The Gift and the Gifts
April 24th, 1966 @ 8:15 AM
THE GIFT AND THE GIFTS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 12:1
4-24-66 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Gift and The Gifts. It is a message on the gift of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And I must somehow hasten the delivery of these messages; they are to be published in a book, and the representative of the Zondervan Publishing House came to me about a month ago and wanted to know if I had the manuscript ready for him to take to Grand Rapids, Michigan with him. I said, “My dear friend, I have not even preached the sermons yet, much less have a manuscript for you to take to Michigan.” Well, it has been a study beyond anything that I ever dreamed I’d get into when I told Mr. Zondervan I would preach these sermons, and one of the good deacons in our church was going to have them published. Not in my wildest imagination did I ever think of the profundity and the unfathomableness of the subject. The Revelation, I thought, would be most difficult; but it is not difficult at all compared with trying to understand all that God has meant for us in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. This is one of those studies—and may God enlighten my own soul and bless our own hearts as we share in it together.
Now, the gift of the Holy Spirit: Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ eis because of the remission of your sins in Him, and ye shall receive the gift,” singular, “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 10:45; 44, I’d have to read with it, “While Peter yet spake . . . the Holy Spirit fell on them which heard the word.” Now 45, “And they of the circumcision which believed,” the Jewish people present who believed, “were astonished, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift,” singular, “the gift of the Holy Spirit” [Acts 10:45]. And in the next chapter, chapter 11, Peter recounting this experience at Jerusalem, “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift,” singular, “as He did unto us . . . what was I, that I could withstand God?” [Acts 11:16-17]. Now, the tremendously important and pertinent chapter, 1 Corinthians 12:1, “Now concerning spiritual gifts,” plural, “brethren, I would not have you ignorant”—but there is no subject on which we are more grossly ignorant—all the subjects in the Bible put together are not so much so a part of our not knowing as the spiritual gifts, yet Paul says, “Yet now concerning spiritual gifts,” plural, “brethren, I would not have you ignorant” [1 Corinthians 12:1] verse 4, “Now there are diversities of gifts,” plural, “but the same Spirit” [1 Corinthians 12:4] In reading these typical texts, you can see that the Bible, that God, makes a deep differentiation between the gift of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.
The gift of the Spirit is the indwelling of the presence of God, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus. The gift of the Spirit is the indwelling of the Spirit, abiding with us from that moment that we are converted. You turn, you repent, you trust in Christ, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 1:12; Titus 3:5-6]. He comes into our souls; we are born again, we are born anew, according to the third chapter of John, by the gift of the Holy Spirit [John 3:5]. He comes to abide eternally; “That He may abide with you forever” [John 14:16-17] our Lord said. It is a one great experience. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:12-13]. When one is saved, when he is converted, when he is born again, when he trusts in Jesus, when he becomes a Christian and a child of God, there is bestowed upon him in that instant the gift, singular, of the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 1:12; Titus 3:5-6].
Now, the gifts, plural, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are bestowed upon us for service in the church, in the body of Christ. The apostle Paul urged Timothy to stir up, to kindle the gift of the Holy Spirit that he received by the laying on of Paul’s own hands [2 Timothy 1:6]. Now that’s what we’re going to speak of this morning: first, the gift of the Holy Spirit; and second, the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Now, the gift of the Holy Spirit. We live in a marvelous and incomparable age; none like it, never. It is a wonderful and glorious age; this age of the dispensation of grace and of the Holy Spirit of God. The Lord said of John the Baptist, “Of the men born of women, none greater than he; but the least in the kingdom of God, of heaven, of this dispensation, the least one is greater than John the Baptist” [Matthew 11:11]. He died before the cross, he died before the resurrection, he died before Pentecost [Matthew 14:6-12]; he belonged to the old covenant and the old dispensation. And the humblest, least saint that lives in this dispensation has an opportunity and a glory that John the Baptist never knew [Matthew 11:11].
In the days of the Old Covenant, of the Old Bible, the Holy Spirit of God came upon men at times and in places. But in this new dispensation, the Holy Spirit of God is poured out, and men and women, and boys and girls, young people can have an abounding measure of the poured out presence of God in every soul, in every life [John 3:34]. What a glory! The Bible will say, for example, “And the Spirit of God came mightily upon Othniel” [Judges 3:10]. “And the Spirit of God came mightily upon Gideon” [Judges 6:34]. “And the Spirit of God moved Samson at times in the camp at Dan” [Judges 13:25]. But upon us there is no limit, there are no times, there are no places: the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us without measure; the gift, the ascension gift of Christ that came into this world at Pentecost [Acts 2:1-4], and abides with us, God’s sainted children, without measure and forever [John 3:34].
It is a gift, the gift of the Holy Spirit: we just take it, we just receive the gift. Look at this: John 20:22, “And when He had said this, Shalom, Peace be unto you, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” The Lord resurrected, with His disciples in the inner room, “And He breathed on them, and He breathed on them, and said unto them, Labete,” you have it translated here “receive ye the Holy Spirit” [John 20:22]. Well, there’s nothing wrong in that, but “receive” is not the first and major meaning of lambanō. This is the second aorist active, second aorist imperative form of that verb lambanō, and it means “take,” imperative. “And He breathed on them, and said, Take, labete,” imperative, “take ye the Holy Spirit, take, take” [John 20:22]. This is the incomparable ascension gift of our crucified and risen Lord [John 16:7]; take. And engrossed as we are in the things of this world, and enmeshed as we are and bogged down as we are in this life, when we reach up our hands to take aboundingly and abundantly and fully, somehow we withdraw our hands, “O Lord, who am I that I should be filled? O Lord, I’m not worthy.” And the more we draw nigh to God to receive, to take, the more that feeling of unworthiness on our part stops our receiving, interdicts our taking. We ought not to be that way: God knows we’re sinful people, and God knows our shortcomings, and God knows our weaknesses; these things are not, they’re not hidden away, they’re not mysteries, they’re not matters of ignorance with the Almighty, He knows that. But in spite of our carnalities, and our weaknesses, and our humanities, and our sins, God says, “For you, for you I bestow this celestial gift. Take it, take it. Worthy or no worthy, take it!”
With Brother Bob Wyatt here, we looked upon the riches of the czars of Russia. It’s in the armory in the Kremlin. And not in all of this world put together, in all England or all America or all anywhere else, is there a display of the wealth of sovereignty as you will see in the display in the armory of the wealth of the czars of Russia. It’s the most fantastic and unbelievable array of splendor that my eyes ever looked upon. In that display is a glorious set of china, made by the factory in Paris—Sèvres, right outside of Paris—given to the Emperor Alexander by Napoleon. Alexander, the emperor, one time, in the company of his palace guard, looked upon one of his humble, menial servants, and took his golden cup and calling that humble vassal placed that golden cup in his hand, and said, “Take it.” And the humble vassal of the emperor Alexander was astonished at the lavishness and exquisite pricelessness of the gift, and replied, “Your Majesty, I cannot take it. I cannot take it. I am unworthy. I am unworthy.” The humble reply of that menial servant in the household of the great emperor astonished the king. And the czar hesitated for a moment. Then drawing himself up to his greatest height, he said to that menial and humble household servant, he said, “But sir, but sir, it is not unworthy of me to give it. Take it. Take it.” And when I read that story about the czar, I thought of us: “Lord, I’m unworthy to take it.” But Jesus replies, “But I am not unworthy to give it.” All we need to do is to consent to have it, that’s all; just consent to take it. There is no other stipulation, qualification. “He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Take ye the Holy Spirit” [John 20:22]. All we need to do is just an abandonment of ourselves to God; receive, take.
“The disciples had to wait ten days” [Acts 1:3, 2:1], you say. That was before this dispensation, that was before Pentecost; for the Holy Spirit had not come. But now that He is come, the Holy Spirit, we don’t have to wait ten seconds. All that is needed is just our consent. Take Him, take Him, receive Him; just abandon ourselves to God [John 20:22].
In my studying, I read of a preacher at one of our conventions. And he went to the man who was preaching, and after he had delivered his sermon, this fellow preacher went to him, and said, “Oh, I praise God, I bless the name of God that I consented.” And the great preacher said, “To what did you consent?” And the fellow pastor there in the convention said, “For fifteen years I agonized and prayed and begged of God for the fullness of the Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “I heard you preach one time on consenting; that’s all that God asks, just to take Him!” And he said, “I consented, I consented, and God flooded my soul.” And this story said that every time those two met at a convention, the one said to the other, “I bless the name of God that I consented.” And this man telling about it said, “I suppose when I go through the pearly gates, and walk through the golden streets, and meet that brother, I expect him to say in heaven when I meet him, ‘Praise God, and bless the name of God that I consented.’” Isn’t that a marvelous thing, a marvelous thing? The gift of the Holy Spirit, labete, take, take, take [John 20:22].
Now, that was a little introduction; we got to get to this sermon. Plural, plural; you’re entering now into an altogether different world. And the reason I put this together like this was to try to show from the Word of God the difference. We’re entering now an altogether different world. The gift of the Holy Spirit: when we’re saved, and we can have just as much of God as we will open our souls, and open our hearts, and open our lives, and open our businesses, and open our houses and homes, and open our hands to take, just as much, “for God giveth not the Holy Spirit by measure” [John 3:34]. Now we’re going to enter an altogether different world: this is a sovereign world we’re going to enter now, one that is chosen, not by us, but by the Holy Spirit. We’re going to enter the elective purposes of God for us now. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” [1 Corinthians 12:1]. And as I said, there’s not anything upon which we are more grossly, densely ignorant than spiritual gifts. And I say “we,” I mean “me,” and I mean us. And that’s why this series of sermons. God help, that our eyes and our minds may be enlightened. All right, we must hasten, for I’ve got five hours of preaching here that I want to do in the little few minutes that remain.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts [1 Corinthians 12:1]…Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” [1 Corinthians 12:4]. There are two words that are used here and we’re going to look at those words: first, because this is the basis for what God’s going to tell us. Now the first word there is, “Now concerning pneumatikōn, tōn pneumatiko,” plural, “Now concerning tōn pneumatiko, now concerning the spirituals,” that’s exact translation there. “Now concerning the spirituals, to pneumatikōn” [1 Corinthians 12:1], and he defines it for us in verse 7: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” [1 Corinthians 12:7]. So the first thing that he, first word that he uses here is pneumatikōn, “the spirituals”: pneuma, “breath”, “And He breathed on them” [John 20:22], pneumatikōn, “breath,” “spirit,” breath, spirit, the word for “spirit” is pneuma, and pneumatikōn are the things of the Spirit. And he defines what he means by pneumatikōn, the manifestation of the Spirit. Now, that’s what he’s going to talk about, called “gifts,” the manifestation of the Spirit in you [1 Corinthians 12:7], and in you, and in you; the pneumatikōn, the manifestations of the Spirit.
All right, now, first let me say about that word to pneumatikōn, “manifestations of the Spirit” [1 Corinthians 12:7]. They are not natural endowments; they are not talents, and they’re not something you’re born with, like a heathen can have, and a pagan can have, and a blasphemer can have, what you’re born with. These are manifestations of the Spirit, gifts, supernatural gifts of the Spirit, tōn pneumatiko [1 Corinthians 12:7], “the spirituals” [1 Corinthians 12:1].
All right, the second word that he uses, “Now there are diversities of gifts” [1 Corinthians 12:4], and thereafter he’ll use this word: ta charismata, charisma, charisma, singular; and charismata, the charismatic gifts, charismata. Now you can see that charisma comes from charis. Charis is the Greek noun, substantive, for “grace,” grace. When you make the accusative ending of charis, karen, there are a good many girls in this church named Karen, Karen, “grace.” Now charis, the Greek word “grace,” is unmerited favor, a gift; not because we deserved it, not because we earned it or merited it, but charis is unmerited favor, something God freely bestows. So a charismata, charisma, so a charisma is something that God bestows upon us unmerited on our part, sovereignly on His part. And the plural of it, ta charisma, are these gifts that God bestows upon us, not because we are worthy, or we deserved it, or we earned it, but it is a charisma, it is a gift of God, supernatural; it’s not an endowment, it is not something you are born with in the flesh, but it is a manifestation of the Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:7]. Now there is one place in the Bible, I found out, in Romans 1:11, there is one place where both of those words is used together: charisma pneumatikon, and this is it, Romans 1:11, “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, charisma pneumatikon.” If I were to translate that actually, what Paul said is this: “I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some unmerited favor, spiritual manifestation”; what Paul wanted to do for the people of the church there in Rome.
So to begin with now, a charisma, a pneumatikon, is a manifestation of the Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:7] supernaturally; not something of talent, not something you’re endowed with, nor is it something you earned or merited; it is a free gift of God, and the manifestation of the Spirit through you. Pneumatikōn, charismata, the gifts of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:7].
All right, a second thing about them: they are the result of the ascension of our Lord into glory [Ephesians 4:8]. “But unto every one of us,” Paul writes in Ephesians, “Unto every one of us is given grace,” there’s that charis, “according to the measure of the gift of Christ [Ephesians 4:7]. Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men [Ephesians 4:8]. And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors; and some, teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come to the full measure of the knowledge of God in the faith” [Ephesians 4:10-13]. These gifts are the results of the victory of Christ over sin, death, the grave, Satan, and the hosts of evil. And the picture that lies back of it is that when you have won a war, the victor claims the spoils. So Christ, when He despoiled principalities and powers, and destroyed the power of Satan and sin and the grave [Colossians 2:15], He went back up into heaven carrying captivity captive, all of these things that were against us, and He gave gifts unto men [Ephesians 4:8]. He parceled out the spoils of His victory. So these pneumatika, these charismata, are gifts that are bestowed by the Lord Jesus Christ as a result of His glorious victory over the powers of sin, and darkness, and Satan, and the grave [Ephesians 4:8].
All right, a second thing about them, I mean another thing about them: they are sovereignly bestowed. “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given, is given to every man to profit withal” [1 Corinthians 12:7]. But all these worketh that one in the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man according as He will, boulomai, boulomai, according as the Holy Spirit will” [1 Corinthians 12:11]. They are sovereignly bestowed. That is, first, you do not choose it: it is chosen for you by the Lord, by the Holy Spirit. They are sovereignly bestowed. You do not choose your gift. God chooses it for you. Second, they are not bestowed as a reward for what you do; they are sovereignly bestowed. That’s why Paul will say in the first Corinthian letter, chapter 4—isn’t it—verse : “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? And if thou didst receive it, why dost thou boast thyself, and glory over it?” [1 Corinthians 4:7]. These manifestations of the Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:7], are not something that we receive because we are spiritually superior; they are given to us of the Lord, and they are manifestations of the Spirit [1 Corinthians 4:7], in us according to His sovereign grace and His sovereign choice [1 Corinthians 12:11].
So, the third thing about them is, they are not to be sought. Some pray, and agonize, and beg, and weep, and cry, and lament for a spiritual gift. They are not bestowed according to our weeping, or our praying, or our agonizing, or our begging, or our waiting, or our spiritual superiority; they are sovereignly bestowed. “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, who gives to every man, who gives to each man, severally to each man, boulomai, as He will, as He will” [1 Corinthians 12:11].
Well somebody will say, “Well pastor, if, if that is correct, that I am not to beg for it and choose for it, what is the meaning of Paul when he closes this chapter on the gifts by saying, ‘But covet earnestly the best gifts, the best charismata’? If I’m not to seek it and to save it, what does it mean when he says, ‘But covet earnestly the best gifts?’” [1 Corinthians 12:31]. Well, if you read the context, it is very simple what Paul is saying. Of all of these gifts, these charismata, these manifestations of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 121:7], in the church there in Corinth, Corinth, the church, and he’s writing to the church, the church was magnifying the lowest gifts; and the church was neglecting the highest gifts. And Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth, says, “You make a colossal mistake in doing that. Don’t magnify, don’t covet the lowest gifts that are bestowed among the people; but magnify in the church the greatest gifts that are bestowed among the people, the first of which is prophecy, is preaching, is the declaration of the Word of God [1 Corinthians 12:28]. Magnify that,” says the apostle Paul. So they are sovereignly bestowed [1 Corinthians 12:28-31]. We don’t choose them; the Lord chooses the spiritual manifestation that shall be in us [1 Corinthians 12:11].
All right, we must hasten, for we have but a moment left. These Spirit manifestations [1 Corinthians 12:7]: no one man has them all. No one man has them all, but each one of us has one or some. Paul will say here [1 Corinthians 12:29], “Are all apostles? Are all apostles?” No. “Are all prophets?” No. “Are all teachers?” No. “Are all workers of miracles?” No. There is no one man who has all the gifts, no one. But, each one of us will have some gift. “But the manifestation,” verse 7, “of the Spirit is given to each one, to each one to profit withal” [1 Corinthians 12:7]. A one-man church would be a weak church, anywhere in the earth. A great church is built by the inclusion in it of all of the several gifts of the Holy Spirit throughout the congregation. You have a gift, and you have a gift, and you have one, and you have one, and you have one; and all of them are needed in the body of Christ, all of them.
Well, how could I know my gift? I think these things are not far-fetched; I’m going to give you an example. First of all, how could you know? One, your inner witness: there are affinities in your life, there are likes in your life, and there are abilities that will attend those affinities, the inner witness, there’s something on the inside of you that makes you like certain things and able to do certain things. It’s on the inside of you. And then a second thing: and it will be recognized by the assembly, by the church of God. Now I said I was going to illustrate that. George W. Truett, the illustrious pastor of this church for forty-seven years, Dr. Truett was a young man in Whitewright. And the church assembled itself together and voted in conference to ordain the young man, George W. Truett, to the gospel ministry. And Dr. Truett was amazed, and he was surprised, and he was astonished! And he said, “But my brethren, I’m going to be a lawyer, a lawyer, not a preacher!” Oh, but the brethren said, “God has called you to preach. And we have already voted to ordain you to the gospel ministry.” And they ordained him right there on the spot. Now I’m using that as an illustration that is so far-famed. The assembly of the church will see it also.
Now—oh we must hasten—these gifts of the Holy Spirit, these gifts are for the ministry in the church, the ministries in the church, for the building up of the household of faith. They’re not for our personal enjoyment, and they’re not for our pride and our boasting; but they are for the building up of the household of faith. Now you look at this. In the tremendous mandate and commandment and commission that the Lord delivered to His people in the first chapter of the Book of Acts, the Lord did not say, “Now you be witnesses for Me in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth,” He never said it like that. This is what He did say: “But ye shall receive power, but ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and then shall ye be witnesses in Jerusalem, and on and on and on and on” [Acts 1:8]. Now that mandate has never been changed, and that program has never been altered. For our work, for our work we are to seek the directive of God from heaven, and the Spirit of the Lord from heaven. And I am not to try to go out here and do what God never called me to do. And I’m not to try to exercise a gift that God never bestowed upon me. But I am in the power of the Holy Spirit to do what God has called me to do. I have a gift from the Holy Spirit. I have a gift supernatural, something I wasn’t born with, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. You have a gift of the Holy Spirit; there is something that God has given to you, a spiritual manifestation. And when we put ourselves together, and my gift is exercised in the power of the Lord, and your gift is exercised in the power of the Lord, and we are put together in the household of faith, we are then mighty witnesses for Christ.
Now I hate to leave this sermon like this, but I can’t do it all, even the beginning of it all in one message; so we will pick it up from there. Now, the next sermon will be The Gifts of the Holy Spirit. What are they? What does God bestow upon His people? And the Lord give us wisdom and understanding as we enter into it.
Now Brother Lee Roy and choir, are you awake back there? God bless you. Now, let’s sing our song of appeal. And while we sing our song, God bless His Word and bless us as we try to read it and understand it and deliver its message. And God bless you as you share in these ministries of the Spirit of Jesus. And somebody you, give himself to the Lord today, “I’ve opened my heart to God, and here I am.” A family to come, a couple to come, one somebody you to come, while we sing this song, make it now. Make it this moment. When we stand up, stand up coming; while we stand and while we sing.
THE GIFT AND THE GIFTS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Acts 2:38, 10:44-45, 11:16-17; 1 Corinthians 12:1, 4
A. Scriptures differentiate clearly between “the gift” and “the gifts”
1. The gift – the coming of the indwelling presence of God when we are saved(John 3, Acts 2:38)
2. The gifts – endowments theSpirit of God places within us by which He uses us to glorify the church, do theministries of our Lord(2 Timothy 1:6)II. The gift of the Holy Spirit
A. This marvelous age in which we live – the age of the Holy Spirit, the age of grace(Matthew 11:11)
1. In Old Testament, Holy Spirit descendedmightily upon men at times and in places(Judges 3:10, 6:34, 13:25, 14:19, 15:14)
2. In New Testament, Holy Spirit saturates men; is poured out upon all flesh, dwells mightily within men(Acts 2:16-18)
B. It is a gift, something we receive(John 20:22)
1. Lambete – “to take”
C. Consent to receive the Holy Spirit nowIII. The gifts of the Holy Spirit
A. The words used
1. Pneumatika – the spirituals, the manifestations of the Spirit; not to be confused with natural talents(1 Corinthians 12:1, 7)
2. Charismata – a gift of grace, an undeserved power from God to man
a. Charis – grace, unmerited favor
3. One place both words used together (Romans 1:11)
B. Bestowed by Christ upon His ascension into heaven(Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-12)
C. They are sovereignly bestowed(1 Corinthians 12:7, 11)
1. We cannot choose our gifts
2. They are not bestowed as rewards(1 Corinthians 4:7)
3. They are not to be sought after by men(1 Corinthians 12:31)
D. No one person has all the gifts, but each one has one or some(1 Corinthians 12:28-30)
1. How to know what gift God has given me