Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
February 9, 2003
Spiritual Gifts, Part 5 – The Charismatic Gifts
For several weeks we have been examining Spiritual Gifts. We
have covered those gifts listed in Romans 12 and similar gifts
mentioned in other passages. This morning I want us to examine
the "sign" gifts of 1 Corinthians 12. This passage is
often misunderstood due to the strong influence of the
Charismatic movement. Much of what people commonly understand
about this passage is based in experience and not on what the
text actually says. Our goal is to live according to what God
actually says and not on what people say based on their
experiences. Turn to 1 Corinthians 12.
Introduction to 1 Corinthians 12-14 (vs. 1-3)
Paul introduces the topic of Spiritual things in verse 1 in
response to some question they had. "Now concerning
spiritual [gifts], brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.
Paul is explaining to them about the pneumatikwn
/ pnumatikon – the spiritual things. The word
"gifts" is not in the text, though the general idea of
it is implied in the context. That is why your bible has
"gifts" in italics. We might be better to just
translate this as "spirituals" or "spiritual
things" because as soon as we add "gifts" our
thoughts tend to center on them and they are not in themselves
the focus of Paul’s discussion that starts here and continues on
through chapter 14. His interest here is more on their being
spiritual as opposed to being carnal. They have gifts that are
spiritually given, so they should use them for spiritual
purposes. They are part of a spiritual body, so they should live
according to spiritual priorities.
The Corinthians were not ignorant concerning the spiritual
gifts themselves, for in 1:7 Paul had already told them that they
"were not lacking in any gift." Their ignorance
was in the purpose of those gifts and how to use them.
In verse 2 & 3, Paul reminds them of their past in
paganism and how they came to Christ. You know that when you
were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb idols,
however you were led. Therefore I make known to you, that no one
speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is
accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord,"
except by the Holy Spirit."
Why does Paul remind them of this? Because much of their
problem in this area is similar to the problem they were having
in other areas. They were dragging their old ideas and practices
of paganism into the church. Notice how Paul puts it, "when
you were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb idols, however
you were led." The KJV puts it, "carried away
unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led." That
pictures the pagan mystery religions’ practices. The
worshipers would be carried away in the emotional hysteria of
either the ecstatic state or the mystical experience of
The pagan worship in Corinth gave great value to the state of
ecstasy, and the person that entered it was held in high esteem
as having achieved the ultimate in their religion. This condition
was viewed as a supernatural, sensuous communion with a deity.
Through frenzied hypnotic chants and ceremonies the worshipers
experienced semiconscious euphoric feelings of oneness with the
god or goddess. The ecstasy might take the form of either a
trance or trance like state, or in the case of the worship of
Aphrodite, unrestrained sexual orgies. To help a person achieve
this state, various practices could be used including vigils
& fastings, the contemplation of sacred objects, chanting and
even drunkenness. Physical exertion in whirling dancing and such
could also be used to help to produce the state of ecstasy.
Similar to ecstasy, and some times accompanying it, was a
condition termed enthusiasm. The participant would become
involved in divination, revelatory dreams and visions. Plato
& Virgil record the scenes of these practices in which the
people would be so caught up in emotional hysteria that they
would begin shaking, fall down and babble in ecstatic speech. All
these practices are still common in many pagan religions today.
Because these things appeared to be supernatural, even if
bizarre to our minds, the practice had a strong attraction to
people, and some of the Corinthians confused the miracles of the
Holy Spirit with their pagan practices. Satan always seeks to
mimic and soon many of these Corinthian Christians were bringing
their pagan practices into the church. And as the next verse
indicates, if a person was supposedly in one of these spiritual
states, they even tolerated them saying things that are
Verses 3, "Therefore I make known to you, that no one
speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is accursed’; and no
one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Spirit."
Apparently there were those who were supposedly speaking by the
spirit in whatever manner, but were in fact blaspheming the name
of Christ. Incredible! They were doing that while supposedly
under the control of the Holy Spirit. Paul says, "NO!"
The Spirit will not allow such a thing. Paul is not saying
someone cannot physically say "Jesus is Lord," unless
the Holy Spirit is present. He is saying that the Spirit promotes
Jesus and glorifies Him. Someone who is "in the Spirit"
will also glorify Jesus. They will not be blaspheming Him.
Origin & Purpose of Spiritual Gifts (vs. 4-8)
Starting in verse 4, Paul turns his attention to the question
of spiritual gifts themselves. In verses 4-8, Paul tells them
where the gifts, ministries and effectiveness of those ministries
come from. We have looked at these verses before, but they bear
repeating before we get to specific gifts given as examples in
Verse 4, "There are varieties of gifts, but the same
Spirit." "Gifts" here is carismatwn
/ charismaton from which we get the word "charismatic."
It means "gift of grace." The Holy Spirit is the same
for all Christians, but He gives different gifts to different
people. Every Christian is given a spiritual gift or gifts by
which they are to serve the Lord. There are all sorts of
spiritual gifts, as we have seen over the last month, but
whatever gift it may be, it came by the Spirit.
Verse 5, "there are varieties of ministries, but the
same Lord." The Lord is the same for all Christians, but
He will use those different gifts in different Christians in a
variety of ministries as He chooses. We have already seen this in
the many gifts we have already studied. Ministries vary in the
age group they are used in (children, youth, adults, elderly),
the setting they are used (public, private), and in their
Verse 6, "there are varieties of effects, but the same
God who works all things in all." God is the same for
all Christians, but the effectiveness of those different gifts
used in different ministries will also be different – ACCORDING
TO GOD. The gift and ministry will vary in how many people are
affected by it. It could just be a few people at a Bible Study,
or with more people at a church service, or it could be used
regionally, nationally or even internationally.
The bottom line is that God has gifted every believer to serve
Him, but the gift or gifts given, the ministry that the gift(s)
are used in, and the effectiveness of the gift(s) are according
to the Lord’s will, and not your own. The purpose of God
giving these spiritual gifts and ministries to you is stated in
verse 7. But to each one is given the manifestation of the
Spirit for the common good. No gift is given for private
usage. Every gift is meant to fit in as part of the whole body of
Christ and help it. As Jerry Smith pointed out so well last week
from Ephesians 4:12 & 16, all gifts are for the building up
of the whole body. No gift is for private edification.
What are these "manifestations of the Spirit,"
these outward evidences of the Spirit’s presence? In
Galatians 5 Paul tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is the
evidence of the Spirit’s presence in a person’s life – love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness & self-control. In this text, the evidence is
the gift(s) given by the Spirit so that God’s children can
serve Him and thereby benefit the whole body.
Which gift manifests the Holy Spirit in a person’s life? The
text here is clear that it is any gift. I will add that any so
called "gift" that is not displayed along with the
fruit of the Spirit cannot be considered evidence of the Holy
Spirit’s presence. Pentacostal doctrine on this issue is simply
wrong. The gift of speaking in an unknown tongue is not the
"manifestation of the Spirit" or of being "baptized
in the Spirit." It is only one of many gifts that could
Any gift used in any ministry with any effect is a
manifestation of the Spirit, and its purpose is for the common
good of the whole body. I cannot stress this enough. There are no
insignificant gifts. There are no insignificant ministries. There
are no insignificant people in the church. Every person, every
gift, and every ministry is needed in order for the body to be
healthy and carry out its God given purposes of worshiping God,
caring for one another, building each other up and declaring the
message of salvation from sin by God’s grace through faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ.
What are these gifts? We have already studied Romans 12:6-8
which mentions prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving,
leading and mercy. We have also looked at the gifts of preaching,
speaking, helps and administration that are mentioned in other
passages. Again, because of the mention of these various gifts
are scattered around the Bible, I do not believe the Holy Spirit
intended to give us an exhaustive list of all His gifts. The
gifts mentioned are simply examples so that the point can be made
that God has equipped us, and we are to serve Him. I hope that
our study so far has helped you think through how God might use
you in serving Him.
All spiritual gifts are supernaturally derived according to
the will of the Spirit of God. A spiritual gift may use a natural
talent, or it may function where there is not natural talent or
skill, and a person with a natural skill may not have the
corresponding spiritual gift. The key question in determining a
spiritual gift is: Is God using you in that area?
Your gift, whatever it is, will help the rest of the body
become more like Jesus Christ. That includes helping those
without that particular gift fulfill God’s commands in that
area. For example, a person with the gift of mercy will help
others become more merciful. A person with the gift of giving
will inspire others to be more giving. A person who teaches will
help others fulfill their own obligations in teaching those they
are responsible for.
The list of gifts in 1 Cor. 12:8-10 is broken up in three
categories. That is not clear in the English translations, but it
is clear in the Greek because of the different pronouns used.
Gifts Related to Knowledge (vs. 8)
The first category is related to the intellect. Verse 8, "For
to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to
another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit."
These two gifts appear to be related to the office of Apostleship
as verse 28,29 would imply.
Word of Wisdom
All Christians can ask for and receive wisdom which is the
ability to apply knowledge correctly (James 1:5). There are those
even today that God has granted great wisdom beyond what is
ordinary, but the Word of Wisdom is a special provision beyond
that. It is related to Paul’s earlier discussion of wisdom in
chapter 2 and pertains to the ability to communicate the
"deep things of God" (2:10). It is the ability to
receive and pass on God’s mysteries at the time He reveals them
directly to human agents. Paul speaks of this being done through
him specifically in Eph 3:3-6, and Peter speaks of Paul doing
this in 2 Peter 3:15.
Word of Knowledge
The Word of Knowledge also appears to be apostolic in nature
and pertains to God granting them the insight to grasp the
logical nature and relation of truths already revealed. There are
those that God has granted great intellectual ability to write
theologies and detailed expositions of Biblical books, but this
gift is something beyond even that. The New Testament epistles
give evidence of this because much of what is in them is related
to explanation of truths already revealed in the Old Testament or
in the teachings of Christ, but which had not been clearly
systematized and explained before. The book of Hebrews would be
the most obvious example of this.
There are those who claim to have these gifts today. Certainly
there are those God has blessed with great wisdom and intellect,
but it is properly disputed whether people are gaining direct
revelation from God in either of these manners as did the
Apostles. No one today has the authority to say, "God told
me to tell you . . . ". Our only authority is the Scripture
by which we instruct, reprove, correct and train others in
righteousness (2 Tim. 2:16). Upon that we can also give the
opinion of our own wisdom, but we do not have authority to state
our opinions as a "thus sayeth the Lord." In addition,
though there are many people that have written systematic
theologies, all of them must bow to the authority of the Bible
and be judged by it. Whenever people hold to one systematic
theology as the final word in interpretation and understanding,
there arises a cultic group that will be in error, often serious,
on some point of doctrine.
Gifts Related to Faith (vs. 9,10)
The next category is related to faith. Verse 9, 10 "to
another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing
by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and
to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits
. . . "
Faith is the general category and the most general gift in
this category. This is a faith that goes beyond the grace of
common faith that allows us to be saved. This gift enables the
Christian to proceed with daring and resolve to surmount any
obstacle that may be opposed to the work of God in a given
situation. This is the only gift listed in this passage that I do
not believe has become limited in some way since the Apostolic
Gifts of Healing
Actually this is gifts of healings, its plural. It is related
to faith in that it rests upon a basic confidence in God. Its
operation is specific in one sphere resulting in miraculous
healing of various kinds of sickness and disease. The two nouns
being plurals indicate that this is a category of several gifts
with each healing a different sickness. It was demonstrated in
the lives of several apostles including Peter (Acts 3) and Paul
(Acts 14:9). The use of this gift focused attention on the person
that did the healing and earned them a hearing with those that
witnessed the miracle. It was an attesting miracle of God’s
approval of the message of the speaker.
God can still do anything He wants in any manner He chooses. I
have seen Him graciously answer prayer and heal people. However,
those who claim to have a gift of healing must be able to do in
the same manner and for the same purpose as the Apostles. In Acts
3:6,7 we find that Peter could heal regardless of the faith of
the one being healed. This incident of healing the man who had
been lame from birth and those mentioned in Acts 5:15,16 show
that Peter could also heal those with a very obvious problem that
could not be faked. Those claiming this gift today do not do it
in this manner. In addition, we must remember that even when such
a miracle of healing does take place, if it is not done in a
manner that points people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then
we can be sure that it was not from God. These things can also be
done by demonic powers. The beast in Rev. 13 will be healed of
what appears to be a fatal wound.
Effecting of miracles
This is also in the general category of faith and refers to
being able to perform some overtly supernatural event. This gift
is also seen in the apostles such as Peter raising Dorcas from
the dead (Acts 9:40), and Paul blinding Elymas the sorcerer (Acts
13:8-11). It was used in the same way as healings in that it won
the person using it a hearing for presenting Jesus Christ to the
people that saw the miracle. This gift can also be mimicked by
demonic powers. Jesus warned about the false Christs and false
prophets that would come and show great signs and wonders, so
as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Mt. 24:22). In 2
Thess. 2:9, 10 Paul warns about the "activity of Satan,
with all power and signs and false wonders" who will
enable the antichrist to deceive many. Such false prophets and
teachers have always been around (2 Peter 2:1-3).
Prophecy as listed here refers to a gift of faith that
resulted in what was miraculous, either a prediction of the
future, or a revelation of a mystery, or the ability to perceive
the thoughts and motives of other persons. In many ways this gift
was also Apostolic since there were several that demonstrated
this gift, but there were others beside Apostles who had it
including Agabus (Acts 11:28; 21:10), Judas & Silas (Acts
15:32), and others (Acts 11:27, 13:1). Those with this gift did
not have the authority of either the Old Testament Prophets or
the New Testament Apostles, for their prophecies were to be
judged (1 Cor 14:29), and the prophet could not always give the
prophecies interpretation or application (Acts 21:4,11-14). Those
who claim that they have this gift today and can foretell the
future or reveal some new mystery from God must do so with 100%
accuracy 100% of the time. I have yet to hear of any such self
proclaimed prophet who can do that. They prove themselves to be
false prophets worthy of God’s judgement
Distinguishing of Spirits.
Distinguishing of Spirits mentioned here is more than just
discernment, for all Christians are expected to be discerning (1
John 4:1). This gift is also related to faith and especially in
passing judgement on the source of an utterance given in an
assembly. It was especially important before the New Testament
had been written to have people who could tell whether a person
was speaking for God, himself or the devil. Paul had this gift
and used it in Acts 16:17,18 to recognize and cast out the demon
in the girl that kept following him around and saying, "These
men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming
to you the way of salvation." She was correct, but we
really don’t need demons doing our advertising.
Gifts Related to Communication (vs. 10)
Tongues & Interpretation of Tongues
The last two gifts, listed in verse 10, are related to
communication "and to another various kinds of tongues,
and to another the interpretation of tongues." We could
spend the rest of our time with these two because of all the
false teaching on them, but that is not the purpose of this
study. Even with all the confusion that commonly exists about
them, they are not hard to understand. "Tongues’ is the
from the word "glwssa /
glossa" and it simply means language. Speaking in various
tongues or an "unknown" tongue means to speak in a
language that you do not know. Interpretation of tongues is being
able to understand a language you do not know. It is not
"ecstatic utterances of glossolalia" or the babbling
and gibberish so often promoted in Pentecostal and Charismatic
How can I be so confident? Simple. Both the purpose of tongues
and its practice in Acts demand that "tongues" to be
actual languages. The purpose of tongues is found in 1 Cor.
14:21,22. Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11f and then says, "so
then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to
unbelievers . . . ". Even a cursory study of Isaiah 11
show that it is a sign to the Jews of God’s judgement on them
when God starts speaking through the gentiles instead of them.
The first fulfillment of this in Acts 2 makes this even more
clear because the various tongues spoken are listed in verses
8-11. They are Parthian, Median, Elamitian, Mesopotamian, Judean,
Cappadocian, Pontusian, Asian, Phyrigian & Pamphylian,
Egyptian, Cyrenian, Roman, Cretan and Arabic. This was not
nonsensical babbling, but speaking an actual language that they
did not know.
To be the Biblical "speaking in tongues," those who
claim to have this gift must speak in a language unknown to them,
but known to others present (Acts 2:4-11). They must also be
speaking of "the mighty deeds of God" (Acts 2:11) in
the presence of unbelieving Jews (1 Cor. 14:21,22). In 1 Cor.
13:8 Paul states that tongues would cease. The verb there is in
the middle reflexive tense showing that they would cease of
themselves. Why? Because their purpose had been fulfilled. That
purpose was fulfilled by the end of the Apostlic era.
The claim for tongues to be a private prayer language is
contrary to even the basic purpose of gifts, which as already
pointed out, is for the edification of the whole body (1 Cor.
12:7, Eph. 4:12,16). Paul uses sarcasm throughout chapter 14 to
point out the selfish nature demonstrated by the Corinthian
practice. In addition, Paul makes it clear in 1 Cor. 14:14,15
that praying in a tongue is fruitless, for prayer is to be done
with the Spirit and the mind. He adds in verses 16-19 that
speaking in a tongue without interpretation is a waste of words
because no one is edified. Tongues was a sign to unbelievers, not
for self edification of believers. Some have tried to equate this
with the Holy Spirit’s intercession spoken of in Romans
8:26,27, but as we saw in our study of that some months ago, it
is the Spirit that is praying with "groanings too deep for
words" and not the individual.
Let me ask you a simple question. Would you really want to
speak to God and not know what you are saying? Remember at from
the beginning of the chapter that the Corinthians had been doing
this and were actually blaspheming Christ.
Most of the gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12 are no longer active in
the church in the same manner as they were at the time of the
Apostles. Again, God can do anything He wants in any manner He
desires as long as it is in keeping with His own character. God
can certainly still perform miracles and signs of any type as He
desires. However, the purpose of these particular gifts was
largely for getting the church established, especially, as 2 Cor.
12:12 states it, in that they were the signs of a true Apostle.
As the New Testament was completed and the Apostles passed away,
so did the reason for them and so manifestation of them in the
manner they occurred during the Apostolic era also passed away
too (1 Cor. 13:8-11).
Using Your Gift
The very practical questions now arises of how do I know what
gift or gifts I have, and how do I begin to use them?
First, you don’t need to be that concerned about labeling your
gift. Generally, you find out what gift you have after you have
been using it for awhile. The primary concern is just serving the
Serving the Lord must start with your walk with Him. The more
you know Him, and the closer you walk with Him, the greater will
be your ability to serve Him. The greater the harmony between
your will and His will the more God can use you.
Next, as you walk closely with the Lord, see what desires He
has He placed in your heart. That is the point of Psalm 37 where
it says, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give
you the desires of your heart." As you delight yourself
in the Lord, your desires change to match His. He then grants
those desires because they are according to His will.
You simply need to try and serve Him in some specific area.
How can you know whether the Lord has gifted you in an area or
not if you have not tried? Too often fear keeps us from the
blessings God would have for us if we would just trust Him and
step out in the face of our fears.
Finally, evaluate whether the Lord used you. Have others
responded positively to your ministry? Have others become more
like Christ because of it? Do other mature believers confirm the
effect of your ministry in that particular area?
I did not know God had gifted me to teach until I was
challenged to do it. I tried it with some fear and trepidation. I
saw God use it in the lives of other people, and then those more
mature than I confirmed it. Over the years, my part has simply
been a matter of being faithful and learning to use this gift as
effectively as I know how, but it is God that opens the door to
ministry and makes me effective.
The last aspect in determining where you should serve the Lord
is what I will call your compulsion-joy level. If we are properly
serving the Lord, He will do one of two things. He will either
give us a great joy in the midst of the service, or He will
compel us to do it. We will either have a sense of pleasure in
the serving knowing we are doing God’s will, or we will be like
Jeremiah. God called him to a thankless ministry of rebuking the
Hebrews and even told him that the people would not listen. Not
surprisingly, Jeremiah did not like that ministry, yet when he
refrained he described it as a "burning fire shut up in
his bones," and he was compelled to continue preaching
to those stubborn and obstinate people.
In the bulletin today we have again included the sheet on
"How Can God Use Me?" On the front side are some of the
Biblical commands & admonitions concerning serving the Lord
along with some general suggestions. On the back are some more
specific suggestions of what you might be able to do, but these
only scratch the surface, because there are thousands of
possibilities. There is also a place where you can write in what
you would like to do or at least try. Fill it out and give it to
me or the appropriate person so we can help you in the process.
What are you currently doing to serve the Lord?
As you consider the areas God may have gifted you and your
desires to try an new area of minsitry, what will the Lord have
you do in helping the whole body of Christ mature?
When will you begin doing it?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * *
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your
children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children –
draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon.
Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older
Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many
times the word "gift" is used. 2) Discuss with your
parents the gifts described today and how you think you can serve
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What is the purpose of the church? How do you get a spiritual
gift(s)? What is the general purpose of spiritual gifts? Should
we ever be envious of another person’s spiritual gift(s)?
Why or why not? Does the Bible list every spiritual gift? What
Scriptures do list spiritual gifts? 1 Cor. 12:8-10 list three
categories of gifts. What are those categories and which gifts
listed fit in each? Describe in your own words each of the
following gifts: Word of Wisdom; Word of Knowledge; Faith;
Healings; Miracles; Prophecy (1 Cor. 12); Distinguishing of
Spirits; Various kinds of tongues; Interpretation of tongues;
Helps; Administration; Prophecy (Rom. 12); Service; Teaching;
Exhortation; Mercy; Giving; and Leading. Which of these gifts
were Apostolic in nature? Do these "sign" gifts
continue operate as they did then? Why or why not? What spiritual
gift(s) do you think you have? Has a more mature Christian
confirmed that? Are you using it? If so, how? If not, why not?
What areas of Christian service would you like to try? When will
you try it? Talk with the appropriate person today
Sermon Notes – 2/9/2003 am
Spiritual Gifts, Part 5 – The Sign Gifts –
1 Corinthians 12
Introduction to 1 Corinthians 12-14 (vs.
/ pnumatikon (vs.
Their Pagan Past (vs. 2,3)
Origin & Purpose of Spiritual Gifts
Gifts: carismatwn /
charismaton (vs. 4)
Ministries (vs. 5)
Effects (vs. 6)
Purpose (vs. 7)
Their Manifestation (vs. 7)
Spiritual Gifts In 1 Corinthians 12
Gifts Related to Knowledge (vs. 8)
Word of Wisdom
Word of Knowledge
Gifts Related to Faith (vs. 9,10)
Gifts of Healings
Effecting of Miracles
Prophecy (1 Cor. 12)
Distinguishing of Spirits
Gifts Related to Communication (vs. 10)
Various kinds of tongues
Interpretation of tongues
Using Your Spiritual Gift(s)