It would be remiss to talk about the Gifts of the Spirit without first mentioning the character forming Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23)
At the heart of Paul’s teaching on the gifts of the Spirit and how they function is the legendary chapter on Love (1 Cor 13). Love, not affection, is at the heart of the gifts of God.
Our own pursuit of fruitfulness honours and pleases God – it also protects the way that we walk. We must be careful to walk in the light of scripture, not our experience. These are extraordinary, phenomenal gifts!
The gift-giving God lavishly gives to us what we do not earn, deserve – free gifts.
Some people would persuade us that the spiritual gifts are only those natural gifts imparted at birth, of which we all have a share, consecrated upon conversion to God’s service and cultivated as we grow in our years of knowing God. That has to be seen in stark contrast to what the Bible actually teaches that the gifts are bestowed by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:8-8).
Since the non-Christian cannot receive the Spirit of Truth because “It sees Him not, neither knows Him” (John 14:17) it is evident that the gifts of the Spirit cannot be natural gifts of which the unsaved have access to. They are for the Church alone. They are God’s gifts to God’s people – and given to whomever He chooses to give them to.
There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that after the closing days of early Church history and the ministry of the Apostolic fathers, that the gifts of the Spirit would cease. There are numerous accounts of God’s gifting being seen in evidence in the Church.
Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History gives an example of the gifts in operation in the first century of the Church; “Many, as soon as they were baptised according to Christ’s directions and consecrated to God by prayer and the imposition of hands, were able immediately to express their thoughts in foreign languages which they had never learned to foretell future events, to heal the sick by pronouncing the name of Jesus, to call the dead to life, and to perform other deeds above the power of man”. Similar stories are reported by Mosheim for the second and third centuries.
Irenaeus in AD 179 reports, “Wherefore also those who are in truth the disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His Name perform miracles, so as to promote the welfare of others, according to the gift which each has received from Him . . . others still heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole”.
The value of the gifts of the Spirit at work in the Church today is immense. The fact that God has not left us to our own devices, but given us gifts that encourage, exhort and edify the Church should not be overlooked.
It may be in the grace of God that we are about to see an unprecedented surge of manifest presence of God demonstrated through the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Church.
God is good.