BIBLICAL BASIS FOR SPIRITUAL GIFTS
There is a great deal of division among Christians when it comes to interpreting biblical evidence for spiritual gifts. This journey for prophetic activation, training, and practice must begin with a solid foundation — the Holy Scriptures. Believers must have an answer for their faith, and in order for this to occur, they must exchange theological superficiality with scripture evidence. The process of growing in the prophetic ministry must be established in the Word of God and must be done in obedience to it. The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
It’s not true that the gift of prophecy only existed during Pentecost (Acts 2:1-31) when the apostles and disciples received the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised. The Old Testament has accounts of prophets who performed by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is not presented in a personal manner, compared to how he is in the New Testament. In fact, reading Old Testament accounts would paint him in the light of a Power, rather than a Person. Nevertheless, even in the account of Creation, the Holy Spirit already existed with the Father and with the Son (Gen. 1).
In the Old Testament, we observe the progressive revelation in two lines of development. First, in the experience of some, the Holy Spirit gave special ability. Specific people were equipped by the Holy Spirit for specific tasks — enabled to accomplish things, which were previously beyond their power to do. The outcome varied from prophetic abilities, to physical strength, to military prowess, and to royal wisdom. Different terms were used for the reception and operation of these supernatural gifts.
The Holy Spirit was described to “come upon,” “take possession of,” “fill,” “enter into,” “stir,” “fall upon,” among other things, upon the persons concerned. After which, they begin to fulfill tasks or exercise ministries, which would otherwise have been beyond them. We can understand this process as charismatic, even if the term “charisma” is not
specifically used until the New Testament.
There are certain aspects of the ministry of the Holy Spirit that we need to consider. First, encounters of being empowered by the Holy Spirit does not necessarily make a man holy, nor were they infallible as a result of these gifts. Second, the gifting can be selective and sometimes temporary. Most of the time, spiritual gifts were given to those who were called to particular duties. Third, there were false prophets who professed a “charismatic” ministry but were not really of the Lord. The second line of development is the fact that in prophetic anticipation, there was also the promise of life by the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament was both educational and anticipatory from the perspective of New Testament writers. The failure of the Law to save, coupled with persistent disobedience of the covenant, provided the space by which the work of Jesus Christ can be highlighted. The prophets were given the vision of a New Covenant; a new work that was to be a complete basis for godly living – not by an external observance of a written code, but by a new potential imparted to the individual.
John Balchin, author of Spiritual Gifts: The Biblical Basis, noted, “Along with this new ministry of the Spirit came the promise of an extension of the Old Covenant charismatic gifting to ordinary people of every status.” Jesus’ ministry was in direct line with Old Testament experience and in fulfillment of these prophecies. He himself claimed that it was so, while his recorded ministry is evidence of a familiar pattern to those under the old dispensation. It is significant that his public ministry did not begin until he was baptized, marked by the descent of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not need to be regenerated. However, since Jesus was fully human, he was in some ways dependent on the Spirit of God for power to sustain his work.
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Challenge: List five (5) Old Testament prophecies that pointed to Jesus Christ.