Now Contending for the Faith.in this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and T. A.: In 1 Corinthians:12:1, Paul says that he does not want us to be ignorant of spiritual gifts. However, I have little or no clue about most of the gifts listed in verses 8-10. The Bible doesn’t seem to define or develop them. Can you enlighten me?”
Tom: Dave, let me…this is a tough one. I don’t know if we can get through this in eight minutes, or if you can get through it in eight minutes. All right, let me read the verses: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles…carried away unto these dumb idols as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed, and that no man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” And I think verse 8-10 is what this person is concerned about. “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit dividing to every man severally as he will.”
Dave, I think this is tough question, but you know, I’ve often wondered why the Bible doesn’t give us details about such things as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge…
You know, there have been books and books and books written on all these things. But I’ve yet to find one that’s…I’m not saying there’s no validity to them, but they hardly bring out what the scriptures teach—at least the ones I’ve read.
Dave: Well, Tom, I think we pretty much know what wisdom is. And we pretty much know what knowledge is. So a word of wisdom would be a wise declaration, and it suits the situation at the moment, and the Holy Spirit has inspired this person to make that statement. Now it could simply be an application of the Bible that would fit that particular situation, or it could be a wise insight, wise counsel.
And the word of knowledge “by the same Spirit”—well, of course, you have that…they try to demonstrate this on TV or over the radio, and “someone out there has a pain in their left side…” and you know, “…now you are feeling a warmth flow through your body…”
Tom: “…and come up and lay hands on the TV…”
Dave: Yeah. And, well, with a few million people watching, if there are that many, probably somebody has a pain in their left side, so you are making a suggestion now. I don’t believe that’s what it’s talking about. It would be, I would think, an insight into some particular situation.
On the other hand, let those who have the word of wisdom, or the word of knowledge, they would be the ones who would know if they are really inspired of the Spirit of God.
Tom: We have examples of these from the prophets, for example, from the writers of the New Testament—their lives demonstrated some of these things. Go ahead.
Dave: Well, it says, “to another faith by the same Spirit.” I think that would not be faith to believe the gospel, because God is willing to give that to everybody. But we’re talking to mature Christians now, supposedly, and, Tom, I have experienced it on some occasions when I have known for sure that what I am praying will come to pass. I would say that’s the gift of faith.
Now a major problem here is, with these gifts, and I’ll probably offend someone out there, it’s not a gift like “Now I have it, and I’ve got a handle on it, and I carry this in my pocket and I can use it anytime I want.” But the people who believe they’re speaking in tongues, they think they can speak in tongues anytime they want. Well, you can’t walk on water anytime you want. You can’t heal someone or do a miracle anytime you want. There’s no distinction here, so why should you be able to speak in tongues anytime you want, and I would just caution anyone out there: you’d better be careful if you believe you have this gift that it really comes from God, and this is really…it says “For to one is given by the Spirit, and it talks about all these worketh the one and selfsame Spirit.” So you’d better be sure that the Spirit of God is doing this through you.
But these gifts are, I believe, there’s no indication here that they have passed away, but we don’t see them like they were in the days of the apostles. Why? Well, you want things to go like they did in the days of the apostles—do you want someone who exaggerates their testimony to be struck dead like Ananias and Sapphira? If you’re going to have the power of God operating in this way, then you can’t have people who claim to be miracle workers who are committing adultery and involved in homosexuality and lying and cheating and so forth, which is rampant among not only among Pentecostals—it’s rampant, sadly, in the church today. We hear of it all the time.
Now how are we going to have a church that is demonstrating God’s miracles to the world when they’re not living pure lives. That would be a horrible testimony from God. He’s putting His stamp of approval.
So I think that basically, as far as seeing this in the church as a whole, you’re not going to see it. It might happen in some special cases…
Tom: So this isn’t as complicated as some might make it out to be. And I guess it seems complicated because, as you indicated, Dave, there are all these demonstrations so-called by evangelists on TV, the so-called miracle workers, and…but they’ve really distorted the simple truth to what God’s Word says.
Dave: Yeah, it’s not complicated. It’s miraculous! And God does it—and when God really does it, you will know it, but you can’t fake it, and that’s basically what we see. Tom, I’ll never forget the spectacle on television—one of these great healers supposedly, and they brought a woman up in a wheelchair, and he prayed over her, commanded her to be healed. Nothing happened. She was still in the wheelchair, and he said, “Wheel this healed woman back into the audience.” Those were his exact words! Now it’s up to her claim it. Name it and claim it. And then they would say, “Well, you didn’t have the faith.” Well, okay. But when Peter’s shadow just fell across them…it was a special thing. And I’m sure God does special things. I’ve seen Him do some amazing special things, as well, but as a general rule, we’re going to have to live holier, purer lives if we’re going to see what they had in the first century back there. That’s why they lost it! Because of sin entering in, as it did with Israel.