What the Bible Says About...

HIS EXISTENCE
 
Here is one of those questions that many people ask, “Where did God come from?” Or the question may go like this, “Who created God?” And of course there are many other questions that people ask regarding this issue about the existence of God but the bottom line is this, nobody created God, He has no beginning and He has no end. He is eternal.
 
In Psalm 90:2 we are told, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”How can that be, that He has always existed and He has always been God?
 
The Bible does not tell us and so, we must believe it by faith because God has said it in His Word and His Word is truth!
 
NATURAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
 
OMNISCIENCE (HE IS ALL-KNOWING)
 
When we speak of God being omniscient we are saying that He is all knowing! The idea here is that God cannot learn anything because He already has total knowledge of everything!
 
Therefore, you can’t hide anything from God because He already knows what you will do before you even do it! Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being omniscient:
 
Job 37:16, Isaiah 42:9, Isaiah 44:6-7, I Samuel 16:7, Psalm 139:1-4, Matthew 10:29-30
 
OMNIPRESENCE (HE IS PRESENT EVERYWHERE)
 
Another attribute of God is that He is omnipresent or that God transcends all space and spatial limitations. He is present everywhere, not diffused through the universe, but present everywhere! This is another hard concept for us to understand, but it is what the Bible teaches and so we must believe it by faith!
 
Now don’t come to the conclusion that the Scriptures are teaching a pantheistic viewpoint here. What is Pantheism? Pantheism is the view that God is everything and everyone, and that everyone and everything is God. Pantheism is similar to polytheism (the belief in many gods), but goes beyond polytheism to teach that everything is God. A tree is God, a rock is God, an animal is God, the sky is God, the sun is God, you are God, etc.
 
Pantheism is the supposition or belief behind many cults and false religions (e.g., Hinduism and Buddhism to an extent, the various unity and unification cults, and “mother nature” worshippers). That is not at all what the Scriptures are teaching. They teach His presence fills the universe and is limitless, not that everything contains God.
 
Here is one Scripture to show us that the universe cannot contain God. We are told in I Kings 8:27 as Solomon was dedicating the temple, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”
 
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being omnipresent:
 
Jeremiah 23:23-24, Psalm 139:7-10, Hebrews 4:13, Acts 7:47-50
 
OMNIPOTENT (HE IS ALL-POWERFUL)
 
The next attribute of God is that He is omnipotent or that He is all-powerful. We are told in Jeremiah 32 that, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. . . . Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”
 
Jeremiah 32:17, 27.
 
God is all powerful, but there are things that God cannot do, which does not make Him less than all-powerful. It does not diminish the fact that He is God. Let me explain. First of all it is impossible for God to lie, (Hebrews 6:17-18).
 
Another thing that God cannot do is God cannot change, (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8). God cannot let sinners into heaven, (John 3:3, 5). God cannot do things that go contrary to His nature, who He is.
 
That does not make Him a lesser God or negate Him from being God. Thus, when we speak of God being omnipotent it doesn’t mean that God can do all things, because God cannot do anything that is contrary to His holy character!
 
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being omnipotent:
 
Genesis 1:1, Psalm 115:3, Isaiah 40:28, Psalm 33:6-11, Matthew 19:26
 
ETERNAL (HE HAS NO BEGINNING AND NO END)
 
Another natural attribute of God is that He is eternal or that God has no beginning and He has no end! Now that is difficult for us to understand because everything has a beginning and everything has an end. How can this be? We may not be able to fully understand this with our finite minds but that is what the Scriptures teach and so we must believe it by faith.
 
In Psalm 90:2 we are told, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
 
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being eternal:
 
Genesis 21:33, Psalm 93:2, 102:12, Psalm 102:24-27, Isaiah 57:15, Revelation 22:13
 
IMMUTABILITY (GOD IS UNCHANGING)
 
Now this is important for us to understand, that God is immutable or He is unchanging! God’s character will always be the same. His nature will always be the same. His love will always be the same. His forgiveness will be forever. His salvation and promises are forever and-so-on. This is a good thing, that God is unchanging because if He did change, we would not know if we were saved or not. We would not know if He loved us or not. We would not be sure of anything. But God is unchanging and therefore we can rest on what He has said. It will stand the test of time, we can take that to the bank!
 
Our whole assurance in God is based in the fact that our heavenly Father is trustworthy. Thus, we can live life to the hilt because He can be trusted. May we as Christians never forget that!    
 
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being immutable:
 
Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 6:17-18, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17
 
MORAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
 
Now keep in mind that we cannot posses the Natural Attributes of God but we can possess His Moral Attributes. In fact, we are called to manifest these attributes in our lives. They are the fruit of the Spirit. It is the way we are to live out our Christian faith. As we understand who God the Father is, what is His nature, we will see what He desires of us.
 
JUSTICE
 
When we think of justice we think of someone who has been appointed by the people to represent them. In other words, the people are not formed for him, but he or his position for them. Thus, he has been entrusted to and will administer justice for the people based on a set of standards or laws. These standards, as we know, can change from time-to-time.
 
That idea of justice, when you apply it to God, is wrong. He is not formed for us to represent us, but we are formed by Him to represent Him! And God has not made standards for man, they are His standards and thus, since He is the creator of the heavens and earth, He has the right to put forth His justice. And if you think about it, righteousness is just an expression of God’s holiness. If He were not holy then He would be unjust.
 
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being righteous, just:
 
Genesis 18:25, Psalm 16:4-7, Isaiah 45:21, Zephaniah 3:5-7
 
LOVE
 
Love is another attribute of God; it is part of His nature. Some try to exclude the other attributes of God and just focus on His love, but you can’t do that. All His attributes flow from Him and one attribute does not supersede the other.
 
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God’s love:
 
Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16-17, Romans 5:8, I John 4:7-11
 
HOLINESS
 
A. W. Tozer gave us a good understanding of God’s holiness as he wrote, “Neither the writer nor the reader of these words is qualified to appreciate the holiness of God. Quite literally a new channel must be cut through the desert of our minds to allow the sweet waters of truth that will heal our great sickness to flow in. We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of. God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine.” (A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, pp. 103-104).
 
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being holy:
 
Exodus 3:5, Exodus 15:11, Isaiah 6:1-7, I Peter 1:13-16, I John 1:5
 
GRACE
 
Grace is another attribute of God and it means that we are getting what we don’t deserve. We don’t deserve eternal life with God. We don’t deserve any of the blessings of God, but God freely gives them to us and He gives them to us in Christ Jesus! Here are some Scriptures that show us the grace of God:
 
John 1:15-17, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 6:23, I Corinthians 15:10, II Corinthians 12:9, Genesis 6:8, Exodus 33:12-17, Galatians 2:21, Ephesians 2:8-9, Ephesians 4:29, II Peter 3:18
 
MERCY
 
Mercy is another attribute of God. When I think of this word, “mercy” I see it as meaning that we are NOT getting what we deserve. You see, in God’s economy, we deserve DEATH and because of God’s great mercy that He bestows upon us, we get life! Now here is the problem. If God just forgives our sins, then He is not a righteous God, He is not a good God, He is not a holy God.  
 
So how can God extend mercy to fallen man, not giving man what he deserves, DEATH or ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM GOD? The solution to that problem is that Jesus has paid in full the penalty for my sins, your sins and thus, He can extend His mercy to us through Christ! Here are some Scriptures that speak of God’s mercy:
 
Psalm 86:5, Psalm 51:1-2, Isaiah 55:7, Hebrews 2:17
 
FAITHFULNESS
 
Another moral attribute of God is that He is faithful. In other words, God is trustworthy. What He has said is true and He will see that it will come to pass. We can trust in Him. We can trust in what He has told us.God was not faithful, if He was not trustworthy or trustful, we would be in trouble. We would never know if or when we could trust Him. Imagine a relationship like that. Here are some Scriptures to show us the faithfulness of God:
 
Numbers 23:19, Psalm 119:89-90, Lamentations 3:22-24, I Corinthians 10:13,
 
II Thessalonians 3:3, Titus 1:2
 
GOODNESS
 
Still another attribute of God is His goodness. Now when we speak of goodness in relation to God we are saying that the goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, to be cordial, to be benevolent or compassionate towards man.
 
Here are some Scriptures that show us the goodness of God.
 
Psalm 23:6, Psalm 27:13, Psalm 31:19, Psalm 107:8-9, Psalm 107:31, Psalm 145:8-9, James 1:17
 
As you have seen these attributes of God the Father and seen all that He is; His character, His nature, what flows naturally from Him, I pray it has moved you to love Him even more. And in loving Him more, I also pray that it has moved you to learn even more about Him. The more you know Him the more you will love Him and the more you love Him the more you will want to know Him.
 This is a problem for many people and for most Jewish people. They do not believe that the Old Testament teaches on this idea of a Triune God. They believe that there is just one God and in reality so do we. The difference is that we believe in one true God who manifests Himself in three distinct persons. But again, like the State of Missouri, SHOW ME where in the Old Testament it speaks of this Triune God! That is exactly what I will do. But before I do, let me share with you some of the objections that some people have regarding this idea of the Triune God.
 
     First Milton Lindberg, a Jewish Believer in the Messiah has stated, and he is right, that unless we can find the plurality of God in the Hebrew Bible, we should not speak of worshiping the God of Abraham. This is what he wrote,
 
     “Although it may be granted that the Christian’s New Testament teaches that the term God may be applied to God the Father, to God the Son, and to God the Holy Spirit, the Christian should cease to claim that he worships the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses and the prophets, the God of the Torah [teachings or first five books of Moses], the Nevi’im [prophets], and the Kethuvim [writings], unless there is found in the Tanakh [Hebrew Bible], indisputable evidence that God exists in more than one personality.” - Milton B. Lindberg, In the Light of the Tenach: The Trinity, pp. 1-2
 
     As we will see, the Scriptures speak clearly of the Triune God, even in the Old Testament. This is not an idea that was developed by Christians from the pagans, this three-in-one God, but it is what God is telling us in His Word! Before we look at these verses showing the Holy Trinity, let me give you a few verses that speak of there only being one God and there are no other Gods. And keep in mind that is what we as Christians believe, one God manifested in three distinct persons. Here are those verses that speak of only one God:
 
     First of all, in Isaiah 44:8 we are told, “Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.” That does seem pretty clear; there is only one God, there are no others. Here are a few more verses that speak of there only being one God!
 
            Isaiah 45:5-6, Isaiah 45:22, Joel 2:27.
 
     It seems to be pretty straight forward. There is only one God. But what about the Shema or what I believe is the one big objection the Jews have regarding the Trinity, besides these previous verses we have read. This Shema is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which reads, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
 
     These verses are also known as the SHEMA, which means to “hear.” The Jews would say these verses, this prayer in the morning and in the evening. They would teach it to their children; it was an important part of their lives!
 
     Now in saying that, I want to show you something here that you may not expect. The Trinity is not a New Testament idea, but it is spoken of in the Old Testament, even in the book of Genesis. But here in Deuteronomy 6:4 listen once again to what we have read, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!"
 
     During worship at the temple the worshipers would cry out over and over again, "SHEMA YSRAEL YAHWEH ELOHIM ECHAD YAHWEH." Over and over they were affirming the oneness of God, which was the foundation of the Hebrew religion; they were of course monotheistic in their beliefs! And so are we as we will see. We do not worship three different God’s, but one God manifested in three distinct persons!
 
     Let’s look at what this text is saying. We start out with “LORD” and that is YAHWEH, the covenant name of God used by the Jews and when you see it in all capitals, that is what it is referring to. Then we go to the word “God” and that is the Hebrew word, ELOHIM. Now this is where it gets interesting to me. El is the singular form, Elo is speaking of two and Elohim is speaking of three or more. Now this is a problem, are we saying that there is more than one God, a polytheistic belief? Absolutely not and I will show you why.
 
     Next we are told that the LORD or YAHWEH is “one” or ECHAD. Once again this is confusing. First we say that there are three Gods, then here it is saying one God. What in the world is going on? This word “one” speaks of a compound unity, not a singular unity. Let me give you an example. When God created Adam and Eve He said, “And they shall become one [ached] flesh” (Genesis 2:24) or a compound unity.
 
     Now that may not sound too important, but it is. You see, if you were to speak of a singular unity, the Hebrew word would be YACHAD, but that is not what the Holy Spirit used here. If He did, we would have no basis for the Trinity. But when you have the plural form, Elohim paired with echad, then you are speaking of one God manifested in three distinct persons!
 
     In the very first verse of the Bible we see the Triune God or Trinity presented, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. ”In Genesis 1:1 the word God is “Elohim” in the Hebrew. Remember Elohim is a plural noun meaning three or more, but the verb “created” is singular in the Hebrew. This is grammatically incorrect, but it is God’s way of communicating to us His tri-unity (three in one). We do not worship three Gods. We are not polytheistic, but we worship one God who is manifested in three distinct persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are monotheistic and that is what Moses is teaching us.
 
     Let me share a few more verses here in Genesis to show you what I mean. In Genesis 1:26-27 we are told, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
 
     Listen to how The Amplified Bible puts these verses here in Genesis 1:26-27, it makes it very clear. “God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. [Ps 104:30; Heb 1:2; 11:3.] So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. [Col 3:9, 10; James 3:8, 9.].”
 
     Obviously The Amplified Bible expounds on this and makes it clearer or easier to understand. You see, that is the intent of these verses here in Genesis chapter 1, that the Triune God was working together in the creation of man.
 
     Let me share with you a few more Old Testament verses that speak of the Triune God, the Holy Trinity, spoken of in the Old Testament. Isaiah 40:13, Isaiah 44:6, Isaiah 48:16, Isaiah 61:1-2, Isaiah 63:7-10
 
 
NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING ON THE TRIUNE GOD
 
As you study the New Testament Scriptures there are many examples of the Trinity or our Triune God, one God manifested in three distinct persons. I realize it is a hard concept for us to understand as one writer wrote, “Explain the Trinity? We can’t even begin. We can only accept it - a mystery, disclosed in Scripture. It should be no surprise that the triune Being of God baffles our finite minds. We should be surprised, rather, if we knew the nature of our Creator. He would be a two-bit deity, not the fathomless Source of all reality.”
 
(Vernon Grounds inCommitment. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 4).
 
     That truly is a problem for us; that we cannot understand it with our finite minds. How can there be only one God and yet manifest Himself in three distinct persons at the same time? It is as Spurgeon said, “In attempting to define the Trinity or unveil the essence of Divinity, many men have lost themselves: here great ships have foundered. What have we to do in such a sea with our frail skiffs?” He also wrote, “I suppose, if any man looks long into the doctrine of the Trinity, he will be like one who gazeth upon the sun, and will be apt, first, to be dazzeled, and, then, to be blinded by the excessive light. If a man asketh that he may understand this great mystery, and refuseth to believe until he doth comprehend it, then he will be blinded, most assuredly.”
 
   Let me share with you some Scriptures that speak of the Trinity and you will see for yourself that there is one God who is manifested in three distinct persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!
 
Matthew 1:20-23 – God the Father sent forth His Son, the Incarnation – God with us!
 
Luke 1:35 – An angel of God the Father spoke, God will be born by the power of God the Holy Spirit!
 
Matthew 3:13-17 – Here we see God the Father speaking, God the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus, who as we have seen, is God. One God manifested in three distinct persons!
 
Galatians 4:4-7 – God the Father sent forth God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts!
 
John 1:1-2, 14 – The Eternal God, the Word, became flesh and dwelt among us. He was equal with God or face-to-face with God.
 
Matthew 28:19 – Jesus said that we are to baptize people “in the name of” and not “in the names of. ”It is singular and not plural as you would think it should be. Jesus is showing us the unity of the Trinity, of the Triune God and thus, it is “in the name of” and not “in the names of.” One name and yet three distinct persons!
 
II Corinthians 13:14 - “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” Notice once again Paul is speaking of the Triune God, the Holy Trinity here in this benediction!
 
I Peter 1:2 Peter - In this verse we see Peter showing us how the Holy Trinity, the Triune God is involved in our salvation once again.
 
     Listen to what New Testament and evangelical scholar, Murray Harris had to say regarding Paul’s letters and how they show two of the three persons of the Godhead. He wrote,
 
     “At the beginning of each of Paul’s letters is a salutation that ends with a standardized formula: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”
 
(1 Corinthians 1:3 and elsewhere). The apostle is not saying that there are two distinct sources of grace and peace, one divine and one human; significantly the preposition from (in Greek) is not repeated before “the Lord Jesus Christ.” Rather, Father and Son jointly form a single source of divine grace and peace. Of no mere human being could it be said that, together with God, he was a font of spiritual blessing. Only if Paul had regarded Jesus as fully divine could he have spoken this way.”
 
- Murray J. Harris, Three Crucial Questions About Jesus, p. 77
 
     I think you have seen, as you look at both the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Scriptures, that there is a Trinity, a Triune God. If you deny this, you then are worshiping a different God, not the God of the Bible. Please remember that. Let the Scriptures speak for themselves. Let me leave you with this, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”
 
II Corinthians 13:14.
 
     When we speak of the Triune God or the Holy Trinity many have a difficult time with this because from Genesis through the book of Revelation you will never find these words being used in the Bible. Therefore the question for many is why do we believe it? Is it even true? Folks, just because those words are not used in the Scriptures does not mean that the concept is untrue or it is not real.
 
     Keep in mind that this is not some abstract, take it or leave it idea, but it is what God has said. It is what God has shown us in His Word; one God manifested in three distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
 
     First of all let’s look at a definition of this word Trinity, which comes from the Latin word TRINITAS, and means “threeness.” The definition of this word, “Trinity” from the American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster back in 1828 is, “In theology, the union of three persons in one Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
 
Webster then quotes Locke who says, “In my whole essay, there is not anything like an objection against the Trinity.”
 
     Another definition of the Trinity is from Warfield, who wrote, “There is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence [life].” In other words, what we see is that they are one and yet three distinct persons. They are all God, they are all equal, they are all eternal and to negate that or try to discredit that you have to negate or discredit the Word of God! Therefore, look at what the Scriptures are teaching us.
 Jesus Christ is Almighty God, the Second person of the Holy Trinity. Many see Jesus as a great prophet, a great teacher, a good man, but not Almighty God. If you feel that way, if you deny the deity of Jesus Christ, that He is God, you are still dead in your trespasses and sins. You are not saved. I realize that is a harsh statement, but if it is true, and it is, then why would you want to believe a lie and be eternally separated from God? Let me show you how even Jesus said that if you deny that He is God you will die in your sins.          
 
     In John 8:24 Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
 
     Now please understand that the word “He” is in italics and thus, it was not in the original writing. This verse is better translated, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” In other words, Jesus is saying that He is the great I AM of Exodus chapter 3, the EGO EIMI, the voice from the burning bush, Almighty God.
 
     Now you don’t have to believe what I have to say, but let me share with you what the Scriptures have to say regarding the deity of Jesus Christ!
 
1. DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST- HIS ATTRIBUTES
 
     ETERNAL – Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2, John 1:1-3
 
     OMNIPOTENCE – ALL POWERFUL
 
            JESUS HAS POWER OVER DEATH – Luke 7:11-16, 8:49-56, John 11:36-44
 
            JESUS HAS POWER OVER NATURE – Matthew 8:23-27
 
            JESUS HAS POWER OVER DISEASE – Luke 4:38-40, Matthew 9:1-8
 
            JESUS HAS POWER TO FORGIVE SINS – Mark 2:3-12
 
            JESUS HAS POWER OVER DEMONS – Luke 4:31-37
 
            JESUS HAS THE POWER TO CREATE – Colossians 1:15-17, Matthew 14:13-21
 
 
     OMNISCIENCE – ALL KNOWING
 
            JESUS KNOWS ALL THINGS – John 16:30, John 21:17
 
            JESUS KNOWS THE HISTORY OF INDIVIDUALS – John 16:19, 1:43-51
 
            JESUS KNOWS OUR SECRET HOUGHTS – Luke 5:22-23, John 2:23-25
 
 
     OMNIPRESENCE – PRESENT EVERYWHERE
 
            HE IS PRESENT WHEREVER HIS DISCIPLES GATHER – Matthew 18:20
 
            HE IS PRESENT WHEREVER HIS DISCIPLES GO – Matthew 28:18-20
 
 
     IMMUTABILITY – UNCHANGING
 
            JESUS IS UNCHANGING – Hebrews 13:8, Hebrews 1:10-12
 
     When you look at the attributes of Jesus you can clearly see that they are the same attributes spoken of God the Father and thus, Jesus must be God and He is! Now, in the Incarnation, when God became flesh and dwelt among us, He was still fully God and now He was also fully man. Let me show you the humanity of Jesus.
 
 
2. HUMANITY OF JESUS CHRIST
 
            HE WAS BORN OF A WOMAN – Galatians 4:4, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:30-38
 
HE WAS SUBJECT TO THE LAWS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT – Luke 2:40, Luke 2:52
 
            HE POSSESSED THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF HUMAN NATURE HE POSSESSED A BODY – I John 1:1, Matthew 26:12, John 2:18-22, Luke 24:36-40
 
            HE POSSESSED A SOUL – Matthew 26:38, John 12:27, Acts 2:25-33
 
            HE POSSESSED A SPIRIT – Mark 2:8, Mark 8:12, John 13:21
 
 
            HE WAS SUBJECT TO HUMAN PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS
 
            HE BECAME WEARY – John 4:6
 
            HE SLEPT – Matthew 8:24-25
 
            HE HUNGRED – Matthew 4:2     
 
            HE SUFFERED PHYSICAL AGONY – Luke 22:44
 
            HE EXPERIENCED INTENSE SORROW AND DISTRESS – John 11:35, Isaiah 53:3, Luke 13:34-35
 
            HE DIED – Matthew 27:50 Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30-37, I Corinthians 15:3
 
 
 
JESUS WAS SUBJECT TO TEMPTATION – I Peter 1:18-19, Matthew 4:1-11, Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15
 
     I realize it is hard to understand how Jesus can be fully God and fully man in the Incarnation, but that is exactly what the Scriptures teach us. This story is told of Daniel Webster when he was in the prime of his manhood. He was dining with a company of literary men in Boston. During the dinner the conversation turned upon the subject of Christianity. Mr. Webster frankly stated his belief in the divinity of Christ and his dependence upon the atonement of the Saviour.
 
     One said to him, “Mr. Webster, can you comprehend how Christ could be both God and man?” Mr. Webster promptly replied, “No sir, I cannot comprehend it. If I could comprehend him, he would be no greater than myself. I feel that I need a super-human Saviour.”
 
                                                 - Christian Witness
 
 
EXTRA BIBLICAL ACCOUNTS OF JESUS
 
     Many people complain that there are no extra Biblical statements about Jesus, but that is not true. First of all, if you want eyewitness accounts you have to go to the Bible because we have eyewitness accounts of the existence of Jesus. But if you want historical evidence outside the Bible, you go to historians and people that were antagonistic towards Christianity, because they have nothing to gain by speaking of Jesus, only stating that facts that He did exist!
 
     Yes, there are not volumes written of Jesus outside the Scriptures, but understand that He was nobody important who came from a hick town. In the Roman world He was not worth writing about, but we have some writings regarding Jesus outside of the Scriptures. Many negate what these historians have written because they want to deny that Jesus existed. Let me just give you a couple to show you that there was extra Biblical accounts of Jesus!
 
     Josephus ben Mattathias was also known as Flavius Josephus. Flavius was his Roman name and Josephus his Jewish name. This man was a Pharisee and a priest living in Jerusalem. He was born in 37 A. D. and died sometime after 100 A. D. He saw first hand all the events leading up to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. In fact, he was a general of the Jewish rebel forces in Galilee fighting against Rome.
 
     Then Josephus was captured by the Romans at the fall of the city of Jotapata and ended up being friends with the Roman General, Vespasian. Then, in Rome of 94 A. D., Josephus published his study of the Jewish people and called it Antiquities of the Jews. In this book is a passage that has caused great debate and concern whether or not it is accurate.
 
     Please understand, the only reason it is being questioned is because it mentions Jesus as an orthodox Jew. That is not a good reason! Listen carefully to what he wrote, “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.”
 
     Here is another writing of Josephus that show us that Jesus did exist, that He walked this earth. Again, in his book Antiquities of the Jews Josephus speaks of the death of James, the half-brother of Jesus. He wrote, “As therefore Ananus (the High Priest) as of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus (the Roman Procurator) was now dead, and Albinus (the new Procurator) was still on the road; so he assembles a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.”
 
     Let me share one more with you, and there are others, but this is from a North African Christian teacher named Julius Africanus. He wrote this in 215 A. D. What Julius did was record the writing of a pagan historian by the name of Thallus.
 
     Thallus lived in 52 A. D., only some 20 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and thus, an eyewitness to these events. What Thallus wrote about was the darkness that covered the land. This is what Julius wrote, “Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun – unreasonably, as it seems to me (unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was at the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died.)”
 
     So there are extra Biblical accounts of Jesus and His life!
 
 
THE DEITY OF JESUS
 
     JESUS CLAIMED TO BE GOD
 
            Luke 4:16-21 – Ministry in Nazareth
 
            Matthew 22:41-46 – Son of David
 
            John 10:22-33 – I and My Father are One
 
            John 5:16-23 – Claiming to be equal with God
 
            John 8:51-59 – I AM statement
 
            John 1:1-4, 14 – Jesus is the Eternal God
 
            John 17:1-5 – Jesus received the glory of God
 
            John 1:18 – Only Jesus has seen the Father
 
   
  THE SEVEN “I AM” STATEMENTS MADE BY JESUS
 
               John 6:35 - I AM the Bread of Life
 
               John 8:12, 9:5 – I AM the Light of the world
 
               John 10:7-10 – I AM the Door
 
               John 10:11 – I AM the Good Shepherd
 
               John 11:25 – I AM the Resurrection and the Life
 
               John 14:6 – I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life
 
               John 15:5 – I AM the Vine
 
   
  WHAT OTHERS SAID OF JESUS
 
            Matthew 16:15-17 – You are the Christ
 
            II Peter 1:1 – God and Savior Jesus Christ
 
            John 20:24-29 – My Lord and my God
 
            Titus 2:13 - Great God and Savior Jesus Christ
 
            Colossians 1:15-17 – Image of the invisible God
 
            Colossians 2:9 – In Christ the fullness of the Godhead
 
            Hebrews 1:3 – express image of His Person
 
            I John 5:20 – True God
 
            Isaiah 9:6 – Mighty God
 
            Romans 9:5 – Eternally blessed God
 
            Mark 14:61-64 – Son of the Blessed
 
            John 18:4-6 – I AM
 
            Mark 1:23-24 – Demon “Holy One of God”
 
            Matthew 1:20-23 – Angel “God with us”
 
            Daniel 7:13-14 – Son of Man
 
            Hebrews 1:8-9 – God the Father calls Jesus God
 
     I think you can clearly see from the Scriptures that Jesus is Almighty God, the second person of the Holy Trinity! And let me give you this to think about. As you study what is out there, you will find that there is overwhelming evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, both in secular and Biblical history. But, perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus did exist is the fact that literally thousands of Christians in the first century A. D., including the twelve apostles, were willing to give their lives as martyrs for Jesus Christ. People will die for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be a lie. As Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24. May you believe that Jesus is Almighty God, the Savior of the world!
When it comes to the Holy Spirit , who He is and what His function is in this world, there is much confusion today. Yet, when you look at the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is mentioned some 90 times with at least 18 different titles that are assigned to Him. In the New Testament we see that He is mentioned more than 260 times with 39 different names and titles that are assigned to Him. In fact, out of the 27 New Testament books, only the books of II John and III John do not mention the Holy Spirit. Is this an important subject? You bet it is. God took the time to mention the Holy Spirit in 25 of the 27 New Testament books! God does not want us to be confused about the Holy Spirit!
 
     Where does this confusion come from? Some of it comes from the fact that the Old Testament Hebrew word for “spirit” is “RAUCH” and it means “breath.” Then, as we get to the New Testament the Greek word for “spirit” is “PNEUMA” and it also speaks of “wind” or “air.” Now if that is all we were told of the Holy Spirit, if that is all the information we had, we too may come to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is some kind of “power” or “force” and not a person at all. But, as we will see, the Scriptures speak much more in regards to the Holy Spirit and they will clearly show us who He is. He is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.
 
     Another reason so many are confused today is because of what has been said in the past regarding the Holy Spirit. One of the early church scholars, Arius, who lived around 280 - 336 A. D., taught that only the Father was the true God. He said that
 
Jesus was a created being and that the Holy Spirit was an essence. This doctrine is known as the Arian heresy. Many still hold it as being true, and you can clearly see that many of the cults have picked up on this idea.  
 
     In fact, the Nicaean Counsel stripped Arius from his position and branded his teachings as heresy! And yet, many still believe this idea but clearly the Scriptures don’t support this theory and that is why we call it a heresy!
 
     Also, the Jehovah Witnesses teach, “The Bible use of ‘Holy Spirit’ indicates that it is a controlled force that Jehovah God uses to accomplish a variety of His purposes. To a certain extent, it can be likened to electricity, a force that can be adapted to perform a great variety of operations.” Again, they are agreeing with what Arius taught and he was wrong and so are the Jehovah Witnesses!
 
     So let’s look at what the Scriptures teach us of this third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
 
THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
 
PERSONAL PRONOUNS USED OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
 
            John 16:13 – He, His
 
            John 15:26 – He
 
            John 14:26 – He
 
            John 14:16-17 – He, Him
 
            John 16:7-14 – He, Him
 
 
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS TREATED AS A PERSON
 
             Ephesians 4:30 – He can be Grieved
 
             Acts 5:3 – He can be lied to
 
             Matthew 12:31, Mark 3:29 – He can be blasphemed
 
             Hebrews 10:29 – He can be insulted
 
             1 Thessalonians 5:19 – He can be quenched Acts 7:51 – He can be resisted         
 
             Isaiah 63:10 – We can rebel against Him                                                        
 
 
THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A PERSON
 
               I Corinthians 2:10-11 – The Holy Spirit has intelligence
 
               I Corinthians 12:11, Acts 16:6-7 – The Holy Spirit has a will
 
               Romans 15:30, Ephesians 4:30, Isaiah 63:10 – The Holy Spirit has emotion
 
              John 15:26, 16:13-14 – The Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus and exalts the Father and the Son over Himself
 
              John 14:16-17 – The Holy Spirit helps us
 
 
PERSONAL ACTS THAT HAVE BEEN ATTRIBUTED TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
 
            Acts 13:2 – The Holy Spirit speaks
 
            Genesis 6:3 – The Holy Spirit strives with man
 
            Acts 16:6-7 – The Holy Spirit guides
 
            John 14:26, Nehemiah 9:20 –The Holy Spirit teaches us
 
            Romans 8:26 – The Holy Spirit intercedes for us
 
            Romans 15:19 – The Holy Spirit works miracles
 
            II Corinthians 13:14 – The Holy Spirit Communes with us
 
        As you can clearly see, these attributes can be spoken of in regards to a person and not some impersonal force. To try and say that the church has come up with this doctrine, that the Holy Spirit is a Person, and to call it a false doctrine or say that we have twisted the Scriptures to fit our bias, is a smoke screen to hide the truth. The Scriptures clearly teach that the Holy Spirit is a person, is alive, the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Holy Trinity and not some impersonal force like the wind or electricity!
 
     R. A. Torrey wrote this regarding the Person of the Holy Spirit,
 
     It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of experience that we know the Holy Spirit as a person. Thousands and tens of thousands of men and women can testify to the blessing that has come into their own lives as they have come to know the Holy Spirit, not merely as a gracious influence (emanating, it is true, from God), but as a real person, just as real as Jesus Christ Himself, an ever-present, loving friend and mighty helper, who is not only always by their side but dwells in their heart every day and every hour, and who is ready to undertake for them in every emergency of life. Thousands of ministers, Christian workers, and Christians in the humblest spheres of life have spoken to me or written to me of the complete transformation of their Christian experience that came to them when they grasped the thought - not merely in a theological, but in an experiential way - that the Holy Spirit was a person and consequently came to know Him.
 
   - R. A. Torrey, The Person And Work Of The Holy Spirit, pp. 10-11
 
               
THE DEITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
 
THE GODLY ATTRIBUTES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
 
            Hebrews 9:14 - Eternal
 
            I Corinthians 2:10-14, John 14:26, John
 
            16:13- Omniscient – All Knowing
 
            Psalm 139:7-10 - Omnipresent – Present Everywhere
 
            Luke 1:35 - Omnipotent – All Powerful
 
THE GODLY WORKS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
 
Genesis 1:1-3, Genesis 1:26, Psalm 104:30, Job 33:4 - The Holy Spirit was actively involved in creation
 
I Corinthians 12:4-6 - The Holy Spirit is    working with God the Father and God the son in the activities of the Church John 6:63, II Corinthians 3:5-6,
 
Romans 8:10-11 - The Holy Spirit gives us new Life
 
II Peter 1:19-21 - The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures
 
Isaiah 48:16, Isaiah 6:8-10 and Acts 28:25-27, Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Hebrews 10:15-17, Psalm 95:6-11 and Hebrews 3:7-11, Acts 5:3-4, II Corinthians 3:17-18 - The Scriptures speak of the Holy Spirit being God
 
     I think you can clearly see that we don’t have to twist or distort the Scriptures to make them fit our own theology, but just let the Scriptures speak for themselves. We have seen that the Holy Spirit manifests attributes that only God can have; eternal existence, He is omniscient, He is omnipresent, He is omnipotent. We have seen that the Holy Spirit was actively involved in creation, the workings or the ministries of the Church; He gives us new life and has inspired the Scriptures. And we have seen that the Scriptures themselves call the Holy Spirit God!
 
     Do not remove the Holy Spirit from His position with God the Father and God the Son as part of the Tri-unity of God. All three are one God and yet they exist as three distinct persons and function in perfect harmony. As Deuteronomy 6:4 says in the Hebrew tongue, “Shema Ysrael Yahweh Elohim achad Yahweh” or “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”    
 
     In regards to the Deity of the Holy Spirit, this is what R. A. Torrey wrote,
 
     To sum it all up by ascribing to the Holy Spirit all the distinctively divine attributes and several distinctly divine works, by referring statements which in the Old Testament clearly name Jehovah, the Lord, or God as their subject to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, by coupling the name of the Holy Spirit with that of God in a way in which it would be impossible to couple that of any finite being with that of Deity, by plainly calling the Holy Spirit God - in all these unmistakable ways. God in His own Word distinctly proclaims that the Holy Spirit is a divine person.
 
- R. A. Torrey, The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 30
 
     Make no mistake about it, the Holy Spirit is not only a person, but He is Almighty God, the third Person of the Holy Trinity! As we recognize that fact, as we understand that He is Almighty God, we will treat Him with the honor that He deserves and not like some kind of force or puppet whose strings we pull or whose power we can call down for our own gain. The Holy Spirit is God! May we not forget that!
 
3. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE WORLD
 
            John 16:8-9 - The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin
 
            John 16:8, 10 - The Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness
 
            John 16:8, 11 - The Holy Spirit reproves the world of judgment
 
     Remember, the work of the Holy Spirit in this unbelieving world is to convict the world of sin so that those who do not believe in Jesus would believe! We have seen in this unbelieving world that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness as they see the standard that God has set, which is Jesus, or perfection, and realize that they cannot attain that on their own or by their own efforts. But they can receive the gift that is in Christ! Lastly, in this unbelieving world, the Holy Spirit reproves the world of judgment because Satan has been judged at the cross and his power over our lives has been removed!
 
     This is the work of the Holy Spirit in an unbelieving world as the Holy Spirit comes alongside unbelievers to draw them to Christ!
 
 
4. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE LIFE OF A BELIEVER
 
John 16:7 - The Holy Spirit is our helper
 
I Corinthians 2:10-14, John 14:26, I John 2:27,
 
I John 5:6 - The Holy Spirit is our teacher
 
John 16:13, II Peter 1:2-4, Acts 16:6-10 - The Holy Spirit will guide us
 
Ezekiel 36:27, Hebrews 12:1-4, Philippians 1:6,
 
Galatians 5:16-18, Ephesians 3:14-21,
 
Ephesians 4:17-24, II Corinthians 3:18,
 
I John 3:1-3 - The Holy Spirit will conform us into the image of Christ
 
Galatians 5:16-26, John 13:34-35, John 15:4-5,John 15:8, I Corinthians 13:4-8a - The Holy Spirit will produce fruit in our lives
 
     As we submit to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, He will be our helper in doing what is right, and keep us away from that which is wrong. The Holy Spirit will be our teacher revealing the truths of God from the Word of God. He will bring to remembrance those things we need to know in a given situation. The Holy Spirit will guide us down the right path as we gain spiritual discernment that is according to the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will conform us to the image of Christ as we submit to Him.
 
     It is out of this relationship that the fruit of the Spirit naturally grows in our lives! That is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer as the Holy Spirit comes inside of us!
 
     I pray that as you search the Scriptures you will believe what the Scriptures are saying regarding the Holy Spirit. Listen to what God is saying and not man! Bring everything into the light of God’s Word and you will not be hurt or mislead by that. I think we have clearly seen that the Holy Spirit is a person, the third Person of the Holy Trinity – GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT!
In the Gospel of John and in the book of Acts we are told of the three-fold work of the Holy Spirit in the world today. So let’s begin in John’s Gospel where we are going to see two of these aspects in which the Holy Spirit is working; what He is doing.
 
     We are told in John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
 
 
1. THE HOLY SPIRIT “WITH” US
 
     Jesus used two different Greek prepositions which designate the different relationships of the Holy Spirit towards us. The first one is PARA and this is the Greek word which speaks of the Holy Spirit dwelling “with” us. The Holy Spirit is in this world drawing out a bride for Christ, the Church, you and me. He comes alongside pointing us to Jesus.
 
     In John 16:8-11 we see the work of the Holy Spirit in this world. In these verses we see three things the Holy Spirit is doing in the life of the unbeliever, what the Holy Spirit is doing in this world today as He comes alongside to draw us to Christ. He will convict the world of SIN, of RIGHTEOUSNESS, and JUDGMENT.
 
The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin – John 16:8-9
 
The first thing that the Holy Spirit is doing in this world is convicting this world of sin. They do not believe in Jesus, the One who can forgive them of their sin!
 
The Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness – John 16:8, 10
 
Here we see that the Holy Spirit reproves the world of righteousness by pointing us to Jesus, who was accepted by God and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
 
Unless you obtain that kind of righteousness, you will never get to heaven and you will never attain that kind of righteousness apart from Christ!
 
The Holy Spirit reproves the world of judgment – John 16:8, 11
 
When Jesus died on the Cross, the ruler of this world was judged and his power permanently broken. But, if you refuse Jesus you will be judged. This judgment is the inevitable combination of these two truths - convicting the world of sin and righteousness.
 
The sin is man’s part. The righteousness is God’s part. The only way to reconcile that issue of sin is to have the righteousness of Christ applied to our lives by faith, as Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5:21.
 
     The world is still under the power of Satan, but the Holy Spirit desires to release them from those chains that are binding them, those sins that are keeping them in bondage. But He won’t force you. If you continue to reject the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, He will reprove you or accuse you of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment!
 
2. THE HOLY SPIRIT “IN” US
 
     Now, when a person comes to Christ, asks Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, then we see this second Greek preposition regarding the work of the Holy Spirit come into play. This second Greek word is EN. This word speaks of the Holy Spirit dwelling “in” us. This happens the moment we get saved because apart from the Holy Spirit indwelling us, we are not saved!
 
     Remember what Paul said in Romans 8:5-11, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
 
   Paul is telling us that the identifying mark of a believer is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit or that the Holy Spirit has come into our lives! When the Holy Spirit indwells us, the characteristics of Jesus will flow through us; like love, compassion, joy, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and-so-on. What is controlling your life?
 
     Let me share with you some of the things that the Holy Spirit is doing in the life of a believer.
 
A. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS OUR HELPER – JOHN 16:7
 
As we come to Christ one of the things that the Holy Spirit does in our lives to comfort us. The word, “Helper” in John 16:7 is the Greek word, PARAKLEETOS and it can also mean comforter.
 
Thus, as the Holy Spirit indwells believers, He guides us in the things we should and shouldn’t do. He helps us. If God has placed it upon your heart not to do something, then don’t do it. Don’t resist the work that the Holy Spirit is doing in your life. You see, the Holy Spirit is our helper and as He helps us in our daily lives, it brings comfort to all of us. He is our PARAKLEETOS our helper, our comforter!
 
B. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS OUR TEACHER – I CORINTHIANS 2:10-14
 
When you are talking about Scriptural things, when you are talking about spiritual matters, you have to understand that these things are not within our reach by human intelligence or human experience. We can’t know them on our own. Then how can we know them? The Holy Spirit will teach us and bring to remembrance those things that we need to know, for He is our teacher! It is the Word of God opened up to us by the Spirit of God!
 
C. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL GUIDE US – JOHN 16:13
 
Another way that the Holy Spirit works in the life of a believer is that the Holy Spirit will guide us. So often in life we come to a place in the road and don’t know which way to turn. And it can be frustrating not to know what to do because the obvious way is not always the right way. As Christians, we don’t need to worry, or wonder. At least we shouldn’t. May we be open to where the Holy Spirit is guiding us, not only where to go but also what to do, because He knows what is best for our lives. It may not be the easiest way to go, but it is the best way to go. The Holy Spirit will guide us. May we obey!
 
D. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL CONFORM US INTO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST – EZEKIEL 36:27
 
Another work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, which we tend to want very much, but we don’t enjoy too much, is the Holy Spirit conforming us into the image of Christ. As the Holy Spirit molds and shapes our lives there are times that there is some chipping away in our lives, and as that is going on, it may hurt! There may be times when some imperfection is removed and that too hurts! But this is all done to make us more like Christ, to conform us into His image. This is done as we surrender our lives to the Holy Spirit and follow the Word of God!
 
     E. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL PRODUCE FRUIT IN OUR LIVES – GALATIANS 5:16-26
 
God wants to produce fruit in our lives, abundant fruit. We see this fruit in Galatians 5:22-23. As you read these verses understand that the fruit of the Spirit is love. It is singular, not plural. Thus, the eight things that follow love in Galatians 5:22-23, are eight characteristics or manifestations of love that are seen in the life of a believer. I like the way that D. L. Moody put it. He said: “Joy is love exalting. Peace is love Reposing. Longsuffering is love untiring. Gentleness is love enduring. Goodness is love in action. Faith is love on the Battlefield. Meekness is love under Discipline. Self-control is love in training.” God wants to produce fruit in our lives; good fruit. May we surrender our lives to Him and let Him not only flow in us but through us!
 
     Remember, the work of the Holy Spirit in this unbelieving world is to convict the world of sin. This sin is that of unbelief in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is opening their eyes so that they would believe! We have seen that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness as they see the standard that God has set, which is Jesus or perfection, and realize that they cannot attain that on their own, by their own efforts. But they can receive the gift that is in Christ! Lastly, the Holy Spirit reproves the world of judgment because Satan has been judged at the cross and his power over our lives has been removed! This is the work of the Holy Spirit in an unbelieving world!
 
     We have also seen that the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, has been sent to us to not only draw us to Christ, but once we come to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes inside us. We, in a sense, are a temple of God. God’s desire is to make us like Himself by transforming us by His Spirit, so that we might bear much fruit.
 
     As we submit to the Holy Spirit’s guiding, He will be our helper in doing what is right, and in keeping us away from that which is wrong. The Holy Spirit will be our teacher revealing the truths of God from the Word of God. He will bring to remembrance those things we need to know in a given situation. The Holy Spirit will guide us down the right path as we gain spiritual discernment that is according to the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is conforming us into the image of Christ as we submit to Him. It is out of this relationship that the fruit of the Spirit is naturally produced in our lives!
 
     So God is working, drawing people to Christ and then sanctifying them, making them more like Jesus. It is easy to become discouraged as we see our failures, but understand that God is working. We are a work in progress and so, may we learn to surrender to Him. We need to be open to what the Holy Spirit is teaching us and then walk accordingly. We should not walk contrary to what God has told us. In fact, God’s Spirit does not tell you to do things that are contrary to the Word of God. R. A. Torrey wrote,
 
     “Being led by the Spirit of God does not mean for a moment that we will do things that the written Word of God tells us not to do. The Holy Spirit never leads men contrary to the book of which He Himself is the author. And if there is some spirit which is leading us to do something that is contrary to the explicit teachings of Jesus or the apostles, we may be perfectly sure that this spirit who is leading us is not the Holy Spirit. This point needs to be emphasized in our day, for there are not a few who give themselves over to the leading of some spirit, whom they say is the Holy Spirit, but who is leading them to do things explicitly forbidden in the Word.
 
     We must always remember that many false spirits and false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). There are many who are so anxious to be led by some unseen power that they are ready to surrender the conduct of their lives to any spiritual influence or unseen person. In this way, they open their lives to the conduct and malevolent influence of evil spirits to the utter wreck and ruin of their lives.”
 
R. A. Torrey, The Person & Work Of The Holy Spirit, pp. 113-114.
We have looked at two of the three Greek prepositions that are used in the New Testament regarding the Holy Spirit. First of all the Holy Spirit is “with” us, PARA in the Greek, drawing us to Christ. Once we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes “in” us, EN in the Greek. He indwells us! Both of these prepositions are found in John 14:16-17.
 
     The third Greek preposition regarding the Holy Spirit is found in Acts 1:8 where we are told, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
 
     This third Greek preposition that is used of the Holy Spirit is EPI. This word speaks of the Holy Spirit coming “upon” us or “over” us, empowering us for service. Now there are many in the church today who like to discredit this and say that there is no such thing as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. They will tell you that this phrase, “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is not found in the Bible. That is true. But just because a phrase is not spoken of in the Scriptures, does that mean the Bible is silent on this subject? Absolutely not!
 
     Keep in mind that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, in John 20:22, Jesus breathed on His men and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. At that point they were New Testament saints. The Holy Spirit had come in them. They had all the information at this point, but they lacked the dynamic power to take that information to a world lost and dying in their sins. They are saved at this point but not empowered. Therefore, Jesus tells them in Luke 24:49 what they needed to do. He said to them, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” The disciples were told to wait until they were empowered by the Holy Spirit and the reason is simple. If they did not wait, they would be working in the power of their flesh instead of by the Spirit of God, and they will only become frustrated and unfruitful in the endeavor. They needed to wait until they were empowered for service.
 
     In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells us that this power in your life will be used in such a way so that you will “be witnesses” of Christ! There is a point that needs to be made here.
 
Notice that it doesn’t say that we are to go out and witness. Witnessing is not wrong, but that is not what Jesus is saying here. He is saying that the Holy Spirit will empower us to be witnesses of Christ. That burning love we have for Christ in our hearts is manifested in our actions and as people look at us, they see something vastly different. They see God working in us. They see Christ in us! We are to be witnesses of Christ!
 
     Think of this power that Jesus is giving us, this empowering with the Holy Spirit in our lives to be witnesses of Christ, like steam in a locomotive. The steam in a locomotive is not there to toot the whistle, even though that may be fun and it may sound cool. But the steam in a locomotive is there to move the train forward, so it can arrive at its destination.
 
     The same is true with the power of God’s Spirit in our lives. This empowering is not there for us to toot our whistle or draw attention to ourselves, but to move the Gospel message forward!
 
     I want to share with you about two different baptisms that the Bible speaks of. First of all there is the baptism unto life. In this baptism it is the Holy Spirit that is the baptizer. In I Corinthians 12:13 we are told, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” Who is doing the baptizing here? It is the Holy Spirit! In this baptism we are being baptized into the body of Christ. The purpose is the new life we have in Christ, that eternal life. The evidence for this is the Fruit of the Spirit!
 
     I don’t think many people have a problem with that. But there is a subsequent baptism. This is a baptism unto power and this time the baptizer is Jesus. In Luke 3:16 we are told, “John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’”
 
     And in John 1:32-34 we are told, “And John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.’”
 
     Again, who is the baptizer here? It is not the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist tells us that it is Jesus who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit! This is not speaking of being baptized into the body of Christ, but with the Holy Spirit. The purpose for this baptism is for power, the power to be a witness for Jesus.
 
A LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE IN THE EARLY CHURCH OF THIS BAPTISM UNTO POWER
 
1. THE DAY OF PENTECOST – ACTS 2
 
     In Acts 2:1-6 we see what took place on the Day of Pentecost. Remember what Peter was like before this event. He was afraid to even mention that he was a disciple of Jesus or that he even knew Jesus. But now, after this baptism unto power, we see that this frail, weak Peter, who was afraid to say he was a disciple of Jesus at one time, now speaks with boldness the message of Christ. He doesn’t pull any punches but lays it all out and the people listen and they are cut to the heart. They are convicted.
 
     In Acts 2:16-18 we see Peter point to the prophet Joel showing that what has taken place is of God. Out of this witness, out of Peter pointing them to Jesus, 3,000 people got saved as the Holy Spirit worked on the hearts of the people through the preaching of the Word of God. The church got started with a bang. We see here the boldness of Peter to speak the Word of God as he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is the baptism unto power that Jesus has given to Peter and to us! So we see it in the early church, at least on the Day of Pentecost.
 
2. A REFILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – ACTS 4
 
     In Acts 4:23-33, Peter and John are released from prison having being arrested for healing a lame man. The people that were gathered together here in Acts chapter 4, were basically the same people that had gathered together on the Day of Pentecost. And yet, here we see them filled once again with the Holy Spirit. The result of that refilling is that they spoke the Word of God with boldness and they gave witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! They prayed for that powerful boldness and God gave it to them as they asked. In fact, the word “boldness” is PARRESIA in the Greek and it speaks of “telling it all.” In other words, they didn’t hold back. They laid it all out and they were not fearful of what people might do or say to them!
 
3. BAPTISM INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST AND THEN THE BAPTISM WITH THE SPIRIT AT A LATTER TIME – ACTS 8
 
     The baptism with the Holy Spirit is often a separate and subsequent work apart from salvation, but it can take place at the time of salvation. In Acts chapter 8 Philip begin to do a work in Samaria. In Acts 8:5-8, 12, 14-17 we see them saved, but the Holy Spirit had not fallen upon them yet. As Peter and John come, they lay hands on them and they are now empowered for service. They are baptized with the Holy Spirit! As you can see in this Instance, it occurred at a different time than their salvation.
 
4. BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AT THE SAME TIMES AS THEIR CONVERSION – ACTS 10
 
     In Acts chapter 10 we read of a man named Cornelius who was in Caesarea. He was an Italian Centurion, and was in charge of 100 soldiers. This man feared God. He was a good man. He even prayed to God, and yet he was not saved. He recognized, along with his family, the emptiness of the Roman gods and wanted to know the true and living God. God was not only working in the heart of Cornelius at this time, but also in Peter who would bring the Gospel to Cornelius and his family!
 
     Through a series of events, God had Peter go to the house of Cornelius and as he spoke forth the Word of God, the Holy Spirit moved upon their hearts. The Spirit moves through the teaching of the Word of God. That is the Biblical pattern! They didn’t have to learn how to speak in tongues. They didn’t have to practice it. The Holy Spirit came upon them as they gave their lives to Christ and they spoke in tongues and magnified God. Here we see their salvation and the baptism with the Holy Spirit occurring at the same time. After all of this, they were then baptized in water!
 
5. SAUL’S CONVERSION AND EMPOWERMENT – ACTS 9
 
     In Acts chapter 9 Saul is on his way to Damascus to bring those who were of the Way, Christians, back to Jerusalem with him, bound with chains. But on the way there, Saul encounters the Lord. Keep in mind that Damascus was 130 miles northeast of Jerusalem, so this was at least a six-day journey. That tells me that Saul was very committed to his cause, to stamp out the Way or Christianity. You can read of what took place in Acts 9:1-9.
 
     Somewhere between the verses of this experience, I believe we see Paul get saved. This “requested one” Saul became the “little” one or Paul, as he saw himself in Christ. What is the evidence that Saul got saved here? I think there are two reasons for us to believe this.
 
     First, Saul asked Jesus, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” The voice replies that He is Jesus and Saul is no longer persecuting Jesus but calling Him Lord! And secondly, he was praying in verse 11 of Acts chapter 9. We are told this, “So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.’”
 
     Then, in Acts 9:17-22 I believe we see Paul empowered with the Spirit of God as he speaks the Word of God with boldness! So we have seen Paul’s conversion into the faith, that he got saved on the road to Damascus, and then we saw the subsequent empowerment for service as he waited in Damascus. The result of this empowerment was the movement of the Gospel message forward as he was “proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” That is exactly what Jesus said would be the evidence for this baptism unto power. We would be witnesses of Him that the Gospel message would move forward. We see that in the life of Paul!
 
6. SALVATION AND THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BY THE LAYING ON OF HANDS – ACTS 19
 
     In Acts chapter 19:1-4 we see Paul is on his third missionary journey. When he is in the city of Ephesus he encounters some disciples that were dry and lifeless. I don’t believe these men were saved at this time. As Paul questioned them they only know of John’s baptism, which was one of repentance from sins, to prepare for the coming Messiah. That was all they knew of. So they were not saved.
 
     They were waiting for the coming Messiah, not knowing that He had already come and paid in full the penalty for their sins. They were what we might call Old Testament saints. The Spirit of God had not in-dwelt them for they had not received Jesus as yet. So Paul shares with them about Jesus, His atoning death and glorious resurrection and they got saved! In Acts 19:5-7 we see their salvation and this empowerment for service as the Holy Spirit comes upon them!
 
     I want to share with you a portion from Greg Laurie’s book, “On Fire” regarding this empowering of God’s Spirit upon our lives. This is what he said, “A town somewhere in the U.S. was battered one night by hurricane-force winds. In the morning, after the storm had abated, the citizens emerged from their homes and shelters to assess the damage. The power of the storm quickly became clear to one investigator who was dumbfounded by an incredible discovery. Mouths dropped open as people came to check out his report: a common plastic drinking straw driven deep into a telephone pole by the night’s vicious winds. Obviously, under normal circumstances, a flimsy straw could never penetrate a telephone pole. But the tremendous power of the wind had driven the straw into the wood like a spike.
 
     As believers living in an ungodly world, sometimes we wonder if we can ever make a difference. We wonder if we can effectively penetrate our cynical culture with the good news God has given us to proclaim. The answer lies in the source of our power. If we rely on our own strength and methods, then no, we cannot make much of a difference. But if we choose to be driven by God’s limitless power, we become like that straw in the hurricane where nothing can stop us. We can indeed make a dramatic difference.”
 
                                           - Greg Laurie, On Fire, pp. 21-22
 
     I hope you have seen that this empowerment is very Scriptural and that it is for today just as much as it was for the first century church. The baptism unto power!     Remember what Jesus said to us in Acts 1:8, from The Amplified Bible, “But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.”     The Living Bible puts it like this, “But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify about me with great effect, to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, about my death and resurrection.”
 
     Why not receive all that God has for us and as we do, may others be able to say of us, as they said of Paul and his companions, “. . . ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.’” Acts 17:6. Actually, this upside down world, by the power of God’s Spirit, may we turn this world right side up!
 
     Let me leave you with this to think about.
 
     Author Jamie Buckingham once visited a dam on the Columbia River. He’d always thought that the water spilling over the top provided the power, not realizing that it was just froth,that deep within turbines and generators transformed the power of tons and tons of water to electricity - quietly, without notice, not like the flashy froth on top.
 
                                                               - Source Unknown
 
     May we come to the power source and not think that our froth is something. It is the power source that gives to us the power to move that Gospel message forward. May we not forget that. I hope you have seen that this empowerment is very Scriptural and that it is for today just as much as it was for the first century church. The baptism unto power!
 As we look at what the gifts of the Spirit are, we need to begin in I Corinthians 12:1 where Paul tells us, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” Verse 1 it should read, “Now concerning spirituals” for the word “gifts” was added for clarity but it truly is not needed because the context of these verses tells us that Paul is referring to gifts. The Greek word that is used here for “spirituals” is PNEUMATIKA, and the IKA ending on a word means, “characterized or controlled by.” Adam Clarke defines these spirituals this way, “Gracious endowments, leading to miraculous results . . . These all came by the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit.”
 
   Let’s paraphrase what Paul is saying here to help us to understand it more clearly. “Now concerning the things of the Spirit that are controlled by the Spirit.” Do you see how important it is to have a correct understanding of what Paul is saying here? But again, many put their own ideas, their own thoughts here and what they believe is in stark contrast to what Paul was saying here in Corinthians! We see people running to and fro for this healing service on Thursday, another on Monday, and-so-on. When the reality is, we don’t control the Holy Spirit or place our demands on Him as to when healing services are going to take place. The Spirit of God is in control and He gives gifts as He sees fit, not necessarily when we want them. These are the things of the Spirit that are controlled by the Spirit, may we not forget that!
 
     There are those who deny these gifts of the Spirit or at least part of them, and others who abuse them. But without the gifts functioning in the Church, without the operation of these spiritual gifts, the Church is lifeless and ineffective in its mission. It is the Spirit of God that draws people to Christ and the Spirit of God uses the body of Christ to do that. He uses us through the various gifts that He bestows upon us. So, let’s not be ignorant of these things!
 
     You see, God is going to give to us the things we need to do the work He has called us to do, and He tells us just to ask Him! It is as Vance Havner said, “We will move this world not by criticism of it, nor conformity to it – but by combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.” Folks, we need the power of God upon our lives today just as much as the first century church did. Why is that?
 
     John Courson gives to us an excellent example of why it is needed, what it is all about. He tells us that, “The steam in a locomotive does not exist to toot the whistle. Its purpose is to power the engine and move the train. So too, the empowering of the Spirit is not given for people to feel ‘Holy Ghost goose bumps’, emotional highs, or warm fuzzy feelings. The Spirit comes upon people in order that the message of the Gospel might be moved throughout the world.” May we not forget that. Let us not be ignorant of these things as we look at the gifts of the Spirit that are given to us as He wills, not as we will!
 
     The Scriptures speak of these spiritual gifts in four different portions of Scripture and some of them repeat the gifts, and some add new gifts to the list. You can find these in Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11, I Corinthians 12:4-11 and I Corinthians 12:28. To help simplify this, let me put the gifts in these three categories.
 
1. Ministering Gifts: These are the gifts of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor/teacher, teacher, exhortation, discerner of the spirits, the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge.
 
2. Serving Gifts: These are the gifts of ministering. Giving, leadership, showing mercy and faith.
 
3. Sign Gifts: These gifts are the gifts of prophecy, healing, miracles, tongues, and interpreting tongues.
 
     Now keep in mind that there may be more gifts than what I have listed. Also keep in mind that every believer has a spiritual gift and I believe God will give to each believer what they need in a given situation.
 
     We are going to begin looking at gifted men that Christ has given to the Church. In Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-16 we see that Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor/Teachers and Teachers Jesus has given to the Church to build them up in the faith. He has given these men to the Church so the Church will not be tossed to and fro by all the winds of false doctrine that come blowing through the Church. They are to keep us strong and help us so we can go out and do the work of the ministry. So let’s look at these gifted men that Christ has given to the Church.
 
1. APOSTLES
 
     The first appointment, the first gift, that God gave to the church, was men who were apostles. For the office of primary apostles, there were certain criteria that had to be met. We are told in Mark 3:14 these apostles had to be handpicked by the Lord. We are told in Acts 1:21-22 that they had to be with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry and eyewitnesses of His resurrection. We are told in John 14:26 that God used them to give the Church its doctrine. In Ephesians 2:20-21 we are told that they laid the foundation of the Church. In II Corinthians 12:2 we are told that they had power to do miracles. And in Matthew 19:28 and Revelation 21:14 we are told that they have a future role in the Kingdom Age and in the New Jerusalem.
 
     The primary office of Apostles has passed off the scene with the death of these men, the apostles. Yes, we are all apostles in a sense because we too have been sent by the Lord to bring the Good News of Jesus to this world, but the office of apostles has passed off the scene. The foundation for the Church has been laid.
 
2. PROPHETS
 
     Now as we study prophets, understand that this is not speaking of the gift of prophecy, which we will deal with when we study that gift. But this is speaking of the office of a prophet. What a prophet did was to be someone who forth-told the things of God and foretold the things of God. That is, he spoke the Words of God and he also spoke of future events with 100% accuracy as God revealed things to them.
 
     The Hebrew word for “prophet” is NABIY, and it carries with it the idea of someone who spoke on the behalf of another. The biblical thought is that they spoke for God. The New Testament Greek word, PROPHETES, carries with it the same idea.
 
     Now, as we looked at the apostles, they moved around a lot. They had more of an itinerant ministry. As they traveled they laid down the doctrine of God to the people. Whereas the prophets tended to be more local, speaking the Word of God to the local church, encouraging them to move ahead, admonishing them not to give up, and strengthening them in the faith, and-so-on.
 
     Once again I believe that this office has passed off the scene as they too were laying the foundation for the Church to be built upon. Interestingly enough, we find no mention of apostles or prophets in the Pastoral Epistles. Why? Because they were passing off the scene and would not be in the Church anymore. They laid the foundation, as Ephesians 2:20-21 tells us.
 
     You see, once the foundation was laid by the apostles and the prophets, their work was completed, and now the walls of the building are being put together by the
 
Evangelists, Pastor/Teachers and Teachers. We are “living stones” building up the Temple of God, as I Peter 2:5 tells us. So I believe the office of a prophet has passed off the scene even though we all are prophets in the broadest sense of the word in that we are speaking forth the Words of God.
 
3. EVANGELIST
 
     Evangelist is another gift that Christ has given to the Church. The Greek word is EUAGGELISTES, which means, “one who declares good news.” In other words it speaks of proclaiming the Gospel message. The work of the evangelist is to preach and explain the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ to those who have not yet believed. He is a proclaimer of salvation by grace through faith in the Son of God.
 
     As you go and share you faith with others that is not the gift that Paul is speaking of here but we are all called to be witnesses of Him. But there are some who have this gift. They are evangelists. You talk to people who have this office, and people are getting saved all the time
 
Waiting in line at the movies, people get saved. The waitress at the restaurant gets saved while the person is ordering his meal. He comes out of the bathroom and someone got saved in there! Pastor Raul Reis can mess up a Bible story and 300 people get saved! And it makes you nuts, thinking there must be something wrong with you. You present the same information, the same message as they do, but you don’t have the same results. It is because they have this gift. It is a divine appointment by God and they do get results.
 
     The New Testament evangelist went to where the sinners were. He didn’t wait for them to come into the Church. They preached the good news and as people got saved, they would remain with them until a pastor could be raised up or sent to these new believers.
 
     Two examples of this gift in operation are seen in the life of Peter in Acts 2:22-24, 37-41 and Philip in Acts 8:5-8. This gift or office of an evangelist, these gifted men, are uniquely designed and given to the Church to reach the lost with the saving gospel, and every Church should consider this ministry as high priority. Local Churches should raise up evangelists. We are to send some out in mission enterprises and others to remain permanently in the Church fellowship - to teach, mobilize, and lead others out to fulfill the commission of winning the lost to Christ. The gift of evangelists!
 
4. PASTOR/TEACHERS
 
     Now when we speak of a pastor, this gift that Jesus gave to the Church, we need to understand that a pastor is also a teacher. There is no such thing as just a pastor. We see this in I Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” Those two functions define the teaching shepherd. You can be a teacher without being a pastor, and we will look at that, but to be a pastor and not a teacher is not biblical!
 
     Now the word for, “pastor” in the Greek is POIMEN, and it speaks of one who feeds, one who leads, one who cares for a group of people just like a shepherd does for a group of sheep. That is the heart of a pastor.
 
     There are basically three primary responsibilities that a pastor has for his flock. Let’s look at those for a few minutes.
 
     First of all the pastor is to guide those who have been entrusted to him by God. The pastor is to lead his flock down the right path.
 
     Secondly, we see that the pastor is to help his flock to graze. I know that sounds kind of funny, but hear me out. As a shepherd we are to bring the sheep into rich, fertile fields to feed upon that is the Word of God. We are to teach them, for if we don’t they well be spiritually sick and malnourished. There are so many winds of doctrine blowing through the Church today, no wonder the sheep are so sick, weak, and easy prey for the wolves that are out there.
 
     The third and last point is that a pastor is to guard his sheep. As a pastor, as a shepherd, I am to guard the sheep from the wolves that come in disguised as Christians, as sheep, but are ready to destroy and devour the sheep with their false doctrine. A shepherd needed to be on guard at all times, watching over the sheep. If a wolf was spotted, they would launch their rod to send those wolves running away.
 
     In all three of these areas we have just looked at, guiding, grazing and guarding, they all contain one important element, the teaching of God’s Word! You teach them so they know where to go. You teach them so they can feed on the nutrients of God’s Word and be strengthened in the inner man. You teach them so they are aware of the danger that is out there. It is as
 
Nehemiah 8:8 says, “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.” Ezra read the Word, explained the Word, and then he applied the Word of God to their lives! That is what a shepherd is to do!
 
5. TEACHERS
 
     The last of the gifted men that Christ gave to the Church are teachers. Keep in mind that this is a very broad office. Think about it for a minute. We have teachers at Bible Colleges, teachers who teach at seminars, teachers who teach small group Bible studies, teachers who teach through books they write. We have teachers that teach the young children in Sunday School, the middle aged children in Sunday School, and the teenagers in Youth Group, home Bible study and-so-on. All are very important. All are the same office, but used in a different way.
 
     The problem many times is that people take teaching, the teaching of God’s Word, far too lightly. Remember what James tells us in James 3:1, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” You see, if you are not teaching right, be it a Bible study, Sunday School, in books, at Seminars, or whatever, then you are misleading God’s people and He will hold you accountable for that! I am not trying to scare you, but from what I have seen, especially from the Seeker Friendly, Purpose Driven and Emerging Church, they are taking away or adding to God’s Word. They see no problem with that, and I think they are taking what James has said far too lightly! Thus, stick to the Word of God and you won’t go wrong. The gift of teachers that Christ has given to His church!
 
     Let me leave you with this to think about as we finish up looking at these gifted men that Christ has given to the Church to build it up, to help it go out and do the work of the ministry. Every believer today is indebted directly or indirectly to these specially gifted men God has given to His Church. Through their preaching, teaching, writing, exhortation, and other ministries, they lead the lost to Christ, enrich our knowledge of God and His Word, and encourage us, “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called.” Ephesians 4:1.
 
     All of the gifts that Christ gives to individuals, and to the church as a whole, are gifts which He Himself perfectly exemplified. If ever there was a preacher it was Christ. If ever there was a teacher, ruler, administrator, servant, helper, or giver it was Christ. He is the perfect illustration and example of every gift, because His gifts to us are gracious gifts of Himself. In saying all that, remember these gifts of Evangelists, Pastor/Teachers, and Teachers are given as gifts to the Church by Jesus to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, ‘til we are transformed into His image when we go to be with Him!
1.WORD OF WISDOM
 
   Before we look at this spiritual gift we need to understand what wisdom is all about. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”
 
     Now, what is the difference between wisdom and knowledge or is there a difference? First of all knowledge is the gathering together, the accumulation of facts and information.
 
     Wisdom, on the other hand, is the proper application of that knowledge. There are a lot of very intelligent people who are very unwise. They have all the information and they don’t apply it correctly to their lives. It is so important for the days we are living in, to correctly apply the correct information or knowledge to our lives—WISDOM!
 
     First of all we need to understand that this is not just natural or even godly wisdom. The Word of Wisdom is a supernatural gift that the Holy Spirit gives us at various times in our life to help us answer a question, solve a problem, defuse a crisis, and-so-on. Many times as this gift is exercised we see the critics silenced, problems resolved, and people amazed at what was said. One writer put it like this, “The Word of Wisdom supernaturally discloses the mind, purpose, and the way of God as applied to a specific situation.” (The Holy Spirit, theholyspirit.com).
 
     Another writer put it like this, “The gift of the word of wisdom is the application of knowledge that God gives you (I Corinthians 2:6-7). This type of wisdom is a gift which cannot be gained through study or experience and should by no means try to replace them. The gift of the word of wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective. . . . The gift of the word of wisdom is also the revealing of prophetic future; it is speaking hidden truths of what is not known. It is a supernatural perspective to ascertain the divine means for accomplishing God’s will in a given situation, and is a divinely given power to appropriate spiritual intuition in problem solving.
 
     Furthermore, this gift involves having a sense of divine direction, being led by the Holy Spirit to act appropriately in a given set of circumstances, and rightly applying knowledge. The gift of wisdom is the wisdom of God. It is the supernatural impartation of facts; it is not natural. You can’t earn it. . . . The gift of the word of wisdom works interactively with the other two revelation gifts: knowledge and discernment.” (The Word of Wisdom, David Holt Boshart, Jr.).
 
     Now this is one of those gifts that most, if not all of us, wish we had all the time. We wish that no matter what situation we are in, this gift is in Operation. But that is not the case. You also need to understand that this is not a gift that you can turn on and off like a light switch whenever you want to. The Scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit gives it to us in certain situations, as He wills. In saying that, we are going to look at several examples of this gift being exercised in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
 
WORD OF WISDOM SEEN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
 
1. - I KINGS 3
 
     God gave to Solomon Godly wisdom, and yet, we also see Solomon using the word of wisdom, given to him by the Holy Spirit, to settle a very difficult problem that was brought before him. In I Kings 3:25-28 we see that Solomon, as God gave him this gift of wisdom, was able to discern who the living baby belonged to and who the dead baby belonged to. That was the word of wisdom that God gave to Solomon and we see that it resolved the problem and everyone was amazed at what Solomon said.
 
2.JOSEPH - GENESIS 41
 
     In Genesis 41:33-40 we see Joseph not only interpret the dream that Pharaoh had, but he also came up with a plan to save the people from the coming famine. And as Pharaoh saw how Joseph applied the knowledge he had received wisely, he made him Prime Minister over Egypt. Joseph exercised the word of wisdom that resolved a problem and the people were amazed!
 
WORD OF WISDOM SEEN IN THE
 
NEW TESTAMENT
 
1.JESUS QUESTIONED ABOUT TRIBUTE MONEY - LUKE 20
 
     The religious leaders always tried to catch Jesus by the words He said, and in Luke chapter 20 it was no different. The question they presented before Jesus was simple. It was a pretty straight forward question, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Luke 20:22.
 
     But there was no way He could answer it and be correct. This was a no win question to answer. You see, if Jesus said “Yes”, that it was lawful, then the Jews in the crowd would walk away, for they hated Rome and looked for any way to separate themselves from Roman authority. If He said “No”, that they should not pay taxes to Caesar, then the Jewish religious leaders would alert the Roman authorities, telling them that Jesus is a rebel, and He would be dealt with.
 
     It was a no win situation and yet in Luke 20:23-26 we see Jesus answer them and put them to silence by what He said. As the word of wisdom was working in Jesus they were stunned! The word of wisdom given to Jesus in this situation solved the problem, silenced the critics, and amazed the people.
 
2.JESUS IS CONFRONTED BY THESADDUCEES - MATTHEW 22
 
     Here in Matthew chapter 22 we see the Sadducees, who were the liberals of their day and did not believe in miracles or the resurrection, present Jesus with this situation.
 
     There was a woman who married a man and he dies not having any children. His brother marries her and he dies before having any children. This happens with 7 of this man’s brothers, all dying not having any children. (First of all I would like to know what she is putting in their drinks.) But in the end, this woman dies also. And the question they ask Jesus is this, “Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.” Matthew 22:28.
 
     In Matthew 22:29-33 we see that Jesus shows them that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. He was not the God of Abraham, but He says, “I am the God of Abraham.” They did not understand resurrection life. They were trying to deny that there is a resurrection with this story and Jesus nails them here. Again, the problem was solved, the critics were silenced, and the people were amazed as Jesus spoke forth the word of wisdom.
 
3.JESUS CONFRONTS THE PHARISEES - MATTHEW 22
 
     In Matthew chapter 22 we see Jesus confront the Pharisees, the keepers of the Law you might say. Jesus comes and asks them a question. You see, they lived in a patriarchal society, where the father was always the leader of the family. A father would never call his son lord, but it would be the other way around. Also, the religious leaders believed that the Messiah would be a man, and not God incarnate, from the linage of David.
 
     So Jesus says to them beginning in verse 42 of Matthew chapter 22, “. . . ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?’ If David then calls Him ‘Lord,; how is He his Son?’ And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.” Matthew 22:42-46.
 
     Jesus nails them on this one. You see, the only way David can call his son, “lord” is if he was more honored, and being the Son of God He was more honored than David, and thus, David calls Jesus, the Messiah, Lord! The result of this word of wisdom is the critics were silenced, and the people amazed!
 
4.THE APOSTLES SOLVE A CHURCH DISPUTE - ACTS 6
 
     In Acts chapter 6 we see the church growing, and one of the programs they had was a food pantry to help out the widows. Now a problem arose when some of the people felt the Hellenists Jewish widows were being treated unfairly, not like the Jewish ones were. The Hellenists Jews were those Jews who lived outside Israel who spoke the Grecian language and lived like the Greeks. The Jews living in Israel looked down upon them, and we need to remember, the apostles were part of those from Israel. Now was there a real problem or not? We don’t know, but the issue is they felt like they were being cheated. It is out of this that there could have been a huge church division!
 
     And in Acts 6:2-8 we see what took place and this is a remarkable move and a very wise one! They have the Hellenist Jews pick out seven godly men to oversee this ministry, and they pick seven Hellenist Jews to do the work. We see the problem solved, the critics silenced, and the church grow!
 
5. SETTLES THE GENTILE ISSUE IN THE CHURCH - ACTS 15
 
     The Judaizers would come into an area after Paul preached salvation by grace, and they would say that Paul was right, but you also had to be a Jew. You had to keep the Law of Moses. There arose some dispute over this issue, and thus, the case was presented to the church in Jerusalem, of which James was the head. James listened to what Peter, Paul, and Barnabas had to say, and then he gave his recommendation regarding this issue, of whether gentiles need to keep the Law of Moses or not.
 
     James says to the gentiles that they don’t have to keep the Law of Moses as part of the basis of their salvation because the Jew’s couldn’t even keep it. They sent a letter to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas and others, to be read before all. And in verse 30 of Acts chapter 15 we see what transpired.
 
     We read, “So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.” Acts 15:30-31.
 
     Notice, the problem was solved, and these people rejoiced over the words that were spoken by James, as God gave him a word of wisdom to speak forth in a very difficult situation.
 
6. BEFORE THE COUNCIL - ACTS 23
 
     Paul caused a riot in Jerusalem, as the people grabbed him, thinking he was teaching people to negate the words of Moses. They felt that he was telling people to turn against the Jews, and he was accused of bringing gentiles into the Temple. Before they could harm him, the Roman soldiers rescued him. As they were bringing him up to the Fortress of Antonio, on the Temple Mount, Paul asks to speak one more time to the people.
 
     In Acts 22:30-23:1-10 we see what took place. You see, as Paul speaks of Jesus and all that He has done, the people listened, until he said that God told him to forget about going to the Jews because they rejected what He had for them, and instead, to present it to the Gentiles. At this point, when Paul said, “gentiles,” they went ballistic. Paul was hauled into the barracks by the soldiers before they killed him.
 
     As you read what took place, you will see that God gave Paul a word of wisdom in this situation. As I said before, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, (that is why they are sad-u-see)! But the Pharisees, who were very conservative, did. So Paul says he is a Pharisee who had a hope in the resurrection of the dead. Now the Pharisees saw nothing wrong with that, but the Sadducees did. So a conflict broke out between these two religious groups. Paul is removed from the situation by the Roman commander, leaving these religious leaders fighting amongst themselves, as if they were on trial!
 

     As we have seen, the word of wisdom is a supernatural power to speak with divine insight, whether in solving difficult problems, defending the faith, resolving conflicts, giving practical advice, or pleading one’s case before hostile authorities. It is a gift that is given during certain situations, not something we have all the time. It is given by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit. THE WORD OF WISDOM!

1.WORD OF WISDOM
 
   Before we look at this spiritual gift we need to understand what wisdom is all about. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”
 
     Now, what is the difference between wisdom and knowledge or is there a difference? First of all knowledge is the gathering together, the accumulation of facts and information.
 
     Wisdom, on the other hand, is the proper application of that knowledge. There are a lot of very intelligent people who are very unwise. They have all the information and they don’t apply it correctly to their lives. It is so important for the days we are living in, to correctly apply the correct information or knowledge to our lives—WISDOM!
 
     First of all we need to understand that this is not just natural or even godly wisdom. The Word of Wisdom is a supernatural gift that the Holy Spirit gives us at various times in our life to help us answer a question, solve a problem, defuse a crisis, and-so-on. Many times as this gift is exercised we see the critics silenced, problems resolved, and people amazed at what was said. One writer put it like this, “The Word of Wisdom supernaturally discloses the mind, purpose, and the way of God as applied to a specific situation.” (The Holy Spirit, theholyspirit.com).
 
     Another writer put it like this, “The gift of the word of wisdom is the application of knowledge that God gives you (I Corinthians 2:6-7). This type of wisdom is a gift which cannot be gained through study or experience and should by no means try to replace them. The gift of the word of wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective. . . . The gift of the word of wisdom is also the revealing of prophetic future; it is speaking hidden truths of what is not known. It is a supernatural perspective to ascertain the divine means for accomplishing God’s will in a given situation, and is a divinely given power to appropriate spiritual intuition in problem solving.
 
     Furthermore, this gift involves having a sense of divine direction, being led by the Holy Spirit to act appropriately in a given set of circumstances, and rightly applying knowledge. The gift of wisdom is the wisdom of God. It is the supernatural impartation of facts; it is not natural. You can’t earn it. . . . The gift of the word of wisdom works interactively with the other two revelation gifts: knowledge and discernment.” (The Word of Wisdom, David Holt Boshart, Jr.).
 
     Now this is one of those gifts that most, if not all of us, wish we had all the time. We wish that no matter what situation we are in, this gift is in Operation. But that is not the case. You also need to understand that this is not a gift that you can turn on and off like a light switch whenever you want to. The Scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit gives it to us in certain situations, as He wills. In saying that, we are going to look at several examples of this gift being exercised in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
 
WORD OF WISDOM SEEN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
 
1. - I KINGS 3
 
     God gave to Solomon Godly wisdom, and yet, we also see Solomon using the word of wisdom, given to him by the Holy Spirit, to settle a very difficult problem that was brought before him. In I Kings 3:25-28 we see that Solomon, as God gave him this gift of wisdom, was able to discern who the living baby belonged to and who the dead baby belonged to. That was the word of wisdom that God gave to Solomon and we see that it resolved the problem and everyone was amazed at what Solomon said.
 
2.JOSEPH - GENESIS 41
 
     In Genesis 41:33-40 we see Joseph not only interpret the dream that Pharaoh had, but he also came up with a plan to save the people from the coming famine. And as Pharaoh saw how Joseph applied the knowledge he had received wisely, he made him Prime Minister over Egypt. Joseph exercised the word of wisdom that resolved a problem and the people were amazed!
 
WORD OF WISDOM SEEN IN THE
 
NEW TESTAMENT
 
1.JESUS QUESTIONED ABOUT TRIBUTE MONEY - LUKE 20
 
     The religious leaders always tried to catch Jesus by the words He said, and in Luke chapter 20 it was no different. The question they presented before Jesus was simple. It was a pretty straight forward question, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Luke 20:22.
 
     But there was no way He could answer it and be correct. This was a no win question to answer. You see, if Jesus said “Yes”, that it was lawful, then the Jews in the crowd would walk away, for they hated Rome and looked for any way to separate themselves from Roman authority. If He said “No”, that they should not pay taxes to Caesar, then the Jewish religious leaders would alert the Roman authorities, telling them that Jesus is a rebel, and He would be dealt with.
 
     It was a no win situation and yet in Luke 20:23-26 we see Jesus answer them and put them to silence by what He said. As the word of wisdom was working in Jesus they were stunned! The word of wisdom given to Jesus in this situation solved the problem, silenced the critics, and amazed the people.
 
2.JESUS IS CONFRONTED BY THESADDUCEES - MATTHEW 22
 
     Here in Matthew chapter 22 we see the Sadducees, who were the liberals of their day and did not believe in miracles or the resurrection, present Jesus with this situation.
 
     There was a woman who married a man and he dies not having any children. His brother marries her and he dies before having any children. This happens with 7 of this man’s brothers, all dying not having any children. (First of all I would like to know what she is putting in their drinks.) But in the end, this woman dies also. And the question they ask Jesus is this, “Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.” Matthew 22:28.
 
     In Matthew 22:29-33 we see that Jesus shows them that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. He was not the God of Abraham, but He says, “I am the God of Abraham.” They did not understand resurrection life. They were trying to deny that there is a resurrection with this story and Jesus nails them here. Again, the problem was solved, the critics were silenced, and the people were amazed as Jesus spoke forth the word of wisdom.
 
3.JESUS CONFRONTS THE PHARISEES - MATTHEW 22
 
     In Matthew chapter 22 we see Jesus confront the Pharisees, the keepers of the Law you might say. Jesus comes and asks them a question. You see, they lived in a patriarchal society, where the father was always the leader of the family. A father would never call his son lord, but it would be the other way around. Also, the religious leaders believed that the Messiah would be a man, and not God incarnate, from the linage of David.
 
     So Jesus says to them beginning in verse 42 of Matthew chapter 22, “. . . ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?’ If David then calls Him ‘Lord,; how is He his Son?’ And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.” Matthew 22:42-46.
 
     Jesus nails them on this one. You see, the only way David can call his son, “lord” is if he was more honored, and being the Son of God He was more honored than David, and thus, David calls Jesus, the Messiah, Lord! The result of this word of wisdom is the critics were silenced, and the people amazed!
 
4.THE APOSTLES SOLVE A CHURCH DISPUTE - ACTS 6
 
     In Acts chapter 6 we see the church growing, and one of the programs they had was a food pantry to help out the widows. Now a problem arose when some of the people felt the Hellenists Jewish widows were being treated unfairly, not like the Jewish ones were. The Hellenists Jews were those Jews who lived outside Israel who spoke the Grecian language and lived like the Greeks. The Jews living in Israel looked down upon them, and we need to remember, the apostles were part of those from Israel. Now was there a real problem or not? We don’t know, but the issue is they felt like they were being cheated. It is out of this that there could have been a huge church division!
 
     And in Acts 6:2-8 we see what took place and this is a remarkable move and a very wise one! They have the Hellenist Jews pick out seven godly men to oversee this ministry, and they pick seven Hellenist Jews to do the work. We see the problem solved, the critics silenced, and the church grow!
 
5. SETTLES THE GENTILE ISSUE IN THE CHURCH - ACTS 15
 
     The Judaizers would come into an area after Paul preached salvation by grace, and they would say that Paul was right, but you also had to be a Jew. You had to keep the Law of Moses. There arose some dispute over this issue, and thus, the case was presented to the church in Jerusalem, of which James was the head. James listened to what Peter, Paul, and Barnabas had to say, and then he gave his recommendation regarding this issue, of whether gentiles need to keep the Law of Moses or not.
 
     James says to the gentiles that they don’t have to keep the Law of Moses as part of the basis of their salvation because the Jew’s couldn’t even keep it. They sent a letter to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas and others, to be read before all. And in verse 30 of Acts chapter 15 we see what transpired.
 
     We read, “So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.” Acts 15:30-31.
 
     Notice, the problem was solved, and these people rejoiced over the words that were spoken by James, as God gave him a word of wisdom to speak forth in a very difficult situation.
 
6. BEFORE THE COUNCIL - ACTS 23
 
     Paul caused a riot in Jerusalem, as the people grabbed him, thinking he was teaching people to negate the words of Moses. They felt that he was telling people to turn against the Jews, and he was accused of bringing gentiles into the Temple. Before they could harm him, the Roman soldiers rescued him. As they were bringing him up to the Fortress of Antonio, on the Temple Mount, Paul asks to speak one more time to the people.
 
     In Acts 22:30-23:1-10 we see what took place. You see, as Paul speaks of Jesus and all that He has done, the people listened, until he said that God told him to forget about going to the Jews because they rejected what He had for them, and instead, to present it to the Gentiles. At this point, when Paul said, “gentiles,” they went ballistic. Paul was hauled into the barracks by the soldiers before they killed him.
 
     As you read what took place, you will see that God gave Paul a word of wisdom in this situation. As I said before, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, (that is why they are sad-u-see)! But the Pharisees, who were very conservative, did. So Paul says he is a Pharisee who had a hope in the resurrection of the dead. Now the Pharisees saw nothing wrong with that, but the Sadducees did. So a conflict broke out between these two religious groups. Paul is removed from the situation by the Roman commander, leaving these religious leaders fighting amongst themselves, as if they were on trial!
 
     As we have seen, the word of wisdom is a supernatural power to speak with divine insight, whether in solving difficult problems, defending the faith, resolving conflicts, giving practical advice, or pleading one’s case before hostile authorities. It is a gift that is given during certain situations, not something we have all the time. It is given by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit. THE WORD OF WISDOM!
WORD OF KNOWLEDGE
 
     In I Corinthians chapter 12 we see another supernatural gift of the Spirit, the word of knowledge. First, let me give you a description of what this word of knowledge is all about. It is supernatural information that has been given to us by the Holy Spirit; things we could not know through natural acquisition or study. The Holy Spirit gives us divine knowledge regarding a person or a situation that we could in no way obtain on our own. Think of it this way. God is the transmitter. He is sending the information to us and we are the receivers of that information.
 
     Let’s break these two words down and I think you will see what this word of knowledge is all about. First of all, I think the key thought is the word, “word” or LOGOS in the Greek. Logos is a principle or concept or teaching, and not necessarily just one word. Also keep in mind that this is not a vast reservoir of information that we can draw from at will.
 
     The word, “knowledge” or GNOSIS in the Greek speaks of knowing something. And so, the word of knowledge is a supernatural ability given to us by the Holy Spirit, a limited piece of information that will solve a problem, silence the critics, expose a sin, and encourage a person, and-so-on. It is supernatural knowledge that the Holy Spirit gives to us as He wills.
 
     Many times this gift is flowing so naturally that we don’t even recognize it or if we do, it is usually long after the fact. But, there are the other times when God gives us a word of knowledge about a given situation that is so incredible to us that we may want to dismiss it. We can’t even believe it. And many times we do, only to find that what God was saying did come to pass just as He said it would.
 
 
WORD OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
 
     When you look at this gift, the word of knowledge, other than Jesus, Elisha the prophet seems to have exercised this gift more than anyone else. God spoke to him so powerfully that he came to expect to receive from the Lord words dealing with various situations. He thought of it as common that God would give to him a word of Knowledge. When He didn’t, Elisha was surprised!
 
1. SYRIA’S WAR PLANS - II KINGS 6:8-12
 
     Picture what is going on here. At this point in time the Kingdom of Israel was divided into the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Syria’s leader, Ben-Hadad, is preparing to invade Israel, the Northern Kingdom. As they made their battle plans, God gave Elisha a word of knowledge as to where they were going to strike. Elisha told the king of Israel, and the attack was halted. This happened several times to Ben-Hadad and his Syrian army.
 
     Finally, as you can well imagine, Ben-Hadad had enough and he put two and two together. He felt that there must be a spy in his army, a traitor who was sensitive to this information and giving it to Israel. It had to be a spy. Ben-Hadad demanded to know who this traitor was! Obviously he wanted this man exposed so he could stop this information from getting to Israel. He would put to death this man for being a traitor!
 
     To his surprise, there was no traitor in their camp. In II Kings 6:12 we see that one of his servants said that Elisha knows what you say, even the words you speak in secret. The words you speak in your bedroom are known to him. God gave to Elisha a word of knowledge. This was supernatural information given to Elisha to solve a problem, the problem being this secret invasion into the Northern Kingdom of Israel by Syria. God used this gift in the Old Testament!
 
2. GEHAZI’S SECRET REVEALED - II KINGS 5:20-27
 
     You may remember the story of Naaman, who was a commander in the Syrian army. A good man, and yet he had leprosy. On one of his raids into Israel he captured an Israeli girl and made her a slave in his home, caring for his wife. She informs Naaman’s wife that if Naaman would go and see Elisha, he would be healed of his leprosy!
 
     Naaman goes to see Elisha, and through a series of events, he washes in the Jordan River and he is healed from his leprosy! Well, Naaman wants to pay Elisha for his services and Elisha refuses. The servant of Elisha is interested in the money and he runs and catches up to Naaman. He tells Naaman this story that two young men have come and they could use the money and change of clothes.
 
     Naaman is so thankful for what has happened to him that he gives Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, double of what he asked for. As Gehazi returned home, he hid the clothes and the money and then returned to Elisha as if nothing happened.
 
    Starting in verse 25 of II Kings chapter 5 we read, “Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, ‘Where did you go, Gehazi?’ And he said, ‘Your servant did not go anywhere.’ Then he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.’ And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.”
 
II Kings 5:25-27.
 
     Once again we see God give Elisha a word of knowledge, showing not only what Gehazi had done, but also the motives behind his actions! In this instance we see the word of knowledge expose the sin of Gehazi so that he could repent and get right with God. But he did not repent. He lied to Elisha and God struck Gehazi with leprosy!
 
THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
 
     In the New Testament we find the word of knowledge exercised by Jesus, but not exclusively, as we will see. As this gift was working in the life of Jesus, it will also work in us, as the Holy Spirit reveals to us the things He desires us to know for a given situation.
 
1. REVELATION TO NATHANAEL - JOHN 1:43-51
 
     In John 1:43-51 we see that after Philip accepts the invitation to follow Jesus, he goes and tells Nathanael, who is very skeptical of this man named Jesus. As they begin walking, Philip and Nathanael run into Jesus. Jesus tells Nathanael things that Jesus could not have known. That fig tree was a good distance away, a place where no one was able to see him sitting. Jesus spoke of what Nathanael was doing by the fig tree, and it changed Nathanael’s heart. Jesus not only told him where he was, but what he was reading, the Scriptures and specifically the book of Genesis where Jacob has the vision of the ladder with angels ascending and descending upon it. Jesus says that this bridge is pointing to Him; Jesus has bridged that gap between God and man. Jesus exercised the word of knowledge in His life to open the eyes of Nathanael so that he may see Jesus; it solved a problem of the hard heart!
 
2. WOMAN BY THE WELL IN SAMARIA - JOHN 4
 
     In John chapter 4 you may remember the story of the encounter that Jesus has with the woman by the well in Samaria, and how she gave back to Jesus some cute little answers to His questions. But she missed the point. Jesus was dealing with a spiritual issue. She was looking at it as a physical issue. Beginning in verse 16 of John chapter 4 we read, “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.’” John 4:16-19.
 
     Here we see Jesus, in speaking a word of knowledge, cut right to the heart of the issue, exposing her sin and her emptiness. The word of knowledge can do that. This woman’s life is changed; she turns to Jesus and then calls the men of the city to hear what she has heard. She begins to evangelize!
 
3. JESUS KNEW LAZARUS WAS DEAD -JOHN 11:11-17
 
     In John chapter 11 Jesus is told by the friends of Mary and Martha that their brother, Jesus’ friend Lazarus, was sick. But in verse 14 Jesus said to them, “Lazarus is dead.” How in the world did Jesus know that Lazarus was dead when even those who came to tell Him that Lazarus was sick did not even know, and they were with Lazarus? God gave Jesus a word of knowledge, showing that not only was Lazarus dead at this point, but he would not remain dead, and that as Lazarus was raised from the dead, God would be glorified.
 
4. ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA’S SIN EXPOSED - ACTS 5:1-11
 
     In Acts chapter 5 we see the first instance of someone in the church being slain in the Spirit. As you will see, this was not a good thing! In the church people were giving to help others, selling property and possessions to help out. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to join in. Maybe they wanted the recognition. We don’t know for sure. So they sold a possession and they gave some of the profit to the church. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem arose when they lied and said they gave all the money to the church.
 
     When Ananias came before Peter, God gave to Peter a word of knowledge, exposing the lie. Ananias fell down dead! Now around 3 hours later his wife shows up, and we read beginning in verse 8 of Acts chapter 5, “And Peter answered her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?’ She said, ‘Yes, for so much.’ Then Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.” Acts 5:8-11.
 
     Why did God do this? God was using the word of knowledge to keep the church pure! You see, even at the beginning there was evil that was trying to destroy the church. God let Peter know, through the word of knowledge, that this couple were lying about their giving and they both were struck dead. Again, they could have told the truth when their sin was exposed, but they lied and it cost them their lives!
 
     You can read in Acts 8:18-24 of Simon the sorcerer and how his sin was exposed to Peter. It cut right to the heart of the matter! Peter had no way of knowing what was in Simon’s heart, but God did and exposed it! That again is the word of knowledge in operation. As the Lord speaks to Paul, Paul tells the men on this ship not to fear. Their lives would be spared, but the ship will be lost. He had confidence that God had spoken to him, giving him a word of knowledge in what to do in the situation he was in. We see that not one man lost his life, just as God said through Paul.
 
     These are some stories that show us the operation of the word of knowledge in the New Testament; how God graciously gave it to some as they needed it to solve a problem, silence the critics, expose a sin, and encourage a person, and-so-on. What God has done in the Old Testament, what God has done in the New Testament thru this gift, is not over. This gift is still in operation today and I will show you some examples.
 
THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE CHURCH TODAY
 
     Let me say this. To deny the operation of this gift today is to deny what the Scriptures have to say. You must also deny the many examples we see of this gift being exercised in the church today. I just want to share with you a couple of examples of this working in the church today to show you what I mean.
 
1. FRIEND’S SUICIDE THOUGHTS EXPOSED
 
     Shortly after I got saved, a friend’s son came to church. He was a troubled young man. He had contemplated suicide and he even attempted to kill himself. Thank God he did not succeed. This suicide was on his mind right then. As my pastor began teaching, somewhere in the middle of his teaching, he got off on a tangent regarding suicide. It really didn’t fit in with the text, but off he went. As he spoke it nailed this young man right where he was at. In fact, I had become uncomfortable because I was thinking this kid must think I called the pastor and told him to teach on this subject because he was coming to the church that day. But that was not the case, not at all. The Holy Spirit gave Pastor Phil a word of knowledge that flowed so naturally that, unless you knew the situation, you would not see the gift in operation. In fact, after talking with Pastor Phil about this, he said that he had no idea why he went off on that tangent. But now he does, it was the Holy Spirit giving him a word of knowledge that a young man needed to hear!
 
2. WORD OF KNOWLEDGE OF BROTHERS WHEREABOUTS
 
     Pastor Chuck tells the story of “a Korean lady who was separated from her brother when her homeland was divided into north and south. He was in the north, she was in the south. They had lost contact for some 40 years. One day the Lord started prompting her with a new concern for her brother, so she began praying that somehow God would help her find him if he were still alive.”
 
     “She heard that he had been sent to Manchuria, so she prayed again that the Lord would help her contact her brother. While she was in prayer, the Lord gave her a phone number in Manchuria. She called that number and her brother answered! Just recently this woman returned from a trip to visit her brother. Before she left, the Lord had showed her a vision of her brother’s house. When she arrived in town she quickly recognized the house she had been shown, and she was reunited with her brother! That’s the word of knowledge – a marvelous gift of God.” (Chuck Smith, Living Water, p. 112).
 
     When you find yourself in a difficult situation, ask God to give you this gift, and He will as He sees fit. Other times He will give you this gift just because He is gracious and desires to. This is not some kind of occult power, not at all! It is a God given ability, to build up the body of Christ! God graciously gives it to some as they need it to solve a problem, silence the critics, expose a sin, and encourage a person, and-so-on. THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE!
3. GIFT OF FAITH
 
     Another gift of the Spirit that is found in I Corinthians chapter 12 is the gift of faith. First of all, faith is a vital part of our life. In fact, we exercise it every day of our life. It takes faith to sit in a chair, believing it will support you. It takes faith to fly in a plane, believing it will get off the ground and then land once again. It takes faith to allow someone to put you to sleep and then do surgery on you, believing that when you wake up you will be better than you were when you went to sleep. It even takes faith just to walk, believing that your legs will support you. But what is faith, and more importantly, what is true biblical faith?
 
     Once again we don’t have to guess what faith is because the Bible tells us. In fact, we are given a definition of this word. Paul, in Hebrews 11:1-3 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
 
     First of all this word “faith” comes from the Greek word PISTIS, and this word speaks of a moral conviction of religious truth or the truthfulness of God. It speaks of an assurance that we have. This is not a blind faith but a faith that is based upon the Word of God, what God has promised us. Thus, if God is faithful, and He is, then our faith is not blind but it is active. It is a faith that has legs to walk because we trust in the Lord!
 
     The next word in that first verse of Hebrews chapter 11 that I want to look at is that word, “substance”, HUPOTASSO in the Greek. This word speaks of a “confidence or confident expectation.” Thus, faith is the confidence of what we are hoping for, which is eternal life with Jesus. We have not seen Jesus and yet, by faith, we believe in all His promises that He has given to us in His Word.
 
     Next we will look at is the word, “evidence” which comes from the Greek word, ELEGCHOS, (el’-eng-khos) and speaks of proof or conviction. What Paul is implying or telling us is that this is an outward manifestation of the inward assurance. The person of faith lives his belief. His life is committed to what his mind and his spirit is convinced is true.
 
     So faith supports those things we know to be true, the promises of God even though we might not see them with our physical eyes, but through the eyes of faith we believe. That belief is the evidence or the confidence we need to live what we believe. You see, faith truly begins when all other possibilities end. It is out of our hands and in the hands of God. I like they way George Muller put it. He says, “Difficulties are found for faith to feed on.”
 
     Morris puts it like this, “Faith extends beyond what we learn from our senses, and the author is saying that it has its reasons. Its tests are not those of the senses, which yield uncertainty.”
 
     And Bruce tells us regarding faith, “Physical eyesight produces a conviction or evidence of visible things; faith is the organ which enables people to see the invisible order.”
 
     You see, we grow by trusting in Him. It is not a blind leap of faith but a trust in His Word, in His promises, that what God has promised He is more than able to bring to pass.
 
     Before we deal with the gift of faith, I want to take a few minutes and look at several different types of faith that are mentioned in the Scriptures. I think it is important for us to understand what faith is all about before we look at the gift of faith given to us by God, a supernatural gift!
 
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SCRIPTURAL FAITH
 
1. SAVING FAITH - EPHESIANS 2:8-9
 
     Paul, in Ephesians 2:8-9 speaks of this saving faith. He wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
 
     Obviously this is speaking of our salvation and he tells us that we are saved by grace. That is important because many feel that they are being saved and that is not what Paul said. You are saved; it is a done deal if you have received Jesus as Your Lord and Savior!
 
     It is all about grace, unmerited favor. You don’t deserve this gift. You will never deserve it, but God has graciously extended His hand with this gift in it. He has given to us Jesus!
 
     Now the agent of this is faith. You see, faith reaches out to the gift that God has in His hand. Faith reaches out to Jesus. This is the faith that God has given to us; to believe Jesus Christ is our Savior. He paid the penalty for our sins. The bottom line is this. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
 
     If you add anything to your salvation, it is no longer grace, works have been added. Paul said that it is not of works because if it were, you would just boast about it!
 
     In fact, when Paul speaks of this being a gift of God, it is written in the Greek so as to speak of the whole experience of salvation. Remember that salvation is a gift to be received by faith; it is not a reward for something we have done! Also keep in mind how saving faith comes. As Paul tells us, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17! This saving faith reaches out to God to take the gift of Jesus into their life!
 
2. DEAD FAITH - JAMES 2:14-18, 20-26
 
     We need to understand that just because works don’t save us doesn’t mean we don’t work. Good works are the evidence for our faith and yet there are those that don’t do anything. James tells us that those who say they are saved and yet do not do good works, have faith that is dead. And please understand this, it seems obvious and yet many miss it; if your faith is dead then it is not living, and if your faith is dead then you are not saved. James makes that point in James chapter 2!
 
     People may say that they have faith, but it is not manifested in their lives. They don’t act upon what they believe. Abraham’s faith was not dead but living and manifested in his actions. He went to offer his son as a sacrifice, believing that if God wanted him to do this, then God would have to find a way to raise Isaac from the dead to fulfill the promises that He made to Abraham, that through his seed the Messiah would come. Abraham believed what God had said and his faith was manifested in his life.
 
     Think of it this way, if you were sitting in a movie theater, and someone yelled “Fire,”, and you saw the smoke and flames and you believed there was a fire there, but you remained in your seat, making no effort to move away from the danger, and did not try to help others get out of that burning movie theater, your faith is empty. It is dead, and you will also be dead! Dead faith does not act. It is empty!
 
3. TEMPORARY FAITH - MATTHEW 13:20-21
 
     Then there is temporary faith and once again this person is not saved as we will see. Remember the parable of the soils found in Matthew chapter 13. The soils represented different hearts and how they received the Word of God, the seed that was sown upon these soils. In verses 20-21 of Matthew chapter 13 we read, “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”
 
     Here is a person who hears the Word of God. He is excited. He may have even come forward. There is great joy for a time. But his faith is not real, only temporary faith. It is a “for the moment type of faith.” When difficult times came, when persecution arose, he walked away from that which he once believed. He was never saved because true faith abides. He never had a conversion experience. It was an emotional experience which changed as the outward circumstances changed.
 
   It is like a sports fan that will be for a team when they are winning but when things get tough, when they have not won a championship for 100 years, they give up. They will also come back when things are going better. That is not true faith, but is a temporary faith. You see, true faith remains and temporary faith falls away!
 
4. INTELLECTUAL FAITH - JOHN 20:25
 
     Another type of faith is intellectual faith. This type of faith is important in that we grow as we read and study the Scriptures. But it does have its down side and that is when it is all in our mind and it can’t be expressed in a practical, day-by-day experience. It never reaches our heart you might say.
 
     An example of this is seen with Thomas after the resurrection of Jesus. In John chapter 20 Jesus appears to His disciples, but Thomas isn’t there. And in verse 25 we read, “The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’” Thomas refused to believe unless he could actually put his finger into the wounds in Jesus’ hands or his fist in the wound in Jesus’ side.
 
     Thomas heard what they had said, but he refused to allow that intellectual faith to be manifested into practical faith, where we see it exercised in day-by-day living. We need to know the truths of God found in the Word of God but it must not end there. We must then take those truths, that intellectual faith, and apply it to our lives, to let our faith walk!
 
5. PRACTICAL FAITH - ROMANS 12:3
 
     Then there is practical faith. This practical faith is exercised on a daily basis, and as it is, it grows like a muscle that is being exercised. Paul put it this way in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
 
     God has given each one of us a measure of faith. Like a seed that is planted, as it is watered and nurtured, it will grow and blossom. The same is true with practical faith. As you study the Scriptures and apply them to your daily life, you will draw closer to God. Then, as we see God answer our hearts cry, as we see God work, our faith will be strengthened.
 
     That is practical faith, a faith that is exercised. As you hear the Word of God, as you are taught the Word of God, you step out in faith and see what the Lord will do in the situation you are in. As you do, you will see your faith grow as you learn to trust in the Lord more and more. That is practical faith!
 
6. GIFT OF FAITH
 
     Now we will look at the gift of faith. This is what Paul is speaking of back in I Corinthians chapter 12 where he wrote, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for one is given. . . . faith by the same
 
Spirit . . .” I Corinthians 12:7a, 9a.
 
     This is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit, not some kind of learned behavior. This gift of faith, this sudden surge gives you the confidence that God is going to work a miracle, perform a healing, provide for a need, protect you from impending danger.
 
     Donald Gee put it this way in regards to the gift of faith. He said: “It would seem to come upon certain of God’s servants in times of special crises or opportunity in such a mighty power that they are lifted right out of the realm of even natural and ordinary faith in God - and have a divine certainty put within their souls that triumphs over everything.”
 
     It seems that when the gift of faith is in operation, it is working in conjunction with other gifts, such as the gift of healings or the gift of miracles. As God gives us this supernatural faith it acts as a channel for Him to work through, as we are going to see.
 
OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES OF THE GIFT OF FAITH
 
A. ELIJAH - I KINGS 17 & 18
 
     James 5:17 tells us that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and yet, we are told in I Kings that he is given the faith to go before king Ahab and tell him that it isn’t going to rain for 3 years. Then after this Elijah is sitting on the top of Mount Carmel and he tells his servant to go look towards the sea. He sees nothing. Six times he repeated this. On the seventh, his servant came back and said, “. . . ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!’ So he said, ‘Go up, say to Ahab, “Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.” Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. . . .’” I Kings 18:44-45. God gave him the faith to speak those words and it opened a door for God to work a miracle through him.
 
B. FAITH OF DANIELS THREE FRIENDS - DANIEL 3
 
     In Daniel chapter 3 we read of Daniel’s three friends who refuse to bow down and worship the golden image. This makes the king, Nebuchadnezzar, furious. Before he tosses these three Hebrew young men into the fiery furnace, he gives them one more chance to change their minds and have their lives spared.
 
     This is their reply to the king of Babylon, from Daniel chapter 3, beginning in verse 16, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’” Daniel 3:16-18.
 
     Notice the faith they had in their God. No fear, which is the opposite of faith, but just trusting that God could spare them if He wanted to, and even if He didn’t, He would spare them from this king! They knew God and thus they were able to walk by faith and trust in Him. What a great lesson for us!
 
NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLES OF THE GIFT OF FAITH
 
A. FAITH OF THE CENTURION - MATTHEW 8:5-13
 
     Interestingly enough, some of the greatest examples of faith in the New Testament are seen outside of Israel. In Matthew chapter 8 we see a Roman centurion come to Jesus because his servant is very sick, ready to die!
 
     Jesus, in hearing his request, says that He will come and heal this man’s servant. Now the response by the centurion is interesting. He said beginning in verse 8, “. . . ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’ When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!’” Matthew 8:8-10.
 
     God gave the centurion the gift of faith to believe in the healing power of Jesus. God used that to work a miracle. His servant was healed that very hour!
 
B. GIFT OF FAITH IN PETER - ACTS 3:1-11
 
     In Acts chapter 3 Peter and John are going to the Temple to pray. At the gate beautiful was a lame man who had been sitting at this gate for many years, just begging for money to help him. He was there even during the time of Jesus. As Peter and John go by, Peter says to him, “Look at us.”
 
     Now naturally this man thought he was going to get some money, but Peter instead said, “. . . ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them - walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.” Acts 3:6-9.
 
     Please understand this. Peter did not just go around lifting people up who were paralyzed. Here God gave him the faith to do that. As the gift of faith was exercised the gift of healing came forth. The faith to do this came from the Lord. It was supernatural faith!
 
C. GIFT OF FAITH IN PETER - ACTS 9:36-43
 
     Peter, who is in Lydda, gets word that Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas, was sick and she died. So Peter went to Joppa. We read beginning in verse 39 of Acts chapter 9, “Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.”
 
Acts 9:39-42.
 
     No human being has the faith to raise the dead, but when God wants to do a work, He gives that person the gift of faith so that He can work a miracle. That is exactly what we see here as Peter lifts this dead, lifeless body up, and she is alive!
 
     Please understand that we can’t conjure up this kind of faith on our own. It is a supernatural gift that the Holy Spirit gives to us as He wills, just as with the other spiritual gifts. Don’t listen to those faith teachers that tell you the reason you are not healed is because you lack the faith to be healed. Hogwash! We must never forget that God is in control. He is sovereign. He will give to us those things we need in our life as He sees fit.
 
     The gift of faith; remember that it is used to give you the confidence that God is going to work a miracle, perform a healing, provide for a need, or protect you from impending danger. It is a supernatural gift; the gift of faith!
4. GIFTS OF HEALINGS
 
     Another gift of the Spirit is the supernatural Gifts of Healings that is spoken of in I Corinthians chapter 12, where we read, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given . . . gifts of healings by the same Spirit.” I Corinthians 12:7-8a, 9b.
 
     What I want you to notice in this description of this gift is that it speaks of, “gifts of healings” and not the, “gift of healing.” It is in the plural form. Why would Paul do that?
 
Because there are different types of gifts and different types of healings that take place as the Holy Spirit gives us this gift as He wills.
 
     We love to place God in a box and have Him work only in a pre-described way, but with the gifts of healings there is no set pattern. I think the reason is simple, so that we can’t come up with some formula to market the gifts of healings. These are grace gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit.
 
   I love the way that James has us pray when someone is sick. He tells us this; “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” James 5:14-15.
 
     James says we are to call for the elders, plural, not that they alone can heal but for a group of people to pray together so that no one man can get the glory or the credit, only God. Now God does not always heal this way. sometimes it is through the prayer of one. It is as He wills.
 
     We can look at the life of Jesus and see how He healed people. And as we study this we will see the variety of ways He worked. You see, it is not a, “Do it this way and God has to act this way” theology. Let me show you what I mean with just a few examples of how Jesus healed people in many different ways and how others healed in a variety of ways. There was no formula to follow. That is important for us to understand. People were healed as God desired, as He willed and not as we willed!
 
 
     VARIOUS WAYS GOD HEALED PEOPLE
 
1. CENTURION’S SERVANT HEALED - MATTHEW 8:5-13
 
     Here we see Jesus heal this Centurion’s servant from a distance. That may shock some of you because we think that this gift of healing has to be done as you are in contact with the person. But here we see Jesus clearly heal this centurion’s servant from a distance!
 
2. PETER’S MOTHER-IN-LAW HEALED - MATTHEW 8:14-15
 
     Here we see Peter heal his mother-in-law as he touches her hand!
 
3. TWO BLIND MEN HEALED - MATTHEW 9:27-31
 
     In Matthew chapter 9 we see two blind men come to Jesus, desiring to be healed, to receive their sight back. And here we see that Jesus touches their eyes and they are healed.
 
4. A BLIND MAN HEALED - JOHN 9:1-7
 
     In John chapter 9 Jesus encounters a man who was born blind. We see Jesus spit on the ground, make some clay out of it, and then place it upon this mans eyes. Then He tells this blind man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. And this man, who was led to the pool blind, came back seeing! Now don’t go spitting on the ground and making some clay to place on someone’s eyes unless the Lord tells you to. What I am showing you is the many ways this gift is in operation. There is no set way; it is according to the Spirit of God!
 
5. ANOTHER BLIND MAN HEALED - MARK 8:22-26
 
     In Mark chapter 9 we see Jesus heal another blind man, but this time He spat on this mans eyes. Now I don’t know about you, but healing at a distance would have worked for me, but Jesus spat on his eyes! Now as Jesus did this He also touched this man’s eyes and asked him if he could see. This man said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Mark 8:24. Jesus touched his eyes again and his sight was completely restored. It was not that Jesus was short on power the first time, but this is the way the Holy Spirit wanted to work in this man’s healing.
 
6. PETER’S SHADOW - ACTS 5:15-16
 
     We see here that people are getting healed as Peter’s shadow passed by. A very unique way to heal, but that is what the Holy Spirit chose to do.
 
7. PAUL’S SWEATBAND - ACTS 19:11-12
 
     Here we see another unusual way to be healed. They took Paul’s sweatbands and placed them upon the sick and demon possessed, and they were healed. Luke tells us that God was working, “unusual miracles by the hand of Paul.” Acts 19:11. This was not a normal way, but again this is how the Holy Spirit desired to work.
 
     What I want you to notice that this is speaking of the gifts of healings, done many different ways, as the Spirit of God sees fit!
 
HEALINGS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
 
1. HEALING OF THE GENTILES SON BACK TO LIFE - I KINGS 17:17-24
 
     In I Kings chapter 17 we see Elijah staying at a widow’s house in Zarephath. One day her son got sick and he died. Elijah prayed and stretched himself out on this young man three times, and life was restored to him. This young man was brought back from the dead. He was healed!
 
2. HEALING OF NAAMAN OF LEPROSY - II KINGS 5:1-27
 
     In II Kings chapter 5 we read the story of Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, a good man, who had leprosy. He is told by his Jewish servant girl to go and see Elisha the prophet in Israel who would heal him. Naaman goes and after he humbles himself, he obeys the words of Elisha, dipping himself seven times in the Jordan River. We are told in II Kings 5:14, “So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” Naaman was miraculously healed of leprosy, an incurable disease!
 
HEALINGS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
 
1. THE HEALING OF THE MAN WITH A WITHERED HAND - MATTHEW 12:9-13
 
     In Matthew chapter 12 we see Jesus go into a synagogue and meet a man with a withered hand. Word had gotten out of what Jesus could do, and the people knew, even though it was the Sabbath, that Jesus was going to heal this man. That is exactly what Jesus did, as verse 13 of Matthew chapter 12 tells us. We read, “Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.” Here this man with the withered hand was healed!
 
2. HEALING POWER GIVEN TO THE APOSTLES - MATTHEW 10:1
 
     In Matthew chapter 10 we read, “And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” The healing power that Jesus had was given to His apostles. Thus, some will argue that this is where this gift ends, with the apostles! That is wrong as we will see in a minute. First let me say this, the apostles, as with Jesus, did many miracles and yet they did not heal everyone. The sovereignty of God was the issue then as it is now!
 
3. POWER TO HEAL GIVEN TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE - MARK 16:15-18
 
     In Mark 16:15-18 we read, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’”
 
     Who can heal? Jesus says all those who believe! That includes us, not just the apostles. Again, that doesn’t mean we can heal at will, but the Holy Spirit gives this gift as He wills. That is very important for us to understand! And it is important for us to understand that God still heals today. In fact, He has healed everyone of us who has come to Him. He has cured us of our sin and brought us to the Father. That truly is the best healing, an everlasting healing!
 
4. PETER HEALS THE LAME MAN - ACTS 3:1-11
 
     In Acts chapter 3 we see a lame man who sat at the Gate Beautiful at the Temple begging for alms. This man was 40 years old, and sat at this gate during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. I’m sure Jesus saw him every time He went to the Temple, and yet Jesus did not heal him. But here we see Peter and John going to the Temple to pray and they encounter this man.
 
     Peter says to him, “. . . ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them - walking, leaping, and praising God.” The lame man was healed!
 
     Now why isn’t God healing more today? There are a few reasons we can look at. We have covered some of them, but I think it is important to understand this issue so we don’t become discouraged.
 
WHY GOD DOESN’T HEAL ALL
 
1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN
 
     Some feel that Jesus healed everyone He came in contact with but that is not true. Let me give you a few examples. In John chapter 5, at the pool of Bethesda we see all the lame, the crippled, come and wait for the waters to be stirred, because the first one in when this occurred would be healed. That is what they believed. There was a large crowd of lame people just waiting for this healing to occur in their life yet Jesus healed only one lame man!
 
     We can also look at Acts chapter 3 where we saw the lame man sitting at the gate of the Temple during the time of Jesus and he wasn’t healed by Jesus. The point is God is sovereign. He heals in His time and He heals those whom He wants to heal. We must not forget that. Those in the positive confession movement believe they can use a positive formula to get healings from God. But, if you say anything negative, then those negative words you spoke will create a negative power and that will happen to you. That is foolish!
 
     Maybe you have heard of this story of three men traveling in a car and the driver asked the friend next to him, “How’s your brother doing?” The man responded by saying, “He’s really sick!” Quickly the driver responded, “Don’t say that negative thought. Say that he thinks he is sick!” The driver then turned to the man in the back seat and asked, “How’s your sister doing?” And he responded by saying, “She thinks she’s dead!” Silly, yes, but this is the reality of what they teach.
 
2. UNBELIEF
 
     Here is another reason why many times people are not healed. It is that they refuse to believe that God can and will heal people. This is very true when we pray for someone with a terminal illness. Since it is beyond mans ability to do anything, we bring God down to our level and feel it is too late for this person. We may pray, but we also think, “They’re dead!” That is wrong. For the God who created us can and does heal us many times.
 
     In Matthew 13:53-58 we see that Jesus wanted to do mighty works but their unbelief hindered His work. Now please understand this, I am not talking about the power of faith controlling God, but just the faith of a mustard seed, the slightest amount of faith that opens the door for God to move as He wills. Lord, help us in our unbelief!
 
3. THE ABUSE
 
     Today we see all kinds of abuse with this gift of healing. We see healers using sideshow tricks, growing a leg longer; pumping people up to make them think they are healed, and-so-on. This does not negate what God is doing, but it does dishonor Him.
 
4. THIS GIFT IS NOT GIVEN TO ALL
 
     In I Corinthians 12:28-30 Paul is asking a rhetorical question, and the answer is, “No!” You see, not all of us have these gifts. The Holy Spirit gives this gift as He wills to whom He wills! Obviously this is a very outward gift and there can be much abuse with it, as we can see.
 
SICKNESS IN THE EARLY CHURCH
 
1. PAUL - II CORINTHIANS 12:7-10
 
     II Corinthians says that Paul had a “thorn in the flesh,” not the spirit. This was a physical problem that was not a small thorn, but literally a “tent spike.” And many believe it was a severe and painful eye problem. (See Galatians 4:15, 6:11). The reason God allowed Paul to suffer this way was to keep him humble and trusting in the Lord. Paul even believed in physicians. He had his own personal one, Dr. Luke! Paul was a man of faith and yet he was sick!
 
2. TROPHIMUS - II TIMOTHY 4:20
 
     In II Timothy 4:20 we see Paul leave Trophimus sick in Miletus. If Paul only knew of the faith formula, right? Wrong! If Trophimus only had more faith he could have been healed and traveled with Paul, right? Wrong! I’m sure Paul prayed for this man and in the sovereignty of God, he was still sick and Paul left him in Miletus to recover from this illness.
 
3. TIMOTHY - I TIMOTHY 5:23
 
     Timothy had some kind of amebic dysentery from the water that gave him some bad stomach problems. We call it Montezuma’s Revenge today and they had no Pepto Bismol to correct this problem! So Paul told him to add some wine to the water to kill the bacteria. Was that a lack of faith on Paul’s part? No! Why didn’t Paul pray for him? I’m sure he did and he also used the resources they had to help him, which was adding wine to kill off the bacteria, which would in turn help his stomach problem!
 
WHY GOD ALLOWS SICKNESS
 
1. GOD ALLOWS SICKNESS TO CORRECT US
 
     God does allow sickness in our life to correct us, to get us back on track as Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:5-6. Also, David tells us in Psalm 119:67 that affliction kept him in line with God; it drew Him close to the Lord and His word! Not all sickness is a result of us going astray, but some is!
 
2. IT BUILDS UP OUR FAITH
 
     When we are weak, sick, we tend to lean more upon Him, depend upon Him more. Job saw this in all that he was going through and said, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10. In Isaiah 48:10 God says, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Trials, sickness, tend to build us up in the faith.
 
3. TO BRING GLORY TO GOD
 
     The way we handle sickness, various situations, can either bring glory to God or not. When I first got diabetes my mom said to my wife, “I bet his faith is shaken now!” And Julie replied, “No, it has only strengthened his faith!” And that has been very true some 22 years later! You see, we need to let our light shine even, and especially, during those difficult times because it shows that our faith is real!
 
     Yes God does heal today and the Holy Spirit does give this gift as He wills. Why are some of the most wicked people healed and dear saints of God get sick and die early in life? That is the sovereignty of God, and to try and figure it out is futile. Job spent many chapters trying to figure out the how’s and why’s of God and finally he learned the lesson, to trust God. You see, if you don’t trust Him, you will make Him your adversary. If you know God, you won’t have to know all the how’s and why’s, but you will learn to just trust in Him.
 
   In Acts chapter 4 as we see the disciples pray we read beginning in verse 29, “‘Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:29-31. Healing was part of the early church and the gifts of healings are still in operation today, as the Holy Spirit, “. . . works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” I Corinthians 12:11. The Gifts of Healings!
5. GIFT OF MIRACLES
 
     In I Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul speaks of another supernatural gift that the Holy Spirit can give to us. That is the gift of miracles or the working of miracles in our lives. This is different from healings in that miracles deal with all other supernatural happenings that come from God. This is not something that man has the ability to do; it is beyond all he can do and that is why it is a miracle!
 
     The word that Paul uses for “miracles” is very interesting; it is a word we would probably not expect. It is the Greek word DUNAMIS, and we can translate this gift as “the operation of powers.” It is speaking of dynamic power. It is the same Greek word that is used in Acts 1:8 where Jesus spoke of the power of the Holy Spirit that He will give to us to move the Gospel message forward; that dynamic, that explosive power. That is the kind of power this word is speaking of!
 
GIFT OF MIRACLES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
 
1. CROSSING OF THE RED SEA - EXODUS 14
 
     Remember as the children of Israel left the bondage they were in by the hands of the Egyptians, as they were on the move, God had them rest in Pi Hahiroth. Now from a safety point of view, this was a bad idea. There were mountains on either side of them and they also had the Red Sea in front of them. The only way out was to return the way you came. Now that was going to be blocked off by the Egyptian army who were called to action by Pharaoh after he changed his mind about letting the children of Israel go free. He wanted his slaves back!
 
     As the Egyptian army drew close and the children of Israel saw what was happening, they began to complain and murmur that they were going to die in the wilderness and it was better for them to be slaves in Egypt. (Exodus 14:11-12).
 
     Now, from a human perspective they were right. There was no way out. They were dead! The problem for them was they negated the power of God; that God said He was going to bring them into the Promise Land and thus, He had to provide a way out of this hopeless situation. He would provide a miracle for them!
 
     We see Moses, their leader, do the right thing. As Moses begins to pray, God tells him, and I am paraphrasing, “Son, now is not the time to pray. Now is the time to move!” Now that was a big problem; for where were they going to go? How can over 2 million Jews make it across the Red Sea? Well God had a plan. As Moses lifted up his rod and stretched out his hands over the Red Sea, the waters were divided and the children of Israel were able to cross on dry ground. To hold off the Egyptians until they were able to cross, God sent a pillar of cloud to hamper their movement.
 
     Finally, as the Egyptians came after them, also passing through the Red Sea on dry ground, God took off the bolts that held their chariot wheels which then fell off. At this point, the Egyptians realized they were no match for God. They tried to high tail it out of there, but the waters came back upon them, destroying them all.
 
     Now that was a miracle to say the least.
 
     But there are those out there that try to discredit this miracle. They say that the children of Israel didn’t cross at the Red Sea, but at the Sea of Reeds, which is very shallow. They say if the wind is right, and it is strong enough; it could push that water away, all 6 inches or so of it, allowing the children of Israel to pass through. If you believe that then you also believe in miracles, for the entire Egyptian army drowned in 6 inches of water. I guess they forgot their water wings! I believe what God has said in Genesis 1:1 and thus, I have no problem with what God has done here. He is God and this was truly a miracle. There is no earthly explanation for this!
 
2. RAINING HAILSTONES AND THE SUN STANDING STILL - JOSHUA 10
 
     Another miracle in the Old Testament is found in Joshua chapter 10. Here we see the five Amorite kings come against Gibeon, who had made a peace deal with Joshua and the children of Israel. God tells Joshua, “. . . ‘Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.’” Joshua 10:8.
 
     The first miracle we see regarding this battle is God raining hailstones down upon the Amorites, killing more of them with these hailstones than Joshua and the children of Israel did with the sword. God was a good shot! Don’t forget, none of the children of Israel were hit with these hailstones. This was a miracle, not just a hailstorm! God had guided these hailstones to the target He wanted and He was very accurate; 100% accurate with His shots!
 
     But the story is not over. As the day was passing by, Joshua had not completely wiped them out, so he prayed that the sun would stand still, that it would not go down until they had completed their mission. Again, people laugh at this, but if you believe in Genesis 1:1, this is nothing for God. Also keep this in mind; if there is a long day on this side of the earth, then there must be a long night on the opposite side of the earth. Is there any historical evidence for this event to show us this really took place? Yes there is!
 
     Immanuel Velikovsky in his book, Worlds In Collision, records that the Mayans have a record of a long night on the opposite side of the earth, just as you might expect. This is not only seen in the Mayans historical record, but with other people around the world. God did a miracle with the hailstones and the sun standing still for almost a whole day! Once again there is no earthly explanation for this. It is a miracle!
 
3. ELIJAH AND THE PROPHETS OF BAAL - I KINGS 18
 
     In I Kings chapter 18, we read of the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. King Ahab, the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, was a wicked king. Along with his wife Jezebel, they led the people in Baal worship. They were the demonic duo of the Old Testament you might say! Elijah comes on the scene and confronts Ahab, telling him to gather the prophets of Baal together on Mount Carmel, and when the day was over the real God would be seen. There would be no mistake about who is the true and living God!
 
     Elijah made this deal with them about what was to take place. The deal went like this. Each group was to offer a sacrifice to their God and whoever’s sacrifice was accepted by fire consuming it, would win. The prophets of Baal went first. They chose a bull, cut it in pieces and placed it upon their altar. For several hours they cried out to Baal. They even jumped up and down, trying to get Baal to see them, but nothing happened.
 
     I can relate to Elijah, he is my kind of man. You see, by noon Elijah was getting tired and bored of all they were doing, and he begins to mock their efforts, saying “. . . Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.’”
 
I Kings 18:27. I like that and it did get their attention. In fact, the words of Elijah drove them nuts and they began to cry out louder. They began to cut themselves until the time of the evening sacrifice, and still nothing. By this time they were a bloody and beaten mess and their sacrifice remained on the altar. Their god was silent!
 
     Now it was Elijah’s turn. He gathered the people around, prepared the altar and the sacrifice, then made a huge trench around the altar. He also had 4 water pots filled with water and poured them on the sacrifice. He repeated this three times. There was so much water poured, that it filled the trench around the altar.
 
     Elijah prayed to God and “Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!’” I Kings 18:38-39.
 
     This miracle pointed the children of Israel back to God, for they were wavering between the two; the true and living God and Baal. This miracle showed them who was God! There is once again no earthly explanation for this event; it was a miracle of God!
 
4. THE FLOATING AX HEAD - II KINGS 6
 
     The last one we are going to look at in the Old Testament is found in II Kings chapter 6. During this period of time, we see the number of prophets growing and that they needed a larger place to dwell. So they decided to build a bigger place and they asked the prophet Elisha to help them in this work.
 
     As they were cutting down the trees, one of the ax heads fell into the water. The problem for this man who lost this ax head was that it was not his. He borrowed it. Is this a big deal? It was a big deal! Ax heads were expensive and hard to come by. You could not run to Fleet Farm or Menards, not even Lowes to buy another one.
 
     We read beginning in verse 6 of II Kings chapter 6, “And the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, ‘Pick it up for yourself.’ So he reached out his hand and took it.” II Kings 6:6-7.
 
     You may be thinking that this was not such a big deal, not such a big miracle, but it was if you lost that ax head you borrowed. This tells me that God is concerned about even the little things in our life. He even numbers the hairs of our head, which changes all the time! Again, to have an axe head float in the water is truly a miracle. It is beyond scientific explanation!
 
     Now those are just a few of the many miracles that occurred in the Old Testament and I think you should be able to see that the gift of miracles was in operation even in the Old Testament. It wasn’t just a New Testament work!
 
GIFT OF MIRACLES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
 
1. THE FEEDING OF THE 5,000 - JOHN 6
 
     In John chapter 6:8-14 we see the feeding of the 5,000 men, plus women and children, maybe upwards of 15,000 to 20,000 people! Here we see a great multitude follow Jesus to the Sea of Galilee. He had compassion on them, knowing they did not bring enough food to eat. Philip, when questioned by Jesus on what they could do, told Jesus basically, “Where in the world could we get the money to buy that amount of food?”
 
     As you read this portion of John you can see that this was truly a miracle. God multiplied the food. With just two small fish and 5 little crackers and the people were filled. In fact they were stuffed. They could eat no more. They even had leftovers’, 12 baskets full! This was a miracle of God. There is no earthly explanation for it!
 
2. SALVATION - MATTHEW 19
 
     Here is one that we might not think of being a miracle, but it is one of the greatest miracles of all and that is our salvation. Here we see God take these dead spiritual bodies and make them alive again in Christ! And folks, if we saw no other miracles than that of salvation, we should be satisfied. To me, as I have said, salvation is the greatest miracle!
 
     In Matthew chapter 19:16-26 we read of the story of the rich young ruler who was so close to heaven and yet he refused to give his life to Christ. His possessions hindered him.
 
     You see, salvation is impossible from a human perspective. We can do nothing to merit God’s favor; to climb our way into heaven. Yet, with God all things are possible. We can be saved, not by our works, but by the completed work of Christ on the cross of Calvary. The stairway to heaven is Christ! Paul in
 
Ephesians 2:1-10 makes that point very clearly!
 
     So, if I had to pick out the greatest miracle in the Bible, this would be it; our salvation. Without it, we would still be dead in our trespasses and sins! But God has made us alive in Christ! There is no earthly explanation for this; it is a miracle of God!
 
3. PETER RELEASED FROM PRISON - ACTS 12
 
     The last miracle we will look at in the New Testament, and there are many, is found in Acts chapter 12:7-11. In this portion of Scripture we see Herod coming against the Christians. He has James the brother of John killed by the sword and Peter is locked in prison, waiting for his turn. Peter was guarded by four squads of soldiers who were to bring him out the next morning. He was not going to escape! In fact, he was going to be put to death just as James was!
 
     So here is Peter, sleeping and chained between two Roman soldiers with guards at the door. This tells me there is rest in Christ even during the most intense trials that may come our way.
 
     These Roman soldiers were the best of the best. If you fell asleep on duty, you could be put to death. But God causes the guards to go to sleep and these chains that were around Peter fell off. We see Peter just walk by these sleeping guards as if he were a free man, and I guess he was, God freed him! This was an awesome miracle. So much so that Peter first thought he was just dreaming, but it was very real and God set him free! This was truly a miracle of God!
 
MIRACLES IN THE CHURCH TODAY
 
1. THE MULTIPLICATION OF FOOD IN MEXICO
 
     Several years ago my wife took our Youth Group on a mission’s trip to Mexico. They partnered up with Youth For Truth and ministered to the poverty stricken areas, those that had nothing in these villages. On one of their trips they were bringing bags of rice to the people and they expected about 50 to 75 people and thus, took the appropriate amount with them to this village.
 
     Now when the rice was handed out it was only given to the women, not because they cooked the food, but because the men would take the rice and make an alcoholic beverage with it, leaving their family with no food. As they arrived there they encountered a problem. There were twice as many people as they expected and they only had food for about 75 people!
 
     So the kids went back and forth bringing out the rice bags, expecting to run out, but when they were done, all the people had food! That was a miracle. They had only brought enough food for, at the most 75 people and now they were able to hand out food to 150! The beauty of this was not only the ministering to the people, but the kids saw the power of God, that He still does miracles, that He still multiplies food! This was a miracle; there was no earthly explanation for it!
 
2. YELL, “JESUS LOVES YOU” WITH YOUR HEAD IN A MAILBOX
 
     Now this is one of those where you just shake your head in amazement. One of the pastors at a pastor’s conference was sharing a story that happened in his church. There was a young man who just came to the faith. He was a new Christian and just had a zeal to serve the Lord, but again, he was very young in the faith.
 
     One day he was driving through a very expensive area of California, an exclusive area, they are all expensive. He felt the Lord telling him to stick his head in a mailbox and yell, “Jesus loves you!” Well, immediately he rebuked the devil for putting that foolish idea in his head, but as he continued to drive he kept feeling the Lord was telling him to do this. He kept struggling with this, thinking this is foolish, it is ridiculous, but he could not get it out of his mind.
 
     Finally he slowed his car down, saw this big metal mail box, and stopped in front of it. He got out of his car, still feeling foolish, put his head in this big metal mailbox and yelled, “Jesus loves you!” at the top of his lungs. Then he ran back to his car to get out of there as fast as he could.
 
     But before he could leave, he saw a man running out of his house towards him and he felt foolish and sorry he had done this. The man came to the car and the young Christian apologized for what he did, but the man stopped him. He said to this young Christian, “Right before you yelled that, I was standing on a chair with a rope around my neck ready to hang myself. Before I did, I just cried out to God and said that if He is real He needs to show me right now. As soon as I said that I heard the words, ‘Jesus loves you!’ You saved my life!”
 
     There is no way that this young Christian, on his own, could just stop in front of this man’s house seconds before he commits suicide and say the words that would stop him! That is the gift of miracles, or the operation of the gift of miracles!
 
3. GOD CLOSED THE SWITCH
 
     Listen to the story and you will see this miracle of God. We are told,
 
     A remarkable incident occurred some years ago when a Christian called upon God in a time of great danger. A 12-car passenger train was speeding along in eastern Missouri. On board were hundreds of happy children on their way to [a] SundaySchool picnic. The sky was cloudless when the excursion began, but it wasn’t long before they ran into a severe thunderstorm. The heavy downpour caused the concerned engineer to slow down to about 35 miles an hour. As the train rounded a curve, the man saw that the switch just ahead had been left wide open. He jammed on the brakes, but he was sure they faced certain disaster.
 
     “Stick with it!” he shouted to the fireman. “Hundreds of children are on board.” “I intend to!” came the reply. Then the fireman, who was a Christian, cried, “O God, help us!” His words were drowned out by a thunderclap as a bolt of lightning struck right in front of the engine.
 
     The next thing they knew, they were safely past the danger point. After stopping the train, the men hurried back to find out what had happened. To their amazement they discovered that the lightning had struck the rails and closed the switch. This in turn kept them from being shunted onto a spur which would have caused certain derailment. - Henry Bosch
 
     You see, God used the natural, lightning, in a supernatural way and this miracle saved the lives of these children and the workers on the train! There is no earthly explanation for this; it was a miracle of God!
 
4. THE MULTIPLICATION OF FOOD AT VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
 
     At our VBS Graduation Party we bought food for about 80 people and had a little more. We had about 95 pieces or about 1 piece for each person who attended, about 76. The amazing thing is that people were taking seconds and thirds. Some had 3 or 4 burgers on one bun. We should have run out of food, but we had leftovers!
 
     Not only that, but we only had 3-4 cans of beans and yet, the last person who came through the line took the last plate of beans. We had just enough and then we ran out. We had a refrigerator full of soda to start with and we ended with the same. Yet people were drinking all day! I truly believe that this was a miracle of God!
 
     The Gift of Miracles is still around today!
6. GIFT OF PROPHECY
 
     In I Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul speaks of another supernatural gift that the Holy Spirit can give us which is the gift of prophecy. We have talked about the office of a prophet and how that office has passed off the scene. Then what is this gift of prophecy all about and is it different than the office of a prophet? The difference between the office of a prophet and the gift of prophecy is simple. There was no room for error for the office of a prophet. But for the gift of prophecy there can be human error at times. Paul said in I Corinthians 14:29, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.” They were to judge if what was spoken was of God or not.
 
     Now because of some potential problems, some have dismissed this gift. They believe that it too has passed off the scene. I disagree and I am thankful it is still around today. You see, Paul in I Corinthians 14:1 says, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” Why would Paul say that he desires for us to pursue or seek after the gift of prophecy, especially if it has passed off the scene? He wouldn’t!
 
     Notice that Paul gives us three reasons why this gift of prophecy is so important in the church even today. In I Corinthians 14:3 he said, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” If we truly understand what Paul is saying here, this is one of the most important gifts to be exercised as the body of Christ comes together.
 
PROPHECY SPEAKS . . .
 
1. EDIFICATION (It is the Greek Word     “oikodome” [oy-kod-om-ay’])
 
     This word, “edification” speaks “of building” or “building as a process.” In other words, as the gift is being exercised we see believers built up, strengthened in their faith, in their relationship with God. It should cause believers to hold on to God’s promises even during difficult times.
 
     Remember what Paul said in Romans 14:19 as he wrote, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” The focus is to build people up, not to tear them down. We are to strengthen them in the faith. God is not in the business of destruction, but restoration and we need to remember that as we speak to people.
 
     In Romans 15:2 Paul makes that same point when he said, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.” In I Thessalonians 5:11 Paul admonishes us to continue on in these things, as he said, “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
 
     So, as this gift of the Holy Spirit is in operation you will see people grow and blossom in their faith. That should be desire of all of us, not just the pastor or the elders building people up, but all of us participating in this great work of God and using the gift as the Holy Spirit gives it to us.
 
2. EXHORTATION (It is the Greek word “paraklesis” [par-ak’-lay-sis]
 
     The next word that Paul uses is “exhortation” and the idea here is to come alongside and help, to spur someone into action. When you think about it, the Scriptures are a PARAKLESIS to us. They help us in our walk and spur us into action. In II Timothy 3:16-17 Paul tells Timothy that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
 
     The Scriptures tell us what is right, doctrine. They also tell us what is not right or reprove us. The Scriptures tell us how to get back on track when we have gone astray. They correct us so that we may walk worthy of the high calling by which we have been called. They also tell us how to stay on track or give us instructions on how to live. All of these are important as God is strengthening us and spurring us into action. The Scriptures are living and
 
Powerful. Therefore, if they don’t spur us into action it is because we have become dead to them! In regards to correction, think about this for a minute. None of us like to be corrected. However, if God ignored what we were doing, allowing us to travel down a path of death and destruction with no real concern, it would show us that He doesn’t care for us.
 
     But He does care for us. He does love us and He will correct His children, sometimes using the gift of prophecy to cut through the hardness of our hearts and get us back on track. It is as pastor Chuck has said, “Don’t just mouth it - do it! Don’t just hear it - practice it!” May that be the desire of our hearts, to live what we believe.
 
     William Barclay wrote this in regards to exhortation or encouragement.
 
     “One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. . . . It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”
 
                     - William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrews
 
     Yes, that should be our duty as Christians, to encourage people, but as the gift of prophecy is in operation the words that are spoken will point us in the right direction. They will spur us into action. They will lead us to Jesus.
 
3. COMFORT (It is the Greek word “paramuthia” [par-am-oo-thee’ah]
 
     Paul then speaks of “comfort.” We may not admit it, but all of us love to be comforted. I don’t care how big or strong or macho you think you are, we all like to feel the comfort that another can bring into our lives. Now let’s take this a step up and ask the question, “How important is it to have the comfort of God in our lives?” It is extremely important. In that comfort we see the peace of God in our lives. We can rest in Him!
 
     That comfort is experienced when we recognize that God is still in control. He is still on the throne. As bad as things might seem, He will work it out for His glory. It is as Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
 
     It is when we understand our God and know that He is for us, that we can rest in Him. He, in a sense, is the captain of our lives as this story illustrates for us. We are told,
 
     “Robert Louis Stevenson tells of a storm that caught a vessel off a rocky coast and threatened to drive it and its passengers to destruction. In the midst of the terror, one daring man, contrary to orders, went to the deck, made a dangerous passage to the pilot house and saw the steerman, at his post holding the wheel unwaveringly, and inch by inch, turning the ship out, once more, to sea. The pilot saw the watcher and smiled. Then, the daring passenger went below and gave out a note of cheer: ‘I have seen the face of the pilot, and he smiled. All is well.’”
 
                                                   - Robert Louis Stevenson
 
 
 
     When the gift of prophecy is in operation, we find that the words that are being spoken will comfort us and give us a proper perspective of who God is, that He is still in control and He is still upon the throne. That comfort that God has given to us, we can turn around and give it others!
 
     So we see Paul’s point regarding the gift of prophecy here. When the gift is in operation, it will edify the people, it will exhort them to move forward in the Lord and it will comfort them during difficult times!
 
     I think this is important for us to understand. When we take our eyes off the Lord the storms of life seem overwhelming and we feel that we are going under. Get your eyes back on the Lord! Here is a beautiful aspect. What God has given to us, His great comfort, we can turn and give to others.
 
     Paul, in II Corinthians 1:3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and   Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”
 
     As you can see, this gift is very important in the church today. That is one of the reasons the enemy causes people to dismiss this gift and say that there is no Scriptural support for it being in operation today. I disagree. I do feel the Scriptures support the operation of not only the gift of prophecy, but the other spiritual gifts that the Scriptures speak of.
 
     On the other end of the spectrum, are those that abuse this gift. They are not bringing edification, exhortation or comfort to the people, but confusion. They are feeding the flesh!
 
     We also need to be careful because there are many people out there that are claiming they are speaking for God. How do we know if what they say is of God, or if it is from the imagination of their own hearts, or from a lying spirit, or maybe born out of a pizza they had before they went to sleep that night? I think that is an important question and one we need to explore more closely. How do we know if this gift is being used by someone today?
 
   HOW DO WE KNOW IF THIS IS OF GOD?
 
1. THE WORD OF GOD
 
     The first thing you need to do is bring what has been said into the light of God’s Word. If it contradicts what God has said in His Word, then you can toss it aside. It is not of God! God does not contradict Himself. Some, in trying to get around this, say that “God is bigger than His Word”, or that “God is giving to us new doctrine”, or “You are quenching the Spirit by your judgmental and restrictive attitude” or even “You can’t put God in a box!”
 
     If we get this wrong, we are going to be in serious trouble. We will open ourselves up to all kinds of false doctrine, false teaching! Paul in I Thessalonians 5:19-22 said, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”    
 
     We can test all things by bringing them into the light of God’s Word. What doesn’t stand the test of God’s Word is tossed aside and that which is found in God’s Word is held onto. It is good.      
 
     Quenching the Spirit is not speaking against or coming against these prophecy’s but rather doing that which is not found in God’s Word. That quenches what the Spirit is trying to do! I think we all understand that, but many times we let others confuse us by what they say because we don’t want to quench the Spirit. So we believe what they are saying, even though it is contrary to the Word of God. Test all things. If it is not found in God’s Word, get rid of it, abstain from that evil!
 
     You see, God does not contradict Himself; He does not say things that are contrary to His Word. Keep that in mind as you bring prophecies in the light of God’s Word. It is as John admonishes us in I John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Bring everything into the light of God’s Word to see if this word spoken was a gift of prophecy or not!
 
 
2. IT SHOULD REVEAL JESUS OR DRAW YOU CLOSER TO HIM
 
     When people are speaking for God they should not be exalting self or placing God in a position of dishonor. They should be exalting Jesus. As John said in I John 4:2-3, “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” Sounds simple, but we must not lose sight of that. As John tells us in Revelation 19:10,
 
“. . . For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” The focus should be Jesus or manifest the nature of Jesus. The words spoken should reveal Jesus or draw you closer to Him!
 
     John also tells us that “Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Thus, any teaching of prophecy that takes us away from Jesus is not right. Prophecy should unfold the beauty of Jesus to us! In Psalm 40:7 we are told regarding Jesus, “Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me.’”
 
     Also, in John 5:39-40 we are told, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Isn’t it amazing that people can read the Scriptures and still miss Jesus? The reason is simple. They are not willing to come to Him!
 
     In I John 5:10 we are told, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.”
 
     Thus, if you believe, you have eternal life. If you reject Jesus, you make Him a liar because the Scriptures testify that He is the way, He is the truth and He is the life. Without Him you will never get to heaven. Jesus is the spirit of prophecy!
 
3. YOU MAY HAVE TO PONDER IT IN YOUR HEART FOR A TIME
 
     Sometimes things that are spoken are predictive in nature and you may have to ponder them in your heart to see if they come to pass or not. We see this at the birth of Jesus with all the things that Mary saw at His birth pointing to Him being “A Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” We are told in verse 19 of Luke chapter 2, “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” What Mary pondered in her heart, did come to pass! There is nothing wrong with praying about what you hear or what you believe God spoke to you regarding some situation. Ponder it in your heart. Think about it. Let God show you if it is of Him or not!
 
4. DOES IT LINE UP WITH THE FACTS
 
     Here is another point that is important and we must not dismiss. There are times that someone will come up to you and tell you that God spoke to them regarding you, but what they are saying does not line up with the facts at all.
 
Therefore, you can dismiss it.
 
     This gift can speak of future events, foretelling the things of God. This gift can speak of speaking forth the Words of God, forth-telling the things of God. But, as I have said, the gift of prophecy is speaking forth the Word of God through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In a sense you are a channel through which the Lord may speak. The words will edify, exhort and comfort believers. Remember what David said in
 
II Samuel 23:2, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.” When God places His Words upon our lips what a joy it is to speak them! The gift of prophecy is still in operation today as it brings edification, exhortation and comfort to the Church; the gift of Prophecy!
7. GIFT OF DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
 
     As Christians we need to be able to discern between the true and the counterfeit or we can get swept away with false teachings that are going on; the winds of false doctrine that come blowing through the church. As John admonishes us in I John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” May we heed his words and test the teachings that are given to us to see whether or not they are of God.
 
     Paul in I Corinthians chapter 12 places this spiritual gift, the discerning of spirits, right after the gift of prophecy, which was no accident. I truly believe the Holy Spirit inspired Paul as to the order of these gifts. Not that one is more important than the other, but when things are taught they need to be tested to see if they are of God. If they are not of God then toss them aside and hold onto only that which is good, only that which is from God, that which is found in His Word.
 
     Some say that we are not to judge. They are wrong. They will go to Matthew 7:1-2, which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” They will then say,”See, we are not to judge or you will be judged the same way you are judging others!” But when Paul spoke of the gift of “discerning of spirits” he uses the Greek word DIAKRISIS, dee-ak’-ree-sis, which means, “judging through.” The idea is to test if something is of God or not. So you have to judge it. Jesus, in Matthew chapter 7 was speaking of judging a persons heart, their motives. To test if anything is true or false, it must be judged, and not according to our own wisdom, but according to the Word of God.
 
     In fact, as you read further down in Matthew chapter 7, Jesus says we are to judge if something is of God or not. So again, in verses 1-2 of Matthew chapter 7 Jesus is speaking of not judging the motives, not judging a persons heart, not their actions. We are to judge what they are saying and not what they are teaching!
 
     We also need to understand that this gift is not just using the knowledge that God has given to us to determine what is right and what is wrong, but it is the supernatural ability to, in a sense, see right to the heart of the matter. Donald Gee put it this way when he said this regarding this gift, “The essential thoughts of the word are a piercing of all that is merely outward, and seeing right through, then forming a judgment based on that insight. It is a sharp and powerful word.”
 
     Another writer put it like this, “Discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to perceive the source of a spiritual manifestation and determine whether it is of God (Acts 10:30-35), of the devil (Acts 16:16-18), of man (Acts 8:18-23), or of the world. It is not mind reading, psychic phenomena, or the ability to criticize and find fault.”
 
     Still another writer wrote, “Discernment in Scripture is the skill that enables us to differentiate. It is the ability to see issues clearly. We desperately need to cultivate this spiritual skill that will enable us to know right from wrong. We must be prepared to distinguish light from darkness, truth from error, best from better, righteousness from unrighteousness, purity from defilement, and principles from pragmatics.” (J. Stowell, Fan The Flame, p. 44).
 
     In saying that, there is learned discernment and then the discerning of spirits. We will look at both of them to get a better understanding of them. I think it is important that we use the learned discernment as well as the discerning of spirits so we are not taken in by false teachers, false doctrine, the false prophets that are out there who look like the genuine, but are wolves in sheep’s clothing!
 
DISCERNMENT
 
1. LEARNED DISCERNMENT
 
     Now when we talk about learned discernment it really means just what it says. It is something that develops or grows over time. In Hebrews 5:12-14 Paul tells us, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Paul, the writer of Hebrews is coming against those who have not matured in the Lord, those who have remained spiritual infants. They should have grown and learned how to discern between good and evil.
 
     As a person grows in their relationship with God, taking the Word of God and applying it to their lives, they are exercising their faith, applying it to their lives.
 
     In this section on learned discernment, something that each and every Christian should be exercising like a muscle, I would like to discuss three types of false teachers or false prophets.    
 
     Again, each one of us is responsible for recognizing them and not accepting that which is false, exposing that which is a lie and holding onto that which is true, that which is of God. The three areas that we are going to be examining are the DENIERS, the DISTORTER’S, and the DECEIVERS. As you will see, some are very obvious while others are not. But the point being, none of them are speaking for God and they are to be exposed and not followed because of that! Some of these may even overlap, but as you will see, they are all dangerous!
 
A. THE DENIERS
 
     The first group of people we are going to look at are the deniers! These people or teachers, are the easiest to spot. They flat out deny the faith. They reject Christ and they reject Christianity. As believers in Christ we should be able to see clearly they are not of God. Yet some Christians embrace them because they are not exercising discernment. They are truly immature in the faith.
 
     Groups that are out-and-out deniers of the faith are Buddhist, Hindus, Muslims, the New Age, Eastern Mysticism and Mind-Science cults, the Occult such as Satanists and-so-on. These deniers of the faith should be very obvious to us.
 
B. THE DISTORTER’S
 
     The second group of people that we are going to look at is the distorter’s. These people or teachers are a little harder to spot and yet, when you bring what they say in the light of God’s Word, it is not that difficult. This group teaches heresy that is many times coupled with the truth and they believe they are Christians. They may even use the same Christian jargon as we use and yet their definition of those phrases or words is completely different.
 
     Groups that are distorter’s of the faith are the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Science, the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Herbert W. Armstrong’s World Wide Church of God (although it seems that the leaders are now retracting what Herbert W. Armstrong taught, and I guess time will tell if their words are genuine or not) and yes, even the Catholic Church. Of course there are others that also fit into this section. When you examine what the distorter’s of the truth teach, they too can be recognized as false teachers.
 
C. THE DECEIVERS
 
     The third group of people that we are going to look at is the deceivers. These people or teachers, these groups are probably the most difficult to spot. They are very subtle in the error that they teach, because they mix it in with a lot of truth.
 
     They of course look like Christians, and sometimes they are, but other times they are nothing more than wolves in sheep clothing. When you listen to their teaching you hear about health, wealth and prosperity but never on denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Jesus. They may refer to the cross but then never preach it.
 
     They bring New Age and Eastern Mysticism into the church claiming that the early church fathers practiced these things. That may be true, but that doesn’t make it right if what they practiced went against the Word of God.
 
Please understand that learned discernment is not only to gain head knowledge, but to take those truths of God and apply them to our lives. Learning what is good and what is evil and holding on to the good and standing against that which is evil. The church today is lacking this. The words of Jesus spoken of in Luke 18:8 are an eerie call for us to stand up for what we believe in. Jesus said,
 
“. . . Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
 
     Make no mistake about it, the deception is only going to get worse and worse. Many will be taken in because they have not grown in the Lord, they have not Matured, and therefore they cannot discern good from evil! Learned discernment is an important part of our Christian life. May we not take it too lightly or ignore what God is saying to us! 
 
2. THE GIFT OF DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
 
     When we speak of the gift of the discerning of spirits we need to understand that this is different than learned discernment. The discerning of spirits is a supernatural ability to see right to the heart of the matter, to judge whether a teaching or a person is of God or not. It is a non-verbal revelation that the Holy Spirit gives to you, bearing witness with your spirit, that this person is not of God, the teaching is in error, their motives are wrong, there is pride or bitterness in their heart, or not to place them in a ministry at this time or not at all. It is not the word of knowledge, but just a feeling in your spirit that something is not right.
 
     Paul speaks of this gift in I Corinthians 12:7-11, as he wrote, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
 
     Let me show you in the Scriptures the operation of this gift.
 
A. JESUS SEE’S THEIR HEART - JOHN 8:30
 
     Jesus is going to press them for He saw their heart, exercising the gift of discernment. As much as they said they believed, their hearts were far from God. For as Jesus questioned them, they became defensive, said that Jesus was an illegitimate child, having a demon in Him, and picked up stones to kill him. This is an excellent example of Jesus exercising this gift, the discerning of spirits. He saw into the heart of the matter and he brought it to the surface!
 
B.   JESUS KNEW ALL MEN - JOHN 2:23-25, 6:64
 
     The Scriptures tell us that Jesus knew all men; He knew what was inside of them. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, and yet He kept extending His love to him. Many people today say they follow the Lord, are doing the work of the Lord, and yet they don’t know Him. They are not one of His. The parable of the wheat and the tares speaks clearly on this. They look just like us and it won’t be until the harvest time that the truth of the matter will be known, unless the Holy Spirit reveals that information regarding specific individuals. At times He does as you are talking with someone and they are speaking of the Lord and yet you know that they don’t really know Jesus,. There is something wrong and you can’t figure out what, but God’s Spirit is showing you!
 
C. PETER SEE’S SIMON’S HEART - ACTS 8:9-23
 
     In Acts chapter 8 Philip goes down to Samaria and revival breaks out, people are getting saved. As you read Acts 8:9-17 the logical conclusion is that Simon is saved. He believed and was baptized. On the surface everything looked good. That was the problem. It was all on the surface. His heart was far from God. Now if I was down in Samaria and said that about Simon I would be called, “unloving”, “judgmental”, but listen to what transpired as Peter came down to Samaria.
 
     Beginning in verse 18 of Acts chapter 8 we read, “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.’” Acts 8:18-23.
 
     Peter comes in and exposes this false believer. He tells him that his heart is not right with God, that it is filled with bitterness and he is still bound in sin. The only way Peter could have known this is that the Holy Spirit revealed it to him; He showed Peter that something was not right in Simon’s heart, even though Philip had seen nothing wrong and allowed him to be baptized. 
 
D. PAUL EXPOSES A FALSE PROPHET - ACTS 13:9-12
 
     In Acts chapter 13 we meet a person who is called Bar-Jesus, or the son of Jesus. The problem was that it was in name only. He was not a believer and as you read through these verses you can see that Paul discerned that this guy was not of God and Paul was not afraid to stand up and say so!
 
     Now in saying that, we must also be careful that we don’t allow jealousy, criticism, suspicion, or hate to be called discernment. Feelings are subjective and we need to be careful and make sure that what we are saying is from God, that our hearts are right and we are walking in the Spirit, not in the flesh. On the other hand, if the Holy Spirit has spoken to your heart, then you need to stand up for the truth, and speak it forth. The only way the church is going to remain pure is by using learned discernment and also this supernatural gift of discerning of spirits.
 
     I believe that this gift as well as the learned discernment that God has given us is to be exercised in the church today. This gift of the discerning of spirits is needed even in the church today, to test the spirits, the teachings, to see if they are of God or if they are truly doctrines of demons! This gift is needed to make sure that what is spoken, what is taught, what people are doing is consistent, is in accordance to the Word of God!
 
     Let us be wise and use the discernment that God has given to us and also the supernatural gift of discerning of spirits. It is truly needed in our lives and in the church today, the gift of the discerning of spirits!
 In this study we are going to look at the Feasts of Israel that are spoken of in Leviticus chapter 23. You may be wondering why this is even important to us, but as you will see, it is very important that we not only see what these Feasts were about historically, but also their prophetic significance!
 
     God instructed the children of Israel to observe seven Feasts, of which three occurred in the springtime: The Feast of Passover, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, and The Feast of Firstfruits. There was one Feast that occurred in the summer: The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. Then there were three fall Feasts: The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles.
 
     I believe the Scriptures indicate that the first three Feasts of Israel point to the first coming of Jesus Christ. The fourth Feast points to the Church and what Christ has done to birth and empower the Church. Then the last three Feasts relate to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
 
     So far not too controversial, but let me change that. I believe that the only Feast that relates directly to the Church is the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. The other six Feasts relate to the nation of Israel and what God is doing with His people, the Jews. I realize that some have very strong feelings about the Feast of Trumpets being related to the Rapture of the Church, but as you will see, I don’t believe it fits.
 
1. THE FEAST OF PASSOVER – LEVITICUS 23:4-5
 
     The Feast of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are sometimes used interchangeably for both Feasts, but they are two separate Feasts. The Feast of Passover took place on the 14th of Nisan and it was celebrated to commemorate Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.
 
     God instructed Moses and the children of Israel that each family was to slay a lamb and place the blood of that sacrifice upon the doors of their homes. The pattern He instructed them to follow caused the blood to form a cross, interestingly enough. As they did this, the Lord told them that the Angel of Death would pass over their homes. If they didn’t obey the Lord, then judgment would come in the form of death to the firstborn of that family.
 
 
 
   Thus, this Feast looked back historically to how God delivered His people from their bondage in Egypt by the sacrifice of the lamb. But, this feast also looked ahead prophetically to the coming of the Messiah to shed His blood to free the people from their bondage to sin they are in. Thus, as the blood of Jesus is applied to our lives the judgment of God passes over us!
 
     Remember what John the Baptist said as he saw Jesus coming, “. . . ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” John 1:29. Don’t miss the point here. John is saying that Jesus, God incarnate, is THE sacrificial Lamb who did not come to cover our sins but to take them away completely!
 
     Paul picks up on this idea of Jesus being the Passover Lamb when he wrote in I Corinthians 5:7, “ . . . For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” He is our Passover Lamb and by receiving Him into our lives by faith, our sins have been forgiven. You see, the work is done; the gift is there for all to receive it, but not all appropriate that gift into their life by faith!
 
     As we look at the Feast of Passover we see the finished work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary as THE Lamb of God who sacrificed Himself for our sins. In other words, God took our sins and poured them upon Jesus and He took the righteousness of Jesus and poured that upon us! JESUS IS OUR PASSOVER LAMB!
 
2. THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD – LEVITICUS 23:6-8
 
     Beginning on the 15th of Nisan and running for seven days, or the 15th through the 21st of Nisan, was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On the first and last day of this Feast there was a holy convocation. Keep in mind that leaven speaks of sin in the Scriptures and in this Feast and the Feast of Passover there is no leaven to be found. In fact, before this Feast, they will go through their homes and sweep away any leaven that is found!
 
     Prophetically speaking, many believe this is a picture of the Church, of believers and how they are to walk in holiness, in purity. That is very true and there are many Scriptures that tell us we need to walk in holiness, to be set apart for the Lord. But I don’t believe that is what this Feast is prophetically indicating.
 
     First of all the Church was not born until the Feast of Pentecost. So it would seem strange to call us to holiness when we are not even around yet! Secondly, as good as we think we are, we still sin! When we look at the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, it is a Feast that includes leaven. Why? There is leaven in this Feast because the Church is filled with sinners in a practical sense.
 
     Yes, all our sins are forgiven in a positional sense, but we do still sin in a practical sense, or in our day-to-day lives. John picks up on this when he tells us in I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” And, if you remember, the Feast of Unleavened Bread has no leaven it!
 
     Then what does this mean? Who is it speaking of? Keep in mind that the first three Feasts speak of the first coming of Jesus Christ. Thus, who is the sinless one? It is the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world. It is JESUS CHRIST!
 
     The sinless One who gave His life at 3 pm was placed in the tomb on the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Thus, JESUS IS THE SINLESS ONE. HE IS OUR UNLEAVENED BREAD!
 
3. THE FEASTS OF FIRSTFRUITS – LEVITICUS 23:9-14
 
     The Feast of Firstfruits occurred on the day after the Sabbath or the first Sunday after Passover’s Sabbath. This Feast was the celebration of the barley harvest, not the wheat harvest that took place in May or June. The idea here is that the firstfruits belonged to the Lord and as you gave to Him your best, it would ensure a bountiful harvest. Put God first. You won’t lose when you do that. He deserves our best.
 
     During this Feast the priest would take the first sheaf of barley from the field and waved it as an offering before the Lord. Like I said, it was a token that the first and best belonged to the Lord. It was done before Israel reaped the harvest for themselves.
 
     Now, how does this relate prophetically speaking? If Jesus was crucified on Thursday, the Feast of Passover, if He was placed in the tomb at the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, then the Feast of Firstfruits speaks of His resurrection from the grave, which coincidently occurred on Sunday morning!
 
     Again, this points to the first coming of Jesus Christ, the Feast of Firstfruits. Paul, in I Corinthians 15:20-23 makes this point about Jesus being the firstfruits as He tells us, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.”
 
     Christ is the beginning. He was the firstfruits and there is coming a bountiful resurrection from the dead.word “coming” is PAROUSIA in the Greek and in general terms it speaks of a person’s appearance.But when it is spoken of Christ, it relates to His second coming. Matthew 24:27 tells us, “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” So we will receive our resurrection bodies at the second coming of Christ!
 
     What a glorious truth and what great hope and comfort it gives to us, knowing that since Jesus has been raised from the dead, so too will we one day! JESUS CHRIST IS OUR FIRSTFRUITS OF WHAT IS TO COME – A BOUNTIFUL HARVEST OF SOULS!
 
4. THE FEAST OF PENTECOST – LEVITICUS 23:15-22
 
     We are told that fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits came the Feast of Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks or SHAVOUT. This Feast took place in the month of Sivan on the Jewish calendar, and it corresponds to our May/June, during the wheat harvest. In this Feast they would bring a new grain offering to the Lord and wave two loaves of leaven bread before the Lord. Interestingly enough, in these Feasts, this is the first time leaven is used, and there is an important reason for that, and the first time for two loaves of bread, as we will see.
 
     On this Feast we can read of what took place in Acts 2:4-41. What we see here is the empowering of the Holy Spirit for service upon believers. We see the birth of the Church! The problem here is that, if this is dealing with the Holy Spirit, how can the Feast of Pentecost relate to Jesus? In John 16:7 we are told, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” Did you see that? Because of the work Jesus has done and His return to glory, He now sends His Spirit to work in the lives of His people, to empower them for service!
 
     Now, what about those two loaves of leaven bread? What is that all about? Well, we know these two loaves are speaking of the Jews and the Gentiles coming together into one body, the body of Christ. The leaven in the Scriptures speaks of sin in both the Old and New Testament.
 
     The Holy Spirit is showing us that Jewish sinners and Gentile sinners will come together in Christ; this is what makes up the Church – SAVED SINNERS! Think about it. How many of you were sinners? All of you! Great, now how many of you still sin? All of us do and if you refuse to admit it, then you are a liar! We all fall far short of what God desires, but we are forgiven in Christ and called to strive for holiness!
 
     So we see here, as Jesus sends out the Hoy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost, the Church was born - THE FEAST OF PENTECOST!
 
5. THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS – LEVITICUS 23:23-25
 
     The Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, took place on the first day of the month of Tishri on the Jewish ceremonial or religious calendar and thus, it corresponds to our September/October. When the trumpets sounded, it called God’s people together for this celebration. It is also known as the “Day of Judgment” or the “Day of Sounding the Shofar” and the “Day of Remembrance.” As Passover is the start of the religious New Year, Rosh Hashanah is the start of the civil New Year.
 
     Now, why is there such a long period of time between the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets? I believe this period of time is known as the Church Age where God is gathering together a bride for Jesus out of both Jews and Gentiles.
 
     I also believe the Feast of Trumpets does not give to us a picture of the Rapture of the Church, but it does give to us a picture of the second coming of Jesus Christ as He gathers the children of Israel together in Jerusalem. Jesus does this by blowing the trumpet to alert them that the Messiah has come! Thus, I believe that this will take place on the very day the Feast of Trumpets is celebrated as the New Year begins for Israel, a new beginning you might say for them as they come to Jesus! The Feast of Trumpets is the re-gathering of the nation of Israel together before the Lord - THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS!
 
 
 
6. THE DAY OF ATONEMENT – LEVITICUS 23:26-32        
 
     This is the second of these fall Feasts that began on the 10th day of the 7th month or Tishri, the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. This Feast was more of a day of affliction; affliction over their sin and the need for atonement that could only be made by the shedding of the blood of the sacrifice and the confessing of the sin upon the scapegoat and sending him away into the wilderness, showing that their sins were forgiven.
 
     The picture of Christ is beautiful. He shed His blood for our sins on the cross of Calvary and because of that our sins have been cast as far as the east is from the west to be remembered no more! In other words, our sins were paid in full!
 
     I believe the picture of the Day of Atonement is a picture of Israel’s national repentance., that they receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the atonement that is only found in Him! The picture does fit perfectly. You can read of this in Luke 13:34-35. Here we see Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem for He sees the power of Rome coming down and destroying her and her only hope is Jesus, whom they have rejected.
 
 
 
     In less than 40 years from this cry, in 70 A. D., Rome did come down and destroy the city of Jerusalem, scattering the Jews all over the place! As you move down into verse 35, I believe we see the petition of the nation as they call upon the Lord prior to His return at His second coming at the end of the Tribulation Period.
 
     Paul speaks of the repentance of the Jews in Romans 11:25-27. One day they will receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. The nation of Israel will be saved! Also, listen to what we are told in Isaiah 25:9, “And it will be said in that day: ‘Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.’”
 
     Who is their God? Jesus is their God. As you read on you will see that come shinning through. Who have they been waiting for? They have been waiting for the Messiah to come, Jesus! They missed Him the first time but they will receive Him when He comes again. What are they rejoicing in? They are rejoicing in the salvation that the Messiah, that Jesus, brings them, the freedom from sin! The focus here in this verse is the Kingdom Age!
 
     In Zechariah 13:1-6 we are told that the Lord will remove the sins of the Jews. How is that accomplished? Only by receiving Jesus as their Lord and Savior! He concluded in verse 6 by once again speaking of the wounds of the crucifixion that were placed there by the Jews for their rejection of Him!
 
     You can read Daniel 9:24, only one verse, but it is packed with things all related to the nation of Israel in the last days, the Jewish people. This is for the Jews, and the culmination of all things for them will be to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, to anoint the most holy.
 
   So the Day of Atonement is fulfilled at the end of the Tribulation Period at the second coming of Jesus Christ as He will not only judge the Gentile nations but the nation of Israel as well. All those that receive Him will enter into the Kingdom Age with Him, which is pictured in the last of these Feasts, the Feasts of Tabernacles. Thus, the Day of Atonement is fulfilled as the Jews receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior and their sins are forgiven, cast as far as the east is from the west, to be remembered no more! Thus, I believe this will take place on the very DAY OF ATONEMENT!
 
7. THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES – LEVITICUS 23:33-44
 
     This last Feast is called the Feast of Succoth or Tabernacles, also the Feast of Booths, SUCCOTH in Hebrew. It began on the 15th day of the 7th month or Tishri and it lasted for seven days. During this Feast the Jews would live in temporary booths, as they did in the wilderness. It reminded them of how God brought them through those times and into the Promise Land.
 
     I believe the picture here is the future Kingdom Age that God has prepared for Israel and all those who believe. But again, I believe the focus is Israel in the second coming of Jesus! Instead of dwelling in booths, they will dwell with the Lord and in Isaiah 11:6-9 we see a picture of what that period of time will be like.
 
     What a glorious period of time, 1,000 years as righteousness fills this land as our King of kings and Lord of lord’s rules and reigns! It is also worth noting that the Jews added two extra rituals to their celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles to remind them of God’s wilderness blessings. The first was the pouring out of the water from the pool of Siloam, recalling God’s provision of water in the desert; the second was the placing of four large lighted candlesticks to recall the pillar of fire that led the people by night.
 
     Jesus related both of these traditions to Himself. It was during the Feast of Tabernacles, when the water was being poured out, that He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37). He also said to the temple crowd, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12). What a tragedy that the Jews were so careful to maintain their traditions and yet they completely missed the Messiah who was in their midst! I wonder how many people today miss the Messiah because of the traditions they hold on to! The Millennial reign of Christ – THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES!
 
     So we have seen in the Feast of Passover that Jesus is the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world as He was crucified on the Feast of Passover for our sins. He is our Unleavened Bread as the sinless One was placed in the tomb on the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And He is our Firstfruits as He was raised from the dead on that Sunday morning, assuring us that one day we too will be raised from the dead, the Feast of Firstfruits! These are the Spring Feasts.
 
     Then, on the Feast of Pentecost we see the Church burst on the scene in power as Jesus unites both Jew and Gentile into one body, the body of Christ, empowering them for the work of the ministry; to bring the Gospel message to a lost world, The Feast of Pentecost. This is the Summer Feast.
 
     In the Feast of Trumpets, Jesus will gather Jews from all over the world at the end of the Tribulation Period, the Feast of Trumpets. Then, on the Day of Atonement, the Jews as a nation will receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior at the end of the Tribulation Period; they will receive His atonement, the Day of Atonement. Finally, the Feast of Tabernacles, as the Jews will dwell with the Lord in the Millennial Kingdom, the Kingdom Age for 1,000 years, the Feast of Tabernacles. These are the Fall Feasts.
 
     In all of this we have seen the complete work of God bringing both Jews and Gentiles into the Kingdom Age and to be with the Lord Jesus Christ for eternity. What an awesome God we have. You see, these Feasts did not just mean something historically, they were not just a ritual that the Jews observed. But it pointed to the future plan of God in which three of those Feasts have been fulfilled in Jesus, the fourth or Pentecost is still being played out as we are in the Church Age and there are three more to come, to be fulfilled in His second coming! THE FEASTS OF ISRAEL!