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The Local Church and Spiritual Gifts – Week 9 / February 23rd
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to
each one for the profit of all.”
We have noted in these studies together that the local church is more than just a gathering of likeminded people. No, indeed it is the temple of God meaning that it is compatible with His life and character. The astonishing truth, as Paul reminds us, is that God walks amongst His gathered people and dwells with them. (2Corinthians 6:16-18) This real presence of God is made dramatically real by what scripture calls the “manifestation of the Spirit.” As the assembled people of God gather and wait before Him, He begins to speak ecstatically to them. That is, in the moment and by unique gifts of the Holy Spirit. All of this to bring awe and wonder into the meeting and to edify those so gathered and to convince the unbeliever that God is indeed in the meeting and speaking! (1Corinthians 14:25) This should be the norm for those attending church!
The believer in Jesus is one who has repented of his or her sins and who has accepted Jesus as Lord into his/her life. Such a person is renewed from within by the regenerating power of the life of Christ and is “born again.” (John 3:3; Titus 3:4-7) This redeemed individual, like the Disciples of old, is then empowered by the Spirit for a life of service by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:49) It is this baptism of the Spirit of God that gives to each blood washed believer the potential to manifest the life of the Spirit when the church gathers for worship. Each one, filled with the Spirit has this capacity; it is God’s special equipping! This special equipping also involves receiving a private devotional prayer language by which the believer edifies and builds himself up. (1Corinthians 14:4; 14; 18) How good Jesus is to us!
The “manifestation of the Spirit” is the operation of what the Bible calls the gifts of the Spirit (1Corinthians 12:4-11). These fall in to three groups or categories:
1. Evangelistic gifts
The Bible lists these as gifts of healing, faith and working of miracles. One often sees these working in the ministry of well known evangelists like that of Reinhard Bonnke and Angus Buchan and of course Jesus ministry is an amazing example of the powerful demonstration of these gifts.
2. Counseling gifts
The counseling gifts enable us to really understand what is happening in people’s lives. They are listed as; the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge and the discerning of spirits. The Spirit of God, using our understanding of scripture, will give us supernatural insight about crucial, challenging or difficult circumstances that we are confronted with. We see these gifts operating powerfully through Jesus as He confronted His antagonists with their “trick” questions and discerned what type of spirit was motivating them.
3. Congregational gifts
These are what we call the verbal gifts of tongues, interpretation and prophecy and they are usually manifested when the church gathers for worship once a week. They are regulated by an accepted order which one can read about in 1Corinthians fourteen but the norm is that two or three people speak in tongues, as prompted by the Spirit, and others interpret (1Corinthians 14:26-28). Those who prophesy are encouraged to do so but prophetic statements, as with the interpretation of tongues, have to be judged (vetted) (1Corinthians 14:29) by mature and recognized leaders. The congregational gifts are for edification and comfort and should not be abused by attempting to preach short sermons or by correcting the church in any way (1Corinthians 14:3). These are done only by ordained leadership. The manifestation of the verbal gifts through a person is not in any way uncontrollable. This is always a sign of the presence of the occult! The Bible therefore teaches that God works with us in the manifestation of the verbal gifts and so we have complete control over their usage (1Corinthians 14:32)
Since these gifts are ecstatic by nature it is important that their operation be in circumstances of good order. (1Corinthians 14:39-40) When manifested according to scripture the congregational gifts bring the voice of God, in the present and immediate, into the midst of the gathered believers and surely there can be no greater blessing than this.
There is no doubt that God’s people are special and (1Peter 2:4-5) the spiritual gifts that He imparts to us brings His remarkable life and word into our midst in a way that makes our gatherings truly supernatural. It is this that sets our faith apart as a relationship with the Father and the Son (1John 1:3). Happy are the people of God who dwell in these special pastures!
©Malcolm Hedding Ministries