Friday, June 29, 2012

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Now, I don't want to be misleading. Although the nine gifts of the Spirit are how God Himself bares witness of Himself, we can tell that the Holy Spirit is present in people through a far simpler way. One can be deceived by a person who is pretending to speak in tongues, a false prophet or a person who is lying about experiencing a miracle of healing. Jesus warns of this in Matthew 7:15-20 and implies there is a far simpler way to tell when the Holy Spirit is present in a person. He says:
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Here Jesus says a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit... Therefore by their fruit you will know them. A person who is saved and truly has the Holy Spirit bears the fruit of the Spirit. Their character is molded and shaped by the Holy Spirit who is living inside of them.

What are the fruits of the Spirt? Galatians 5:22-23 states:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 
When, you see people who "bear these fruits", even if they are not delivering the bound, healing the sick, speaking in tongues and prophesying you can theorize that the Holy Spirit is present in that person.

Likewise, how do you know that the Holy Spirit is in you? You bear the fruit of the Spirit. Love, peace, joy begin to manifest themselves in and through you. You don't have to try to have peace. Peace abides on its own. You do not have to try to have self-control. Self-control manifests itself when necessary. Some of you might be able to witness to the fact  that when you spend time in the presence of God or when you read the Bible (which is described as the sword of the Spirit) these gifts abide in you almost effortlessly. Yet when you are away from the Word of God or you don't spend time with God or you're not engaging in the actions categorize people as "saved", it is much harder for gentleness and patience or joy and peace to effortlessly abide through you. (But, if you are not baring the fruits of the Holy Spirit that does not mean you are not saved anymore. As described in the blog post about Stirring Up the Spirit, it just means the Holy Spirit is lying dormant inside of you.)

The Holy Spirit in the Upper Room

I hope through breaking down the 9 gifts of the Spirit or the nine ways the spirit manifest Himself you are able to understand that these gifts are how God proves to people that He is present. Otherwise we are only believing blindly that God exists and that we are saved. However, when these gifts manifest, we are now believing in something tangible. Remember Hebrews 2:4 states God bears witness of himself both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are how God bears witness of Himself.

Understanding this concept can give us a better understanding of why the 120 people in the upper room  spoke in tongues in Acts Chapter 2. God was revealing Himself to the people for the first time through the Holy Spirit and wanted it to be clear to them that the Holy Spirit was now present. Remember we said in the previous blog post about the gift of tongues that tongues is arguably the hardest gift of the Holy Spirit for Christians (especially Christians struggling in faith) to dispute within themselves. This is why Jude says in Jude 1:20 that we build up our most holy faith when we pray in tongues.

Acts 2 Explained:
In Acts Chapter 1 verses 4 through 8 Jesus tells those who followed Him not to leave Jerusalem until after the Holy Spirit came upon them. He then tells them after the Holy Spirit does come upon them they will receive power and that they will be able to bear witness of Him not only in Jerusalem, but in Judea, Samaria and all the earth. With the knowledge we have of the gifts of the Spirit, that their role is to bear witness of God (because it is how God manifests Himself through people), we understand that the Holy Spirit was not just going to come upon them without manifesting one of the nine gifts.

If the Holy Spirit came without manifesting Himself how would the disciples have really known that He was there. It's not like nowadays where we have a New Testament that tells us the Holy Spirit comes upon every one who follows Jesus Christ. This was the first time the Holy Spirit came after the departure of Jesus so the gift of tongues was manifested as a means of the Holy Spirit bearing witness of Himself so the people would know He was now inside of them.

However, in Acts 2, speaking in tongues didn't only allow the Holy Spirit to bear witness of His presence to the 120 that were there in the upper room. As prophesied by Jesus, it bore witness of God to those in Jerusalem as well! The scripture states that the people in the region (Jerusalem) were shocked because some of the men and women who were speaking in tongues were supernaturally speaking in foreign languages that the unbelievers could understand. knowing that it takes months, sometimes years to learn a language and the followers of Jesus were speaking another language instantly by the Holy Spirit, it made them believe that God was present. Human beings, on their own, could not do such a thing.

Is the Gift of Tongues the Only Gift the Spirit Uses To Manifest Himself When People Are Saved?
The gifts of tongues isn't the only gift that manifests when people receive Jesus and consequently receive the Holy Spirit. For example in Acts 19, there were a group of twelve people who were saved who had never even heard of the Holy Spirit (now we know this still happens in our time!) and Paul laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit began to manifest Himself and bear witness of His presence through two of the gifts of the Spirit. Acts 19:6 says:  And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Here, we see the gift of prophesy as well as the gift of tongues operating in order for the Holy Spirit to manifest His presence to those twelve people who did not even know He existed much less that he was dwelling inside of them. (Refer back to the "Stirring up the Spirit" blog post to understand that the Holy Spirit can be present in people without being manifested.)

Another instance where a gift of the Spirit, besides tongues, is manifested in people who are saved is in Mark 2 when a paralytic goes to Jesus for healing. Jesus says to him "your sins are forgiven" meaning the man received Jesus and became a "Christian". Then the gift of healing manifests in the man's life and Jesus tells Him to pick up His bed and walk. Here the gift of the Spirit, healing manifested as a means of God bearing witness of Himself. Jesus even explains, anyone who can believe that God is able to manifest Himself and heal is also able to believe that God can manifest Himself and save.

It does not always happen that the Holy Spirit manifests one of His gifts through a person who is saved. Like the group of twelve in Acts 19, the manifestation of a gift can come afterwards. Or like the man in Mark 2, it can come instantly. However, the fact that it can come at any time shows that the Holy Spirit is always there on the inside as Jesus promised in John 14.

Gifts of the Spirit Explained: Prophecy & Tongues

Prophesy is the first of the three Spoken Gifts of the Spirit. The literal definition of prophesy is to foretell by divine inspiration. 2 Peter 1:21 says “prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”. This is seen many times throughout the bible. As we looked at earlier in the book of Ezekiel. When men prophesy, the words they speak about the future are given to them directly by God.
Different kinds of tongues
Tongues is the second of the three Spoken Gifts of the Spirit. Mark 16:17-18 says “these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues”. The gift of tongues was first seen in the bible in Acts chapter 2 when the Holy Spirit came swiftly into the room where one- hundred disciples were gathered. Acts 2:4 says “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (this passage will further be explained in the next Holy Spirit Blog Post).
Although most of the times, the words being uttered through the gift of tongues cannot be understood by men, we can be assured that what is being said is of the Holy Spirit. Therefore whatever is being spoken is sure to be within the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 describes tongues as the Holy Spirit making intercession for us through “groans” that we ourselves cannot utter:
26- Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27- Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God
One of the benefits of the gift of tongues is that although we may not know how to design our own prayers to always be for what the Father planned specifically for our individual lives, the Holy Spirit uses tongues to intercede for us according to the will of God in that way.
Another benefit of tongues is that it builds our faith. It is arguably the hardest of all the gifts for a person to dispute within themselves. If a person who just starting out in faith receives a word of prophesy, a word of knowledge or wisdom, the interpretation of tongues, discernment or faith from the Holy Spirit it can be very hard for them to differentiate whether it is the Holy Spirit or their own imagination that generated the thoughts, ideas and words. Sometimes, even when the Holy Spirit performs a healing or a miracle, the human mind thinks so logically that we can tend to sometimes question the science behind what was done to determine whether it was truly the Holy Spirit or just a rare coincidence. However, when a person receives the gift of tongues it is extremely evident to them that the Holy Spirit is present. To be extremely descriptive here, the person literally is able to feel their tongue and mouth moving; knowing that they themselves are not moving it! For this reason, there are a lot of people who still don’t ever believe a person is filled with the Holy Spirit unless the person speaks or has once spoken in tongues! It is extremely hard to dispute that gift, especially from the perspective of the person who receives it. So much so, Jude 1:20 says that when we pray in the Holy Spirit we build up our most holy faith. (According to the book of Corinthians, praying in the spirit means speaking in tongues. See in context 1 Corinthians 14:15-16)

Gifts of the Spirit Explained: Faith, Healing, & Miracles

Faith, Gifts of Healings and the Working of Miracles
As stated in the "Stirring Up The Spirit" blog post, faith, healing and working of miracles are the three gifts of the Spirit that inspire supernatural change. They are not spoken gifts or revelation gifts, but they are gifts that cause people to be healed or cause miracles to happen. 
Faith from the Holy Spirit is by and large what prompts the manifestation of healings and working of miracles. This is seen on countless occasions throughout the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. 

In the bible, healings and miracles from God’s Spirit are seen many times manifested in those who received knowledge of God’s power and consequently began to stand in faith. Consider the number of times Jesus is quoted as telling people who heard of Him and believed in Him that their faith resulted in a miracle:
     §  “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” -Matthew 9:22
     §  Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” -Matthew 
     §  Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as 
you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. -Matthew 15:28
     §  And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” -Luke 17:19
The bible says in Hebrew 2:4 that God bears witness of himself both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. So although, these gifts of the Spirit can be used to benefit others (for example healing the sick), their purpose is to allow God to "bear witness of Himself", according to the above verse. Remember, the manifestation of the Spirit comes through these 9 gifts. This is how God manifests his presence to people.

Gifts of the Spirit Explained: Discernment

Discerning of Spirits:
This gift is the last of the three revelation gifts (gifts that reveal). It is the ability to differentiate, through knowledge given by the Spirit, whether a person is operating through promptings of the Holy Spirit, an evil spirit, or the flesh. 
(Malachi 3:18 describes one use of this gift as being able to “discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him”.)
This is seen in the bible in the book of Acts 13. Here Paul is able to discern the unspoken of evil intentions of a man. Verses 8-10 say: 

8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?
Here Paul was able to discern through the Spirit the evil prompting a person’s actions. The gift of discerning of spirits can give people supernatural knowledge from the Holy Spirit that determines if a person is demon-possessed, filled with the Holy Spirit or just operating “in the flesh”. Read the full story about Paul using the gift of discernment in Acts 13.

Gifts of the Spirit Explained: Knowledge

A Word of Knowledge
 A word of knowledge is given by the Spirit to supernaturally impart information to us. It is similar to a word of wisdom except it is more arbitrary. A word of wisdom is usually given when a person needs to make a decision. On the other hand, a word of knowledge is given to inform people of spontaneous facts about people, places, things, situations, etc. The information given by the Holy Spirit through words of knowledge is not confined within the boundaries of our own human knowledge. It is infinite and supernatural.
For example, in the book of Acts, the multitude was said to share everything they had with each other for the sake of being of one heart and one soul. However, in Acts 5 there was a man named Ananias who kept back part of his goods for himself and his wife, but the Holy Spirit supernaturally revealed this fact to Peter. Verses 2 and 3 says,
“he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?”
Once again, we see Peter had no natural way of knowing Ananias kept back part of the goods for himself. However, notice the term Peter uses: “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit”. It was the Holy Spirit, One who knows everything, that supernaturally revealed Ananias’ lie to Peter. If we look at the entire passage we would see that Peter had no way of using his own knowledge to come to that conclusion.
The Holy Spirit’s ability to reveal facts to man through words of knowledge is also seen in Luke 2:25-27. The bible says:
25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this 
man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple.
Here Simeon is told about his future and destiny through a word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit. (We also see the Spirit reveal a word of wisdom to Simeon which prompted him to make the decision to go to the temple in verse 27.)

Click here for one of my personal experiences receiving a Word of Knowledge

Gifts of the Spirit Explained: Wisdom

A word of wisdom
When the Spirit gives a word of wisdom it supernaturally aids in helping us make a decision. It is not our own wisdom that we rely on. Instead it is a portion of the wisdom of God; which we know is infinite. Just as a word is a fragment of a sentence, so is a word of wisdom a fragment of God’s unlimited wisdom. A word of wisdom is given by the Spirit to help us know, beyond our own wisdom, the most beneficial things to say, do or perform. Some describe this gift (as well as the gifts of discerning of spirits and a word of knowledge) as briefly being able to see the world from the perspective of God; who knows everything.
Jesus speaks about the Holy Spirit’s ability to give a word of wisdom in Mark 13:11. He says to the disciples, “When they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit”. Here, Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit’s perfect ability to give people the right things to say.
The wisdom of the Holy Spirit empowers us to make advantageous choices that will be of the best benefit to us. In this scripture, Jesus specifically tells the disciples not to depend on their own wisdom or understanding, but to rely on the unlimited wisdom of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows everything and uses supernatural wisdom to lead us to the right place at the right time while giving us the right understanding needed to say and do the right things in order to get the best results possible. His wisdom is boundless in comparison to our own wisdom which is limited. We can assume the most logical things to do and say in order to get the best results, but because our wisdom is not infinite like the Holy Spirit’s the results will not be as perfect.
Let’s take 1 Kings 18:12 for example: In this scripture Obadiah finds Elijah who King Ahab had been looking for and is worried that if he leaves Elijah will be led by the Holy Spirit to a hiding place where no one will be able to find him. So Obadiah says to Elijah “it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me”. Here, Obadiah is acknowledging the Holy Spirit’s ability to reveal to Elijah a place unknown to him. Elijah, by his own wisdom, would not have been able to know what hiding places he can go that are known or unknown to Obadiah. However, Obadiah knew that if the Spirit of the Lord guided Elijah to a hiding place it would be so perfect that no one would be able to find him.

Next Post: Gifts of the Spirit Explained: Knowledge              Previous Post Stirring Up the Holy Spirit

Stirring Up The Holy Spirit

Stirring Up the Spirit
Even if a person is saved, sanctified and receives the Holy Spirit, if they want to see Him move supernaturally in their life they must call on Him and seek after Him for the manifestation of His presence.

Take into consideration, the young disciple in the bible named Timothy. In the beginning of Acts 16, the Apostle Paul meets Timothy and takes him to help spread the gospel in different cities. Now, although Timothy already received and was filled with the Spirit, Paul told Him to still seek after and call on Him when necessary. Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:
“I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Based on the way this scripture is phrased, we see here that the gift from God Paul was referring to was the Holy Spirit. (We can also use Acts 19:6 to understand that Paul was referring to the Holy Spirit because in this account the scripture says, “Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them.”)

Even though Timothy already had the Holy Spirit, Paul was telling him to “stir” the Holy Spirit up. The Spirit was already present inside of Timothy, but Paul was telling him to not let the Spirit lay dormant. He was telling Him to stir up the Spirit, because if he did the Spirit would manifest his “power, love and sound mind”.

Spirit of Power
Paul further explains the power of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians while telling of the Spirits gifts. (Disclaimer: a lot of times when we see people operating in the gifts I am about to mention we say "Pastor Bob has the gift of prophesy. It is important to understand that is not the case. The correct way to put is "Pastor Bob has the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit has the gift of prophecy)

The 9 gifts of the Spirit, or the Holy Spirit's gifts are mentioned in chapter 12:7-11 of 1 Corinthians when Paul says to the church at Corinth,
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
Here Paul lists nine supernatural gifts of the Spirit and says when these gifts are worked through men; this is how the Spirit manifests Himself. That is why, even though Timothy already had the Holy Spirit, Paul was telling him to stir Him up. It is one thing to have the Holy Spirit with you, but it is another thing to have the Spirit manifest Himself through you. Paul was telling Timothy to stir up a manifestation of the Spirit that was already inside of him.

When the Spirit of God manifests Himself through His gifts there is no disputing whether it was the strength of man or the Spirit of God at work. Take Ezekiel, for example. Throughout the book of Ezekiel the Holy Spirit manifested the gift of prophesy to the people through him. We know there is no way in the natural that man can tell the future. However, the gifts of the Spirit are all super-natural. This allows for there to be no confusion on whether the Holy Spirit is truly present; hence the term “manifestation of the Spirit” used by Paul when describing the gifts. We know there are certain things men simply just cannot do! So when we see these supernatural things, like the gift of prophesy, being worked through men we know it is actually the Holy Spirit at work.

Another example of the supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit through His gifts is seen in the story of Samson.  There is a story where Samson broke out of the ropes he was tied up in because the Spirit of God weakened the ropes' solidity. Judges 15:14 states:
Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.
In this account, we see the supernatural gift, working of miracles at work. Samson could not have charred the ropes on His own because he was tied up. We know the Spirit of God was at work because there was no one who could have weakened the ropes for Samson. As the scripture states, the ropes only weakened when the Spirit of the Lord manifested Himself through His gift of the working of miracles.

The gifts of the Spirit are all supernatural. (This even includes the seemingly natural ones. Which will further be explained in the next post in this Holy Ghost blog series.) These nine gifts can be broken down into three categories; gifts that supernaturally reveal facts that don't necessarily need to be spoken, gifts that are spoken by the Holy Spirit, and gifts that empower impossible change:

Revelation Gifts: Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Discerning of Spirits
Spoken Gifts: Prophesy, Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues
Gifts that Change: Faith, Gifts of Healings, Working of Miracles