Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.

Spiritual Gifts


Most Christians are aware of spiritual gifts, but some would like to have some that they were not given. What are they? Why are they given? Do we get to choose them? What does the Bible say?


The Bible mentions spiritual gifts in several places. The most commonly recognized are Romans 12:6-8
6We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8if 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.

, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10
8To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to 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.[

, and Ephesians 4:11
11So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,



A Good List

We read and hear about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but evidently there are different ideas about what they are and how many there are. Rather than just tell you what I think about the matter, it seems that we should try to identify what people mean by the phrase "spiritual gifts", where they come from, and make sure we are all on the same page.

Different views

A quick search on Google shows several different lists and claims about the number of spiritual gifts that are available to Christians. There are lists that claim four (Amazon), some that say seven (this search result at Google shows only the Google search results, because the link downloads a document), some that say twelve (the same result at Google shows a question of "What are the 12 gifts...", then sends you to an article that is a lengthy Wikipedia page that never says there are only twelve), another says there are sixteen of them (Uniquely You takes you to a page where you can buy a link to an "assessment" you take online. I guess this helps you determine which gifts you may have, according to their assessment).

This is what happens when you are led by the interpretations of others rather than go to the source. There is also a site (on Facebook) that gives a list of twenty-one gifts, and then gives a Bible reference verse or two for each of them. Although Facebook is a social media site that is hugely opinionated, that is the one with the list used here because it points to the Bible as the source of the identification of these gifts. However, even this site tells you how to buy their church's CD or DVD's that give you their course on the teaching of the Gifts of Holy Spirit, narrowing it down to their view on the subject.

The page lists these gifts and appropriate references:

The 21 gifts of the Holy Spirit are:

1. Witnessing Power, Acts 1:8
2. Mutual Encouragement, Romans 1:11-12
3. Prophesying, Romans 12:6, I Corinthians 12:10
4. Serving, Romans 12:7
5. Teaching, Romans 12:7
6. Encouraging, Romans 12:8
7. Contributing, Romans 12:8
8. Leadership, Romans 12:8
9. Showing Mercy, Romans 12:8
10. Spirit of Unity, Romans 15:5
11. Wisdom, I Corinthians 12:8
12. Knowledge, I Corinthians 12:8
13. Faith, I Corinthians 12:9
14. Healing, I Corinthians 12:9
15. Miraculous Powers, I Corinthians 12:10
16. Discernment, I Corinthians 12:10
17. Tongues, I Corinthians 12:10
18. Interpretation, I Corinthians 12:10
19. Administration, I Corinthians 12:28
20. Revelation, Ephesians 1:17
21. Joy, I Thessalonians 1:6

This list includes the common references, as well as a few others. Stopping there, it seems that going to each of these verses in the Bible would be the best way to determine the nature of the gift, rather than have someone explain what the verse "really" means according to their pastor or church. Otherwise, we would have to determine which of the 45,000 denominations to follow (as of 2016, Bransgore and Hinton), because they all teach differently from each other in some way. A quote from Bransgore and Hinton states:

Paul noted four factions in the Corinthian church. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity counts 45,000 denominations around the world, with an average of 2.4 new ones forming every day.

That does not sound like Christian unity (Philippians 2:2
2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

, 1 Peter 3:8
8Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

) to me, so let's go to the Bible.

Witnessing Power, Acts 1:8
8"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Right away, the verse actually says what the name of this gift implies. In the words of Jesus, speaking to His apostles (Acts 1:8
8"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

), they will become His witnesses with power.

Even with this clarity, there are two ways to take this. First, some say He gave this gift only to His apostles, as they were the only ones there when He said it. Second, if you look at what happened at Pentecost (Acts 2:1
1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

), there is some question about how many actually received the Holy Spirit. Some say that since the 120 gathered in the end of chapter 1 when Matthias was chosen to replace Judas, there were 120 present. Some say that when "the day of Pentecost came", and it was evidently a later time than the vote for Matthias, only the apostles were present. Also, when Peter speaks to the stunned crowd, He quotes the prophet Joel and says:

17" 'In the last days, God says,
        I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
        your young men will see visions,
        your old men will dream dreams.' "

Doesn't that mean that the hearers received the Spirit as well, since they understood Peter in their own languages? Unfortunately, that adds other questions to the mix. What did He mean, "In the last days"? Were they in the last days at that time, or are the "last days" in the future for them? Were women included in the group that "witnessed in power" on this occasion? In some Bible versions, the comments by the audience and by Peter suggest not (Acts 2:15a
15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. (emphasis added)

NIV 1985), yet the online NIV (2011) suggests differently (Acts 2:15a
15These people are not drunk, as you suppose. (emphasis added)

NIV 2011)). What the Greek Interlinear says is neutral:

According to the Greek, there is no specification for the gender of those present, only a denial that they are drunk. So, we cannot go to a dogmatic approach about this event. The quote from Joel says that sons and daughters will prophesy, but when are the "last days"? This may be one of those disputable matters like those discussed in Romans 14, but how do you make sure you are believing the truth and not something that just fits your church's view? Here is where a belief based on a poor translation ("These men are not drunk") can have you taking a stand that may or may not be true.

And, what about 1 Corinthians 14:34
34Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.

and 1 Timothy 2:12
12I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

? Sure, you can say that these are Paul's personal views and not from the Bible. Yet, if you read Genesis 3:16
16To the woman he said,

"I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
        with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
        and he will rule over you."

, spoken by the voice of God, you wonder if this is the law to which Paul referred. We are not told directly, so it would be better not to be dogmatic. However, if we are hearing the words of a young girl who is ill, or even a female preacher, we may want to be careful about believing anything that is not verified by the text of the Bible. This is not a sexist remark, just reference to the actual words of Scripture that everyone claims to believe in. Well, they claim to believe that parts they want to accept, and often just ignore the rest.

Some say that when you are baptized, you will receive the Holy Spirit automatically because of what happened at the baptism of Jesus. However, if you read carefully through the passage at Acts 8:9-23
9Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is rightly called the Great Power of God." 11They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

14When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money 19and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

20Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

, you will notice that this is not necessarily the case (verse 16
16because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

). Discernment is required in order to make a judgment as to whether the situation of the person warrants the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Peter had that discernment and made the judgment on the spot.

The bottom line? Witnessing power from the Holy Spirit was, and still is, given to some, but not necessarily all. The result of all this is described in Acts 8:25
25After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.


Mutual Encouragement, Romans 1:11-12
11I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong - 12that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.

There are few things in Christian life as encouraging as meeting a fellow believer who is not afraid to share thoughts and feelings about the Lord. That willingness to witness and share is what Paul is calling a spiritual gift:

the Greek phrase used by Paul was
and directly translates as "gift to you spiritual"

In order to encourage each other's faith, we should be willing to share by both learning and teaching, rebuking and being rebuked (2 Timothy 3:16-17
16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

), strengthening each other in the correct use of the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15
15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

). However, we must be careful not to encourage error and disobedience.

Prophesying, Romans 12:6
6We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;

, 1 Corinthians 12:10
10to 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.

The definition of prophecy (noun), including prophesy (verb), given at says:

noun, plural proph-e-cies.
  • the foretelling or prediction of what is to come.
  • something that is declared by a prophet, especially a divinely inspired prediction, instruction, or exhortation.
  • a divinely inspired utterance or revelation: oracular prophecies.
  • the action, function, or faculty of a prophet.

    verb (used with object), proph-e-sied, proph-e-sy-ing.
  • to foretell or predict.
  • to indicate beforehand.
  • to declare or foretell by or as if by divine inspiration.
  • to utter in prophecy or as a prophet.

  • verb (used without object), proph-e-sied, proph-e-sy-ing.
  • to make predictions.
  • to make inspired declarations of what is to come.
  • to speak as a mediator between God and humankind or in God's stead.
  • Archaic. to teach religious subjects.

  • Notice second item under noun and the last two items under verb (used without object); to speak and Archaic. to speak as a mediator is to give a message to the people from God. This is not necessarily a prediction of the future. For the last item, I checked "Archaic" out with Cambridge University Press and learned that Archaic style in English was considered to be from around 1590 to 1674, so we know that when the Bible is speaking, some of our definitions are interpreted by English translaters who passed on to us some concepts of what they thought the Bible meant in archaic concepts, especially when reading the King James version. So, while most people think "to prophesy" means to predict the future, it can also mean to relay a message from God or to teach religious subjects.

    So, when our sons and daughters begin to prophesy in the end times, how will we know whether it is a true prophecy or a false message? Many have been to websites or have read books where the second coming is predicted for a particular date, but that time has now passed and we are still here. Does that mean they were right, but we missed the boat? Or was this a false prophecy to which we should not listen?

    How do you tell?

    In 1827, a 15-year-old girl named Mary MacDonald prophesied during an illness that God revealed to her that Jesus' coming would be in two stages - a pre-tribulation rapture, then the second coming after tribulation. A man named John Nelson Darby took what she said to heart and began to expound on what her prediction means.

    Not in the Bible, but we can find it in there, anyway

    Today, for some reason, nearly every Christian church believes in this "prophecy" and the world is all atwitter about the pre-tribulation "Rapture" concept. They search through Scripture for verses that can be interpreted as supporting this concept, with a little twist or addition, of course.

    However, the vast majority of the "brilliant scholars" since the first century (when all these Bible verses actually happened) have not discussed or presented this idea at any time until after 1827 when it was first presented by an ill 15-year-old girl. Since she was someone's daughter, is this a prophecy we are to take as a word from God? Was she in the "end times" of Joel's prophecy (Acts 2:17
    17" 'In the last days, God says,
            I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
            your young men will see visions,
            your old men will dream dreams.' "

    , Joel 2:28
    28"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

    )? Would 200 years ago be considered the last days? When there is no way to firmly connect this idea to the Bible without stretching concepts or adding thoughts to the text, it seems somewhat dangerous to make this a foundation for your beliefs.

    An absolute maybe...

    Several years ago, some anticipated that a "sign" in the heavens portended the immediate fulfilling of the "Rapture". The signs occurred on September 23, 2017. As of today, October 27, 2020, you can see the Wikipedia article at Wikipedia, with both pros and cons of the belief. Now, we are not told how soon after "signs" appeared in "the heavens" that the "Rapture" would occur, but there was evidently a debate on September 14 of that year.

    "The Bible doesn't say, but maybe?"

    Regardless of the outcome of that discussion, we are still here. That means either the "Rapture" happened and we are left behind, or the predicted events are to occur in the future, or the whole thing was a misinterpretation of the supposed "sign" events. If it was not supposed to have happened yet, then there is always the possibility that it was a true "prophecy". It seems pretty convenient that an event can be "prophecy" that cannot be disproved until the appointed time passes, but we are never given a time for that measurement.

    Imagine that. Why should we guess? I do not intend to stand outside with my arms spread to the sky and wait for it to happen. Lack of faith? No, belief in God's word, which does not clearly predict the mythical event, but does mention the catching up at the coming of the Lord. In fact, no Bible text directly mentions the pre-tribulation "Rapture" at all, it must be inferred by the interpreter.

    "But, God spoke to her...", well, someone may have

    I think a clue of the truth of the 1820's "prediction" would be the nature of the girl's life before and after this prophecy. Otherwise, we will just have to wait. Our Old Testament has prophets who were heavily doubted while they were still alive, but their prophecies have proven accurate (Daniel and Jeremiah, for example). However, we should also be wary, for the world is filled with false prophets. For this girl's prophecy, some believed her and others did not.

    One of the most prominent people who supported and touted the Rapture concept, John Nelson Darby, investigated her utterances, along with others, and a Wikipedia article reported their findings. This man who took the "Rapture" ball and ran with it, determined for himself that the displays of healings, speaking in tongues, and prophecies of the MacDonald family were demonic in origin. Yet, he still espouses the basic claim of her utterances regrding the two-phase "comings" of Christ, with no support from the word of God. And much of the Christian world follows after him with no proof whatsoever.

    No Biblical confirmation, but...

    What does that mean to us when we profess to believe something that may not be true? While this is not directly a salvation issue, other "prophets" present ideas that will affect your salvation. When you accept one false belief, it can be the foundation upon which other false beliefs are based, eventually leading one astray from the truth, or worse, into disobedience. Our first obligation is to verify these beliefs with the Bible, as did the Bereans (Acts 17:11
    11Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

    ). That is, of course, if your character is noble enough to care about the truth.

    It seems that we will have to wait until after the fact to know for sure. This concept of a pre-tribulation "Rapture" is safe from debunking because, except for comparing it to the words of the Bible, there is no way to know if it is true until after it happens - or doesn't happen. Then it won't matter because it will be too late to change beliefs if it never happens. Unless, that is, we can determine when it was supposed to have happened and revise our faith to be in the real God and Jesus after it doesn't happen. So, how do we tell when what we are told is truly a prophecy, and when it is false? Again, my only clue would be to see the antichrist without some mass disappearance of true Christians, which means it did not happen, and then we will know. Otherwise, we can only wait and see.

    Serving, Teaching Romans 12:7
    7if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

    Serving. This one is simple. The only thing we have to worry about is letting serving turn into slavery. Not slavery with a whip, but helping someone, at their continued insistence, far beyond their need. This becomes hard to stop because we might feel that we are letting God down if we do not continue.

    Teaching. This one is dear to my heart. I love learning and teaching. Since retirement, I have focused on Bible study and learning various computer programming languages, grateful for those who are adept at teaching each. While it is likely I will never again use my progrmmming skills productively, they keep my mind active. As for teaching, my wife and I attend multiple Bible studies during which we exchange ideas with other Christians. Sometimes it feels like we are teaching, and other times it feels like we are learning from the teachings of others. Either way, everyone benefits.

    Encouraging, giving, leading, and mercy, Romans 12:8
    8if 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.

    With all the ANTs around (Astounding New Truths) presenting themselves almost daily, it's hard to know when to encourage Biblical activities, and when to advise others or take advice, about activities that take us outside the will of God. Many "Christians" are so shallow in knowledge of the Bible that they engage in activities actually clearly forbidden by it, often without knowing it. We should only encourage people to continue on the narrow path, to help overcome apostasy, but rebuke and discourage disobedience.

    Giving is self-explanatory. Throughout the Bible we are encouraged to give as we are able, according to true need. Some do this easier than others.

    Leading is often hard as much of the world feels that tolerance of the beliefs of others is mandatory, even if the evidence of their beliefs require an about face to return to the way of the Lord. Our leaders need good discernment to understand the will of God, and the ability to make the right decisions to help the congregation stay within that will (Matthew 7:21
    21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

    ). It is astounding to me to see the beliefs of a vast majority of churches that are actually contrary to the Bible. This is at the feet of the leaders of those churches. Being a leader does not mean you are right, just good at leading others.

    Mercy is easy, after repentance. The problem is that when one does not recognize sin, there is often no repentance, so mercy is not warranted. Even Jesus, in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35
    21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"

    22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

    23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

    26"At this the servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

    28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

    29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.'

    30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

    32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

    35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

    ) shows that we should not reward the belligerently disobedient with mercy. He even recommended taking away forgiveness when repentence is missing.

    Spirit of Unity, Romans 15:5-6
    5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    This one is hard. We have one Bible, but more than 45,000 different church denominations (from Bransgore and Hinton). Why? Because we Christians are not united in how we worship God or even how we read His word. Oh, we all have the "peaches and cream" attitude of loving each other and loving Jesus, but often do not do what He says (Luke 6:46
    46"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"

    ). The message is clear when compared to the context of the rest of the Bible, but so many need to make the message fit something they already believe, regardless of the contradictions it causes.

    Disobedience causes unity?

    When everyone disobeys, that is a type of unity. Most, yes, most, churches deliberately disobey God's will weekly, as well as annually. Not just little things, but big things like deliberately breaking the commandments, worshiping Him in ways He said not to do, and eating detestable things. And each of them thinks that all the other churches are at fault. This is not an opinion, but a statement of fact. If we were to have a meeting of all the denominations in the world, what do you think the chances would be of coming up with one way to follow God and give Him glory? Everyone claims that they are doing this, but the facts and their actions say otherwise.

    Why is it so hard? People readily compromise with the world every day. Nearly all of them do it, because "everyone is doing it", regardless of Paul's quote of God's advice (2 Corinthians 6:17
    17Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."

    ), as well as his own understanding (2 Corinthians 7:1
    1Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

    ). It is impossible to have unity if each follows his own heart (Proverbs 14:12
    12There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

    ). So, how do we approach this gift? Each with his own definition? That is not unity, and the Bible does not give separate advice to different nations, gender, or beliefs, whether Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:28
    28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    ), but treats everyone according to how they conform to His Father's will (Matthew 7:21
    21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

    ). Gentiles are not special or different - only our actions and faith are the basis for His judgment. We are not home free yet (Philippians 3:12
    12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

    ). If Paul feels that way, we should be careful of becoming arrogant, thinking we are already safe (remember 2 Peter 2:20
    20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.

    and Hebrews 10:26-27
    26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.


    Wisdom, Knowledge I Corinthians 12:8
    8To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,

    Intelligence has nothing to do with wisdom. Wisdom doesn't just pop into your head because you are smart or because you were baptized. Well, OK, it did pop for Solomon, but even you have to admit that was different. There are Ph.D.s in every denomination, and many of them believe opposite things about the Bible and God's will. If they all believe different things, they can't all be right. Probably the most important thing about gaining and having widsom is that it requires something that, when mentioned in discussions, seems to cause fights between Christians - FEAR of God (Proverbs 9:10
    10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

    ). I can hear all those Christians out there shouting, "We don't fear God! We love Him and He loves us!"

    Let me ask you this. When you were a child and disobeyed big time, did you get a spanking? If you did, did you fear your dad or mom after that? You probably did not fear them directly, but you did fear what they would do if you repeated your disobedience. So, you feared them in certain circumstances. That is what the word of God teaches us - when to fear God.

    That is what is lacking in today's churches. They do not seek this gift (neither fear nor wisdom), and their pastors oblige them by giving "sugar and cream" sermons that tell the they are already saved and can do nothing to change that. The congregations are not told to give the proper respect to God, nor to fear Him if they disobey. Usually, they are not even told what constitutes disobedience or sin (1 John 3:4
    4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

    ). Without that fear, they have little or no wisdom, and what they do have is of the world.

    Put another way, if they disobey while ignoring the consequences of doing so, it means they are doing something that is unwise. Without wisdom, they do not seek knowledge of the Bible (Matthew 22:29
    29Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."

    ). Continuing in this way, while nothing immediate happens to you, does not mean that you got away with it. If you do not change your ways, there will be consequences that come after it is too late to change them.

    The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth (John 16:13
    13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

    ), not make you the smartest guy in the room instantly. When you were baptized, you didn't suddenly know everything, but you were ready to learn. When you study the word of God in that light, you gain knowledge. If you ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit, you will not gain knowledge. Conversely, without knowledge, you will have no wisdom.

    Faith, Healing, I Corinthians 12:9
    9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,

    Faith. This is a big one. Faith in what? Faith in Who? The "standard" answer is "Faith in Jesus." Which Jesus is that? The loving, kind, merciful, forgiving Jesus. Yep. But Jesus is a whole Person/God, not just half of one. Do you have faith in the Judge, Jury, Executioner Jesus? Yep, there is one (John 5:22
    22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,

    , John 5:30
    30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

    , John 12:47-48
    47 "If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day."

    , Romans 2:12-16
    12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

    , Matthew 25:31-46
    31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 The people of every nation will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left.

    34 "Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, my Father has blessed you! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home. 36 I needed clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

    37 "Then the people who have God's approval will reply to him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and take you into our homes or see you in need of clothes and give you something to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

    40 "The king will answer them, 'I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.'

    41 "Then the king will say to those on his left, 'Get away from me! God has cursed you! Go into everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn't take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn't give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't take care of me.'

    44 "They, too, will ask, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn't help you?'

    45 "He will answer them, 'I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.'

    46 "These people will go away into eternal punishment, but those with God's approval will go into eternal life."


    That's the Jesus that sneaks up on people. When you have faith in Him, you have faith in His ability to judge, repay violence with vengeance, and all those other things we read about in the Old Testament. But, no one wants to attribute those qualities to Jesus. His first coming was to give a gift for those who are in His Father's will. The next time He comes, it will be to rule the earth in Righteousness, as the Son of God, King of the earth, expecting obedience (Luke 6:46
    46"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"

    ). He will judge rightly, but on which side of that judgment will you sit? Is your faith in the Son and will of the Father (Matthew 7:21
    21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."


    As for healing, this is an issue to which I cannot speak. As much as I have prayed alone and with others, I have never seen a direct result of this gift. I do not doubt that it is real and effective, but it seems to depend on things over which I have no control. Perhaps my own faith is not strong enough. Also, it depends on the faith of the one being healed. As with the blind man healed outside Bethsaida, even Jesus had to perform the process twice (Mark 8:22-25
    22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"

    24He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."

    25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus sent him home, saying, "Don't even go into the village."

    ). The man's faith must have been weak, because Jesus advised him not to return to the village where, evidently, the influence of the people there was damaging his faith.

    Miraculous Powers, Discernment, Tongues, Interpretation, I Corinthians 12:10
    10to 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.

    Again, miraculous powers are outside my personal experience. To do as Paul did with Eutychus is beyond my faith at this point in my growth, or more to the point, it is not evident that the Holy Spirit has given me this gift. In fact, I feel unworthy to even pray for such a gift. My prayers ask God to do the healing. I know that it is real, but have no personal experience in this area.

    Discernment is the subject of another page on this site. Some very well-known pastors have written books on the subject, yet their lives and their churches do not appear to demonstrate this gift. Compared to statements in their own words, they are lacking in proper discernment, while advising others as to how to obtain it. We all think we have good discernment, but if any interpretations conflict with the Bible, something is wrong. We should be able to tell the difference between right and wrong, truth and a lie. Like others, I feel that my discernment is good, since I match my decisions, deeds, and teachings to the words of the Bible. If a gift of discernment is received and used properly, the results should be within the will of God, not outside it.

    Speaking in tongues, as is commonly meant by those churches who claim to have that gift, is a confusing one to me. These "charismatic" churches have episodes during the sermons during which many people begin to hiss with a sharp intake of breath and mumble unintelligibly (I have attended some of these sessions, and it raises the hair on the back of your neck). After the session, contrary to the instuctions of Paul, there was no interpretation of the utterings of these 20 or so people around the auditorium, and that is directly against Scripture (1 Corinthians 14:27-28
    27If anyone speaks in a tongue, two - or at the most three - should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.


    I guess they were speaking to God (1 Corinthians 14:2
    2For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.

    ) and did not check with each other to see if there was an interpreter and who should go first. I had the feeling at the time that they do this on the spur of the moment, bursting into speech, speaking aloud, synchronizing with the slowly elevating voice of the pastor giving the climax of his sermon. Again, there were 20 or more participating all at once, and no one offered an interpretation. This is very confusing, which is probably why there are so many explanations and stands regarding "speaking in tongues".

    Paul spoke about it in the same context as the event at Pentecost. For all the words spoken were in "other tongues" (as in not their own language (Acts 2:4
    4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

    )), and each person who heard was able to understand in his own language (Acts 2:7-8
    7Utterly amazed, they asked: "Aren't all these who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?"

    ). No human interpreters were necessary. According to that passage, if this recent session "gift" we witnessed was from God, for the people, I should have heard what these people were saying in my own language. That's not what I heard! Paul even spoke about speaking in the church clearly rather than babbling (1 Corinthians 14:19
    19But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. (emphasis added)


    In 1 Corinthians 14, it seems that Paul speaks in a way that seems to contradict the events of Pentecost. Verse 14:2
    2For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.

    says that one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people, but that seems to be exacly what happened at Pentecost. However, since a seeming contradiction between verses in the Bible usually means that one of the interpretations is wrong, maybe speaking in "a tongue" to God is not the same as speaking in "other tongues" to people in their own language.

    However, there are some passages that seem to call for speaking a language that requires interpretation, though I can't for the life of me see a human need for speaking a language that no one understands so that another can interpret back into the language of the congregation, instead of speaking something intelligible in the first place. However, in some way that I do not understand, this may happen in order to highlight the power of God. Like Paul said in I Corinthians 12:10
    10to 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. (emphasis added)

    , there are different kinds of tongues, so we have to try to determine for ourselves which is which. Another gift for others than myself, I guess.

    Administration, I Corinthians 12:28
    28And 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.

    This seems to be more of a statement about different functions in the church, and the different gifts that are required to best perform those duties, rather than a description of hierarchy of power. The first century church had shepherds to guide the congregations, but there did not seem to be a chain of command of power or authority, or a specific order to the "church services" that is deemed to be so important today. The term "administration", not in the words of the verse, conjurs up an idea of some sort of rigid control structure not visible in the first "ecclesia". This "administration of power" came about centuries later.

    Revelation, Ephesians 1:17
    17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

    While many see this as the gift of receiving messages directly from God through visions, this seems to speak of being able to correctly "divide the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15
    15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

    ). Knowing God through His revealed word, and not some poor translation of what some people need it to say, will allow you to know the real Him.

    Joy, 1 Thessalonians 1:6
    6You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

    We all experience joy, whether we know Jesus or not. However, the joy of comraderie with others of the faith when we discover new Christians or share something new in the Lord is more than just glee or happiness. There is a joy that glows from within among the brothers and sisters in Christ. As you can tell, this is even hard to put into words.

    The gift of the Holy Spirit seems to be the joy of living and believing in the coming salvation that will arrive with Jesus Christ. While we are all upset occasionally, it is never enough to eclipse that joy of knowing that we will be saved at His coming. That joy keeps us loving, sharing, enjoying, studying, and praying. This is an eternal joy, not one that passes with the moment.


    This page would not be complete if we did not mention the results of having at least one of the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. The main Bible reference verses are Galatians 5:22-23
    22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control.


    These don't seem to be so much as different gifts for different people, but the cumulative effect of having the Holy Spirit leading your life. The more you live in Him, the more of these gifts you will have.

    However, if you have an attribute that is the opposite of one of these, for example anger instead of joy or peace, it is unlikely the others will be present. If you are not a gentle person, you will not be perceived as one with self-control, kindness or goodness. If you do not exhibit one or more of these gifts in your life, it seems likely that you are not living in communion with the Holy Spirit and your fruits will be diminished.


    This was a quick pass through a very important topic. It would likely be very hard for any single person to expound on all these gifts without some personal experience in each. There is no question that some have one or several of them, and the congregation, no matter how small, benefits from that. The thing to remember is to use those gifts for the good of the "ecclesia" and not for personal gain or notoriety. That will lead to the wrong gate.

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