A non-denominational English-speaking church in Haiti

SIX REASONS TO PRAISE GOD

In our last two teachings, we tried to understand what praise is and its expressions. We are now going to look at six reasons that we are to praise God. There could be more reasons than this, but I believe these are the essential reasons that God brings out in His Word.

1) God tell us to do this.

Psalms 105:2 – “Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts”

The Bible tells us to praise God. This is not something optional. He expects our praise. We can give others praise, which is good and fine, but we must not neglect our duty to praise God. Some would say, it should not be called a duty. Yet, it is our duty. At the same time, I hope that this is not the sole reason that you are giving God praise. Do you realize that a person who does not praise God is sinning?

2) God inhabits the praise of his people.

Ps. 22:3 – “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel” (KJV)

Ps. 22:3 – “Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.” (NASB)

What are these verses saying?

He loves our praise. Our praises are like a wonderful aroma. It gives Him pleasure. It excites Him. Some of us have never pictured God as being excited. Many of us picture Him as some somber being out there somewhere.

We may have heard the expression that we shower people with praise. I am not sure of the origin of this expression. Yet, most of us enjoy a good shower. Whether it be a rain shower, or hot shower when it is cold and a cold shower when it is hot. It is the same when we praise God. I sometimes picture God taking a bath when we shower Him with praise. This may be sacrilege and an offense to some, but to me it is a beautiful picture of God enjoying His people’s praises.

He loves to be close to those who praise Him. We know that God is present everywhere, and in essence, He is always near. Yet, there a special bond or a special sense of His presence when we praise Him.

He is active or present in a special way when we praise Him. Praise releases God’s active power in our lives. When someone praises you, do you not have a renewed appreciation of the person, which often makes you want to reciprocate in some way. I don’t believe it is any different with God. When you are under appreciated, how does that effect your relationship with that person? Usually in a negative way. It is the same with God.

Praise gets our eyes off of us and onto God, which allows God to do a special work in our lives. God loves our praise, but praising God is more beneficial to us than to Him. God doesn’t need our encouragement or praise in the same way that we need praise from others. Yet, He expects our praise and loves our praise.

3) It is good to give Him praise.

Ps. 92:1- “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High;”

This is connected to why God inhabits our praise. When we praise Him, it is good for us to do this.

4) He is worthy of our praise.

Revelation 4:11- “Worthy are you, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and because of your will they existed, and were created.”

He is worthy of our praise because He created us and all things. It is by His mighty power that He sustains us and all of creation. He is worthy of our praise because He gave us salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. There are countless other reasons that we could mention why He is worthy of our praise.

5) We were created to praise Him.

I Peter 2:9 – “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”

God chose us and saved us that we might declare His praises. This is not only declaring His praises with our lips, but by our actions. Your actions can bring God praise, or bring Him dishonor. When we fulfill our priesthood by being a true representation of God and by bringing others into right relationship with God, we are giving Him praise. When we live a holy life by obeying His commands and bearing the fruit of the Spirit, we bring God praise. Yet, when we do the opposite of these things that I have just mentioned, we are dishonoring God.

6) It releases the power of God to act on our behalf.

    References: 2 Chronicles 20:1-6, 11-29, Acts 16:22-34

In our next article, we will dive into this last reason to praise God.

FURTHER UNDERSTANDING PRAISE

In our last teaching, we looked at the Greek word for praise which gave us some insights into what praise is. Let us now reflect on that word study beginning with a simple definition of praise. It is when you give someone honor, glory, and respect with your mouth and by your actions because of what the person did or said.

If you remember from our word study, praise is to be a celebration. As with any celebration, it is joyous. Most celebrations involve many people and are often quite noisy. Celebrations are to be good times and full of smiles. Yet, how often do we see people praising without smiling? Some times we take praise too seriously. Do you feel the joy of the Lord when praising? You should have a sense of celebration. It shouldn’t be hard. It can be hard when we focus on ourselves and others instead of God. It can be hard when we reflect on our troubles instead of God’s goodness and greatness.

Praise is boasting in our God. Boasting is not done in a corner. Boasting is to be heard, if not, it is not boasting. Boasting in God is telling God and others how great He is. Yes, God can read our minds, and knows our heart, but he loves to hear us boast about Him with our lips. When we declare before others how good and great our God is, we are actually praising God in that moment.

Praise often involves some shouting (Shabach) because we are so excited about God. We often shout at a sporting event, but are unwilling to shout in praise. There were several occasions when God asked His people to shout. We are to give a victory cry as the Spirit of the Lord leads us.

Praise is a time of thanksgiving, not a time of telling God our troubles. When we set our hearts on thanking Him our troubles will seem small. When we thank Him, we will begin to rejoice and be glad. We are commanded to give thanks to the Lord.

I Thessalonians 5:18 – “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

One thing is sure in all of this. Praise is to be heard.

Psalms 66:8 – “Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard;”

Whenever we give a person praise and thanks, we always say it out loud. We may think it is different with God because He knows our heart and mind, but it isn’t. As husbands, we often assume that our wife knows our mind and feelings towards her. While often they do know our mind and feelings towards them, this doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear it spoken. This is true with God as well. Also, when we praise God in the presence of others, this encourages them and builds them up in their faith and love for God.

God’s praise is to always be on our lips.

Psalms 34:1- “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

God doesn’t want us to be complainers. We are to praise Him in good times and bad times. If we praise Him all the time, naturally we will praise Him everywhere.

Psalms 113:3- “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of

the Lord is to be praised.”

This verse clearly states that God is to be praised over the whole earth. We are to praise Him in church, at home, at work, at school and everywhere in between.

It is good to write down your expressions of praise.

The almighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Jehovah God, our provider, God our deliverer, you are above all, there is none like you, Elshadai, the almighty God. I thank you for saving me, helping me every day, protecting me, strengthening me, dying for me, loving me, guiding me, and blessing me.

Now say what you have written down aloud and repeat it until you feel it comes from the heart. (You’ve just practiced praise.)

In closing, there are two kinds of praise. Direct praise which is when we praise him in prayer and song. Indirect praise which is when we tell others of how God is great and good or show God by the way we live.

Most believers know that praise and worship are at the center of Christian life, but few have done an in-depth study on it. As a result, we are unable to recognize true praise and worship or experience it to it’s fullest. The first thing that we will look at are the Hebrew and Greek words for praise. This will give us greater insight into praise.

1) Halal – celebrate, glory, and boast. (used 160 times in the O.T.)

It is the root word for Hallelujah which is a Hebrew expression of praise to God.  Hallelujah is translated in Hebrew as “Let us praise God”. The Greek form in the New Testament is translated “Alleluia”.

Examples: Ps. 22:22; Ps.102:18; Ps. 35:18

2)Tehilliah – The emphasis of this word is on singing God praises. (used 57 times)

Ps. 119:171 – “May my lips overflow with praise (singing), for you teach me your decrees.”

Other examples: Habakkuk 3:3, Deuteronomy 10:21

3) Shabach – Means to shout with a loud voice, to shout in triumph, to glory in victory.

Psalms 47:1 – “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout (praise) to God with cries of joy.

Ps. 63:3 – “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify (praise) you.”

Other examples: Daniel 2:23; Ps. 117:1

4) Yadah – to give thanks (used 120 times in the O.T.)

Psalms 35:18 – “I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.”

Let us now look at some Greek words that are translated praise in our Bibles as we seek further insight into praise.

1) Aineo – A praise offering or celebration, or lifting of voice in thanks.

Romans 15:11 – “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”

2) Epaineo – Means to applaud, to commend for something

Eph. 1:6 – “to the praise (applaud) of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

3) Eulogeo – Means to speak well of. 

Luke 1:64 – “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising (speaking well of) God.”

In summary as we reflect on these words for praise, we see a number of characteristics of praise. We see praise has the idea of celebration. Praise is often a form of celebration. We are celebrating who God is and what He has done. We are celebrating our relationship with God. Another characteristic is giving God glory because He merits this. Often praise is a form of boasting, boasting in who God is and what He has done, even in what He will do. Also, we saw that often praise is offered through singing. Singing in itself is not praise, but when offered with the intent of glorifying God, it is praise. As we continue to reflect on the words for praise, we see that praise can be very loud. Shouting and applauding is often involved. Also, we saw another aspect of praise is thanksgiving. Thanking God for all he has done.

In our next blog, we will continue to look further into the characteristics and aspects of praise.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS PART IV

As we launch into spiritual gifts part four, we encourage you to read part one, which gives you some foundational principles on spiritual gifts. You will need to read parts two and three as well, which describe the speaking gifts and knowledge gifts. We are now going to describe for you the last three of the nine gifts, which are power gifts. Although all the gifts require the power of  the Holy Spirit in our lives to operate them, these next three gifts release God’s power in a mighty way.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are found in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10.

The first of these power gifts is the gift of faith.

Romans 12:3 – “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Every believer has been given a measure of faith. Initially, we are given the faith of salvation. Along with this we are given the faith of perseverance which comes from the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. This faith enables the believer to remain in Christ and causes the believer to pursue Christ.

Romans 10:17 – “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

The gift of faith that we find in I Corinthians 12:9 is a special faith that the Spirit of God gives to believers above and beyond simple faith of salvation and perseverance. It could be called a miraculous faith. We see Jesus with this kind of faith in John 11:38-44. In this story Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.

You might be thinking, well this is Jesus the Son of God, what would you expect?

Yes, it was Jesus, but Jesus being fully human and fully God depended on the Holy Spirit even as we do to accomplish the work of His Father (Luke 4:18). Remember Jesus said, ‘these things that I do even greater things than these will you do’ (John 14:12). Jesus, being the Messiah, flowed in all the gifts.

Let us look at some of the characteristics of the gift of faith in order to better understand what it is. A person who has the gift of the faith will believe in the extraordinary as if it is something ordinary.

In Acts 28:3-6, we see Paul bitten by a poisonous snake and seemingly not bothered in the least by it. I don’t think the apostle Paul was in a panic about it, but carried on as normal while the people around him were expecting him to die.

A person who has the gift of faith will have faith in things that an ordinary Christian would not have faith to believe for. He will have faith to raise the dead, heal those who are terminally ill, believe for extraordinary amounts of money; believe for extraordinary accomplishments, and miracles of all sorts. As you already see, the gift of faith often works hand in hand with the gifts of healing and miracles. Some people in the Bible who had the gift of faith were Moses, Caleb, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, and Daniel.

Another characteristic of a person who has the gift of faith is that their faith is not based on the promises of God’s word, but on the measure of faith God has given them and a rhema Word of God. A rhema word is a spoken word of God to you, not necessarily a Scripture.

A person who has the gift of faith will always speak words of faith and the thing that the person believes for will be accomplished. In other words, you will see the results of the faith gift in their life and ministry. Remember that none of the gifts are given for personal benefit, but for the benefit of the body of Christ and His kingdom.

The next power gift is the gift of miracles.

Before looking at the characteristics of this gift, let us define what a miracle is. In its simplest form, it is a work of power. More specifically, a miracle is a supernatural act of God where God uses a person as an instrument of power and where the laws of nature are superseded by the power of God, to bring about a physical outcome contrary to the laws of nature.  Not all things that are out of the normal are necessarily a miracle. An exceptional ability is not an indicator of miraculous power. A miracle is more than a phenomenon. A miracle is not simply a manifestation of the power of God or a supernatural intervention of God.  It is important to understand that a supernatural act of God without the use of a person in accomplishing it is not a miracle. Without man involved, it is simply an act of God.

The person who has the gift of miracles will perform many miracles as part of the ministry God has given him. Just because God used a person to perform one or two miracles does not mean that they have the gift of miracles. It will be a dominating factor of the person’s ministry. A person, who has this gift, often has the gift of healing as well. I don’t believe the Bible teaches or shows that there is a ministry of miracles and/or healing. None of the spiritual gifts are a ministry in themselves, but accompany a ministry gift. In the Bible we see that apostles and evangelists often have the gifts of healing and miracles.

There are many examples of miracles in God’s word. The following are references to some of them – Deuteronomy 29:2-5; Exodus 4:1-9; I Kings 18:44-46; 2 Kings 4:32-35; Mathew 8:23-27.

The final power gifts is the gift of healing.

Even as a miracle requires the involvement of a person, a healing also requires the involvement of a person. The gift of healing takes place when God uses a person to heal someone physically by supernatural powers, not medicine. Not all miracles are healings, but all healings brought about by God’s servants in a supernatural way are miracles. All examples of healing in the Bible are instantaneous. They are never progressive. In the same way, the person who has the gift of healing will see immediate results. Although God is able to use any believer to bring healing to another person, the person who has the gift will heal many. It will be a regular part of their ministry. Also, a person who has the gift of healing will more often than not be used by God to do extraordinary healings, like healing the blind and the lame, healing cancer and other terminal diseases. We see that the apostles in the book of Acts were used tremendously in this way.

Let us not fall into the deception of Satan and believe that miracles and healings were only for Biblical times and are not for today. God is the same God. He has not changed and His purposes have not changed. If we look back over the history of the church from the times of the apostles to this very day, we see God has used many people in miracles and healings of all kinds.

Let us not ignore the fact that Satan and his followers are able to do miracles and healings as well.

Exodus 7:10-22 – “So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.”

Matthew 7:22-23 – “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Although Satan is able to do miracles and healing, God is more powerful than Satan.

1 John 4:4 – “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

How do we know if a miracle or healing is from God? You first need to look at the person who is doing the work. Are they a child of God? If not, you know that it is not with God’s power that they are doing it.

Also, ask the question, to whom or for whom are they doing it? If they are doing it for their own glory or the glory of another, then it is most likely not of God.

I pray that this series will not only give you greater insight into the Holy Spirit and his works, but will also stir up a hunger in you for more of God and His power in your life. I pray that you will give the Holy Spirit greater control in your life.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS PART III

Now let us look at the knowledge gifts.

The first one among these is the “word of knowledge”. The word of knowledge takes place when the Holy Spirit speaks through someone who gives a message to a specific person or group of people and tells them about something that happened in their life or is presently happening in their life. Yet, the message is not based on any information given to the speaker. In other words, the message does not come from the mind of the person, but from the mouth of God by the Holy Spirit. There are examples of this in the Old Testament and New Testament. It is important to understand that most of the spiritual gifts were in operation in the O.T. Some think that they are N.T. gifts only. We must not forget that God’s servants of old were equipped with spiritual gifts as well to accomplish the purposes of God.

In 2 Samuel 12, you will see that the prophet Nathan confronted David about killing Uriah and taking his wife as his own. This was not revealed to Nathan by someone telling him what had happened, but revealed to him by God.

Another example is I Kings 21:17-19 where God reveals to Elijah how Ahab had killed Naboth in order to take his vineyard. Also, we find an example in 2 Kings 5:21-26, where God reveals to Elisha what his servant Gehazi did when he took gifts from Naaman in Elisha’s name without his permission. We see once again how by the Spirit, God showed Elisha every trap that the king of Aram had laid for the king of Israel. The officers of the king of Aram said to the king, Elisha knows the very words you speak in your bedroom.

In the New Testament we see several examples of this as well.

John 1:47-48 – “When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”  “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Jesus knew things about Nathanael, who was a person he did know and saw him sitting under a fig tree, but not with his natural eyes. He knew these things by the Spirit of God. Some would dismiss this as being the gift of the “word of knowledge” because Jesus was the son of God and therefore knows all things. This is not true. Jesus gave up his omniscience and omnipotence when he became man. The Bible clearly teaches that all that Jesus did on earth was by the Spirit of God. (Luke 4:18)

John 4:16-18 – He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”  “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Once again by the Spirit of God, Jesus knows the life of the Samaritan woman.

Acts 5:1-4 – “Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?  Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

These are a few of the examples in scripture of the gift called “the word of knowledge”.  As we’ve already said, it is the ability for a person to know by the Holy Spirit what kind of person someone is or what someone (s) have done without the person speaking having been present or receiving any information in advance about the person or their activity.

The purposes of the gift are to reprimand, convict, correct and bring restoration. The purpose of the gift is not to tear down or destroy. The purpose is not to spread news about a given person. It is a word from the Lord for a specific situation and person (s). It often works hand in hand with the gift of “the word of wisdom” and/or the gift of “prophecy.

Another one of the spiritual gifts is the “word of wisdom”. One who has this gift does not necessarily have a lot of wisdom. One of the wisest men in the Bible is King Solomon, but he did not have this gift. This gift is used when God speaks through a person by the Holy Spirit into a specific situation and imparts supernatural wisdom. This wisdom does not come from years of experience or vast knowledge. It comes directly from God. As result, it will surprise the speaker and hearer. They will be amazed by the message or word of wisdom.

Acts 6:8-10 – “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.  Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen.  But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.”

Remember we are looking at the knowledge gifts. The last of these is the gift of “distinguishing between spirits”. This is a supernatural ability given to some by the Holy Spirit that gives them a great ability to discern what kind of spirit is at work in a given situation. The person will easily be able to discern if it is the work of the Holy Spirit, an evil (unclean) spirit or a human spirit (spirit of man). He will recognize if a person is demon possessed without much difficulty. This gift is not used to accuse a person of something, nor to reveal someone’s faults or weaknesses. One who has this gift does not necessarily have a special ability to deliver the person.

Jesus as one who functioned in all the gifts had this gift as well, by the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 16:22-23 – “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Jesus recognized that it was Peter’s un-renewed human spirit that was speaking and that Satan was behind this.

Matthew 17:14-18 – “When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him.  “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.  I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”  “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.”

The man who brought the son to Jesus thought that his son had a physical problem, but Jesus recognized that this physical problem was result of the son being demon possessed.

All three of these gifts are essential for the protection and growth of the body of Christ. In our next teaching, we will be looking at three more gifts which are sometimes called “the power gifts”.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS PART 2

I hope that you have already read “spiritual gifts part 1” before reading this teaching that describes the spiritual gifts. We see the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”

We are able to divide these spiritual gifts into the following categories.

1) Speaking Gifts: prophesy, tongues & interpretation of tongues.

2) Knowledge Gifts: message of wisdom, message of knowledge & distinguishing between spirits.

3) Power Gifts: faith, healing & miraculous powers.

Let us now define each one of these gifts. It is important that we can recognize these gifts so that we can identify them in us and in the church or body of Christ.

Let us begin with the speaking gifts.

The first one is the gift of prophecy. One who has the gift of prophecy is given the supernatural ability to speak about the future. Yet, prophecy is more than predicting the future. One who has the gift of prophecy speaks a message from God that is for a specific person or group of people. It is not a sermon or teaching, but a direct Word from God and speaks into a specific situation. It does not come from the speakers mind, but directly from the Holy Spirit. In other word, it is a revelation of the Lord directed at a person or group of people. We have endless examples of this in the Bible, especially among the historic and prophetic books of the Bible. There is a difference between having the gift of prophecy and being a prophet. They both have the gift of prophecy, but one fulfills the role of a prophet. The prophet is a leader in the church even as a pastor is a leader in the church. The prophet is one of the elders of the church. While anyone in the congregation can have the gift of prophecy as the Holy Spirit sees fit.

The second gift we will look at is the gift of tongues. In Acts 2:1-4; Acts 10:44-46; & Acts 19:1-6, we see that when someone received the baptism of the Holy Spirit they spoke in tongues. In a previous study that I did on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I spoke about speaking in tongues. Therefore, I am not going to go into all the details of what this is and why it is given. I will simply say that speaking in tongues is when the Holy Spirit enables us to speak in another language that we never learned or understand. The language could be an earthly language or a heavenly language. It does not originate with us. In other words, it does not come from our mind. (I Corinthians 14:14) The context of I Corinthians is talking about someone that the Holy Spirit uses to give messages in the church in a tongue, not known to the speaker and most of the time not known by the listeners either. All who are baptized in the Holy Spirit should speak in tongues as a prayer language, but not all receive the gift of tongues for the purpose of giving a message of God. For those who may question whether tongues is for today, keep in mind that if you reject tongues, you must logically reject all the spiritual gifts spoken of in Corinthians. I among many others believe all these gifts are for today, and they are greatly needed.

The third gift is the interpretation of tongues. The interpretation of tongues is a supernatural ability the Holy Spirit gives a person to interpret the message in tongues that was given in a public setting for the purpose of building up the body of believers. The one who gives the interpretation of the message in tongues does not know the language. He hears it with his ears, but does not understand it with his or her mind. Yet, with the Holy Spirit’s enabling, he communicates the message in the language that the people understand. We must be clear that it is an interpretation, not a translation of what was spoken in another tongue. In other words, the interpreter message could be longer or shorter than what was spoken in tongues.

In our next teaching, we will explain the knowledge gifts. I encourage you to seek God and ask Him to baptize you in the power of His Holy Spirit that you may move in God’s spiritual gifts. They are very much needed in the body of Christ.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS PART 1

Before we start explaining the spiritual gifts, let us distinguish between talents, spiritual fruit, ministry gifts and spiritual gifts.

A talent is a great natural ability that God gives everyone at birth. It is often considered a gift or a gifting. It is something one can do well or easily without much effort or training. Scientist would tell you that it is in your genes or genetic make-up.

Some examples of talents are a naturally good singing voice; a special ability in learning music or a language; an ability to learn math quickly and do well in this subject without any great effort; a special ability in using ones hands, a handyman, an exceptional ability in organizing or administration. These are some of the many talents people have.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit are characteristics of the Holy Spirit that God has developed in you as you yield to the working of the Holy Spirit in your life. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

A ministry gift is a supernatural ability given to us by the Holy Spirit for the service or work of the church of God.

Romans 12:6-8 – “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Prophesy is a ministry gifts as well as a spiritual gift. All who prophecy are not prophets, but all prophets are able to prophecy. The ministry of a prophet is to be able to see the future as well as call the believers back to God when they go astray. A prophet (seer) is one of the spiritual eyes of the church. The other gifts we see here are: serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, showing mercy.

I Corinthians 12:28 – “And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 – “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

In these two passages, we see what some call the fivefold ministry gifts: apostles, prophets, pastor, and teachers. Other ministry gifts we see here are the gift of helps and the gift of guidance (wisdom), while tongues are a spiritual gift. In Ephesians, we see that they are given to equip God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ might be built up that we may all become mature in Christ.

A spiritual gift is a gift that God gives you when you are saved and/or when you are baptized in the Holy Spirit. It is given for the purpose of building up God’s church and empowerment to do God’s will. A person can have one or more talents or spiritual gifts.

We find a list of these spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12:7-11.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”

We see here the gifts of the Spirit are: the message of wisdom; the message of knowledge; faith; healing; miracles; prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. These gifts are given for the common good. In other words, these gifts are for the help of others and for the building up of the body of Christ.

Let us look at some foundational principles or general principles concerning spiritual gifts. First of all the gifts are not earned or produced, but are free gifts given to God’s saints. It is the Holy Spirit who decides which gift you receive. (I Corinthians 12:11) This does not mean that we should not seek the gifts. Paul says we are to seek the greater gifts. (I Corinthians 12:31; 14:1) You are able to have more than one gift at a time. To function in the gift(s) God gives us, we must recognize them and use them according to our faith. (Romans 12:6) Finally, it is those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit who are able to use one or more of these gifts. The reason that I say this is that I Corinthians 12:7 says, “to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit”. He does not say, the manifestations of the Spirit, but it is singular in form. The spiritual gifts are not manifestations of the Spirit, but rather the manifestation (singular) of the Spirit. What is this manifestation that the apostle is referring to? I believe it is “the gift of the Spirit” or rather “the baptism of the Spirit”. In other word, it is those who have received “the gift” or “the baptism” of the Spirit who will function in these spiritual gifts.

I want to conclude this part on the spiritual gifts with a word of caution. Satan is able to imitate the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 7:21-23; 24:11 & 24; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10) The scripture tells us to test the spirits or spiritual manifestations to see if they are from God or just the working of man or Satan. (I John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)

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