Gifts Vs. Offices (Part 1)

December 3, 2008
by Steven Lambert

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A Trio of Gifts from the Trinity
In the Kingdom of the Triune-God good things come in THREES. Trinitarians espouse and expound the Truth that the God-Head consists of three PERSONS, as opposed to manifestations as our non-trinitarian Pentecostal brethren contend. All verily God, perfectly united in essence and purpose, yet simultaneously separate and distinct. One God in Three Persons Trinitarians maintain. (Regardless, it is my personal position that God is grieved and much damage is wreaked when the Body of Christ divides and separates into camps who refuse to walk in fellowship with one another over such matters, and that when we do, it is clear in Scripture that we are not fully walking in the true Light of the Spirit but rather in spiritual darkness, regardless of how right those of each camp contend they are (cf., 1 Jn. 1:7). Undeniably, the primary product of our walking in the Light as He is in the Light is that we love one another.)

“God so loved the world that He gave…” (Jn. 3:16). In this—the one most familiar and quoted of all Gospel verses—is reflected volumes more than what all the commentaries of Christian doctrine and theology have ever been able to suppose and propose. Add to it the fathomless precept of “the summing up of all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10) and human ruminations of who God really is soar to such sublime heights so as to dizzy the most impassive of souls.

The preponderance of Scripture propounds over and over the phenomenal Truth that the One true Triune-God whom traditional orthodox Christendom ascribes, avows, and serves is the Supreme Giver. It is undeniable and unavoidable that giving is a central attribute of the nature of God. He is “the God of all grace” (1 Pet. 5:10). He is so full of grace (charis, Gr.) [giftings], ever-lasting love and kindness, and mercy that endures to and throughout all generations, that He simply cannot help Himself but to GIVE! He is a God of bountiful GIFTS and GIVING! When He gave us His only begotten Son, He GAVE all and the best He had to give. One of His Names is El-shaddai, which means “the God who is MORE than enough,” also demonstrates His nature of superfluous benevolence. When God gives, He gives in overflowing, abundant measure. It only follows then, as a brief aside, that anyone who purposes to emulate God and His attributes, in addition to all else, must also be a wildly generous and hillarious GIVER! (1 Cor. 9:7)

Now let’s turn our attention to this trio of gifts bestowed unto believers by the Trinity.

Now there are varieties of GIFTS, but the same SPIRIT. And there are varieties of MINISTRIES, but the same LORD. And there are varieties of EFFECTS (OPERATIONS, KJV; ENERGIZINGS, lit. Gr.), but the same GOD who works all these things in all persons. (1 Cor. 12:4‑6, NASB)

In these verses, the Spirit reveals through the Apostle Paul the truth that there are three distinct sets of supernatural spiritual giftings, each bestowed by and emanating from a different Member of the God‑Head. To say it another way: The revelation of this passage is that each Person of the God‑Head has a different set of gifts that emanate from that Member of the Trinity, which He bestows unto believers. Each set of giftings begins with the letter “M” in English; in order of their mention, they are: Manifestation Gifts, Ministry Gifts, and Motivation Gifts.

Now there are varieties of GIFTS, but the same SPIRIT (v. 4).

The Holy Spirit distributes MANI­FESTATION GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT (cf., v. 7) (Charismata or Charismatic Gifts), which are supernatural empowerment bearing witnesses of the risen Christ (cf., Acts 1:8), as He wills unto all Spirit-Baptized believers. This set of divine endowments is delineated in 1 Corinthians 12:7‑11. They are NINE (number of the Holy Spirit in Scripture) in number, and can be divided into three categories of three gifts each:

  • Revelation Gifts: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits;
  • Power Gifts: healings, miracles, faith;
  • Prophetic Gifts: unknown tongues, interpretation of tongues; prophecy.

And there are varieties of MINISTRIES, but the same LORD (v. 5).

The “Lord” and Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, endows “some” (Eph. 4:11) select believers of His choosing with HIS MINISTRY GIFTS for the spiritual development (edification and education) and governance (non-authoritarian steerage, pilotage) of the Church. When He was baptized in the Spirit, Jesus Himself was endowed with these giftings by the Father and operated them during His fleshly ministry. Thus, in that they were bestowed unto Him by the Father, through the Helper, the Holy Spirit, they are His, the Lord’s, giftings as the Head of the Church to bestow upon whomever He wills and chooses. It is vital to understand that it is the LORD, as the functional Head of the Church, as opposed to human hierarchies, who appoints whomever HE elects to these offices of function, and anoints them with these supernatural enablements. Only “some,” not “all” (cf., 1 Cor. 12:28ff) believers are so appointed and anointed. This set of giftings, also known as the Fivefold Ministry Offices (functions), is delineated and their functions are explained in Ephesians 4:7-13. They are FIVE (the number in Scripture for divinely bestowed giftings of grace) in number, which are: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

And there are varieties of EFFECTS (OPERATIONS, KJV; ENERGIZINGS, lit. Gr.), but the same GOD who works all these things in all persons. (v. 6)

GOD THE FATHER bestows the MOTIVATION GIFTS, which “energize” (literal meaning of “function” [NASB] and “office” [KJV] in Rom. 12:4) each individual believer with a specific function or ability, and is the believer’s primary motivation in life. These “energizings” are innate talents, abilities, or enablements God the Father “injects” into people at birth, and (I believe) become especially activated and active when individuals become a “new creature” in Christ by virtue of the infusion of the Holy Spirit at the New Birth. While some believers may function in some degree in a number of these giftings, there is always ONE which motivates them primarily. These gifts are delineated in Romans 12:4-8. They are SEVEN (the number of the Father’s Sovereignty and Perfection) in number; they are: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling, showing of mercy.

It is vital that the Body of Christ, individually and collectively, understand the critical differences between these giftings, offices, and functions; especially the differences between the Manifestation Gifts and the Ministry Gifts. One of the things that much of the Body has been confused about is the difference between the transient “power” [dunamis, Gr.] (cf., Acts 1:8) distributed by the Holy Spirit, according to His will, unto believers to “minister” unto others, and the “authority” [exousia, Gr.] inherent in the Fivefold Ministry Offices (functions) which the Lord as Head of the Church anoints believers of His election and appointment. This widespread confusion and lack of knowledge regarding these two separate and distinct matters has produced untold problems and wreaked incalculable spiritual damage in the past. Great, in this hour of rampant deception from “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons by the means of the hypocrisy of liars” (1 Tim. 4:1-2) — the so-called “Lakeland Outpouring” of 2008 being a prime example — is the Church’s need for clear, unambiguous, precise, and authoritative (i.e., apostolic) teaching regarding these graces lavishly bestowed by the Triune-God unto the co-sovereign Betrothed of Christ, the Lamb’s Wife! So desperate is Her need to appropriate and assimilate all the supernatural grace God is dispensing in these “perilous times” which are made so because men have become:

lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:1-7)

The Gradual Deemphasis of the Gifts of the Spirit
In retrospect, it can be observed that while most true Pentecostal groups and denominations that formed out of it professed an espousal of nine of the Manifestation Gifts of the Spirit, the primary emphasis of Pentecostal Movement (c., 1907) was the Prophetic or Vocal Gifts—unknown tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy. While there were some operations in the Revelation (word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits) and Power (healing, miracles, and faith) gifts during the Pentecostal Movement, especially at its inception, in the passage of time, fewer and fewer Pentecostal congregations ascribed significant importance to these latter two sets of Charismata. The overall effect of this gradual deemphasis has been that at present, as the Pentecostal Movement is in its centennial year, there is little mention, let alone manifestation, of the Revelation and Power Gifts in of the meetings of classic Pentecostal churches. In fact, the stark reality is that today, anyone attempting to operate in these gifts in the vast majority of Pentecostal denominations will be met with an Antarctic-like blast of frigid resistance and contempt.

Over the one-hundred years of classic Pentecostalism, those denominations and their churches who once were the enthusiastic champions of the Charismata, have transitioned from tenacious belief to tacit tolerance to outright disbelief and disdain for the Manifestations of the Spirit.

Unfortunately, the sad scenario as we stand in the beginnings of the 21st Century is that if you raise your voice above a whisper in prayer, worship, or vocalization of your “prayer language” in most Pentecostal church services, as was so common during the first fifty years or so of the Pentecostal Movement, chances are you will be remonstrated by the ushers, and if you continue these “loud outbursts that are disturbing to some of our less demonstrative congregants who don’t embrace this kind of worship” in future services you will eventually be told that you are unwelcome in the church.

Reviewing the history briefly to see how things progressed to where we are today, at the approximate apex of the American Pentecostal Movement, as enthusiasm for and espousal of the Manifestations of the Spirit, and consequently the influence of Pentecostalism, was waning, a powerful new Wind of the Spirit began to blow in the 1960s, which became known as the Charismatic Movement. This move of the Spirit not only brought forth a desperately needed “time of refreshing” (Ac. 3:19) from the presence of the Lord, but it was also a sovereignly produced, foreordained “period of restoration” (Ac. 3:21) by God, in which a “recovery” and a “rediscovery” of the nine “manifestations of the Spirit” (also referred to as “the charismata” or “charismatic gifts”) listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 was effected. (For more on the Charismatic Movement read this article.)

At its inception, the Charis­matic Movement (c., 1960) was a divinely orchestrated Wind and Working of the Spirit, the primary purpose of which was to bring forth a restoration of and renewed awareness in the “Charis­mata” or Manifestation Gifts of the Spirit. Secondarily, it was also one of the God-initiated “times of refreshing” that “come from the presence of the Lord” (Ac. 3:19), which, at least during the 20th Century seemed to emerge approximately every twenty years. Through that Movement, God was announcing that the manifestations of the Spirit were not relegated to and “passed away” with some by‑gone era of long ago, but that “Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever” (Heb.13:8), and that God changes not (Mal. 3:6)! What He was in any era—He is, and what He is—He always has been and always will be! For He is God the Eternal and Eternally God! The rediscovery of the Manifestations of the Spirit demonstrated once again that it was not God who had changed over the centuries of Church history, but the Church, or perhaps more appropriately, the beliefs, doctrines, and operations of the Church. But, that should not be surprising considering that not since the end of the 2nd Century A.D. has the Church actively and earnestly labored to fulfill all five of the Lord’s final commandments preceding His ascension into Heaven to take His Seat at the Right Hand of God—i.e., the Great Commission (Mk. 16:15-18).

The Discipleship or Shepherding Movement
But, again, as is the case with all the other moves of the Spirit and “revivals” dating back to the original Protestant Reformation (c. 1517), when men begin to seize upon and control in the natural realm what God is doing in the Spirit realm and attempt to “organize” (institutionalize) the Spirit’s workings and assimilate it into humanly devised ecclesiastical systems and schemas, error, excesses, and self-aggrandizing practices fueled by selfish-ambition and the effects of the evil spirit of mammon coupled with religious spirits soon begin to emerge. The result inevitably is the corruption and counteracting of divine intents and purposes. Just as had been the case with the Pentecostal Movement, carnally-motivated and selfishly ambitious people, who attempted to “use” the Spirit’s workings for their own personal Kingdom-building schemes, hijacked the Charismatic Movement, as least as far as its manifestation in the natural realm is concerned. Consequently, God pronounced “Ichabod” (inglorious, without God’s Glory) over the Charismatic Movement, for the Spirit had departed as He separated Himself from the schemings of “men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that (the sovereign working of the Spirit) is a means of great (personal) gain” (1 Tim. 6:5; emphasis and parentheses added).

The diabolical consequence of the human adulteration of God’s purposes was that the Charismatic Movement became a beached wave only a couple of decades after its genesis as a result of being hijacked and supplanted by yet another man-made, satanically-devised machination known as the “Discipleship or Shepherding Movement.” But, the depravity, unfortunately did not end there. Rather, as the tares continued to grow along with the wheat, the succeeding divinely orchestrated moves of the Spirit, the Prophetic and Apostolic Movements, at least the first wave of each, were likewise corrupted and commandeered by a relatively small cadre of unscrupulous and self-aggrandizing “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” who brazenly staked their claim on the workings of the Spirit by presumptuously pronouncing a completely outlaw ownership of the Sheep of God’s Flock via the aegis of a thoroughly illegitimate oversight authority over those chosen, appointed, and anointed by the Head of the Church to Fivefold Ministry functions, the prophetic and apostolic, in particular. (For more on the Charismatic Movement read this article.)

Despair Not! God is Restoring!
But, despair not, you of the True Remnant Church Jesus is building! God is not finished yet with all of this! God Himself will yet bring forth His justice and judgment upon these corrupt ecclesiastical coalitions of hubristic human interlopers! He is about to identify and separate the wheat from the tares, the false shepherds and sheep from the true. (In fact, He actually has already initiated this process as this is written.) God will not be mocked! Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and His workings is still the one sin that is such an affront unto God that it shall never be forgiven! The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are still given by the One True Spirit, and God will not allow what is Good, which only He can author, to be seen and spoken of as evil!

Be not discouraged or dismayed! Continue to heed the commandment of the Spirit to “Pursue love, yet earnestly desire (covet, KJV) spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy…(for) one who prophesies speaks to men for edification, exhortation, and consolation (encouragement)…one who prophesies EDIFIES (charges up as a battery is charged) THE CHURCH” (1 Cor. 12:1-4). God knows, now more than ever before, the TRUE REMNANT CHURCH that Jesus is building (Zech. 12:7-9; Mat. 16:18) needs all the edification, exhortation, and encouragement the Spirit desires to bestow upon a battle-weary and dismayed Church through the Manifestations of the Spirit, which are given for the “COMMON GOOD” of the Church (1 Cor. 12:7)!

Understand, Saints, that there is indeed the TRUE REMNANT CHURCH Jesus is building (the wheat), but then there is the antichrist ecclesiastical systems (the tares), regardless of their label— whether Protestant, Pentecostal, Catholic, Charismatic—which God in His Word identifies as part of Babylon! The wheat and the tares must grow up together, lest the wheat (those who have been redeemed and purified of all sin, deception, and attachment to the world’s allurements) be mistaken for tares, until the end, when Christ Himself shall separate the wheat from the tares, and the tares will be gathered up into piles for burning (eternal destruction) [cf., Mat. 3:7-12; Mat. 13:24-30]!

Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. (Isa. 55:1-2)

If you genuinely thirst for the supernatural endowments freely and generously bestowed by the One, True, Triune-God—the “True Riches”—call out to Him, and He will answer you and give you what you have asked! Jesus PROMISED, and He cannot lie, that EVERYONE who believes and trusts in Him who but simply ASKS the Heavenly Father WILL BE given all the “GOOD GIFTS” that emanate from the God-Head, including those that come through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit:

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:9-13)

All these “GOOD GIFTS” that emanate solely from God and of which He is the sole Supplier, He supplies WITHOUT MONETARY COST! They are free! “Freely you received; freely GIVE,” Jesus commanded the Apostles of the Lamb (Mat. 10:8). It’s the same today. Those who require you to divest yourself of your money in order to be a part of their exclusive ecclesiastical clubs or to be worthy of the blessings they purport to be anointed and appointed by God to disburse upon God’s people, are charlatans and imposters! They are false prophets of Baal—Balaam prophets whose only desire and motivation is your money! You will know them by their fruits, Jesus warned. Those who are operating out of avarice and greed to build their own personal fiefdoms and fill their own bank accounts to finance their lavish lifestyles are the false shepherds who God swore through the Prophets He would judge and cause to cease from being shepherds over the sheep of His flock (cf., Ezk. 34; Jer. 23)! Do not be taken in by these “enemies of the cross,” Saints, but RUN! FLEE BABYLON! FLEE THE FALSE PROPHETS OF BAAL! CEASE FROM SUPPORTING THEM WITH YOUR MONEY!

Those who are servants of mammon are NOT servants of Christ, but of themselves and Satan. Those who justify their diabolical schemes of self-aggrandizement are modern-day Pharisees who are lovers of money—PROPHETS OF PROFIT—who scoff at the warnings Jesus is speaking today through such messages as this one. Don’t be so foolish as to follow them and align yourself with their enmity against God and Truth!

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the TRUE RICHES (spiritual gifts) to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You CANNOT serve God and wealth.” Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:10-15, NASB; emphasis and parentheses added)

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