Category Archives: 6 – The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

Spiritual Gifts – The Gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 – Part 4

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
(1 Corinthians 12:8-10, KJV)

My family and I have just finished reading about the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 guided mainly by “Chapter 53: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2): Specific Gifts” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994) in our after-breakfast Bible reading time. In this post I’ll report on our reading about the gifts of tongues and interpretation of tongues.

The Greek word glossa can mean either “tongue” or “language,” and the NLT calls the two gifts “the ability to speak in unknown languages” and “the ability to interpret what is said.” Although those names may describe the gifts better than the names in the KJV and most other versions, the names used in the latter are too well established to be replaced.

Tongues

Grudem defines the gift of tongues as “prayer or praise spoken in syllables not understood by the speaker” (page 1070), indicating that it is (1) primarily prayer or praise directed to God (2) given in a language unknown to the speaker. In support of his definition he cites 1 Corinthians 14:2, “[1] For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; [2] for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit” (ESV; all Biblical quotations except the opening one are from the ESV). Although the speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11) was in languages known by others present, 1 Corinthians 14 indicates that speaking in tongues is generally in languages unknown by those present and 1 Corinthians 13:1 suggests that it may even be in an angelic rather than in a human language.

Some points that Grudem makes about the gift of tongues are:
– It is prayer with the spirit, not with the mind. “If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also” (i Corinthians 14:14-15).
– It is not ecstatic but self-controlled. “If any speak in a tongue, let there be only one or two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each one of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God” (1 Corinthians 14:27-28).
– It should not be used in church unless someone known to have the gift of interpretation of tongues is present. 1 Corinthians 14:27-28 (quoted above). However it can (and should) be used in private without interpretation. “The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…Now I want you all to speak in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:4-5).
– With interpretation, it is as valuable to the church as prophecy and edifies the church. “The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up” (1 Corinthians 14:5). However it serves a different function than prophecy, its generally being communication from humans to God whereas prophesy is communication from God to humans.

Interpretation of Tongues

This is the gift of giving the meaning of a message in tongues and may be given to the person who gives the message in tongues or to someone else. Those who give messages in tongues are encouraged to pray for the gift of interpretation. “One who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret” (1 Corinthians 14:13). As noted above, messages in tongues should not be given in church unless someone known to have the gift of interpretation is present.

Interpretation of tongues is required only for communications made in tongues by exercising the gift of tongues. It is not required for speaking in tongues as the initial sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit or for speaking in tongues in one’s private devotions. See my April 23 post, “Baptism in the Holy Spirit – Speaking in Tongues,” on the three functions of speaking in tongues.

Spiritual Gifts – The Gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 – Part 3

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
(1 Corinthians 12:8-10, KJV)

My family and I are currently reading about the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 guided mainly by “Chapter 53: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2): Specific Gifts” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994) in our after-breakfast Bible reading time. In this post I’ll report on our reading about the gifts of prophecy and discerning of spirits.

Prophecy

Although “prophecy” is generally defined as “a prediction,” as a spiritual gift it is better defined as “an utterance inspired by God.”

When we think of prophecy in the Bible, it is natural to think of the Old Testament prophets. However when we do so, we are tempted to ascribe more authority to the spiritual gift of prophecy than it warrants. The prophecies of the Old Testament prophets were recognized as the very words of God and are still accepted as Scripture. The New Testament equivalent to the Old Testament prophets were the apostles rather than those exercising the spiritual gift of prophecy.

Grudem explains how these passages indicate that New Testament “prophets” didn’t speak with authority equal to the words of Scripture: Acts 21:4; Acts 21:10-11; 1 Corinthians 14:29-38; and 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21. He concludes, “All these passages indicate that the common idea that prophets spoke ‘words of the Lord’ when the apostles were not present in the early churches is simply incorrect” (page 1055). Thus we should not view contemporary prophecy as equal to Scripture in authority.

At the same time we should value the gift of prophecy (and the gifts of tongues and interpretation, which together are equivalent to prophecy). Paul told the Corinthians, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:1, ESV; all Biblical quotations except the opening one are from the ESV). And at the end of his discussion of spiritual gifts he tells them, “So, my brothers, earnestly desiring to prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:39).

Discerning of Spirits

Its location in the list of spiritual gifts suggests that discerning of spirits is associated with prophecy, its enabling the one exercising it to know whether the spirit behind a prophecy is the Holy Spirit, a demonic spirit, or the speaker’s natural spirit.

However many scholars, including Grudem, think that discerning of spirits has a broader application, its enabling the person exercising it “to recognize the influence of the Holy Spirit or of demonic spirits in a person” (Grudem, page 1082). And some think that it enables the person exercising it to distinguish between the kinds of evil spirits, such as a disabling spirit (Luke 13:11), a mute (or dumb) and deaf spirit (Mark 9:25), a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16), and a spirit of error (1 John 4:6).

Spiritual Gifts – The Gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 – Part 2

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
(1 Corinthians 12:8-10, KJV)

My family and I are currently reading about the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 guided mainly by “Chapter 53: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2): Specific Gifts” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994) in our after-breakfast Bible reading time. In my last post I reported on our reading about the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. In this post I’ll report on our reading about what are sometimes called the gifts of power–faith, the gifts of healing, and the working of miracles.

Faith

Since Grudem doesn’t include faith among the spiritual gifts that he considers in Chapter 53 of his Systematic Theology, my family and I read what J. Rodway Williams says about it in Chapter 14, “The Ninefold Manifestation,” of his Renewal Theology (Grand Rapids. Michigan: Zondervan, 1996). My comments here are based on that reading.

The gift of faith is distinct from the faith through which a person is saved (Ephesians 2:8) and the fruit of faith or faithfulness in a believer’s life (Galatians 5:22). It provides the atmosphere in which the next two gifts, the gifts of healing and the working of miracles, take place. As well it may enable a person to encourage others such as Paul did those aboard the storm-tossed ship of Acts 27:13-44, including unbelievers.

The Old Testament includes many examples of special faith, some of which are referred to in Hebrews 11:32-33, “And what more shall I say? for time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets–Who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions” (ESV; all Biblical quotations except the opening one are from the ESV). And shortly after listing faith among the spiritual gifts, Paul refers to “faith, so as to move mountains” (1 Corinthians 13:2), perhaps referring to what Jesus told the twelve in Mark 11:22-23, “Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

Since the gift of faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, we may ask God for it as the twelve asked Jesus in Luke 17:5, “Increase our faith.” Jesus replied to their request, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6). However when making the similiar promise referred to in the preceding paragraph, Jesus qualified it with “and does not doubt in his heart,” indicating that although not much of this kind of faith is needed to do amazing things it cannot be accompanied by doubt.

Also important in exercising this kind of faith is prayer. When the disciples who hadn’t accompanied Jesus up the mount of transfiguration asked him on his return why they hadn’t been able to cast the demon out of a demon-possessed boy, he told them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29). Williams ties together faith, doubt, and prayer thus: “Mountain-moving, demon-exorcising faith, while truly from God, is given to those who in much prayer are open to receive it. Prayer, accordingly, is an antidote to doubt arising in the heart because in such prayer God is experienced as powerfully present and at work” (page 363).

The Gifts of Healing

Grudem opens his consideration of the gifts of healing by observing that sickness is part of the curse and healing is part of the atonement. To demonstrate the latter he refers to Matthew 8:16-17: “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and healed our diseases.'”

“He took our illnesses and healed our diseases” is part of a passage (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) which we generally think of as picturing Jesus’ suffering and dying to save us from our sins. However Matthew states that the passage was also fulfilled by Jesus’ healing ministry. Surely if healings worked by Jesus before his death were enabled by his atoning death, then those worked in his name since then were/are also enabled by it. And just as the victories over sin that we experience in this life foreshadow the spiritual perfection that we’ll have when Jesus returns, the physical healings that we experience now foreshadow the physical perfection that we’ll have when he returns.

Examination of the healings recorded in the New Testament shows that they had various purposes and used various methods. Among their purposes were to help the sick (obviously), to authenticate the Gospel message, and to bring glory to God. Among the methods used were laying on of hands and anointing with oil. Essential was faith–faith by the sick person, faith by ones seeking healing for the person, and/or faith by those praying for the person.

Grudem closes his consideration of the gifts of healing by discussing the troublesome question, “But what if God does not heal?” He quotes several passages from Paul’s writings which show that even in New Testament times God chose not to heal and says that when this happens we should remember Romans 8:28, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” He concludes: “The emphasis of the New Testament, both in Jesus’ ministry and in the ministry of the disciples in Acts, seems to be one that encourages us in most cases eagerly and earnestly to seek God for healing, and then to continue to trust him to bring good out of the situation, whether he grants the healing or not” (page 1069).

The Working of Miracles

Because earlier in his Systematic Theology Grudem devoted a whole chapter to miracles (Chapter 17; see my December 3, 2013, post), he doesn’t say much about them in Chapter 53. He observes that Paul’s listing the gifts of healing as a separate gift from the workings of miracles indicates that the latter includes other kinds of miracles than healings. Then he gives these examples of miracles other than healings from Acts: the freeing of the apostles and Peter from prison (5:19-20; 12:6-11), the judging of Ananias and Sapphira and of Elymas the magician (5:1-11; 13:8-11), the casting out of a demon (16:18), and the protection of Paul from a viper’s bite (28:3-6). Suggesting that the working of miracles could include miracles similar to those, he concludes: “All of these would be works of ‘power’ [earlier he’d explained that the Greek word for ‘miracles’ is the plural of the Greek word for ‘power’] in which the church would be helped and God’s glory would be made evident” (page 1063).

Spiritual Gifts – The Gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 – Part 1

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
(1 Corinthians 12:8-10, KJV; all Biblical quotations are from the KJV)

Yesterday my family and I began reading from “Chapter 53: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2): Specific Gifts” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994) in our after-breakfast Bible reading time. In my first post after we began reading the book’s Chapter 52, I wrote:

In preparation for our reading the two chapters, I read several articles and book chapters on spiritual gifts. Two books that I found helpful regarding both general considerations and specific gifts were J. Rodman Williams’ Renewal Theology (Grand Rapids. Michigan: Zondervan, 1996; Chapters 13, “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit,” and 14, “The Ninefold Manifestation”) and Anthony D. Palma’s The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Perspective (Springield Missouri: Logion Press, 2001; Part 3, “Spiritual Gifts”). However, although I plan to consult both of them and the comments on 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 in my commentaries (especially those by Gordon D. Fee and David E. Garland) as we read Chapters 52 and 53, I haven’t been sharing from them in our family reading and won’t likely share from them here.

Since then I’ve changed my mind about how we’d read Chapter 53 and thus what I’d report on here from the chapter. In it Grudem considers a selection of spiritual gifts from 1 Corinthians 12:28 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 in an order determined by him. I’ve decided for us to consider instead just the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (but all of them) and to consider them in the order in which Paul lists them there. I’ve also decided to share with the family comments on some of those gifts from other books that I’d consulted in my personal reading about them to supplement what we read from Grudem’s presentation.

In this post I’ll consider the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. In subsequent posts I’ll consider the other spiritual gifts listed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10–faith, the gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.

The Word of Wisdom and the Word of Knowledge

These two gifts aren’t referred to anywhere else in the Bible and thus all that we know about them is contained in this statement by Paul, “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:8).

Two main approaches are taken to understanding the two gifts. The commonest is that they are the miraculous ability to receive a revelation from the Holy Spirit that results in the using of wisdom or the giving of knowledge in dealing with specific situations. The other, which is followed by Grudem, is that they are the natural ability to use wisdom or to speak with knowledge in dealing with specific situations.

In our family reading we read Grudem’s explanation of the two approaches, but instead of our reading his extensive argument for the second approach (pages 1080-82) I read Donald Gee’s argument for the first approach (Pentecostal Experience: The Writings of Donald Gee, compiled and edited by David A. Womack, Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1993). Pointing out that the two gifts are placed in a list of “manifestation[s] of the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:7), he claims, “There is only one way to deal consistently with the whole subject of these spiritual gifts: to regard them as each involving some measure of a supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit” (page 132).

Then I read the explanations of “the message of wisdom” and “the message of knowledge” given by Donald C. Stamps in his article “Spiritual Gifts for Believers” in The Full Life Study Bible, New International Version (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, pages 1770-71) and we read the examples of each for which references are given below.

Stamps defines the word of wisdom as “a wise utterance spoken through the operation of the Holy Spirit. It applies the revelation of God’s Word or the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to a specific situation” (page 1770). Examples are the Jerusalem church’s choosing of seven to serve needy widows (Acts 6:1-6) and its deciding to limit what was required of Gentile converts (Acts 15:13-29).

He defines the word of knowledge as “an utterance inspired by the Holy Spirit that reveals knowledge about people, circumstances or Biblical truth” (page 1770). An example is Peter’s knowledge of and dealing with Ananias and Sapphira’s dishonesty (Acts 5:1-10).

Spiritual Gifts – The Cessationist Debate

Even among evangelical Christians there is disagreement on whether all the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament are for use today. Some say that they are, and others argue that the more miraculous gifts were just given to the early church as signs to authenticate the gospel and are no longer needed; the latter are referred to as “cessationists.” My family and I have just finished reading in our family after-breakfast Bible reading time parts of Wayne Grudem’s comprehensive discussion of the issue in Chapter 52, “Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1): General Questions,” of his Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994). Here I’ll share from the parts that we read.

A key passage is 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV)

The passage is important because it describes prophecy as being “in part” and says that “when the perfect comes” what is “partial” will “pass away.” Cessationists generally take prophecy as representative of all the miraculous spiritual gifts and identify “when the perfect comes” with Scripture’s becoming complete upon the death of the apostles. Thus they claim that gifts ended with the apostle John’s death around A.D. 95. Because of “prophecies” and “tongues” being connected in verse 8, I agree with cessationists that prophecy in verse 9 is representative of all the miraculous spiritual gifts. However I think that “when the perfect comes” refers to the return of Jesus rather than to the completion of Scripture.

Paul’s purpose in the passage is to show that love is superior to the gifts and thus that it is more important to show love than it is to possess the gifts. To show that love is superior to the gifts, Paul argues that it (and faith and hope) are permanent but the gifts are temporary, their ending when “the perfect” comes. According to verse 12, that will be when we will see “face to face” and shall know “even as I have been fully known.” Revelation 22:4, “They will see his face,” indicates that those things will occur in Heaven after the return of Jesus. Thus I understand 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 to imply that God intends for the gifts, including the more miraculous ones, to be used in the church until Jesus returns to take the church to be with him (and the Father).

Some cessationists argue that miraculous gifts actually ceased when the apostles died. However there is increasing historical evidence that healings and prophecies have occurred throughout church history in greater or lesser degree. In commenting on 1 Corinthians 14:32, Calvin refers to the abundance of spiritual gifts in the church in Paul’s day and then observes:

Today we see our own slender resources, our poverty in fact; but this is undoubtedly the punishment we deserve, as the reward for our ingratitude. For God’s riches are not exhausted, nor has his liberality grown less; but we are not worthy of His largess, or capable of receiving all that He generously gives. (The First Epistle of Paul The Apostle to the Corinthians, translated by John W. Fraser, Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1960, page 305).

Spiritual Gifts – General Considerations – Part 2

In my last post after quoting Wayne Grudem’s definition of a spiritual gift as “any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church” (Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994, page 1016), I noted how spiritual gifts were manifested and what their purposes were in the New Testament age. In this post I’ll consider briefly some questions that Grudem discusses about spiritual gifts: how strong does an ability have to be to be called a spiritual gift? do Christians possess spiritual gifts temporarily or permanently? are spiritual gifts miraculous or nonmiraculous? and how should we seek and use spiritual gifts?

How strong does an ability have to be to be called a spiritual gift?

Paul’s telling those who have the gift of prophecy to use it “in proportion to our faith” (Romans 12:6, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV) and telling Timothy “not to neglect the gift you have” (1 Timothy 4:14) indicates that possessors of spiritual gifts might vary in how effectively they use them. This raises the question of how strong an ability has to be to be considered a spiritual gift. Grudem observes that although the Bible doesn’t answer this question, Paul’s relating spiritual gifts to “building up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12) and Peter’s relating then to “serv[ing] another” (1 Peter 4:10) suggests that they thought of them as abilities that were “strong enough to function for the benefit of the church” (Grudem, page 1023).

Do Christians possess spiritual gifts temporarily or permanently?

Paul’s comparing the role of possessors of spiritual gifts within the church to the role of parts of the human body within the body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 indicates that they possess those gifts permanently. However Samson’s having his strength restored to him one last time (Judges 16:28-30) suggests that gifts may be given for a special need and his losing it earlier when he shared its secret with Delilah (Judges 16:17-21) suggests that gifts may be lost by grieving God. As well 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, which I’ll consider in my next post, indicates that the present spiritual gifts will be superceded by something greater after Christ returns.

Are spiritual gifts miraculous or nonmiraculous?

In my December 3, 2013, post, “Miracles,” I defined a miracle as as “an extraordinary event which cannot be explained by the known laws of nature and is attributed to God.” According to this some spiritual gifts would generally be recognized as miraculous and others would generally be considered nonmiraculous. Included in the former would be most or all of the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, which I’ll consider here when my family and I read Chapter 53, “Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2): Specific Gifts” of Grudem’s Systematic Theology in our family Bible reading. Included in the latter would be most or all of the gifts contained in Paul’s other lists of gifts (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11) but not in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10).

At the same time we should remember that the Bible says: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (Corinthians 12:4-6).

How should we seek and use spiritual gifts?

Grudem offers several suggestions for discovering one’s spiritual gifts and for seeking for more. I’ll repeat briefly some of his suggestions here. If anyone wants to know more of what he says, please ask in a comment on this post.

Members of a church uncertain of what spiritual gifts God has given them can begin by investigating to see what needs and opportunities exist in their church and by examining themselves to determine what interests and abilities they have. They can go on to try ministering in the church in various ways, such as helping with a School School class or praying for others, and seeing where God brings blessing.

Paul’s telling the Corinthians “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:12) indicates that we should seek for more spiritual gifts. How do we seek them? We should ask God for them. Paul says that “one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret” (1 Corinthians 14:14) and James says “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God” (James 1:5). However we should make sure that our motives in asking for additional spiritual gifts are right ones. Our motives should be to bring glory to God and to help others, not to glorify ourselves as Ananias and Sapphira sought to (Acts 5:1-10). After asking God for additional spiritual gifts, we should look for opportunities to try using them. We should also continue to use the spiritual gifts that we already have and should be content if God doesn’t give us any more.

Finally, we should remember that the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts for the work of ministry, not to be a source of personal pride or to be looked upon as a mark of spiritual maturity, and we should thank God for giving us them to enable us to minister on His behalf.

Spiritual Gifts – General Considerations – Part 1

I began considering the work of the Holy Spirit here by saying: “Over the next couple months I’ll consider the work of the Holy Spirit, reporting on my family’s after-breakfast reading from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994). We plan to read these chapters on the Holy Spirit from it:
– Chapter 30: The Work of the Holy Spirit
– Chapter 39: Baptism and Filling with the Holy Spirit
– Chapter 52: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1): General Questions
– Chapter 53: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2): Specific Gifts”

We read Chapter 30. However in my personal rereading of Chapter 39, I realized how much of it is devoted to arguing against the traditional Pentecostal understanding of baptism with the Holy Spirit and so instead of reading it we read about the baptism in the Holy Spirit in William W. Menzies and Stanley M. Horton’s Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective (Springfield, Missouri: Logion Press, 1993). We’re now reading Chapters 52 and 53.

In preparation for our reading the two chapters, I read several articles and book chapters on spiritual gifts. Two books that I found helpful regarding both general considerations and specific gifts were J. Rodman Williams’ Renewal Theology (Grand Rapids. Michigan: Zondervan, 1996; Chapters 13, “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit,” and 14, “The Ninefold Manifestation”) and Anthony D. Palma’s The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Perspective (Springield Missouri: Logion Press, 2001; Part 3, “Spiritual Gifts”). However, although I plan to consult both of them and the comments on 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 in my commentaries (especially those by Gordon D. Fee and David E. Garland) as we read Chapters 52 and 53, I haven’t been sharing from them in our family reading and won’t likely share from them here.

Grudem defines a spiritual gift as “any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church” (page 1016). He notes that the definition includes both gifts that are related to natural ability, such as teaching, and gifts that seem to be more miraculous, such as prophecy. Besides the list in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, which Grudem focuses on in Chapter 53, lists of spiritual gifts are given in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28; and Ephesians 4:11.

Although in the Old Testament spiritual gifts were manifest only occasionally, it looked forward to a time when they would be more common:

And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour our my Spirit.
(Joel 2:28-29, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV)

In the New Testament not only was the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in the ministry of Jesus, but also on the Day of Pentecost Peter told those who gathered that what had happened was what had been prophesied by Joel (Acts 2:17-18). The book of Acts records further manifestations of the spiritual gifts in the ministry of the early church (see for example 5:12-16), and the epistles (see especially 1 Corinthians 12-14) indicate how widespread they were exercised. 1 Corinthians 1:7, “You are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” suggests that they will continue to be manifested in the church until Jesus returns.

Grudem identifies two purposes of spiritual gifts in the New Testament age: to equip it for ministry and to give it a foretaste of the age to come. The former is indicated by Paul’s encouraging the Corinthian believers to use the spiritual gifts “to excel in building up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12). The latter is indicated by his telling them, “We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away” (2 Corinthians 13:9-10).