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CHAPTER 7
FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
IN BIBLE STUDY GROUPS
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7.3  Group Bible Study and Spiritual Gifts: Are they Optional?

God has ordained that spiritual growth takes place through the exercise of spiritual gifts between the followers of Christ in a group setting. I am talking about spiritual interaction between one believer and another. Do not think that this is fully accomplished by sitting together in the same room on Sunday and listening to a teacher and singing songs. While the spiritual gift of teaching is absolutely critical to spiritual growth it is woefully incomplete. Just as we will not be physically strong if we only eat one food, we will not be spiritually strong if we partake of only one of spiritual gift. If you are not involved in spiritual interaction with believers in a group setting, you will experience spiritual malnutrition. You will have a weak faith, anxiety, depression and spiritual impotence. Intimacy with God is nourished by spiritual interaction among believers in a group setting. 



Spiritual Interaction, Spiritual Gifts and Silent Prayer 

Bible Study should be more than a time to gain information. The Four Step Bible Study has been designed to enable believers at all levels of spiritual maturity to comfortably interact spiritually in a group setting... so that each may exercise their God given spiritual gifts... for the benefit of others... and also to benefit from the spiritual gifts of others. The critical ingredient that is the catalyst for spiritual group interaction is prayer... continuous silent prayer and voluntary audible prayer. The Four Step Bible Study moves participants by degrees, in a non-threatening way... to integrate both silent prayer and voluntary audible prayer into Bible Study. 


Those who are uncomfortable praying out loud will learn by hearing others pray audibly. They will learn what to pray. They will learn how to listen prayerfully, read scripture prayerfully and speak prayerfully. In other words, they will learn to watch in prayer (Colossians 4:2-4). Participants will learn how to obey the scriptural admonitions to pray "without ceasing... at all times... in everything... continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6, Hebrews 13:15). 



Meetings should be active instead of passive 

  • "When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has another language, or has an interpretation. Let all things be done to build each other up" (1 Corinthians 14:26). 


So, the gathering of believers was never intended to be passive... with one person speaking and all others listening. That verse was from chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians. Paul had already mentioned fourteen spiritual gifts in chapter 12 and continued to teach about spiritual gifts through chapters thirteen and fourteen. In verse 14:26 he explained that spiritual interaction between numerous individuals in a group setting is necessary to "build each other up." In that verse Paul specifically mentions five forms of spiritual interaction between individuals. He wrote "each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has another language, or has an interpretation." I believe that each of the five spiritual interactions represent the use of five spiritual gifts. The five gifts are word of knowledge, teaching, prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues.  Each spiritual interaction and the spiritual gift represented by it is shown below: The gift is in parentheses. 


They are: 

1) "each one of you has a psalm" (Word of Knowledge) 

2) "has a teaching" (Teaching) 

3) "has a revelation" (Prophecy) 

4) "has another language" (Tongues) 

5) "has an interpretation" (Interpretation of Tongues) 


Notice that the passage stated "each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching", etc... Everyone at the meeting has a purpose. In chapter 12 Paul explained that everyone has a gift, everyone doesn't have every gift and that everyone's gift is necessary.


The gift called "word of knowledge" deserves some explanation. At first glance, we know four facts about it. 1) It is a gift produced and distributed by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11). 2) Therefore it is supernatural.  3) It imparts words to one's mind (supernatural spiritual communication), and 4) It is knowledge. 


The phrase only appears once in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12:8). No clues are found there as to its meaning. The phrase only occurs three times in the Old Testament: Proverbs 14:7, 19:27 and 23:12.  So, Proverbs is the scriptural background for understanding this New Testament gift. Knowledge is a major continuing theme in the book Proverbs. Proverbs 1:7 states as a foundational passage for the book "The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge" (Yahweh is God's proper name.) Proverbs 2:5 speaks of the "knowledge of God." 


So, I suspect that the gift called "word of knowledge" indicates knowledge of God: In other words, scripture. Some people are able to ask God to communicate scripture to one's mind, which applies to a particular situation. I was able to do this in my 20's. In my fifties I asked God to give me this ability again and He did. This meets the four clear facts we know about that gift.  1) It is a gift produced and distributed by the Holy Spirit. 2) Therefore it is supernatural. 3) It imparts words to one's mind (spiritual communication), and 4) It is knowledge. This understanding of the gift certainly does what spiritual gifts are supposed to do... build up the body of Christ.



What spiritual gifts are mentioned in the Bible? 

Here they are from the World English Bible: 


Five Spiritual Gifts from Ephesians 4:7-12 

Apostles 

Prophets 

Evangelists 

Shepherds 

Teachers 


Five Additional Spiritual Gifts from Romans 12:4-8 

Service 

Exhortation 

Giving 

Ruling 

Mercy 


Ten More Spiritual Gifts from 1 Corinthians 12:1-12, 28-31 

Word of Wisdom 

Word of Knowledge 

Faith 

Healing 

Miracles 

Distinguishing of Spirits

Different kinds of languages 

Interpretation of Languages 

Helps 

Governments (Administrations). 


Some believe that some of these gifts were temporary. Others believe that all of them will be a part of the church until the end of this age. But regardless of whether you are in one camp or another, it is clear that our gatherings are to include spiritual interaction through spiritual gifts between individuals in a group setting. 


Scripture instructs us to earnestly desire and ask for spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1 and 14:13).



Forward 

To begin an experience with God in the Four Step Bible Study please turn to subchapter 7.1. In those steps you will see how participants are moved from silent prayer in the very first step, comfortably and progressively into deeper prayers... in the scriptures... into a deeper knowledge about Him... into deep intimacy with Him. Something powerful will happen as you prayerfully listen to others, prayerfully read scripture and pray scripture. God will reveal and develop the spiritual gift that he has granted to each member of your group, to the building up of the body of Christ. You will grow in Christ through the gifts He gave to others for your benefit.

"But to each one of us, the grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Therefore he says, 'When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to people' He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, 

to the building up of the body of Christ..."

Ephesians 4:7-12

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