By: K. B. Napier
EXAMPLES OF GIFTS
Paul was writing to the Corinthians, who were mainly Gentiles. Genuine Believers, they were surrounded by idolatry and wicked practices. These had their effect on the new Christians (who were once of the same kind) even though they had been personally saved under the ministry of Paul.
In giving his list of spiritual gifts, Paul was mindful of particular needs and problems within the Corinthian church, which was quite volatile and unstable in many ways. Thus, he speaks of certain gifts, in order to help alleviate the problems. He was also pre-empting other problems. So, as we read the Corinthian list of spiritual gifts, we should bear in mind who Paul was writing to, and why. We must therefore remember that the list is selective and not exhaustive.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10
"For to one is given by the
Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same
Too often, Charismatic claim to have the 'word of wisdom', when they have had nothing of the kind! How they can claim such a gift when they patently do not have the Biblical knowledge, let alone understanding of that knowledge, is hard to comprehend. Like many other claimed 'gifts', this one is not defined properly by Charismatic, who usually throw their claims about like confetti, with little or no consideration for actual, scriptural, interpretation of what the gifts really are.
(However, a disclaimer is required, for there are Christians who are Charismatic in name only - they are saved by Grace and strive to gain knowledge and understanding by true means. They all have real gifts, as do any other Christians, but they do not pretend or make extravagant claims, as do many Charismatic. Nevertheless, it is their solemn duty to leave Charismaticsm behind them)
I have heard Charismatic claim to have had a 'word of wisdom' when, in fact, they should say 'prophecy'! And even then, I dispute that what they have to say is really prophecy - it is either invented for ‘show’ purposes, or it is just a prediction based on human observation. I have yet to come across true prophecy coming from a Charismatic. Also, I have yet to come across a Charismatic who is at all bothered when his 'prophecy' has not come true!
What, then, is the gift of 'wisdom'? We note that the Greek word is gnosis, which gives us a clue - that it has something to do with knowledge. Gnosis can refer to the general knowledge of the Christian religion (which every Christian should have, to various degrees), or it can refer to a very deep and expanded knowledge of it (as in theology). 'Wisdom' especially applies to an understanding and perception of what is lawful or unlawful for Believers.
Some busybodies claim to have 'wisdom' when they merely like to throw their weight about, ordering others to do this or that in their lives! This is not wisdom, but meddling! Gnosis can also mean moral wisdom, as expressed in right living - something hardly ever witnessed today in our churches. More often than not, what is 'moral' in our lives depends entirely on what we feel like doing and what sins we prefer to maintain. If this has happened in my life, I am sure that it has happened in yours! Wisdom can also be applied to general understanding and intelligence.
We have more clues when we look at the root of gnosis, which is ginosko. It means to obtain knowledge and to understand. Jews believed that true knowledge always manifests itself in conduct. If it did not show itself, then the person did not really understand at all!
This is borne out in teaching, for a student who can only repeat facts parrot-fashion does not have true knowledge. In my own teaching I know when a student has grasped what he has been taught - he is able to repeat it in his own words. This proves that he has understanding and is able to handle the concepts concerned. That is, he has true knowledge, which has become a part of his own mind and will in future affect the way he thinks. True pastors (and there are few of those around) inevitably have the gift of wisdom.
We can see from the above, that wisdom can range from being a generalised knowledge of the Christian life - which we should all have - to being a deep and detailed knowledge of beliefs. To be a 'gift', it has to be obviously extant. That is, it will be recognised by others, even if they accept it reluctantly! ANY 'gift' is made obvious by the Holy Spirit, not by our constant claims to having one.
Many gifts may only be used on rare occasions by God. One that comes to mind immediately is the gift of tongues. As we shall see later, there are now few reasons for God to use such a gift. On the other hand, certain gifts (like wisdom and some types of prophecy) are found in use daily - pastors and preachers require both gifts constantly in order that they may function in their God-given office.
The very existence of an office requires that God will equip the one in that office with necessary gifts, for an office is high-profile and public. A preacher must not be God-inspired one day and uninspired the next! Indeed, some preachers are so powerful in the Lord that they may be called 'apostles', such is the evidence of their office and the presence of their gifts. (The word 'apostle' is also greatly misunderstood - see article with the same title).
I hear many 'preachers' claim to have this gift of wisdom, just as they claim to be 'preachers'! Sadly, many who call themselves preachers are nothing more than self-appointed talkers. So many Believers think they can and must preach. Often, they begin by 'having a go', maybe after being urged to do so by well-meaning leaders. In Charismatic circles this is very much encouraged, as though preaching was a corporate affair. It is not. God calls men (not women) to preach and equips them spiritually with necessary gifts.
Our pulpits are filled every Sunday by men (and women) who think they are called. Listeners maintain the illusion by insisting on inviting them back again! But they are not called of God. How do I know? I know because they do not have the gift of wisdom - that deep and spiritual understanding of God's word. Such an understanding is God-breathed. The self-appointed preacher sometimes (but not always) has an admirable, but ordinary, knowledge of scripture. This type of preacher is not usually slack (although I have heard many sloppy sermons); he is earnest in his desire; he avidly reads the scriptures. In this he is an example of what a Believer ought to be. But he is not a man called to preach by God. A man called to preach by God will preach more than the sum total of what he reads! Anyone can read and regurgitate Biblical facts!
Unfortunately, this factual grasp of scripture is not sufficient. A man gifted with wisdom may have the same knowledge, but the Lord will use that knowledge in an unique way. Such a preacher will preach directly from the Lord, otherwise he will simply sit down and shut up. That is what revival preachers did throughout the centuries...they knew when it was time to keep quiet and when to speak.
The Spirit will speak through such a man and the nature of the source of the preaching will be evident. The man does not attempt to be clever or witty; he does not try different 'methods' (as do Charismatics) to draw men in; his speech may not be naturally attractive. What matters is that he has been called of God and speaks only what God gives him to say.
To the consternation of many his words will even be 'dry', because they want more than a detailed knowledge of scripture...they want entertainment! This is behind the continuous Charismatic striving to find new ways to draw people toward their churches. They are not led by God and do not have wisdom, so they resort to human tactics and clever plans.
The gift of wisdom is not just the accumulation of knowledge - it is the understanding of that knowledge, applied in God-directed ways. It is not merely 'preaching the word' - it is living it and acting as a channel through which the Lord speaks; it lifts what is just fact, to the realm of heaven itself...and if preachers read this and do not perceive what I am saying, then they are not called of God to preach!
The gift of wisdom can also be evidenced in those who fight for what is right and against error. They are usually in the forefront of moral teaching, not because they want to be public figures, but because they are compelled by the spirit to do so. This side of the gift is not very popular, even amongst many Christians, who view the constant allusion to right and wrong too restrictive to their own lives! Those with a true gift of wisdom do not force others to live correctly, but they tell them what God says.
Yes, the word for 'knowledge' is the same as that for 'wisdom', such is the close connection. So, why did Paul repeat a gift? He does not. 'Knowledge' appears to be a more 'specific' gift. To have knowledge is to 'know' something. In this case, what is known is probably what is moral and right for Believers. 'Wisdom' appears to be knowledge applied to various situations and concepts. Really, we have insufficient information on this gift, in this text, to be able to say much more. But we can say that wisdom and knowledge are very closely associated.
Once again, the knowledge we are talking about is not that knowledge we may accrue by natural, human means. It is given direct by the Holy Spirit. If we examine it more closely, we will find that it is an element in prophecy, too, for prophecy uses knowledge that comes from the Lord (see later section). Whatever the gift, it is recognised as coming from a supernatural source (we must be careful not to be fooled by demonic sources, which can mimic what is of God). Such abilities or endowments cannot have an human source.
I have myself experienced such knowledge, and can testify to its Holy Spirit source - before I was given the knowledge, I was not even thinking about the subject. When I uttered the knowledge, I was not aware that I would say what I said. And later, that knowledge, publicly uttered, had an obvious and connected outcome, even though I had no direct dealing with the matter to hand. It appears that such utterances have the aim of displaying God's power and omnipotence in a direct way and in specific cases.
Faith! Heard from pulpits everywhere, but never a clue as to what it means; always desired, but rarely realised; oft-urged by pastors, but hardly ever defined! 'Have faith' we are told with a benign smile - BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN? How can we 'have faith' if we do not even understand the word?
I know that the above statements are true, and I know the way preachers and pastors easily 'encourage' others to 'have faith' - because I have done it regularly myself in the past! Both preacher and hearer are at fault. We are so familiar with evangelical jargon, that we nod our agreement with the preacher and then go our way without knowing what 'faith' actually is. And the preacher, having done his duty, goes his way, also not knowing what faith is. It is a silly circle.
We can have faith on different levels, but a specific gift of faith can be noticed by its intensity. What is 'faith'? Basically, it is utter belief or total conviction. 'Ah' Christians say, 'I already have that'. Yes, the majority tell me they have total conviction or belief. But then I find them standing back when heretics distort scripture; they remain silent when scientists extol the false virtues of evolution over creation; they wring their hands when the economy falters; they do not know what to say when spiritual wolves decry their God and their scriptures...the signs of their lack of conviction are many!
The gift of faith changes feet of clay for feet of iron. It enables a person to say without doubt or turning back "I KNOW WHOM I BELIEVETH!". Not only is such a faith unshakeable, but it shakes others by its solidity and certainty. As one who has challenged unbelievers and believers in the press for over 20 years, I can witness to the fact that even hardened critics acknowledge true faith. They hate my God and hate me - but they are baffled by my refusal to back down to their heresies. They are angered by a faith that refuses to go away, for it nags at their hearts, making them doubt their own beliefs.
If I have faith, friends, it is NOT of my own making! I am not some super-Christian whose faith towers above everyone else's. It does not. On many occasions I falter. But, I very quickly regain my ground. How? Because it is all of the Holy Spirit and none of myself. Our beliefs come from a root and what we do and say indicates what that root is. We need not be unduly worried when we inadvertently allow one or two leaves to be burned in the sun; what matters is our root. It is either of God or of Satan. It is either of self or of the Spirit. If the Lord has given us the true root of faith, then its core of being is in Him and not in us. Thus, even with one or two failures, the root remains strong and can be identified as being solid and healthy. I can no more manufacture such faith myself, than I can save myself! Even so, there are others whose faith is gigantic compared to my own.
It comes back again to the 'portion' given to each of us by God. That is why no man can boast in his faith, or in any other gift. The gift is not for his own pleasure or to boost his own stature - it is for the benefit of the Church as a whole; we are one family and we must help each other. But it is not of ourselves - it is the Holy Spirit working through us. Faith is mighty in its outworking!
What, though, is 'faith' totally convinced of? We have faith in the irreversible relationship we have with God and about everything to do with Him. This faith is inseparable from trust and the holy zeal that trust engenders. Such trust includes belief in all God says and does (because He cannot lie), i.e. that He exists and is the creator, sustainer and ruler of everything; He is the provider and sole bestower of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. We have belief in Jesus as the Christ. Faith is also the general belief of Christians, based on scripture - a belief which trusts and has complete confidence in Jesus Christ. Because we have this total confidence and conviction, we are steadfast and faithful to Him alone and our single-mindedness means that we ourselves can be relied upon.
Pistis is from peitho, meaning to persuade (of the good of anything); to yield to and comply with. Faith, then, has many facets and immense ramifications in our lives. Faith (or trust in God), if we allow it free passage, will cause us to soar to the very heavens in our hearts - or it will cause us to sink into despair and into a pit of our own making, if we refuse it. God gives us whatever faith we have, but it is up to us to use it. When we practically trust the Lord, He will fill us with confidence and so we will trust even more! In this way, by doing whatever He says, without question, we gain in faith or trust.
Healing (plural gifts): iama
'Healing' means remedy; medicine; means of healing. Taken from iaomai, it is to cure, to make whole spiritually i.e. to free another from errors and sins, or to bring about his salvation. Thus healing can be physical or spiritual. One may ask if emotional healing is included. It is a fact that spiritual healing usually leads to the healing of emotions, for a poor spiritual condition is the cause of virtually all emotional ills, including such conditions as the so-called neuroses.
The gift of healing is not the same as God's providence in providing medicines, doctors, etc. Healing direct from God is usually instant and complete. In the physical realm, the healing is also permanent. Mainly, such healings are reserved for conditions that have been given-up as beyond human or natural healing. The reason is to show God's power over natural laws. Those who claim to be able to heal at any time, and who have a 'healing ministry', are unlikely to be genuinely of God, for God is not at their beck and call. He heals whenever He wishes, and not when an human being claims to do so. Healings are always personalised and conditional upon God's will at that time, whereas healers usually give a general call - and even advertise that healings are assured in the future, their presumption being complete!
'Miracles' is the same word as for 'power'. This is most apt because miracles are produced by power. A miracle is something brought about by supernatural power, which can be either Satanic or Godly in origin. The emphasis is on the fact that what happens could not have happened in a natural way. A miracle may even break God's natural order of things, such as when He stopped the sun in its orbit. The purpose of miracles appears to be that the Lord wishes to display His power and might, especially when all human agencies fail, or cannot operate.
Christians refer to the 'miracle' of medicine or doctors, etc. Birth is often called a 'miracle'. They are certainly marvellous, but they are not miracles. They are the results of a natural order already given to us by God's general providence toward all peoples, whether or not they acknowledge His Lordship. Wondrous as certain events or activities may be to us, few of them are miraculous. A miracle is known by its obviously non-earthly character; it usually comes into effect when a good outcome has been declared impossible; the miracle itself is so obviously of God that it leaves sceptics silent and Believers breathless!
Salvation is a miracle, because it is a direct act of God upon a person, bringing alive something (spirit) that was once dead. Thus another characteristic of a miracle is that it is an act direct from God. For this reason the result is usually swift; if the miracle is, say, healing, then that healing will be permanent and immediate when it happens, even if the actual moment is delayed in our eyes. Again, the emphasis is on the obviousness of the supernatural source.
Charismatic 'miracles' and healings, etc., tend to be more noise and showmanship than actual dealings of God. The 'healing miracles' are usually mundane and incapable of obvious interpretation, e.g. they are mainly back troubles, psychological problems and vague conditions, all of which could have many alternative interpretations, of cause and reason for improvement. Also, such 'healings' do not appear to be immediate, permanent or even total. A key element in Charismatic 'healings' is 'faith'. If you do not have it, then the healing will not occur; if you have little of it, then the healing is likely to be partial, etc. This is not a miracle, but a psychologically-induced state of mind. A miracle depends on nothing human, not even faith - it depends wholly on the will of God for the person involved.
Miracles may also be directed at animals, objects or at nations. Miracles have been experienced by soldiers at war; the appearance of massive angels, who direct soldiers away from impending doom, is a well documented phenomenon. This happened to my own father, whose platoon was heading down a particular road, unaware that they were going to enter a well-planned German trap. An enormous angel suddenly stood in their way, pointing them in the opposite direction. They avoided certain death, but a later detail of soldiers died in the ambush. My uncle, who was amongst the carnage of the Normandy beach retreat, was unable to swim and was wounded. But, he swam more than a mile in deep water until he reached a ship. He testified that many who could not swim were delivered in that way. He also saw other actions on the day that were humanly impossible, as thousands of weary soldiers were given divine help to escape the murderous assault of the enemy. We are not referring to the ordinary finding of strength in a difficult situation. The events were so obviously NOT of human effort that thousands of soldiers were able to testify as to their supernatural source.
Miracles may, or may not, include the prayers of Believers. As with any activity of God, it rests on what God wishes to do, and NOT on our prayers or spiritual state. It is a mistake to think that God will change His mind or alter His plans simply because we pray, or because we 'have faith'. We may indeed pray and see the desired result; we may indeed find that we have enormous faith. But these do not produce the desired result. They are used of God as reminders that what happens is of God. The main factor in all this is the obviousness of the source of the event. Philip suddenly found himself transported into the desert and face to face with a man in a chariot! There was no human way he could have crossed time and space! And after he opened the Gospel to his listener, he was again suddenly transported back to the city, in an instant. Try as they may, critics could not have answered that one...and try as they may, Charismatics could not hope to match such a feat!
Miracles can also refer to moral power and 'excellence of soul'. That is, a firm stand of faith and of life that morally lifts a person head and shoulders above others, who recognise 'something different' in the one so endowed. In this case, the 'miracle' remains permanently in place. This is when God 'raises up' men in due season for particular purposes. Often, such men stand out against popular movements and current thinking, incurring the wrath of others. They say things that are hated or not wanted and so they are ridiculed or scorned. Most of the prophets were like this. Nevertheless, what they say comes about, proving the supernatural source of their statements and of their strength of character.
How Charismatics malign this word and gift also! If we listen to these folk, then prophets are so numerous as to be overflowing in our churches. The Lord says that some are teachers and some are pastors and some are prophets, etc. But almost everyone in Charismatic circles, it seems, claims to be a prophet!
In scripture the gift of prophecy can assume two distinct facets and the same person does not necessarily have both at the same time. Indeed, the person may only be given one sub-facet. Prophecy, like any other gift, is in the hands of God, Who will use the gift as and when He wishes. People who stand up in meetings at any time and just talk, who think that they can do so whenever they wish, are deluded. Often, their 'prophecies' are nothing more than emotional outbursts, or something that anyone could have said, given a broad Biblical knowledge. None of this is prophecy.
The two main facets to prophecy are to do with the present and the future. Within these two main facets there are sub-facets. For example, prophecy can refer to the utterances of true preachers and pastors. That is, if men are called of God to these offices (most are not), then what they say will be directed by the Holy Spirit. God's will is thus stated, by divine inspiration. What is said will never be extra-Biblical. Everything of prophecy is consistent with declared Truth, as found in God's word. This is the ONLY way that prophets can be subject to the prophets. That is, each will check a claimed prophetic utterance against scripture. Sadly, Charismatic 'prophets' check against each other's experiences, not against scripture. Anything else is a farce!
This kind of prophecy can take many forms, such as reproving and admonishing the wicked (Christians or unbelievers), encouraging the weary, comforting the afflicted, and so on. Again, we are not speaking of the normal everyday activities common to all Believers. We are referring to the uncommonly powerful and direct activity of the Holy Spirit, through a Believer. Often, the direct, relevant application of what is said astonishes and delights the one who receives the message. At times, the one who is used to utter such words, may be unaware of what has happened until much later.
The other main form of prophecy is the telling of future events, especially as they concern Christ's kingdom - that is, salvation. In Charismatic circles adherents 'foretell' the most absurd and petty events, such as a change in a hairdressing appointment, the finding of (duplicate!) sets of keys behind a sofa, the coming of a 'bus! God does not play games, nor does He indulge in fantasy or pettiness! With this in mind, there are few incidents of true future prophecy, especially in Charismatic circles. Such prophecy can be verbal or written.
Propheteia is rooted in prophetes. It speaks of the prophet as an instrument moved and used by the Holy Spirit, Who relates God's future activities to others - again, especially as they pertain to salvation. Another meaning is, preachers/pastors (men can preach verbally or in writing) whose mark is their weighty and powerful utterances. Such power cannot be mistaken and it is not to be confused with natural ability to speak. The word can also refer to poets (in writing or in song).
Note that the prophet is used by the Holy Spirit - he has no power of himself and may not foretell or preach in his own strength. Future prophecy does NOT include what is petty or non-essential, or anything that is common knowledge, or what can be deduced by natural ability of reasoning. It is the telling of a future event that is important and concerned with God's dealings with the Church, or with individuals. What is said is not preconceived by the prophet, nor is he aware of what he is about to say. However, unlike certain Charismatic 'prophecies', he is able to stop the prophecy by his own sinfulness, if he so wishes. God does not force a man to prophesy, but compels him by inner conviction.
Discerning of Spirits
The word 'spirits' (pneuma) also suffers at the hands of Charismatics, who do not bother to differentiate the various meanings. Just look at the following list of possible interpretations, given by scripture itself, and see if you can detect which applies in any text you come across...
Spirit; Holy Ghost; Spirit of God; Spirit of the Lord; (my own) spirit; Spirit of Truth; Spirit of Christ; human spirit; evil spirit; a general spirit; spirit (of something); Jesus' own spirit; Jesus' own ghost; a movement of air (gentle blast); wind; breath of persons or of animals; the 'vital principle' which makes a body alive; the rational spirit; the power of emotion; thought; decisions; the soul (see BTM Outline and Article on this subject; in the New Testament 'soul' and 'spirit' are both used interchangeably, which may surprise some readers); simple essence with the power to know, desire, act, etc.
It can also refer to a life-giving spirit; an human soul that has left the body; an angelic spirit; demons; the spiritual, divine nature of Christ; God's power (note how this links with dunamis); one's disposition; the true source of emotions, etc.
Can you see why the Charismatic blanket use of 'spirit' is so dubious? Which 'spirit' is he referring to in any one text? Because he gives the word the same meaning every time, he ignores the context, which makes his 'interpretation' worthless. As you can see, there are many and varied interpretations for the word 'spirit'. Care must be taken to interpret it properly. Normally, the Charismatic is restricted (by lack of knowledge) to the Holy Spirit, Man's spirit and demon spirits. But the full range covers more than that. Also, interestingly, the words 'soul' and 'spirit' are interchangeable, making any interpretation difficult. This is where discernment makes the difference.
Discernment is literally the Holy Spirit telling us which spirit it is. It is not human intuition (which is really an accumulation of similar experiences lodged in our memory), or any other ability; it is God speaking directly to us. It may come through scripture, through prayer, by the direct voice of God, or even by a strong and overpowering sense.
'Discerning' is diakrisis, which means judging or distinguishing. Rooted in diakrino, it means to separate, make a distinction; to give judgement (yes, Christians are called, by divine authority, to judge others and events!); to withdraw from another; to contend; to doubt within oneself.
Every day, Believers must judge what is going on around them. The gift of discernment is given only to certain Believers, who are enabled to distinguish good from evil and spirit from spirit. This is NOT generally available to all Believers - although many Charismatics claim to have the gift. Quite evidently they do NOT have this gift, given the way in which they have been so strongly deluded by the Evil One in these days! Far worse, they attribute Satan's activities to the Lord, confusing evil for good, leading thousands of other Believers along the same wicked path.
Discerning the spirits can be more than distinguishing the source of a spirit; discernment can also take place at a distance, or it can be made of future events and people. Thus it joins with prophecy at times. It is a mistake to think that each gift is totally independent of anything else. All the gifts are interlinked, not just with each other, but also with the fruit of the Spirit. This is one reason why we cannot, and must not, attempt to separate the manifestations of Charismatic meetings from the fruit. Nor may we separate the fruit from the preaching (which is almost non-existent in present Toronto Blessing meetings). All these things are part of the whole. One affects the other and each indicates Truth or falsity, evil or good. (For a further discussion on the unity of these facets of Truth, read BTM Article: Preaching, Gifts, Fruit - All Unified).
Love as a Foundation
Paul continues his teaching by founding everything we do for the Brethren upon one thing, itself a gift - love.
1 Corinthians 13:1,2
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become (as) sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have (the gift of) prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
Charismatics use this text as proof of the authenticity of an 'angelic' tongue, a language only understood by angels and God. This is possible only by ignoring the context and the standard Hebraic forms of argument. The text does NOT refer to a special angelic tongue. The text itself does not interpret 'tongue...of angels' as being angelic or heavenly. Nor does the context point that way. Nor does the form of argument being used support the idea. The 'tongues' here are plural, as we can see, and they are translated in exactly the same way as elsewhere - that is, as foreign languages.
Paul is not speaking literally here. He is using rhetorical statements in order to explain a particular point. In this case the point he is making is not primarily about tongues themselves, for he also mentions prophecy, understanding mysteries, knowledge and faith. He is saying that IF he had all the gifts in abundance, they would be worthless if he did not love the brethren. That's all he is saying. This is why, elsewhere, he says that love is the 'greatest' or longest-lasting of all the gifts. We will not enter into further discussion of this text, for it has already been examined in another Article.
"...signs and wonders...and gifts.."
Another word is used for 'gifts' in this text - merismos, meaning gift; also a division, partition; distribution. The interpretation of this is elucidated by its root, merizo (meaning to split into factions; bestow; impart) and the root of merizo, meros, meaning assigned to someone; lot; destiny; a constituent part of a whole; in measure; to some degree; individually. Meros is from the obsolete but primary form, meiromai - to get as a section or allotment.
What has such 'technical' information to do with the subject matter of this Article? It is not as technical as we may think - it is vital information to enable us to properly interpret scripture. The meanings above are the interpretations given by scripture. They are inviolable. These interpretations tell us that the gifts are distributed to us in portions (as has already been stated); we are 'destined' to have whatever we are given - that means, predestined by the Lord.
We can neither demand or control what we receive. Also, what we receive is measured-out to us. Literally, the same gifts will be observed in different people, but at varying levels. All the gifts are given individually, but the gifts of each individual are for the benefit of all the Church (all Christians everywhere). Gifts are not for private use, although we may enjoy their benefits, too. Charismatics who insist that certain gifts are used by them in private are acting in sin... although the existence of their so-called 'gifts' is to be doubted anyway.
That Which is Spiritual
"For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established."
'Impart', metadidomi, is to give or to impart. Metadidomi is from (meta and) didomi, which has six definite interpretations and one miscellaneous. One of the interpretations is 'to deliver'; also to supply necessary things. Paul did not contain the gifts like a treasurer or shopkeeper - he just 'delivered' them, their delivery by his own hand, as an Apostle, being a sign of authenticity. The Christians received gifts that were necessary for their particular station in life, as determined by God. One will have, say, a gift of helps which is denied to another who, however, may have the gift of prophecy but not of helps, etc.
'Spiritual' in this text is pneumatikos and it refers to that part of a saved man, his own spirit, that serves as God's instrument; belonging to the Divine Spirit; filled and governed by the Spirit of God (based on pneuma - see previous section.). In other texts, the 'law' of God is also pneumatikos. The word for gift is charisma (see previous section).
Why does Paul want them to have these gifts? That they may be 'established' - sterizo: made stable or steadfast in their faith. It also means to 'keep the face turned', i.e. toward Christ and away from sin, a permanent attitude of repentance; also to be constant in one's mind and heart. The 'gifts' in Charismaticism do NOT establish a man, but take him away from the Truth and pander to his flights of fancy, so that he is always searching for what is new and is never building upon a sure foundation. Few Charismatics have Biblical knowledge and even fewer have any kind of understanding. In Charismatic life, God is a tool used to serve men, rather than they serve God.
Here is another reference to 'spiritual things' where Jewish Believers are told that Gentiles share the same spiritual gifts that they enjoy, including salvation.
1 Corinthians 2:12,13,15
we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit
which is of God; that we might know the things that are
freely given to us of God.
Charismaticism uses human wisdom, the knowledge and understanding of men, and pretends it is all of God. But the Spirit of God in true Believers enables us to know what God has given us and, by implication, what He does NOT give us. Only the true Believer, untainted by men's wisdom, can 'compare spiritual things with spiritual'. Scripture tells us what we can expect from God. Charismatics confuse men's wisdom and their unqualified experiences with God's spirit. Note that the people of God must judge all things....which is in direct contrast to the Charismatic belief that we may ignore phenomena and preaching, but yet judge a Charismatic movement by its 'fruit' only.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
Charismatics should note this text well, for it applies to them:
I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but
as unto carnal, (even) as unto babes in Christ.
They follow leaders of men and not Christ Himself. They have fallen to wondrous sights and false teaching, being unable to comprehend what is for their well-being. That is, those Charismatics who are saved! The rest are in need of salvation, not strong meat....they cannot eat meat destined for the saved.
1 Corinthians 10:3,5,6
did all (i.e. the Hebrews who came out of
the same spiritual meat;
The overthrow of Charismaticism has already taken place. Charismatics have been offered good meat but they imbibed a lie. They lust after experiences and after what is not of God and have been led into evil and are examples to Believers of those we must not be like. They lusted after 'evil things' and not after 'spiritual things' (of God). The 'evil things' are false gifts and false experiences.
It is a strange fact that even when faced with such a charge, many Charismatics simply laugh at the critic! The true Christian response for one supposedly 'filled with the Spirit' would be to ask questions, to be (or at least look) concerned, to take the matter seriously. Alternatively, many become extremely angry and even abusive - as does the original leader, Rodney Howard Browne. Very strange actions indeed.
1 Corinthians 14:1
Paul says that we should be sure to love the Brethren and by all means to seek to enjoy spiritual gifts - but it is better to prophesy than to speak in foreign languages (tongues) which edify no-one (except those who can speak them). Yet, tongues are claimed by virtually all Charismatics, even though the 'tongues' they speak are nonsense words and not foreign languages. I have spoken with Charismatics and informed them that the tongues in scripture are foreign languages. To my amazement, these good folk just smile and say "Yes, I know" and then they go back to uttering gibberish!
What is this but the hold of Satan? A similar response is "Yes, I know what you are saying, but I believe this anyway." In other words, they could not care less for Truth or for scripture - they care only for their meagre, humanly-devised pleasures and evil lies, ascribing what they experience to God! What possible excuse can there be for those who, when given actual scriptural evidence against what they believe and do, just carry on doing or believing it?
1 Corinthians 15:44
Just to remind Believers - that we must be careful to use scriptural words properly and interpret them in their context...in this text the word 'spiritual' body (of a man) is the same as that in 'spiritual gifts'. This emphasises that 'spiritual gifts' is better understood as 'spiritual things' in the widest sense.
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such as one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
Those who oppose Charismatics (or others who believe and practice error) are often told they ought to be 'meek' and should not 'judge' others, because otherwise they are unchristian. In both instances, the charges (and the beliefs behind them) are wrong. We are commanded to judge others and situations (see BTM publications). This command is especially needful today when Charismatic nonsense is flaunted as the real spirituality of God, and when so many immature Believers are being taken off the true path of righteousness.
Even worse is the fact that the Charismatic movement draws in unbelievers who, believing they have been saved by their own choice, are happy to discount their own dire need of a Saviour. They believe it because they are able to show 'proof' of their salvation by uttering 'tongues'! They appear unaware of the fact that tongues are not proof of salvation, or that the 'tongues' they use are false and almost certainly occult, or at least psychological, in origin.
From this text we can see that a man is 'overtaken (prolambano) in a fault'. That is, he has been taken hold of before he is able to flee; surprised! The root of prolambano, lambano, tells us that 'someone' has taken hold of him - Satan. Lambano means to lay hold of and to take away, but without violence; to make one's own; to not let go what has been taken; to take by fraud; to do some injustice.
Note that the man has been taken without violence. That means he has in some measure collaborated with the evil one and is a willing victim. If we watch people entering Toronto Blessing meetings, we are reminded of sheep who willingly walk to their own slaughter. Satan intends not to let them go. This is why so many actually laugh in derision at those who oppose their activities...the true response of a Christian is to be concerned!
In this text 'those who are spiritual (pneumatikos)' are those who are following the Lord and who seek to do all that He says. Because they are not opposing the Lord, they are in a position to help others by removing them from their 'fault' - paraptoma, meaning to lapse or deviate from the truth and from uprightness; a sin. From parapipto, meaning to slip from the right path; turn aside; wander; to error; to fall from true faith and from worship of Jehovah.
Parapipto is rooted in para (near, e.g. the truth) and pipto - to descend from a higher plane to a lower one; to be thrust down; to fall under judgement and to come under condemnation; to fall prostrate. It also refers to those who are overcome by terror, or astonishment, or grief, or who are under the attack of an evil spirit; or of falling dead suddenly; to fall into ruin; to be cast down from a state of (spiritual) prosperity or uprightness; to come to an end; to lose virtues or authority; to no longer have force.
The fallen one can be restored from this forlorn state. To restore - katartizo - is to render fit; complete; to mend what has been broken; repair; make one what he ought to be. It is derived from arti, which means at this very moment. Arti is an adverb derived from airo, meaning to raise up; elevate; to carry what has been raised up.
The above meanings of the text show us that anyone can become prey to the evil one and will need to be restored. Charismatics and those who have come under the spell of Charismatic signs and wonders, especially the Toronto Blessing, have certainly been overcome by their sins. In doing so, they have fallen from a place that was far superior - the Truth of the Lord - and from a position of spiritual prosperity.
They are presently under condemnation and must repent, for otherwise they remain in a state of ruin. They have certainly been attacked by evil spirits, or, rather, they have willingly allowed them into their lives and have thus lost all virtues and godly authority. Virtually every interpretation scripture gives us for this text applies to Believers who have fallen to the Toronto Blessing! But, they must be restored with urgency - katartizo. Immediately, not tomorrow.
Note the universal deferring statement made by Charismatics - that we should 'wait and see' if these things are of the Holy Spirit. This is neither scriptural or useful. It is a lie of Satan, so that he can cement what is happening into Believers' hearts and minds. He wants to completely ruin their Christian walk. That is why these folk all say 'wait and see'. That is also why they say that we must not link phenomena with the fruit or with the preaching, as though they were separate matters. We have already seen that this is not how scripture sees it.
Those who restore others in their plight must do so "in the spirit of meekness". Typically, those who do not wish to be found out, give this portion a wrong meaning! They say that Christians must not judge and if they must say something, they must be quiet and must not offend others. This is not what scripture is telling us! Rather, it is an excuse made by immature Believers who wish to continue in their own sins.
The 'meekness' spoken of has a multi-layered meaning. Meekness - praotes - means 'gentleness'...but we must not simply make this word fit our modern English translation because it suits us! It is based on praos, which is a form of praus, meaning those who rely on God and accept His dealings as good (and so must not be resisted); not using our own strength; knowing He uses the injuries caused by the wicked to purify us. 'Meekness' is simply the opposite of self-assertiveness or of having self-interest. This comes from trust in God's goodness and control.
We can therefore see that this 'meekness' is not the sloppy emotionalism most Christians make it out to be. To be 'meek' is NOT to be a doormat for everyone to walk over! It means that instead of being full of self, we must obey God and, even when we are ourselves attacked, we must continue to trust God. This means that when we restore others, we must do so with complete trust in the Lord and without any self-interest. It DOES NOT mean we must keep quiet in all circumstances, or allow Christians (or Satan) to wreck lives without a fight. We can be both warriors and meek!
Note, too, that there is spiritual wickedness 'in high places' as well as the existence of spiritual good. (Ephesians 6:12).
1 Peter 2:5
We see here the mingling of gifts and fruit, for they are basically the same things, both coming from, and returning to, God:
"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
We all have different gifts in varying measures. Each of us is part of a house and, as a house, we are to offer 'spiritual sacrifices' (one of the meanings of pneumatikos). God wants us to give something back to Him - we cannot give Him gifts, but we are commanded to give Him fruit. That is, proof or effects of the gifts. Therefore, the gifts implied by 'spiritual sacrifices' also mean 'fruit of the Spirit', for 'sacrifices' refer to a victim (thusia) and to slay or kill (thuo). As this is figurative, it means to kill and to offer oneself to God, spiritually. The outward and inward proof of this can only be fruit of the Spirit!
The Charismatic interpretation of 'gifts' is spurious and, in most cases, superficial. Any claim to the use of gifts must be false, for the interpretation of gifts is false. In many instances, Charismatics speak of 'this' gift when, in fact, by reason of totally misinterpreting (and misrepresenting) the gifts, they actually mean 'that' gift - something totally different.
Every gift is for the benefit of the whole Church. Scripture does not recognise personal gifts for personal use, and gifts are not given for that purpose. Charismatics say the opposite. We have seen that 'spiritual gifts' actually means 'spiritual things', which has a far wider meaning. By 'spiritual things' is meant every possible good thing that comes from our walk with God. Thus, the short lists in Corinthians, et al, are but a small example of what gifts are, and their purpose.
What are listed as 'gifts' in some texts are referred to as 'fruit' in others. This can only mean (as a careful cross-referencing will show) that, really, the gifts and the fruit are either exactly the same things, or that they are totally interlinked. This examination of the gifts indicate the shame of the Charismatic movement and its complete lack of true spiritual perspective, as evidenced by their ignorance of the source of the phenomena in various movements they ascribe to God.
Non-Charismatics, especially those from a strict Calvinist background, also have their problems! Many of them state that all the gifts ceased at the death of the last apostle. The 'problem' is that scripture nowhere says that the gifts would stop – references are made to certain texts, but they all are capable of alternative interpretation and cannot be considered as final proof. Also, who was the 'last apostle'? Do they mean one of the twelve? If so, why are they ignoring the scriptural fact that the office of 'apostle' was applied to others, who were not of the twelve?
Others modify their view when told that salvation, love, faith, etc., are all gifts of the Spirit! Therefore, 'all' gifts have not ceased. Cautiously, they then say that 'some' of the gifts ceased. But which ones? And who says so? When did they cease? Such a view is arbitrary and quite illogical, with no theological consistency.
These Articles have only given a sketch of the gifts; they are far from being exhaustive. However, sufficient is given to show that charismatic (and many non-charismatic) beliefs and practices are in error. The error has been greatly multiplied by events surrounding the evil 'Toronto Blessing', in which phenomena of an obviously evil origin are being allowed to flourish. Let those who so seriously and continuously reject God's word on the matter be warned, that God does not tolerate such evil for long.
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© November 1994
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