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Builders of Faith Explorer I:  Exploring Bible Truth

Lesson 15—Spiritual Gifts

 

 

1.  What are the spiritual gifts, and where are they found in the New Testament?

 

Answer:  There are four lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament, and please note that some of the gifts are listed in more than one list:

 

A.  Romans 12:3-8:  prophecy, ministry (service), teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy.

 

B.  I Corinthians 12:4-11:  wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

 

C.  I Corinthians 12:28-30:  apostle, prophet, teacher, miracles, healing, helps, administration, and tongues.

 

D.  Ephesians 4:7-16:  apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher.  NOTE:  In Ephesians 4:11, the Greek text does not have the word for “some” preceding the word “teachers”.  This indicates that it is connected with “pastors” in a hyphenated gift of “pastors-teachers”.

 

 

2.  Does every Christian have a spiritual gift, or do some not have any gifts?

 

“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.”  I Corinthians 12:4.  “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all….”  I Corinthians 12:7.  “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  I Peter 4:10.

 

Answer:  In the two texts from I Corinthians 12, “…the manifestation of the Spirit” is identified with the gifts of the Spirit.  Both texts state that “each one” has at least one spiritual gift.

 

 

3.  When does a believer usually receive one or more gifts of the Spirit?

 

Answer:  The fact that each believer has at least one spiritual gift implies that it is given with the gift of the Holy Spirit and upon entrance into the body of Christ at his baptism (see Lesson #13 for a discussion of water and Spirit baptism).  Of course, we must remember that “the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (I Corinthians 12:11).

 

 

4.  What is the purpose of spiritual gifts in the Church?

 

Answer:  Actually, there are three primary purposes for spiritual gifts:

 

A.  Acts 1:8:  “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”—One major purpose for spiritual gifts that comes with the Holy Spirit is (1) to empower believers for witnessing for Jesus.

 

B.  Ephesians 4:11-12:  After listing four spiritual gifts, Paul says that they are “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ….”—Two other major purposes for spiritual gifts is (2) to equip the members for ministry work and (3) to edify (build up) the church.

 

 

5.  Are some spiritual gifts more important than others?

 

“But earnestly desire the best gifts….”  I Corinthians 12:31.  “…he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless he interprets, that the church may receive edification.”  I Corinthians 14:5.  “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’”  I Corinthians 12:20-21.

 

Answer:  Yes, apparently some spiritual gifts are more important than others.  But the only specific example given in Scripture is that the gift of prophecy is more important than the gift of tongues.  Nevertheless, Paul reminds us all that the Church needs everyone’s gift just as the human body needs all of its parts.  If you have ever broken a toe, you know how vital such a small body part is to the entire body.  So those with better gifts should not boast or lord it over other members.

 

 

6.  Did the “sign gifts” end with the New Testament Era, or should they be expected to be in the Church now?

 

“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus,…so that you come short in no gift, eagerly awaiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ….”  I Corinthians 1:4-7.

 

Answer:  The so-called “sign gifts” are the gifts of prophecy, miracles, healing, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.  These are more spectacular and thus more controversial.  However, Paul tells us that we should expect the Church to have all the spiritual gifts in it until the Second Coming of Jesus.

 

 

7.  So why has it seemed that the “sign gifts” have been absent during most of the Christian Era?

 

Answer:  If you study Bible history carefully, there have been three great waves of sign gifts.  First, there were numerous miracles in connection with Moses and the exodus of Israel from Egypt.  Second, great miracles and healings were seen in connection with the prophets Elijah and Elisha amid the great apostasy in the northern kingdom of Israel.  Finally, there were great miracles and healings in connection with the First Coming of Jesus and the establishment of the Christian Church in the 1st century A.D.  This pattern suggests that while all of the spiritual gifts may not be present in the Church at all times, the New Testament clearly tells us that none will be withheld if it is needed to more effectively proclaim the gospel.  Remember that the Holy Spirit gives these gifts as He wills.

 

 

8.  Doesn’t this historical pattern also suggest that the final wave of “sign gifts” will be given just before the Second Coming of Jesus?

 

“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.  And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days…Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”  Joel 2:28-29, 31.

 

Answer:  Yes, and that is what Joel 2 predicts.  Even though Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, applied Joel’s prophecy above to his day (Acts 2:16-21), this is obviously a dual prophecy whose primary fulfillment will be just before the Second Coming of Jesus.  Then there will be a valid need for those “sign gifts” in order to validate God’s final message to the world.

 

 

9.  Whenever the true is present, should we not also expect Satan to counterfeit it?

 

“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”  Matthew 24:24.  “The coming of the lawless one [Antichrist] is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders….”  II Thessalonians 2:9.  “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”  Revelation 16:14.

 

Answer:  The closer we approach the Second Coming of Jesus, the more of both the true and the counterfeit “sign gifts” we should expect to see.  In fact, it would be just like Satan to try to preempt God’s last wave of “sign gifts” beforehand, so that people will already be swept up in the false and will thus be more likely to reject the true message.

 

 

10.  By what standard should we measure any “sign gifts” as coming from the Lord or from Satan?

 

“To the law and to the testimony!  If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”  Isaiah 8:20.

 

Answer:  The phrase “the law and [to] the testimony” is a reference to the Bible.  So the Bible is the standard by which to measure any teaching, even if it is accompanied by one or more “sign gifts”.  Even if a miraculous event is proven to be genuine, and not a hoax, the person’s teaching must be rejected if it is not consistent with what the Bible teaches.  Thus, we cannot trust our senses as we draw nearer to the Lord’s return.  Seeing is not believing; rather, believing the Word is seeing the truth!

 

 

11.  The modern charismatic movement teaches that unless you speak in tongues, you have not been baptized by the Holy Spirit.  Is that really true?

 

“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”  I Corinthians 12:11.  “Do all have gifts of healings?  Do all speak with tongues?  Do all interpret?”  I Corinthians 12:30.

 

Answer:  No.  The teaching that having the ability to speak in tongues is the evidence of having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit flatly contradicts I Corinthians 12:30 above, as those questions are plainly rhetorical, with the obvious answer being “No”.  In fact, the gift of tongues is listed in two of the four lists of spiritual gifts, and both times it is listed last (or just next to interpretation of tongues as last).  Instead, the real Bible-based evidence that one has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit is that he will reflect the fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

 

 

12.  Have linguists and other scholars studied this global modern phenomenon of tongue-speaking called glossolalia?  And what are their major findings?

 

Answer:  Christian glossolalia began around 1900 among Pentecostals.  Since the 1960s, it has spread rapidly among Christians globally, affecting nearly every Christian denomination.  And since the 1960s, linguists and other scholars have done extensive research in glossolalia as practiced among Christians and non-Christians alike.  Here are their 5 major conclusions:

 

A.  It exists among many non-Christians and even among non-religious people.

 

B.  There is no linguistic or structural difference between Christian and non-Christian, Western and Eastern, or religious and non-religious glossolalia.

 

C.  It is definitely not a human language of any kind, living or dead.

 

D.  It can be learned, subconsciously or consciously.

 

E.  Many experts now believe that glossolalia is associated with an altered state of consciousness, as in a trance-like state.

 

 

13.  Why should this information lead us to reject modern glossolalia among Christians?

 

A.  Would the Holy Spirit give the same gift to non-Christians like shamans, witch doctors, and spirit mediums?  We think absolutely not!

 

B.  If modern glossolalia can be taught and learned, then how can it be a supernatural gift from the Holy Spirit?  Spiritual gifts can be improved upon by using them often.  But all spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit in the first place—not learned.

 

C.  Finally, there is no way to test the genuineness of this modern glossolalia.  I Thessalonians 5:19-22 tells us, “Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophecies.  Test all things; hold fast what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil.”  Experiments have been performed in which several charismatic Christians were each separately asked to interpret the meaning of a tape-recorded message in “tongues”.  No single interpretation came close to being the same.  When told that, they simply replied that God had given different messages through the one message.  That means there is no legitimate way to test it.  Therefore, since modern glossolalia cannot be tested, it cannot be genuine.  It is therefore just what it sounds like—gibberish!

 

 

14.  So what is the real New Testament gift of tongues then?

 

“Then there appeared to them [early believers at Pentecost] divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues….  ...we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”  Acts 2:3-4, 11.

 

Answer:  The genuine gift of tongues was the supernatural ability to speak in foreign languages that they had not learned.  The reason for this gift being so prominent in the book of Acts is that the gospel moved quickly to many parts of the world in the 1st century of Christianity.

 

 

15.  How can a believer identify his own spiritual gift or gifts?

 

A.  Identify any strong impressions about being involved in specific kinds of ministries.  After all, the same Holy Spirit who gave you your gift(s) can also plant thoughts in your mind as a way to lead you in certain directions.

 

B.  Whether nor not you have any strong impressions, volunteer to work in several different kinds of ministries (probably not all at once).  You and those you work with will provide feedback if you seem to have an ability to do certain ministries well or not.

 

C.  You might want to take a spiritual gifts test.  Such tests may be available from your pastor or on the Internet.  Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect test, and you may have different results if you take the test at different times in your Christian life.  So don’t get locked in or out of any particular ministries simply because of a test result.

 

 

Quiz for Lesson 15—Spiritual Gifts

 

1.  Select the spiritual gifts from the list below: (4)

  Prophecy

  Pastor-Teacher

  Kindness

  Helps

  Writing

  Administration

Answer

Prophecy
Pastor-Teacher
Helps
Administration

2.  Select the primary purposes for spiritual gifts in the church from the list below: (3)

  To empower believers to witness better for Jesus

  To enable believers to preach a sermon 

  To build up the church

  To be safe in any dangerous spiritual circumstance

  To help believers for some kind of ministry work

Answer

To empower believers to witness better for Jesus
To build up the church
To help believers for some kind of ministry work

3.  The New Testament teaches that some spiritual gifts are more important than others. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

True

4.  Which of the following are “sign gifts”? (2)

  Miracles 

  Prophecy 

  Discernment 

  Writing

Answer

Miracles
Prophecy

5.  Which of the following statements about the “sign gifts” are true? (3)

  They have always existed in the faithful churches.

  The historical pattern in the Bible shows us three great waves of the “sign gifts”.

  We should expect the final wave of the “sign gifts” just before the Second Coming of Jesus.

  We should expect that Satan will counterfeit many of the “sign gifts” before the genuine final wave of them arrives.

Answer

The historical pattern in the Bible shows us three great waves of the “sign gifts”.
We should expect the final wave of the “sign gifts” just before the Second Coming of Jesus.
We should expect that Satan will counterfeit many of the “sign gifts” before the genuine final wave of them arrives.

6.  How can we tell if a Christian’s “sign gift” are from Jesus or Satan? (1)

  Seeing is believing.  All “sign gifts”, if they are proven not to be hoaxes, are from Jesus.

  The standard is whether or not the believer teaches what the Bible teaches.

Answer

The standard is whether or not the believer teaches what the Bible teaches.

7.  The true sign that a believer has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit is that he or she can speak in tongues. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

False

8.  Which of the following statements about glossolalia are true? (3)

  Glossolalia is the phenomena of speaking in tongues.

  Glossolalia will sweep the whole Christian movement in the last days and empower it to proclaim the gospel with great power.

  Glossolalia exists among many non-Christians and even among non-religious people.

  There is no difference between Christian and non-Christian glossolalia.

  Glossolalia cannot be learned.

Answer

Glossolalia is the phenomena of speaking in tongues.
Glossolalia exists among many non-Christians and even among non-religious people.
There is no difference between Christian and non-Christian glossolalia.

9.  What is the genuine gift of tongues? (1)

  It is a prayer language known only to the Holy Spirit.

  It is pagan gibberish.

  It is the ability to speak a foreign language that the believer never learned in order to proclaim the gospel to someone who speaks that foreign language.

Answer

It is the ability to speak a foreign language that the believer never learned in order to proclaim the gospel to someone who speaks that foreign language.

10.  How can you know what spiritual gift or gifts you have? (2)

  You might want to take a spiritual gifts test.

  Your pastor will tell you what gift or gifts you have been given.

  By volunteering in different church ministries, you and your fellow believers can eventually tell what gift or gifts you have been given.

Answer

You might want to take a spiritual gifts test.
By volunteering in different church ministries, you and your fellow believers can eventually tell what gift or gifts you have been given.