To speak a language is a gift. Whether it is acquired from our parents, or acquired through hard study, it is a gift nonetheless. Any ability or accomplishment is a gift of God through the use of our intelligence, or the laws of development. All good gifts come from God. The greatest gift of all was that of His Son to restore us to Himself. In Christ’s absence, the Father promised as great a gift in the Holy Spirit. This gift is free, but there are conditions to be met to be eligible for it. We will take a closer look at the conditions necessary for receiving the Holy Spirit.
Conditions to Receive the Holy Spirit
Before His departure from the earth Jesus said to His disciples: “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shalt be in you.” John 14:15-17.
True love is shown in obedience. Our love to God is seen in our obedience to His commandments. Here is the true condition of life. We must obey before we may receive His precious gift. The same condition was repeated by the apostles. “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Acts 5:32.
God will never give His Holy Spirit to the disobedient or rebellious, for this would be inconsistent with His character. The worldly-minded are not in harmony with the commandments of God and therefore do not receive this gift.
To receive the Holy Spirit we need only ask. Anyone who feels their sinful condition and earnestly asks God for the promised Gift will surely receive it. By renouncing the world and accepting God’s conditions, the Lord will supply all your needs for living the new life.
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:13.
To ask without fulfilling the first condition reveals selfish motives. Such a person will not receive the Holy Spirit for the apostle James says: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” James 4:3.
When we obey God’s commandments we may ask for the Holy Spirit and it will surely be given to us. But in asking we must offer our petitions through the only means God has provided, the only Mediator between heaven and earth (Refer to lessons five, eleven and twelve.) We must ask in the name of Jesus.
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” John 14:13, 14.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit will be granted to any person who, as a child of God, fulfills the conditions. But this gift is not always seen in outward display and exhibitions. The Holy Spirit has a specific work to do on our behalf. His work is not merely overt miracles, but first and foremost, miraculous workings upon man’s heart.
When Jesus promised the Comforter, He said “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:8.
The Holy Spirit is the heavenly Agent to convince sinners of their sins. He prompts us to confess and forsake sin. Without this help from heaven, we cannot see our real condition.
The Holy Spirit also teaches us to keep the commandments of God. He teaches the true understanding and meaning of the Holy Scriptures. He prompts us to righteous living.
“And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:27.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26.
The Holy Spirit in the presence of God pleads for the repentant sinner: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26.
Why Were The Gifts Of The Spirit Given?
Three chapters in the writings of Paul deal specifically with spiritual gifts. Paul wanted the Christians to know about the gifts of the Spirit and what they were given for. He begins: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” I Corinthians 12:1.
Yet ignorance regarding these spiritual gifts abounds with misunderstanding and misuse of the gifts. Why were the gifts given? The apostle Paul says: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” I Corinthians 12:7.
Never is the gift granted to a person without that soul being sanctified by God. Every manifestation of the Holy Spirit is profitable for spiritual growth. The gifts are given for the upbuilding of the church until it is perfected.
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended upon high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men….And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:” Ephesians 4:8,11-13.
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gift of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:” I Corinthians 12:4-10.
“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” I Corinthians 12:28.
If we count the divers gifts of the Spirit we find that there are about 15 quoted, but they are given. For one purpose – to perfect the church. These gifts are: wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophets, gift of tongues, interpretation of tongues, discernment of spirits, apostles, teachers, helps, governments, evangelists and pastors.
The first gift is wisdom. This is granted to those who obey God’s commandments. We read: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” Psalm 111:10.
When one has a clear understanding of God’s requirements that person becomes firmly established on the Truth of God and cannot be moved from this conviction. This is why the gifts are given.
Performance of Miracles
Jesus promised His disciples that when they would receive the Holy Spirit in fullness they would perform miracles. He said to them, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Mark 16:17, 18.
These miracles took place with the disciples after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
“In my name shall they cast out devils”? This was fulfilled as related in Acts 16:16-18.
“They shall speak new tongues”. This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost as stated in Acts 2:4-11.
“They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.” This was also fulfilled by Paul as written in Acts 28:3-5.
“They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” More than any other miracle, this power of healing was displayed by many of the apostles. See Acts 3:2-7; 5:15, 16. Not only were the sick healed but even the dead were raised. See Acts 9:37, 40; 20:9-12.
The apostles performed miracles because they were filled with the Holy Spirit. In our days many miracle performers exist, but they cannot cure as the apostles did. To cure all from their diseases, to raise the dead, or even to heal one person just by passing under one’s shadow is Divine healing. Peter held a meeting, and in one day, at only one sermon, there were about three thousand people converted. Why is it that in our days miracles are not performed to such an extent? The gift of the Holy Spirit has never been withdrawn from the earth, but people have withdrawn themselves from God by apostasy. It is promised that in the last days when Godâ€™s church has been prepared by the gifts of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will be poured out again in its fullness as in the apostles’ day.
Since ancient times the performance of miracles was not only by the power of God, but there were also false exhibitions by the power of Satan. This is clearly explained in the experience of Moses, and the magicians of Egypt. Today various religionists, atheists, and pagans perform miracles. Therefore we must be able to discern which miracles are of God. There is a standard by which miracles and performers of miracles are to be tested: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.
The Gift Of Tongues
Many interpret the gift of tongues as being the most important gift. It is not placed first but seventh in Paul’s list. The gift of tongues is not a muttering. It is a tongue or language that is spoken by somebody. When the apostles received the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost they were speaking the tongues of the various nationalities gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. There were about seventeen different nationalities present.
“And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:7-11.
Paul says that we should not be ignorant about the gifts, and he shows that the gift of tongues is the ability to speak in other tongues, or languages. “So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.â€ â€œI thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.â€ â€œIf any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.” I Corinthians 14:9, 10, 18,19,27,28.
In the time of the apostles the gift of tongues was essential because the apostles were few and most of them were uneducated. Yet the gospel was to be preached in all the known world at that time. So the Holy Spirit completed the lack of knowledge of other languages with the gift of tongues and they were able to preach the gospel to all nations, tongues and people. Today almost every nation can read the Scriptures in their own language.
Although all of the gifts will be poured out in the last days, the gift of prophecy was especially mentioned as being necessary for God’s people.
“Where then is no vision, the people perish:…” Proverbs 29:18.
In the last church, the Remnant Church, the gift of Prophecy will exist. Of God’s faithful people it is said: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17.
“for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10.
The Most Important Gift
“But covet earnestly the best gifts; and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” I Corinthians 12:31.
The most excellent gift to be desired is fully explained in I Corinthians 13 as CHARITY or LOVE. Then to summarize, Paul concludes “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” I Corinthians 13:13.
The greatest Gift that God ever granted mankind was demonstrated in giving His only begotten Son, and this He did because He loved us: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
This perfect love of God will become the motivating principle of those who earnestly seek for the most excellent gift. Those who have the love of God in their heart will do what God requires.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandants: and his commandments are not grievous.” John 5:3.
The apostle Paul describes true love: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth:” I Corinthians 13:4-8.
The gift of the spirit will sanctify and “Guide into all truth.” Love for God and a love for His word will strengthen a person’s faith. The gifts of the spirit will be placed in their true perspective, and be used for the effective preaching of God’s word. This perfect gift, abiding in all truth, will not, cannot, fail.