The Book of 1 CORINTHIANS
James J. Barker
WHAT ARE SPIRITUAL GIFTS? (Part 3)
- First Corinthians 12—14 deal with the subject of spiritual gifts (12:1).
- For the last two weeks, we looked at some of the gifts, and we stopped last week at verse 10 – “the working of miracles.”
- Tonight, we will look at some of the other spiritual gifts.
- Prophecy – The Greek word translated “prophesying” or “prophecy” means to “declare the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; especially by foretelling future events” (Strong’s Concordance).
- “Prophecy” can refer to either “forth-telling” or “foretelling,” though the emphasis in Scripture is on “forthtelling.”
- First Corinthians 14:3 says, “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”
- This refers to the proclamation of the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. This does not necessarily refer to prediction, but to proclamation.
- The Old Testament prophet was a “foreteller” as well as a “forth-teller,” and the New Testament prophet is also a “foreteller” (cf. Acts 11:27-30; 21:10-13).
- First Corinthians 13:8 says, “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail.” This indicates the gift was temporary.
- With the completion of the New Testament, there is no more need for any additional revelation (cf. Rev. 22:18, 19).
- There is much confusion today about this gift of prophecy. According to the Bible, the true prophet of God delivers a message free from error and in accordance with Scripture.
- Therefore, these so-called modern-day prophets are disqualified since none of them has made accurate predictions (cf. Deut. 13:1-5; 18:20-22; II Peter 2:1ff).
- Pentecostal preacher Oral Roberts died in 2009. In 1977, Oral Roberts claimed that God had appeared to him and instructed him to build a medical center called the “City of Faith.”
- In 1980, Roberts claimed that he had a “face to face” conversation with a 900-foot-tall Jesus who told him that he was going to solve the City of Faith’s financial problems.
- Seven years later, Roberts said that God had appeared to him yet again and told him that he would die if he did not raise $8 million within 12 months.
- But then in 1989, Roberts closed it down to pay off debts.
- Years ago, I read an interesting book by Jerry Sholes, entitled Give Me That Prime-Time Religion. Sholes worked for Roberts, and the book is described as “An Insider's Report on the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.” Without a doubt, Oral Roberts was a false prophet.
- All modern prophecy that is true “is but the republication of Christ’s message – the proclamation and expounding of truth already revealed in Scripture” – Augustus Strong, Systematic Theology.
DISCERNING OF SPIRITS (12:10)
- This gift was very important in the apostolic era because there were many false prophets. First John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
- Without this gift, the early churches would have been corrupted by false teachers.
- This gift of discernment enabled Peter to expose the hidden sin of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10).
- And this gift of discernment enabled Peter to recognize that Simon Magus was an imposter (cf. Acts 8:9-24).
- The gift of tongues was given on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
- “Tongues” refers to languages (Acts 2:5-12).
- First Corinthians 13:8 says, “Whether there be tongues, they shall cease,” indicating that this gift was not permanent.
- Let me also state emphatically that the Pentecostal or charismatic doctrine of speaking in tongues as the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit is unscriptural.
- Acts 2:4 has been used as a proof-text for the Pentecostal teaching that tongues are the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
- But by reading the book of Acts (and the rest of the Bible) one can see that this is not the proper interpretation.
- The key to the filling is found in Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power." Tongues can be counterfeited but genuine Holy Spirit power cannot be counterfeited. Consider this:
- Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and preached with great power (Acts 4:8ff). Tongues are not mentioned.
- Believers were filled with the Holy Spirit "and they spake the word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:31). Tongues are not mentioned.
- Deacons are to be "full of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 6:3). No tongues.
- Stephen was one of these deacons (Acts 6:5). He preached the Gospel fearlessly and was martyred (Acts 7:51-60). No tongues.
- Paul was "filled with the Holy Ghost," got baptized and started preaching (Acts 9:17-20). No tongues.
- Barnabas was "full of the Holy Ghost" and ministered faithfully (Acts 11:24-26). Again…tongues are not mentioned.
- Paul was "filled with the Holy Ghost" and exercised spiritual discernment (Acts 13:6-12). No tongues.
- "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 13:52). No tongues.
- Let me say this before moving on. Every true Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (12:7, 11; cf. Rom. 8:9), but not every Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit.
- If every Christian was already filled with the Spirit, it would be unnecessary for Paul to say, "Be filled with the Spirit" in Ephesians 5:18.
- Tongues can be easily counterfeited. Roman Catholics, Mormons, witch-doctors, and other non-Christians speak in tongues.
- T.D. Jakes speaks in tongues but he does not believe in the Trinity.
“Our present generation is witnessing the growing menace of satanic activity in the realm of the miraculous. Where the Devil does not succeed in taking the Bible from us, he works hard at taking us from the Bible. And he succeeds in getting Christians to focus their attention on the claims of men and women to some supernatural experience, and in so doing those seekers after the experiences of others have neither time nor interest in searching the Scriptures for God’s truth…The church of Christ does not need a new Bible, nor new apostles, nor new faith-healers, nor new charismatic movements, nor self-styled miracle workers. What the church needs is to return to the Word of God and proclaim the whole counsel of God in the power and love of the Holy Spirit.”
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