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Audio Archive - The Calvary Ottawa Years
Miracles, Prophecy and Discerning Spirits - 1 Corinthians 12:10

Miracles, Prophecy and Discerning Spirits - 1 Corinthians 12:10

Message 4 in “The Gifts of the Spirit” series

This was recorded on Saturday April 6, 2013 around 6:30pm at the Jack Purcell Community Center in downtown Ottawa.

In this fourth message, I again followed the format from Pastor Chuck Smith in his superb book, “Living Water,” by defining each of these gifts by their use in the Old Testament, the life of Jesus and the New Testament. From there, I typically would crowd-source examples from our time.

This again is the room and the setup we had during that time. This is a picture of my friend Pastor Dave Vollmer when he came to visit.

Here are my notes from the evening.


1 Corinthians 12 - Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.

This is our topic for the night, the gifts of the Spirit.

The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:8, writes - “When he (talking about Jesus) ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

Paul wasn't making stuff up, he was quoting a prophecy in Psalm 68. So, Christ, in his life, death, resurrection and ascension, not only gave anyone who wants it freedom from the captivity to sin, but also, gave those same people, spiritual gifts...

It's these gifts that we are studying and examining.

2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

We looked at this of course, and saw that the Holy Spirit is not mute, but speaking. First as an Advocate, coming alongside and convicting of sin, righteousness and judgment. Jesus said it in John 16:8-11. And the Holy Spirit does that with everyone especially non Christians convicting of their need for a Saviour in Christ.

The second relationship that the Holy Spirit speaks through is when He comes inside the believer in Jesus Christ. Jesus described this in John 14:17.its the guarantee of salvation.

The third relationship is the one that we are studying. Jesus said in Acts 1:8 - that the Holy Spirit will come upon the Christian, giving them power, supernatural ability to witness of Christ. And, that as we have seen is through these gifts.

The point of all that of course, is that the Holy Spirit is active in the world, witnessing of Christ, and SPEAKING to people. He'll be speaking to us tonight.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

In all of this variety of course, there is an identifiable source or power that drives all of these gifts, that is.... love! Love is the evidence of the empowering of the Holy Spirit, which is why 1 Cor. 13 is sandwiched in between 1 Cor. 12 and 14..

Another way to identify that it’s from the Holy Spirit, in the midst of all of this variety is to recognize the goal or the aim, there’s something that the Holy Spirit is trying to say or communicate. He is SPEAKING of Christ.

7 To each (I have that underlined, and you should too... these are gifts, they aren’t rewards, they aren’t earned, they can’t be merited, only received and enjoyed, and it’s for every single believer in Jesus Christ) To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

So, we’ve examined the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, the gift of faith and gifts of healing. Let’s talk about the next one in verse 10, the working of miracles.

What does that gift of the working of miracles look like? As we look through this list, it becomes apparent that this is the “other” category. The junk drawer for gifts of the Spirit that can’t be identified as a word of wisdom, faith, healing and so forth.

In the Old Testament, we think of many examples like:

In Genesis 21, The Lord opens Sarah's womb and at 91 she gets pregnant and has a son named Isaac.

In 1 Kings 18:38, Elijah prays and fire falls from heaven and consumes a completely water soaked altar.

In 2 Kings 6:1-7, Elisha prays and a missing Axe head float.

Later in 2 Kings 13:21, a guy dies, and they throw him into Elisha’s tomb. When the dead guy’s body, hits Elisha’s dead body, the dead guy comes back to life...

That’s a various types of miracles...

What about Daniel 3, when Shadrach Meshach and Abednego survive the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke on their clothes, or a hair on their body singed, while the guys that threw them in were burned up.

They are just miracles, again empowered by the love of God, with the aim of pointing people towards the Lord.

Jesus exercised this gift:

How else can you explain feeding 5k people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish, or walking on water, or calming the storm. It’s just the gift of the working of miracles.

We see it in the New Testament in

Acts 16, Paul and Silas are jailed in Philippi for freeing a victim of human trafficking, a young lady who was possessed by a demon. At midnight they began to sing songs of praise and worship to the Lord. There was a big earthquake, the doors of the prison opened, the chains fell off, they didn’t run away, stayed and shared the good news of Jesus with the jailer and his whole family became Christians.

It’s just a miracle. Sometimes, the Lord will choose to just give a gift of a miracle, and it doesn’t fit neatly into one of these other categories, but you can tell it’s empowered by agape love, and it points people towards faith in Christ.

Does anyone have a recent example of this gift that they would be willing to share?

Back to verse 10... the gift of prophecy...

Merriam Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary defines ”prophecy” as - 1: an inspired utterance of a prophet  (didn’t really help...) 2: the function or vocation of a prophet specifically : the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose  3: a prediction of something to come.

Simply restated... prophecy is God’s Word applied to a situation, and sometimes that Word is a prediction of something to come.

You may be interested to know that ⅓ of the Bible is prophecy. Some of it predicted the first coming of Jesus, most of it talks about the second coming of Jesus. If you’re interested to know what the Bible says about the end of time, a good place to start would be Daniel, followed by Isaiah, parts of Ezekiel, Zechariah, Zephaniah, etc...

But that’s not all of prophecy.

My favorite prophet is Nathan. In 2 Samuel 12, he confronts David about his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, and in order to bring David to the place of seeing how horrible it was, tells a story about a rich man and a poor man and a sheep. You’ll have to read it. It’s God’s perspective on the situation... and it brought David to repentance.

Prophecy is God’s Word applied to a situation, almost always convicting of sin, righteousness and judgment and pointing a person towards the Lord.

We can see this gift of prophecy in Jesus as well.

In Matthew 20:17-19, Mark 8:31-38, Mark 10:32-34, He prophesies his own death.

In Matthew 26:34, he prophesies Peter’s denial and conversion.

In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Jesus prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem 37 years before it happened.

In each one of those, the prophecy is God’s Word applied to the situation, and it convicts of sin, pointing people towards faith in God.

Lastly, in the New Testament obviously, we can see this gift in the book of Revelation. And there again, it’s God’s Word, God’s perspective applied to the entire world and all of the human race, it’s a clear call for repentance and faith in Christ.

But there are other examples, that I think would be more helpful for us.

Turn with me to Acts 11:27 - 27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

That was a gift from the Holy Spirit, letting them know so they could be prepared and that the church could be prepared to help people in Jesus name. The repentance part of this is subtle, but it’s clear that if the Lord is speaking, it’s not a time to be involved in frivolous things, or to be wasting money or time. It’s time to live a holy, disciplined life and take advantage of the opportunity to shine a bright light for the gospel. Remember, Jesus is the one that said... “By this they will know that you are my disciples, by your love for one another.”

I’ve told you what prophecy is: It’s God’s Word applied to a situation. It usually has a component of repentance to it, and it points towards faith in Jesus. In Revelation 19:10, we read that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:1, for us to earnestly desire to prophesy. Can I make a suggestion? Get to know this book. 3 things will happen, first, you’ll find out what God has already said. Second, the Holy Spirit will draw on that to quicken you to speak God’s Word in a situation. Third, you’ll get to know His voice for those situations where you sense the Spirit saying something about the future.

Here’s what prophecy is not: It’s not fortune telling. It’s not on demand. And, and it’s not always affirming.

Does anyone have a recent example of it?

The last one we want to look at tonight is the gift of the ability to distinguish between spirits.

Merriam Webster didn’t have a definition of that.

There are 3 kinds of spirits. There’s the human spirit, the Holy Spirit and then spirits that are neither human or holy, they are evil spirits.

So, the ability to distinguish between spirits would allow a person to know if it’s the Holy Spirit that’s speaking, or if it’s an evil spirit, or if it’s just a person that’s expressing their heart.

Let’s look at some examples. In the Old Testament, we see this supernatural gift in technicolor in 1 Kings 22. The kings of Israel and Judah are contemplating going to war and they consult the company of the prophets. Long story short, Micaiah, one of the prophets says that the rest are prophesying the words of a lying spirit. He was able to discern, to distinguish by a gift what the truth was, what the Holy Spirit was saying.

You remember Jesus in Matthew 16, asking his disciples... “Who do you say that I am?” Peter says... “You’re the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Jesus replies in Matthew 16:17 -  “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Jesus discerned that it was the Spirit of God that was speaking.

Then later in the same chapter, next section, Jesus tells them all he’s going to be arrested and die, Peter says... no way! never! And, it’s in the same chapter, Matthew 16:23 - Jesus turns to Peter and says:  “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Jesus shows us what that gift of the ability to discern spirits looks like in reading Peter like a book... first, he’s tracking with the Holy Spirit, next he’s Satan’s publicist.

In Acts 8, a man named Simon sees how the Holy Spirit is given by people putting their hands on others and praying for them. He offers Peter some money, to be able to have that same ability. It seems like an innocent request, Simon wants the Holy Spirit. But in verse 20, Peter responds in a suprising way and says -

“May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”

There’s that gift of the ability to distinguish between spirits... I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity... Simon, you have a heart problem, there’s a problem in your spirit... you need to repent.

This gift is so important for us to recognize in our lives. All the New Testament writers talked about false prophets and false teaching and to watch out for it.

Paul writes -

1 Timothy 4:1-2 - The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 - 19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.

The Apostle John writes in 1 John 4:1 - Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

It’s interesting that in each of these places where they warn about false teachers and false prophets they never name a name, and we shouldn’t either, but always provide a description of their character and their tactics so that we would be able to identify them. God is about the truth, and He wants us to live in the truth, walk in the truth, abide in the truth, and will give this gift of the ability to distinguish between spirits so that we won’t be deceived.

I wonder, does anyone here have a recent example of the Holy Spirit giving them that gift?

Let’s pray...

If you came tonight, and you would like to get more information about becoming a Christian, taking Jesus up on his offer for victory over sin, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, don’t leave without talking to someone about it. If you aren’t sure who to talk to, come find Matt and Ashlie Solheim. They’re willing to meet new people, try to answer their questions and would be overjoyed to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ.  

We like to close our meeting by breaking up into groups of 2 and 3, guys with guys and girls with girls and praying for each other. Pray and ask the Lord for these gifts, Paul said to earnestly desire the gifts. Be aware as you are praying for each other, the Lord might be wanting to speak through one of the gifts, right there, while you’re praying, be listening for the Lord to talk back.

When you’re done praying, you’re dismissed, have a great week opening spiritual gifts.

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Audio Archive - The Calvary Ottawa Years
Here’s a spot for keeping some of the messages I did in Ottawa from 2004 through 2021. Many of these I’m quite proud of, and hope they could still be a blessing beyond their initial audience. And, because of the nature of what the Lord did, I’m hopeful, this will provide a spot to go back and remember afresh a specific moment.
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Andy Falleur