Introduction to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

bennettThe following is my own outline of chapter 6 from Dennis and Rita Bennett’s The Holy Spirit and You (1971). This book is probably the most authoritative work on spiritual gifts to come out since that year; it was written mostly by Dennis Bennett, the main leader and fire starter of the Charismatic Renewal in the 60s and 70s. Most of these outlines come directly out of the chapter, but I have my own personal elaborations thrown in there, such as notes on how it might relate to certain aspects of Catholic mystical theology, or when I put something in brackets, or if I string all the Biblical references in logical sequence—however, most of the Biblical references are coming out of the chapter as well.

  • Spiritual Gifts Are Occasional Experiences Given from the Holy Spirit. After you become baptized in the Holy Spirit, you will become more aware of spiritual gifts operating in your life (1 Cor. 12:8-10). At this point, you realize that they are given to you occasionally from the Holy Spirit—but that they do not permanently function in you. (Spiritual gifts are not “psychic powers” of your own mind):–you understand that they are gifts, little “presents” from the Holy Spirit, and experienced only occasionally (p. 78).
  • Nobody Has a Permanent Spiritual Gift. No one Christian has one permanent gift (such as prophecy, healing, etc):–that idea leads to spiritual pride.
  • Any Christian Can Experience Spiritual Gifts for and in the Context of a Church Community. Charismatic gifts are not supposed to be experienced in isolation, but rather in connection with a church community (1 Cor. 12:8)—as the Spirit sovereignly wills to dispense them (1 Cor. 12:11), to any Christian.
  • Serious Heresies Are Not to Be Tolerated for Those Operating in Spiritual Gifts. [The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion should guide our exercise of spiritual gifts:–I include this here, because Bennett was an Anglican priest, and in his view of spiritual discernment, we should not “condone what others are doing when they are openly proclaiming false doctrine (Eph. 5:11)” (p. 79); this statement should be understood as a “false prophets” test for testing apparently gifted people in a church setting, who may be also preaching false cultic New Age doctrines, as he warns against in chapter 4, doctrines such as universalism, positive confession (“sickness is a lie”; “sickness is not real”—basically a Christian Science or “mind-over-matter” concept), reincarnation (Heb. 9:27), karma, religious pluralism (all religions are one), Hinduism, Buddhism, pantheism (the world is god), stoicism (loss of human personality in the name of “self-denial”), psychic ideas like telepathy or ESP, horoscopes, drug use, hypnotism, transcendental meditation, yoga, occultism (witchcraft, magic), spiritism (communicating with “ghosts”), mediumship (fortune telling), parapsychology, etc.]
  • Certain Spiritual Gifts, Over Time, Can Be Expressed More Frequently and Effectively Than Other Gifts, Depending On How Much Attention Is Given to Them for Their Cultivation. All nine gifts can operate through a Christian, but “as Christians mature, certain gifts may be expressed more frequently and effectively through them” (p. 80).
  • It is An Anti-Charismatic “Cop Out,” to Exalt the Moral Fruit of the Spirit to Such an Extent, That They Are Interpreted Theologically to Extinguish any Need for Spiritual Gifts. There is no good reason to pit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) against the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10):–“Jesus didn’t only say to the sick who came to Him: ‘I love you,’ but He said, ‘Be healed!’” (p. 80).
  • The More You Pray in Tongues:–The More Visions, Dreams, Words from God, and Healings You Will Experience! 7 gifts of the Spirit were experienced by godly men and women before Pentecost (Acts 2):–these gifts were:
         1. The Word of Wisdom.
         2. The Word of Knowledge.
         3. The Gift of Faith.
         4. The Gifts of Healings.
         5. The Working of Miracles.
         6. The Gift of Prophecy.
         7. The Discerning of Spirits.
    Once a Christian is baptized in the Holy Spirit and subsequently speaks in tongues, then he can experience two other gifts:
         8. The Gift of Tongues.
         9. The Interpretation of Tongues.
  • The more often a Christian “prays in the Spirit” (prays in tongues) (1 Cor. 14:4, 14; Jude 20), and is filled with the Holy Spirit—the more frequently all nine of the spiritual gifts will be experienced! (p. 81) That is, the more you pray in tongues, and are filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)—then the more you will hear God’s voice, have dreams from God, see visions, and receive “Yes” answers to prayer for healing!
  • Ezekiel's Chariot VisionThe More You Practice Listening Prayer:–The More Visions, Dreams, Words from God, and Healings You Will Experience! “Those who are willing to be used in the gifts of the Holy Spirit must learn to listen to God” (p. 82)—here I want to personally add: in keeping with Catholic mystical theology, and the thesis of Augustin Poulain’s The Graces of Interior Prayer (1910)—the more you practice contemplation (or contemplative prayer), then the more visions and voices from God you will experience! Leanne Payne called it Listening Prayer (1994); and believed keeping a prophetic prayer journal was helpful for cultivating such experiences (and I can personally attest that in my own life: it works)!
  • Only Holy Prophets Are Worth Imitating. Holy, godly prophets are the only kind of Charismatics to imitate: “Don’t follow a person just because he has a ‘gift ministry.’ Instead look for the fruit in his life, for honesty and purity brought about by the Spirit of Truth—the Holy Spirit—and a hunger for and appreciation of God’s Word” (p. 82). [Personally, I would add here some examples of holy prophets: St. Antony (d. 356), St. Patrick (d. 460), St. Benedict (d. 543), Hildegard of Bingen (d. 1179), St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226), St. Ignatius of Loyola (d. 1556), St. Teresa of Avila (d. 1582), St. John of the Cross (d. 1591), The Scots Worthies (1500s-1600s), John Wesley (d. 1791), Charles Finney (d. 1875), William J. Seymour (d. 1922), Smith Wigglesworth (d. 1947), Dennis Bennett (d. 1991), and David Wilkerson (d. 2011).]
  • Eagerly Desire Spiritual Gifts, But Express Them in a Decently and Orderly Way, in the Church (1 Corinthians 14). Spiritual gifts “are not merely to be tolerated, but are greatly to be desired” (p. 82):–“eagerly desire spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1); however, “we should be forewarned against two mistakes frequently made in the past: misuse of the gifts by a lack of Scriptural order [1 Corinthians 14], and rejecting or quenching the gifts of the Spirit [1 Thessalonians 5:19]. The second mistake is often a reaction against the first one” (p. 83).
  • You Can Experience Any Spiritual Gift You Have Faith For! “In Christ you have been given all good things freely (Rom. 8:32); however, the promises of God must be appropriated by faith. The gifts will be manifested according to your faith: ‘According to your faith be it unto you’ (Matt. 9:29; Rom. 12:6). Let us manifest His gifts in faith, love, and obedience, that God’s people may be strengthened and prepared for their difficult but glorious tasks ahead” (p. 83).

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