Gifts Of The Spirit
by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 11 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Meet The Holy Spirit)
Before our Lord returned to Heaven, He told us that we would do the same works after He left that He did while He was here. John 14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." He then gave us what we call the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19, 20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
It is obvious then that every believer is to do the work that Jesus did while He was on earth. We are supposed to win folks to Christ, get them baptized, and then we are to teach them how to win folks to Christ and get them baptized. This is our task. Such a task, however, is very involved. If we are going to baptize people, someone has to prepare the baptistery or find a suitable place. Someone needs to get converts cared for concerning proper clothing for baptism. As we go forward obeying the command of our Lord, someone no doubt will become ill. They need to be cared for. As we increase in numbers, there must be buildings. This involves finances. Some must take care of the finances. Some must take care of the buildings.
Realizing this, our Lord through His Holy Spirit, gives special gifts to believers in order that the work of evangelizing might be done more efficiently and effectively. Some of these gifts are listed in I Corinthians 12:8-10, 28, "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; and God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." These gifts are not given as substitutes for soul winning but rather as aids for soul winning. One of the soul winners, in addition to his winning folks to Christ, is given a gift of helps. Another, in addition to his soul winning, is given the gift of governments. Another, in addition to his soul winning, is given the gift of healing. It should be noted that soul winning is not one of the gifts. Soul winning is a command given to all believers; whereas each Christian is given a gift or different gifts in order that soul winning be done more effectively.
How sad it is when a Christian feels that his service for God is simply the exercising of his gift! There is no need of the gift if there is not the soul winning.
It must be noted that these gifts are given by grace. It is God Who makes the decision concerning the distribution of the gifts. I Corinthians 12:11, "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally AS HE WILL."
There are those who choose one of these gifts and insist that every Christian is to have a particular gift. Some say that if a person does not have one particular gift, he is not even a Christian. Others say that the obtaining of one particular gift is an evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit, but even a casual look at the passages in I Corinthians 12 reveals to us that one is given one gift, another is given another gift, and another is given another gift. For example, in verse 10 it says, "To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits," etc. It is obvious then that no one has all the gifts and there is no gift that all have.
The Bible plainly teaches how ridiculous it would be to assume that all would have the same gift. I Corinthians 12:17, "If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?" It is also evident that each of us needs the gifts of the rest of us. I Corinthians 12:14-16, "For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?"
Our Lord established the New Testament church in order that the Gospel of Christ might be propagated more effectively. In a church, somebody plays the organ, somebody leads the choir, somebody cares for the church business, somebody works in the PA room, somebody has a special gift to pray for the sick, somebody has exceptional faith, etc. All of these gifts simply oil the machinery so that soul winning might be done more effectively. It is a sad condition when the gifts are substituted for soul winning, leaving in a real sense little need for the gifts.
Many churches are encumbered by multitudes of unnecessary committees who have been delegated responsibility of doing the work of the various gifts. When these duties have been discharged, these committees feel that they have done their work for the Lord, while an unsaved world perishes without the Gospel. There are thousands of churches all over this nation and all around the world who have treasurers, finance committees, deacon boards, music committees, Christian education committees, and even committees on committees and yet there is not one soul winner to be found! These dear saints have been deceived into believing that the using of their gifts is their main service for God. So the well-oiled machinery works beautifully while Hell enlarges herself. It is a sin; it is a shame; it is a crime that hundreds of churches in America do not baptize one convert a year.
We have our choirs, we have our Sunday schools, we have our ladies missionary groups, we even have our mission programs where we hire people to do our soul winning for us in order that we may salve and soothe our consciences. Even preachers feel that their pulpit work is the discharging of their obligation of service for God. Our churches are filled with deacons who never make an effort to tell anybody how to be saved, with musicians who never win a soul to Christ, with committee members chosen because they are wealthy or well-to-do in the community who never lift a hand to obey the great commission. To many of these affluent people, soul winning is left to a few of the old ladies, some of the overly-zealous new Christians and others who are not spiritual enough or learned enough to sit on committees and boards!
A good illustration is that of the fire department. Every fireman is hired for one main purpose, and that is to fight fires. However, in the fire station there are duties that must be performed. Suppose, for example, one fireman is given the duty of sweeping the building. Another is given the duty of cleaning the rest rooms. Another's gift is that of caring for the paper work. Now these duties are not substitutes for the fire fighting.
Suppose, for example, that there is a fire alarm. A building is burning! Someone gives the signal to man the trucks. One man says, "I'm sorry; I can't go.. My job is to sweep the building, and every time we come back from a fire the building is filthy. The rest of you go ahead and fight fires; I will stay here and sweep."
Another says, "I can't go either. I have noticed the rest rooms aren't real clean, and I'm supposed to have them clean by noon every day. You fellows go ahead; my job is to clean the rest rooms."
Another says, "I have some papers that must be filled out and mailed in this afternoon. It is my job to care for the paper work, you know, and besides fires are very messy and spectacular. I believe I would rather stay here and do my paper work, and when I finish with that, I'll study the history of the fire department."
"Absurd!" you say. Yes, it is absurd, but no more absurd or ridiculous than for God's people to stay home from the battle administering their gifts when the main job of every believer is that of winning folks to Christ. While the world goes without the Gospel people are dying and plunging into eternal torments, one stays home to perform miracles; the other stays home to prophesy; another stays home to discern spirits; another stays home to talk in some kind of a tongue; another stays home to pray for the sick; another stays home to care for the church government; another stays home to teach the Bible; another stays home to prepare the baptistery.
Now the gifts are important, but they are important ONLY as they improve our soul- winning work and help us to do the Lord's work more efficiently so we can win more soul to Christ. It must be emphasized again and again that the gifts are not given to some so that they can make it easier for others to go soul winning; the gifts are given to all so that ALL of us can make it easier for ALL OF US to go soul winning and to do it decently and in order.
There are many who choose the most glamorous of the gifts and place them in a position of importance above those gifts that are less exciting. The Apostle reminds us that every gift is necessary. I Corinthians 12:22, 23, "Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary. And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness."
A perfect illustration of the purpose of the gifts is given in Mark 16:15-18, "And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." You will notice the command in verse 15, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." In verse 17 notice the words, "follow them that believe." In verse 17 and 18 you will notice some of the things that follow those that believe: "In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." The key word here is the word "follow."
This, of course, implies that someone is going somewhere. Until one is going, he cannot be followed. Now where were these people going? The answer is in verse 15. "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Now if we do not GO, these things do not FOLLOW. The Scripture does not say, "These signs shall be with those that believe." IT says, "These signs shall FOLLOW them that believe." Consequently, the promises in verses 17 and 18 are only to those who are soul winning. These things are aids to soul winning. God is not admonishing us to pick up deadly serpents, not is He admonishing us to go up and down the corridor of the hospital laying our hands on sick folks, not is He admonishing us to speak glibly in some strange language. He is promising us that when we go and obey the commission, these things will follow us in order that they may help us while we get out the Gospel.
God is saying that if, WHILE WE ARE SOUL WINNING, a serpent bites us, God will intervene. He is saying that if, WHILE WE ARE SOUL WINNING, someone tries to poison us, God will intervene. He is teaching us that WHILE WE ARE SOUL WINNING we may come across someone who cannot understand the language in which we speak. This very thing happened on Pentecost. There were people there from every nation under heaven who could not understand the language in which Peter was preaching and with which the people were soul winning. Acts 2:4-14, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And they were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under Heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Capadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words." Notice that this gift of tongues was an aid to soul winning. It was not an end in itself to make the Christian feel better or for self-edification for the saints. It was what all the gifts are for; it was to make soul winning easier.
One Sunday morning here at the First Baptist Church of Hammond a man came to the platform during the invitation time and said, "Pastor, we have a Chinese lady here that we believe would get saved if someone soul speak Chinese to her." I stopped the service and asked if anyone could speak Chinese. No one could. I told the soul winner that I was very sorry that no one in the crowd could speak Chinese. The invitation was finished, the names were read, the converts were baptized and the service was dismissed. This soul winner, who is a very fine, refined young man, came up to me after the benediction with a face as white as a ghost. He said, "Pastor, you won't believe what happened! I took the Chinese lady to the back of the auditorium, sat down beside her on a pew and told her, `I'm going to tell you how to be saved in English even though you can't understand me.' The lady had a puzzled look on her face, pointing to her ears, and shook her head from side to side in a negative fashion."
When the soul winner started talking about the plan of salvation, suddenly she brightened up, shook her head up an down affirmatively, pointed to her ears and grinned. She was understanding! God was giving her the ability to understand what the soul winner said! When the soul winner asked her to bow her head, she did! As soon as she received Christ, the man talked further, but she then shook her head from side to side in a negative fashion, pointed to her ears and frowned. She no longer could understand! Now this has never happened to me, but I know the man to whom it happened, and he was as surprised as I was and as the lady was. He did not seek the gift, but God miraculously allowed that lady to understand him as he was speaking. On one other occasion the same thing happened with a Vietnamese. This is exactly what happened on Pentecost.
How tragic and how pitiful it is that so many have taken the gifts and played with them as toys and even formed movements emphasizing the gifts! When you are around these people, you can hardly start a conversation without their bringing up one of the gifts. Usually it is one of the more glamorous ones. For example, did you ever have anyone come up to you and say, "Have you been baptized by the Holy Ghost as evidenced by the gift of helps?" Of course not. Did anybody ever ask you, "Do you believe in the gifts- especially the gift of government?" Of course not. They are interested only in some kind of a movement that emphasizes one or tow or three of these gifts at the expense of the others, and all the while people are perishing and plunging toward a Christless eternity without the Gospel!
Now practically, beloved Christian, let us face the issue in summary. Each of us is to give himself to soul winning. Bow your head now and promise God that you are going to obey the commission of our Lord, that you are going to start telling folks how to be saved and leading folks to Christ. Then, in your local New Testament church be faithful and busy. Do not see, a certain gift, but ask God to show you where to serve, and as He gives you a place of service, He will give you the gift to fulfill that place of service, but do not accept any place of service unless it will aid in the carrying out of the great commission-that of soul winning, baptizing and teaching, training and growing Christians to be mature so they can go soul winning, as we all together obey the command that God has given us and as each of us uses what gifts God gives to us to aid all of us in pointing people from an eternity without Christ to the glories of salvation and eternal life.
There is a beautiful story in Genesis 24. Notice verses 1-4, "And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age:; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh; and I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: but thou shalt go unto my country and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac."
In verse 2 Abraham is a beautiful type of God the Father. In verse 2 his servant is a beautiful type of the Holy Spirit. In verse 3 the wife, which was to be Rebekah, is a beautiful symbol of the bride of Christ, His believers. In verse 3 the son is a beautiful type of the Lord Jesus. The son in this case was Isaac. In verse 4 the country was a beautiful type of the world.
Abraham (representing God the Father) sent his servant (representing the Holy Spirit) back to his country (representing the world) to seek a bride (representing believers) for his son Isaac (representing Jesus). Here we have a beautiful picture of God the Father sending the Holy Spirit to the world to choose a bride for the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit does this as redeemed people are filled by this selfsame Holy Spirit and go throughout the world proclaiming the Gospel of salvation through faith in Christ.
Now notice that the one main supreme task of the servant was to get a bride for his master's son. The one supreme task for the church and for the believer is to be busy in getting a bride for the Lord Jesus. In other words, our job is soul winning!
Now concerning the gifts, notice Genesis 24:22, "And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold." The servant gave gifts to Rebekah, but the gifts were ONLY AIDS in helping to secure the bride. Abraham did not tell his servant to go into the far country and give out earrings and bracelets. Suppose when the servant returned to Abraham this would have happened: Abraham asked him if he got the bride. The gifts were only to make it easier to get the bride.
Our Father has sent us into this would to get a bride for His Son. In an effort to help us get the bride, He has given each of us gifts that He has chosen. These gifts are not to be used as ends in themselves but rather as helps in getting the bride. Soul winning is the main business. The gifts are to make soul winning more productive in order that we may present our souls as trophies at the feet of our Saviour at the marriage of the Lamb when the Bridegroom receives His bride.
The same thing is true concerning the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. Just as the gifts of the Spirit are aids in getting the bride, so is the fruit of the Spirit a manner of behavior that we are to have as we win souls. Bear in mind, the purpose of it all is to get the bride! If the servant had gone to the far country with an unkind disposition or with a sullen, discouraged or hateful manner, he would not have been successful in getting Rebekah to come to Isaac. No doubt he was kind. No doubt he had love, joy peace, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, etc. However he was not commanded to go into the far country and be kind. He was commanded to go into the far country to bet the bride. Being kind was simply the manner and behavior that he was to have as he went about his mission.
The Holy Spirit is that servant. He goes into the far country working through believers. As we are used by Him in the securing of the bride for our Saviour, that is, soul winning. He gives us His fruit. Notice the singular. These are not fruits, but one fruit! This fruit is in Galatians 5:22, 23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is not law." In other words, as we go soul winning, we are supposed to have love. As we go soul winning, we are supposed to have joy. As we go soul winning, we are supposed to have peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. Again this, like the gifts of the Spirit, is an aid to soul winning. A loving soul winner is a better soul winner. A peaceful soul winner is a better soul winner. A patient soul winner is a better soul winner. A gentle soul winner is a better soul winner, etc.
Suppose this happened when the servant returned from the far country: Abraham asked, "Did you get the bride for Isaac?" The servant said, "No, but I had love." Abraham said, "But I did not send you into the far country to have love; I sent you into the far country to get a bride, and love was a tool in the securing of that bride!" Abraham asked again, "Did you get the bride?" "No, but I had joy. I shouted, praised the Lord and rolled the aisles while I was there!" Abraham said, "But I didn't send you to the far country to shout and praise the Lord and roll in the aisles. I sent you to get the bride."
One day every believer shall face his Lord. The Lord shall ask, "Where are the souls?" Many believers will say, "I had love." The Lord will say, "I didn't send you into the world to love. I sent you into the world to win people to Christ, and you can win folks better with love." Many believers will say, "But I had joy. I shouted, talked in tongues, joined the charismatic movement, and hollered `Hallelujah' in a fundamental Baptist church."
Then the Master shall say, "I didn't send you into the world to shout or roll in the aisle or be happy. I sent you into the world to obey Me. Happiness will help you obey Me better, and obeying Me will help you to be happier. I sent you to get a bride."
Suppose a father sends his son to the grocery store to get some bread and milk. As he leaves, the father says, "Son, don't forget now to behave yourself while you are gone. I want you to be a good boy." After a while the boy returns. The father asks, "Did you get the bread and milk?" The boy says, "No, I didn't get the bread and milk, but I had love. I hugged the butcher, kissed the baker, walked up and down the aisles of the grocery store saying, `I love you, I love you, I love you.'" The father asks, "But did you get the bread and milk?" The son replies, "No, but I had joy. I shouted in he dairy department, and I hollered `Praise the Lord' as I walked in the store. Everybody in that store said I was the happiest boy who had ever been there." The father asks, "But did you get the bread and milk?" "No, Dad, but I had peace. I stopped two fights, prevented another, wore a peace symbol, carried a peace flag and song "Peace in the Valley,' all the time I was in the store." The dad asks, "But did you get the bread and milk?" "No," replies the boy, "but I had longsuffering.
There were two lines waiting to get checked out. One line had 4 people; one had 47, and I got in the long line. I waited for an hour to get checked out, and all the time I quoted Scripture, `And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.' In fact, everybody was talking about how patient I was." The father asks, "Son, did you get the bread and milk?" "No, but I was gentle. I helped an old lady pick up some groceries that she dropped. I helped an old man across the street. I kissed a little baby on the brow. Everybody was talking about my gentleness." The father asks, "But son, did you get the bread and milk?" "No, Dad, I didn't," he said, "but I was good. I read my Bible all the way, and I prayed while I was coming back home. I didn't drink or smoke or curse or go with the wrong crowd to the grocery store. Daddy, they said I was one of the best boys who ever went to that store."
The father asks, "But, son, did you get the bread and milk?" "No," replies the son, "but I had faith. I believed all the time I was going that I would get there, and I believed all the time I was coming back that I would get back. I believed the Word of God, and I had faith in God, and I knew God would take care of me." The father asks, "But, son, did you get the bread and milk?" "No, Dad, I didn't get the bread and milk, but I was meek. In fact, I told people how great God was and how little I am. I didn't boast. I even stopped a fellow in the store and confessed my sins, I asked one of the stock boys to pray for me because I felt unworthy to be there." The father asks, "But, did you get the bread and the milk?" "No," says the son, "But I had temperance. Dad, I didn't take a drink all the time I was gone. I was offered a bottle of whiskey; I was offered a martini, a bloody many, a screwdriver and a bottle of beer, but, Dad, I didn't take a drink of one.
Not only that, I was temperate in everything I did while I was on my way to the store, while I was at the store, and while I came back." "But, " asks the father, "did you get the bread and the milk?" "No," says the son, "I didn't not get the bread and milk." The father says, "Son, you have not been faithful. I did not send you to the store to love; I sent you to get the bread and milk and be loving as you did. I did not send you to the store to have joy; I sent you to the store to get bread and milk and be happy as you did. I did not send you to the store to have joy; I sent you to the store to promote peace; I sent you to the store to buy bread and milk, and I wanted you to be peaceful as you did. I did not send you to the store to be gentle; I sent you to the store to get bread and milk, but I wanted you to be gentle as you purchased your merchandise.
I did not send you to the store to be good; I sent you to the store to get bread and milk, and I wanted you to be good as you shopped. I did not send you to the store to have faith; I sent you to the store to get bread and milk, but I wanted you to have faith as you went. I did not send you to the store to have meekness; I sent you to the store to get bread and milk, but I wanted you to be meek as you went. I did not send you to the store to be temperate; I sent you to the store to get bread and milk, and I wanted you to be temperate as you went. Son, you are not a good son. You have the fruit, but you did not obey my command."
One day we shall stand before God. The command of our Lord is clear and plain. We are to do the works that Jesus did. John 14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father." Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10 says, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." We are commanded to go into all the work and preach the Gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15, "And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." We are commanded to go into the world and teach all nations. Matthew 28:19, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." However, as we go, God has said, "I want to make it an effective ministry and an effective endeavor, so I'm going to give gifts to My people so that the soul winning job may be more efficient and more effective, and I'm going to give you the fruit of the Spirit so that you may be loving, happy, peaceful, gentle and patient as you go."
How sad we will be if we face our Lord having played with the gifts as toys and having used the fruit without obeying the simple and yet direct command of our Lord! It is our job to obey the command given in every one of us and then to receive the gifts given to each one of us severally as the Lord wills and to ask to Holy Spirit to go with us, imparting to us the fruit of the Spirit, so that we may efficiently and graciously bring back the bride so that one day we can lay the trophies of the souls that we have son at the feet of Jesus and hear Him say, "Well done."
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