(sorry about the pic – couldn’t resist)
Let me start by reiterating: I’m NOT a Bible scholar.
With that said, I have strong thoughts concerning gifts of the Holy Spirit. My spiritual journey has brought me through some interesting encounters with certain manifestations of the Holy Spirit – both genuine and counterfeit. I have felt the exquisite, supernatural presence of God and I have witnessed the manufactured, manipulating attempts of paltry schemers.
Take a look at the first part of chapter 12 where Paul is teaching the church at Corinth about spiritual gifts:
4 Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. 6 There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. 8 To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge. 9 The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and to another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, and another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
Paul’s teaching here is on the importance of the variety of gifts to get the job done in the church (the body of Christ). He goes on to explain:
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into Christ’s body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit. 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 Suppose the whole body were an eye then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? 18 But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. 19 What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, 24 while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.
What a brilliant analogy. Like our own human bodies, the church needs properly functioning “body parts” in order to accomplish what is it meant to accomplish. It’s easy to understand that our bodies do not function as well without eyes, for example. Kind of like a church without a vision. Our human bodies would not function as well without feet or hands – as a church would not function properly without volunteers to serve inside the church and to go out into the community and serve there.
Lastly, Paul gives some instruction regarding the ranking of members (or “parts”) God has placed in the body:
28 Here is a list of some of the members that God has placed in the body of Christ: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who can get others to work together, those who speak in unknown languages. 29 Is everyone an apostle? Of course not. Is everyone a prophet? No. Are all teachers? Does everyone have the power to do miracles? 30 Does everyone have the gift of healing? Of course not. Does God give all of us the ability to speak in unknown languages? Can everyone interpret unknown languages? No! 31 And in any event, you should desire the most helpful gifts.
Do you notice Paul’s emphasis on the fact that everyone has different gifts? I am amazed at how people can still insist that to be saved or “filled with the Holy Spirit” you MUST speak in tongues. Why then would Paul say, “Does God give all of us the ability to speak in unknown languages? Can everyone interpret unknown languages? No!”
This must be why Paul spends much of chapter 14 in 1 Corinthians talking about the gift of tongues – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Did you know that the belief that speaking in tongues is a manifestation of salvation is a relatively new phenomenon? Vinson Synan, Ph.D who is now dean of the school of Divinity at Regent University researched and wrote about the modern Pentecostal movement. Dr. Synan writes, “The first person to be baptized in the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues was Agnes Ozman, one of Parham’s Bible School students, who spoke in tongues on the very first day of the new century, January 1, 1901”. So baptism of the Holy Spirit as the modern Pentecostals define it is not known historically in Christendom.
And, since we’re on the subject, my research has shown me (and the Holy Spirit confirmed within me) that:
- No one can say that “Jesus is Lord” except that the Holy Spirit draw them
- At the point of salvation, a person claims Jesus as Lord (see Romans 10:9)
- Once saved, we become part of the corporate “body of Christ” through baptism of the Holy Spirit (see verse 13 above)
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit happens only once (see Ephesians 4:5)
I also believe that the indwelling or filling of the Holy Spirit can happen (needs to happen) continuously. The Holy Spirit can at different times fill us with His power to specifically accomplish tasks or to help us in our witness (as shown in Luke 1:15, Luke 1:67, Acts 2:4, Acts 4:8, Acts 9:17 and others) Paul himself was filled with the Spirit in Acts 9:17 and again in Acts 13:9.
Does every Christian speak in tongues? I say that’s a lot of “bull.” (reference to image above, of course – see how it fits?)
Lots of great stuff in this chapter. We’ve only scratched the surface today. Just remember, God is not the author of confusion. Sometimes our own desires and selfish motives give us a “different” perspective on things. It’s human nature. We all want to be known as super-spiritual or gifted in certain ways. But, only the Holy Spirit is able to distribute the gifts as He sees fit.