Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit: Part I

Today, I’m beginning a new series entitled Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit. The entire series will be 12 posts long. So at three posts per week, it will last for some time. If you find the posts of help, you can share them with your friends using the Facebook and Twitter buttons at the bottom.

In 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul discusses the manifestation of the Holy Spirit saying,

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.

As the name implies, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given by God to manifest—to make known or display—the presence of Jesus Christ to and through His church.

Since the Holy Spirit’s job is to glorify and reveal Christ (John 16:13-14), the manifestation of the Spirit is designed to unveil Christ. Spiritual manifestations are given by God’s grace; consequently, Paul calls them “spiritual gifts” (charisma in the Greek, 1 Cor. 12:4, 30, 31).

All nine gifts that Paul lists in the above text are miraculous in nature. That is, they display Christ in a supernatural way. Throughout the NT, Paul makes a healthy distinction between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit displays the character of God’s life in the believer. The manifestation of the Spirit displays the power of God’s life through the believer. The fruit of the Spirit relates to our walk. The manifestation of the Spirit relates to our service. Fruit deals with the character of Jesus. Gifts deal with the ministry of Jesus.

Spiritual manifestations have been a sore spot for the Lord’s people for centuries. Some have embraced the notion that those gifts are no longer present in the church.

Such folks are called “cessationists,” for they believe that spiritual gifts have ceased to exist. But there is no Biblical merit for the “cessationist” idea. The testimony of Scripture as well as church history demonstrates that the gifts of the Spirit have been operative in the church since they were given on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 30.

Nevertheless, among those who accept the perpetuity—or continuation—of spiritual manifestations, there have been two predominant schools of thought:

1) Spiritual gifts should be sought after and encouraged, for they are the zenith of spirituality.

2) Spiritual gifts should be hindered and discouraged, for they are easily abused and often cause division, confusion, and hurt.

We will call the first view the charismaniac position and the second view the charisphobic position. I submit that both positions are imbalanced.

Read Part II

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Comments

  1. Nancy says

    ”The fruit of the Spirit relates to our walk. The manifestation of the Spirit relates to our service.” Thanks, that defines both perfectly.

  2. Gospel Fellowships says

    “A cardinal mistake that many believers make is to confuse spiritual gifts with spiritual life. God’s highest aim for His children is that they grow and develop in spiritual life”

    Well said.

  3. Charlie Clayborn says

    I would be interested to know the scriptures used to support the cesstation position concerning spiritual gifts.Aren’t we admonished to not add to or take away from God’s word? Is the Holy Spirit no longer needed as well? I don’t see how you can have a new testament church without the manifestation of the Holy Spirit!

    • Vinny says

      Although weak I have been shown ! Cor 13:8 “and these will pass away” but that’s really stretching the word thin.

  4. Alex says

    Really promising start. I am looking forward to the rest of the series. I, too, like the distinction of the fruit showing the character of Christ and the gift for the service of Christ. However, I can see the two crossing over. In one sense the fruit is for service in that fruit is for others to eat for reproduction of Christ. Fruit is not for ourselves alone, then. Gifts are clearly a service for others, but are given because of the character of Christ is to help others. Thank you for your service to the body of Christ, Frank.

  5. Valeria T says

    Very interesting topic, thanks for embarking upon it. I went to a charismatic church once and got really scared. (really, had to walk out of the room) Don’t really have an opinion on the gifts of the Spirit, so am really looking forward to reading thoughts on the subject.

  6. says

    I like that line, ‎”The fruit of the Spirit relates to our walk. The manifestation of the Spirit relates to our service.”

    I haven’t heard a better definition of the distinction between the two. Thanks, Frank, and looking forward to the series!

  7. Jonathan B says

    Growing up traditional Church of Christ, I couldn’t buy into the theology they were teaching on Holy Spirit. I’m looking forward to the results of your study.

  8. CatherineS says

    I’m looking forward to this series. Having come from the “charismaniac” side of things, I laid down all expectations about the gifts of the Spirit — even those I’d walked in for years. I want to seek only Christ, not things on a spiritual wish list. I’ve seen the spiritual gifts used to badly abuse the body of Christ, but I know they’re gifts God wants to bestow on His children, so it’s important to have a balanced view of them. So, I’ve just been waiting for the Lord to show me how He’s meant these gifts to function in His body in a healthy way to manifest Him, His glory and power.

  9. Stephen Oliver says

    Thank you for embarking on this series. So much misunderstanding exists in the Bride concerning the gifts and how they really manifest themselves today. I hope part of your sharing is about spiritual discernment and identifying “true” from “false” manifestations of the gifts.

    I agree that they exist today, but certainly not at the level of the “alpha” generation during the 1st century. Having said this, displaying them relates to the ministry you are called to serve, not as a result of a level of maturity or “zenith of spirituality.” I support the charisbalance viewpoint.

    Look forward to future discussions. Shalom and Grace be with you.

  10. Paul Castleman says

    Frank–

    I am excited for this series. Remember, this kind of stuff can scare us Church of Christ-ers a little! But, I love the challenge that you bring (or is it Scripture that brings it? LOL!) and I am willing to be challenged!!

    Love it brother!

  11. kalil says

    I’m looking forward to the series, however, i’m looking forward to reading the comments section even more :)

  12. Nick says

    Look forward to the series, brother! I greatly appreciate your identification of the distinction between fruit and the gifts.

  13. Miguel says

    Wow thanks Frank, refreshing as always! I think this is a theme of urgent need in the body because the excesses and abuse around it, but definitely we need the manifestation of them a lot. The Lord bless this new effort of you.

  14. says

    While this looks like an interesting series, I find it odd that you would dismiss the cessation position as being without Scriptural merit, when in fact there is plenty of merit to this position.

    • says

      It’s been refuted by just about every notable evangelical scholar to date . . . I personally don’t know anyone who believes in full cessationism today. Except for a small handful of older folks from Reformed, Baptist, or Church of Christ circles, it’s pretty much been discounted. Even most of the “new Reformed” have accepted the supernatural power of God as being operative today. But as I’ll explain in the series, a lot of these “gifts” are described differently by different groups. So some of it is semantics.

      • Will .S says

        My new favorite thing to do on my breaks at work is check out this blog. awesome! Look forward to more of this series. Thanks Brother.

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