Dr. Stephen Phinney
It is my hope and prayer that this series blesses you. I spent 12-years researching, studying the Scriptures through the pictorial Hebrew, Modern Hebrew, and the Greek text.
In Greek, a spiritual gift or charism is an endowment or extraordinary power given by the Holy Spirit to those indwelt (born-again) by Christ. These are the supernatural graces that individuals indwelt by Christ need today (and were needed in the days of the Apostles) to fulfill the mission of the first and following generations of the Church – the Bride of Christ. In the narrowest sense, it is a theological term for the extraordinary graces given to those who have been filled with the Holy Spirit - each to advance others in the discovery of Christ’s full potential. Each gift is also for personal sanctification, such as the fruit that is manifested through the Holy Spirit.
The irony is only 1 out of 10 authentic Christians can identify the manifestations of the Gifts of the Spirit. More disturbing, many refer to these gifts with misnomers, such as the gift of music, worship, encouragement, laughter, and others. Not one of these is Gifts of the Spirit. There is a major difference between talents and gifts.
Why is it important to know your spiritual gifts?
Spiritual gifts are a supernatural blessing in the life of an indwelt believer. When you become born-again, you are called by God the Father, redeemed by the work of God the Son, and immediately indwelt by God through the Holy Spirit. Yes, God himself takes up residence in your spirit because He selected you long before you took your first breath. Always remember the words God spoke to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:5) Folks, before we were born, God already had a plan for our calling. With that calling, He provides the Spiritual Gifts to empower us to fulfill the “why” He put us here on earth. The gifts of the Spirit are preplanned for each indwelt chosen believer in Christ.
Yes, it’s true. While the cultural Church has propagated you choose Christ, Jesus refuted this in the book of John.
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15:16)
I know this isn't easy to believe. This single statement out of Jesus’s mouth affects everything from evangelism to the Great White Throne of Judgement. Since the Christian masses cannot accept this statement, we have integrated salvation as a choice into our church doctrines.
During the Dark Ages, denominational groups began advancing this false doctrine. Since then, it has become a traditional part of getting someone saved. The fact is, IF Jesus did not choose the person you evangelize to join the Body of Christ, nothing is going to happen outside of turning them into a Christ-follower versus being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. These are hard facts that ignited the world of marginal “Christians.” Marginal Christians cannot release the Spirit from within. When a pastor deconstructs their faith, don’t be shocked. Today, many Christian leaders are as impotent as the day they were born – surviving off of talents. They empower their acts of “Christianity” through talents and skills learned by the flesh. Since the gifts of the Spirit are the supernatural elements of the Father, one must possess the Father’s Spirit. In this, I am relentless in separating “followers” from indwelt believers. So, this is the starting place with all those who stand in front of me. I never assume a pastor, theologian, skilled spiritual leader, or generalized self-proclaimed “Christians” are authentically filled with the Holy Spirit.
So why evangelize?
The answer, because we don’t know who Jesus has chosen! Our job is to share the Gospel with others without putting the choice in their hands. As a part of our sharing the good news, we are NOT called to emphasize choice for those we minister. However, we are called to teach a potential convert to respond to Christ IF He knocks at their door. As for me, I share with them what that looks like. The choice of receiving the Holy Spirit comes when Christ chooses them. Their decision? To receive/respond to His nudging.
Once authentic conversion occurs, the Holy Spirit becomes your Light and Life in everything you think, say, and do. Since the Word tells us to work out our salvation, the Holy Spirit leads us daily to the Person of Truth – Jesus, who lives in us. In those moments when we choose the flesh over the Spirit, we need to be convicted of any sins we practice. This is what the Word calls unfolding the reality of His sanctification and how Jesus accomplished our full sanctification on the day He gave His Life FOR all future selected Bridal members. On the day of our conversion is when the Holy Spirit implants Spiritual Gifts, thus, fulfilling what Jesus said, that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain. However, the Holy Spirit’s gifts are ignited through Church leaders laying hands on us and praying for a release. So, how many authentic believers have had a laying on of hands to ignite these gifts? My guess, not many. If a believer avoids the mandate of 1 Timothy 4:14, the new believer will default to talents alone. In knowing this, it might be why modern-day believers are stunted in their ability to grow the Body of Christ.
A crucial thing to know about the Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit is that they are not talents we’re born with. An indwelt Christian who is a gifted athlete, talented musician, or creative artist is not displaying the gifts of the Spirit. Furthermore, talents are flesh modalities God placed in your mortal mind and body to enact the Spiritual Gifts further once you/we receive the Life of Christ. The Holy Spirit may certainly use these flesh-born natural talents when working through the Spirit’s gifts.
Here is an example. A naturally “gifted” speaker may be given the gift of prophecy once converted. But the Spiritual Gift of prophecy uses the talents in the earth suite to provide a gateway into the supernatural elements of the mind of Christ, thus, having a keen ability to reveal the mind of Christ in prophecies and spiritual thoughts. God’s work is certain to manifest in using talents and Spiritual Gifts together. Talents provide the method, while Spiritual Gifts provide the supernatural power.
The Lord Jesus reveals to us in 1 Timothy 4:14;” Do not neglect the spiritual gifts within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery (church leadership).
My Back Story
I accepted Jesus’s invite to be my Savior when I was sixteen. I entered into the Holy knowledge of the Exchanged Life when I was in my mid-twenties. However, fear ruled my life until a mentor, a retired Baptist pastor, fronted me with the rhyme and reason for my fear. In one particular session, he asked me if a church leader had ever laid hands on me to activate my spiritual gifts. With that, I replied with an affirmative, “no.” After explaining the 1 Timothy passage, he asked me to get on my knees. What happens next is beyond any human words can express.
With fear flooding my mind, I submitted. While my heart was bounding, the pastor touched the top of my head. The fear left immediately. He began to pray against the demonic forces, who used fear as a roadblock to manifest the Spirit’s gifts. Then it happened. Out of his mouth came a bold proclamation. So bold, it weakened me to the core. With the words, release Stephen through your Spiritual Gifts. Cause him to reject fear and accept Your empowerment. I impart to him the gifts You have selected for his ministry. While he went on to pray many things, when he spoke these words, I felt like a bucket of warm water was poured over me – from my head to my toes. After that morning, I can say before you and the Lord, I have not suffered unfounded fears since. Furthermore, when generalized fear fronts me, like moments before public speaking, these words flash through my mind, Fear not, for I am Your Lord and God. Speak now. You would have had to know me before this laying-on of hands experience and know me now. I went from verbally stuttering in fear to bolding living the life of a prophet.
Many of those who knew me before this experience is perplexed by the “who” they see today. While my flesh is groomed in fear, my life in Christ is not. Most days of my life today are filled with words of knowledge, words of wisdom, prophecies, immovable faith, discernment of spirits, and yes, at times, speaking in tongues. Several years after this experience, God called me to raise a child from the dead. Don’t worry, St. Joseph's hospital documented it as An act of God.
None of the above-listed manifestations have anything to do with me. I credit it to my spiritual father delivering me from living for me to living in Christ. We all would be amazed as to just how much Jesus can and could do if His beloved Bride functioned in the Spiritual Gifts predestined for all authentically born-again members.
I desire each person who goes through this series to experience the fullness of His gifting from within. It is the responsibility of your church leadership to help you discover your gifting. Do not hesitate to contact your pastor to get your questions answered. If your pastor is of the modality that spiritual gifts are no longer in effect, you will need to contact a leader who does embrace spiritual gifting. This series is to start the process of you embracing all that God has for you. However, this comes with a warning – you will not be the same person you once were. And for some, that is not an idea worth pursuing.