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The subject of our study is the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit as you’ll find at the head of your outline. The place where these nine gifts are all mentioned is in 1 Corinthians 12:8–10. And so that we can all be of one mind as to what we’re actually studying, I’ll begin by reading out that list—although I don’t intend to deal with them in detail tonight but rather to offer some general words of introduction to what we’ll come to later.
If we turn to 1 Corinthians 12:8–10 this is the list that is there given.
“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; and to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.”
I’m following the King James translation. Later on I’ll offer you some modification to make it more accurate and, if possible, more up to date. If you just want to take the list without the intermediate words, you’ll find beginning in verse 8 we have the following, which should add up to nine.
The word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues.
One of the words that’s become very fashionable in certain religious circles lately is the word charismatic. I question whether anybody ever heard that word ten years ago. I believe it’s one of those new words that have been coined in the last decade. A lot of people use the word without a clear understanding of what it really means. I think, in a certain sense, theologians have coined the word to make us a little more respectable. We used to be fanatics and that was all wrong; now we’re charismatics and that makes it different. In actual fact, it hasn’t changed what we experience or what Scripture says, but it’s given us a new label. The word charismatic is an adjective that is formed from a Greek noun. The Greek noun is charisma. I want to take this first session to study the teaching of the New Testament in relation to this word charisma. This is not a lesson in Greek. I’ve had the privilege of studying Greek since I was ten years old and I’m actually qualified to teach Greek on university level but this is not a Greek lesson. I’ll just sort of use this to clear up certain things that are a little difficult to understand without access to the original language.
Actually, if you go to the King James Version and look up the word gift you’ll find if you use a concordance such as Young’s Concordance—may I say a word here about concordances?
I don’t know how deep you want to go in your study but if you want to go behind the original English the easiest way if you’re not a Greek or a Hebrew scholar is to use a concordance that gives you the root words that are used. There are two main concordances that do it. Strong’s Concordance and Young’s Concordance. Each of them are good. I’m familiar with Young’s, that’s why I refer to it. So, if at any time you are interested, you can purchase either of these at any standard Bible bookstore, any such place. Young’s Concordance or Strong’s Concordance. They’re quite large books and they’re fairly expensive but if you’re a serious student of Scripture, they’re a very, very worthwhile investment. Each of these books starts from the King James Version in the English but takes you back to the original languages which are printed in English letters but are the original words.
Just as an illustration of what can be covered up by translation, if you take the word gift in the New Testament in the King James Version and look up Young’s Concordance you’ll find that there are nine different Greek words all translated by the one English word gift. This gives you some idea of the tremendous shades of meaning and distinctions which could be obscured by just using one English word to translate nine different Greek words.
One of the nine words that’s translated “gift” is this word, charisma. It’s an important word. The correct understanding of charisma opens up a whole field of understanding of the Word of God. I’m going to take a little while to give you as best I can the real basic meaning of this word and then trace it through the New Testament. I believe that the New Testament was inspired—in fact, the whole Scripture in this sense—that the authors used the right words. Wherever a certain word recurred it’s like a chain that you can follow through the Scripture. It tends to show you passages that you should consider together to obtain a picture of what God is trying to reveal.
The word charisma in Greek is derived from a basic Greek noun which you’ll find there in the heading 1 at the top of your outline. The Greek word is charis. Charis is normally translated “grace.” It’s a very, very beautiful word. You’ll find that most of the epistles in the New Testament begin with this salutation. “Grace and peace.” Sometimes “mercy” is added, too. In this there’s a combination of the Greek, the Gentile, and the Jewish, the Hebrew. The normal Jewish greeting, as many of you probably discovered is shalom, which is “peace.” The Greeks greeted one another with something related to charis or “grace.” The New Testament believers combined the best of both the Gentile and the Jewish word and said, “Grace and peace.”
The word “grace” in Greek is charis. It is very, very important to have some idea of what grace means. I have given you here in the outline an accepted definition. Grace is the free, unmerited favor of God towards the undeserving and the ill-deserving. It is not merely that we didn’t deserve good, we actually deserved evil. In place of evil God offers us good. The only explanation is grace. There is nothing in ourselves for which we can find any reason for God’s offer of love and mercy and favor. It is God’s grace that causes Him to do it.
There are two great facts about the grace of God. First of all, it’s free. It cannot be earned; no one ever earns the grace of God. Secondly, it is sovereign; God is absolutely entitled to do what He will with His grace. He owes no one any account or explanation of His grace. And really, the gospel is a manifestation of the grace of God, His free unmerited favor towards those who didn’t deserve favor but did deserve judgment and condemnation.
I believe Christians do not dwell nearly enough on this wonderful word grace. The trouble with most religious people is, first of all, they think they’ve got to do something to earn God’s grace and even worse, most of them think they have done something that earns them God’s grace. They’re totally wrong in both respects. You can never do anything to earn the grace of God. If you’ve earned it, it isn’t grace. See, you talk to the average religious churchgoer, they have the impression that because they’ve been in church so long and sat so many hours in Sunday school and offered so much to the church that God owes them some grace. He doesn’t. God faithfully rewards those that do good, but that’s not grace. Grace is on a different plane altogether. I don’t believe we can please God better than by being willing to accept His grace without trying to earn it. I do believe God is continually looking for people who will just accept grace without trying to be good enough. He usually has to find those people outside the ranks of professing religionists because the hardest thing for a religious person is to realize that he has no claim on the grace of God whatever.
There’s certain facts about grace which are clearly revealed in the New Testament and I would like to go through these just briefly with you. First of all, grace has only one channel. There’s only one way that grace comes to the human race and that channel is Jesus Christ. In the reference given there, John 1:17, it says:
“The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
And apart from Jesus Christ God offers grace to no one in any situation or circumstance. The only channel of divine grace is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly, grace is offered to only one kind of person and that is the humble. Both James and Peter in their epistles quote Proverbs 3:34. James quotes it in chapter 4, verse 6; Peter quotes it in 1 Peter 5:5. And, in both those places it says:
“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”
There’s only one kind of person that can receive the grace of God and that is the humble. Understand, if we think we’ve earned it, we can’t receive it. We have to receive it on the basis of humbly acknowledging that we haven’t earned it.
Then again, there’s only one means by which grace is appropriated, by which you can actually appropriate grace and have it in your life and experience, and that means is faith. There’s a very well- known Scripture in Ephesians 2:8 which says this:
“By grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”
Even the faith is given you by God. You can’t even boast of having the faith because until God gave you the faith, you didn’t even have that. God offers you His grace only through Jesus Christ, it’s offered only to the humble and it’s appropriated only by faith.
Then the final fact about grace is by way of introduction, there is only one administrator or dispenser of the grace of God and that is the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 10:29 He’s called “the Spirit of grace.” He is the administrator of the grace of God as He is of everything that we receive through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit administers. He’s the dispenser of God’s grace.
Let’s just recapitulate those statements and then we’ll go on to the word charisma.
Grace is defined as “the free, unmerited favor of God towards the undeserving and the ill-deserving.” It has only one channel, Jesus Christ.
It’s offered to only one kind of person, the humble. It’s appropriated by only one means, faith.
And it has only one administrator or dispenser, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God.
Having made a little study of the word “grace,” charis, we’re in a position to understand the word charisma which is simply the word for “grace,” charis, with the two letters “m–a” added on. The effect of adding on these two letters is to make a definite, specific noun out of a general, abstract noun. If you understand those very elementary grammatical phrases. Grace is essentially what we’d call an abstract noun but charisma is grace made definite, specific, effective. It’s some particular way or form or operation or manifestation of the grace of God. But you cannot really properly understand what a charisma is unless you first understand what charis is. Charis is grace, charisma is grace made specific, made available in a certain way, in a certain form, in a certain operation.
Normally speaking, in the King James Version charisma is translated “gift.” But in two instances it’s translated “free gift,” especially emphasizing the association with grace. There are actually 17 instances of this word in the New Testament and I believe it would be a good basis just to go through these 17 instances and see the kind of associations and use of the word. We’ll begin in Romans. The first reference is given there in your outline, Romans 1:11. The apostle Paul is writing to the Christians at Rome whom he has never yet seen and he says:
“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift...”
The word “gift” there is charisma. “Spiritual” connected immediately with the Holy Spirit. Some gifts of which the Holy Spirit as the administrator and dispenser through Jesus Christ. Paul is not specific there as to what gift or gifts he had in mind.
Then we go on to Romans 5:15–16, the word occurs twice. In each of these passages it is translated “free gift.” I’ll read the two verses. I’ll also read verse 17, though the word is not actually used there, and we will see what is the specific gift that is here spoken of.
“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift [charisma].”
Let me point out that Paul is contrasting what happened to the human race through the sin of Adam and what is offered to the human race through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is the whole point of this contrast.
“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one [that is, Adam] many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.”
Let me pause there to point out that you see Paul writing in Greek directly lines up grace and grace gift. He says “the grace of God” and “the gift by grace,” which is by one man. And, he emphasizes the channel is only through Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many.
“And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment [of Adam] was by one to condemnation, but the free gift [through Jesus Christ] is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”
This is a somewhat elaborate and complicated comparison, which is not my purpose to go into in detail, but I want to point out to you that the free gift that Paul there speaks about is righteousness. I think it is tremendously significant that the first actual specified grace gift, charisma, that’s mentioned in the New Testament is the gift of righteousness.
Here again, I find the majority of professing Christians completely fail to realize that we’re offered righteousness as a gift. We cannot earn it, we cannot work for it, we cannot strive to attain for it; we accept it as a gift. We are made righteous with a righteousness that is not our own, it’s the righteousness of Jesus Christ received by faith.
Second Corinthians 5:21:
“[God] made him who knew no sin to be sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Jesus said in Matthew 6:33:
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness...”
Any other righteousness is on too low a level. The only righteousness that will admit us to heaven is the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ. It’s received by faith as a gift. Here’s the first specific manifestation of God’s grace in the life of those who come to Him through Jesus Christ—it’s righteousness. God can’t do anything for us until He’s made us righteous. The first thing He does when we approach Him is to make us righteous. I think you’ll agree with me the majority of Christians have never grasped this fact. In fact, I think you’ll find that much of our liturgy, much of our music and our hymns, are designed to leave us sin- conscious. In many cases we almost feel it’s presumptuous to consider ourselves anything but sinful. This is a remarkable fact. I’ll tell you one thing the devil fights against as powerful as anything else: it’s any person realizing what it is to be made righteous by faith. He’ll keep you by any means that he can in some measure under condemnation and guilt, and keep you feeling very religious about it, too, at the same time. The majority of people would feel embarrassed or presumptuous to call themselves righteous. The reason is they think they have to earn it. What the Scripture emphasizes, it’s a grace gift. It’s a free, unmerited gift. You either receive it as a gift or you just don’t have it. There’s the first two specific instances of charisma: Romans 5:15–16, each time the charisma (the gift) is righteousness.
Then we come to the well known verse in Romans 6:23:
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift [the free gift, the charisma] of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Notice again, Paul is drawing a deliberate contrast between wages and grace gifts. Wages being the due reward for what you’ve done. If you work five days a week at a certain fixed salary, at the end of the week you collect your wages. That’s the due reward for what you’ve done. Paul says the due reward for the sins that we have all committed is death. The wages of sin is death. If you want justice, that’s it. You can have it. God is just. But, the alternative to justice is grace. Not what you’ve earned, not what you’re good enough for, not what you’ve worked for, but the free, unmerited grace gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. You cannot have it without Jesus Christ. When you receive Jesus Christ, in Him you receive eternal life.
We could also glance at Romans 8:10, where we’ll see the connection between life and righteousness.
If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin [the old Adamic nature has died]; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Life comes in by the Holy Spirit because we are reckoned righteous. God cannot give life to the unrighteous. But when we receive the gift of righteousness then we receive the gift of eternal life. Eternal life comes in on the basis of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us through faith in Him.
We can’t linger on any one of these instances because our purpose is to get a broad view of charisma as a whole. Moving on to Romans 11:29 Paul says:
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
That doesn’t mean that we receive things from God as sinners before we repent, that’s not what it means. It means that when God has given a gift He doesn’t change His mind. Many people do not understand that. If I give my child something—let’s say a new motorcar. If it’s a gift, I cannot subsequently withdraw it if he misbehaves. Otherwise it was not a gift; it was a conditional loan. When God gives you and me gifts, He gives them and He does not take them away even if we misuse them. We are accountable for what we do with them but because they are gifts they are not taken away.
This is true of the gifts of God and it’s true of the calling of God. I have known men that had a calling, the calling as an evangelist, and every time that man would preach sinners would be saved. But in many other respects his life was altogether crooked and out of order. People say, “How can a man like that be used of God?” God gave him the gift and God never takes away what He has given. Because, if He did it wouldn’t be a gift. Understand? If at any time my receiving it is conditional upon my being good enough thereafter to go on having it, then it’s not a grace gift. The grace gift and the calling of God are without repentance. He never changes His mind. We are accountable for what we do with them, but we do not lose them if we misuse them. I have known not a few people that have misused the gift of God but God did not withdraw them. This is a stumbling block for many Christians. They say, “How can such and such a man—he may be a drunkard, he may be immoral—he goes on preaching and people get saved, get healed. How can it be?” The gift and the calling of God are without repentance.
You see, this is pure logic. If God ever said on any condition, “If you don’t keep on doing what I require, I will withdraw it,” then it’s not a gift, it’s a loan. So, this is very important to understand. You see how important it is to understand the meaning of the word charisma? It’s a gift that’s given not because we’ve earned it. We keep it not by earning it or deserving it or being good enough. We keep it unless we ourselves deliberately let it go—which often happens. God never withdraws it.
Then in Romans 12:6 Paul brings it down to Christian living. He says:
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us...”
And notice how frequently he lines the word gift up with the word grace. Because in Greek they’re very closely similar. Charisma and charis. Having then charisma, “grace gifts,” differing according to the “grace” (charis) that is given to us. We’ll come back to that passage later so let us not dwell on it now.
Now we move on into 1 Corinthians which is probably the epistle that has the largest number of occurrences of this word charisma. Romans and 1 Corinthians come very close in this respect. First Corinthians 1:7, the apostle Paul says to the church of Corinth:
“So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
To “come behind” means “to be lacking in.” You notice that there were many, many problems in this church at Corinth. There was open immorality—a man had taken his father’s wife. There were other problems in the church, but nevertheless they had all the grace gifts. Why? They didn’t have them by deserving them. You see, what I’ve noticed is sinners, or people who are not religious—let me put it that way—often have much more faith to appropriate the grace gifts of God because they’re never troubled by trying to earn them. Whereas good, religious people often find it very hard to receive grace gifts because they still think in the back of their mind somewhere, “I’ve got to do something to earn it.”
Then the sinner isn’t changed by receiving a gift. See what I mean? It doesn’t change his character. Then people say, “How could God give such a gift to such a person?” Well, He didn’t give it to him because he was a good person; He gave it to him because he had the faith to receive it. See, we have to change our thinking about some of these things.
This church at Corinth, though it had many problems, some of which were serious moral problems, Paul said, “I’m so glad that you’re not lacking in any gift. Every charisma is manifested amongst you.”
Then in 1 Corinthians 7:7 he says this:
“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man has his proper gift [his own particular gift] of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.”
What was Paul’s particular gift that he was referring to there? The particular manifestation of God’s grace in his life? Celibacy, that’s right, the ability to live unmarried. He said, “I wish everybody had this gift, but I realize they don’t.” It’s no good a person that doesn’t have it trying to live as if he did. So, every person has their own particular manifestation of God’s grace in their life which enables them to do the thing that God gave the gift to do.
First Corinthians 12:4, we’re just going to note these now. Paul says:
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.”
There are many different gifts, but it’s the Holy Spirit who dispenses all of them.
Then three times in this chapter Paul makes reference to the gift of healing. Verses 9, 28 and 30. Seeing that we’ll be studying this in detail later on in this series of studies I’m not going to go into it in detail.
Then in the last verse of the chapter which is 1 Corinthians 12:31, Paul says:
“But covet earnestly the best gifts...”
I do not see how people can do much coveting of gifts if they don’t know what the gifts are. It seems to me Paul assumes that Christians will become acquainted with what God’s gifts are, what is available. And then he says, “Go out and desire the best.” This is not pride. In fact, you remember the grace gifts are given to the humble.
We move on to 2 Corinthians 1:11. We’ll have to read from verse 9 through 11 in order to get the background. Here we have a completely different type of charisma mentioned in verse 11. Paul says this, and he’s referring to a certain experience in his own missionary ministry.
“But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”
The word gift in verse 11 is charisma. What is Paul referring to? Miraculous deliverance from extreme danger. This is called a gift; it’s a manifestation of God’s grace. I have a feeling, myself, that Paul was possibly referring to the situation at Derbe where he was stoned and left for dead and then stood up and walked as though nothing had happened. That was a grace gift, it was a supernatural intervention of God in divine grace and it came in answer to the prayers of many. Whether that was the particular incident referred to here or not isn’t important. What is important is to understand that a sudden, dramatic, supernatural intervention of God contrary to all that normally we could expect is a grace gift, it’s a gift that’s given of God’s grace to meet the needs of a particular situation.
And then in 1 Timothy 4:14 we have words of advice from Paul to Timothy who he calls “his son in the faith.”
“Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery [the elders].”
And in 2 Timothy 1:6 a very similar exhortation is given again.
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”
It appears that Timothy was rather liable to allow timidity to keep him from exercising the gift God had given him. So, Paul found it necessary in each of these epistles to warn Timothy, “Don’t let that gift lie dormant, don’t be content just to minister as if you didn’t have this particular gift,” whatever gift it is that he’s referring to, which is not immediately obvious. He says, “Stir it up, don’t neglect it, use it. It was given you by God for His glory and to fulfill His purposes, and you’re accountable for what you do with that.” This is true of many others, too, that we are accountable for what we do with the grace gifts of God.
Finally, the last of these 17 instances is in 1 Peter 4:10.
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Peter did not expect any Christians to be lacking in grace gifts. He expected that every man would receive gifts and on the basis of what he had received he would be able to minister. If we haven’t got anything we can’t minister anything. So, if Christians are going to minister they must first receive. I like the words of Peter and John when they met the lame man at the Beautiful Gate. Peter said, “Such as I have give I unto thee.” If you don’t have it, you can’t give it. That’s the problem with large sections of the contemporary church; they have nothing to give in the first place. The preacher can preach at them and exhort them to do this and that but if they have nothing to do it with, how can they do it?
Peter expected every Christian to be in the position of having received grace gifts and being, out of those that he had received, able to minister to others. This is one of the basic problems of the Christian church today; we’re operating in the natural. We trust in education, background, social environment, and all these things. Therefore, there are many people that say, “I just don’t have anything; I’m not going to give.” But if they would let God move them out into the area where they would receive His grace gift— which they don’t have to earn, they don’t have to qualify for with education, training or seminary background or any of these things—then they would be in a position to minister to others.
Now I want to summate a little of what we’ve gone through. This is contained in the outline. I think it won’t be necessary now to go back to each reference but only to look at some. I want you to see that the word charisma as we have studied it so far is used of the following things.
In Romans 5:15–16 it’s applied twice to righteousness. In Romans 6:23 it’s applied to eternal life.
And then in Romans 12 it’s applied to seven things.
It might be good to look at Romans 12 together for a moment just to see the seven different
charismata that are there mentioned by Paul. He says in Romans 12:6:
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy ... or ministry ... or he that teacheth ... or he that exhorteth ... he that giveth ... he that ruleth ... he that sheweth mercy...”
If you summate those things Paul gives, apparently as more or less random examples, seven types of charisma. The first is prophecy, the gift of prophesy. The second is ministering. The Greek word means serving primarily in the practical realm; it’s the word that gives us deacon which was essentially a form of service in the material and practical realm. Teaching, exhorting, giving—the Greek word is “sharing” but it means sharing of our material substance, our finance. And showing mercy. I love to emphasize that showing mercy is a specific charisma. There are millions of people in this miserable world that need someone to show them mercy. It’s a charisma I think we could have a lot more of.
Now, going on from there in 1 Corinthians 7:7 Paul uses the word in a completely different kind of context, that of celibacy, the ability to live unmarried. This is another charisma.
In 1 Corinthians 12 three times he applies it to healing, the gift of healing.
Then in 1 Corinthians 12:31 he applies it to another list and I think we should look at that list for a moment. Paul says:
“Covet earnestly the best gifts ...”
You have to take that in its context and to do that you have to go back to verse 28. There Paul says:
“God hath set some in the church ...”
And then he specifies eight specific functions or gifts or ministries in the church. Let’s just read through them.
“... apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
Eight. So there we are given eight specific examples. And summing up his teaching about these eight specific examples Paul says “covet the best.”
Then in 2 Corinthians 1:11 he speaks about charisma in the context of this miraculous intervention that apparently saved his life that came in answer to the prayers of so many of God’s people.
Now I want to go down to the bottom of the page which will be the last material for this first study and I want to summate as far as possible the different types of charisma that are actually referred to in the New Testament. You’ll see the total that I come to is 25. People say that five is the number of divine grace. I don’t know quite where they get that from, but it rather suits me because this is five squared, it’s grace in every form on every side by every channel.
This is the word that I want to keep before you all the time, it’s the word grace. The riches of God’s grace, the abundance of God’s grace, the variety of God’s grace. You know, God apparently has never made two snowflakes alike. That’s almost unbelievable, isn’t it? No two leaves on an oak tree are identical. And, no two Christians need to be identical, God has got enough grace, He’s got enough gifts, He’s got enough variety, He’s got enough abundance for all of us. One of my main purposes in going into this in some detail is to try to get you stirred up to believe that God has got enough for you, too. And if you’re living in rather a narrow corner or on rather limited rations, remember, God isn’t rationing you, you’re rationing yourself.
Let’s look then at the bottom of this first page of the outline at the different things that are referred to—some directly and some by inference. I’m at that list at the bottom of your first outline. Romans 5:15– 16, as we’ve already pointed out, righteousness is referred to. And, I’ve put 1 in the right hand margin because I’m adding up the totals.
And in Romans 6:23 it eternal life. That’s another one. In 1 Corinthians 12:8–10 we have 9 charismata, the ones that I read at the beginning of this study. You remember what they were: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith and so on. Going through you’ll find there are 9. We’re going to come back and study them in detail but we’ll not spend time on them now.
Then, by putting together various different passages we find that Paul talks about an apostle as a charisma, a prophet as a charisma, a teacher as a charisma. I believe, therefore, it is logical to deduce from this that all the main ministry gifts are also examples of charisma. Now, these gifts are actually specified in Ephesians 4. We might turn and just look at that for a moment. There are two mentioned in Ephesians 4, which are not actually mentioned in the other list but I believe logic demands that we consider them all to be examples of charisma. Ephesians 4:11 gives us the 5 main ministry gifts set by God in the church through Jesus Christ. They are normally referred to as the ministry gifts.
“And he gave some, apostles; some, prophets; some, evangelists; some, pastors [or shepherds] and some, teachers ...”
Five. So, we add the total 5 on the right hand side beneath 9 for the five main ministry gifts.
Then in Romans 12:6–8, which we have already looked at, we found that Paul mentioned the following. Prophecy, ministering (I call it serving), teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling, showing mercy. Now you’ll notice that I put two in parentheses: “prophecy,” because we’ve already counted it amongst the 9 spiritual gifts and “teaching” because we’ve already counted it amongst the 5 ministry gifts. We don’t count them in this list because that would be counting the same thing twice. So, 7 minus 2 gives us 5. See the 5 in the right hand margin there?
In 1 Corinthians 7:7 we still have the one that Paul himself said he had and he wished others had, celibacy. We just give one for that.
“First Corinthians 12:28, we have a list that we have looked at but perhaps it would be good to look at it once more. First Corinthians 12:28 where we find the order in the local church. God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
There are altogether 8 that are listed there, but most of them have already been mentioned in one of the previous lists. So, we put them in parenthesis and let’s see what we are left with. Now, the first 3— apostles, prophets and teachers—come from Ephesians 4:11, the 5 main ministry gifts. We don’t count them again.
Miracles and healings have been mentioned in the 9 spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12.
Helps has not been mentioned. I understand the ministry of helps is the one who is willing to be an “indian” to somebody else, who is a chief. In some places the problem is everybody wants to be a chief and nobody wants to be indians. Well, the ministry of helps is the man who can’t be a chief but he’s willing to be a good Indian—a very desperately needed ministry in many places.
Then there’s governments. We might say a word about that. It’s taken directly from the Greek word for “to steer.” It does not mean ruling because if it meant ruling it would be illogical to put it after helps. It means the act of steering, of turning the rudder. This is a ministry. It’s just making one little move that changes the course of a group, the course of a meeting or whatever it may be. It’s a very fascinating charisma. Many, many times in a prayer meeting or a bigger meeting than that we don’t get the full purpose of God in the meeting because at a certain point God wanted us to go one way and we had our minds made up to go another. Well, we’re going to sing choruses tonight. God didn’t want us to sing choruses, God wanted us to do something different. Or, we’re going to have a Bible study tonight. But God called us to prayer. See? The ministry of steering is just indicating the way the meeting, the group should go and turning the rudder so that it goes that way. It’s a very, very fascinating ministry to observe. In The Journals of John Wesley there’s a very wonderful illustration of this ministry and its usefulness. It happened with the early Methodist—as it happens with some in our day—that having got blessed by God they got turned out of the church. As you probably know, John Wesley was not allowed to preach in his father’s church although he was an ordained minister of the Anglican Church. He had to preach on his father’s tombstone because they wouldn’t let him inside his father’s church. There were various other places where the early Methodists were not allowed in the institutional church. So, they had to go outside and find meeting places of their own. In London they met in a building that was primarily an armory, used for storing arms. A large building in the center of London. One day Wesley records in his journal that he and his brother Charles were there and several hundred Methodists had gathered together and a little insignificant sister suddenly stood up and said, “I feel we should move—and specified another building. Wesley said without a moment’s hesitation or murmur or questioning the whole group of several hundred people got up, filed out of that building and went to the other building having no natural reason for doing it. About ten minutes after they left there was an explosion in the basement of the other building which blew the building to pieces. And every one of those persons would have been killed. We’d have never had the Methodist movement as we know it or John and Charles Wesley as we know them if it hadn’t been for a little woman with the ministry of steering who just turned the meeting the right way at the right moment.
And you see, you come to your own experience. You can look back on many meetings, conventions and others where we missed God’s purpose because we aren’t willing to have a steering in the direction different to what we expected. I was in a meeting once with a certain quite well known full gospel group in a hotel and God was really blessing. At a certain point God gave me a prophecy which I really wasn’t seeking—that if the people would come forward at that moment God would save and God would heal. Well, they had an advertised speaker who’d flown a long way and they paid his air fare and I could almost read the thoughts going on in everybody’s mind. They thought, “Now, we’ve paid this man’s fare. If we don’t put him on to preach ...” So, they said, “We’ll let Brother So-and-So preach and then everybody come forward.” Well, I tell you, when everybody came forward at the end it was just as dead as could be. See? They missed the steering of God in that particular meeting.
I just comment on this government, steering, because many people think it’s the same as ruling but it isn’t. I think the proof of that is that helps comes first and government afterwards. Whereas if it was ruling, ruling would come before helps.
Then in the same list we have diversities of tongues. We have put a parenthesis around apostles, prophets, teachers because we had them already in the main ministry gifts. We’ve put parenthesis around “miracles” and “healings” and “diversities of tongues” because we had them in the spiritual gifts. So we are left with the new ones “helps” and “governments.”
Then we come to 2 Corinthians 1:11, which we’ve already noticed, miraculous interventions that came in answer to the prayers of God’s people saving Paul’s life apparently. We add that up as 1. If my arithmetic is correct, you add those together and we have a total of 25 distinctive charismata mentioned in the New Testament.
I wasn’t actually planning on questions but I’ve come to the end of the outline for this particular study. I don’t want to begin on a new outline and it could well be that I’ve said something that’s provoked a question. If you’d like to take the next five minutes or so to bring up questions or to classify anything because I’ve worked through a lot of material in a rather short space of time and I could well understand that somewhere either you weren’t able to follow along. So if there’s anybody that would like to bring out a question now about anything that’s troubling you we’ll take the next five minutes for that.
Let me repeat the question because otherwise it won’t come out as well on the tape. The question was about this last one mentioned at the bottom of the page, miraculous interventions of God. The question was, “Would that normally come rather in response to a group than to an individual?” Certainly the context of Paul’s remarks here would seem to confirm that, because if we look in 2 Corinthians 1:11 for a moment where he uses the word he says:
“Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”
It would seem that this miraculous intervention of God came as a result of prayers of many Christians. So here is a good confirmation of what has been suggested. This would come possibly more in response to the prayers of a group than as a manifestation in the life of some particular individual. I think another obvious example of divine, miraculous intervention in answer to the prayer of a group is, of course, Peter being brought out of prison the night before he was due to be executed which is recorded in Acts 12. There again, it was a group that was praying for Peter and clearly this intervention of God must fall in the same category as a gift. It wasn’t earned, it wasn’t deserved; it was the sovereign grace of God reaching down at the last moment to spare Peter’s life.
I think that if we look at it this way most of us can look back on something sometime which, really, meets the requirements to be called a charisma, a gift of God. A supernatural, miraculous intervention in answer to prayer. I believe, if I’m right, General Eisenhower as a small boy had a condition in his leg which demanded amputation. The doctor said there’s no alternative but to amputate. But his family and friends prayed, his leg was spared. What was that? A divine, supernatural intervention which gave the United States one of its great presidents and one of its great military commanders. You see? God has a purpose in what He does that goes beyond the particular, immediate situation many times.
The question is, “Would I be able to give an example of showing mercy?” Not all these gifts are dramatic and supernatural. That’s the problem with many charismatic people, they’re only looking for the dramatic and the supernatural. Consequently, their lives are very passé. If you want an example of showing mercy I’d say visiting shut-ins is one. How many, many lonely people there are even in the city where we are tonight, Fort Lauderdale. Even wealthy people get lonely, longing for somebody to come and show them kindness.
I remember a lady giving a testimony in the meeting one day. They opened in faith—a little group of insignificant people in some city, I forget which it was, they announced that anybody that wanted prayer could call a certain number and they would pray. They put this item in the newspaper or somewhere. The answers they got were fascinating. It was a city where there was something of a race problem. On one occasion a Negro lady called, gave her problem, stated what was troubling her. The ladies didn’t know how to solve the problem but they said, “We’ll pray with you.” When they had prayed, this Negro lady said afterwards, “I never knew there was anybody that loved me enough to pray for me.” I would say that’s another example of the ministry of showing mercy.
I believe this is a ministry that’s greatly neglected. I believe there are possibly those of us here tonight if we would seek God and say, “God, I want to do more for You than I’m doing. Isn’t there a gift that You’d give me?” It might not be the one you’re looking for. That’s only one of many examples. There are many, many people that need to have mercy shown to them. We’ve received God’s mercy and we have an obligation to show God’s mercy.
One thing about the early church, I think you’ll find if you study, they regularly took upon themselves the responsibility of caring for the poor. In all the things we organize in modern churches we usually omit that completely. There are a few exceptions but most modern churches will have a committee for everything except caring for the poor.
The question is to expound a little on the gift of celibacy. I would say that I always enjoy introducing this one because it usually startles people. I rather enjoy this, because I feel people get into a rut as to what they expect from God and, therefore, they limit what God will do in their lives. It’s perfectly clear that the apostle Paul felt that God had set him apart to a particular ministry which required that he live a celibate life. I understand this; I believe it. He was very enthusiastic about it. He said, “I would that all men were even as I myself ...” I don’t know whether we’d all agree with that, but that’s the way he felt.
I do believe this is a very valid manifestation of God’s grace. I’ll say, frankly, I used to think that the Roman Catholics didn’t have much to teach the Protestants but since I’ve come to know a good many Roman Catholics in this new charismatic movement which is bringing us together I’ve come to realize that most of the main teachings of the Catholic Church go back to something that has a valid, scriptural basis—though it tends to become encrusted with tradition and maybe fossilized to the point where it’s not fulfilling its function. I don’t believe in celibacy exactly the way that it’s arranged in the modern Catholic Church, but I believe there is a genuine scriptural basis in the lives of some who have a special charisma. This is where we are different.
Let me just point out that Jesus did say—and I think this is related to it, it’s a difficult passage to expound and I won’t attempt to go into it in detail. He said, “There will be some that are born eunuchs, there are some that are made eunuchs of men, and there are some that have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of God.” That latter category, I suppose, was the category in which the apostle Paul was found.
That’s about the end of our time for this and I appreciate the questions and your interests which make it so much easier to talk. Just keep praying for me that we’ll produce something which will be a blessing to others.