The Gifts of the Spirit

The Spiritual Gifts are a subject that I don’t hear talked about much, and I have done much studying of the Word and praying for discernment of God’s will and direction for us on this area of biblical doctrine, so I offer some thoughts on the subject for you to study.

There are many Gifts of the Spirit, and I think Paul does the best job of explaining what they are in 1 Corinthians 12 through 14. All three chapters are devoted to discussing the Gifts. Parts of these passages are also used by a lot of people to support the claims that speaking in tongues is not relevant to Christians today. Most churches believe in the Gifts and might even talk about them, and they don’t have a problem with any of the Gifts except speaking in tongues. Because of that, I’m going to spend a little time on that particular gift.

I want to stress right at the start here, that Paul says three times in this section of his letter, to desire and to covet the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:31, 14:1 and 14:39).

In chapter 12 he points out that there are diversities of gifts and that we should not discount the importance of any of the gifts no matter which is greater; they are all important and none should be tossed aside as unimportant.

Paul stresses that prophecy is second only to an Apostle (someone with all the gifts of the Spirit). It is the best gift and should be coveted! He talks about speaking in tongues but also shows us that it is the least of the gifts, unless it is accompanied by interpretation. Again, I stress that we cannot discard a gift because it is not the greatest! Paul concludes this entire argument by summing up with: 1 Cor 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. We shouldn’t discount tongues because it is the least, and we should not forbid it, and we should desire it! 1 Cor 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

I’m going to present some arguments on the subject of tongues that are scriptural and sound. I simply want to share as much as I can with you since I know this subject is very controversial and misunderstood. The main point of my argument is simply what Paul was stressing: To covet and desire the gifts, all of them!

The question of tongues:

There is so much confusion in the world today about speaking in tongues. The subject of speaking in tongues is not talked about in many churches. There is a lot of teaching out there that tongues are not relevant today, not necessary, not important, so you don’t need to worry about it. People seem to be afraid of it. However, all of this confusion is not because tongues is not of God. The Bible is very plain that tongues is definitely of God. Take a look at the following scriptures:

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues , and magnify God.

Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues , and prophesied.

1 Cor 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues

Isa 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people

It is an honor and a privilege to be filled and blessed with the anointing of the Holy Ghost through tongues or prophecy or healing, or anything at all because it is from God Himself! I have to ask; why in the world would anyone not want to speak in tongues? It is a wonderful, precious gift from God. It is the ultimate worship. A vessel in total submission to God is perfect worship. Speaking in tongues is also a tremendous increase to personal faith. Paul says it’s for edification of ourselves, and it truly does build faith when you speak in a tongue unknown by the power of the Holy Spirit. How could it not?

So why is it so tough of a question? So many do not seek it or want it and they explain it away because they don’t understand it? Because it’s not popular? Some say it’s either not relevant to Christians today or it’s just a gift given to only a few so it’s really not something that we care about. It’s just those other people’s thing. But that’s not true. Tongues is just as relevant today as it was when the Holy Ghost was first poured out, just as are the other gifts. In order to have any of the gifts, we have to seek the infilling of the Holy Ghost and be filled with the Spirit and submit to it so that He can use you in that way! I have to ask; how would you hear tongues and interpretation if no one spoke in tongues? How could you prophecy if you don’t submit yourself to the Holy Ghost and allow Him to speak through you? I have heard tongues and interpretation and prophecy with my own ears, and I have witnessed the healing of people by the power of the Holy Ghost with my own eyes. The power of God is just as evident today as it was when Jesus and the Apostles walked the earth.

Is tongues necessary for salvation?  The answer is NO!

First and foremost, Paul explicitly says that tongues is NOT a sign for them that believe!

1 Cor 14:22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers

So any church that says you must speak in tongues as "evidence of the Holy Spirit", is dead wrong!

This is a very controversial subject and while some teach that tongues is not even relevant, some teach that it is necessary and is the actual evidence of the Holy Spirit, saying that if you haven’t spoken in tongues, you have not received the Holy Ghost.  Paul says that it’s for edification of ourselves, not for salvation, as I said above. 1 Cor 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

Acts 2:38 shows us that all who are saved recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit, but as Paul shows us, it's up to God to give us the gift He wants us to have.  Everyone does not recieve the same gift.

I will present both sides of the argument for you here:

The Biblical side of the argument about tongues. We must just believe the Scripture and not try to add to it!

One thing that is common between all the times people were filled with the Spirit in the Book of Acts, is that they spoke in tongues. In chapter 19 they spoke in tongues and prophesied. In chapter 10 they spoke in tongues and magnified God. Does that mean that they all spoke in tongues and they all prophesied, or that they all spoke in tongues and all magnified God? Or, does it mean that some of them spoke in tongues, some of them prophesied, and some of them magnified God? How can we state that everyone must speak in tongues as the evidence of the Spirit based on these passages when we have to make assumptions to do so? I don’t see how we can do that, especially since I have not found one place anywhere in the Bible that says this is the case.

Now, am I saying that the churches that teach this are bad? NO! I’ve been in them and I have seen the Holy Ghost move tremendously! But, I find it very sad that there are so many false doctrines, in almost all churches!

To continue; the Biblical side of this discussion is simply what Paul says. 1 Cor 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

Paul is clearly stating that not all speak with tongues. But don’t forget that it’s still important and should not be just discarded as irrelevant! It should be sought after just as earnestly as the other gifts!

1 Cor 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts:

1 Cor 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts,

1 Cor 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

Covet and desire the Gifts! We should never seek the Gifts of the Spirit, however, without first seeking the will of God and the infilling of the Holy Ghost like we have never known it before. I can tell you that God will fill you fuller of His Spirit than you thought possible if you seek Him with all your heart and let Him have His way with you. It’s not the happiness or glory of man that we receive these gifts for, it’s for the glory of God and for us to use to do His work. When we realize that the power that comes with the Holy Ghost is for God to use for His purpose through us, God will really start to use us. Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Jesus said that power would come with the Holy Ghost and immediately goes on to explain that the power will be used so that we would be witnesses over the entire earth. Speaking in tongues is one of the gifts and, as such, carries power with it.

Here's how I feel: Our salvation is the most important thing of our entire existence. If I asked the question, "What do I absolutely have to do?", I would rather err on the side of doing more than I absolutely have to, as opposed to err on the side of hoping that I've done all that is necessary. It's way, way too important to just hope that some man’s doctrine is right without pursuing God and His truth with all that I have.

The bible tells us, Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. How are we going to battle the rulers of darkness of this world without all the power Holy Ghost in us? I urge you to seek Him and His gifts earnestly!

Let’s not let the devil or the things of the world distract us from becoming and doing what God wants with our lives! Let’s obey the hunger for truth that God puts in our hearts when we diligently seek Him. Let’s give God the sacrifice of praise with our lips for it is pleasing to our Lord! (Hebrews 13:15-16)

Here’s the argument that some will use for the thinking that it is the evidence of the Spirit:

Why did the people of Samaria (Acts 8), when they heard the Gospel, believed and were baptized, but did not receive the Holy Ghost if, when you repent and believe you receive the Holy Ghost automatically? They did not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until Peter and John came and laid hands on them.

Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city. 9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Now here’s the really, really big question… How did they know they had not received the Holy Ghost??? If speaking in tongues is only a gift given to some, then they would not have known any different. They would have assumed that they just didn’t get that gift, right? But that’s not so. They knew they had not received the Holy Ghost! And when Simon saw that by laying on of hands that they received the Holy Ghost, he wanted that power. How did he see that it did something? The obvious answer is that they were speaking in tongues and prophesying and magnifying God just as is documented in the other examples shown to us in the book of Acts.  I emphasize; all of the above, not just speaking in tongues.  There are diversities of Gifts!

Here is another similar example where they had not received the Holy Ghost:

Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

There are many people who teach that you receive the Holy Ghost instantly when you repent, or some teach that you receive the Holy Ghost instantly when you are baptized, but we can see in Acts 8 and 19 that they had not received the Holy Ghost when they believed and repented, and even when they had been baptized. It was another thing that happened to them that was a separate and unique part of being born again. It didn’t always happen in the same order, but it always happened! In Acts 10 they received the Holy Ghost upon hearing the Gospel preached and then were baptized later.  Don't forget, however, it's not the Gift of Tongues that is the separate and unique part of being born again, it's the recieving of the Holy Spirit and the Gift that the Lord gives you, no matter which one.

Acts 10 is also a great study because if we study the whole account, we see some interesting facts about Cornelius! Acts 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. So we see that Cornelius was devout, and feared God (his whole house) and he prayed to God always! But, he did not have the Holy Ghost. In today’s belief system, if a person believes in God, is an upright and devout person, fearing God and praying constantly, then almost anyone who has been taught today’s Christianity would say that they are saved and have the Holy Ghost. Yes? Definitely! But, that’s very clearly not true in this example. Only after Peter came and preached to them did they receive the Holy Ghost. Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.

The teaching here is that every single person who received the Holy Ghost spoke in tongues. Some records don’t specifically say, but arguably we have to ask if it’s really necessary to re-iterate every time? The record of Paul doesn’t say he spoke in tongues. So that proves that not all did, right? But Paul says, 1 Cor 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all. Tongues is a wonderful, beautiful thing that is directly from God and is given to every single person who obeys the utterance when it is given to them. Jesus said that “them that believe” would speak with new tongues (Mark 16:17).

That’s pretty much the basis for the thought that tongues is the evidence of the Spirit.

Once again, I stress that I am not telling anyone they don’t have the Holy Ghost just because they haven’t spoken in an unknown tongue. I can’t and won’t try to make that judgment call. It’s not my place for one thing, and as I stated above; Acts 2:38 shows us that all who are saved recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit, but as Paul shows us, it's up to God to give us the gift He wants us to have.  Everyone does not recieve the same gift.

So what is the conclusion?

We have to look to scripture for all of our conclusions, and scripture tells us that we will be known by our fruits, not one particular Spiritual Gift.

Matt 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Gal 5 and Eph 5 both show us what the fruit of the Spirit is. <-- Please open your Bible and read these.

Jesus also said that certain signs would follow them that believe and includes tongues but it is along with several other Gifts, not separated from the other Gifts in any way.

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18.They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Paul tells us that not all would have all of those signs or gifts.

I Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

Paul tells us that there are diversities of Gifts, but the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

Nowhere anywhere in the Bible does it say we will know them by one particular Gift.  Nowhere.

Again, the main argument for the doctrine that all must speak in tongues is that is was a common occurrence in Acts when we are given examples of people being filled with the Spirit. In chapter 19 they spoke in tongues and prophesied. In chapter 10 they spoke in tongues and magnified God. Does that mean that they all spoke in tongues and they all prophesied, or that they all spoke in tongues and all magnified God? Or, does it mean that some of them spoke in tongues, some of them prophesied, and some of them magnified God? How can we state that everyone must speak in tongues as the evidence of the Spirit based on these passages when we have to make assumptions to do so? I don’t see how we can do that, especially since I have not found one place anywhere in the Bible that says this is the case, and especially when Paul is very clearly arguing against it in 1 Cor.

In 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 Paul addresses this very question.  All three chapters are devoted to explaining the Gifts of the Spirit.  I highly recommend studying this yourself.

 



  



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