Topic: V. God the Holy Spirit
Lesson: d. Fruit and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
As we go on through this study, I want to remind you all of the first lessons on Preparation and the Bible. Many times we want to know things in detail, but the Lord has not revealed all things in detail in His word. There are areas where believers disagree. If these things are clear in the Scripture, we are NOT free to disagree, but only to believe what the Bible teaches. But in other areas, intelligent and sincere Christians have differed over what the Bible teaches. I would ask for tolerance in these areas, and some have to do with this mornings lesson. If any of you have Scripture verses which contradict what I teach, please mention them today or bring them to my attention. But where sincere Christians disagree, and the Scripture is not clear, let us show tolerance in Love.
This lesson will examine the Fruit and Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Although the class is named Doctrine in Detail, there is a limit to the detail that we can go into in one lesson on this topic. This topic could easily be a complete class in itself.
Objective: To identify the Fruit of the Holy Spirit and to understand the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ and our own lives.
In addition to discussing the Fruit of the Spirit and Gifts of the Spirit, we want to look at a couple of related questions of importance to today's church. Have some of the gifts ceased, that is, were some of the New Testament gifts given only for the Apostolic age and not for today? As we see believing church bodies give different answers to this question, how do we practically handle the issue of one of those gifts, tongues, which believers disagree over?
1. Review"5-2. The Holy Spirit indwells all true believers, baptizing them into one body, of which Christ is the head. He, the divine Comforter, Intercessor, and Advocate, empowers the believer for service." (Bible Fellowship Church Article No. 5-2)
A reminder of some points that we covered last week. The Holy Spirit indwells ALL believers from the moment of conversion, baptizing them spiritually into the Body of Christ and empowering them for service. The Filling of the Holy Spirit is a matter of our voluntary submission to the Spirit and how much control we allow Him to have in our lives. By sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit and may break fellowship with Him, although He will still indwell us, our disobedience limits the 'filling' as we fight Him for control. In some ways, the filling of the Holy Spirit is like a glass of water which might have a little water in it or be full to the brim and overflowing. Christians are filled to different degrees, or perhaps percentages. There are times when I am 100% filled and connected to God, when I am under His total control. Other times, I am perhaps a little reluctant or slow to respond. In the first case, my glass is overflowing. In the second case, I still have the Holy Spirit and am led by Him, but perhaps I do not relinquish total control. Am I 50% or 75% filled? I think so.
It is important that whether a little reluctantly, or enthusiastically and fully, we obey the leading of God and the Holy Spirit. Some times we am simply weary, other times in excitement we grab control back in impatience. Filling is a matter of being under the control of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes we are more receptive and responsive than other times. But when we follow His leading, He works in power.
2. Fruit of the Spirit
a. Nine Fruit."But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. against such things there is no law"(Galatians 5:22) These fruit should be evident in the lives of all Christians. I cannot think of a management book which tells leaders to be kind and gentle, although they do mention self-control. But Christian leaders, strong men and women who make strong stands and Commitments, are to have all of these fruit evident in their lives.The fruit are for all Christians.
b. Spirit and Law. A few verses earlier, Paul said, "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law."(Galatians 5:18) The part of the Holy Spirit is to lead, and these fruit are one result of His leading. As we are led by the Holy Spirit, we will never be led in contradiction to the will of the Father or of the Son. The Trinity is a unity, and acts in harmony. But ... we are free from the law of Moses, the ceremonial laws of how to approach God and the health laws. The Ten Commandments are all repeated in some form in the teachings of Christ, and are still in effect. Read Acts 15 for more on this, and decisions of the Church and Holy Spirit concerning the Gentiles that came to faith. Most of us are gentiles, non-Jews, and are not required to obey the law of Moses.
c. Our Responsibility. The Holy Spirit's responsibility is to lead, but we have responsibility too. Paul also wrote, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."(Galatians 5:25) We are to discern His leading, and to follow. You can think of what happens when people march out of step in a military formation, it causes confusion. On a dance floor it causes stepping on someone's feet and perhaps some pain. We are responsible to follow or keep in step with the Spirit.
d. Questions. What are we called upon to do? To keep in step or follow the Holy Spirit. How does the Leading of the Spirit relate to the Law of Moses? If we are following the Holy Spirit, we are not under the law. However, the Holy Spirit will never lead us in a way that contradicts the Bible (properly understood) or the will of the Father or of the Son (clearly expressed in the Bible, especially in the New Testament). Do you see the Fruit of the Spirit maturing in your life? I have seen a problem in my life with self-control and losing my temper. What should I do? Pray, confessing the problem and asking for help. Then, daily follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit and STOP when I see my control slipping (and pray again). Realize that having self-control is more important than some problems that cause me to go out of step with the Holy Spirit. There is always a proper response, if we submit to the Holy Spirit.
3. Gifts of the Holy Spirit
a. Definition."A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church." (Grudem, Systematic Theology) This definition is broad and includes some that are related to natural abilities such as teaching and more miraculous gifts such as distinguishing between spirits. But not every natural ability is included in New Testament lists. I have often heard it taught and preached that gifts are given one time at conversion, and that they are NEVER natural talents. I do not see this statement as totally true, nor is it taught clearly in Scripture. Some people have taught classes (perhaps music or history) before becoming Christians. That was a talent and not a spiritual gift, since they did not have Spirit indwelling and empowering. But when they received the Spirit at conversion (when they became believers and were born again), the Spirit may have empowered this gift for use in the Body of Christ. The natural talent, when empowered for service or the common good of the body, is now a spiritual gift. Others may never have taught or led or shown any talent for any of the gifts we will list, but receive one or more gifts when they are saved.
"Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 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."(1st Corinthians 12:1) The church at large should take this to heart. ""Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant."" I am sorry to say that much of the believing church is ignorant. We may avoid teaching about the gifts because, as we will see, there is controversy and disagreement within the church. Still, I believe we must teach and understand what the Scripture says about this.
Clearly, each one is given some gift or manifestation of the Spirit. They are given for the common good, which in the context of the chapter is the Body of Christ. The gifts are not given merely to us as individuals, to make us feel good or connected to God. They are given for our common good as a body. It may be for building the Body, as in teaching or evangelism, or it may be to fulfill the mission of the Church. But they are not meant for us as individuals to become 'lone rangers', or to operate independently. I simply mean, you have a gift, and you need to use it in a local church. If you don't use it, our whole church suffers because in that way we are incomplete.
b. Lists of Gifts. This is how we make a list of the gifts. This is also an example of how we compare Scripture with Scripture in 'doing theology'. I am using the New International Version, but you may do the same exercise with any version of the Bible.
"And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues."(1st Corinthians 12:28) This verse listed eight gifts which I have numbered, 1. Apostle, 2. Prophet, 3. Teacher, 4. Miracle working, 5. Healing, 6. Helping Others, 7. Administration, and 8. Speaking in Tongues. Notice that one gift, Apostle, is also an office of the early church. Because an Apostle, such as John or Paul, must have been an eyewitness of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, we do not see this gift today (in the sense of the 12 Apostles). On some gifts, there is disagreement over whether they are in use today or not, and we will discuss that later in the lesson.
"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."(1st Corinthians 12:8-10) As we list these gifts, if they are already on our list we will use the earlier number. 9. Wisdom (knowing what is the best action to take), 10. Knowledge (knowing what is right), 11. Faith, (5) Healing, (4) Miracles, (2) Prophecy, 12. Discernment of Spirits, (8) Tongues, and 13. Interpretation of Tongues.
"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up ..."(Ephesians 4:11-12) The list continues, (1) Apostle, (2) Prophet, 14. Evangelist, and 15. Pastor-Teacher. I believe the last phrase, the preparation for works of service, applied to the whole set of gifts and not only to 'pastors and teachers', but the verse can be read a couple of different ways. It does repeat the idea of the gifts being for use of the Body of Christ.
"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."(Romans 12:6-8) Notice that we have different gifts. My gift is not necessary the same as yours, and we may have several gifts. The list: (1) Prophet, 16. Service, (3) Teacher, 17. Encouragement, 18. Contributing, 19. Leadership, and 20 Mercy.
Gifts are not simply a matter of how we are led or how our 'insides' or soul and spirit feel. The gift of contributing assumes that you have something to contribute to the needs of others. A starving poor person may have a spiritual gift, but it is probably not contributing to the needs of others. But it is not just a matter of having money or food, the gift also includes discernment so that contributing does good. Sometimes we may want to give our children everything, but that may make them weak and dependant. Sometimes, our giving only allows someone to continue a sinful dependency. But the gift of contributing includes having something to contribute (to the needs of others) and the wisdom of when and how to contribute.
Along with the overlap of talents and gifts, some people have always been natural encouragers, someone who can brighten up a room with a smile. The spiritual gift is the Holy Spirit empowering this ability for use within the Body of Christ. Does it have to be only within the Body? I would say that if people know that you are a Christian, and your encouragement gives glory to Christ, then it is being spiritually empowered. I might ask if you are exercising your gifts within the Body, and also if people know you are a Christian. If they simply think, "What a great guy!" then I would wonder if it is the Holy Spirit at work.
"I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."(1st Corinthians 7:7-9) Here are some gifts we often skip over. Paul is speaking of his celibacy when he says, "I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." In the context, he says he is celibate and wishes all men/women were, BUT each has his own gift. Paul knows that not everyone has the same gift he has, and so he says it is better to marry.
If you do not have the spiritual gift of celibacy, then living a celibate gift is a struggle, and Paul says it is better to marry than to try to live a celibate life you are not gifted for. By saying that one man has one gift and another man another gift, I take it that marriage is also a gift. Obviously, not everyone who is married seeks or has the spiritual gift to be a good spouse. It is a gift the Holy Spirit gives, and we are to seek it.
The list is completed with 21. Celibacy and 22. Marriage. Now it may happen that as we grow older, some who are gifted in Marriage may lose a spouse, and may either remarry or at that time be given the gift of celibacy. Because of this gift, and the fact that it is related to our circumstances of marriage, I believe we may receive a gift after we are born-again, and even fairly late into our lives.
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."(1st Peter 4:10-11) The previous verses were all by Paul. In 1st Peter 4:10-11, we are given a summary of gifts and an exhortation to use them. The gift of speaking is a summary, because it includes teaching, encouraging, possibly prophecy and tongues, definitely pastor-teaching. Serving also includes a lot. The word servant is deacon (or deaconess for a woman). We just elected some deacons and deaconesses in our church, we recognize serving gifts in these people. We are to serve with all of God's strength. Again, it overlaps with talents. Perhaps you have cooked meals for years, yet having people over and serving them is a spiritual gift. The verse does stress that the gifts are for use in serving others (both teaching and serving), they are not given to us so that we can bless ourselves, but to bless others.
4. Possible Ceasing of Some Gifts
Have some gifts ceased? The modern church is divided. The Cessationist position (Reformed and Dispensational) is that the Miracle or Sign Gifts (prophecy, tongues, interpretation, and perhaps miraculous healing) are no longer needed and ceased after the Apostolic Age. They point to tongues as being the sign of the transitional period between the Old Testament, Life of Christ, and the acceptance of Gentiles into the church. Certainly the instances of the gift of tongues in the book of Acts can be seen this way (as in last weeks lesson). Many preachers and teachers are adamant about this and speak strongly.
On the other hand, Pentecostals and Charismatics teach that all gifts (except Apostle, which is an office) are for use today. Some even would say apostle is a gift, but in a different and less authoritative sense than in the early church. With prophesy, it is not the 'infallible' prophecy such as the Holy Spirit used to give Scripture, but simply a word from God.
A growing part of the church has struggled with these positions, and is mid-stream. That is, they are undecided whether all gifts are for use today, and even if they hold one position or the other, they recognize that neither position is clearly taught from Scripture alone. This third position is the one I take, and which I believe is evident within the Bible Fellowship. We have not seen tongues with interpretation of tongues, and have not evaluated it. From Scripture alone we do not know that it has ceased, but we do not see convincing evidence (at least of the interpretation of tongues) that it occurs today. Because it is not clear from Scripture, we do not wish to rule out the possibility that it may happen.
"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears."(1st Corinthians 13:8-10) All acknowledge that this verse teaches that three gifts, prophecy, tongues, and knowledge, will cease, and usually we include other gifts here. They will cease 'when perfection comes'. What is that perfection? If the perfection is the completed Bible, then prophecy, tongues, and knowledge have already ceased (and some strongly believe this).
However, if the perfection is Jesus Christ who will return to Earth at the end of the age, then we are simply told that gifts will cease by then (and perhaps before then). But if the perfection is Jesus Christ, then there is no specific verse in Scripture that actually says, "some gifts have ceased and were only active in the early church". As much as some believe that, I see no clear verse in Scripture that says that. Of course, Scripture does not say that a car requires gas, but that is true. Some things are true even if not taught in Scripture, but if we claim to follow the Scripture as the guide to our faith, we must be very careful when we teach what is not clear from Scripture. For these reasons, many believers are in the third group mentioned, believing that Scripture does not clearly teach whether some gifts have ceased (and if not can be used today).
5. Guidelines for Tongues
If we take the mid-stream position, not convinced by Scripture alone that we should practice or prohibit certain gifts, in particular tongues, what do we do in our church to keep order? There are limits from Scripture. Even if tongues (as one example and the one most frequently questioned) are for today, Scripture does set some guidelines. Only a few are in the following
"Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? but eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."(1st Corinthians 12:29-13:1)
The teaching of some Pentecostals that EVERYONE should receive the gift of tongues, and that it always accompanies the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, is clearly false. In this verse, the Greek text clearly implies the answer of 'NO!" to each question. Are all apostles? (OF COURSE NOT!) ... Are all teachers? (OF COURSE NOT!). Do all speak in tongues? (OF COURSE NOT!). If we admit that some may receive a gift of tongues (but many of us are not certain), we should still understand that not all receive this gift. Because I receive and use the gift of teaching or helping, and not tongues, does not mean that I am a second class citizen. Should we seek the gift of tongues? We are told to seek the 'greater gifts', and that means gifts of service for the common good. I will not refuse any gift the Holy Spirit wants to give (including tongues if He so chooses), but I will seek the gifts of service to others.
LOVE comes first in this debate. Even if I have tongues of angels (apparently not a human language), I need love. Some have supposed that the 'tongues of angels' are a heavenly language, and correspond to Romans 8:26-27, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." According to this theory, tongues of angels or a heavenly language is meant by Paul in both verses. For this reason, those who today practice the gift of tongues usually use it as a prayer language, and believe that the Holy Spirit is speaking in sounds (such as groans) which have no meaning to us, but when these sounds are made the Lord knows our deepest needs. I hope I have fairly expressed the argument of those who pray in tongues in private. However, this interpretation is by no means certain. It may be that sometimes we simply groan, "Ah, Lord, I just don't know how to pray for this!"
However we take the 'tongues of angels', Paul makes it quite clear that even the ability to speak in tongues of men and angels is meaningless without love. It is like a clanging cymbal, which is pretty unpleasant if that is all we hear. Where use of tongues would upset others, love should govern. Where harsh criticism of those who speak in tongues would cause pain, love should govern. I do not say that we should water down the truth, but we must be very certain that we have an absolute truth from God. On this controversial issue, many preachers on both sides speak adamantly. Can they all be correct? Logic says they cannot. Even if you are more certain than I am, please speak carefully and in love.
"If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored. Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."(1st Corinthians 14:37-40) Expanding on the question of tongues, Paul wants everyone who claims to be spiritually gifted to first of all acknowledge that Paul is writing God's command. We expand this to include the entire Bible, and say that true spiritual gifts are subject to the control and agreement of Scripture. Second, we are to seek prophesy (which would mean speaking God's word, but NOT in the infallible way that was used to give Scripture. Rather, this prophecy would be subject to Scripture.
Finally, Paul specifically says "do not forbid speaking in tongues." Whether or not we believe tongues are for today, I would be very careful in forbidding others to speak in tongues in light of this specific command from Paul. Still, everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. Paul wrote, "If anyone speaks in a tongue, two-- or at the most three-- should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God."(1st Corinthians 14:27-28)
Some suggested guidelines for how to deal with the gift of tongues, given the varied beliefs on this gift, are:
1. Seek love, higher gifts, and gifts of service.
2. Do not forbid speaking in tongues.
3. Not every believer will receive tongues (assuming they are valid)
4. In worship or public meeting, tongues are only to be used with an interpreter present.
5. As a "Heavenly Language", in private prayer only, not in public.
6. Recognize the Elder's gifts of leading and ruling (in some churches Deacons rule)
7. Disputable area of faith, so show consideration and tolerance for others.
6. Heart of Our Leadership
It is the desire of the heart of the leadership of this church that every member would be led by the Holy Spirit and actively serve the body of Christ and the world with their particular spiritual gifts.
1. Do you see the Fruit of the Holy Spirit maturing in your life?
2. Are you using a Spiritual Gift for service in the Body of Christ?
Ryrie: Chapter 65
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. against such things there is no law"(Galatians 5:22)
"Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 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."(1st Corinthians 12:1)
"5-2. The Holy Spirit indwells all true believers, baptizing them into one body, of which Christ is the head. He, the divine Comforter, Intercessor, and Advocate, empowers the believer for service." (Bible Fellowship Church Article No. 5-2)
"A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church." (Grudem, Systematic Theology)