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)!

Deception Protection

“Anyone who has to drink milk is still a child, without any experience in the matter of right and wrong. Solid food, on the other hand, is for adults, who through practice are able to distinguish between good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14).

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge. The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. 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” (1 Corinthians 12:7-10, NLT).

We are living in dark and dangerous times. The moral, ethical, and biblical foundation of this nation is no longer just under assault. Arguably the foundation is being systematically replaced through a concerted ideological effort of media, education, and government, and with the complacency and the wink of a silent, anemic, and powerless Church. This is prime deception time in the world and the body of Christ. The closer we get to the end the more demonic and deceptive activity we will see to the point of even “deceiving the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

One of the major weaknesses in the modern Church today is the lack of discernment and the limited manifestation of the “gift of discerning of spirits” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. It is important to understand the difference between general discernment and the gift of discerning of spirits but vital that we see both in operation in the body of Christ all over this nation. Think of these two forms of discernment as “deception protection” helping the believer to expose and eradicate the error and deception of the flesh and the evil one that tries to creep into our lives.

Discernment is a product of the deposit of the Word of God into the heart of the believer. Discernment is the ability to determine the rightness or wrongness of something or to put it another way, whether it is good or evil. Hebrews 5 teaches us that the more we train ourselves in “this teaching of righteousness” (justification by faith in Jesus and that through grace and the impartation of His righteousness), the better we will be equipped to discern between good and evil. The important concept here is that anyone can be very discerning if they will take the time to seek God and spend time in the Word. Faith comes by hearing the Word but discernment comes the same way. The more we give ourselves to the Word of God, the greater our discernment will be. We will not be bamboozled to believe error and as “the ear tests words like the tongue tastes food” (Job 12:11) and something just doesn’t taste right – we will spit it out immediately. We will also be prepared to receive the rich revelation and understanding the Father is pouring out on the people of God in this day.

Just as important to the right function of the Church is the gift of the Spirit known as “discerning of spirits.” While general discernment between good and evil is the byproduct of the Word of God, discerning of spirits is the bestowal of a grace or gift directly by the Holy Spirit on the believer for the benefit and edification of the body in a very specific and powerful way. What way is that? The gift of discerning of spirits supernaturally enables the believer to discern or determine by the Holy Spirit the origin or the “spirit” behind an utterance, manifestation, sign, wonder, or dream. There are many believers that live with the misguided mindset that if they hear it, see it, feel it, experience it, or dream it than it is for sure from God (in fact this is evidence of extreme spiritual immaturity and is the ruin of many, many believers). Their experiences have become more authoritative to them than the Word (and at this point you can’t convince them otherwise). There are three possible sources of these manifestations: (1) the Holy Spirit; (2) the human spirit; and (3) the demonic spirit and through the discerning of spirits we just know instantly that something is of God, of the flesh, or of the devil. If we can’t (or won’t) discern the origins of a manifestation we are destined for deception, defeat, and destruction.

The Bible makes it clear that we “are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). To be fair, the Church is under attack in this nation like never before so the voices (sources of utterances, manifestations, signs, wonders, and dreams) are more numerous, diabolical, and active than ever. Nonetheless, we have been given everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of God (2 Peter 1:3) which means we have the equipment to discern and apply the understanding when the manifestation is coming from God and we are just as equipped to discern and reject the influence of the manifestation when it is coming from the flesh or from the enemy.

If we want to operate effectively and wisely in these last days and we desire to expose and defeat the enemy when he comes in like a flood, we need to consistently do two things: First, don’t wait for the manifestation to decide that you could use more time in the Word. Start today reading, studying, thinking about, meditating on, memorizing, and confessing the Word like never before. I have been very impressed to see just how discerning God’s people are when they are sitting under Word actively listening and receiving and diving into the Word on their own time. I have learned as a spiritual leader to trust that the serious believers will know good from evil because of the consistent entrance of the Word into their hearts. Second, boldly ask the Lord to grant you the gift of discerning of spirits. The Scripture says, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1). The Bible also says that we have not because we ask not” (James 4:2). Ask and expect the Holy Spirit to give you the supernatural ability to know for certain the source of an utterance, manifestation, sign, wonder, or dream. As you develop your general discernment through the Word and begin to operate in the gift of discerning of spirits you will expose every attempt of the enemy to deceive you while positioning yourself to discern and receive great revelation and understanding from God that will change your life forever.

“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will go on deceiving others, and they themselves will be deceived. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do” (2 Timothy 3:12-17, NLT).