The Gifts of the Spirit, aka, the charismata, or “the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good,” are much more precious to God than humans have ever understood. The following artcle by Charles Carrin shows just how precious.
The Preciousness of the Gifts of the Spirit
By Charles Carrin
Years ago on a flight out of West Palm Beach, Florida, we had just become airborne over the ocean when a boy sitting next to the window grabbed my arm. “Look out there!,” he spoke, “Look!” What I saw was one of the most magnificent sights of my life. Reaching down to the surface of the ocean and rising overhead as far as I could see was the full, unbroken circle of a rainbow. The color was indescribably brilliant with the lower part of the ring seeming to float on the surface of the water. There was not a gap in it—just the breathtaking color of God’s beautiful sign of Covenant (see, Gen. 9:13).
I had learned a short time before that the complete rainbow, like the wedding band, is a continuous ring. It is much, much more than the mere half-circle we see from ground-level. At best, our earth-bound view reveals only part. To behold the bow’s full circumference it is necessary to be above the earth looking down. The spiritual application of that truth is obvious: In this present life, we grasp only a fragment of the wisdom and strategy of God. Not until we are in Heaven looking back at history will we be able to understand the full-scope of His plan and purpose in our lives. Believers who grasp this holy truth now, seeing themselves already seated with Christ “in heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3,20), find that it releases faith powerfully within them. When life is unfair, disappointing, painful, we need to be reminded that the view from above is very different from the one below. William Cowper saw this reality nearly three centuries ago and wrote:
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning Providence,
He hides a smiling face.
Cheer up, ye saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds you so much dread
Are rich with mercies and shall break
In blessings on your head …”
Cowper’s words and the indescribable beauty of God’s Covenant were still going through my mind as our plane left the rainbow behind. Leaning back in a state of awe, a series of revelations began flooding me. First was the amazing, spiritual beauty of the bow; its colors were ethereal, unreal. Secondly, its endless circle, representing the complete cycle of God’s loving, sovereign perfection in creation, was overwhelming. Nothing was omitted from its meaning. The smallest, microscopic sea-life below me to the largest galaxy in space, were all contained in the scope of His unified plan. The apex of that purpose was the redemption of man.
Covenant-truth, issuing from the Kingdom of God, is as wide as the Universe, encompassing all the wisdom, work, and wonder, of God. My mind was overwhelmed with what seemed to be scientific and theological facts radiating in all directions around me. Each was a unique display of His Covenant-plan. In that flashing moment I understood more about the glory of God than ever before. This fact seized me. All truth, regardless of its rising from the Old Testament or the New, whether it comes from Scripture or true scientific discovery, points toward one ultimate reality: God is One; God is love; God is power. Creation pulsates with that. Jesus, the One by whom the “worlds were framed,” Hebrews 11:3, John 1:1, is the incarnation of all three. His Resurrection, as an explosion of that triangular-truth, defeated every opposing principle of disunity, hatefulness, and weakness, in existence.
Wonderfully, the Holy Spirit showed me the relationship between the rainbow and another Biblical, Covenant-sign: Circumcision. It too, is circular. The revelation that took place there on the plane went light-years beyond everything I had understood about circumcision before. Circumcision means “circular cutting.” Some of this may seem indelicate to share but the message is too valuable to allow modesty to interfere. Beginning with Abraham, every Hebrew male bore in his body this physical sign of God’s Covenant. Suddenly, I realized that the miles-wide rainbow and the few inches of circumcision were identical. Each contained all the glory, beauty, majesty, of the other.
With that realization, an important question came: “Why did God place the Covenant-sign on the male genitals?” The answer which was awesome, came in one of those giant facts: First of all: The rainbow, as the greatest visible Covenant-sign in Creation, like a “Crown of Heaven,” was transferred to the body of Covenant-man. Secondly, God willed that the conception of every Hebrew child take place in the mother’s womb and the Covenant-sign of his father. Half of the genes of every future generation passed through his father’s Covenant-ring. God wanted that mysterious, creative act of conception in which others made “in His image” and “in His likeness,” Genesis 1:26, take place within the “Sign of the Covenant.”
By a painful cutting-away, shedding of blood, circumcision is the “uncovering” of maleness. In Scriptural typology, it is the exposing of man to His God. If you study the covering—and uncovering—of Tabernacle furnishings in the Old Testament (e.g., Num. 4:5-12; Exo. 35:12; et al.), you will understand more of the parabolic teaching present here. Again, this may seem indelicate but I will say it anyway: In the marriage act, the Hebrew groom’s penetrating the bride’s Temple-body, the shedding of her hymen-blood, and the opening of her Temple vail, was done precisely where his own Covenant-blood had earlier been shed. In the process of their being united into one, each met the Covenant-requirement of giving blood for the other. Hear this: The man gave his blood for her; she gave her blood to him.
The New Testament makes the Covenant-meaning of circumcision more beautiful than that which the Old Testament revealed. The death and resurrection of Jesus transformed circumcision into an experience of the heart. It is no longer limited to the flesh. “He is a Jew who is one inwardly, for circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but from God” (Rom. 2:29). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor un-circumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal. 5:6, 6:15). Being far more than a physical cutting of the outer flesh, it is now man’s inner being, his heart, that bears the Sign of Covenant. No longer an earthly sign, it is now a Heavenly one, begetting ultimate relationship with the Creator-Father.
But the Sign of the Covenant goes far beyond Noah’s rainbow, Abraham’s circumcision, William Cowper’s encouragement, or our struggling against the seeming unfairness of life. In a remarkable way, the Holy Spirit’s miraculous gifts to the church are also revealed through their Covenant-purpose and meaning. I Corinthians 12-14. Believers who find themselves powerless and insufficient should be encouraged to know that the gifts of the Spirit are Covenant-provisions which Jesus gladly imparts to all. We have a beautiful example of this spiritual-gifting in the Old Testament. Specifically: “And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold” (Gen. 24:22).
Here is an important point: The sign of the Covenant is revealed through the charismatic gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12). This truth is seldom seen—but is absolutely magnificent once we grasp it. We can best understand the principle through a parabolic example in the Old Testament. It is this: Abraham sent his servant to get a bride for his son Isaac. The young woman chosen for this honor was Rebekah. In Scriptural typology, Abraham represents God the Father, the servant represents the Holy Spirit, Isaac represents Jesus the Son. Rebekah symbolizes the Church. Her name means “circles” or “loops of a rope.” The imagery of the rope suggests her being “inside the circle” of God’s providence and grace. This is a true concept of Covenant. And in keeping with the Covenant-tradition, as soon as the servant identified Rebekah as God’s chosen one, he presented her with golden “rings” (Gen. 24:22). The shape of these gifts, circles, conveyed an important message which she understood. They were like binding-loops that encircled her engagement to Isaac.
Hear this point carefully: These bracelets and rings were not wedding gifts. They were “engagement” gifts. Even today, brides frequently receive two rings, one before the wedding; the other at the wedding. So it was with Rebekah. First came the engagement gift; these were followed with wedding gifts. In a similar way, Jesus sends “engagement” gifts to the Church in advance of her receiving the wedding gifts. The Church’s wedding gifts, which are beyond human comprehension, will not be given until the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). But, please hear me carefully about gifts which come in advance of the Wedding: The charismatic gifts which the Church is now receiving (Acts 1:5,8), by which she “tastes the powers of the age to come” (Heb. 6:5; Eph. 1:21), are engagement gifts. Through them, the Groom is showing the Bride the “glories of His Father’s house.” This parallel of Rebekah and the Church is exact. While Rebekah’s gifts spoke of Isaac’s love, they also revealed Abraham’s great wealth. In the same way Rebekah had never met the man to whom she was engaged, so the Church has yet to meet her Royal Bridegroom.
The gifts Jesus is now sending through the Holy Spirit correspond to the rings and bracelets given Rebekah by Abraham’s servant.
I spoke at a Baptist Church where many members were still opposed to spiritual gifts. They did not understand the miraculous operations of God and drew back from them. I explained that Christians who reject the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:1-11), are actually telling the Heavenly Servant, “I don’t like that bracelet. Put it back in your box! I won’t wear it!”
Rebekah’s acting in such ugliness is unthinkable. Not so with modern, self-centered Christians. Many become irate, incensed, at the mere suggestion of their experiencing the Holy Spirit’s miraculous gifts. The gift of tongues is the primary offender because it is the only one of the grace-gifts that is deliberately designed to attack man’s ego and pride. Many in that Baptist congregation saw the ugliness of their having rejected spiritual gifts and came forward, repentant, saying, “I don’t fully understand the Holy Spirit’s gifting—but I want whatever bracelet God has for me! Pray that I will receive it!”
“And upon its hem (the robe of the High Priest) you shall make pomegranates … and bells of gold: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe all around.” Exodus 28:33,34.
Finally, it is important that you understand the Covenant-meaning of the golden bells and pomegranates decorating the hem of the High Priests garment. Jesus is the High Priest portrayed in Israel’s Tabernacle worship (Heb. 3:1). The pomegranates and bells on his garment symbolize the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9), and the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-11). As Jesus bears both fruit and gifts, so those who would be like Him must bear the same. Christians who reject any of the gifts are ripping them off the garment of Jesus. Don’t do it. When viewed from the bottom, the bell is a perfectly round ring. It is through that circular opening (the gift in operation) that the music of the Spirit is heard. When Scripture says, “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound” (Psa. 89:15), it speaks of those who have seen the circle of God’s Covenant and rejoiced in the sound ringing from it. That ring is as wide as the rainbow or as small as the scar on a man’s body.
One of the great hymn writers said, “All nature sings and round me rings, the music of the spheres.” Receive the gifts! Wear the bracelets! Accept the message of the rainbow! See the revelation of the pomegranates, golden bells, and circumcision! It’s all there!###
CHARLES CARRIN’S ministry spans the final half of the twentieth century. He was ordained in 1949 and in his youth traveled with men who preached in the 1800′s. For the first twenty-seven years of his ministry, Charles was a hyper-Calvinist Baptist pastor and Presbyterian seminarian who denied the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit. Mid-way in his ministry that abruptly changed. Personal crisis forced him to acknowledge Scriptures he had previously ignored. It was a time of intense pain and testing. The truths he saw were frightening; they had power to destroy his denominational ministry and at that point he had no hope that another, more wonderful ministry awaited him. As a result of his submitting to God in that crisis, Charles emerged with an amazing anointing of the Holy Spirit. Today, his ministry centers upon the visible demonstration of the Spirit and imparting of His gifts. This new ministry has taken him to London’s Westminster Chapel, the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, and other significant places. He, R.T. Kendall, the former, 25-year pastor at Westminster Chapel, and Jack Taylor, former Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, travel together holding “Word, Spirit, Power, Conferences.” As an evangelist/writer, Charles’ articles have appeared in major Christian magazines in the United States and abroad. He travels extensively, teaching believers how to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. Visit Charles Carrin Ministries
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