agnoeo, agnostic, agnosticism, anointings, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, charisma, culpable ignorance, didomi, fullness of the Holy Spirit, giftedness, Holy Spirit-driven, misunderstandings, natural talents, spiritual gifts
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! ~ Luke 11:11-13, ESV
And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. ~ Luke 24:49, ESV
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Peter 4:10-11, ESV
In today’s institutional “church,” there has been much discussion about the difference between natural talents and spiritual gifts. Even so, there still are way too many believers who remain, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:1, “ignorant” (KJV) about spiritual gifts.
The Greek word that Paul actually uses in 1 Corinthians 12:1 is the verb agnoeo, which, according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, means “to be ignorant, to not know, to err or sin through mistake, or to be wrong.” Thus, in context, this agnoeo refers to a person’s lack of understanding and/or his or her lack of certain facts that specifically are about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as about who the Holy Spirit is.
It is important to note here that it is from the Greek word agnoeo that we get the English noun and adjective, agnostic, and the English noun, agnosticism. For this reason, it also should be noted here that in 1 Corinthians 12:1 Paul is not saying that some Corinthian Christians are agnostics, or fence straddlers, because they don’t believe anyone can prove the existence of God. He actually is saying that some Corinthian agnostic believers are exhibiting an agnosticism that is about the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, or the fullness of the Holy Spirit, which includes believers’ spiritual giftings. It is their agnosticism that is causing them to be so confused about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts that Paul has to correct these believers’ misunderstandings, by addressing their unbelief (culpable ignorance).
Thus, by giving a close examination to Paul’s explanations about spiritual gifts, which he gives in Romans 12, in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13, and in Ephesians 4, twenty-first century believers, who also might have been confused about spiritual gifts, should be spiritually able to discern that spiritual gifts are NOT natural talents. True, both natural talents and spiritual gifts come from God, for James writes:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” ~ James 1:16-17, ESV
However, natural talents differ from spiritual gifts along these lines: Natural talents are those abilities that have been inherited from parents; moreover, natural talents are nurtured in the context of the family. Naturally gifted people also might have to develop their talents, and this development often is achieved with hard work and perseverance (through practicing and training), which eventually will lead to expected results.
On the other hand, independent of birthright or lineage, spiritual gifts come from God, either through Christ Jesus Himself or through the Holy Spirit who has indwelt AND then infilled believers. Additionally, only the Holy Spirit can prompt and direct the “proper” exercise of spiritual gifts, which means believers’ “correct” use of their spiritual gifts requires spiritual growth and maturity (cf. Ephesians 4:13-16). In other words, believers’ spiritual gifts increase in supernatural power and giftedness as believers become intimate with and mature in their supernatural relationship with God and Christ Jesus. For this reason, unlike the naturally talented individuals who expect the kinds of results they get from using their natural talents, Holy Spirit-driven believers usually are surprised by what they are able to do, spiritually, simply because what they are able to do is clearly more than what they ever could have done, naturally!
Put differently, humans are born with their natural talents, which manifest themselves in the lives of both saved and unsaved people, but spiritual gifts only will manifest themselves in the lives of saved (justified) believers, AFTER these Holy Spirit-indwelt believers have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit—the fullness of the Holy Spirit! That is to say, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside born again and saved (justified) believers, and with Him comes the potential for believers to be all God has created them to be. However, to be frank, the indwelt Holy Spirit ONLY can deposit inside of believers their potential spiritual gifts. It then takes the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to release those deposited gifts so that believers’ spiritual gifts then can manifest themselves in their lives!
Once believers allow the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to infill them with the fullness of the Holy Spirit, then and only then will everything that the Holy Spirit comes bearing be ready to be released. Everything, meaning the fullness, God has given to believers by way of the Holy Spirit includes the spiritual gift(s); the anointings or supernatural abilities to develop and operate in those given spiritual gift(s) so that believers might know how and when to use their spiritual gift(s); and the supernatural power that enables spiritually gifted individuals to edify the Body of Christ (ekklesia), to meet the needs of others, and to help themselves in their own personal walk with the Lord.
The bottom line is that life itself makes it clear to us that, depending on how we are living, it is possible for us to lose our natural talent(s), either because we do not use our talent(s), or we have misused our talent(s), or we have abused our talent(s). In contrast, every one of God’s spiritual gifts is irrevocable (cf. Romans 11:29).
Furthermore, it is clear that God intended for both natural talents and spiritual gifts to be used primarily to benefit others. That’s why the natural talents and the spiritual gifts possessed by believers should be surrendered and consecrated to the Lord so that they can be used for His honor and glory. Lastly, while natural talents also are used to benefit mankind, spiritual gifts first and foremost are used for the building up of the Body of Christ!
Most of all, where spiritual gifts are concerned, there are many New Testament verses that unmistakably state that “each one,” each Christian believer, has been given spiritual gifts for the purposes of building up the Body of Christ and for carrying out Christ Jesus’ work in the world (like in Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:11; 1 Peter 4:10). For instance, in the following verse, Paul makes it clear that at least one “…spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (1 Corinthians 12:7, NLT). More important, what Paul is saying in this verse is that God, through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, gives at least one spiritual gift to every believer—a spiritual gift that is independent of that person’s birthright and lineage—so that his or her spiritual gift first and foremost would benefit other believers, rather than him or herself. This, however, is not the situation with a person’s natural talent. For sure, God also gives at least one natural talent to every person, but this natural talent comes through that person’s heritage and parentage so that his or her natural talent could benefit the whole world rather than merely him or herself.
Case in point, recently so many people have been saying that the entire world has benefited from the natural talent demonstrated by the late, great singer, Whitney Houston. Most of these people know that her extraordinary singing voice is because Whitney Houston, first and foremost, was born into a naturally talented musical family. Thus, there can be no doubt that her family provided her with the necessary nurturing it would take to develop her voice. Likewise, there can be no doubt that her remarkable singing voice also is the result of her own perseverance and the training she more than likely received from the arts-focused Franklin School (now called the Whitney E. Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts)! Using Whitney Houston as an example, it should be easy to see how, more often than not, naturally talented people in a naturally talented family will help each other develop one another’s natural talent, no matter whether that natural talent is that of a vocalist, musician, artist, teacher, athlete, dancer, scientist, mathematician, novelist, journalist, speaker, and so forth.
However, despite the fact that there often are many unsaved and saved individuals who counterfeit God’s spiritual gifts, it should be mentioned here that neither saved nor unsaved people have any power to cultivate or train the spiritual gifts believers use. As earlier mentioned, it is the Holy Spirit who prompts and directs the “proper” exercise of spiritual gifts, which means believers’ “correct” use of their spiritual gifts requires spiritual growth and maturity. For these reasons, in order for believers to increase in supernatural power and giftedness, they first must mature in their own intimate relationship with God and Christ Jesus, and even then ONLY the Holy Spirit can help believers achieve their mature, intimate relationship—their oneness or unity with God and Christ Jesus.
Now although God gives every believer his or her basic temperament (nature, character, personality), natural talent(s), and spiritual gift(s), not every believer will open his or her gift of the Holy Spirit (access the supernatural power and fullness of the Holy Spirit) so that he or she can receive everything God has given to him or her. Once again, everything God has given to every one of His children includes: the spiritual gift(s); the anointings or supernatural abilities to develop and operate in those given spiritual gift(s) so that every believer might know how and when to use his or her spiritual gift(s); and the supernatural power that enables the spiritually gifted individual to edify the Body of Christ (ekklesia), to meet the needs of others, and to help him or herself in his or her own personal walk with the Lord.
For these reasons, it is important to note once again that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (infilling Holy Spirit) is the prerequisite that must be met before there can be any manifestations of the spiritual gifts God has put inside believers. Moreover, it is these spiritual gifts that determine how a believer should operate in the Body of Christ (should function in the ekklesia or Christ Jesus’ “body” on Earth, but only according to how the Holy Spirit lives and moves in each believer who has received His Baptism or infilling).
There are many reasons why believers refuse to open their gift of the Holy Spirit so that they can receive His Baptism, which also anoints them with the abilities to develop and operate in their spiritual gifts. However, based on the fact that most of today’s believers are “ignorant” about who the Holy Spirit is and equally “ignorant” about His supernatural power and fullness, which includes the spiritual gifts Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit give believers, the most common reasons for refusing to open the gift of the Holy Spirit are: Believers have decided that they are not comfortable with, not faithful enough, or not available to use their spiritual gift(s). Believers have decided to trust in some renowned Christian celebrities and/or some reputable biblical scholars’ reasons for why they believe that the first century apostolic spiritual gifts have ceased. Believers have decided that they do not want their own spiritual gift(s), because they prefer to have the spiritual gift(s) another believer has.
The Divine Truth is that NONE of the supernatural power, spiritual gifts, graces, and enablements that the Holy Spirit poured out on the Day of Pentecost has ceased. For sure, everything Christ Jesus promised His disciples, then and now, in Mark 16:17-18, the Holy Spirit made available first to the 120 Upper Room disciples, to Paul, and eventually to every born again, saved (justified) and being sanctified believer (cf. The Acts Of The Apostles). Thus, the supernatural power, spiritual gifts, graces, and enablements are available today, and NOT just for “church” pastors, bishops, or Dr. so and so, but for EVERY believer!
Now, biblically speaking, there are four different listings of spiritual gifts, and they are: 1. Leadership Gifts—the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors/shepherds-teachers (cf. Ephesians 4:11-12); 2. Service Gifts—the Father’s mercy/grace, prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, and leadership (cf. Romans 12:4-8); 3. Supernatural Gifts—the Father’s wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, diverse tongues, and tongues interpretation (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 28-31); and 4. Miscellaneous Gifts—the gift of celibacy (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:7-8), gift of hospitality (cf. 1 Peter 4:9-10), gift of speaking in tongues—speaking in a heavenly language/tongues of angels (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1a), gift of martyrdom (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:3b), gift of missionary (cf. Ephesians 3:6-8), and gift of voluntary poverty (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:3a).
Concerning Leadership spiritual gifts, Paul tells believers that they are to walk worthy in their calling and to use that grace that has been given to them, according to the measure of Christ Jesus’ gifts (cf. Ephesians 4:1). Additionally, Paul says that Christ Jesus has measured out to every believer one or more Leadership spiritual gift (cf. Ephesians 4:7).
As mentioned earlier, both Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit give spiritual gifts to the Body of Christ; however, the gifts that Christ Jesus gives are not charismata gifts (spiritual gifts of service, or gifts of favor, or gifts of Grace given on behalf of the donor, who is God). The Lord’s gifts (or domata) are the spiritually gifted individuals who are to function as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors-teachers (shepherds-teachers). In other words, the Lord gives people as His supernatural gifts, and these spiritual people gifts are to function in His ekklesia as the persons God divinely created specifically for discipleship work (for equipping or training the saints for service), as well as for building up and encouraging the saints (cf. Ephesians 4:8, 11-12; Hebrews 10:24). Thus, the ministers listed in Ephesians 4:11 are THE literal spiritual “gifts” Christ Jesus gives to His Body of Believers, because in Ephesians 4:11, the Greek verb didomi, which is translated in English as “gave,” actually means Christ Jesus is presenting, giving, bestowing, and/or granting to the Body of Christ, the “gift of the person.”
On the other hand, it is the Holy Spirit who specifically gives the service, supernatural, and miscellaneous charismata spiritual gifts, and these charismata gifts have four common characteristics: (1) they manifest because of the Holy Spirit’s baptism; (2) they are the direct result of the supernatural ministry workings of the Holy Spirit; (3) they specifically are given to benefit the Body of Christ or ekklesia, and (4) they are instantaneous in that they are Holy Spirit prompted and directed to be used at a given moment and to meet a special need. Then too, contrary to popular opinion, believers’ spiritual gifts are not given to them for them to use when and however they please; yet, that doesn’t stop many spiritually gifted believers from doing just that—they often use their spiritual gifts when they have not been Holy Spirit prompted and directed to do so. However, as earlier mentioned, Paul says that spiritual gifts are irrevocable (cf. Romans 11:29). This last point is why even backslidden believers are still able to use their spiritual gifts!
Finally, God is a Good God and the Giver of every good and perfect gift. As the benevolent donor that He is, God sovereignly has purposed that He would give each one of His children everything he or she needs to live the victorious Christian life (an overcomer life) that he and she is called to live. That’s why God showers His sons and daughters with many kinds of spiritual gifts, in the hope that they graciously will accept, as well as obediently and willingly use, His spiritual gifts as He intends for them to be used.
Lastly, since there is no scriptural proof that the domata and charismata spiritual gifts ceased with the apostles or with the accepted Old and New Testament lists of books that officially have become the Holy Bible, then the logical conclusion should be that these spiritual gifts are still in effect. Moreover, when some people use the argument that spiritual gifts are being misused, as the reason for why they are not operating in their spiritual gifts, it should be obvious that their argument is flawed because spiritual gifts can’t be misused if they are not still in existence!
The bottom line is this: The first-century believers needed to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit before the promised supernatural power of the Holy Spirit and the varied spiritual gifts could be released in their lives so that they could have the promised spiritual help, guidance, Truth teaching, revelation knowledge, strength, and joy they needed to be effective witnesses for Christ Jesus, as well as the victorious Christians (overcomers) they were called to be. Consequently, if the first-century believers needed the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (the fullness of the Holy Spirit, which includes supernatural power, spiritual gifts, and the spiritual anointings or the abilities to develop and operate in their given spiritual gifts), then it should be evident that twenty-first century believers cannot truly succeed in their walk with the Lord without the same fullness and same spiritual gifts!
Also, please read my posts: Is Begging for Money a God Anointed Spiritual Gift?, and It Is Quite Possible For Us To Misuse Our Spiritual Gifts