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The Gifts of the Spirit
The Bells Are Heard Again
by Tom Brown

"Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant."
--1 Corinthians 12:1

Ironically, the very thing that the Bible says not to be ignorant about is the very thing most Christians are ignorant about--and that is about spiritual gifts. There are three ways to be ignorant about these gifts: first, you can be ignorant about these gifts because you are unaware of them; second, you can be ignorant by ignoring them; third, you can be ignorant through misinformation. The last form of ignorance is the worst.

It is my goal, through this article, to inform you about these spiritual gifts and how you can receive them into your own life.

Supernatural abilities

Spiritual gifts are supernatural abilities given by the Holy Spirit. They are called "manifestations of the Spirit" (v. 7). These gifts occur when the Holy Spirit, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, manifest His attributes of power, wisdom and knowledge through a Spirit-filled believer. These gifts are not natural talents or abilities, such as singing or swinging a bat. These gifts are supernatural.

The only person able to experience these gifts are Christians who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, for the Bible continues to say in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, "For we were all baptized in one Spirit into one body...and we were all given the one Spirit to drink" (v. 13). There are two baptisms that the Bible speaks of: first, there is water baptism and second, there is Spirit baptism.

Jesus says, "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:5). Later in Acts 2:1-4 we’re told about the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit: "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."

As you can see, this experience is supernatural, and it also gives believers the ability to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. In this case the believers spoke in tongues, which is one of the gifts of the Spirit. Believers should speak in tongues today. So once a believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit, then the gifts of the Spirit will manifest themselves in him.

Most Christian know little or nothing about these manifestations. They are often taught that these gifts do not occur today. But that teaching is totally wrong. Whatever the Holy Spirit has done in the past then He will do today. The Holy Spirit is God, therefore He does not change. We should expect the Holy Spirit to do in our lives what we saw Him do in the lives of the early Christians. He perform miracles, healed the sick, imparted faith to cast out demons, gave supernatural wisdom and knowledge, empowered believers to prophecy and speak in tongues, and He did many other supernatural things through the early disciples.

THE END OF THE GIFTS

Many people wonder why it appeared that the Holy Spirit stopped manifesting Himself through believers. Church history confirms that slowly the gifts of the Spirit--all but--disappeared in the Church. In about the fourth century, the gifts of the Spirit were rare, and almost extinct. Why?

I believe part of the answer lies in prophecy. In 1 Corinthians 13:1 Paul says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." This ideal of a "gong or clanging cymbal" is taken from the Old Testament.

The High priest wore a robe with pomegranates wrapped around the hem of his garment. In between the pomegranates were bells of pure gold that made noise whenever the priest moved. These bells alternated with the pomegranates. This robe speaks of the Holy Spirit, and the pomegranates symbolizes the fruit of the Spirit while the bells represents the gifts of the Spirit. The priest was to wear both the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. (see Exodus 39:22-26)

This is obviously what Paul had in mind when he wrote, "If I speak in tongues [have the gifts] but have not love [the fruit] then I am only a making noise." He is saying that being a priest means for you to be clothed with both the fruit and gifts of the Spirit.

Now what does this have to do with the apparent disappearance of the gifts of the Spirit from the Church until recently when the gifts were restored at the beginning of the last century? In other words, why did the gifts disappear during the fourth century up until the beginning of this century?

I believe the answer lies in understanding the role of Jesus as our High Priest.

Jesus is our High Priest, and He wore the garments of the fruit and gifts of the Spirit.

When Jesus ascended to carry on the work of High Priest, He could be heard through the bells. In other words, the way Christ makes Himself known is through the gifts of the Spirit.

To understand this better it would be good to go back to the foreshadowing of Christ’ priestly ministry. The Old Testament High Priest would sacrifice the lamb and carry its blood into the temple. The temple contain two rooms: one was the called the Holy Place and the other was called the Most Holy Place. He would go behind close doors and minister before the Lord in the first room. The only way the people outside knew that everything was all right was by the bells they heard. As long as the bells were heard, they knew the priest was alive and still ministering.

However, the scary moment occurred when the priest would enter the second room called the Most Holy Place. This place was a little room behind a very thick curtain. When the priest went into that room, the thick curtain absorbed the sound of the bells, so that the bells could not be heard anymore, even though the priest was alive. Everyone would hold their breath.

"Was the priest still alive and ministering in our behalf before the Lord, or was he dead?"

They all simply waited until he would come out again. After he finished his work the priest would leave the Most Holy Place and be back into the first room where the people could hear the bells again. This let them know that the priest was alive and was almost finished his job. It was only a matter of a few minutes before the priest would make his exit from the temple to be seen by the people.

How did the disciples know for sure that Christ was indeed alive at God’s right hand? Simply because they could experience the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts were simply the noise of the bells that Christ made in heaven. This let all the people know that Christ was alive and ministering before the Lord in our behalf.

However, just as the earthly priest went behind the curtain into the Most Holy Place, so also Christ would enter the Most Holy Place where the bells could be heard no more, at least until He was ready to come out from the Temple. So for nearly fifteen hundred years (4th century to the 18 century) Christ’ bells (the gifts) could not be heard. So by faith Christians believed that Christ was indeed alive and ministering in our behalf as High Priest, though they had no supernatural manifestations to prove it, except for an occasional miracle.

But something has happened in this century. In 1906, a small group of hungry believers in Azusa, California experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. People around the world flocked to that little mission to receive the baptism of the Spirit, and hundreds of thousands did. Since then, hundreds of millions of believers world-wide have received the baptism in the Spirit with the manifestations of the Spirit. This movement known as "Pentecostalism" and sometimes termed "charismatic" has been the fastest growing religious movement in the world.

A little more than a century ago, you could not find ten people who spoke in tongues. Now, you find them all over the place. More and more believers are being baptized in the Holy Spirit than ever before. What is happening?

Could it be that our High Priest, Jesus, has made His exit from the Most Holy Place so that the bells can be heard again? And in just a short time, He will make His exit from the Temple to be seen by all. I believe this fresh, new outpouring of the Spirit is the final sign of the return of Jesus Christ.

The disciples asked the Lord what was going to be the sign of His return. Jesus said many things will occur before the final sign. He said that there would be earthquakes, wars, famines and even apostasy. But these were only the beginning of birth pains. These things would happen first, but the end was not yet.

The final sign was this: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matt 24:14). The last sign is a world-wide, miracle revival. Notice, He said that this gospel would be preached as a "testimony" or "witness". A testimony or witness is proof with undeniable evidence. Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes on you." Another way of saying it is "You will have supernatural proof that I’m alive when the Holy Spirit comes on you." The supernatural proof is the gifts of the Spirit.

So the early Church had supernatural proof, but for fifteen hundred years the supernatural proof disappeared, until now. We now have supernatural proof again, because the bells are heard once more. And we shall preach the gospel as witnesses to the whole world, and then the end shall come, and the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven.

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