AMAZING GRACE! HOW SWEET THE SOUND!
The New Testament interweaves the concept of saving-grace and gifting-grace so totally that to eliminate either would destroy the system embodying both. The structure of the grace-system is perfect, indivisible. The Greek words for saving grace, charis, and gifting grace, charisma, are merely variations of the same term. The first is grace in the "delivering" sense; that is, grace that saves the sinner from hell. The second is grace in the "equipping" sense; that is, grace in the form of charismatic gifts that enables him to live in the realm of miraculous works. In other words, the operations of grace are plural--not singular. Grace does much more than redeem a person from sin. It restores the damage wrought by sin. This restoration is frequently accomplished through the operation of spiritual gifts. For example, physical or emotional healing may still be needed by someone who has been born-again. Grace saves for Heaven; charisma equips for empowered life on earth. Tragically, much of contemporary Christianity thinks it only needs saving grace. The loss is regrettable.
Grace-gift, as an external evidence of inward grace, is translated seventeen times in the New Testament as "spiritual gift." Significantly, the word grace provides the first syllable in the Greek spelling of "spiritual gift." This interchange, using the same root-word for either spiritual gift or redemptive grace, reveals a vital New Testament truth:
Spiritual gifts cannot exist apart from grace. Grace cannot be fully revealed apart from spiritual gifts.
There is no exception to this rule. As a "pearl of great price," an inseparable whole, grace is an indivisible jewel; to break it is to destroy it. In illustrating this truth, the Greek New Testament uses both words, charisma and charis, in the same sentence: "As each one has received a gift (charisma), minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace (charis) of God" (I Peter 4:10). In acknowledging the two grace-functions as one, the Apostle is explaining that whoever possesses the ministry-gift is a steward of God's grace. In the Biblical context, the word "steward" means "one entrusted with authority;" in this case, he is authorized with the administration of spiritual gifts. As if to fortify the multiple function of grace, Peter uses the word "manifold," meaning "various in character."
Each operation of grace compliments the other. There is no conflict between them. Men have created theological contention, but it is non-existent in Scripture and in the intent of God. After Saul of Tarsus encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road, he went into the city where Ananias laid hands on him to be "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:1-19). In the precise order of the first Apostles, Paul experienced charis, saving-grace, then charisma, gifting-grace. As a "good steward of the manifold grace of God," Ananias administered spiritual gifts to Paul. That imparting came through the laying-of-hands and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5,8.
Much is preached about Paul's experience on the Damascus Road; tragically little about what happened in the Damascus Room. This loss is regrettable. On
the Damascus Road, Paul was born-again; that is, he received grace in the saving sense. In the Damascus Room, he received spiritual gifts, that is, specific grace, that ultimately presented him to the Throne of Caesar and reshaped the history of mankind. Paul's invasion of the Roman world cannot be credited to the man himself. The Holy Spirit, using Paul's body as His Temple, emptied pagan shrines and brought heathen philosophy to ruin. Grace, in the operation of spiritual gifts, accomplished these powerful works. The absence of such success today is the direct result of believers renouncing grace in its full operation. Many are willing to accept grace in the general experience but not in the specific. One thing is certain: God has not withdrawn any part of original grace.
In the same fashion that Paul received the Spirit's imparting from Ananias, he later bestowed the gift to young Timothy (II Timothy 1:6). To the Roman Church, he wrote, "I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established (" Romans 1:11). Though Paul addressed the Romans as saints, he knew they still needed additional grace-gifts to be fully established. These gifts could not be communicated in the letter; Paul had to be present for the laying-on-of-hands.
Though it is not apparent in our English translations, Paul used the word "grace" five times to identify miraculous gifts in I Corinthians 12. The word "grace," charis, appears ten times in the Book of Acts, giving equal emphasis to both its saving and gifting concepts. In Paul and Barnabas' ministry in Iconium, for example, "The Lord ... was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (Acts 14:3). Observe, it was grace that produced signs and wonders. A major demonstration was the healing of the lame man at Lystra (Acts 14:8-10). This display of grace was an exact parallel of the man healed earlier at the Temple Gate in Jerusalem. Peter's command had been, "In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6). Paul's command was, "Stand up straight on your feet!" The results were exactly the same.
In each case, the grace-gift of healing was operating. The explanation later given of the man in the Temple was this: "With great power the Apostles gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33). Clearly, the most convincing proof of Jesus' resurrection was not the Apostles' preaching. It was the sight of the lame man running and leaping in the Temple. Grace, in the form of a spiritual-gift, had touched him. This visible manifestation of healing-grace spoke more powerfully to the people about the invisible reality of saving grace than did the Apostles' preaching. Why had it happened? The Holy Spirit confirmed the word of grace by demonstrating a grace-gift (Luke 16:20).
It was not grace as a doctrine but grace as a manifested power that proved Jesus to be alive.
A similar demonstration of grace is described when Barnabas arrived in Antioch: "Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad ..."
(Acts 11:23). How did Barnabas see grace in action? Multitudes were born- again, healed, delivered from demons, baptized in the Spirit, with other life- changing effects taking place. We have the same pattern when the disciples
"went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs" (Mark 16:20). Two things happened: The disciples preached the word of grace, and the Holy Spirit validated its truth by bestowing grace-gifts. The presence of grace was evidenced by miraculous signs. These manifestations were visible, tangible, and obvious to the eye. Jewish authorities had been able to deny the Apostles’ preaching but after the healing of the lame man at the Temple gate, they had this to say of Peter and John: "That a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it" (Acts
4:16). Had the disciples held to the modern concept of a disrupted grace- system these miracles would never have taken place. Now, as then, the
miraculous life should identify every Christian life. To justify its own failure the modern church has blamed God for removing the Holy Spirit’s power. Not so! Have I seen people be miraculously healed? Yes! Absolutely! Have I failed? Yes, many times. Even so, here are two healing-testimonies, both medically confirmed. The first involves the writer's deliverance from a "spirit of infirmity" (Luke 13:11):
"Dear Charles, I am a medical doctor and was healed of pain and weakness in both hands that has bothered me for seven to eight years–sometimes hurting all day and night. During your group deliverance, I felt tremendous pressure rise up through my chest that just disappeared with a big sigh ..."
"Dear Brother Charles, While skating I took a spill onto a concrete floor and shattered my left pelvis ... From there I made slow recovery. I could not climb ladders and could not walk without noticeable limping. I went to a Men's Retreat in Hinton, Oklahoma, where your were preaching. You laid hands on me and to my amazement I could run and jump without pain. The doctor took more X-rays and to everyone's amazement the X-rays showed no break of any kind on my pelvis. The Dr. said, ‘You have had Divine healing from the Lord because with any kind of break there is always evidence that the break was
there. Your pelvis shows you've never had a break.’ --- But I have over 40 X- rays that say I did. So let me tell you, that the Lord not only touched me but
healed me completely--which I will always remember every time I run or jump or climb a ladder ..."
The miraculous works of the Holy Spirit have not ceased and the modern church is missing great blessings and opportunity by believing that deception. There is only "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," forever!