The Apostle Paul, who received the Spirit’s imparting through the laying-on-of-hands by Ananias, later wrote an 84 verse treatise on spiritual gifts. I Corinthians 12, 13, 14. His explanation provides the most comprehensive, authoritative information we have on the subject. More importantly, It is the only resource bearing the seal of Divine Authorship. All conflicting opinions, no matter how cherished or long-established, are but human speculation and must be discarded. Scripture is our final, absolute authority.
The Apostle begins his dissertation with the plea: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” 12:1. Interestingly, this appeal that we “not be ignorant” appears seven times in the New Testament; once by Peter, six times by Paul. Each time, the request reveals an especially deep concern of the writer. Its appearance here should command the attention of every conscientious believer. The Apostle then proceeds carefully to detail the operation of nine grace-works of the Spirit. These are the direct result of the Spirit’s baptism. Having defended the need and purpose of the gifts, Paul then concludes his discourse with the stirring rebuke, “But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.” 14:38. In other words, he says, “After this careful explanation of spiritual gifts, if anyone refuses to learn, I have nothing more to say to him. Let him remain illiterate!” Paul seemingly anticipated that some believers would reject his teaching on miraculous works of the Spirit and added this harsh warning: “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” I Corinthians 14:37.
What are the “commandments” of which he speaks? The answer: The Apostolic teachings on spiritual gifts. I Corinthians 12 and 14 speak with God’s authority as much as any other of Paul’s writings. We are no more at liberty to reject these Biblically mandated instructions than any other commandment of the Lord.
Until recent years, there was probably no other subject about which the Church was more ignorant than that of spiritual gifts. Instead of heeding Paul’s instruction, the Church engaged in open warfare against them. This was done in full view of Paul’s exhortation that we:
1. “Earnestly desire spiritual gifts.” I Corinthians 12:31.
2. “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” 14:1.
3. “Since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.” 14:12.
These admonitions do not indicate the reluctance that typifies the modern church’s attitude against spiritual gifts. There was no such lukewarmness on the part of Paul or the Corinthians. Identically, believers today are encouraged to exercise the gifts for the benefit of everyone: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all; for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills … But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.” I Corinthians 12:1, 4-11, 38.