A careful study of Scripture makes clear that believers can obey the Great Commission to evangelize the world by taking the Bible as their sole and sufficient guide for faith and practice. This requires them to keep their focus on the clearly stated content of the Commission. It also involves close adherence to the nature of the authority Jesus gave His followers to carry it out.
Finally, obeying the Great Commission to evangelize the world requires a practice in ministry that follows what the Bible says about the character of spiritual gifts.
Several passages in the Word refer to them, including Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:1-11, 28-30; and Eph. 4:7-11. There is reason to conclude that they include both gifts of the Spirit and ministry gifts of Christ. Two of these passages make that distinction while the third provides an overlapping among them.
As listed in 1 Cor. 12:1-11, the gifts of the Spirit include a word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. Before even enumerating them, however, Paul discusses their nature.
From that foundation, the apostle proceeds to explain the nature of spiritual gifts.
He calls them "gifts" (1 Cor. 12:4), "ministries" (5), "activities" (6), and "manifestations" (7). He refers to them as "demonstrations" earlier in the letter (2:4). To focus only on the designation "gifts" can lead to faulty conclusions. To many, the term suggests that the Spirit presents a believer with a specific gift which is in that person's possession ever afterwards, as if it were something tangible. According to that interpretation, it is that believer's property to use when and where he or she chooses.
The source of these gifts is Christ. Yet Paul speaks of each as a measure of "grace" which He distributes to different ones (7). Obviously, He does not give or measure out more or less grace as "unmerited favor" to various believers. Here John Stott writes: "'Saving grace,' the grace which saves sinners, is given to all who believe; but what might be termed ‘service grace,' the grace which equips God's people to serve, is given in differing degrees according to the measure of Christ's gift."
Jesus dispenses grace as a supernaturally imparted ability to perform that service in the church to which one is called.
Thus, there are significant differences between the gifts of the Spirit and the ministry gifts of Christ. The first come from the Holy Spirit, and the second from Jesus. While the term gifts appears in both 1 Cor. 12:1-11 and Eph. 4:7-11, the contrast seems clear; the term gift is used in the first passage, but grace is used in the second. The gifts of the Spirit in the earlier letter (1 Cor. 12) concern a momentary manifestation or utterance, while the ministry gifts of Christ in the second (Eph. 4) concern the impartation of an abiding ability. In the first, the Spirit selects one as a temporary channel of blessing, but in the second, Christ calls and equips one for a continuing ministry.
Combining the two "gift" categories to produce one list causes problems in the Church. For one thing, the view that all spiritual gifts are the personal and permanent possessions of individual believers can easily lead to the development of a spiritually elite group in the Church. Peter Wagner proposes that some have special gifts which impart to them the ability to detect the presence of evil spirits, rather like a Geiger counter. To consider, for example, that the gift of discerning of spirits works like a mechanical device is not only fallacious, but could promote pride in the heart of the possessor.
Yet Sjoberg describes one individual having such a gift as being a bold master spy on his team. In his view this person is one of the few who has such a gift. The individual attended and registered as a delegate at a spiritists' congress to act as an intelligence agent for a prayer group. Sjoberg concludes, "I would not recommend that everyone do what he did." Obviously, he thinks that only a person belonging to the spiritually elite qualifies for such assignments. They constitute such a select group that Sjoberg declares, "God shows us many things about warfare prayer that we would not be wise to discuss in a larger prayer gathering."
Even John Robb, whom Robert Priest and his associates place among today's demonologists, warns about the pride that may develop when believers consider themselves to be part of such an elite group. He writes: "And the danger of spiritual pride, the very sin of which Lucifer was guilty, is always present. For example, some American intercessors have declared that they bound territorial spirits over Russia during special prayer meetings at Red Square and, by implication, made possible glasnost, peristroika, and . . . the great Russian revival. Glamorous stories of this kind often appear in glossy newsletters usually sent out to raise funds for the activities they describe."
In fact, the demonology specialists of today suggest that some work in the Church is so reserved for the especially gifted that others dare not try it.
For example, Wagner writes, "There is no doubt about it. Engaging the enemy on any level is risky business." He goes on to say that "when it involves dealing with territorial spirits such as are described in this book, only those so gifted and called would be advised to attempt it." Neil Anderson joins in with the warning that in this "dirty, hellish, and painful war . . . [t]here have been and will continue to be many Christian casualties." To all of this, Johnstone replies, "My safety is not in knowledge of the enemy's stratagems and the precautions I take, but in the efficacy of the blood of the Lamb."
Indeed, Wagner says that in some cases maybe no one should attack the enemy. He writes that "certain spiritual powers could be too mighty for us to handle at a certain time and in a certain place." Concerning what he considers to be Paul's "failure" in the most important city in Greece, he declares, "My hypothesis is that the territorial spirits assigned to the city of Athens were so powerful and so deeply entrenched that Paul was not able to overcome them." How much further away can a Christian teacher get from the true picture of a victorious Christ and a victorious Church in the New Testament?
Stanley Horton offers a word of counsel for those who delve into such "deeper truths." Concerning those who had followed the false prophetess Jezebel to know "the depths of Satan" in Rev. 2:18-29, he writes: "[S]he may have said they must enter Satan's territory in order to defeat him. She may have said that she had deeper teaching about Satan beyond what Jesus and the apostles taught. She may have even claimed to have heard Satan or demons speak, not realizing that Satan is a liar. In this way, she led some astray. This could be relevant for people today who develop a preoccupation with rebuking Satan, naming and casting out demons, and so forth."
Bibliography for the Series
Anderson, Neil T. The Bondage Breaker. Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Publishers, 1990.
Beckett, Bob. "Practical Steps Toward Community Deliverance." In Breaking Strongholds in Your City: How to Use Spiritual Mapping to Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Effective and Targeted, ed. Peter Wagner. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1993.
Dawson, John. "Seventh Time Around: Breaking through a City's Invisible Barriers to the Gospel." In Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits, ed. Peter Wagner. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1991.
Horton, Stanley M. Ultimate Victory: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation. Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1991.
Kraft, Charles H. "‘Christian Animism' or God-Given Authority?" In Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues, ed. Edward Rommen. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 1995.
Lund, Eric. Hermeneutics: The Science and Art of Interpreting the Bible, 3d and rev. ed. Translated by P. C. Nelson. Enid, Okla.: The Southwestern Press, 1941.
Otis, George, Jr. "An Overview of Spiritual Mapping." In Breaking Strongholds in Your City: How to Use Spiritual Mapping to Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Effective and Targeted, ed. Peter Wagner. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1993.
Priest, Robert J., Thomas Campbell, and Bradford A. Mullen. "Missiological Syncretism: The New Animistic Paradigm." In Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues, ed. Edward Rommen. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 1995.
Robb, John. "Satan's Tactics in Building and Maintaining His Kingdom of Darkness." International Journal of Frontier Missions 10 (1993): 173-184.
Rommen, Edward, ed. Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 1995.
Sjobert, Kjell. "Spiritual Mapping for Prophetic Prayer Actions." In Breaking Strongholds in Your City: How to Use Spiritual Mapping to Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Effective and Targeted, ed. Peter Wagner. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1993.
Sterk, Vernon F. "Territorial Spirits and Evangelization in Hostile Environments." In Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits, ed. Peter Wagner. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1991.
, ed. Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1991.
 Kjell Sjobert, "Spiritual Mapping for Prophetic Prayer Actions," in Breaking Strongholds in Your City: How to Use Spiritual Mapping to Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Effective and Targeted, ed. Peter Wagner (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1993), 99.
 Robert J. Priest, Thomas Campbell, and Bradford A. Mullen, "Missiological Syncretism: The New Animistic Paradigm," in Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues, ed. Edward Rommen (Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 1995), 16.
 Patrick Johnstone, "Biblical Intercession: Spiritual Power to Change Our World," in Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues, ed. Edward Rommen (Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 1995), 157.