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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Gifts of the Holy Spirit by W. A. Criswell

The Spirit gift of prophecy is bestowed upon the churches for edification, exhortation, comfort, conversion of the lost, and teaching of the unlearned. It should be the gift most commonly exercised in the assemblies of Christ (I Corinthians 14:3, 24, 31).

A preacher who gives forth the message of God in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit has the gift of prophecy (I Peter 4:10, 11) ; I Corinthians 2:1-16). Prophecy is Spirit inspired utterance.

An inspired preacher was the first gift of the Spirit manifested in the church at Pentecost. He is God’s man for the delivering of God’s message to a lost world. We must never forget Revelation 19:10, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

The word evaggelistes involves two ideas.

First, it refers to the kind of message preached, the good news of salvation.

Second, it refers to the places in which the message is preached, which places are defined in the Scriptures as “scattered abroad.” The different “scattered abroad” places can be seen in the itinerate ministry of Philip.

The gift of the evangelist is a distinct gift which few men possess in superlative degree, but when it is found, it is the third of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, preceded only by the gifts of apostleship and prophecy. The famous evangelists through the years have been men so greatly used of God to bless the world. We need them desperately. May God grant that the gift with increased frequency and meaning may fall upon our preachers today.

Strangely enough, the word “pastor,” the fourth gift of the Lord to the churches, is used only once in the entire New Testament, here in Ephesians 4:11. The Greek word is poimen, meaning “shepherd.”

The New Testament uses three titles to describe the same office in the Church: episcopos, meaning “overseer,” presbuteros, meaning “elder,” and poimen, meaning “shepherd.” The word “bishop” (epis- copos) refers to the work of the pastor. The word “elder” (presbuteros) refers to the dignity and rank of his position.

The word “shepherd,” “pastor,” (poimen) refers to his relationship to the flock. All three words are referred to in Acts 20:17,18. The qualifications of a pastor are written in I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9, and in I Peter 5:1-4.

Pastors are to be obeyed and to be held in high honor (Hebrews 13:17). Those who are worthy are to be held in double honor (I Timothy 5:17). This is the gift of the Spirit that is most preciously cherished by the people of Christ. A worthy pastor is a true benediction from heaven.

The fifth of the spirit gifts to the assemblies of Christ is that of “teachers,” listed in three of the categories named by the Apostle Paul (Romans 12:7; I Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11).

It is the God-given ability to explain the Holy Word, especially to newborn babes in Christ. It is a gift so greatly needed in the churches. The Great Commission is carried out through two main channels of work: preaching, which is directed to the will; and teaching, which is directed to the understanding. With these two gifts in powerful evidence, any people can make an impact for Christ upon a pagan world. Lord, give them to us in increasing meaning and power!

W A Cristwell, The Holy Spirit in Today’s World

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