Exploring the Gifts of the Spirit: Discovering the Power God Has for You by John Michael Talbot
3 Bullet Book: 2020, book #50: “Paul said the Spirit’s gifts are for the common good, so a word of knowledge must be shared in great love and care for the genuine benefit of the other person.” — John Michael Talbot
Finished on July 12, 2020
I worked through this book with a men’s group which was a great way to do it. There were additional Scripture references that the guys pulled out and that we looked at. It was great to be able to go deeper into the book and spiritual gifts. Of course, the greatest value for me came in the way of the experience in the room. Most men in the group with me were at least 40 years older so they’ve had decades of experience that I was able to ask questions about and explore some questions that I wouldn’t have been able to had I read this book on my own. The counsel and wisdom provided from the group was also helpful. We were able to take all questions and discussions that we had and connect it with the Bible.
The 3 Bullets
1. In the early part of the book, John Michael Talbot outlines a few things that we should do as we study spiritual gifts. We should seek them humbly, accept whichever ones we are blessed with, and act as a good steward of the gifts that we have been entrusted with. That’s the most important thing for me. I want to ensure that I can honor God with the spiritual gifts that He has blessed me with so I need to continue to seek to better understand the depth and purpose of all the spiritual gifts that I might have within my realm.
2. There are a number of different opinions and perspectives surrounding speaking in tongues. Some people will argue that it only means different languages while others will argue that it means an indecipherable language. The author did a great job of overviewing this and elaborating on the three different styles of speaking in tongues. First, speaking someone’s native language as evidenced in Acts and present on many international trips in modern day. Second, speaking to a group. I’ve had personal experiences with people speaking this. The author emphasizes that there always needs to be a translator present, “in order for it to be understood and build up the body.” Thirdly, there is praying in the spirit. A number of men in the group had experienced this and shared that often they do not know what they are saying or they are speaking indecipherably to their own ears yet believe they are glorifying God through this type of praying in tongues.
3. This book was a great overview of spiritual gifts and the Bible reiterates, as this book does also, that there are no spiritual gifts greater than another. All gifts are from God and for God. The author ended this book with a great closing message for Christians. He wrote, “In the end, it is love that matters. All the gifts begin and end in the love of God. If you love God, and if you seek his calling for how you can serve his children, ask him to empower you with the Holy Spirit’s gifts. Go with his blessing as you proclaim Jesus and build up his church.”
Pg. 28, My spiritual father taught me this with a simple illustration. He handed a book to me, but asked me not to reach out to receive it. The book stayed in his hand. Then, he handed the book to me again, but asked me to respond by reaching to receive it. Now the book was in my hands. The lesson was clear. Gifts might be offered, but unless we reach out to receive them, we will never receive these gifts.
The Gifts of Tongues and Interpretation
Pg. 35, 1. Proclaiming the gospel to those who haven’t heard it: helping evangelists reach those who don’t speak their language, as we saw in the second chapter of Acts.
2. Proclaiming to the assembly: Speaking in a tongue during corporate worship, which requires interpretation in order for it to be understood and build up the body.
3. Praying in the spirit: Private prayer in tongues that builds up the person praying either in private or in corporate worship. Paul urged believers to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18).
Pg. 40, Today, one hears numerous stories of Christian missionaries who minister to Muslims suddenly speaking Arabic. In many cases, MUlsism reported seeing Jesus in dreams or visions, but they didn’t realize who he was until a Christian told them about the gospel.
Only God knows why the Holy Spirit chooses to bless some people with the ability to speak in languages they don’t know, but if you are interested in missionary work, I wouldn’t rely on this kind of miraculous intervention on a daily basis. God gives his gifts whenever he wills, but meanwhile, missionaries seeking to share the gospel in foreign lands should not abandon their foreign languages lessons, Scripture translations, and cultural and religious studies.
Pg. 44, A few times I have been in gatherings where a tongue was proclaimed, but there was no interpretation given. Such occasions may indicate that:
— there’s someone like me in the group who has received an interpretation but is keeping his mouth shut;
— or this tongue-speaking was not of the Spirit, or not for the common good.
Pg. 49, What about you? Do you speak in tongues? If not, should you? Whether we are speaking about tongues or the other spiritual gifts we are exploring in this book, these general principles hold true:
— Humbly seek God’s good gifts.
— Gratefully accept the gifts the Holy Spirit gives you.
— Strive to be a good steward of the gifts you have received.
— Don’t get bent out of shape if God gives good gifts to others instead of you.
The Gift of Wisdom
Pg. 53, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit.” — 1 Corinthians 2:13
The Gift of Knowledge
Pg. 86, Paul said the Spirit’s gifts are for the common good, so a word of knowledge must be shared in great love and care for the genuine benefit of the other person. Knowledge isn’t a means to judge or control others, but a gift designed to serve and love them. When used badly it can abuse their soul. When used well it is a wonderful gift.
That’s why Paul prayed that believers would receive this gift: For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9–10).
The Gift of Faith
Pg. 89, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” — Hebrews 11:1
The Gift of Healing
People occasionally ask me for advice, saying they were experiencing physical ailments but didn’t know whether to pray to God or go to a doctor.
“Yes,” I always tell them, “do both. Pray to God for healing and go to a doctor to see if this physician is the human agent through whom God desires to heal you.”
Pg. 116, A long line of several hundred formed, and many asked for healing, but there was a skepticism in their requests.
“I know Jesus won’t heal my cancer,” one told me, “but I pray that I can accept the cancer as God’s gift.”
“I know that my son or daughter won’t return to faith in Jesus,” another person told me, “but please pray that I can love them where they are.”
After this happened over and over, I became perturbed. People were asking for prayer while doubting that their prayers could be effective. So, I changed the way I responded to their doubts. When the next person approached and told me they knew God wouldn’t do what they requested, I stopped them.
“I see what you are saying, and why you may be skeptical,” I told them, “but let’s pray in faith.” The rest of the afternoon, I said, “Let’s ask that your illness is healed, that your family member returns to Jesus, that your relationship is healed.”
Far too often we rationalize the miraculous elements out of our faith. This lack of faith is one reason we don’t see many healings.
The Gift of Miracles
Pg. 119, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.” — Acts 1:8
The Gift of Prophecy
Pg. 136, The knowledge must be supernatural and infused by God because it concerns things beyond the natural power of created intelligence; and the knowledge must be manifested either by words or signs, because the gift of prophecy is given primarily for the good of others, and hence needs to be manifested.
Prophets don’t need to utter the words “Thus says the Lord.” they might simply say they have a “word” from God, or they may simply speak as God’s messenger. They may prophesy in the context of preaching and teaching. The important thing is that in both content and method, it is God’s truth being shared, not our own opinions masquerading as God’s.
The Gift of Discerning Spirits
Pg. 147, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” — 2 Corinthians 11:14
Pg. 166, Paul listed the gift of administration in two of his letters. The gift gets one word in 1 Corinthians 12:27–28:
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. (ESV, emphasis added).
The Greek word for this spiritual gift of administration is kubernesis, a unique term that refers to a shipmaster or captain who steers, rules, or governs. Variations of this word appear in Acts 27:11 and Revelation 18:17.
With this gift, the Holy Spirit empowers certain Christians to organize, direct, and implement plans to lead others in the various ministries of the church. This gift is closely related to the gift of leadership, but is more goal or task-oriented, focusing on details and organization.
Pg. 175, God has given his children many good gifts, too many to cover in this book. My general approach when considering these other gits is to find out if they are focused on Jesus and if they promote the good of the church. If they pass these two tests, I gratefully receive them as God’s good gifts.
Pg. 181, How well have you loved? You don’t need to wait until death to ask that question. It’s better if we ask it every day.
How well have you poured yourself out for God and others?
Paul knew some people become giddy about spiritual gifts, but he told us it’s not about the gifts. It’s about the love.
All our theology, liturgy, sacraments, and common life exist only for one purpose: love. All these things exist so we might know love — through our personal union with Jesus Christ and through our shared life in communion with our brothers and sisters.
Love is all that matters.
Pg. 185, In the end, it is love that matters. All the gifts begin and end in the love of God.
If you love God, and if you seek his calling for how you can serve his children, ask him to empower you with the Holy Spirit’s gifts.
Go with his blessing as you proclaim Jesus and build up his church.