Our Beliefs: 9. Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Posted on 04/30/2017 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
Please click one of the offering plates in Second Life or at http://almcyberchurch.org, and give as the Lord leads.
lyrics by Henry van Dyke
music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee,
Op'ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.
Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o'er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.
HOLY IS THE KING
by Benjamin R. Faust
He is worthy, and we proclaim
The name of Jesus
is far above every other name
He is holy and we declare
His glory fills the earth
and there's rejoicing everywhere
He is mighty, and sovereign over all
He's coming for who's ready
when they hear the trumpet call
He is Jesus, the ruler over all
And every soul in worship
to the King will fall
Holy, holy is the King who reigns
The Son of God,
heaven and earth proclaims
In joy we bring to you our offering
(In spirit and - in truth we sing)
(And so to you - our lives we bring)
(As a li - ving offering)
I SURRENDER ALL
by Judson W. Van DeVenter
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame;
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!
*** Choose your connection speed and listen to the audio to hear the introduction. ***
Near the end of last year, we started going through our statement of beliefs. We've had a few detours from that series, and if you're new here, you won't even know to what I'm referring. So feel free to look back through the first eight parts of this series. Just preferably not during TODAY'S service. You can find them at almcyberchurch.org or on YouTube.
And you can find the statement of beliefs we're covering by going to almcyberchurch.org and clicking the "What We Believe" link, or here in Second Life by clicking one of the "Church Information" signs.
As as we've done for all the other items on our list, I'd like to start off by making it plain what the reason is NOT for having a statement of beliefs.
That reason is NOT because agreeing with these points of view is will somehow make you more spiritual, or save you from hell. You do NOT need to sign off on these, or adopt them as your own in order to "fit in" here or be considered a part of our family.
You see, we all see through a glass dimly. None of us have it all figured out, regardless of what the leaders of our chosen denominations might believe. And if something discussed here differs from what you might firmly believe is true, then that is an opportunity to step back and watch your mind's antics. Is it creating division? Is it resisting unity? Is it weakening its opinion of "us" and strengthening its opinion of "you" as more discerning or less deceived?
We trust in our mind's understanding much more than we dare to believe.
But what does Proverbs 3:5-6 (TLS*) say?
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not dwell in or rely upon your own understanding.
6 Know Him in all things, and He will direct your paths, making them plain and straight.
So whether or not you agree with what is said here today, it doesn't really matter. God never told us we had to mentally understand everything perfectly lest He burn us in hell for all eternity. Instead, He has always called us to trust completely in Him.
So let's bring our attention back into the Presence of God in His Holy Temple, the body in which You and He currently reside, and feel His Breath, His Presence, His Life there, for He is the One to whom any worthwhile teachings point.
And now, let's read the next item on our list.
9. Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given and manifested through His people today for ministry through tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, words of knowledge and wisdom, discerning of spirits, faith, working of miracles, and healing.
Now I realize that, despite my disclaimer just a moment ago, there's bound to be SOMEONE here or watching or listening later, who is already offended.
Many Christians believe that the gifts of the Spirit passed away with the apostles. They might believe that we no longer should speak in tongues, or prophecy, or work miracles, and some believe that those who do are either charlitans or are working under the power of demons.
And certainly we don't want to follow or partner ourselves with con artists or devils. At least I don't, and I'm sure you don't either.
So let's look at some of the writings by the earliest Church Fathers, and then we'll go from there.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NKJV)
4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
10 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.
11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
So it is the same Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God, who gives all these spiritual gifts. And while we COULD say that speaking in different tongues and interpreting those tongues refers to the learning of human languages, learning another language is not a spiritual gift and can be accomplished by the earthly mind of anyone with average intelligence. And learning multiple languages takes only a bit of human intelligence, not a Divine gifting.
These are all spiritual gifts mentioned in this passage. And while they can be counterfeited to some degree, the genuine article cannot be generated by the will and mind of man, but comes only by the direct working of the Spirit.
But are these spiritual gifts still in operation today? Or did they pass away with the earliest Church?
One group of Believers teaches that the Old Testament no longer holds authority, and only the New Testament should command our doctrines today.
Of course that's not relevant to today's discussion, is it? Not really, until we observe that those beliefs also hold to the teaching that the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament ALSO no longer apply to us today. Which still leaves us a little bit of Scripture we can choose to take as the present-day voice of God.
And let me stop here and point out that we are NOT contrasting differing points of view in an attempt to say one person is right while another is wrong. That's the wrong place to focus. Our attention needs to dwell upon walking in this moment with God; being seating with Christ right now in that timeless, heavenly realm.
But since we're talking about the Gifts of the Spirit TODAY, it might be helpful to honestly question potentially deeply-rooted beliefs that could make the rest of this discussion a complete waste of time.
The truth is, we STILL see through a glass dimly. If there are Believers who already see face to face, then who is to say who those are? It is the prideful human mind that says WE are the ones who are right, and EVERYONE ELSE who doesn't agree with us is deceived.
OUR understanding of the Scriptures is correct. THEIR understanding of the Scriptures is just plain wrong.
And that's easy to do. Most of us have done that to some degree. After all, our understanding of the writings compiled into what we call the Bible, we take very very seriously. Life and death serious. Heaven and hell serious.
So when our human mind becomes convinced that, either by reason or by supernatural enlightenment, it has divined the God-breathed truth concerning a matter, it would rather sacrifice your life and liberty than to accept that it might not be as infallible in this matter as it believes itself to be.
So maybe the gifts of the Spirit have expired and we no longer need them. Or maybe the early Church Fathers wrote so extensively about them and their proper use because they believed that more than just a handful of early believers would benefit from their use.
Either way, we can take these words of Jesus to the bank, in Matthew 7:11 (KMV*), where He says,
11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?
He says a good father will not give something bad to a son who asks him for something, and then points out that even a good father is evil compared to our Heavenly Father who is perfectly good.
So we can know to the deepest part of our beings that if we ask God to bring to life whatever spirit gift He has for us to serve Him and His Body, He is not going to give us something bad.
It will be good. It will be holy. It will be for today. And if your leadership believes something God gives you is evil, you might consider going elsewhere.
Or, maybe you will receive nothing at all. But just remember that, before Jesus talked about the child asking for things from his father, He taught that we should "ask and keep on asking." For what we translate into our language as "ask and you will receive," means a continued asking. The widow in His story kept asking until she received justice, and His words tell us that we should keep asking our Father until He gives us something good.
Just make sure you're not asking so you can look spiritual, or gain favor in the eyes of others, or be more respected; Instead, take on the attitude of a humble servant. If God has something for you to do, and wants to give you a tool to perform that job, it is no glory to you if you ask for guidance and ability, and He then gives it to you.
Okay. So what kinds of spiritual gifts are there? Do we have an exhaustive list? And do we have clear descriptions of everything on that list?
Well, we DO have A list, found in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. And it includes:
- The Word of Wisdom
- The Word of Knowledge
- The Working of Miracles
- Discerning of Spirits
- and -
- Interpretation of Tongues
But that's just from our one passage. There are many others that can be found through the Biblical writings, which could expand our list to:
- Interpretation of Tongues
So that's our Biblical list. And that means there are no other spiritual gifts. Right?
Maybe. But does it say anywhere that the list is exhaustive? That any spiritual activity outside of those specific things mentioned is wrong or evil?
So maybe there are gifts not mentioned here. Maybe not. But either way, I believe it is important that we not participate with our earthly mind when it rejects something just because it does not fit in with what it knows or with what it has experienced before. That just COULD be classified as walking according to the flesh instead of the Spirit. Trusting in our mind's understanding of spiritual matters instead of dwelling in the Presence of God and trusting completely in His Spirit regardless of whether we understand what He is doing or how He is doing it.
So we DO have a list of spiritual gifts, but we are not told that this list covers every single gift, nor have we even been told that every single gift has even been given or used up until this present time. So there just MIGHT be more than has even been seen on this earth up until now.
So to the second question: do we have clear definitions of what the gifts in our list are? Explinations? Full details?
Well, in the New Testament writings, we do see examples of people through whom the Spirit is doing things the people being used could not do.
Such as healing.
Acts 5:14-16 (NKJV)
14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,
15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.
16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
So in this case, they were ALL healed, including the ones on whom Peter's shadow fell. In other places, people were instructed to bathe in a river, or wash their eyes, or simply get up and walk.
So if the Spirit wants to heal someone through you, do you need to follow one of the examples written in the Bible? Are those the only ways God can heal? Are all other scenarios evil or the work of demons? Or is God not limited to doing only what He has done before and only in the ways He has previously done it?
Teaching, for example, was done by speaking in person and writing in scrolls. Today, it is done in many new ways, including speaking from somewhere else in the world over the Internet, either live or pre-recorded. It is also done by music, drama, and other methods that may not have been recorded in Scripture, and may not have even existed at that time.
It can, of course, be very helpful to read the early church history, including the writings in the New Testament, to get an idea of how God has moved in the past, and therefore how He might and probably does move today.
But let's remember to not get stuck in the past. God has never done ANYTHING in the past. When God has done something, it has always been done in the Present Moment.
And thus, it is always fresh, new, and alive. Not bound by tradition or ritual or denominational persuasions, except to the extent that, bound ourselves by such things, we fight against and reject whatever does not fit in with our preconceived notions of what God is allowed to do or how He is allowed to do it.
Does that make sense?
And 1st Corinthians 12:7 does list something that we just might be able to apply to every single spiritual gift:
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
That's something all the examples of spiritual gifts we see in Scripture have in common: they were not for the purpose of exalting any man or angel; they were not for the purpose of a cheap thrill; they were not for the purpose of proving a denomination to be the superior one; they were not to make anyone feel good about themselves or to raise them up above the less spiritual among them.
Instead, the manifestation of the Spirit was given to each one for what? The manifestation of the Spirit was given to each one for..... the profit of all.
To build up. To edify. To exort. To heal. To deliver. To encourage. To enlighten. To bring into that place of repentance and full surrender.
And all THOSE things accomplished the One Main Purpose, which is...
To Bring YOU into a Closer Walk with God, so that you Dwell with Him in that Heavenly Place, casting all your cares upon Him and then leaving them there.
Am I decreasing so that He may increase? That's what the working of the Holy Spirit will do. It isn't meant to grow your ego or build up your self.
Instead, the Fire of the Holy Spirit melts us, as His Hand skims off the impurities.
His water softens our clay, as he sculpts us, shapes us, removes all things that will not surrender, and makes us into a vessel fitting use by a King.
His chisel cuts away the wood, hay, and stubble, and every thing that is of this earth and thus is passing away.
And the more His Spirit works in ways we may not even see, the more others see Him when they look our way.
Not me, but Thee, O Glorious Eternal One. And Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, Forever and Ever.