The Gifts of the Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:8-10 8 For to one is given by the Spirit
the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge
by the same Spirit; 9  To another faith by the same Spirit;
to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10  To another the working of miracles;
to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits;
to another [divers] kinds of tongues;
to another the interpretation of tongues:

The gifts of the Holy Spirit is a topic of contentious debate among Christians who can’t agree which, if any, are still in use today. There are those who believe that these gifts were used during the founding of the Church and are no longer relevant. Some believe that a few are still valid while the rest have fallen by the wayside. A third perspective is that all nine are active to this day.

The one gift that probably gets the most attention is speaking in tongues.

There are some Christian denominations that put such a strong emphasis on the ability to speak in tongues that it is the measure by which they decide whether or not you are saved. One well-meaning student kept trying to convert my wife, believing that she was lost and going to hell because she didn’t speak in tongues.

Many believe that you should have a special prayer language, and when you talk to God, you can speak in a language unknown to you, but God understands. If you don’t have this, your relationship with God is lacking, because if you were as close to God as you are supposed to be, you would have this.

I’ve been in a church service where a person will stand up and speak several sentences in what sounds like gibberish, and another person will stand up to interpret what the person said. Generally it is not a new revelation from God, but more an encouraging word to be vigilant and to love one another, to be prepared because He is coming soon.

I see a problem with these philosophies. It would be easy for someone to feel left out because they don’t have this particular gift. Didn’t their profession of faith and baptism take hold? What’s wrong with them that God refuses this most necessary of all gifts? Are they going to hell? Will they be accepted or cast out? They may eventually claim to have a prayer language and proceed to demonstrate it, or they may stand up and speak in a made up language so they appear Spirit filled.

Paul had a problem with that too.

1 Corinthians 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing?
do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

1 Corinthians 14:5, 13 5  I would that ye all spake with tongues,
but rather that ye prophesied: for greater [is] he that
prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues,
except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. …
13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an [unknown]
tongue pray that he may interpret.

In the New Testament, speaking in tongues had its place.

Acts 2:6-8 6 And when this sound occurred,
the multitude came together, and were confused,
because everyone heard them speak in his own language.
7 Then they were all amazed and marveled,
saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who
speak Galileans? 8 “And how [is it that] we hear,
each in our own language in which we were born?

Assuming things were done in a orderly fashion, how can one person speak a dozen languages at once? This is a miraculous happening. There were people there from at least 16 different regions and they all heard the apostles in their own language. Perhaps as they spoke the Holy Spirit translated their words before they reached the listeners’ ears. Or maybe they spoke in a Heavenly tongue that is universally understood.

These gifts were given so that unbelievers may be converted and saved. If you look at each gift, its aim is to grow the body of Christ and expand the reach of the Gospel.

Are the gifts of tongues and interpretations still around today? I would not judge whether a person is genuinely speaking in a heavenly language and another is correctly interpreting it, or if they are faking it to try to impress people or just fit in. That’s not my job. I would never presume to take something that God has done and attribute it to a man’s device.

But let’s move forward.

If you read the rest of I Corinthians 12, you will notice that Paul goes on to explain that the gifts of the Spirit are given to each person as God sees the need. Every person is a member of the body, each with their own function and purpose. And each person is given one or more gifts in order to accomplish that which they are expected to do. Not everyone is given the same gift, the same number of gifts, or any of them in the same measure.

There are titans of Christianity that we look up to as obviously filled with the Holy Spirit. Teachers and preachers doing great and marvelous works for God. They are on TV and the radio. They publish books and videos by the score. They are easily recognizable.

Then you have the person who vacuums the carpet, dusts the pews, cleans the bathrooms, and ensures that everything is in order for the Sunday service.

Who gets the most attention and appears more important?

Paul explains that every person is a member of the body and necessary for the functioning of it. No one part is insignificant and unworthy of attention.  The janitor cannot say, “I am not an evangelist, so I have no value.” Nor can the evangelist say, “You are a janitor, I have no need for you.”

Every member of the body is important, necessary, and valuable. And every part is given the tools they will need.

Since that concept hasn’t changed since it was first written by Paul, I find it hard to believe that God has removed the gifts He gave to the church.

The gift of faith is necessary to come to God as a sinner in need of redemption. Knowledge and wisdom are necessary to understand the word and the will of God and be able to help others comprehend. The ability to discern spirits is necessary to know if someone in truly preaching and teaching the word of God.

If those gifts are alive and well today, why not healing, miracles, prophecy, or tongues?

How do you treat other parts of the body? Does the eloquent pastor, evidently full of the Holy Ghost, preaching fire and brimstone and stirring the congregation to tears of repentance receive more honor the nursery worker?

All parts of the body are necessary.

What are your gifts? How are you using them for God? Are you envious of another’s gift? Do you desire a specific gift?

1 Corinthians 12:31 31 But covet earnestly
the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. 

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