The Gift of Love
by Ian Harrison
The Gift of Love
Editorial note. Ian is not a member of our congregation but this is the first of a series of articles he has submitted, giving his view of the experience of coming to Jesus.
We will investigate the love that comes from God through Jesus Christ and is manifested in us by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). There are diversities of gifts and activities as well as different ministries. The Holy Spirit reveals these gifts to each of us for the building up of everyone.
They exist to give us opportunities of serving each other in church. The Holy Spirit will not impose, invade or force Himself upon us with anything and these gifts as they are given for free. It is not within the boundaries of His character to force us to do anything but we are prompted to be active in our cooperation with Him. We see in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 That one is given the word of wisdom, another the word of knowledge, another faith, another the ability to heal, another the ability to work miracles, to another prophecy is spoken, 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 individual as he wills. The source of these gifts is what is important not the person to whom they are given.
Firstly the words of wisdom are the insights he implants in our minds to meet the need of a context. The words of knowledge are like sudden bits of revelation that are revealed to us that we have never learnt before. Its like receiving answers to issues not previously known. 1 Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge through the same spirit.
Secondly faith is believing in a person who took up residence within us, reviving our shriveled-up spirit with his. Therefore he made me spiritually alive again. This is the miracle of rebirth that is being born again not physically but spiritually into him. Hebrews 11:1,13 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Thirdly healing is about something being restored to normal to meet a need. Jesus never stopped touching those who society considered untouchable. Matthew 15:30 Then great multitudes came to him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus feet, and he healed them. He did not want to see anyone bound by infirmities but to be free.
Fourthly with the working of miracles we see Christ turning water into wine and the inward transformation that occurs with one's conversion. Acts 9:4-6 "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against your conscience." "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." These are the works of a supernatural origin and character.
Fifthly prophecy means to speak God's message to the people, under the influence of the Holy Spirit. What could come from the foreknowledge of someone is, "No matter what happens this will happen". A prophet also speaks God's word to the people of his own time, calling them to covenant faithfulness. 1 Samuel 10:6 "Then the spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. The prophet's message is conditional, depending upon the response of the people. By their response to his word the people largely determine what the future holds. Consider what happened by the response of the Ninevites to Jonah's preaching. He said to them, "If this happens then that will happen".
Sixthly to discern the spirits means to judge by evidence whether they are evil or good. Identify them by what they are prompting or forcing you to do. 1 Corinthians 12:10 Is its influence building you up or guiding you into a situation where you could fall into sin. To sin means doing the worst thing you could possibly do against God, to yourself or others.
Seventhly you interpret the type of spirit by the attitude you possess at that point in time. To be honest I do not really understand this gift.
Eighthly to speak in tongues is a supernatural gift of speaking in another language without you having learnt it. Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance.
Ninthly to interpret the tongue there must be someone there who can translate what was said for the edifying of the hearers. 1 Corinthians 14:27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.
Finally some are also given tongues that are for personal edification only. This is another gift I do not understand.
The most important of these gifts is love. This is something we cannot boast about because we naturally find it difficult to accomplish. 2 John 1:5 And now I plead with you, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another because we're still not doing it yet. All other gifts apart from love are temporary because they are useful only in certain contexts at times when they are needed to help fulfil a task. Loving each other is an ongoing attitude that never stops. Let us learn to use these gifts as God intended them to be, for the serving and building up of each other. As Paul says in Romans 8:37-39 "Yet in all things we are more than conquerers through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.")
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