POWER, RELEASE, AND GIFTS AS THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SPIRIT
When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, there is a manifestation. Each of the nine gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 is a different manifestation of the Holy Spirit upon us. However, we must be careful. This does not mean that if we do not have one of these nine gifts, we do not have the Holy Spirit upon us. We may have the Holy Spirit coming down upon us as power, yet we may not have any of these nine gifts.
More than one person has told me that they can speak in tongues by themselves without the Holy Spirit coming upon them. One Caucasian brother demonstrated to me and a second brother, who also spoke Chinese, how he could speak in a Chinese dialect in this way. After speaking, he asked us if we could understand it, and we replied that we could not. Then he began to speak in another tone of voice. He spoke in four or five ways, but we could not understand him. We could understand all the leading dialects of Chinese, but we could not understand what this brother said. His speaking in tongues was absolutely false. If someone can exercise to speak in tongues by himself without having the Spirit, it is not genuine. Speaking in tongues is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit coming upon us. Without the Holy Spirit coming upon us, how can we speak in another tongue? If speaking in many tongues is a matter of merely changing our tone of voice, that is ridiculous.
Speaking in tongues must be by a miraculous power from the Holy Spirit. If one can speak in tongues at any time by himself, it is human-manufactured. It is not by the outpouring of the power of the Holy Spirit. The genuine speaking in tongues must be something in the power of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit comes down upon us like burning electricity, our speaking in tongues is miraculous and truly genuine. We cannot exercise to speak in tongues in a genuine way at any time without having the Holy Spirit coming upon us.
To be sure, when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we will have power. If we have something other than power, we should not believe it, because the main purpose for the Holy Spirit coming upon us is for power. Regrettably, I have seen many persons who spoke in tongues but did not have power. Therefore, I am dubious that this kind of speaking was genuine. The genuine speaking in tongues must be in power.
We may have the power of the Holy Spirit, yet we may not have one of the nine gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. Verses 7-11 say, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for what is profitable. For to one through the Spirit a word of wisdom is given, and to another a word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to a different one faith in the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing in the one Spirit, and to another operations of works of power, and to another prophecy, and to another discerning of spirits; to a different one various kinds of tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues. But the one and the same Spirit operates all these things, distributing to each one respectively even as He purposes.” Here there is no hint that these nine gifts are the only manifestation of the Spirit. In the same chapter, verse 28 says, “And God has placed some in the church: first apostles.” This verse speaks of apostles, but verses 7-11 mention nothing about apostles. Therefore, we should not think that the nine gifts in these verses are all the manifestations or the only manifestations. Besides these nine gifts there are other aspects of the manifestation of the Spirit.
The preaching of the gospel, for example, is not included in these nine gifts. I saw a number of brothers in China that were very powerful and prevailing in the preaching of the gospel, yet they never spoke in tongues or prophesied miraculously. One of them was Dr. John Sun. Thousands of people were brought to the Lord through him. Not only did certain powerful brothers not speak in tongues, but they were opposed to it. I do not agree with their opposition; they opposed too much. Nevertheless, although they did not agree with speaking in tongues, they were very powerful in the preaching of the gospel. I went to their meetings several times when I was young. Their speaking about the Lord was powerful. There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit was there. Is this not a manifestation of the Holy Spirit? To be sure, it is.
When the Spirit comes upon us, we first have power. Second we have release, and third we have a gift as a manifestation, such as one of the nine gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. However, these nine gifts are not the only gifts, the only manifestation, of the Spirit. We can prove this by the experiences of the saints. We may have one of these nine gifts, or we may have some other manifestation. How can we know that we have the Holy Spirit upon us? It is by the power, release, and some sort of gift.
We must be very clear that the Holy Spirit upon us is for power. When we have the Holy Spirit upon us, we are empowered and released. The purpose of the Holy Spirit coming down upon us outwardly is for power and gifts. We may compare power to gasoline in a car. If we do not have gasoline, we do not have power for our car. Gifts, on the other hand, are a technical ability. We may have a car with power, but we may not have the ability to drive. The ability to drive is a gift.
I have seen many brothers who had both the power and the gift to preach the gospel. When I first met Brother Watchman Nee, I realized that he had the gift of teaching. Later I realized that he also had the gift of preaching. His preaching was more a matter of gift than power. Once, a number of brothers were dealing with an unbelieving schoolmate, doing their best to convince him and win his soul. They could not do it, so they came to Brother Nee. He told them to bring the classmate to him. They were happy to do so, and they all came to see what would happen. After only a few minutes, that man was saved. To be sure, Brother Nee had a gift.
Sometimes when the Spirit comes upon someone, He endues him with a certain gift, a spiritual “technical” ability, to do a work in the spiritual realm. When Brother Watchman Nee was young, he preached in Nanking to some university students. After his preaching, a thoughtful young man came to him and said, “I am very influenced by your preaching. I have the desire to believe in the very Jesus Christ whom you preach. However, I have a problem I wish for you to solve. My parents are old and are strong in Buddhism. To be sure, they will oppose my becoming a Christian. Therefore, I must wait until they die. Then I will become a Christian. Mr. Nee, do you agree with me about this?” Brother Nee was very skillful. He spoke a simple, brief word in a very solemn attitude, saying, “Do you honor your parents so much that you wish to send them to hell first, and then you will go to heaven?” In tears the young man said, “Mr. Nee, I must believe in the Lord Jesus and open the way to bring my parents to heaven.” This simple word took only one minute. Brother Nee had a gift; he knew how to handle such a person. Others do not have such a gift. They are like someone who ruins an appliance by handling it the wrong way.
When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we may not have a special manifestation, but we will have a gift, especially for gospel preaching. That also is a kind of manifestation. The Holy Spirit within us is for life and as life, and the Holy Spirit upon us is for power and gift. If we do not have power and gift, but rather do many foolish things, we do not have the Holy Spirit upon us. If we have the Holy Spirit upon us, we will have power and an effective gift.
(The Work of the Holy Spirit, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)