it.
However, like I stated earlier, not only are there different kinds of languages from heaven and earth that we can speak in, there are also different types of tongues that we can speak in. So, let’s look at these diversities of tongues in detail:
The different classifications of tongues that the Holy Spirit has gifted the body of Christ with can basically be broken up into two categories in regards to their purpose:
You see, Paul was teaching the church that when they are gathered together, prophecy was better than tongues because it is a supernatural utterance given by the Holy Spirit in a known language, and this is what edifies the church. But He also talked about how tongues have their place in the church as well because there is another kind of tongues called the ministry gift of tongues that we will talk about in a minute and he talked about how that kind of tongues has the ability to edify the church just like prophecy when it is accompanied by an interpretation (of which we will also talk about later). He also talked about how there is also a kind of tongues that’s purpose is to be a sign to the unbeliever. Each of these kinds of tongues are for the edification of others.
But Paul also talked about a kind of tongues that is only for our own personal edification—which I call our “personal prayer language.” In other places of Scripture, it is called “praying in the Spirit”—because it is the gift of the Spirit for each of us to be able to speak directly to God in a language unbeknownst to us.
Again, we will talk about these three kinds of tongues in specific detail:
TONGUES AS A SIGN
Let’s begin with the first kind of tongues recorded in the Scriptures—tongues as a sign. This is always, as Paul divided them up in First Corinthians 13:1, spoken in the “the tongues of men”—because it is meant to be a sign for the hearer who speaks that language.
In the Book of Acts, we see this kind of tongues being practiced when the Holy Spirit was initially given. We see in Acts 2:6 that the people heard them speaking in their own native languages.
Now do you believe this actually happened? And do you believe this can still happen today? It sure can, and it does! Now it is pretty obvious why the particular kind of tongues that they were gifted with on this day was the tongues that are for a sign because it was God’s divine setup!
You see, Jews and proselytes from all different regions were in the city as a result of the Feast of Pentecost. So, God strategically sent the Holy Spirit and filled their mouth with the tongues of men as a sign to them that God was doing a “wonderful work.” Hallelujah! And He will do this through us as well if the situation calls for it. This is why we do not need to be afraid to speak in tongues in front of people. It is because God might manifest through us the language of someone who might hear us in order to reveal His greatness, goodness, power and love to and for them!
And while I do not have proof that I have operated in this particular kind of tongues, I have to believe I have when traveling overseas—because there have been times where I would just feel compelled to speak in other tongues when I was around people who did not speak English, and they didn’t look at me like I had four eyes. 😉
You see, First Corinthians 14:22 teaches us about this kind of tongues being a sign to the unbeliever and that its purpose is for faith to arise in the hearts of the one who hears the wonderful works of God in his or her own tongue.
TONGUES AS A MINISTRY
Now we have all heard from the naysayers out there that tongues are not for everybody. Well, they are partly right. There is a particular kind of tongues that is not for every believer and this one is the ministry gift of tongues.
I’m sure we are all familiar with the verse— “Do all speak with tongues?” (with the obvious answer being, no) (See First Corinthians 12:30)? Well, the way to understand that question Paul asked is by understanding the fact that there are diversities of tongues, and yes, there are kinds of tongues that are not for everybody. But before we conclude that this verse means not every believer can and should speak with tongues, we need to consider the context:
You see, if you read verses 28-30, you will find that he is referring to “ministry gifts” (gifts given to the body for the purpose of edifying the church). So, just like we have teachers even though we all are and should be able to teach but we are not all called into the office of a teacher, just like we all are able to prophecy because he told the church to desire that they all may prophecy, we are all not given the office of a prophet. Likewise, when he speaks of tongues, he also is referring to the office of (or, ministry of) tongues.
Therefore, when Paul says, “Do all speak with tongues?” He is referring to—not our own personal prayer language—but to the public use of tongues for the edification of others. You see, not everyone is gifted to speak in that type of tongues. This is given as the Spirit wills in a general assembly when someone speaks out in a group, giving a message in tongues, and should be followed with an interpretation that the church can understand what was being said and be edified.
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES
Now that leads me to the other gift of the Spirit that we are talking about today—the interpretation of tongues.
This gift of the Spirit also has “diversities”—meaning, there is a gift given to certain believers to interpret the tongues that others are gifted to speak out in the church, yet Paul taught us all to pray that we might interpret—meaning, that there is another type of interpretation that we can do with our own personal prayer language.
So, the gift of interpretation of tongues can either be spoken out or simply revealed to us without any verbal activity. It can be spoken out either in a public assembly or in our prayer closet, but can also just be revealed information after we have prayed in tongues (This is mainly for our own private use of tongues).
Now let me add this here while I’m at it: I see the ability to interpret tongues as similar to the Old Testament version of the gift of interpreting dreams. And we see when Daniel, for instance, interpreted a dream, he knew the meaning—the overview of its meaning—and then described it. Likewise, with the gift of interpretation of tongues—one might know the general message being given but it is still coming through that filter of flesh—meaning, they might be adding a little here and little there. This is why sometimes we might hear a very long message in tongues and a shorter interpretation, or a longer interpretation to a short message in tongues. In other words, an interpretation does not mean it is necessarily a word for word translation. An interpretation is a general idea, an overview, or an overall thought of something communicated.
For instance, when you have an interpreter overseas, I have found that based on the language, they can’t always give a word for word translation of what you are saying. Sometimes they have to reverse the order of what you are saying for it to make sense in their language. Sometimes they have to just give the general idea in their own language. But that is what an interpretation is: It is basically what was being said, but in our own language.
This is why we all can pray that we might interpret. It is because we all have the ability to pray in tongues for our own personal edification. Therefore, we all have the ability to interpret our own tongues for our own personal edification as well (see First Corinthians 14:13-14).
TONGUES AS A PRAYER
Now the third and final classification of tongues that I want us to talk about is the kind that every believer has the God-given right to speak in—Tongues as a prayer (i.e. tongues for our own personal edification and for the magnifying of God).
This is the type of tongues Jesus referred to in Mark chapter 16 when He said that these signs will follow them that believe (see Mark 16:17). Notice Jesus did not say that these signs will follow the select elect or only certain individuals that the Lord willed to bless with these gifts. No, the gifts that Jesus mentions in Mark chapter 16 are for every believer for all time.
We all are endued with power and authority from on high to cast out demons. There is no special gift of the Spirit for that. We are all gifted with the ability to lay hands on the sick and see them recover. Sure, there are gifts of healings mentioned in First Corinthians chapter 12 that are given as the Spirit wills, but Mark chapter 16 is not referring to a special gift of the Spirit. But notice that Jesus also included in this list that they (them that believe) shall speak with new tongues. This is the kind of tongues we all have been blessed to speak in once we are baptized in the Holy Spirit—tongues for our own personal prayer time and devotion.
Jude called this “praying in the Spirit.” Paul called it the same in Ephesians 6:18 in describing a hidden yet powerful additional piece of armor we have been given. Paul also referred to this kind of tongues in First Corinthians 14:2 by saying that when we pray in an unknown tongue we are speaking to God, not to man. Therefore, it is a private devotional kind of prayer where we can communicate directly with God concerning things we do not know that we are to even be praying about. It is a means by which we pray for things that surpass our own understanding. Like, for instance, praying for someone across the globe whom we don’t even know, praying for an underlying issue in our heart that is the cause for what we think the problem we are having is, etc.
But praying in the Spirit does more than just edify us. Just like our prayer time should consist of more than just prayers offered for our own life and be enveloped in praise, glory, and thanksgiving to God, likewise our prayers in the Spirit should contain this as well.
Have you noticed that on the few accounts in the Book of Acts where people were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with tongues that they also magnified God, declared His wonderful works, etc.? Yes! Just as praise & thanksgiving should be the bulk of our prayer times in English, praise & thanksgiving likely is the bulk of our prayer times in the Spirit.
Paul taught us this in First Corinthians 14:15-17 when he mentioned singing in the Spirit, blessing with the Spirit, and the giving of thanks! And notice that Paul said that you give thanks well when you do it in the Spirit (vs. 17).
Friends, eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man all the benefits and manifold diversities of tongues. But this one thing I know: We do not have to know everything in order to benefit from it.
Now speaking of benefits, allow me to conclude this teaching on this vocal gift by describing to you some more of its benefits:
THE BENEFITS OF PRAYING IN TONGUES
You know, in my experience as a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian, I have noticed that most people who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in other tongues have no clue what the purpose of their prayer language is. There are many who think that it was only the initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit or that it is just something that comes over you every once in a while, when you get goose bumps in a church service. But how many of you know there is much more to our prayer language than that?
So, let’s look at some of the benefits of praying in the Spirit by turning over to First Corinthians chapter 14: I believe that this chapter gives us the most detailed description of what praying in other tongues accomplishes in our lives. In verse 2, the Apostle Paul said, “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.”
Notice that Paul said when we pray in the Spirit we are speaking directly “to God.” You see, we are not just aimlessly babbling a bunch of weird syllables together. We are speaking directly to the God of the universe when we pray in our heavenly prayer language! So, don’t ever think that using your prayer language is a waste of time because, as Paul goes on to say, “in the spirit (we) speak mysteries.”
You see, this is why sometimes we do not “feel” like we are accomplishing anything when we pray in other tongues. It is because the impact is being made “in the spirit” (that is, not in this natural realm). You do not contact the spiritual realm with your feelings, emotions, or intellect. You probably will not sense anything most of the time you pray in other tongues because you are affecting things in the spiritual realm and not the natural. So, do not allow the enemy to convince you that you are wasting your time when you spend time praying in tongues just because you don’t feel anything. Just remember, the impact is being made in the spirit, not in the natural.
Paul goes on to say in verse 2 that when we pray in these other tongues, we are praying “mysteries.” So, do you suppose that these “mysteries” are for God’s benefit? Of course not! So, then they must be for ours, right!?! Then what are these “mysteries” that we are praying? This word “mysteries” is the same word that Paul used in his epistles when describing the “mystery” of the New Covenant (see Ephesians 3:3-5). Therefore, these mysteries that we are praying in the spirit are the mysteries hidden in God before the foundation of the world! They describe the wonderful works of the Cross—that is, the great redemption that we have experienced. The mystery also goes as far as speaking of all that Christ is in us, and all that we are in Christ.
In Colossians 1:26-27, Paul explains this mystery of the New Covenant beautifully! He says, “…the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The mystery is how Christ has come to make His abode in our hearts and how this results in us having an expectation of a glorious future. Therefore, when we pray in other tongues, we are praying out the revelation knowledge of the New Covenant mystery so that we can become enlightened to its truths! Glory to God! Now that makes me want to stop writing this and spend some time praying in the Spirit, amen?
I believe this benefit of praying in tongues is a significant part of what Jude was referring to when he said in Jude 20— “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” When Jude uses the phrase “your most holy faith” he is not referring to our own personal faith, but to the Christian Faith in general. Jude is saying that when we pray in the Spirit, we build ourselves up upon the foundation laid by the apostles and the prophets—that is, the truths contained in the mystery of the New Covenant! You see, praying in other tongues is an integral part to us growing in the understanding and revelation knowledge of the Truth.
I think the best example of this is in the ministry of the Apostle Paul: Why do you think that this mystery of the New Testament was revealed to Paul and not to Peter, John, or James? I believe the reason is found in First Corinthians 14:18 when He said, “I thank my God I speak in tongues more than you all.” In this verse, Paul gives us a little insight into what he spent a lot of his time doing. If he spoke in tongues more than the whole church of Corinth—which was a tongue talking bunch—then he must have prayed in the Spirit day and night. So, I believe it is no coincidence why he possessed more revelation knowledge than any other believer seeing that he spent a lot of time praying in tongues. And if we would spend time praying in the Spirit, we too would grow in the revelation knowledge of the mystery of Christ. I like to say, “If you want to have more revelation than them all then speak in tongues more than them all.” This is one of the main benefits of praying in the Spirit.
The apostle Paul describes another benefit of praying in other tongues a couple of verses down in First Corinthians chapter 14: In verse 4, he says, “He who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself…”
The word “edifies” literally means “to build up.” Some Greek scholars say that the word used to translate “edifies” describes a battery getting charged. You see, we all need to get a little juiced up by the Holy Spirit every now and then and praying in tongues is one way we do this!
This is another possible meaning of what Jude wrote when he said— “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” If you look at the verse before this, Jude was describing “sensual” persons—that is, “sense-ruled” people (see Jude 19). Then in verse 20, he began by saying, “But you…” You could interpret this as— “You, on the other hand…” In other words, the way we can keep ourselves from living like “carnal people” is to build ourselves up by praying in the Holy Spirit. You see, by praying in tongues we can charge our spiritual battery to the point where we live above this carnal sense-ruled body that we live in. This is the power that is in our prayer language! So, you could say that another way to walk in the Spirit is to pray in the Spirit!
I can testify to this too: On the days where I have been disciplined enough to start my day by spending time praying in other tongues, it was rather obvious to me that I was walking in the Spirit the rest of that day. It seemed like there would just be a flow that I was in on those days. For example, I would just be in the right place at the right time, either receiving the favor of God or being in a position to minister to somebody. Man, I’ll tell you—the days that I have taken the time to do this have been exciting days! That is because living a Spirit-controlled life is “living the life!” Amen!
In Isaiah 28:11&12, we are given a prophetic glimpse of this benefit of praying in other tongues. In this passage of Scripture, we have what many consider to be the only reference to this particular manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. In fact, we know these verses in Isaiah are prophetic of this New Covenant gift because the Apostle Paul made reference to this Scripture in First Corinthians 14:21 when admonishing the Corinthians on the subject of tongues. So, let’s look at these Scriptures in Isaiah chapter 28:
In verse 11, Isaiah says, “For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people…” The Apostle Paul used this particular statement to show how one of the many diversities of tongues is to be a sign for the unbeliever (see First Corinthians 14:21-22), but if you look on to verse 12, I believe the Holy Spirit through Isaiah gives us a result of these “stammering lips and other tongues”… He says, “To whom He said, ‘This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest.’ And, ‘This is the refreshing’; yet they would not hear.” Notice in this verse we are told that two of the results of praying in other tongues are that we enter into a rest and that we experience a refreshing. These are two of the specific characteristics of what Paul deemed “edification.”
Did you know that when you become weary in well doing and begin to grow faint in your race of faith, that praying in other tongues is a way that you can enter into a supernatural rest? Did you know that when you feel dry and empty in your soul that you can experience a supernatural refreshing through your prayer language? That’s right! You don’t need to run to someone else to pray for you or to the nearest revival service to get a fix.
You see, this is what so many believers do: They look for a place where God is moving and drive miles to go get that quick fix from God. But that is only a superficial way of experiencing a personal revival. The best way to experience a personal revival is to get it from the inside/out and not the outside/in! All you need to do to enter into the rest and refreshing of the Holy Spirit is to set aside a period of time, go into your prayer closet and pray in other tongues for an extended period of time. I guarantee you if you do this, your battery will get charged up and you will experience more peace and joy than you were previously experiencing!
I can recall the first time when I just decided that I was going to pray in tongues for one hour. Now up to that point I had never prayed in the Spirit for anywhere close to that amount of time, but I just wanted to see what would happen. Well, for the first 30 minutes or so I did not see any difference, but once I got around 40-45 minutes into it, I had so much energy just burst forth out of my spirit that I did not know what to do with myself! The closest thing I can liken it to was like my body got filled with a bunch of caffeine and sugar (without the edge, of course)! Man, I felt full of the life of God! This was obviously that refreshing Isaiah prophesied about!
Now am I saying that you too will experience that same exact thing 45 minutes into your prayer time? No, I’m not. It may be that you enter into that rest 15 minutes or either an hour into your prayer time. It may take well over an hour. What I am saying is that you can expect a spiritual edification to occur if you will commit yourself and not let a clock determine your decision to sow to the Spirit.
Yes church, there is a spiritual edification that takes place when we spend time praying in other tongues to where our spiritual battery gets charged up. We need to take advantage of this awesome benefit of our prayer language. Amen?
Now there are many other benefits to our prayer language, and while I lack the time here to be able to expound on all of them, let me quickly just mention a couple of them: Number one, praying in other tongues is a way of allowing the Holy Spirit to intercede through us when we do not know what to pray for as we ought (see Romans 8:26-27). Number two, praying in other tongues is a great way to sing unto God. Paul said when we sing in the Spirit we are praising and thanking God well (see First Corinthians 14:15-17). Finally, number three, not only is it a pure way to praise; it’s a pure way to pray. Zephaniah 3:9 says, “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord.” Not to mention, praying in tongues is also good for our health! Scientific studies have found that it activates a part of our brain that releases chemicals that enhance health.
Saints, with all of these awesome benefits of this prayer language that we have been given, it would behoove us to make time in our daily routine for it. I mean, just think if we were to set aside an hour every day to pray in the Spirit, what a difference it would make in our lives!
But you know, it is easier said than done. When you make the decision to make this more of a priority in your life, the enemy will fight you tooth and nail. You see, the enemy fights the gift of tongues almost more than anything else as evidenced by the many false doctrines we discussed earlier. He will put every reason in the world into your mind to try and distract you from going into your prayer closet. And if this doesn’t work, he will lie to you during your prayer time telling you that you are just wasting your time. Why do you think that he does this? How about because he knows its benefits to the believer and he doesn’t want us tapping into those divine secrets and edification. So, don’t let him do this to you! Make a commitment and stick to it. You will be glad that you did. Selah!
Church, I have heard from some of the greatest ministers of the past century that they attributed their success in impacting the world, the gaining of revelation, and the power that followed their lives and ministries to this one gift!
Which leads me to one more invaluable benefit to praying in tongues—it tends towards the other gifts of the Spirit. Let me explain:
In the world, we have what are called the “gateway drugs”—that is, those substances that lead people into other, more potent drugs. Well, we have a perfectly legal gift—legal for every one of us to pray in whenever we want, as much as we want—and it certainly is the gateway into a supernatural life of the Spirit.
One of the most influential leaders that I benefited from early in my walk—Brother Kenneth E. Hagin—once said, “The more I speak in tongues, the more I see the manifestation of the other gifts in my life. The less I speak in tongues, the less I see the manifestation of the other gifts in my life. Tongues is the door into the supernatural!” Amen! To this, I give a hearty amen!
Now we just learned that these nine gifts of the Spirit can be divided into three different categories—three groups of three gifts. And we began talking about the vocal gifts last time by going into detail concerning the diversities of tongues and interpretation of tongues. We talked about how tongues is the doorway into this supernatural life that is filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and we learned what tongues will do in the life of the believer.
But now I want to move into the last, but definitely not least, vocal gift, which we know to be prophecy. So, let’s go over to First Corinthians chapter 14 and look into this chapter that is devoted completely to the subject of these three vocal gifts.
Now, again, I want to remind you that tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy are the only three gifts that you see any instructions given concerning? Yes, no other gift of the Spirit comes with instructions, save these three vocal gifts. And it is possible that the reason for this is because these three are the only gifts that we can initiate in our lives—meaning, they are the only ones we can turn on or turn off. Now I know that might seem a little strange, but our mouths are involved with these—wherein, with the others, it isn’t. For example, when it comes to preaching the gospel, the Holy Spirit does not just take over our mouth and make us speak out the good news, right? So, why would we think that He does this with the different kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy? No, there is certainly a part we have to play in the operation of these vocal gifts in our lives. Yes, we open our mouth wide and He fills it. It is that simple.
As we have made the point of already, this is why so many believers fail to speak in tongues as well as operate in prophecy: It is because many don’t ever open their mouths. They think that if it is as the Spirit wills, then it will just be overwhelming and be obvious, but it just does not work this way. I have seen this play out in my life as it pertains to prophecy. The more I step out and begin speaking into people’s lives, the more I yield myself to that gift. I will get more into this in a moment.
You see, just as it is with many things in the kingdom of God, we must do things first by faith. As God’s people respond in faith and step out concerning God’s promises, the Lord meets us. He said in James 4:8 that when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. It doesn’t say that God draws near to us, and we simply cannot control drawing near to Him. No, we initiate the connection! Of course, the Lord initially initiated it through giving us Jesus and providing all that we need for life and godliness, but this is now how we respond to what He has already done. Say, for instance, with tongues, we might start out in the flesh as we begin praying out the utterance given to us by the Holy Spirit. But we will eventually end up in the spirit as we do it by faith. Again, this has happened with me time and time again as I have spent periods of time praying in the Spirit. I start out just praying and don’t sense anything, but after some time, it is like the prayer language begins to flow more and there is great grace upon it. Always remember: first faith; followed by feelings.
Now it is the same with prophecy: Sometimes we just need to open our mouths and begin to purposefully speak edifying, exhorting, and comforting words into people’s lives. We might start out speaking them out of our head, but then God can start filling our mouth with words out of our spirit. It is the exact same principle.
This all goes back to what I taught in the beginning of this series: being a faithful steward. Because God will entrust more to those who are good stewards of what they already have and more is given to those who operate in faith out of their stewardship. Therefore, faith produces more and being a good steward produces more.
So, God gives us specific instructions concerning tongues and prophecy in First Corinthians chapter 14—how they are to be done decently and in order, etc.
Now the very fact that Paul tells this church how when they come together, to not let tongues be the only thing they practice and how one, two, or three are to speak in tongues at the most and then one interpret, tells us one very important thing. Evidently, these gifts are under our control to some degree. Elsewise, he would not have given them instructions on how they are to operate.
So, let’s go ahead and begin reading in verse 1 and learn more about the last one of these vocal gifts, focusing on the gift of prophecy:
Now notice that in verse 1, Paul says to pursue love and to desire spiritual gifts. Basically, what Paul was saying was— “Okay, church, pursue what I talked about in chapter 13 and desire what I talked about in chapter 12.” In other words, he was tying together the truths he talked about in the previous two chapters right here in this statement, and then he goes on to say, “but especially that you may prophesy.”
Why is this so significant? It is because, as Paul will go on to say in chapter 14, prophecy is a beautiful summarization of both of these two truths that he laid out to us in these prior two chapters. Why? Because we should desire the gifts because we are pursuing love. In other words, we should be coveting the gifts of the Spirit not because we are being covetous, but because we desire to help and be a blessing to other people. It is all about love, my friends, and if we only want to be used in the gifts for our own glory, fame, and self-promotion then we are missing the boat. We are first to pursue love and then desire spiritual gifts in order to more effectively love people.
So, what does this have to do with prophecy? Why should we especially desire that we might prophesy? It is because prophecy edifies, exhorts, and comforts others and, therefore, is the best way to love people vocally. Amen.
Now let me throw this in here—but the very fact that God told us to especially desire to prophecy shows us that we all can be used in this gift of prophecy. Yes, again, just because we don’t see it operating in our life yet does not mean we are doomed to a life of not operating in this gift. We can desire it! We can seek it! We can press into it! Amen!
But the following point needs to be made here—Although we all can prophecy, that does not make all of us prophets. Prophecy is different than the office of a prophet, just as our personal prayer language in tongues is different than the ministry gift of tongues and someone able to teach is different than the five-fold ministry gift of a teacher.
So, let’s now look at this gift in more detail so that we can become hungrier for it—for we become hungry for what we feed on:
The apostle Paul goes on to say in First Corinthians 14:2-3— “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit, he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”
So, what we have here is Paul telling us why we should especially desire the spiritual gift of prophecy; it is because tongues speaks to God (which is certainly good for us as an individual). But if we are truly pursuing love, then prophecy should be the vocal gift that we desire most because it speaks words of edification, exhortation, and comfort to our brothers and sisters.
You see, while it is certainly important that we spend time speaking to God through praying in the Spirit in our own personal time, the greater good is to spend our life seeking to speak into the lives of our neighbor. While we can certainly edify, exhort, and comfort ourselves through praying in other tongues, it is more profitable to others to speak edifying, exhorting, and comforting words into them through prophecy. As we spend time speaking in tongues, we are focusing on building ourselves up, but as we spend time seeking to prophesy, we focus on building others up. This is love—the more excellent way.
So, I have concluded that a good definition of prophecy versus tongues is this: The gift of prophecy is a supernatural utterance in a known language just as tongues is a supernatural utterance in an unknown language. In fact, prophecy basically produces the same results as speaking in other tongues. We can see this in verses 3 & 4 when Paul says that prophecy speaks edification to men and tongues edifies ourselves.
So, what does it mean to “edify”? It means to “build up.” This is why Jude said in verse 20 that, as we pray in the Spirit, we build ourselves up on our most holy faith. Now Jude was referring to building ourselves up, not on our own personal faith, but upon our most holy faith—that is, the faith of Jesus Christ (the faith of the new covenant). So, in other words, Jude was saying that tongues is a means for saints to build themselves up upon the foundation of this new and better covenant—meaning, if you want to learn more and go higher in your revelation of the New Testament doctrine, then tongues is a vehicle for doing so.
In fact, in Isaiah chapter 28, we have one of the very few Scriptures in the Old Testament where tongues was forecasted. It said, “For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people.” But what I want you to notice are the verses before and after this passage. Notice that he talks about line upon line and precept upon precept. This is that edifying that Paul and Jude referred to.
But what I want you to see here is that prophecy also edifies and builds up like tongues does. The difference is that tongues builds us up personally while prophecy builds us up corporately.
THE MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY
You see, back in the early church, tongues and prophecy were the two primary vehicles that God used to establish and build the church up on their most holy faith. In fact, prophecy was actually the main source of the New Testament doctrine that we call the holy canon of Scriptures (see Second Peter 1:20).
For many, that is a new revelation because what we have the benefit of seeing as the Holy Scripture is all recorded in our Holy Bible. But you do know that this Bible did not just originate from heaven, right? In other words, it did not fall out of the sky 2,000-plus years ago. No, it was written through inspired and supernatural utterance given to them in a known language! Therefore, the Bible is a result of prophecy because it was supernatural utterance given to each of these men in their known language.
In Second Peter 1:19, the Bible itself is called the more-sure word of prophecy! We call it the Word of God, but while it is certainly the Word (originated) of God, the vehicle in which God gave it to us is through the Word of Prophecy.
Now there is an important lesson in this because Peter does not just call the Scriptures the “word of prophecy”; he calls it the “more sure word of prophecy.” You see, while words of prophecy that are given today certainly can be absolutely inspired of God and edifying, they can also be polluted, diluted, or completely uninspired.
This is why we are told to judge prophesies. The very fact that we are told to judge prophesies should show us that not all so-called prophesying is of God. Just because someone stands up and says, “Thus saith the Lord…” does not mean that everything that comes out of their mouth is of God. Just as the interpretation of tongues is just that, an interpretation, not a word for word translation, likewise, prophecy is not a word for word utterance given by God. A prophecy can include one thing that was indeed “Thus saith the Lord” and then another thing that was “Thus saith the dude.” This is because God’s living water flows through dirty pipes. Therefore, just as you would not just blindly drink something that flowed through a pipe, you shouldn’t just drink everything that flows through another person. You should judge it.
How many of you stay in a place somewhere that is not used that often and turn on the faucet and drink the water without first making sure the water is not corroded? I’ll tell you—I look at the water first and make sure it is not discolored and doesn’t stink before I put it in my mouth. In other words, I judge the water. I don’t judge the pipe because I am not qualified to judge pipes. What is on the inside of pipes is unknown and unseen to me. Therefore, I cannot judge pipes. But I certainly can judge the water that comes out of pipes through my senses.
Well, we should do this with prophesies. We should judge the words spoken; but avoid judging the one from whom the words came from. Why? Because they can miss it! It is not like God’s Words are continuously flowing through them. If it were a truly reputable and spiritual person, you might be able to be a little more trusting because, if the living water has flown through them enough, then they are more likely to be speaking by inspiration of God. But if it is like that place I described before, that does not have a reputation of being used efficiently in the past with a good testimony, then you better not blindly trust their “words.” You had better use your spiritual senses and determine if it is God or if it is just them.
HOW TO JUDGE PROPHECIES
So, how do we judge prophecies: Well, as we learned last week from First Corinthians 12:3, those utterances inspired by the Holy Spirit will never defame Jesus and His finished work; they will always glorify Him. However, many Spirit-inspired utterances do not make reference to Jesus one way or another, so how do you judge these supernatural signs that are given to the Body? By obeying what Paul said after encouraging us to not despise prophecies in First Thessalonians 5:21— “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” You test all things! The Scripture teaches us to judge all prophecies—to judge them, first of all, by what I just said, “Do they glorify the deity and authority of our Lord and do they glorify the finished work of our Savior?” Secondly, does that word you received line up with the Scriptures—meaning, does it contradict what is written. Always remember: “Thus saith the Lord” never is to be placed above “What is written.” Then, if they pass those two tests, you hold fast to that which “seems good”—meaning holding fast to the things which bear witness to your heart and you have peace with. Is that fire burning within you? Is the Spirit bearing witness inside of you? Does it seem right to your spirit and the Holy Ghost? If it does—hold fast to it! Don’t let go of the Word of Lord and it shall surely come to pass!
But the wonderful news is that even though prophecies are subject to inspection and can be off base, we have a “more sure” word of prophecy—namely the Word of God, and it never fails; it is always true; and we can be “more sure” that it is an unfailing prophecy.
So, the lesson in this is—make sure you do not always run around looking for a prophecy because they can fail. They are not a sure thing simply because they come through flawed vessels. Look unto the more sure word of prophecy and always, always, always, use God’s Word as the barometer to whether any words you receive contradict the truth or not.
Now we have seen that prophecies are given to, first of all, build us up—line upon line, precept upon precept—on our most holy faith. And we have seen that our most holy faith is God’s Holy Word. And this should not seem strange because look at all the prophecies that are recorded as Scripture.
PROPHECY EXHORTS AND COMFORTS
Then the Apostle Paul goes on in First Corinthians 14:3 to say that another purpose of prophecy is to offer exhortation to others: Now to exhort means to encourage, spur on, or push someone forward.
You see, sometimes believers need to be encouraged. They need to know that God understands their situation. They need to be reminded of what His Word says to spur them on in their believing Him.
We see in the Scriptures how David encouraged himself in the Lord in First Samuel 30:6. Well, how did he do that? I guaranteed you that he prophesied to himself! He exhorted himself likely through the inspired songs that he wrote. Again, many of those songs were actually inspired Scriptures that he wrote called “psalms.”
Did you know that you can do this as well? While prophecy is mainly given to encourage others; you can prophesy to yourself and exhort yourself in the Lord. Amen! I have done this many of times. And do you want to know one way in which to do this? Through singing songs unto the Lord! Ephesians chapter 5 says that we are to speak to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. And in the verse before that he tells us to be continuously filled with the Spirit. How? By speaking to ourselves words of edification, exhortation, and comfort through singing and making melody in our heart to the Lord! Hallelujah!
Friends, this is prophetic in nature and what keeps us filled up with the Holy Spirit! We must learn to do what David did when he spoke words of prophecy to himself and exhorted his soul to bless the Lord! Amen. This is one of the best ways to exhort ourselves in the Lord. (Compare Colossians 3:16)
And, last but not least, Paul says that prophesies are given in order to bring comfort to people: Many people seem to think all prophecy is doom and gloom. But while prophecy can be giving bad news that is coming to pass, it is also to bring comfort to people. Like say a prophecy comes forth that says there is a famine coming, God will oftentimes couple that together with the good news that it will be done in so and so time, allowing people to get ready (This is comforting, isn’t it?).
OTHER FORMS OF PROPHECY
But one point that I want you to take away from this is that prophecy takes on many forms in how it comes forth. It is not just the time where one stands in front of you and says, “Thus saith the Lord…” No, prophecy can come forth in songs as one sings to the Lord. This can happen both corporately or in our prayer closet because as we begin to open our mouth in praise and adoration of God, the Holy Spirit can begin filling our mouths with a supernatural utterance that “gives thanks well”—just as tongues is a better and more inspired way to praise God.
Prophecy also can come forth in prayers: How many of you have ever experienced that as you were praying for a certain individual or a certain situation that you were maybe reminded of something concerning that thing you were praying about and then as you began praying words came into your mind and mouth that just flowed out of your heart. Well, that was likely a word of knowledge coupled together with prophecy!
Prophecy can also come forth in poetry or other writings. I have found that this is one of the ways that God has used me in prophecy more times than I could count. I used to accredit the inspiration that I feel when I write to just that, simply being inspired and as a gift pertaining to my calling. But what I can see now is that this is prophecy because this is all prophecy is. It is simply inspired utterance in a known language. So why can this not be expressed in writing?
There is also an element of prophecy in preaching and teaching and witnessing. Yes, we see many gifts of the Spirit in manifestation in the ministering of God’s Word. We can see the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, and especially this gift of prophecy simply in the sharing of God’s Word.
Again, this was understood in the Early Church and where many of the scriptural truths that we have today came from. They actually depended on prophecy to develop the doctrinal truths that we have today recorded in the Scriptures.
So, here is the lesson we should take away from this: We need to do more talking! We need to do more singing! We need to do more writing! We need to position ourselves to let this gift of prophecy flow through us! We need to give the Holy Spirit ample opportunity to distribute to us His inspired, supernatural utterance!
So, begin to seek to speak words of edification, exhortation, and comfort into other’s lives! Do this by calling them on the phone, writing them a letter, etc. Be a good steward of the ability you have now to bless people with your words while in your heart hungering and desiring that this gift of prophecy flows through you more regularly. If you do this, you will see more of this supernatural utterance flowing through you. Amen.