Spiritual Gifts and the Emergent Church

Before we talk about spiritual gifts and the Emergent Church, let’s define what spiritual gifts are.

In 1 Corinthians 12 it says:

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. Now there are varieties of GIFTS, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of MINISTRIES, and the same Lord. There are varieties of EFFECTS, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the MANIFESTATION of the Spirit for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:1,4-7 (NASB)

There are Four Categories of Spiritual “Things”

There are:

  1. Gifts
  2. Ministries
  3. Effects
  4. Manifestations

How do they differ?

1.  Gifts

God has given 7 NATURAL gifts to man.  All men possess at least one of these gifts.  Some use them to glorify God, others use them to glorify themselves.

They can be found in Romans 12.  

We have different GIFTS, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is PROPHESYING, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is SERVING, then serve; if it is TEACHING, then teach;  if it is to ENCOURAGE, then give encouragement; if it is GIVING, then give generously; if it is to LEAD, do it diligently; if it is to show MERCY, do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:6-8

They are:

  1. Prophesying (or preaching)
  2. Serving
  3. Teaching
  4. Encouraging
  5. Giving
  6. Leading
  7. Mercy

Preaching is declaring the truth.  Serving is practicing the truth.  Teaching is explaining the truth.  Encouraging is applying the truth.  Giving is supporting the truth.  Leading is organizing the truth.  Mercy is ministering the truth.

But which gift is yours?

You can find your gift by understanding the EFFECT it has in someone’s life.

2.  Effects

Different gifts cause different “effects” in people.  By identifying which “effect” brings you the most joy, you can identify your gift or gifts.


Are you a big picture guy?  Do you like getting people EXCITED about a cause?  Can you speak well?  Are you comfortable in front of a crowd and enjoy the spotlight?  Then your gift is Preaching!  The “effect” that brings you joy is in your ability to rally people to a common cause.


Are you more comfortable “doing” the truth than you are “expressing” the truth?  Do you want your actions to speak louder than your words?  Do you like to help people?  Then your gift is Serving.  The “effect” that brings you joy is in your ability to make someone’s life easier by what you do for them.


Is it important to you that people understand WHY they believe what they believe?  Are you interested in the mechanics of why something is true?  Can you explain it to people?  Then your gift is Teaching.  The “effect” that brings you joy is in your ability to help people UNDERSTAND why something is true.


Do you have discernment?  Do you have the ability to say the right thing at the right time?  Do you like to encourage people when they are down?  Then your gift is Encouragement.  The “effect” that brings you joy is in your ability to give people HOPE.


Do you have a knack for making money?  Does everything you touch turn to gold?  Do you have a desire to see worthwhile efforts get off the ground?  Then your gift is Giving.  The “effect” that brings you joy is in your ability to bring someone’s vision to life though your financial support. 


Are you organized?  Are you detail oriented?  Are you able to understand the process of making something work?  Are you able to inspire others to follow your lead?  Then your gift is Leading.  The “effect” that brings you joy is in your ability to make things run smoothly through your organizing skills.


Are you sensitive to the hurts of others?  Do you see the value in people no matter what they have done?  Then your gift is Mercy.  The “effect” that brings you joy is your ability to validate people.

3.  Manifestations

Okay, so you’ve zeroed in on your GIFT and you understand the EFFECT it has on people.  

As you minister in the Kingdom, there will be times when you need the Holy Spirit to help you in your situation.  These are called MANIFESTATIONS of the Holy Spirit.

Unlike personal gifts, manifestations are not OWNED by you.  You don’t control them, God does.  They are enablements of the Holy Spirit designed to come along side your natural gifts to empower you in the work of the Kingdom.

What would they LOOK like in the real world?

Let’s say you have a desire to help people.  You have the GIFT of mercy.  From time to time, you go to homeless shelters and minister to the homeless.

Example 1:

In this situation you meet a woman who has had to give up her children.  You also find that this women is suffering from inoperable cancer.  As you talk with her, you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you— HE would like to heal her.  You OBEY this prompting.  You ask the woman if you can pray for her.  The Holy Spirit manifests His power and the woman is healed.  Confirmation is made by a physician.

Example 2:

Another possibility might be that the Holy Spirit miraculously gives you insight into her situation.  The Holy Spirit tells you that this woman has cancer and has had to give up her children.  The Holy Spirit uses this “word of knowledge” to give you credibility.  As you minister to her you are able to bring her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Example 3:

As you minister to this women, God gives you a “word of wisdom”.  He tells you HOW to help this woman reclaim her children.  It’s not that you are savvy to the court system.  It’s simply that the Holy Spirit impressed upon you what to do, and it WORKED.

These are all MANIFESTATIONS of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says that there are 9 of them.

They can be found in 1 Corinthians 12:

For to one is given the WORD OF WISDOM through the Spirit, and to another the WORD OF KNOWLEDGE according to the same Spirit;  to another FAITH by the same Spirit, and to another GIFTS OF HEALING by the one Spirit, and to another the EFFECTING OF MIRACLES, and to another PROPHECY, and to another the DISTINGUISHING OF SPIRITS, to another VARIOUS KINDS OF TONGUES, and to another the INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES.  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

1 Corinthians 12:8-11

They are:

  1. Word of Wisdom
  2. Word of Knowledge
  3. Faith
  4. Gifts of Healing
  5. Effecting of Miracles
  6. Prophecy (Illumination not Revelation)
  7. Distinguishing of Spirits
  8. Various Kinds of Tongues
  9. Interpretation of Tongues

Some people think that the “manifestations” of the Holy Spirit are the “gifts” of the Spirit.  But as we have seen, the gifts of the Spirit are found in Romans 12.

4.  Ministries

Ministries are JOBS within the church, that is, the congregation of believers.  They can be found in Ephesians 4:

And he (Christ) gave some, APOSTLES; and some, PROPHETS; and some, EVANGELISTS; and some, PASTORS and TEACHERS; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11

They are:

  1. Apostles
  2. Prophets
  3. Evangelists
  4. Pastors
  5. Teachers

To be an Apostle you had to meet these qualifications:

  1. You had to be personally appointed by Christ (Luke 6:13).
  2. You had to manifest miracles (Luke 9:1).
  3. You had to witness the resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:21-22).

To be a Prophet you had to meet these qualifications:

  1. You had to be 100% accurate (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
  2. You had to exhibit personal holiness (Jeremiah 23: 14-16).
  3. You had to be doctrinally accurate (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

The Purpose of the Apostle and Prophet

Why did God initiate the office of Apostle and Prophet?

1.  To establish the FOUNDATION of the Church.

In Ephesians 2, it says that the foundation of the church was built on the apostles and prophets:

You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, BUILT ON THE FOUNDATION OF THE APOSTLES AND THE PROPHETS, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:19-20

2.  To establish the DOCTRINES of the Church.

The Apostle Paul also explains that the mystery of Christ and the doctrines of the church were revealed by the apostles and prophets of the first century.

Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.  In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the MYSTERY OF CHRIST, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been REVEALED BY THE SPIRIT TO GOD’S HOLY APOSTLES AND PROPHETS.

Ephesians 3:2-5

The Office of Apostle and Prophet No Longer Exist Today

How could they?

Consider the qualifications above.  Do you know anyone that meets these qualifications today?

God does not need to reestablish His foundation.

A foundation is meant to be BUILT on.  Today, God is building on that foundation.  All of us are being built into a HOLY TEMPLE, which is just what the continuation of Ephesians 2 says:

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Ephesians 2:21-22

The Bible is God’s Final Revelation

We have the final revelation of Jesus Christ in canonized scripture.  There is no need for another PROPHET to add more to it.

The Ministries of Apostle and Prophet have fulfilled their purpose.

Only 3 of the 5 MINISTRIES exist today.

They are:

  1. Evangelist
  2. Pastor
  3. Teacher

The purpose of the Evangelist is to spread the gospel of Christ.  The Apostle Paul is probably the best known evangelist.  He completed 4 missionary tours across Asia Minor and established as many as 20 churches.

The purpose of the Pastor and Teacher is to “feed the sheep”.  This was the commission Jesus gave Peter after His resurrection.  He tells Peter to, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

This is how the 4 categories of spiritual “things” looks in chart form:

Spiritual Gifts According to the Emergent Church

The Emergent Church gets it all mixed up.  They call MANIFESTATIONS of the Holy Spirit, GIFTS of the Spirit and claim that anyone can operate in these functions.  Let’s take a look at the Manifestations of the Holy Spirit once again.

They are:

  1. Word of Wisdom
  2. Word of Knowledge
  3. Faith
  4. Gifts of Healing
  5. Effecting of Miracles
  6. Prophecy (Illumination not Revelation)
  7. Distinguishing of Spirits
  8. Various Kinds of Tongues
  9. Interpretation of Tongues

By claiming they OWN these manifestations they ABUSE the Spirit of God.

They hold services of healing.  They give words of so-called knowledge and wisdom.  They claim to effect miracles and collectively speak in tongues.

In doing so they ABUSE their congregations.  Giving false “prophecies” they create jealousy and unfulfilled expectations.

God does not operate this way dear readers!

Real faith stems from an objective understanding of truth.  There has to be a criteria from which we can judge what’s true.

In visiting an Emergent Church, how can we know that the “word of knowledge” they speak is TRUE?

There can be only ONE answer.  It has to WORK.  Does the word of knowledge pan out?  Are people healed?

If not, then it can’t be from God.

That was the objective criteria in the Old Testament— 100% accuracy.  And despite what the Emergent Church wants you to believe, it’s STILL the criteria for the New Testament church.

God’s Spirit does not make mistakes EVEN when operating through a weak vessel such as a man.

The Emergent church is cursed.  They are liars.  They breed a different gospel.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a DIFFERENT GOSPEL— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, LET THEM BE UNDER GOD’S CURSE! 

Galatians 1:6-8

So what are we to think?

Does the Holy Spirit ever manifest Himself today?

Yes, of course!

How God manifests His Spirit is the topic of my next article, Operating in the Power of the Holy Spirit.

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