"But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:7)The concept of "manifestation" is very simple, it's the making know or visible of something that had previously been hidden of invisible. The understanding of the "manifestation of the Spirit" is the same; it is the making know in the natural that Spirit which lives in the supernatural. It's making evident in the natural realm Him who lives in the hidden realm, the spiritual realm; making visible Him who is invisible.
As human beings, we are well versed in the natural realm but the spiritual realm remains hidden to us. We perceive the natural world all around us but the working of the spiritual world is invisible to our eyes. How can a world who is limited by its natural bounds find, perceive, and experience the reality of the world of the spirit which exist all around us just beyond our sight?
God desires to make Himself know to His creation, to reveal Himself to those who are limited by their physical senses. However, instead of revealing His form and likeness which is ineffable and invisible, He has chosen to reveal Himself by the effects of His presence upon the natural realm, especially upon those men and women who love and serve Him. This is what Jesus meant when he spoke of the Spirit,
"The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)
Just like the wind, the Spirit is invisible, but also like the wind, its effects on the world and those who live in it is evident to those who are willing to see it.
When we manifest the Spirit, we are revealing the Spirit to the world through Its effects upon our lives. People cannot see the Spirit but they can see His effects and workings in our lives. For example, consider what Paul says regarding prophesy,
"But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you." (1 Cor 14:24-25)When an ungifted or unbelieving person enters the church and experiences prophesy, the Spirit if manifested before their eyes, their heart is convicted, and they acknowledge God as real, alive, and active in the lives of men.
What we refer to as the Gifts of the Spirit are merely the manifestation of the Spirit through our lives. For example, when we prophesy we manifest the inaudible words of God spoken in heaven to the physical ears of men here on earth. There is an interesting story where Moses begged God not to send him to Pharaoh but rather to send someone else. God, angry at Moses, relented and sent Aaron with Moses, yet it was to be Moses who would speak to Pharaoh, not directly, but through Aaron. Moses would speak to Aaron and Aaron to Pharaoh.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.'" (Exodus 7:1-2)
Moses, as God to Pharaoh, spoke to Aaron and Aaron "prophesied" those words to Pharaoh. Prophesy is simply revealing openly to others the words of God spoken in secret. God speaks in secret, we declare it (or prophesy it) in the open.
Similarly, when we express the manifestation of "helps" (1 Corinthians 12:28) we are revealing in the natural the hidden truth of God. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1) When God manifests His healing through us, He is revealing His power and the perfection that is in heaven. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases." (Psalm 103:2-3) When God manifests Himself through us in a word of knowledge, He is reveling Himself as the all knowing and all seeing one. "For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths." (Proverbs 5:21)
The Gifts of the Spirit are not about what we have or who we are, but about how God has chosen to reveal Himself through us. They are the effects of the Wind of God blowing on and through our lives. When we yield to the Spirit and allow Him to express Himself through His gifts in our lives, then the world can see and hear and perceive that God is truly alive and active in the world today.
More to come... David Robison