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Spiritual Gifts

Part 2: The Gift of Faith

First let’s review what we’ve covered so far. For the past several lessons, we have been studying about the blessed Holy Spirit of God, doing an overview of Who He is and what He does in our lives.

The Holy Spirit is the interpreter of the Word and the agent of our salvation. We have the Spirit in a measure when we are born again ... but to be filled of the Spirit, we drink of the Spirit, yield to Him and let Him fill us and overflow us in whatever gift or manifestation He desires to do.

Being filled with the Spirit or allowing the Spirit to manifest in us a spiritual gift is NOT required for salvation. That is "by grace through faith" in the Lord Jesus Christ, "NOT by works" of any kind. However, because it isn’t required, doesn’t mean that we should neglect or dismiss the work of the Holy Spirit in this manner.

God gave us Jesus as proof of His love for us, and then Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit in turn gives us many gifts. All the gifts of Holy Spirit are given to us as evidence of His love for us, and are designed to make our lives better and empower us for service.

The general Greek word used for spiritual gifts is charisma literally meaning "gift of grace". All of the spiritual gifts that are mentioned in the Word and gifts of divine favor, unmerited, unearned, flowing from God’s loving heart to our own by the Holy Spirit.

We have already talked about the Ministry Gifts, such as Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor-Teacher, Administration, Service, etc. But we haven’t talked much about what are called "Manifestation" Gifts, "Sign Gifts" or simply spiritual gifts.

Spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit to our human spirit, that has been made alive in Christ, and then operate through our minds and bodies. For a spiritual gift to be manifested, then we must first 1) be born again – so our spirits are activated to receive from God; 2) yield to and be filled with the Holy Spirit; and 3) bring our bodies under the subjection of the Holy Spirit.

All of the operations of the Holy Spirit in our lives, whether of the fruit of the Spirit, Ministry Gifts or Manifestation gifts are a divine/human activity. Their source is God, but we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit for them to be revealed in us.

The same Holy Spirit gives us many different kinds of gifts. There are different kinds of services or ministries but we all serve the same Lord. And there are different kinds of working, but the same God gives the divine energy that motivates and makes ALL of these gifts effective in the Body of Christ.

So spiritual gifts are so important to the Holy Trinity that they are focusing on them and working through them in unity without mention of any time limit. The Spirit gives the gifts, Jesus administers them and the Father gives the divine energy that makes them work and achieves His goals in the Church, which will be brought to completion when Jesus returns.

I Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

Paul is very clear that the Holy Spirit gives EACH ONE of us a manifestation, a revelation or an "outshining" of His presence from time to time and the purpose of these manifestations is for the COMMON GOOD of the Church, to edify or build up the Church.

The gifts of the Spirit are meant to unite us, not divide us. They are meant to bring us together to the same end, to be going the same place at the same time at the same rate, to keep us "in sync", to be contributions to help one another, and to profit or help each of us in a timely manner.

I Corinthians 12:11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

These manifestations of the Spirit are resident in the CHURCH, not in a particular believer. And the Holy Spirit "divides them severally" or portions them out AS HE WILLS – for He knows the needs of each heart and what will help each one.

Like cutting up a cake for dessert and handing out a piece to each person, the Holy Spirit has divided the revelation of Himself up into these spiritual gifts, and distributes them as He wills for each particular occasion. And the dessert He provides spiritually may be different on different occasions, for the Holy Spirit knows just what gift or gifts are needed for each situation.

The gifts of the Spirit are meant to be SHARED within the Church and are meant to exalt JESUS, and to advance His kingdom and promote spiritual growth. An experience of a true spiritual gift is humbling.

Paul groups these manifestation, revelation or sign gifts together, not separating any out as being temporary or invalid at any point in Church history. They are all ways that the Holy Spirit manifests or reveals Himself or makes Himself known to the Church. Although all of these gifts can be counterfeited , this does not invalidate the real thing.

Last time we looked at two of the gifts Paul listed. (1) A Word of Wisdom is a revelation given by the Holy Spirit of a new method, a new technique or a divine solution to a problem and how to apply it that you could not receive by natural means.

(2) A Word of Knowledge is a revelation given by the Holy Spirit of information or facts that you could not receive by natural means to meet a specific need in the Church.

The difference between a Word of Wisdom and a Word of Knowledge is that a Word of Wisdom is usually a divine solution to an existing problem and a Word of Knowledge is a revelation of a fact that you couldn’t find out any other way. This is NOT the same as general Bible knowledge that you can acquire by study. It is knowledge of a fact that you could not uncover by human effort.

That sums up what we talked about last week. Let’s look again at the list Paul gives of the spiritual gifts or manifestations that he did not want the Corinthians (or us) to be ignorant of. Now let’s look at the next spiritual gift.

I Corinthians 12:8-10 To one there is given through the Spirit the message [word] of wisdom, to another the message [word] 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.

Given here in Greek is didomi {did'-o-mee} meaning 1) to give; 2) to give something to someone, of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage, to bestow a gift, to grant, give to one asking, let have, to supply, furnish, necessary things, to give over, deliver, to reach out, extend, present, to give over to one's care, entrust, commit something to be administered, to give or commit to some one something to be religiously observed, to give what is due or obligatory, to pay: wages or reward, to furnish, endue.

Given also has the sense of 3) to give, to cause, profuse, give forth from one's self, to give, hand out lots, to appoint to an office, to cause to come forth, to give one to someone as his own as an object of his saving care, to give one to someone, to follow him as a leader and master, to give one to someone to care for his interests, to give one to someone to whom he already belonged, to return, OR 4) to grant or permit one, to commission.

So this spiritual gift giving of the Spirit is a sharing of Himself with us, a furnishing of something necessary to our spiritual growth. Spiritual gifts are things that He is entrusting to the Church, something to be religiously observed. Also they are rewards or endowments with the purpose of caring for our interests, and special permissions to share in the divine nature.

(3) The Gift of Faith

Faith is an impressive thing, when you stop to think about it. We are told in Scripture that God has given to each man the measure of faith – enough to desire to seek Him. Faith initially brings us to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Faith is how we receive from God all that relates to life and godliness.

Although our initial measure of faith is a free gift from God to all man, after that we need to develop our faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. And we build up our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit.

But the Gift of Faith is a measure of faith granted to us by the Holy Spirit above and beyond what we can develop normally. It may linger for a moment or an extended period of time.

The Gift of Faith is an absolute assurance, a unwavering trust, an uncompromising confidence and a supernatural knowledge that what God says that He is going to do in a certain situation WILL happen PERIOD, no doubts, no confusion, no question, no fear.

The Gift of Faith is certainty is beyond how faith usually works, with its trials and struggles and doubts. And this is a gift that the Holy Spirit gives that supercedes even the best faith of the most spiritual Christians. And it can be given to someone who usually doesn’t have that much faith.

B. E. Underwood says that: "This is not normal Christian faith. This is not the faith by which we are saved, not saving faith. Nor is it the faith by which the believer lives. It is a special gift of faith bestowed upon a member of the Body to enable its recipient to carry out some special task of ministry. This often involves moving with confidence and steadfastness toward a humanly impossible goal. Here is a manifestation of a special type of faith to lay hold of some special project that God wants to accomplish in the world."

An example of this gift of faith came when Paul began preaching at Corinth, the very city the books of Corinthians were written to. Now this city was a very sinful city, a seaport, with all kinds of pagan religions practised.

Acts 18:6 But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."

The first thing that happened to Paul in Corinth was an intense opposition by the Jewish leaders to his ministry to the point he was being abused. Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house (church) of Titius Justus and began proclaiming the gospel there. Although some of the Jews did eventually believe and were baptized, it must have been difficult for Paul because of his rejection.

Everywhere Paul went, there seemed to be anti-Christian agitators who tried to stir the people up against him. And in the physical realm it must have looked like an impossible task and Paul’s faith must have been flagging because the Lord made a special point to speak to Paul about it.

Acts 18:9-10 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."

Now it doesn’t specifically say that the Holy Spirit gave Paul the gift of faith here, but commonsense and prudence would have warned him not to hang around where he was being opposed and abused, wouldn’t it? But wow, wouldn’t it boost your faith to have Jesus appeal in a vision and tell you this? What happened after this vision?

Acts 18:11 So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

So encouraged by this supernatural supercharging of faith, not only did Paul NOT leave Corinth due to opposition, but stayed a year and a half! And something else interesting happened to Paul. Look at verse 12:

Acts 18:12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court.

OK, now this would seem to be a complete contradiction of what Jesus said wouldn’t it? He said that Paul wouldn’t be attacked and harmed, didn’t He?

BUT Jesus didn’t say that Paul wouldn’t be attacked, but that the attacks wouldn’t bring him harm. Trusting in Jesus, Paul stood before Gallio, proconsul – or territorial ruler – of Achaia (Greece). And what happened after the Jewish leaders tried to establish their case? Well let’s hear the "rest of the story":

Acts 18:14-15 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, "If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law--settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things."

Acts 18:16-18a So he had them ejected from the court. Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court. But Gallio showed no concern whatever. Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time...

Wow! They got the tables turned real quick, didn’t they? Now for the Jewish leaders to bring their case before a pagan judge, they must have thought they had him properly bribed to do their bidding, probably by Sosthenes the synagogue ruler. Otherwise, why would they have been so upset and beaten him up in front of the court?

But Gallio "showed no concern whatever"! The Word the Lord had given Paul was proven true, and the supernatural gift of faith had allowed Paul to continue preaching against strong opposition. "And Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time" – way beyond what average faith would have allowed.

Acts 14:19-20 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

In fact, a careful reading of Acts and Paul’s epistles would reveal many times when the Holy Spirit gave Paul a gift of faith to overcome obstacles in his missionary journey. Although Paul had a very high level of faith at all times, it would have taken a special gift of faith to submit, for example, to a stoning, believing that Christ would raise him from the dead, you think? 2 Corinthians 11:25-26 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. And look at this list of Paul’s trials! No mere man without the Gift of Faith being manifested in him from time to time could endure all that without faltering. I’ve often thought that the "Perilous Life of Paul" would make an exciting, action packed adventure movie!

Acts 27:22, 25 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed... So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

B. E. Underwood gives another example: "This is illustrated by the faith of the apostle Paul in the journey to Rome as recorded in Acts 27. Though all of the circumstances pointed toward a great loss of lives in the storm. Paul said, "There shall be no loss of any man’s life among you for I believe God" (vv. 22, 25)."

"Paul had a word from the Lord and, as a result, a special gift of faith. This was not faith for all ships in all storms, but it was for this specific ship in this specific storm."

Now as we’ve said, this Gift of Faith is not the normal, everyday faith that comes from hearing the Word and building up our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, which we are commanded to do. Nor is it a gift that resides permanently in one believer.

B. E. Underwood says that: "It is a special faith that the Spirit in His supernatural working gives to a particular person at a particular time to meet a particular need. This manifestation is often needed to rebuild broken down churches or to restore divided churches. God by His Spirit must reveal Himself in order to accomplish what seems impossible."

And how we need the manifestation of the Gift of Faith today! To overcome the putrid flood of evil that is trying to engulf our nation, to overcome the tide of atheism, agnosticism and paganism that is trying to turn our country into the devil’s playground. To believe in a God of miracles in a day of man’s exaltation of himself as a god.

To bring unity to the broken body of our Lord. To rise above our human limitations to accomplish the work of Christ in the world. Dear Lord, we ask in your sovereign will to bring about more manifestations of this Gift of Faith, to supercharge our faith to accomplish your work in this lost and dying world. AMEN

OK, what do you think would be the counterfeit of the Gift of Faith? You know that the devil ain’t gonna let this one by without trying to copycat it!

2 Corinthians 11:13-14 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

The counterfeit of faith is the "gift" of deception – the devil’s primary way of working in the world. And typically people are seduced by their bodily lusts or by use of drugs, into a situation where they see "miracles" or "visions" or something that convinces them to serve satan or one of his substitutes instead of God.

It is amazing to me the level of conviction that manifests itself at times in these believers in false doctrines. Their fidelity to their fallacious "faith" at times supercedes ours in Christ!

Next Lesson: Spiritual Gifts, Part 3, Gifts of Healings

Back to Holy Spirit Index

Father God, help us to be loving in all our ways, and to be tenderhearted towards our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Speaking the truth in love, let us draw together in the unity of the spirit as members of the Body of Christ, encouraging one another as Your coming draws near.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Quotes from "Spiritual Gifts: Ministries and Manifestations" by B. E. Underwood, LifeSprings Resources, Franklin Springs, GA, 1984, pp. 64-71.

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Original lesson 7/19/99
Revised: August 02, 2001