BROTHER SWAGGART, WHAT ARE THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT?
The Gifts of the Spirit pertain to Gifts listed in I Corinthians 12:8-10. Only Spirit-filled people can have these Gifts, and we speak of those who have been baptized with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other Tongues. I have never heard of anyone exercising one of these Gifts who wasn’t baptized with the Holy Spirit. In fact, most who do not subscribe to the Spirit Baptism claim that these Gifts stopped with the death of the original Apostles. And then those who do lend some type of idea that they exist today explain them totally in the natural realm. In other words, the “Gifts of Healing(s)” pertain to doctors and nurses, with the gift of “the Word of Wisdom,” which they erroneously label as the “Gift of Wisdom,” as being possessed by elderly Christians who have a lot of experience. In other words, everything is explained in the natural, taking it out from the Domain of the Holy Spirit. Of course, none of that is Scripturally correct.
In this Chapter we hope to shed some light on what these Gifts are, and how they operate.
CAN PREACHERS BESTOW THESE GIFTS ON OTHERS?
No! Preachers cannot bestow Gifts of the Spirit on others.
These are “Gifts of the Spirit,” and not gifts of man. He Alone can bestow these Gifts as He Alone can empower these Gifts.
The Word of God concerning this question plainly states:
“But all these work that one and the selfsame Spirit (refers to the fact that all the abilities and powers of the Gifts are produced and operated by the energy of the Spirit), dividing to every man severally as He (the Holy Spirit) will. (All the distribution is within the discretion of the Holy Spirit, which means that men or women cannot impart Gifts to other individuals. That is the domain of the Spirit Alone!)” (I Cor. 12:11).
If it is to be noticed, the Scripture plainly says, “Dividing to every man severally as He (the Holy Spirit) will,” not as man wills.
Unfortunately, in the last few decades there have been seminars and meetings of various types where it was claimed that certain preachers could bestow Gifts on others, etc.
One of the biggest sins of Believers is to intrude into the Office Work of the Holy Spirit, which is His Domain Alone. Neither in the Book of Acts nor the Epistles, which is the proclamation of the Early Church and the Doctrine by which the Early Church was founded, will you find any of the Apostles, even the Apostle Paul, bestowing Gifts of the Spirit on others.
Some have tried to force Romans 1:11 into this arena; however, Paul is not there talking about Gifts of the Spirit as it pertains to the nine Gifts. What was he talking about?
THE ESTABLISHING OF BELIEVERS
The great Apostle said:
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your Faith is spoken of throughout the whole world (speaks of the Roman Empire).
“For God is my witness, Whom I serve with my spirit (his human spirit) in the Gospel of His Son (Jesus Christ and Him Crucified), that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers (Paul had a strong prayer life);
“Making request (has to do with seeking the Lord about a certain thing, in this case the privilege of ministering to the Church at Rome), if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the Will of God to come unto you (Acts, Chpts. 27 and 28, record that journey; it was very prosperous spiritually, but not prosperous in other ways).
“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some Spiritual Gift (does not mean, as some think, that Paul could impart one or more of the nine Gifts of the Spirit, but rather speaks of explaining to them more perfectly the Word of God), to the end you may be established (Spiritual Gifts, as valuable as they are, do not establish anyone; it is the Truth of the Word which establishes, and that alone [Jn. 8:32])” (Rom. 1:8-11).
Even though we will explain these Gifts exactly as they are given in the Scripture, still, to help us understand them a little better, they can be sectioned in groups of three. They are:
Three Gifts that reveal something:
• The Word of Wisdom
• The Word of Knowledge
• Discerning of spirits
Three Gifts which do something:
• Gifts of Healing(s)
• Working of Miracles
Three Gifts that say something:
• Diverse kinds of Tongues
• Interpretation of Tongues
“I WOULD NOT HAVE YOU IGNORANT”
It is clear and plain in the Word of God that the Lord wants us to understand these Gifts, what they are, how they function, how they operate, etc. That being the case, we should eagerly desire this information. Concerning this, the Scripture says:
“Now concerning Spiritual Gifts, Brethren (in this case, this has to do with the nine Gifts of the Spirit outlined in Verses 8 through 10), I would not have you ignorant (proclaims the Spirit of God, through Paul, saying He wanted the entirety of the Church to know about these Gifts).
“You know that you were Gentiles (meaning that, before their conversion, they had no knowledge of God), carried away unto these dumb idols, even as you were led. (They were primarily led by superstition and witchcraft.)
“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed (the True Spirit of God would never do such a thing; so those who did such were not of God): and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit. (Any other manner will be incorrect. It is the Holy Spirit Alone, Who reveals the Lordship of Christ to the Believer.)”
“DIVERSITIES” AND “DIFFERENCES”
“Now there are diversities of Gifts (different types of Gifts), but the same Spirit (all of this means the Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself).
“And there are differences of Admin-
istrations (different Services, Ministries, Offices), but the same Lord. (Christ is the One Who assigns the different Ministries, with the Holy Spirit then carrying out the function. As well, Christ never contradicts Himself.)
“And there are diversities of Operations (different ways the Gifts work), but it is the same God which works all in all (has reference to the fact it is God the Father Who energizes all things and all ways)” (I Cor. 12:1-6).
THESE GIFTS ARE A BLESSING
The Scripture says:
“But the manifestation of the Spirit (pertains to that which the Gifts make manifest or reveal) is given to every man to profit withal. (If the Gifts are allowed to function properly, which they definitely will if the Holy Spirit has His Way, all will profit)” (I Cor. 12:7).
Now, let’s take the Gifts one by one, hopefully, to shed more light on these Blessings given to us by the Holy Spirit.
“THE WORD OF WISDOM”
“For to one is given by the Spirit (proclaims the Holy Spirit as being the One Who carries out the instructions of Christ, relative to who gets what) the Word of Wisdom (pertains to information concerning the future, whether of people, places, or things) . . .” (I Cor. 12:8).
If it is to be noted, it is not the Gift of Wisdom, but rather, “the Word of Wisdom.” It means that the Lord gives us some information about a particular subject regarding the future, whether of people, places, or things, but only a small amount.
As well, we should quickly add that some of these Gifts work in tandem with each other. In other words, several of the Gifts may be in Operation at one time about one particular subject, which, no doubt, happens many times. In fact, the illustration I’m about to give incorporated the “Word of Knowledge” and the “Word of Wisdom.” I could give many illustrations, but I think the one that we will now give will serve the purpose.
THE WHITE HOUSE
If I remember correctly, the year was 1987. At any rate, it was during the Reagan Administration.
The White House called and asked if I would come to Washington where I would meet with two other preachers, only one with whom I was acquainted. The reason for the request pertained to two Baptist preachers in the State of Nebraska, I think it was, who had been put in jail because they refused to subject their private Christian school to certain demands made by the state, which they felt violated their conscience, etc.
I had read about the situation in the newspapers, but beyond that had no knowledge of the situation and was not acquainted with the preachers. At any rate, wondering how in the world that we could be of any help, I consented to go.
THE MEETING IN WASHINGTON
The day of the meeting I arrived according to instructions and was taken to a particular room where the meeting would be held in the Old Executive Office Building, I believe it is called. Once again, if I remember correctly, it is situated near the Capitol.
When I went into the room with the two other preachers, I found it packed to capacity. Most of the President’s Cabinet was there. I was seated next to Ed Meese, the Attorney General of the United States. Directly across from me was Jim Baker, the Secretary of State. Next to him was Jim McFarland, the National Security Advisor. The balance of the room was filled with lawyers. In fact, at the table where we were seated, there must have been eight or ten lawyers, along with scores standing around the wall.
Mr. Baker spoke first, outlining the situation, making the statement that it was deplorable to see preachers of the Gospel put in jail for obeying their conscience. He then went on to say that the White House would do anything to help get these men released, providing it was legal and did not embarrass the President. The lawyers made some statements, as well as the other two preachers. At about that time, possibly about an hour into the meeting, Mr. Meese, the Attorney General, spoke up and made a statement concerning the legalities of the problem.
THE LORD SPOKE TO MY HEART
While the other two preachers had made some remarks, I had not said anything, wondering why they called us there and what help we might be, which, in my mind, was none at all.
As Mr. Meese began to speak, the Lord, all of a sudden, began to speak to my heart. He told me exactly what to say which, if carried out, would immediately bring about the release from jail of these two preachers.
To say that I was nervous would be a gross understatement. Finally, Mr. Meese finished with his statement, and the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Now is the time.”
When Mr. Meese finished speaking, there was silence for a moment, and then I spoke up. Of course, every head turned toward me, wondering what I would say.
I asked the question exactly as the Lord had spoken to my heart. The question was, “Isn’t the President supposed to make a speech tonight that will cover the nation?”
Mr. Baker immediately replied and said, “Well, yes, he is!”
I then said, “Why not have the President mention this situation in Nebraska, which will call attention to the matter, and will probably shame the officials in this city to the extent that they will immediately release these preachers!”
When I finished, there was a silence that gripped the room. All of a sudden, one of the principal lawyers, actually a Constitutional lawyer who was seated at the head of the table, jumped up, slammed his fist on the table and said, “That will work.” He then added, “Why didn’t I think of that!”
Mr. McFarland spoke up then and said, “Yes, the President is making a speech tonight, and I am writing the speech. I know exactly what to say.”
With that, the meeting ended.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
That night President Reagan made the speech as scheduled and in the body of the speech mentioned the situation in Nebraska, as to the shame of preachers in America being put in jail for trying to obey their conscience.
The next morning they were released. It was all because of a Word of Knowledge linked with a Word of Wisdom. The Word of Knowledge had to do with information needed then, and the Word of Wisdom came into play as it regarded what the future would hold, namely the next morning when they would be released.
HOW THESE GIFTS WORKED
Had I thought on this subject before this meeting?
Not really because I knew next to nothing about the situation. In other words, what I spoke to these men that day, which resulted in the release of these preachers, had not entered my mind at all before the Lord began to speak to me at the exact time that He did. To be frank, I personally contributed absolutely nothing to that which was stated. The Lord, as simple as it turned out to be, but which no one else thought of, told me exactly what to say and how to say it.
I’ve had the Lord do that with me any number of times down through the years, but at the same time, there have been times that I pleaded for a Word from the Lord in this capacity, concerning needs that I thought were very important, but with nothing being given. It might be quickly added that these Gifts are not worked at will. In other words, the person cannot turn it on or turn it off. This is strictly the Domain of the Holy Spirit, Who will function as He so desires and when He so desires.
THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE
“. . . To another the Word of Knowledge (concerns the past or the present, relative to persons, places, or things; it is to be noted that it’s ‘the Word of,’ which means a small amount) by the same Spirit (it is the Holy Spirit Who functions in all of these Gifts)” (I Cor. 12:8).
If it is to be noticed, the “Word of Wisdom” pertains to information concerning the future, while the “Word of Knowledge” pertains to information concerning the past or the present.
Once again, I could give any number of illustrations, but I think the following will explain this Gift.
A CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
The first office we constructed in Baton Rouge relative to the Ministry was located in the south central part of the city. Our present offices are located on the south side.
The year was probably about 1973 or 1974. The Ministry was growing by leaps and bounds, and we were adding an addition to our present structure.
The engineers had drawn the plans for the addition, and the day before a big truck had delivered the concrete beams that would span the building, with a big crane brought out on this particular day to erect the beams in place.
There were several engineers there that morning with all of the equipment ready to go.
One of the city engineers walked over to me at a given point in time, actually when the crane was about ready to put up the first beam. He said to me, “Reverend Swaggart, we’ve got a problem.” He then said, “We can’t put this beam up here as this building is now constructed. If we do, the wall on which one side will be placed could give way with the entire structure falling down.”
I stood there looking at him for a few moments and then stated, “Well, I guess we’ll have to get the engineers to draw up another plan that will accommodate this of which you speak.”
He then said, “Yes, you can do that; however, these concrete beams cannot remain where they are. In fact,” he went on to say, “they are designed with a particular type of stress, and if they are not placed in the position for which they are designed, they will probably crack, making them unusable.”
I tried to absorb all that he said, knowing that tens of thousands of dollars of God’s money were at stake.
THE LORD SPOKE TO ME
He walked over, conferring with other engineers, and I walked to the back of the structure where I could hopefully pray for just a moment to try to get the Mind of the Lord as to what to do.
Let me make it perfectly clear that I have absolutely no experience whatsoever in construction. In other words, I had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever about the things he was telling me.
I stood at the back of the building alone, asking the Lord what we could do. Instantly, it happened.
The Lord told me to go back to the engineer and to propose to him the following solution.
I walked over to where two or three of them were standing discussing the matter. At the opportune time I said to them, “If we put two by tens on top of that wall, bolt them securely to where they will spread out the weight, won’t that take care of the problem?”
This was what the Lord had told me to ask. Now, please understand, as I’ve already stated, I know absolutely nothing about construction regarding engineering or anything else of this type.
Those engineers stood there a moment looking at me, and finally, one turned to the other one and said, “You know, I believe that will work.”
We had someone go to the hardware immediately and purchase the required two by tens. When he came back, they bolted them to the top of that wall. About an hour later, the big crane picked up the first one and laid it in place, followed by all the rest of them.
Once again I walked to the back of the building, and I was weeping. Of course, it was not for sorrow but for joy; however, at any rate, one of the engineers saw me and hastily walked over to where I was.
He said, “Reverend Swaggart, don’t worry, everything is alright now. We’ve got it under control.”
I didn’t say anything to him, but I was rejoicing over what the Lord had just done, which, of course, saved the Ministry tens of thousands of dollars.
What the Lord gave me that day was a “Word of Knowledge” concerning the problem. He didn’t give me a course on engineering. He didn’t give me any knowledge as it regarded what all of this was about, only that which He told me to do. Once again, it was so simple, and yet, the engineers, who work with these types of things all the time, did not at all think of what was suggested.
(This message was derived from the book, “Brother Swaggart, Here Is My Question About The Holy Spirit”.)