View Full Version : Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Local Church

Larry Tanner
02-24-02, 10:12 AM
The doctrine of the church and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are two of the most
misunderstood doctrines in the Bible. There are many man made traditions and opinions connected to them. However, after the doctrines of grace and the tenets of salvation they are probably the most vital to the purposes of God in the world today. What, then, is the scriptural model for the church.


1 Timothy 3:15 describes the church as the household of God, a place where believers gather in Christ as a family, a community of believers where the living God resides. In Psalm 132 God said that he chose Zion as his resting place, a place where he will live. Ephesians 2:22 reveals the purpose of the Church “in Him (Jesus) you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” If the local Church is be a dwelling place for God then it must be built according to the instruction given in the New Testament with insight from the dwelling places of God in the Old Testament. 1 Timothy 3:15 also refers to the church as a “pillar and buttress of truth.” The church is to stand in the truth of the Word of God. Many churches preach truth concerning the doctrines of salvation and the gospel but have built the church after the traditions of men. Jesus is building the church according to His word and he is intimately concerned with its structure. In the Old Testament God gave very specific instruction for how the temple, the place of his habitation, was to be built. He, also, has given specific instructions on how the church is to be built. The church is to be built according to truth.


The word church in the New Testament does not refer to a building or to a denomination. The Bible uses the word to describe those who are the “called out of the world by God”. Therefore the New Testament Church is an assembly of called-out-ones. As such,
the church is not to be built on the traditions of man. For the sake of comparison I am listing some of the traditions of man that the church holds dear but have no scriptural basis. Taken from Problems with the Church Growth Movement by Darryl Erkel.

· An undue emphasis on numerical growth, which tends to measure success by how many people, can be gathered into a church building.
· Too much importance attached to human methods, marketing and clever gadgetry to secure church growth, rather than a humble reliance upon God to build His church. (Mt 16:18;Acts 2:47; 1Cor 3:6-7; Col. 2:19; Ps 127:1).
· A belief that what works in the business world will work in the kingdom of God.
· Pastors modeling their leadership style after the Corporate CEO model. Rather than the humble, non-clerical Shepard model that is presented in the New Testament (Mt. 23:8-12); Mk 10:35-45; 1 Pet 5:1-4).
· Down playing doctrine, expository teaching and a clear presentation of the full council of God (Acts 20:20,27).
· Displaying an emphasis upon feel good sermons and practical hints for “successful living”.
· Too much importance attached to one, multi-talented pastor, in contrast to the New Testament pattern which teaches us that the local church is to be pastured by a plurality of godly men (Acts 14:23; 20:17,28: 1 Tim 1:5;Heb 13:17; Jam 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1-4) and should not be expositionally-dependent upon one man alone for its instruction. (Acts 13:1; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim 5:17)
· With the de-emphasis upon doctrinal truth within church growth congregations, Christians tend to stay at a shallow level in their understanding of God and Scripture. Consequently, sanctification takes a snail’s pace.

What then does the Bible teach concerning the New Testament model for the church?
The following list gives some insight to the pattern given in the scriptures for the building of the church. This list is not exhaustive but it is helpful in bringing understanding of how God desires His house of habitation to be built.

· The local church is be pastured and taught by a plurality of scriptural qualified men know as elders. (Acts 20:17.28; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1-4)
· Church shepards are to arise from the church’s own rank and assembly (Acts 14:23; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 1:5)
· Members are not to give or take upon themselves honorific titles that would set them apart from the rest of the Christian community. (Matthew 23:6-12; Mark 10-35-45)
· Members practice hospitably towards both fellow believers and outsiders. (Matthew 25:34-40;Romans 12:13; Timothy 6:18; Titus 3:8,14: Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9)
· Every member is a minister and priest before God (Peter 2:5,9; Revelation 1:6)
· The local Church is to be edified and ministered to by all the members present. (1 Corinthians 12:14; 14; 12,26-31; Ephesians 4:16)
· The congregational meeting is to be a place where Christians exercise their spiritual gifts and encourage one another to love and good deeds. (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-14; 14:12,26; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 4:10-11)

These are but a few of the characteristics that mark the New Testament definition of the Church. Although many areas are embraced two points come to the forefront.
Point one: The local church is God’s idea and the pattern for its building is established in The Word of God. Point two: Membership in the church is not to be a spectator sport.
The pattern and practice of the local church must conform to the light of the New Testament. The only choice that leaders of a local church have when confronted with truth that is in opposition to their practice is to conform to the truth or be found in disobedience to the Word of God.

As John Stott has said: “The hallmark of an authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions, but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform.” (“Basic Stott,” Christianity Today/Jan. 8, 1996).

Therefore let us not be so foolish as think we can retain the old wine skins of our liking and believe that we will be able to preserve the new wine of God’s Spirit.


One aspect of the new wine of the Holy Spirit is outlined in 1 Cor 12-14.
This is the largest section of Paul’s writings on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
According to C.J. Mahanny Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12-14 “describes what it means to be a people of the Spirit in the cooperate setting of a local church gathering. He said it is essential that the church cultivate and maintain a Biblical Charismatic distinction because the scripture clearly reveals the truth of a charismatic distinction. However with the gifts in operation comes a need for critique.

C. J. Quoted Brain Edwards who said “ We Must never assume that where there is a genuine work of the Holy Spirit everything that happens must be right or that even if certain things are wrong we ought not to fear to criticize them for fear of touching holy things.”

C.J. went on to say that discernment is routed in scripture not in subjectivity. So the gifts need to be practiced and experience so that errors can be avoided.
The Church at Corinth was extremely gifted however their meetings did more harm than good because of their misuse of the gifts. They had a pagan fascination with the gift of tongues and were misusing them. Paul condemned this practice while laying a foundation for the proper use of the gifts. Today there is a false teaching that genuine evidence of the Holy Spirit evolves unusual physical responses as the only evidence of the Holy Spirit presence in the meeting. Such as barking, laughing, slain in the spirit, etc.
However, a genuine evidence of the activity of the Holy Spirit in the meeting is an evaluation of Jesus as Lord. Not the pagan fascination with unusual physical responses as the ultimate criteria of the work of the Holy Spirit.

CJ goes on to say; to be truly spiritual drives the person neither to ecstasy or individualism; nor to other worldliness, but into the life of the local church as an expression of his personnel commitment to Jesus as Lord.
The gifts must be used in love to the building up of others not as a badge for the one who has the gifting.
Spiritual Gifts are not optional. But there is a way or pattern for their use in the local church.
CJ admonishes the Church to pursue the gifts diligently but not to pursue unusual responses with diligence.
Many do not pursue the gifts because they fear the risk of using them. But where the gifts are not manifested no one is being edified.
The gifts must be manifestation according to the scriptural pattern in the corporate gathering.
In moving in the gifts there is a danger of error.
To not use the gifts is to erase the danger however the body will not be edified.
The gifts are not for the individual demonstrating them rather for the edification, consolation, and correction of those receiving them.

Leadership is needed to teach the truth and control the errors as the body runs this race according to the rules. (Taken for the message, “The Spirit is Moving by CJ Matnany”)

This is not an exposition on the hows and ways of the spiritual gifts but an attempt to provoke the members of His Church to pursue the gifts and create an environment for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to be manifested so the members of the church, His Body, can be built up and equipped to do the work of the ministry.

Wayne Grudem has given a clear directive to the church. “But what if many members in a church do not know what spiritual gift or gifts God has given to them. In such a case, the leaders of the church need to ask whether they are providing sufficient opportunities for varieties of gifts to be used. Though the lists of gifts given in the New Testament are not exhaustive, they certainly provide a good starting point for churches to ask whether at least there is opportunity for these gifts to be used. If God has placed people with certain gifts in a church when these gifts are not encouraged or perhaps not allowed to be used. They will feel frustrated and unfulfilled in their Christian ministries, and will perhaps move to another church where their gifts can function for the benefit of the church.”(Wayne Grudem, “Bible Doctrine”)

Members of any church that claims to be a Local Church being built by Jesus must acknowledge that the use of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are not an option. Rather, it is mandated by God that the gifts be used in the building up of the church. Jesus takes a very personal view of each and every church that He is building. To deny the truth of the gifts or to neglect their use is not an accepted practice by the Lord for His Body on the earth. To misuse the gifts likewise is not an accepted practice for His Body on the earth either. It is my desire that this article will provoke the members of His Body to diligently seek the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the edification of the church.

“So when you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” ---1 Corinthians 14:26

02-24-02, 12:45 PM
Evidence of the Holy Spirit is not how high one can jump, but rather how straight one can walk.

Larry Tanner
02-26-02, 05:07 PM
! Cor 14.1Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts.

Why? So the the Church can be built up. To not seek and use the gifts is to not obey God's word. The gifts are for the use of the members of the His Church to use properly not to abuse.
Romans 12:6 The indiviual is to use the gift in proportion to thier faith. If one is just to wait on God to perform there would not be any need for faith

Old John
02-26-02, 07:49 PM
What a wonderful tread! And such thoughtful responses!!! I can only add my enthusiasm! It seems that there are many who are being called out not only of the world but out of the four walled tradition of temple religeon. Maybe we can expect to see people posting threads of successful house to house breaking bread and seeing the Lord add to the numbers acts experiences! Wouldn't it be wonderful to see our Lord adding those who are being saved, to a full functioning body of believers? Seeing every member ministering?