We continue here with the articles that were published in the
November 2002 ACTS magazine, from the General Council of the
Churches of God (7th Day), Meridian, ID.
DEFINITION OF SPIRITUAL GIFT
"A spiritual gift is the supernatural empowerment given by
God's Spirit to help the Church carry out its mission in the
Gifts of the Spirit are given to a member of the body of
Christ by the Spirit of God that enables him (or her - Keith
Hunt) to work effectively and with joy in helping the church
carry out its mission in the world. In its widest, deepest sense
it is the call of God coming to an individual in the Body of
Christ singling him (or her - Keith Hunt) out for a particular
ministry and carrying with it the ability to perform that
THE BODY OF CHRIST AND SPIRITUAL GIFTS
We must understand the Biblical concept of the organization
of the Body of Christ, because it is intentionally structured
around the concept of SPIRITUAL GIFTS. The major Biblical
passages on spiritual gifts reinforce this conclusion. It cannot
be mere coincidence that in all THREE of the most EXPLICIT
passages on spiritual gifts, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and
Ephesians 4, the gifts are explained in the CONTEXT of the Body.
"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all
the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with
Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12).
"For as in one body we have many members, and all the
members do not have the same FUNCTION, so we, though many, are
one body in Christ, and individually members one of another"
"Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in
every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the
whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it
is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily
growth and up-builds itself in love" (Ephesians 4:15,16).
The analogy of the Church as the body of Christ indicates
that spiritual gifts should be viewed in the CONTEXT of the
FUNCTIONAL body. The Church, as a body, has Jesus Christ as its
head. By being PROPERLY RELATED to the head, the rest of the
body functions normally. Without the NORMAL FUNCTIONING of each
part of the body, little growth will be seen. By the same token,
the Church, in order to GROW, must have ALL its members properly
related to its head - Jesus Christ. Each member must be UTILIZING
his (or her - Keith Hunt) SPIRITUAL GIFT and performing their
FUNCTION towards BUILDING UP the body for the purpose of MINISTRY
to the world.
WHO HAS SPIRITUAL GIFTS?
Not EVERYONE has spiritual gifts. Un-believers do not. But
EVERY Christian person who has been baptized in the Holy Spirit
has at LEAST ONE gift, and possibly more.
(Let me add here that all true Christians are baptized in
the Holy Spirit, in one important sense, and that is when they
are brought to repentance and conversion. See my studies on
"baptism" to get the full in-depth meaning of what I have just
said. I think it is true that God gives at least one Spiritual
Gift to those who are truly trying to live by every word of God -
Mat.4:4; and desiring to walk in the way of Christ - 1 John
2:1-6; and doing what Paul said to do, "Let this mind be in you
which was in Christ Jesus" - Phil.2:5. There are so many
"spiritual gifts" - see part four of this series - that I think
it would be very unlikely that a true child of God would not have
at least one of those gifts - Keith Hunt).
........The baptism in the Holy Spirit is an operation of the
Spirit of God DISTINCT and SEPARATE from His working of
REGENERATION...Just as the Spirit's SANCTIFYING work is a
DISTINCT work complementing His regeneration work, so that
baptism in the Spirit complements the regeneration and
sanctifying work of the Spirit......(The author is here stating I
believe that the work of the Holy Spirit giving a spiritual gift
or gifts to an individual can be any time during their Christian
life time. It is a special outpouring of the Spirit imparting to
that individual a gift of the Spirit, for a short or long time,
and for a service work within the Body of Christ to edify the
Body or to reach the world with the Gospel. This action of the
Spirit on the individual's life is then termed "baptism in the
Holy Spirit." For further thoughts on this aspect see the end of
this article under the heading "The Ebb and Flow of Spiritual
Gifts" - Keith Hunt).
........The main result of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a
manifestation of the various gifts of the Spirit.
Other results of a genuine baptism in the Holy Spirit are:
a) enhanced sensitivity to sin that grieves the Holy Spirit, a
greater desire to keep God's commandments and a deeper awareness
of God's judgment against ungodliness; b) a life that brings
glory to God (John 16:13,14; Acts 4:33); c) new visions (Acts
2:17); d) a greater desire to pray (Acts 2:41,42; Romans 8:26);
e) a deeper love and understanding of God's Word (John 16: 13;
Acts 2:42); f) an increasing awareness of God as Father (Acts
1:4; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).
HOW TO RECEIVE THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
STEP 1: We must ACCEPT by FAITH Jesus Christ as LORD and SAVIOR
and TURN from SIN and the world.
"Then Peter said unto them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of
you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and
you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit' " (Acts 2:38).
This involves surrendering our wills to God. We must turn
from that which offends God before we can be an instrument for
noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master.
"If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a
vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use,
and prepared unto every goof work" (2 Timothy 2:21).
STEP 2: We must DESIRE to be filled. Christians should have a
deep hunger...."Blessed are they which HUNGER and THIRST
after RIGHTEOUSNESS: for they SHALL be FILLED" (Matthew 5:6).
"For I will pour water upon him that is THIRSTY, and floods
upon the dry ground: I will POUR my SPIRIT upon thy seed, and my
BLESSING upon thine offspring" (Isaiah 44:3).
"If any man THIRST, let him come to me, and DRINK. He that
believes on me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly SHALL
FLOW rivers of LIVING water" (John 7:37,38).
STEP 3: We often receive this baptism in answer to PRAYER.
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto
your children: how much MORE shall your heavenly Father give the
Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 11:3).
"These all CONTINUED with one accord in PRAYER and
SUPPLICATION, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and
with his brethren" (Acts 1:14).
STEP 4: We should EXPECT that God will baptize us in the Holy
"Therefore I say unto you, what things soever you desire
when you PRAY, BELIEVE that you receive them, and you shall have
them" (Mark 11:24).
(All Christians at conversion and baptism receive God's Holy
Spirit as the Lord's seed of begettal and so are then begotten as
His child. How much of the Holy Spirit they receive at this time
is based upon a number of factors....their humble repentant
attitude of mind, how much prayer and Bible study they have been
doing, how much fruit of repentance they have already manifested
in their lives, how much they hunger and thirst after
righteousness, how much they desire and want, for the right
reasons, God's Holy Spirit, how much they want to be the clay in
the hands of the Master potter, to live and work for His glory
and to see others come to the saving knowledge that is in Christ
Jesus. There may be other factors also. Every true repentant
person receives some of God's Spirit at conversion and baptism in
water. Paul in one verse called it the "earnest of the Spirit" -
the down payment, of more to come, if that person is workable
clay in the potter's hands. Some at this time, according to the
factors above and to God's will, do receive one or more of the
"spiritual gifts" also. This we can see from certain examples in
the book of Acts. Yet we also know that God can of course, give
one or more of the spiritual gifts to anyone at ANY TIME during
their life's walk with the Father and with Jesus. Under that
situation the four points listed above I believe would play a
very important PART, the bottom line is of course God's WILL as
to WHEN and to WHOM one or more of the spiritual gifts are given
to an individual. At the receiving of a spiritual gift we then
can call it a "baptism in the Holy Spirit" but this must not be
confused or thought of as what many "Pentecostal" churches teach,
that it is accompanied by emotional feelings or a shock wave
hitting the body and then speaking a so-called unknown tongue,
often in an uncontrolled manner. Then on the other hand God can,
if He so chooses, for He is God and can give spiritual gifts
within a congregation where they are more carnal than
spiritual, as He obviously did within the church at Corinth.
There were special needs at Corinth, for the city was a great hub
of trade and commerce, it was a cross roads in the Roman Empire
and many people from all over the Roman world, with different
languages and cultures and customs, and various pagan religions,
would meet there. The church at Corinth had many spiritual gifts,
some were of the more "spectacular" type, as we might think of
them, such as speaking in a language not learnt. They had become
vain in their spiritual gifts and Paul had to correct them
concerning this proudness and concerning how to use gifts of the
Spirit. On the whole they were a group of carnal individuals, way
more carnal than spiritual as Paul pointed out to them in pretty
plain words - see 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. So, we then see that God
can if He wants to and the situation may deem it necessary, give
spiritual gifts to even mainly carnal babes in Christ. Then we
must also note as is the case with the church at Corinth, God
will also have somewhere, a man or men, or a women for that
matter, serving in the work of the Lord, who will be sent or
given the task to CORRECT and GUIDE and TEACH, such a
congregation as that at Corinth, into the correct attitude of
mind and proper use of those spiritual gifts - Keith Hunt).
HOW TO SUSTAIN THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is sustained in the
believer's life by PRAYER, WITNESS, WORSHIP, PRAISE and a
SANCTIFIED life (I would also add, FASTINGS - Keith Hunt).
However powerful the initial coming of the Holy Spirit on
the believer may be, if this does not find expression in a life
of prayer, witness and holiness, the experience will soon
become a FADING glory. (I want to say here that "witnessing" does
not have to be the verbal type, going around talking about the
Lord to every one you meet. If you do this you will soon find
people wanting to stay clear of you or thinking you are some
"religious freak" or fanatic. Witnessing has to be like Jesus
said, "Be as wise as serpents and as harmless as a dove" also "Do
not cast your pearls before swine lest they turn and trample
them" and maybe you also. Witnessing is often most effective by
our LIGHT, the way we live, think, and act towards people. Then
at the right time and in the correct manner we may speak about
the Lord, when we know the person/s will be receptive to
listening. God has a plan of salvation, and as shocking as it is
too many, that plan does not include trying to save the whole
world and people upon it in this age. We are to witness to the
world as a whole, but Jesus and the apostles did NOT try to save
every individual on the earth in their life time. Even today, God
is NOT trying to save every individual on the face of the earth,
if He is trying to do that, then He is not making much headway,
Satan is winning the battle. But there is NO battle between God
and Satan, the Eternal God will save the vast majority of all who
have ever lived on this earth, but He will do it in His time
frame and within His plan of salvation. I have many studies on
this Website that thoroughly explain God's plan of salvation. The
Festivals of the Lord and their meanings are a good place to
start to understand the plan of salvation - Keith Hunt).
The Bible teaches that there may be NEW FILLINGS with the
Holt Sprit after the believer has been baptized in the Spirit
(see Acts 4:31; Ephesians 5:18,19). (Remember we are first
baptized in the Spirit when we receive the first "earnest of the
Spirit" at conversion and water baptism, then at that time or
after that time, we may receive a gift from the Spirit, another
type of baptism with the Holy Spirit, and even later to that we
may have another gift or gifts given to us, another type of
baptism with the Spirit. And so it can go on, as the Lord wills
in giving spiritual gifts to the individual - Keith Hunt).
The baptism in the spirit brings the believer into a
relationship with the Spirit of God that is to be RENEWED and
"And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they
were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy
Spirit, and they spake the Word of God with boldness" (Acts
4:31). (These were the apostles and believers, who had ALREADY
received the Holy Spirit as the nature of God begetting them as
His sons and daughters. But as the CONTEXT shows they wanted to
do a MIGHTY witnessing work for the truth of Jesus' resurrection
just having taken place, and His Messiahship as the Savior of
mankind. I think we can understand their desire at that great
time in the beginning history of the New Testament Church of God,
and what had taken place only a short time before, on the
unforgettable Feast Day of Pentecost. The Church had grown by
leaps and bounds, thousands were still at Jerusalem, after coming
to attend the Pentecost feast. It was indeed a time to have
extra POWER, with SIGNS and MIRACLES, to proclaim the truths of
God. They prayed to the Lord for this extra baptism in the
Spirit, and their prayers were answered in the POSITIVE - God
would indeed give many of them GIFTS of the Spirit to mightily
proclaim the Gospel message - Keith Hunt).
Spiritual gifts are received by the Spirit of God through
GRACE, and are NOT something WE achieve. God gives the gifts at
His OWN DISCRETION. First Corinthians 12:11 talks about the
Spirit DIVIDING gifts, "to every man severally as HE WILL." Later
in verse 18 the text says that God sets the members in the Body
"as it hath pleased Him."
God has NOT entrusted ANY person to GIVE Spiritual Gifts. No
pastor, no seminary president, NO ONE is QUALIFIED to DISPENSE
Furthermore, no one WORKS real hard and then is rewarded
with a gift.
They are gifts of GRACE, and as such, they EMERGE FROM God
with NO reference to the degree of MERIT or sanctification that
the recipient may have attained.
The fact is that they can be given by the baptism in the
holy Spirit to a brand NEW born-again (begotten again - Keith
Hunt) Christian even before he (or she - Keith Hunt) has had time
to MATURE in the Body of Christ (Yes, I covered this statement of
the author in more detail about - Keith Hunt).
THE EBB AND FLOW OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS
1. The use of spiritual gifts diminishes when the role of the
laity is reduced.
2. The lack of Biblical teaching in the middle ages resulted in a
failure to either understand or use spiritual gifts.
3. Fanaticism and emotional display in the use of spiritual gifts
has often been associated with false doctrine and cults and has
discouraged churches in identifying with the need and use of
4. When the role of the clergy develops into performing the
ministry described by the spiritual gifts, the use of those gifts
diminishes; so does the desire to use them on the part of the
5. The understanding and use of spiritual gifts will thrive under
the encouragement and teaching of church leaders. The
responsibility rests upon their shoulders.
6. The exalting of certain gifts over others tends to diminish
the importance and use of other gifts and leads to pride and a
lack of balance in the ministry of the local church.
Hocking, "The World's Greatest Church" (Long Beach: Sounds of
TO BE CONTINUED