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Today we see a return to and much emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit in many churches. This article is not to discuss the validity of the gifts one way or the other, but rather to bring some objectivity and balance and to let each individual answer their own questions they may have on the subject. Whatever differences there are about the gifts among church bodies on this subject, one thing that stands out is the lack of teaching about the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

What is the difference?

The first obvious thing is that one is a gift and the other is fruit. Today, in some circles, we are told that the evidence of salvation is in the operation of the gifts, especially in the gift of speaking in tongues. Some may say that although that is not evidence of salvation, it certainly is evidence that some have yielded more of their lives under the control of the Holy Spirit than others have, or that speaking in tongues is evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In response to the first statement, first of all there is absolutely no scripture that supports the idea that speaking in tongues is evidence of salvation. (“What must I do to be saved? And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts: 16: 30-31) No mention of speaking in tongues is ever even hinted at in the Bible as being evidence of salvation. When the Holy Ghost fell upon the believers in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, (Acts chapter 2) this was the sign that God kept his promise that His Spirit would be poured out on all flesh. (Joel 2: 28-30) In Acts 10: 44-45, we see that the Gentiles also spoke in tongues as a sign to the Jews, as well as to the Gentiles. In verse 43, we see it was when Peter was speaking the words “that through his name (Jesus) whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins”, is when the Holy Ghost fell upon the Gentiles as well. This was the evidence that God’s salvation had come to all that call upon the name of the Lord.

In response to the second and third comment, this is one subject, which I believe will never be completely resolved. There are good arguments on both sides of this issue and I don’t discount the possibility of either side being correct. All I do is try to look at both sides and be objective. I would be swayed more to the side who says the gifts are for today if I saw concrete evidence that their claims were true. However, I have not observed where those who claim to operate in the gifts are having any fewer problems in life than those who claim the gifts are not for today. It has been my observation that the issue is divided almost entirely over speaking in tongues. If tongues are the deciding factor, then I am swayed more to the side who says the gifts are not for today for these reasons.

1. There are many Pseudo-Christian cults that make the claim that speaking in tongues is the evidence of salvation, the Oneness Pentecostal church for one and The Way International for another, plus other groups.

2. I find in some Christian circles that they have classes on how to speak in tongues and are encouraged to “just speak it out”. I find this to be strange especially when there is no evidence in the Bible that supports the idea of learning how to speak in tongues.

3. I see in many churches where they do not follow the guidelines that the Apostle Paul set down. 1 Cor.14:23, “If all speak with tongues, will they not say you are mad? (crazy)” Also he asks the rhetorical question, “Do all speak with tongues?” (1 Cor.12:30)

4. I see too much emphasis on a gift which Paul says, “I thank God that I speak with tongues more than all of them, yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” (1 Cor.14:18-19)

5. Paul instructs those who speak in tongues to be two or three at the most, and to remain silent unless there is one to interpret, and if there are those who have the gift of interpretation, they are to be two or three and the one is to judge. (1 Cor.14:27-29) What is it they are to judge? I would say to see if what they speak is according to the scriptures. Too many times have I seen where one interprets and you are not to judge, just accept it as being from God, regardless even if it contradicts scriptures.

There are other things, which have disturbed me with supposed operations of the gifts in certain churches other than tongues, and one being the word of knowledge. All too often have I heard a supposed word of knowledge to be used more for the purpose of manipulation rather than for edification, but I won’t belabor the point any more.

I don’t believe it is as much of a question of if the gifts are for today or not, but more of a question is there abuse of the gifts today? I certainly believe this is what the apostle Paul was addressing in chapters 12,13&14 in 1Corinthians.

First of all, the gifts are just that, gifts. Gifts are not earned or awarded according to the merits of the believer. As with salvation, it is nothing that we do that earns salvation, the same holds true with the gifts, and we have nothing to be puffed about. All of the gifts are for the edification, exhortation and comfort to the body, and are to bring glory and honor to God, not for the purpose of bringing attention to certain people in the body of believers and holding them in higher esteem than the rest. With that being said, if the gifts are for today, then according to the scripture, there is much abuse of the gifts in many Christian circles today and the words of Paul are just a relevant now as they were then.

WHAT ABOUT THE FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?

Basically, what the Apostle Paul is saying is I show you a more excellent way, love. If we have all of the gifts, and they are not used in love, then they are worth nothing. (1Cor.12: 31 13: 1-3) Then he follows with the discourse explaining what love is: “patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self seeking, not easily angered, keeps no records of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth, protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres, and never fails.” (1 Cor.13:4-8) niv

Compare that to Galatians 5:22. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

I AGREE WITH THE APOSTLE PAUL

I believe if Paul were to walk into many churches today, he would say the same thing. I show you a more excellent way. If the fruits of the Spirit are not evident, then the gifts profit you nothing. I believe the real evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the fruits rather than the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Gifts are given without merit; abiding in the vine brings the fruits forth.

Jesus says; “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5)

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