Monday, July 14, 2008

Manifestations of the Holy Spirit I

There is but one list of manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the entire Bible. It is broad enough in its descriptions to include virtually every sign or evidence there is that the Holy Spirit is active. And that is, after all, what manifestations (phanerosis) are, signs that the Holy Spirit is producing something in the moment. These miracles are like a neon sign: the breath of God sparks into visible light which evidences that the Holy Ghost is at work, then the spark ceases and the light goes out. Shine on, shine off!

Though the Holy Spirit is resident in the believer, the spark is not. It ignites according to the will of the Spirit for the common good at whatever moment the Spirit deems appropriate. It is therefore an error to look upon the list of manifestations as ministries, THEY ARE NOT!!! They may reoccur in a believer's life, they may not. A believer may manifest all of them over some interval, he or she may manifest only a few. They are merely the signs that follow them that believe. The annotated list below, cross-referenced to scriptural examples of that sign occurring is offered for whatever benefit you might derive.


A Word of Wisdom: a discourse of reasoning (i.e. how to best go about a thing) inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is not the same as being wise or experienced, nor is it the garden variety of wisdom--it is an instance, a flash, of dam-busting, mountain-moving inspiration whose insightful benefactions accrue to the church rather than the inspired. It's the sort of thing the human mind would not produce apart from the inspiration of God. (Acts 15:28-29)

A Word of Knowledge: a discourse revealing information or awareness that would be impossible to know apart from the inspiration of God. This is not about being intelligent, or well-learned, or psychic. It is God dropping, like a coin into a slot (clink, clank!), something into one's consciousness that he or she would otherwise never know, and which benefits the body rather than the "knower". Healings are wrongly attributed to this manifestation in many circles. If a healing is called out, that IS NOT A WORD OF KNOWLEDGE, that is a gift of healing! I suppose I shouldn't get too ticky-tack about that, at least those doing so have faith and are moving in the Holy Spirit, but sort of bugs me nonetheless. (Acts 5:1-11; 13:8-12)

Faith: a conviction inspired by the Holy Spirit which in turn inspires the body. We all need faith, it's the currency of heaven. It's what makes things possible, but there are moments when the Spirit zaps one of us with a faith which inspires the rest of us to believe and act. (Acts 27:21-26)

Gifts of Healings: God's grace multiplied through a variety of healings for the benefit of the body. This does not refer to therapy over time, but to instantaneous or timely cures, miracles not medicine. There is an unusual feature in this manifestation: both the word "gifts" and "healings" are plural, they don't travel alone! Like Santa with a satchel, the grantee of this manifestation passes out these gifts until they're all gone. When the Holy Spirit manifests healing, expect an outbreak--not just a healing, but healings.

There are gifted healers (see this for the discussion of such), but that is not quite the same as the manifestation in question. Undoubtedly, those so gifted will be visited by this manifestation over and over again, but the manifestation could fall on any at anytime, not just the healers. I should also point out that this is not the same as an answer to prayer. Healing is ours through the atonement of Christ and accessible to all through faith and prayer, but that is not the same as a Holy Ghost outbreak of healing determined according to his will rather than our prayers. (Acts 5:15-16; 19:11-12)

Operations of Powers: exercisings of God's powers resulting in miracles which benefit the church. The plural thing is working in this manifestation too, although the context is not as discreet as in healing. The performance of a miracle, let say raising the dead, actually involves more than one power (e.g., reanimation, reconstitution, healing, etc.), whereas a healing has remedying a malady in focus (e.g., leprosy). Therefore, the plural is not as indicative of an outbreak as it was in healing. On a side note, as much as my modern mind would like to classify casting out demons as a working of power, the Bible, almost uniformly, lumps that miracle in with healing. (Acts 20:9-12; 28:3-6)

Well, there you have it, at least the first half. Some very good folk will see it differently, of course, but I think the points made so far go a long way to clarifying the actual practice of what is scriptural. There's no benefit to being confused and so avoiding the practice of these things, nor does anything but confusion wait for those, who not understanding these things, rush head long off into practice that is made up as he or she goes along. That is as much a problem with the charismatic movement today as it was for the church at Corinth in Paul's day!