Paul gives a few examples of the gifts which the Holy Spirit brings: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues and the interpretation of tongues. He also tells the reader why the Holy Spirit imparts special gifts to His children: it is so we can help each other! We can read Luke's account of the early church in the book of Acts and we can note how many times the Holy Spirit comes upon that group of believers, particularly when they are threatened by some higher earthly power. ''They are to be one as you and I are one'', Jesus declared to His Father. All that we do should be done in a spirit of unity and blessing. This doesn't mean that we pretend to be nice around each other, but that we declare the truth to one another in the spirit of love. The Church is the Body of Christ and the characteristic of a healthy body is that every part should perform its own function for the good of the whole. In Bearfield, there are those who give up their time sacrificially to prepare to lead children's and youth groups on a Sunday and at other times. This is for the good of the children and young people, but also for their parents and enables those adults to sit in church and be able to be quiet in the presence of God. Others spend time preparing music or come early in order to welcome attendees or spend time during the week to ensure that the premises is safe.
Obviously, all the special gifts-charismata-come from God and are to be used in His service, not for self-aggrandisement.
Let's look briefly at the selection of gifts Paul gives us:
1. Wisdom- that is not just earthly wisdom, but as Aristotle defined the word: It is striving after the best ends and using the best means.
2. Knowledge-it knows what to do in any given situation.
3. Faith-all believers have faith, but this involves a passionate belief which turns visions into deeds.
4. Healing-Healings were common place in Paul's world as so much of the body and mind were a mystery. Those who were sick would likely turn to a Rabbi if a Jew or take sacrifices to an idol if Roman or Greek. In the Church, anointing took place-James 5
5. Miracles-likely to have been exorcisms where the power of Christ brought light into darkness.
6. Prophecy-bringing the mind and heart of God to the people.
7. Discernment-the ability to distinguish between different kinds of spirit. Particularly in churches such as this one in Corinth, it was essential to have those present who could discern between the real and the hysterical.
8. Tongues and the ability to interpret them. Although the gift of tongues was rated highly in the Corinthian church, it was a complete mystery to bystanders when a person launched into speaking an unknown language! Paul set the rule that the person with the gift of tongues should not use them publicly unless there was someone with the gift of interpretation present.
There was nothing prosaic or dull about the Early Church!