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Topical - Holy Spirit - Unity in Diversity

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I. What Are The Gifts Of The Spirit?

A.     Unity In Diversity.

1.     Ignorance of the Gifts of the Spirit.

a)        The Ignorance Occurs on Both Sides of the Issue.

&  Some lack the understanding that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today.

&  Some lack of knowledge concerning their proper scriptural exercise.

All the gifts of the Spirit seemed to be manifested in Corinth, yet they were being abused, that is why Paul wrote to the Corinthians—to correct the abuses.

In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul lists nine spiritual gifts, divided into triplets (of power, faith, and utterances).  But after he produces the list, he says, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things”

2.     Understanding Spiritual Gifts.

a)        Paul Wanted The Church To Be Knowledgeable of Certain Spiritual Truths (1Cor.12:1)

               The Overarching Principle Concerning the Gifts of the Spirit Is This: The true gifts of the Holy Spirit, when manifested in a scriptural and correct way, will always focus people’s hearts on Jesus Christ.  Jesus said the Spirit would not testify of Himself, but of Christ (John 15:26).  The Scriptural exercise of the gifts will always give you a fresh vision of Jesus Christ and His glory, causing you to fall in love with Him, and to be drawn to Him all over again.  Your heart will almost explode with love and appreciation for what Jesus is and what He is able to do 

v  Is there a great deal of attention drawn to the person exercising the gift?

v  In the magazines various ministries send out, who’s picture is on every other page?

v  To whom are they drawing attention?

v  Who are they promoting?

v  Who are they seeking to raise up in the eyes of the people?

A true manifestation of the Holy Spirit will always exalt the person of Jesus Christ—that’s what the Holy Spirit Has come to do.

b)        There Are Diversities of Gifts.

In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul lists nine different gifts.  Yet this is not a complete or exhaustive list; toward the end of the chapter Paul also mentions the gifts of helps and governments, and in Romans 12 he again added to the list.

1)        Four Classifications:

(a)      I Corinthians 12:4-11

(1)      Word of Wisdom; Word of Knowledge; Faith; Gifts of Healing; Effecting of Miracles;

(2)      Prophecy; Distinguishing of Spirits; Various Kinds of Tongues; Interpretation of Tongues

(b)      I Corinthians 12:28

(1)      Apostles; Prophets; Teachers; Gifts of healings; Helps;

(2)      Administrations; Various Kinds of Tongues

(c)      Romans 12:6-8

(1)      Prophecy; Service (helps); Teaching; Exhortation;

(2)      Giving; Leadership; Mercy

(d)      Ephesians 4:11

(1)      Apostles; Prophets; Evangelists; Pastors / Teachers

c)        There Are Differences in Ministries.

Some have gifts that others do not have, & though we may serve Him in different ways, we serve the same Lord (1 Cor.12:5).

d)        There Are Diversities of Operations.

        The Spirit of God works differently in our lives, according to our own unique personalities and idiosyncrasies (a structural or behavioral peculiarity).  I know how the gifts operate in my life, but it doesn’t follow that they will operate in the same way in your life (no 2 kids are alike).  God respects the differences that exist, and deals with us according to our need and according to who we are and how we respond. 

3.     Difference’s Are Good.

a)        Differences Are Good.

        Testimonies can be thrilling, exciting, and beneficial—or harmful.  When a person testifies of his experience with God or his experience with a gift of the Spirit, many of us have a tendency to think;

1)        But that’s not the way it happened to me, or I’ve never had it happen like that. 

2)        If you haven’t received a certain gift you may think, I see—that’s the way it’s going to happen when I receive it.  We imagine that it’s going to happen the same way to everyone.  But it doesn’t. 

That’s why it is important that you not try to duplicate another person’s gift. 

1)        Don’t try to copy the method of operation that you see in others, believing that it’s the only way the gift can operate. 

2)        Avoid such thoughts as; If I don’t do it like you do it, then I question whether I really have it. 

3)        Don’t try and receive the same experiences someone else received, or think that your experience isn’t genuine because it didn’t happen to you like someone else said it happened to him. 

4)        Don’t look for the experience, because if you do, your eyes will be upon the experience rather than on Jesus.   

B.      Seeking For The Wrong Purpose.

1.     Many Sought Christ for the Wrong Reasons.

a)        Crowds Sought Jesus for the Sensational (John 12:9)

        The crowd came to see the spectacular, that is, to see Lazarus, the man rumored to have been raised from the dead. They were anxious to see one who had experienced such a phenomenal event and to see if a resurrected man was any different.

b)        The Sensational is Requested by Philip (John 14:8)

Philip was not satisfied with what he saw in Jesus, nor with what he had received in Jesus. If he and the other disciples could only apprehend God with at least one of their senses, they would be satisfied. Perhaps he had in mind such a manifestation of God as "the angel of the Lord" who appeared to Jacob at Peniel (Gen 32:24, 30) and to the parents of Samson Judg 13:3-22) or the experience of Moses on Mount Sinai (Exod 34:4-8).

c)        The Temptation of Christ—To prove His Deity by the spectacular (Matthew 4:5-7)

1)        Christ was tempted to attract attention by the spectacular. The worshippers at the temple, seeing such a spectacular event, would accept and proclaim Him to be the Son of God.

2)        God is to be trusted, not the spectacular. God wants men to believe Him because they love Him as their Father, not because of events and happenings, whether they be spectacular or commonplace (Isaiah 43:10).

3)        Christ would have failed if He had given in to this temptation.  He would have centered people’s attention on the spectacular. The mission of Christ was to focus people’s attention on faith in God.

2.     (John 4:48-49) A Lesson in Faith.

a)        The Reply of Jesus Seems Like a Heartless Rejection.

               We must understand that a circus atmosphere was developing around Christ.  He was fast becoming a traveling sideshow—“Hurry, hurry, don’t miss the latest miracle!  Get your popcorn!

1)        Jesus seemed to insinuate that the official, like the rest of the Galileans, was only giving an excuse to see a miracle from Him (Herod Luke 23:8).  On the other hand, Jesus' words may express his hope more than his exasperation. He desired a belief characterized by dedication rather than amazement, a genuine commitment rather than merely to perform a cure.  Jesus wanted this mans faith to advance to a higher level.

2)        Jesus had to teach the man that His Word alone was enough. Belief in His Word was what was going to assure the request (God has magnified His Word above His Name Ps.138:2).  His power was at the nobleman’s disposal if he would just believe Him. Belief is to precede signs and wonders. 

(a)      Note that “you” is plural.  Jesus was addressing both the man and the crowd. He wanted the crowd to get the message as well.

(b)      “Seeing is believing” is not the Christian approach (John 11:40; 20:29).  First we believe then we see.

(c)      Miracles can only lead us to the Word (John 5:36-38) and the Word generates saving faith (Romans 10:17)

(d)      It is one thing to believe in miracles but something else to commit oneself to Jesus Christ & to continue in His word (John 8:30-31)

b)        There are four words used in the Bible for miracles or signs. These words are used to describe the works of God and they show why people believed in Jesus.

1)        Teras means the spectacular, staggering, amazing, dazzling.

                   Many believed in Jesus because of the spectacular signs He performed. However, such belief made a person only a spectator, not a participant in His life. The word teras also means the sensational; that is, it appeals to the sensations of men. Many believed and followed Jesus because it made them feel good and comfortable and secure. Such belief is weak and often fails. This word is never used by itself to initiate faith in the Lord Jesus. If a person is to have genuine faith in the Lord Jesus, he must have some basis other than the spectacular sign (teras John 6:66).

Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture… But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. (Luke 8:6, 13 NKJV)

But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62 NKJV)

Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." (Hebrews 10:38 )

2)        Dunamis means power—unusual, extraordinary power; effective, explosive power.

                   There were those who were attracted to Jesus because of the unusual power (dunamis) they witnessed. They believed because of the power. Such is a legitimate belief and leads to salvation for everyone who believes.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16 NKJV)

3)        Ergon means distinctive works, deeds, and miracles.

               Such works come from God (John 14:10) and bear witness to Christ. They point men to Christ (John 5:36; John 10:25 not to man). Some men look at the very special works of Christ and believe because of the works (ergon).

If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;   "but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him." (John 10:37-38 NKJV)

Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. (John 14:11 NKJV)

4)        Semeion means a sign that characterizes the person, his nature and character.

               A few throughout Jesus’ ministry did believe because they saw in the miracles exactly who He was, the very Son of God.

This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. (John 2:11 NKJV)

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31 NKJV)

       However, the word semeion is also used of those who believed the signs, but did not have the highest or right kind of faith. Their faith was not a faith that committed itself to Jesus (John 2:24).  There are going many people who will stand before God and He will tell them, “I never knew you”, & there are many who follow these people.

a.  It was a faith that arose only from...

·    a mental conviction, a head knowledge, an intellectual belief.

·    a surface acceptance of the fact that Jesus was the Savior.

  “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men” (John 2:23-24; believe and commit are the same words).

b.      It was also a faith...

·     that only sought Jesus for what a person could get out of Him (Acts 8:9-25).

·    that never gave any thought to what a person might do for Christ.

·    that was unaware of the cost of discipleship, unaware that a person had to sacrifice himself and give all he was and had to Christ in order to become a follower of His ( Luke 9:23).

Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. (John 6:26)

II. Why Charisma Often Becomes Charismania. 

A.  Do Not Be Carried Away With Every Wind of Doctrine.

In Ephesians 4:11ff. Paul tells us that God has placed in the church certain gifted men, such as pastor teachers, to perfect the saints for the work of the ministry and to build up the body of Christ. The end result of sound teaching is to bring the believers into a fully matured state so they will not be carried about with every wind of doctrine.

(1)  One of the greatest weaknesses of the charismatic movement (of or being a type of Christianity that emphasizes personal religious experience and divinely inspired powers) is its lack of sound Bible teaching. There seems to be an undue preoccupation with experience, which is often placed above the Word. As a consequence, charismatics have become a fertile field for strange and unscriptural doctrines proliferating through their ranks.

(2)  It is of utmost importance that we allow the Bible to be the final authority for our faith and practice (2 Peter 1:16-21). Any time we begin to allow experiences to become the criteria for doctrine or belief, we have lost Biblical authority, and the inevitable result is confusion. There are so many people today who witness of remarkable and exciting experiences. The Mormons, for example, "bear witness" to the experience of the truth of the Book of Mormon. They encourage people to pray in order to experience whether or not their Book of Mormon is true. One person says he has experienced that it is true, and another says he has experienced that it is false. Which one am I to believe? Each swears he has had a true experience from God; yet one has to be wrong.

(3)  Whenever you open the door for experience to become the foundation or criterion for doctrinal truth, you are opening a Pandora's box (Pandora-Gk. Myth. The first woman, who opened a box containing all the evils of human life). The result is that the truth is lost in the conflicting experiences, and the inevitable consequence is total confusion. We know that God is not the Author of confusion.

1.     Unbiblical Based Experiences.

a)        Slain in the Spirit?

        One of the experiences that is quite common among charismatics is the practice of being "slain in the Spirit." I have never discovered the supposed value of this experience. Yet it is quite a common occurrence among charismatics. When pressed for a Scriptural basis, they usually mention the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus in the garden. When Jesus asked them, "Who are you looking for?" they responded, "Jesus of Nazareth." He answered them, "I am He," and they fell backward to the ground (John 18). But note that they were unbelievers, not Spirit-filled members of the body of Christ. (There is no indication that they ever became believers.) This is certainly not a Scriptural basis for the practice among believers today.

       Often charismatics refer to the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. Again, Paul at that time was an enemy of Christ. There was no evangelist or pastor laying hands on him, nor do we ever read of the experience being repeated after his conversion. Paul also had a vital personal encounter with Jesus Christ as the Lord spoke to him audibly during his experience.

        When I first came to the Lord, I attended many services where people were supposedly being slain in the Spirit. I often had hands laid on me; quite often there was a gentle pressure exerted on the forehead, pushing me backward. With some of the evangelists, it was not quite so gentle. If you stand with your eyes closed, hands lifted, and your head tilted back, it does not take much pressure for you to go over backward, especially if you know that someone is standing behind to catch you!

b)        Exorcising Demons?

        Another popular pastime among many charismatic groups is the discerning and exorcising of demons out of each other. Numerous books and articles have been written on this subject by their recognized leaders, and a whole doctrine developed upon the basis of experiences alone.

One of the evangelists who was thought to be especially gifted in this ministry reportedly began to pass out Kleenex tissues in his services so that the people might regurgitate the demons into the Kleenex!

If in a meeting one of the group began to yawn, this was a sign that he was possessed by a demon of lethargy.

To burp would invite the exorcism of the demon of gluttony, which would invade you the moment you ate one bite more food than you needed. Much damage has been done to sensitive people through this pernicious doctrine, and scattered across the world today are many tragic victims of its aftermath.

       In one of the books I read on this subject, the author spoke of how we were to consign these demons to the pit when we cast them out. And how did he know we had the power to send them to the pit? While he was in conversation with a demon, prior to casting it out, the demon begged him not to send it to the pit. He then asked the demon if he had the authority, and the demon answered yes. He thus declared on the authority of what the demon told him that he could command all demons to go to the pit. If Satan is the father of all lies, how could you trust the word of one of his emissaries to be true? Here a doctrine was being based upon the supposed word of a demon.

c)        Bible Doctrine Vs. Demon Doctrine

Paul warned against doctrines of demons in the last days. This whole doctrine and practice was developed entirely upon experiences, with no solid Scriptural foundation. Many people have testified of the great victory they experienced after having been delivered from some demon. (1) Should we then believe that we can have victory over our flesh life by having the demon of lust cast out? (2) Does the Bible teach that I as a child of God can be possessed by a demon, (3) and are there instances in the New Testament where in the church gatherings they cast demons out of each other? To the contrary, there are passages that indicate that a child of God cannot be possessed by demons.

Paul, writing to the Corinthians, said that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit which is in us (1 Corinthians 6:19). He also asked what communion light has with darkness, and what concord Christ has with Belial, and what agreement the temple of God has with idols (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). In 1 Corinthians 10:20 he identifies idols with demons, and in verse 21 he declares, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils." When faced with these Scriptures, many charismatics who were following these practices developed the doctrine that the demons could invade the believer's mind but not his spirit. This concept is also without Scriptural basis. There is no account in the Scriptures of a born-again believer in Jesus Christ being exorcised of a demon.

That demons can and do possess the bodies of unbelievers is an accepted fact of Scripture, and that they can be exorcised through the authority of the name of Jesus is also evident. But to believe that a child of God can be freed from the problems of the flesh (such as lust, anger, and envy) by exorcism is charismania.

d)        Written Vs. Spoken

Many charismatics seem to prefer the spoken word over the written Word, and they seek to show the power of the rhema over the logos. The ministry of the prophet or exhorter is preferred above that of the teacher. The anointing of the Spirit is preferred above that of the teacher. The anointing of the Spirit is recognized not so much by the truth that is unfolded as by the fervency and excitement displayed by the speaker. If the voice is loud and pitched high, and the speech very forceful and rapid, this is the sign of the true anointing, especially if he sucks a lot of air between phrases and throws in amens and hallelujahs between thoughts! Some of the more adept evangelists have developed great skills in whipping the people into a high state of excitement bordering upon hysteria by just repeating a single phrase, such as "Praise the Lord," using different voice intonations.

Because of the preference for the spoken word, tongues with interpretation or a prophetic utterance is desired above the preaching or teaching of the scriptures (1Timothy 4:13 cf. 2Tim.4:2).  In many charismatic   fellowships, if there have not been manifestations of these vocal gifts, the people do not recognize or acknowledge the moving of the Spirit in that service. I have often heard people say that the Spirit moved in such a powerful way in the service that the preacher did not even have an opportunity to speak. This idea is used to express the "ultimate" in the moving of God's Spirit.

e)        What You Say Is What You Get?

The latest wind of pernicious, unscriptural doctrine to blow through the ranks of some charismatics is the "what-you-say-is-what-you-get" teaching, otherwise known as the prosperity doctrine. Among the claims that are commonly made is that God never wills that you should be sick and that all sickness is the result of ignorance or lack of faith. Such teachings sound more like Mary Baker Eddy than the Apostle Paul!

These people speak much of making positive confessions, and warn against any negative confession. They teach that the spoken word becomes a spirit force for good or evil according to the confession. Thus you are never to confess, "I don't feel well," for that is a negative confession and is bound to cause you to feel bad. You are thus encouraged to lie about your true condition or feelings. As you hear this teaching you would swear that the sermons came from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures rather than the Bible.

I have heard such people seek to explain away Paul's thorn in the flesh (2Cor.12:7) by saying, "Where else do we find thorns in the Bible?" "Jesus," they said, "spoke of the thorns choking out the Word so that the seed could not produce." Now what were these thorns? The cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust for other things. Therefore Paul's thorn in the flesh was the cares of life that he took upon himself.

Had these people bothered to do the slightest amount of research, they would have discovered that there are two entirely different Greek words translated "thorns" in these passages. The word that Paul used about his thorn in the flesh was a Greek word that referred to a tent stake, not some nagging little irritation. Paul spoke to the Galatians about his infirmities; the English word has the same root as "infirmary," or what we call a hospital.

One of these charismatic leaders said, "Inasmuch as this was given to Paul lest he be exalted above measure, don't you think that if Paul could have just conquered his flesh, the thorn would not have been necessary?" I cannot imagine the spiritual pride insinuated by such a remark. In essence, he was declaring that he had conquered over his flesh more thoroughly than Paul. This surely was not apparent by the flashy clothes, car, and home that he possessed. Yet he said that all of this lavish living was just a sign of his faith, for if God could trust us with money, He wanted us all to prosper, and anyone with enough faith could live like the King's kid.

What does that say about Jesus, who had no place to lay His head, and had to send Peter fishing in order to get a coin to pay the taxes? I know of many people who have died while making their positive confessions of healing. Some of them could have been helped by competent medical care, but to go to a doctor would be a negative confession and an admission that something was wrong. In other cases I know of people who followed the lies of the positive-confession evangelists, and when their confessions failed to materialize, they turned their backs on God completely. I also know that some of the evangelists who are the chief exponents of this positive confession as the way to constant health and continuous prosperity have spent time in the hospital for nervous exhaustion.

The people who seem to have prospered the most from these teachings are the evangelists themselves. How will they answer to God for conning the poor little widow out of half her Social Security check, causing her to miss several meals for lack of funds so they can fly in their private jets to their luxury condominiums in Palm Springs and dine in the plushest restaurants?

Paul writes to Timothy about the perverse teachings of men of corrupt minds who are destitute of the truth, for they suppose that godliness is a way to prosperity. Paul warned Timothy to stay away from them. This is a free but accurate translation of the Greek text in 1 Timothy 6:5. Paul then told Timothy that godliness with contentment was great riches.

2.     Power, Signs, and Lying Wonders (2 Thess.2:9).

a)        We Must Be Watchfull (Acts 20:28-32)

1)        The Lord Your God may be testing you (Deut.13:1-5)

2)        Jesus said false Christ’s & false prophets will rise up (Matt.24:5, 11, 24)

3)        Peter has taught this (2 Pet.2:1-3, 17) as well as Paul (2Tim.3:1, 13)

4)        A four fold description of a false teacher (Acts 13:10)

5)        In the last days many will depart from the faith (1Tim.4:1)

6)        Many Will Follow These Deceivers Right Into Hell (Matthew 7:13, 21-23), thinking they were on the road to life.

7)        Do not seek signs & wonders, but rather “seek those things which are above” (Col.3:1-2)  

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