So, as we have been camping on the Holy Spirit for this calendar year, today, we will begin a new series on the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us. And church, this is a tremendously important subject as it pertains to our church and the impact we will have on this community.
As we heard Marcus say last weekend, one manifestation of the power of God will have a greater impact than 10,000 words, and we need to recognize this power. Now this does not mean that the manifestations of spiritual gifts are going to make people believe. Signs & wonders will never create faith. What they do though, is they open people’s hearts up to the Gospel and then the faith comes.
So, the Lord desires to move our body into a supernatural operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and this will not happen simply because God decides to give us these gifts; we will experience them when we decide to experience them.
Now I know that this statement might go against many of our belief systems, but it’s true! God does not move in an individual or in a congregation simply because He makes His mind up to move. No, He moves when we invite Him to move; not because we hold any power over Him. That is obvious. But He moves when we open the door for Him to do so because He has put the ball in our court and said, “This is what is yours. I have made it available to you. Choose this life. Choose these blessings. YOU come to waters of life and drink freely.” Amen?
So, it is up to us. How much of Him do we want? Do we desire to see Him turn our community right-side up? If so, then we need to press in to seeing more of a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our own individual lives and, as a result, in our church body too.
So, let’s now go over to First Corinthians chapter 12 and look at what is widely recognized as the authority on the subject of the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore, I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 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, first of all, I want to point out something about the phrase “spiritual gifts”—and that is, the word “gifts” is in italics. That means that it was added by the translators and was not in the original Greek manuscript. However, in this case, I believe it was added correctly because spiritual gifts is the obvious context of this chapter.
But I believe there is an important truth that can be seen from this point: Since the Greek word for “gifts” (Grk. charisma) was not used by Paul here, the more literal translation would be— “spirituals” (it is plural in the Greek). Therefore, a good translation would be— “spiritual things.”
Now there is an important principle to understand in this because, although the gifts of the Spirit are dealt with in the following verses, Paul was instructing this church (and the universal Church as a whole) of spiritual things and their proper order and importance in the Church. So, if we desire to be “spiritual,” then these things mentioned in First Corinthians chapter 12 should be a part of our life as well. In other words, the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows on us are simply things that go into a life of true spirituality. Therefore, one cannot say— “Well, I am walking in the Spirit, led by the Spirit, and living a truly spiritual life,”—and there be a total absence of the gifts of the Spirit manifested in their life. No, these charismatic gifts are to be a normal part of a Christian’s everyday walk! Amen.
My purpose for bringing this out is because of the “denominational” mentality in most of the modern-day Church where there are certain groups of Christians and then there are the “charismatic Christians.” No, sweetheart, all Christians of all churches can and should operate in the “charisma” of the Holy Spirit.
Now I am not saying this mass of Christians who do not operate in the gifts or even believe that the gifts of the Spirit are for us today are not going to heaven. Heck, it might get them there quicker! What I am saying, however, is operating in the gifts of the Spirit is available to every born-again Christian and if we want to truly be a spiritual man or woman of God, then the gifts are to be a regular part of that spiritual walk.
But some avoid this subject like the plague because they see “spiritual things” as “spooky things.” In other words, some think that if you are spiritual then you are weird and peculiar. No, even though the Bible teaches that we are His own “peculiar” people, the expression does not mean that we are weird, strange, or odd. You can be absolutely “spiritual” and have the same personality you had, and good character to boot.
Actually, in First Peter 2:9, the word translated “peculiar” literally just meant a people who have been purchased, obtained, and possessed by God. So, no, it does not mean that we are strange; it just means that we have been peculiarly obtained as God’s own purchased possession. The Lord was the One who was peculiar—choosing a peculiar group of people for His own prized possession.
So, now we have no Scriptural precedence for believing a spiritual Christian is an odd or spooky Christian! To be “spiritual” is to simply be different—but not different in personality; different in fruit! We are different in that we can lay down and get a good night’s rest in a den of lions through the peace that passes all understanding and that we can sing at midnight in prison through joy unspeakable and full of glory. We are different in that our circumstances do not mold us, but we are the same no matter what life throws at us and we change our circumstances by God’s Word. This is what it means to be spiritual. It is the opposite of being carnal, which is to be led by our senses and moved by our feelings and circumstances. To be spiritual is to be full of the Spirit and to let His fruit manifest in our lives.
The fact is, many Christians willfully remain ignorant of spiritual gifts because they do not want to be different. Hey, we are different—whether we want to be or not! If we are a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian, then we are as different as night and day—which is a more literal statement than we realize because we once were lost in darkness and have been made the light of the world! Glory!
IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS
The apostle Paul goes on to address these Corinthians as “brethren” which should cause a collective “exhale” of relief from all of us, because this church had some serious problems! For one, Paul called them “carnal” due to all of the strife and divisions which were present in their church (see First Corinthians 1:10-17 & 3:1-4). The Corinthians had even tolerated some serious sexual sin in their church body (see chapter 5). Not to mention, they were taking each other to court, defiling their own bodies, etc. (see chapter 6). Paul even had to address basic, marital/relationship issues (see chapter 7). And I could go on and on, but the fact remains that the church of Corinth—while abounding in spiritual gifts—had some serious issues.
So, for Paul to refer to them as “brethren” at this point, I’m sure, was quite reassuring for this church and for all of us in the church today—because we can be full of weaknesses, yet our faith in the Greater One makes us free from the condemnation of those failures. Amen!
So then, Paul goes on to say in First Corinthians 12:1— “I do not want you to be ignorant.”
Now it is interesting to me that the very thing Paul told us not to be ignorant of is the very thing that the body of Christ is probably most ignorant of. Mind you, these words were not just instructions given by the Apostle Paul; all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Therefore, Paul was being moved by the Holy Spirit to say this. So, when you look at Scriptures that give similar instruction, look at them like the Lord is speaking directly to you. And here, the Holy Spirit is saying to you and I— “I do not want you to be ignorant concerning spiritual gifts!” Why did He say this? It is because the Holy Spirit knew that this very subject will be one where will be a seriously tempted to be ignorant. And, oh, how this has certainly become common place!
The word “ignorant” used here comes from the Greek word agnoia which is where we get our word “agnostic” from. On a side note—when you hear someone say they are agnostic, what you just heard is them profess their ignorance. The sad thing is that the majority of the church are “agnostics” concerning spiritual things.
For example, you have your “believers” who whole-heartedly believe that the gifts of the Spirit are for us today, who hunger for them, and who see them manifested in their life from time to time. Unfortunately, this is the minority. Then you also have the “atheists” concerning spiritual gifts who vehemently believe that they have passed away, that they are not in operation today, and that anyone who claims to experience them is demonically inspired. There are certainly more of the former than the latter. But the vast majority of the church (just like the whole population of the planet) are “agnostics” concerning spiritual things—meaning, they are just flat out ignorant of how the gifts work, what they look like, and have certainly never seen them in operation in their church body. But not us! I said, not us! We are going to believe in the gifts! We are going to grow in our knowledge of the gifts! We are going to become wise concerning their usage and operation! Praise, God!
Which brings us to the purpose of teaching on this subject: to instill faith in our hearts for these various gifts of the Spirit and empower us to manifest the gifts in our lives while also learning what exactly these gifts are and how they work. So, buckle your proverbial seatbelt and let’s take a ride down “Charisma Court” and become truly “spiritual.”
GIFTS, NOT WAGES
Now the first thing we need to understand about these gifts of the Spirit is that they are indeed that—they are gifts.
The reason I am instilling such an important point is because far too many believers do not see the gifts this way, but rather see them as a “wage.” What do I mean by that? I mean that most Spirit-filled believers think that you and I have to “work” for the gifts of the Spirit; that we have to do something to see them manifest in our lives. But that is simply not true. The gifts of the Spirit are free gifts! They do not have to be earned, worked or paid for! They are gifts, not wages! Amen?
For instance, the first time that Paul used the word “gift” to describe these manifestations of the Holy Spirit was in verse 4 of this same chapter. And the Greek word that he used was charisma.
Now when we use the word “charisma” in our modern-day language, we use it to describe someone who has flare and a gift to influence and attract people’s admiration. It is often tied to people in positions of leadership—specifically because their magnetism is what launched them into that position.
And, you know, when it comes to “charisma,” this is not something that people usually claim to have themselves. Rather, others are usually the ones to ascribe it to them. In other words, the person who possesses “charisma” does not usually go around saying, “I’ve got charisma!” No, it is recognized more by others around them.
Likewise, with the “charismas” of the Spirit, most people don’t believe that they already got ‘em! They see other big-wigs and super-dupers in full-time ministry as possessing “charisma,” but they do not see themselves as having the goods.
The truth is, if you have the Holy Spirit, then you have “charisma!” Yes, if the Holy Ghost resides in your heart, then all of the gifts that He gives are in you too! Amen? So, guess what that means? It means that you are gifted! It means that you’ve got flare! Yes, you’ve got charisma! Amen!
Do you have Scripture for that, pastor? You bet your bottom dollar, I do. Hallelujah!
I looked up the various times that this Greek word charisma is used in the New Testament and guess what the common usage is? That we’ve already got it! Let me give you some examples:
First of all, if you back up to the beginning of this very letter, you’ll see the heart of God concerning the matter: First Corinthians 1:4-7 says, “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, Paul starts off this letter thanking God for the grace of God that was given to them by Christ Jesus. Now the grace he is referring to here is obviously the gracious gifts of the Holy Spirit. And notice that he doesn’t say, “I pray to God always concerning you that God would some day give you grace by Christ Jesus.” No, he is saying they’ve already got said grace! Amen?
Paul continues that they were enriched in everything by Him—not hoped to be enriched in everything someday, but they already had been given everything and were enriched in this! In what? In all utterance and all knowledge! What does this mean? Well, “utterance” describes “speech,” which is an obvious reference to the vocal gifts of tongues, prophecy, etc. (gifts that he would have to correct them on regarding their usage later in this letter). The term “knowledge” is a likely reference to the revelation gifts of the word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and discerning of spirits. But my point is that this church was already enriched in all of these spiritual gifts.
Now was this just true for the Church of Corinth or is this a reality for all of God’s Church today? It is for all of us today just like it was for them 2,000 years ago because God does not include these things just for the benefit of one select group! No, He is no respecter of persons! Amen?
Let’s look at some other New Testament verses:
Later on, in First Corinthians 7:7, Paul begins to explain the principles of marriage saying that a man has his wife and the wife has her husband. In verse 7, he says, “But each one had his own gift from God…” The word that is used here for “gift” is again the word charisma. So, Paul also calls our spouses our gifts from God, which beautifully illustrates the point I am making.
You see, if you are a man and you are married, you’ve already got a wife! It would be considered immoral for you to go around trying to find a wife when you already have your “gift” from God, right? Likewise, since we are married to the Lord and have His Spirit living in us, we need not go around trying to get something we’ve already got! Amen?
So, it is not a matter of you and I doing more to qualify ourselves to be used in the gifts of the Spirit. No, it is simply a matter of believing that the Lord has already put these gifts on the inside of us, and earnestly desiring and seeking to see them manifested in and through you!
First Peter 4:10 says, “As each one had received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Notice that each one of us have received a gift—not just some of us, not just the select elect! Everyone has received “charisma” from God. Therefore, our responsibility is to minister those gifts to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. And notice the parallel yet again of the gifts God gives us to the grace of God.
We understand well that we cannot earn the grace of God, right? So, why would we think we can earn the gifts of the Spirit, which are considered manifestations of His grace? We can’t! They are God’s grace to us, and we are simple stewarding that grace! They are in our possession and we are responsible for handling them in the correct fashion.
So, if we don’t earn them—not receiving them by our actions—then can we lose them through our works? Nope! For Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts (Grk. charisma) and the calling of God are irrevocable.” This means that any “charisma” of God (including the gifts of the Spirit) is unable to be changed or reversed. Another way of saying this is to say—God’s not an Indian giver! Once He gives it, He doesn’t take it away.
This is something the Lord has certainly established me in. Like many of our tendencies, I believed in the past that God used me based on my performance. So, while I knew I had a gift, I still understood that the gift was not completely free.
I remember a time early in my walk with the Lord, when I was busy teaching Bible studies at my local church, and I had made some mistakes at this particular stage. In the midst of having to teach these people, I felt as condemned as a man could be. If I had been given the opportunity, I would have handed that Bible study over to someone else! But I didn’t. I had to go teach it.
How could God use me that evening? I felt so unworthy! But here is a good point to interject here. Was I ever worthy (when it comes to things of the flesh)? Was I ever qualified in the natural? Heavens, no! I might have been holier at other times than at this time, but again, God does not grade on a curve. So, what if I was even the best sinner at other times. The fact is, I was still a sinner. I was still making other mistakes; whether or not they were the more glaring and obvious ones. And, saints, this is all of us. None of us, even in our best state, are qualified. As my father-in-the-faith likes to say, “God has never had anyone working for Him yet that was qualified!”
So, the whole time I was preparing and heading to this Bible study, I was crying out to God to please use me! I said, “Oh God, don’t let these people suffer for my failures! Please use me! Please use me!”
Well, that evening I can tell you, was the most I had ever experienced the anointing of God up to that point in my life! Glory to God! He certainly used me—in a grand and glorious way! Thank you, Jesus!
The next morning, I was praying and thanking God profusely! I was telling God, “Lord, thank you for using me! Thank you for using me!” And really what I saying was, “Thank you Lord for using me for me!” In other words, “Thank you Lord for not letting me have egg on my face and for showing up in spite of myself.” I heard the Lord speak in my heart very distinctly as I kept repeating, “Thank you Lord for using me.” The Lord spoke the following words to my heart: “Trey, I don’t use you for you; I use you for My people.”
Then after I heard that, He began downloading certain Scriptures into my heart showing me how He uses His people in spite of their own weaknesses, failures and carnality. One of those primary examples He showed me is what we have been looking at: the Church of Corinth, the church that was enriched in the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Amen!
Saints, this is the church who had so many of the gifts of the Spirit going on at the same time so that Paul had to actually tell them to do things decently and in order (First Corinthians 14:40)!
Was this because they were so holy and had no sin? Heavens, no! In one place, Paul called them babies! And why? Because there were factions among them—strife, envy and divisions (First Corinthians 3:1-3). This church was even abusing the Lord’s Supper—using it as an opportunity for the flesh to just pig out and disdain the poor around them. In fact, there was even a man in the church who was having an affair with his mother in law, and this church was tolerating it! Wow!
So, no, this church was far from perfect and had all kinds of problems. Yet God was still using them in a mighty way! And why? Because they received the manifestation of God’s Spirit by grace through faith.
So, yes, there is hope for you and I! God has given us these gifts of the Holy Spirit, and there’s nothing we can do about it!
Finally, let’s look at one more instance where this Greek word charisma is used, and in so doing, learn how to release the gifts within us:
In Second Timothy 1:6, the apostle Paul exhorts Timothy with— “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” Again, the gift of God is already in there; put in us by the anointing of the Holy Ghost. However, as good stewards of these gifts, we are called to “stir up” the gift! One might describe this as “unwrapping” the gift that we’ve been given!
Therefore, I believe we can see a principle here: When it comes to any of God’s gifts that are in you, specifically in this case, the gifts of the Spirit, you and I “stir up” those gifts through our faith that’s in us! We can do this by praying in the Spirit and simply pressing into what we have within us!
The final point I believe that the Lord is making today is that we do not need to have the mentality that we are trying to get these gifts of the Holy Spirit. No, we’ve already got them—for if we already have the Holy Spirit, then we have the gifts that He gives. Amen?
Well, someone will say, “Yeah, but how can we say we have something if we don’t see it?” Good question, but wrong perspective. We are called to walk by faith, not by sight—simply believing what God says is ours no matter if we are walking in the reality of it or not. So, I submit to you that we need see the gifts of the Spirit as God’s gifts to us—not things He might give us in the future, but gifts that He’s already given. Then, understanding that the Holy Spirit is just looking for an opening to let these gifts flow in our lives, we invite Him to do so in us.
Church, this is when I believe the gifts will begin to flow like rivers of living waters—when we tear down the dam of unbelief, complacency and indifference. Let us believe God when He says that we have charisma and walk in that favor today! Amen!