The Ministry of the Spirit

“Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to 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.All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11, NIV).

The Church and the world today need the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit more than any other time in history. The problems and issues we face as a nation and world far exceed our collective ability to solve them. That’s why it’s ironic that individuals with great theological fervor have concluded that the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Spirit have passed away or are irrelevant today. When it comes to the important revelations like the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit, we have a choice. We can listen to the modern voice that claims that these things have ceased or we can give the voice of the Word of God and the Apostle Paul more weight and authority in our lives. I decided a long time ago that I was going to go with the Word of God and make it “first place and final authority” in my life” on all matters of life including issues like spiritual gifts.

The gifts of the Spirit, or “charismata,” are simply gifts of grace given to believers by the Holy Spirit to carry out God’s will in the earth and for the edifying and building up of the Church. The gifts are practical expressions of God’s anointing –  that burden-removing, yoke-destroying power of God (Isaiah 10:27, KJV) or “God on flesh doing what flesh can’t do.” Every time the Lord operates in the life of a believer through the gifts of the Spirit it is supernatural and miraculous and something to praise God for and receive rather than fearing and resisting. Imagine someone wanting to hand you the keys to a brand new car and you saying to them, “no thank you.” Well, a vehicle more moving and powerful is being offered to us when God bestows His gifts on us. Let’s make sure we receive them with great joy and appreciation.

Paul taught that the believers should thirst, desire, and earnestly seek for the operation of the gifts in our lives (1 Corinthians 14:1). He boldly stated in 1 Corinthians 12 that he did not want the people of God “ignorant” of the gifts. This does not mean he thought they were stupid. Ignorant means lacking fundamental knowledge about something. Paul’s intention and desire for the body of Christ was that we would all have a personal, intimate, working knowledge of the gifts in our own lives. It’s not enough to be able to list the gifts of the Spirit or even hear teaching about them. The goal is that each individual in the Church would begin to believe for, seek after, and expect to be used in the gifts by the Holy Spirit.

In the coming weeks I will be sharing vital revelation about the nine manifestational gifts of the Spirit in an effort to encourage you to step across the line and allow the Holy Spirit to use you to minister to this hopeless generation. The gifts are a powerful display of God’s love for this world and are to be in operation outside as well as inside the Church. My prayer is that the Lord will spark a desire in your heart to go after everything available to you as a New Testament, Spirit-filled believer in Jesus Christ. For now, I want to share some foundational concepts with you regarding the gifts of the Spirit before we spend more time talking about them individually.

First, we must remember that the Word of God is supreme. The Holy Spirit, as God, is never going to contradict the Word of God, which is the highest form of reality in the universe. John 1 equates Jesus with the Word and God’s agent for creation. Psalm 138:2 teaches us that God exalts the Word even above His name. This is a pretty radical concept when you stop to think about it but it is what the Word teaches. God’s name is literally a place for His presence and that presence always brings with it the glory, goodness, and the manifestation of the Spirit in power and the gifts of the Spirit. It is clear that the highest authority is not the utterance, manifestation, sign, wonder, or dream, but the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will never detract or take focus or attention away from the Word. He always glorifies Jesus (the Word). He guides us in to all truth (John 16:13) and the Holy Spirit confirms the Word with signs following (Mark 16).

It is important to understand that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-11) is what many call the “gateway” to being used in the gifts of the Spirit. Spirit baptism, separate and subsequent to salvation, is literally the immersion of the believer in the person, essence, and power of the Holy Spirit evidenced by a supernatural ability to speak in a language that is not learned through normal education (the devotional use of tongues or one’s prayer language (Acts 2, 10, 19) and from Scripture not the manifestational gift mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 – the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues will be discussed in the near future). The gifts (all of them) are for today (Acts 2:29). They are received by faith and that by grace (1 Corinthians 12:11; Hebrews 11:1,6) and they properly function in love – that is the power associated with the gift to impact people is only released when the gifts are executed in love (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3). Finally, if we want to operate in the gifts we must “eagerly desire” the greater gifts (1 Corinthians 13:1; 14:1). The Holy Spirit will not force anything on a believer but “he gives them to each one just as he determines.” It’s clear from Scripture that His determination is affected by the desire and expectation of the believer.

What kind of impact can we expect from the gifts of the Spirit operating in and through our lives? First, the gifts glorify God. Anything that points to and honors God in this ungodly generation is positive and beneficial. Second, the gifts also remind of the reality of God. Whenever the Holy Spirit breaks into our lives it’s like writing in the sky that says, “God is real. God loves you. God cares about your life.” Third, the gifts are also a sign to unbelievers challenging their notion about the existence and authority of God. Fourth, the gifts cause extraordinary things to be done by ordinary people just like you and me. Just like the power that came on Samson or the wisdom that came on Solomon, the Holy Spirit, when He manifests in your life, amazing, supernatural, and life-changing things will begin to happen. Finally, the gifts contribute to the maturity and strengthening of the Church. In fact, Paul boldly taught that the gifts are part of God’s strategy to develop the Church and are consequently absolutely necessary (1 Corinthians 14:27).

I want to encourage you to eagerly desire to be used in the gifts of the Spirit. As you read and study together with me over the next several months, begin to believe and expect that God wants to flow through you to touch, impact, and influence lives for Him. It is understandable for you to have questions about these matters (especially if you grew up in a religious heritage that did not expound or explain these concepts or if you had no Christian upbringing at all). I want to encourage you to share your question in the comments sections of the blogs dealing with spiritual gifts. I will be glad to respond to your questions in kind as I receive them or respond in an upcoming blog.

Remember, there’s something on you…it’s the blessing…it’s the anointing…it’s God’s ability on your ability giving you the ability to do what you could not do until He put His ability on your ability (whew)!