Summary: This sermon answers 4 questions re: miraculous spiritual gifts: 1. What were the gifts? 2. How were the gifts received? 3. What was the purpose of the gifts? 4. How long were the gifts to last?
In this lesson, we are going to finally deal with the topic of miraculous spiritual gifts. This is yet another of the more controversial topics regarding the Holy Spirit in the religious world, especially regarding the possibility that these gifts are still present today, which we will attempt to answer from scripture later in this lesson. We will look at four questions regarding spiritual gifts today:
1. What were the gifts?
2. how were the gifts received?
3. What was the purpose of the gifts?
4. How long were the gifts to last? (and answer some objections to the view I present)
All of these questions are important to consider because God warns us in scripture that there will be people who are false prophets and claim they are doing miracles that are from God, but really are not. He warns us of false prophets and false teachers who may even be able to persuade the elect to follow them. So we must examine these questions so we can know whether someone who claims to have gifts or claims to be a prophet is really from God or not. As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12:1:
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware (or uninformed)" (1 Corinthians 12:1).
Let’s answer these questions from scripture so we are not unaware about these gifts...
I. WHAT WERE THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS?
There are a few categories of spiritual gifts recorded in scripture. The first two will not be the main focus of the lesson today.
• “Equipping” gifts: (Eph 4:11- Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastors and teachers) These offices were given to the church so that it can be equipped to serve in the kingdom. All of these gifts are still present in the church today. The offices of Apostle and prophet exist through the writings of the New Testament. Our Apostles and prophets are still giving us instruction through their writings which have been preserved for us. And outside of scripture, we have men who are evangelists, pastors, and teachers in the church today to watch over, feed, and equip the flock through the teaching of the word.
• Gifts of ministry/service: (Romans 12:7-9: service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, love) God gives these gifts/talents/skills so that we can serve each other. It is unknown whether or not this list of gifts are all supernatural giftings of the Spirit or that they can be learned through the teaching of the will of God.
• Gifts of revelation and power (manifestations of the Spirit): These unmistakably showed the Spirit’s presence and power when used. These specific gifts will be the focus of our lesson today. We see these gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10
“For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
These gifts are supernatural in nature. They gave the recipients abilities that they did not previously have.
1. One who could not heal or perform a miracle before was able to heal any kind of disease or sickness.
2. One who could not speak in a foreign language could now do it without going through the process of learning it.
3. One who could not discern between true and false teaching could no do so perfectly by the Spirit
4. One who did not have great faith would be given faith miraculously without study of the word.
5. Those who had not received direct revelation from God now could through the supernatural gifts of prophecy, knowledge, and wisdom.
In all of these gifts, one did not learn to perform the gift. The gifts were noticeable evidences of the Spirit’s influence and power. I have heard of many instances today where people are taught how to speak in tongues or to perform other of these gifts. I do not believe this is what we see in scripture. People did not learn to speak in foreign languages. They just spoke them by the Spirit.
Just because one had a gift, did not mean that they would be mature in the faith. The Corinthians are a prime example of this. The brethren in Corinth, as far as we know, had all of the gifts present within the church (they came short in no gift - 1Co 1:4-7), but in spite of this, the church was a mess spiritually. There was division and sin in the group, and many of the gifts which were given to the church were abused and led brethren to lift themselves up proudly above their brethren who they considered as not having as good a gift. They used their gifts for personal benefit instead of using them to encourage each other.