I believe that one of the biggest reasons that the body of Christ hasn't made a greater impact on our generation today is because of our failure to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Without a doubt, Jesus and the first apostles used the gifts like a bell, calling men to their message and confirming that God was truly the One speaking through them.
Hebrews 2:3-4 says, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?" The Lord bore witness to the accuracy of their message through miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In Mark 16:17-18, Jesus said all true believers would flow in the miraculous: "And these signs will follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." If a Christian's life isn't supernatural, it's superficial.
Mark goes on to say that messages based in God's Word would be confirmed by signs following: "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
Jesus even said, "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not" (John 10:37). That's a strong statement. If we were to apply that standard to ministers today, most wouldn't be believed.
The vast majority of preaching done in the name of the Lord today is without the power of the Holy Spirit manifest through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is not the way the Lord intended it to be.
The "main line" denominations have developed doctrines to cope with this obvious discrepancy. However, regardless of the rationale, it's absurd to think that we can be effective without the power of the Holy Spirit confirming the preaching of God's Word. If Jesus and the early apostles needed their preaching validated, how can we do any less?
Even the non-denominational churches have fallen away from ministering in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts that operate in most "Spirit-filled" churches are simply words of exhortation or prophecy. There is much more.
The Lord has used the gifts of the Holy Spirit mightily in my life and ministry to confirm His Word. There are countless times when people were still skeptical after hearing me teach, but the demonstration of God's power through the gifts turned them into believers. It's like the teaching fills their mouths with God's Word, then the gifts of the Holy Spirit slap them on the back and make them swallow it. Hallelujah!
One of the most important steps to flowing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit is to earnestly desire them. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:31, "But covet earnestly the best gifts." He repeated that thought in 1 Corinthians 14:1 when he said, "Desire spiritual gifts." Another way of saying this is, as long as you can live without flowing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you will. You have to seek these gifts with all your heart (Jer. 29:13).
It's also very important to understand that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are always flowing. God doesn't turn them "on" and "off." We are the ones who are "on" or "off." That's a startling statement to many people and one that verges on blasphemy to some, but it's true. The Lord is always ready to flow through us in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
It's just like praying in tongues. We don't have to wait for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to come on us to speak in tongues. We can pray in tongues at any time. It's not us turning on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is always on and giving us the ability to speak in tongues. Therefore, whenever we turn ourselves on, the gift of tongues is there to allow us to communicate with our heavenly Father. Praise the Lord! That's the way it is with all the gifts.
I remember one time that I was teaching along these lines in our Charis Bible College. One of the students said, "So, you are saying that you can flow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit at any time?" I said, "That's right and I'll prove it to you." I then started down each row and just started "reading the students' mail. I was telling them things that had to be coming from the Holy Spirit. It was awesome.
No one has received everything that the Holy Spirit has for them. Therefore, the Lord is always seeking to release more to us through His supernatural gifts. Whenever we put ourselves in a mode to be His channel, His gifts will flow. The old "Pentecostal" doctrine of the anointing coming and going is not a New Testament truth. First John 2:27 says, "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you."
Another great truth about flowing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit is what John Osteen called "the divine flow." This is based on, "God is love" (1 John 4:8). Therefore, whenever we discern the love of God flowing through us toward someone, God is reaching out to them through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. All we have to do is follow that flow through faith.
Once when I was pastoring a little church in Pritchett, Colorado, my heart just went out to a woman in the back of the room. I'd never seen her before, and there was nothing natural that drew me to her. It was just the love of God flowing through me to her. Because of that love alone, I told her that God had a word for her. I didn't have one single word to say to her, but I knew God's love was flowing; and therefore, God and His gifts were flowing to her. I just started by saying, "God loves you." God then flooded my mind with things to minister to her.
It was a long word from the Lord, but I specifically told her about how she was grieving over the loss of someone and was confused about why God allowed it. I kept saying, "It wasn't God that allowed it. It was the Destroyer." I said that a number of times. She broke down in tears and was really ministered to.
After the service, she told me that she had just lost her son to leukemia. They believed that God allowed this disease. But just before her son died, he saw this huge demon over their town, which the Lord told him was named the Destroyer. They didn't know how to interpret that until I spoke to them through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and put it all in order. They were set free.
This was the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom in operation. God gave the knowledge of what had happened and then gave words of wisdom to instruct them on how to deal with it. This all came because I followed the love that I felt in my heart.
This has happened to us all, but most of the time we don't understand this is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and we miss an opportunity. I've learned this the hard way.
There was a man who had been my youth director when I was just a young boy. He left our Baptist church before I was a teenager, and I heard how he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and was seeing great miracles happen. He had one room in his church that was filled with the wheelchairs, crutches, and braces of people who were healed and didn't need them anymore.
During a three- or four-month period of time, I thought about this man often. It was usually while I was in prayer that he would just come to mind, and I would feel the compassion of God toward him. I would just wonder what was happening with him and then dismiss the thoughts. Later, I found that he had died in a freak accident where a red ant bit him on the thumb.
As soon as I heard of his death, I knew that the reason I had been thinking of him so often was because the Lord was trying to get me to intercede for him. Over a decade later, I met this man's son, and I confessed to him my failure to pray for his dad. He told me that I was at least the twelfth person who had told him a similar story. The Lord had impressed many of us to intercede for this man, but none of us recognized it as the Lord.
It is imperative that we learn to recognize and flow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It's not only a blessing to us, but the lives of other people may depend on it. You are carrying someone's miracle. Don't let it stay inside. You have to learn how to release it.
There is much more that the Lord has shown me about flowing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This article doesn't come close to covering all the material I have on my series entitled, How To: Flow in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. I really encourage you to get this teaching and start moving supernaturally in a whole new way.
My new three-part album is laced with personal examples of how the Lord has used me in the gifts. I share how I learned to recognize and respond to God's gifts in such a practical way that I know it will help you to do the same. This is very practical teaching about a very supernatural lifestyle. It's awesome!