Podcast - 5a - Gifts of the Spirit in Context - Lesson
September 20, 2012 Speaker: Daniel Rice
THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT & COMMUNITY
Podcast 5 – The Holy Spirit Today - Lesson
Hi, This is Father Daniel.
Welcome to the podcourse, THE HOLY SPIRIT TODAY.
This is our FIFTH LESSON in a series of TEN.
Each SESSION is comprised of one formal lesson, a followup FAQ session to address a few finer points - and sometimes a third segment, called an appendix.
Today’s Lesson is entitled The GIFTS OF THE Holy Spirit, So, grab a WARM cup of tea, a healthy snack and settle in for a look at the Holy spirit and the GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.
Let us ask the lord for his help.
“the lord be with you.”
and also with your spirit
HEAVENLY FATHER WE ASK YOU TODAY TO HELP US UNDERSTAND YOUR WORD AND WORK. WE DESIRE TO KNOW YOUR WORD, NOT ONLY AS THE SPIRIT BREATHES ITS REALITY INTO US, BUT ALSO IN THE CONTEXT OF THOSE WHOM YOU CHOSE TO WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU WERE SAYING AND DOING IN THE EARLY CHURCH. WE ALSO PRAY THAT WE WILL UNDERSTAND YOUR WORD IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COMMUNITY IN WHICH YOU SPOKE AND ACTED, NOT JUST FROM WITHIN OUR IMMEDIATE COMMUNITY OF BELIEVERS BUT FROM THE COMMUNITY OF FAITH IN WHICH YOU WORKED THROUGHOUT THE AGES. LET US SEE HOW THE GIFTS AND WORKINGS OF YOUR SPIRIT ARE ALIVE AND POWERFUL THROUGHOUT CHURCH HISTORY, IS ENERGETICALLY AT WORK TODAY, AND WILL BE SO UNTIL YOU CALL US HOME TO BE WITH YOU. THIS WE PRAY IN THE NAME OF YOUR SON, OUR SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, WHO LIVES AND REIGNS IN POWER WITH YOU AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE GOD, FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN.
In this fifth lesson we will consider a few of the many aspects of the gifts of the spirit, and if you’ve been a christian very long, you may have already heard various teachings about the gifts of the spirit. that is why this study might be of interest to you -- you might actually find some of these following comments a little different than what you have heard from others. for one thing we will stay consistent with the topics we have already discussed, and will attempt to build on those lessons. SECONDLY, WE WILL ATTEMPT TO BE CLEAR ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LUKE AND PAUL, AND NOT TO CONFLATE THE TWO. EACH OF THEM HAS A PERSPECTIVE TO GIVE US, AND AS WE UNDERSTAND THESE DISTINCTIONS, THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL SHOW US WHAT HE WAS INTENDING ON TEACHING US IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ENTIRE CANON. WE HOPE TO SEE THESE GIFTS WITH GREATER CLARITY, AND IN SO DOING, OPEN OURSELVES TO THE OPERATION OF THE SPIRIT IN BETTER AND BETTER WAYS.
The lessons so far have included the person of the holy spirit, the purpose of the holy spirit, the powers of the age to come and some initial remarks about the coming of the kingdom of god. in this lesson we will look at the gifts of the holy spirit in the light of the holy spirit as a person and in light of the fact that the gifts of the holy spirit are intended to be manifested in the context of the Community of believers and were never intended to be privatized or individual marks of distinction, or used for individual purposes. what i mean is, the gifts of the spirit are given to the body of christ, not to individuals. So, when a person says, “i have such and such a gift,” that may be somewhat true, but it is not entirely true. the gifts are given for the body of christ and not for any private enjoyment. The implication is also that the gifts are to be evaluated by others. No one can exercise a gift in the body and not give an account to others for what they say and do. There are no lone rangers in the body of christ, not even those who consider themselves prophets. no one is an island when it comes to this subject.
Second, when the subject of the gifts of the spirit is discussed, WE often HEAR MOST OF THE EMPHASIS placed on WHAT THE GIFTS “LOOK LIKE,” that is, WHAT THEir PHYSICAL MANIFESTATIONS look like. but let us begin with first corinthians 12:1-7 12
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
look at the categories he was discussing. there were some odd things happening in those services, and there were some differences in the way people manifested the work of the spirit. Some was good and some was decidedly harmful. so how are we to know which is which. well, this is why the book of first corinthians was written, to begin to intelligently address a variety of manifestations, and to clarify them. here are some areas today where variation can be seen clearly and needs to be defined a little better.
FOR Insance, traditional pentecostals in the united states will refer to the baptism with the holy spirit as having certain characteristics. The Assemblies of God, as an example, in an attempt to quantify who does and who does not have the baptism with the holy spirit will say that the baptism with the holy spirit is always accompanied by the manifestaion of glossilalia – a verbal gift – and without that one cannot say they have been baptized with the spirit. that verbal gift must be manifested. this has caused endless discussions and heated arguments, and has, at times, generated more FERVOR than insight.
In developing nations, however, the evidence of the baptism with the holy spirit is INDICATED BY expressions of power, like instantaneous or remarkable physical healing . . . what one friend of mine once called “works of signs, powers and proofs.” I like his definition because it certainly does capture what was happening in the first century.
Look, for instance, at the kind of prayer the original company of believers prayed in Acts 4:29 - 31
29And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. ESV
their’s was an expectation of demonstrable power, based on their preaching of the word of god, and when the spirit answered them, an earthquake accompanied it, and – note this – they were all FILLED WITH the holy spirit. there was CORPORATENESS to their experience. no single individual stood out – just as it was on the day of pentecost. there was none of this individual filling. it was corporate. they were all filled. this underscores the fact that the work of the holy spirit is not for single individuals, but for the body of believers - together. think about what this means, especially for those who claim to be lead by the spirit, and uniquely gifted, but also admit that they don’t like the church, and do not attend a local fellowship of believers, or that organized groups of believers are not as spiritual as those who have a “special,” “Private,” and “unique” calling to be outside the church. i would like to submit a suggestion that such people are not doing things the way the scripture shows, and most I have ever seen who practice this kind of “special” spirituality are not as much charismatic as just plain schismatic. I have never seen a person like this who was not also a fraud. let me be clear here, the gifts of the spirit are for the body of christ; they are not for the world, not for other religions and not for any private use. if the person exercising the gifts is not in submission to others, not in relationship to the body of christ, not in harmony with the scriptures, then, they must be avoided and if necessary, rejected for promoting a fraudulant kind of spirituality.
In the case of those in developing nations who see the baptism with the spirit as being connected with healing ministries of miracles and proofs of power, which is not wrong, but it is interesting . . . some of this view surely has to be the result of the effect of certain kinds of evangelists going into developing nations with their open-air services that feature and promote physical healing and miracles.
Developing nations are in need of so many things that the promise of healing is a very real draw to those who have such little access to medicine and health care. It has been noted as well that many people have come to christ as a result of healings they have received. it wasn’t the glossilalia that impressed them most, it was the fact that the lame could now walk, the blind see, the deaf hear and the dead raised . . . if you read Mel Tarri’s book, “like a mighty wind,” from the 1970s you will see that all of these things happened in Indonesia and it stirred his nation for christ.
so, for developing nations to equate the activity of the holy spirit with physical manifestations rather than with verbal phenomena is exactly what one would expect to see present in their theology, for this is what they have seen, and this is what they have been consistently taught by visiting evangelists. A COUPLE OF THESE WELL-KNOWN EVANGELISTS ARE Rinheart Bonkey and Benny Hinn. THIS IS A REGULAR FEATURE OF THEIR MEETINGS, AND THEY DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR THEIR EMPHASIS ON THIS KIND OF SPIRITUAL demonstrate in their meetings.
THE INTERESTING THING IS THAT “something” must be happening there, or these kinds of services would likely not have the followings they do.
ONE COULD GO ON TO DISCUSS THE CESSATIONISTS WHO CLAIM THE MIRACULOUS WORKS OF THE SPIRIT ARE OVER, AND THOSE WHO PRAY FOR HEALING BUT DO NOT BELIEVE ANYONE WILL ACTUALLY RECEIVE IT; OR DISCUSS THOSE WHO BELIEVE EVERYONE IS FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT WHEN THEY BELIEVE IN JESUS; OR EXAMINE THOSE, LIKE THE WESLEYANS WHO BELIEVE IN A SECOND WORK OF GRACE – WHICH THEY CALL SANCTIFICATION; OR TALK ABOUT THOSE WHO BELIEVE ONE RECEIVES THE HOLY SPIRIT WITH THE LAYING ON OF THE HANDS OF THE BISHOP AT CONFIRMATION, AND SO ON,
TRUTH IS ALL OF THESE IDEAS ARE PARTIALLY TRUE AND PARTIALLY FALSE. NONE ARE COMPLETELY TRUE AND NONE ARE COMPLETELY FALSE. EACH HAS ITS OWN MERIT, IF ONE UNDERSTANDS WHAT IS GOING ON in the THEOLOGY. AND, EVEN THOUGH THESE VARIOUS GROUPS SAY THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT THE SAME THING, NOT ALL ARE. TERMINOLOGY IS IMPORTANT, SCRIPTURE IS VITAL, CHURCH HISTORY LENDS SOME LIGHT ON THIS SUBJECT, AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCES ALSO PLAY A ROLE. THE FACT IS THIS, AND IT MAY BE CONFUSING TO SOME, BUT SOME OF THE ISSUES OF UNDERSTANDING THESE THINGS IS MERELY SYMMANTICS, WHILE OTHERS ARE REAL DIFFERENCES. DO NOT PANIC AND DO NOT GIVE UP, I THINK YOU WILL HAVE GREATER CLARITY IF YOU WILL SIMPLIFY AND BE A LITTLE FLEXIBLE WITH OTHER VIEWS.
so what, if anything, are these various perspectives lacking? first, they all lack some facet of each other’s perspective.
There are two principles we must hold to in all of our studies in christian matters, be that the study of the scriptures, the practices of our liturgies or our direct or indirect theologies, and they are these . . . preeminantly that the truth of god is resident in the one holy catholic and apostolic church and when people depart from the teaching of the apostles, as understood and taught by the church of jesus across these last two millennia, they depart from the faith itself.
this is why reforms and awakenings keep occurring. these are OFTEN corrective measures, BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND CONSCIENTIOUS PEOPLE.
the best REFORMS lead us back to what is consistent with our HISTORICAL roots, AND DO NOT TRY TO FOSTER SOME NEW KIND OF UNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. THEY STAY CONSISTENT WITH THE SCRIPTURES AND with the councils of the church through time.
the other principle WE HOLD TO is that no scripture is of any private interpretation, and all – and I do mean “all” the works of the spirit must be exercised in the body of christ, i mean, in the context of community. these two things are extremely important, why? because, unless WE ARE DEALING WITH aN unusual situation, there is no salvation in this world apart from the church of jesus christ. SALVATION IS NOT ONLY PERSONAL, IT IS CORPORATE. IF A PERSON CAN BE IN COMMUNITY AND REFUSES, THEY ARE MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE, AND THEY CUT THEMSELVES OFF FROM THE NURTURING WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
OF COURSE THERE ARE THOSE WHO CANNOT, FOR ONE PSYCHOLOGICAL OR PHYSICAL REASON OR ANOTHER, CANNOT ACTUALLY BE CONNECTED TO A RELATIONAL COMMUNITY OF BELIEVERS, AND I KNOW SOME PEOPLE LIKE THIS, BUT THEIR CASES ARE DIFFERENT. THEY DO NOT REFUSE THE BODY OF CHRIST, THEY ARE SIMPLY NOT ABLE TO BE IN CLOSE FELLOWSHIP. IN SUCH CASES, I BELIEVE GOD INTERVENES IN DIFFERENT WAYS IN THEIR LIVES, BUT I ALSO KNOW THAT THEY SUFFER THE LOSS OF SOMETHINGS THAT WOULD ENRICH THEIR LIVES AND THEY REMAIN EMPOVERISHED IN SOME AREAS.
in an age of independence and experimentation nothing could sound more foreign than A statement ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF BEING CONNECTED TO A CHURCH BODY, but why do i EMPHASIZE this? I EMPHASIZE it because thE FOUNDATION OF THE idea OF GIFTS WITHIN CORPORATE INTIMACY is rooted in the fact of the INTIMACY OF THE trinity. god is a trinity, GOD IS A COMMUNITY OF THREE IN ONE. THE DECLARATION, “hear o’ israel, OUR god is one,” IS ALSO A REVELATION THAT CORPORATNESS IS ESSENTIAL TO UNITY – SO - the church, for all its diversity, (and there is plenty of diversity in the church), is one church, not many churches. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
think about this. this we say THIS weekly IN THE NICENE AND APOSTLE’S CREEDS; and if we understand it correctly we are affiring the unity and continuity of the church of jesus. there is but one church, and no INDIVIDUAL permutation of it can call itself uniquely authoritative. NOT THE ROMAN CHURCH, NOT THE EASTERN CHURCH, NOT THE ANGLICAN CHURCH, NOT THE LUTHERAN CHURCH, NOT THE REFORM CHURCHES, AND NOT THE PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES EITHER.
all legitimate expressions of the church play an important role in th relationship to the full expression of the church of god. THIS IS ONE REASON WHY CHRISTIAN CULTS LIKE THE MORMONS AND JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES ARE OFTEN REJECTED OUTRIGHT BY THE CHURCHES, BECAUSE THEY HAVE SET THEMSELVES AGAINST THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST – THEY STAND OUTSIDE THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH AND THEY HAVE LONG AGO CONDEMNED THE CHURCHES. . . SETTING THEMSELVE UP AS AUTHORITATIVE AND CORRECT, WHEN THE COUNCILS OF THE CHURCH ADDRESSED HERETICAL VIEWS ESPOUSED BY THEM.
IT IS A SERIOUS THING TO REJECT THE LESSONS THE CHURCH HAS LEARNED FROM THE APOSTLES AND THROUGH HISTORY BECAUSE THE CHURCH IS A LIVING ORGANISM, NOT AN ORGANIZATION. TO REJECT WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS DONE AND SAID IN HISTORY PUTS ONE AT ODDS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOT WITH THE HIERARCHY OF THE CHURCH.
It is in our affirmation with the historical church and it’s teachings that we have harmony and are most effective; THIS IS when we are most genuinely the church OF JESUS, and THIS IS WHEN WE are most correctly aligned with the work of the holy spirit.
SO – in our ecclesiology, we must not become exclusivists, but inclusivists, and defend the truest core of the teachings of the church through time. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE CHURCH IS FLAWLESS OR FAULTLESS, NEVER. IT DOES, HOWEVER, MEAN THAT IF ONE IS A GOOD STUDENT AND PAYS ATTENTION TO THE BEST PRACTICES OF CHRIST’S CHURCH OVER TIME, ONE WILL CLEARLY SEE THE FLOW OF THE SPIRIT. SO, READ AND STUDY, AND EXAMINE THESE SUBJECTS FOR YOUR YOURSELF.
EVERY DENOMINATION GETS SOME THINGS RIGHT AND EVERY DENOMINATION GETS SOME THINGS WRONG. THIS IS WHY WE NEED EACH OTHER, AND IT IS WHY WE ARE COMPELLED TO BE VIGOROUS STUDENTS OF THE WORD AND OF HISTORY. I HAVE KNOWN MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE SHIPWRECK OF THEIR LIVES BECAUSE THEY DESPISED THE LESSONS OF CHURCH HISTORY.
I HAVE HAD PEOPLE LEAVE MY PASTORATES BECAUSE THEY ABSOLUTELY REFUSED TO BE GOOD STUDENTS. THEY DESPISED SCHOLARSHIP AND RIGOROUS STUDY, DESIRING ONLY THE SENSATIONAL, THE EMOTIONAL, THE ETHERIAL EXPERIENCES. THIS IS A FALSE KIND OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM – A “JESUS AND ME” ATTITUDE – AND IT PRODUCES NEITHER GOOD FRUIT, NOR MATURE BELIEVERS. THE SCRIPTURE IS CLEAR THAT WE ARE TO GROW UP INTO CHRIST, AND TO KNOW THE REASONS WHY WE BELIEVE. YOU DON’T HAVE TO KNOW IT ALL, AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO LEARN IT ALL AT ONCE, BUT IF YOU CAN LEARN, THEN YOU MUST NOT BE LAZY ABOUT IT. WE ALL NEED TO BECOME BETTER DISCIPLES. A DISCIPLE IS A LEARNER. WE ARE ALWAYS TO BE LEARNING AND PRACTICING WHAT WE LEARN.
the point i am making here is just this, that there are certainly MANY manifestations of the holy spirit, but contrary to popular teachings, they are not always so predictable AS SOME MIGHT LEAD YOU TO BELIEVE, AND THEY ARE NOT ALL AS MYSTERIOUS AS OTHERS WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE.
SPIRITUAL GIFTS WERE NORMAL, NOT ONLY IN THE EARLY CHURCH, BUT FOR HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF YEARS. AS YOU READ THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS, YOU WILL NOTE HOW THEY RECORDED MIRACLES AND ALL SORTS OF MANIFESTATIONS OF THE SPIRIT, LONG AFTER THE ORIGINAL APOSTLES WERE DEAD. THEY HELD NO SUCH NOTION AS THE CESSATION OF APOSTOLIC POWER. QUITE THE CONTRARY; THE HISTORICAL CHURCHES HAVE ALWAYS HELD TO APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION – WHICH SIMPLY MEANS THAT THEY TAUGHT AND PRACTICED EXACTLY WHAT THE APOSTLES TAUGHT AND PRACTICED. ALL OF THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT HAVE BEEN AT WORK SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH, AND THEY ARE ALL AT WORK TODAY. WHAT WE OUGHT TO DESIRE IS THAT THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE ALLOWED TO WORK FREELY IN THE CHUCH AND THAT WE UNDERSTAND AND UTILIZE THEM TO THEIR GREATEST BENEFIT, CONTINUALLY.
this is what we see in the description of the spiritual gifts in the new testament. St. paul does make lists, but these are neither conclusive or ridgid lists, they are speicific in what kinds of manifestations were witnessed in the early church, but they are non-specific in exactly how these gifts were manifested.
In fact, when PAUL introduces concepts like, “the spirit of the prophey is subject to the prophet,” he is introducing a variable that makes hard-edged identification of the works of the spirit leSS obvious.
AS AN example, a person might have a word from the lord for a situation or person, but how that message is delivered might be overt or subtle.
The “prophet” might say “thus saith the lord,” or they may tell a story to the person to whom they are delivering the message – as did nathan the prophet with king david . . . and which brought about the desired result of repentance IN DAVID’S HEART. I wonder what david would have done if nathan had accused HIM OF SIN, or demanded his repentance ON THE SPOT. It might not have gone so well FOR EITHER NATHAN OR DAVID. SO, ONE OF THE LESSONS HERE IS “WHAT RESULTS DO YOU HOPE THE GIFTS IN WHICH YOU ARE OPERATING WILL BRING?” NATHAN WANTED NOTHING LESS THAN DAVID’S REDEMPTION AND HE CRAFTED A STORY THAT HE KNEW WOULD MELT THE HARD HEART OF A KING. NATHAN KNEW DAVID, AND HE used a device to penetrate david’s defenses. this was tremendous. the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. nathan could have delivered his message any way he wanted to, but he was careful to deliver it in a way that david would hear him. this was not only brilliant, it was gracious and kind-hearted. it tells us a lot about the prophet nathan. he was obviously a good man as well as a wise prophet. think about this.
. the fact is, our own management of the spiritual gifts matters every bit as much as the gift itself . . . and sometimes even more. think about how you manage your gifts. is it wise and gentle? Does it echoe the fruit of the spirit? is it done in love, like the 1 corinthians 13 kind of virtue? because this is exactly what paul was trying to tell the corinthians . . . you might have powerful spiritual gifts, but you evidently didn’t get the memo about not being jerk in the way you deliver them. the corinthians were something else!!! there was a lot of correction paul did there, and they repented and improved, but notice how gentle . . . and funny . . . paul was when he corrected them . . . and yet . . . when he rebuked them, he brought them to tears. St. Paul knew these people well, and he knew how to speak to them – the tough and the tender – but everything he did he did for the purpose of making them better and for making their gifts useful for everyone.
We will discuss more about the qualities of the Spirit's manifestation in the FAQ section for this lesson.