Led by the Spirit

12. Gifts of inspiration

Summary of the gifts of inspiration

a. The Gift of Prophecy
… supernatural utterance in a known language.
b. The Gift of Tongues
… supernatural utterance in unknown language(s).
c. Distinguishing of spirits
… supernatural telling of meaning of of unknown languages.

The gift of prophecy

Hebrew: The common meaning is “to announce, to show or deliver an oracle from God”. Closely allied words mean, “to drop” (as in rain ), to flow forth

Greek: Speaking for another. In this case speaking the mind and counsel of God. (propheteia: pro = forth; phemi = to speak. )

An important difference

There is a difference between the Gift of Prophesy

(1 Cor 12:10 NIV) to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy,

and the Office of a Prophet.

(Eph 4:11 NIV) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets,

The gift is only an “instrument”. This gift is given as the Holy Spirit decides there is a need.

The prophet ministry is given by the risen Lord to chosen vessels. Far greater gifts are shown in the prophetic office. Revelation of things hidden; past, present and future may be given to those with the prophetic office. This kind of revelation is not included within the scope of the gift of prophecy.

We are not to seek after the Office of a Prophet, but Scripture encourages us to desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophesy but NOTE the purpose – to edify, exhort & comfort.

(1 Cor 14:1 NIV) Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.

Scriptural purposes

i. To Edify the Church.

(Oikodome denotes the act of building. (oikos = a home; demo = to build.) Figuratively in the N.T. “edify” means we are to build up the church of God.

ii. To Exhort the Church.

(Parakaleo: to call persons aside (para = to the side. kaleo = to call.) To urge people to pursue some course, to intreat, to admonish. It is prospective, a looking to the future.

iii. To Comfort the Church.

(Paraklesis:) The meaning is very similar to exhort but has a strong consolation for pain or stress from past experience or past trials. The word contains the idea of alleviation of grief.

Building up! Stirring up ! Cheering up !

A supernatural utterance

Prophesy is supernatural utterance in a language known to the one who is prophesying. When faithfully given it is a manifestation of the human spirit inspired by the Spirit of God, and not the human mind creating thoughts.

(1 Cor 12:7 NIV) Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

The human will and faith are active during prophesy, but not the human intellect (except of course for those functions which are needed to formulate orderly speech.)

Must be judged by the church

Because of the nature of this gift and the possibility of our thinking mind falling into error and usurping the place of the inspired message, all prophesy is to be evaluated. Every prophetic utterance must come under the assessment and approval of the church.

(1 Cor 14:29 NIV) Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.

(1 Th 5:21 NIV) Test everything. Hold on to the good.

In giving this approval the church will always check that the message does not in any way speak contrary to the written Word of God. i.e. The Bible.

The manner of prophesying

The manner of prophesying must be according to the proportion of faith.

(Rom 12:6 NIV) We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

That is using every talent, every ability, every capacity, every grace, given to us by God, and supporting this with all possible faith, we prophesy at that level which is possible for each of us to attain. Let us all be aware that from the simple words of a child, to utterances similar to the soaring words of David, who was an inspired poet of God, the Holy Spirit is always to be the author, and He will bring revelation to the church by His gift alone.

Scripture teaches us to pay due regard to all prophecy no matter who is used as the speaker.

1 Th 5:20 (NIV) do not treat prophecies with contempt.

When prophesying it is wisdom to avoid directing your message to a particular person. Let the Holy Spirit bring the attention of those listening to the particular portion that concerns them. N.B. there may be more than one. We are not in the position to know with certainty.

A promise concerning prophesy

Acts 2:17 (NIV) “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

This is the promise to the church. First prophesied by Joel and confirmed to us all in the above Scripture.

The gift of tongues

A prophetic address to the church.

Before beginning, read again Chapter 26. We remind ourselves also, that the origin of tongues is supernatural and that we are speaking here about the language of the Spirit.

There is a threefold purpose for speaking in tongues indicated in the New Testament.

i. As the sign of baptism in the Holy Spirit.
ii As a means of personal prayer and praise.
iii. Prophetic address to the church.

The subject of this chapter is the third purpose i.e. “the gift of tongues ” given by the Holy Spirit to edify the church. In this use of tongues, the utterance is not addressed to God in prayer or praise, but to the congregation, in anticipation that an “interpretation” will follow, so that the church will be edified, exhorted or comforted.

Do all speak in tongues?

Paul asks this question, and in the context, the answer is clearly “No!”.

(1 Cor 12:30 NIV) Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

At first this appears to run counter to the teaching which contends that tongues are for all believers. Be careful to note, that Paul is only speaking of prophetic address to the church.

(1 Cor 14:27 NIV) If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.

It is indeed true, that public use of the gift of tongues is not necessarily given to all.

(1 Cor 12:11 NIV) All these (i.e.spiritual gifts) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

As he decides to give seems to infer not to everyone and that the Holy Spirit may, or may not,anoint a person for ministry in tongues.

However the above is discussing public church ministry not one and two of the threefold purpose of tongues. (above). These two still apply to each and every saint of God.

In proper order

When the church is come together in public worship, although we can all speak in tongues at the one time, we should not do so when seeking to edify the church. God is not a God of confusion, and as Paul points out, one who is unlearned may be present, or an unbeliever may come in. There are limits placed upon our moving in the gift of tongues.

(1 Cor 14:27 NIV) If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.

Two or at the most three should speak a message in tongues in any one service.They are to speak one at a time, and at the properly appointed time in the service.

(1 Cor 14:40 NIV) But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Even then, they are only to speak if someone is present who can minister the gift of interpretation, or they can themselves interpret.

(1 Cor 14:28 NIV) If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.

N.B. If someone gives a message in tongues and you have faith to interpret; WAIT. The person may be praying to the Lord for the interpretation in obedience to 1.Cor.14:13. You should allow them time for this purpose.

(Rom 12:10 NIV) Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Likened to prophecy

Paul gives as the key to all his teaching about the gifts a clear instruction; “seek that you may excel to to the edifying of the church.” For this reason he insists, that if tongues are used as a message to the church that such be interpreted. This combination then becomes equal to prophesy in its benefit to the church.

(1 Cor 14:5 NIV) I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.

A high prophetic standard to be observed

We are to “judge” the exercise of all vocal gifts. The limits set on their use seem to indicate to us that they should be more than just emotional outbursts, but that the sanctified will, common sense and rightly used wisdom should be evident.

Their stated purpose is edification, comfort and exhortation. Hence a faithful message will contain one or more of these elements.

Since the Holy Spirit gives them they are not for private profit and do not engender strife and hurtful relationships. The Lord’s gifts edify and heal the church.

The gift of interpretation interpretation of tongues

A dependant gift

This gift might be called a dependant gift. It is only used in conjunction with the gift of tongues. When one gives a message in tongues there is a need for someone to make the utterance intelligible and sensible to the church.

Directly supernatural

i. It does not imply the slightest knowledge or ability to interpret by intellectual knowledge of the language spoken.
ii. The interpretation is received not so much by close attention to the one speaking in tongues but rather by attentiveness in the spirit to the Lord. He alone gives the interpretation.
iii. The revelation may come in a number of ways. By vision, or the inner witness, are two such examples.

To bring out the meaning

The interpretation is unlikely to be a literal translation. It has been found that an eloquent person is likely to speak in a more eloquent way than one less gifted.

The meaning of the Greek word used for interpretation, (diermeneuo.) is to bring out the meaning of the tongues, to make clear what is meant, to expound the meaning, to fully explain.

These ideas explain why there is sometimes a long message in tongues and a short interpretation, or vice versa.

It is not to be confused with transliteration. i.e. the representing of each word in the corresponding characters of a different language.

An example

The idea of interpretation is well illustrated in Matthew. 13. where Jesus explains fully the meaning of the parable of the tares. He transposed from the natural parable, (which we could liken to tongues) and interprets into the spiritual parable. (Which we could liken to the interpretation of tongues.)

Not all tongues interpreted

An unknown tongue may not always be interpreted. Some utterances may be praise, intercessory prayers, or blessing and giving thanks.