The Desire for Supernatural Abilities and Godly Love
Many people wish they had supernatural abilities so that they can work miracles, heal the sick, foretell the future, and perform other awesome works; however, not all people want these powers solely for a righteous purpose.
A person who desires more abilities than the ones they were given when they received the indwelling of the holy spirit and the ones that help them grow toward spiritual maturity and to perform the functions and responsibilities of their calling should take time to do a serious self-evaluation. They should ask themselves why they want these additional abilities. If someone wants additional supernatural abilities for personal aggrandizement, entertainment, or other purely selfish reasons, they have the wrong motivation.
Remember, the apostle Paul said that all authorizations of supernatural ability and power are given for the purpose of performing the collective work of the church and the benefit, edification, and enrichment of the Sovereign Father's elect. See Eph.4:7-16.
For the Father's elect there are two primary reasons to desire supernatural abilities:
To render service to other members of our heavenly Father's earthly family.
To help perform the collective work of the church to proclaim the Father's good news message of salvation as a witness and warning.
In his letters to the elect at Corinth, Rome, and Ephesus, the apostle Paul mentions over twenty individual supernatural abilities. He says that our heavenly Father personally determines which of these to give each of his earthly children in order for them to successfully become one of his immortal children and perform the function and responsibility for which they were called during this gospel age of salvation.
After explaining many things about supernatural abilities and their use in his letter to the elect at Corinth, Paul writes of the one spiritual attribute that each of them has been given, without which none of these other abilities have meaning in the context of the life they have been called to practice. If this one spiritual attribute is not expressed and increased in our lives, any other supernatural ability the Father gives us cannot be exercised to its fullest or becomes useless to the purpose for which it was given. Therefore, before we begin our study into the supernatural abilities our heavenly Father gives to individuals, it is important to review what the apostle Paul wrote to the elect at Corinth and to the evangelist Timothy regarding this extremely important gift from the Father.
The Elect at Corinth
Much of what Paul writes to the elect at Corinth has to do with attitudes and behaviors which show a lack of respect, concern, and godly love for their spiritual brothers and sisters. Paul brings these problems into focus while discussing how the church is to function as a team and that the gifts of the spirit are to benefit all of the elect and to help them carry out their collective work to proclaim the Father's good news message of salvation.
In 1.Corinthians, chapter 12, after Paul explains that the Father has given each person he calls to salvation the supernatural abilities he wants them to have and that he has placed each one in his earthly family where he wants them to be, Paul writes the following:
"Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, different kinds languages. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gift of healing? do all speak with languages? do all interpret? But desire the best gifts: and yet I show you a more excellent way" (1.Cor.12:27-31 KJV Para.).
Paul urges the elect (both men and women) at Corinth to desire the best gifts. Are some gifts of the spirit better than others and to be desired above others? The answer is yes. However, these gifts of the spirit are not obvious, but can be found and understood through a diligent, prayerful study of the biblical record, meditation on what one finds there, and insight given through the holy spirit.
In Paul's letter to Timothy, he reminds him of three important spiritual attributes that are an integral part of his spiritual makeup and that must remain with him throughout his life and into eternity as a member of the God family. One of these three attributes is godly love. Without it no one can please the Father and Christ, practice a righteous life, or be given immortal life:
"Therefore I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands. For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, love [Greek Agape], and self-control" (2.Tim.1:6-7 KJV Para.).
There are many different Greek words used in the New Testament to describe different types of love and the degree to which each is expressed toward people or things. Of these, two are mentioned most often in relation to God the Father, Christ, and the elect. These are defined by the Greek words agape and agapao:
Agape: To express godly love. Agape basically means affection or benevolence; specially (plural) a love-feast. Agape is an intrinsic quality of God the Father and is an expression of his character (1.Jn.4:16). This is the kind of love expressed by the Father and Christ that goes beyond social and moral concern for another person. Godly love is a deep and abiding affection for another person which looks past the other person's character flaws and continually seeks to benefit the person loved. Godly love is a spiritual attribute the Father gives to each of his adopted children.
Agapao: To express love in a social and moral sense. This is the kind of love that expresses the principles of good behavior conforming to accepted principles and standards, which is different from fraternal affection or affection for one's spouse or children.
These two types of love are inseparable. We cannot express godly love and treat other people disrespectfully by not expressing a godly attitude and behavior toward them.
From what is written in the gospel accounts and the apostles letters about godly love, it becomes clear that, of all the supernatural abilities the Father gives to his children, the most important is the gift of godly love, without which all other gifts of the spirit are of no value to a person in a spiritual sense.
Note: As we continue Paul's explanation of this "more excellent way" he wrote of at the end of chapter 12, I will insert the word agape or agapao in brackets next to the word love and replace the word charity, where applicable, with the words godly love, in order to more accurately expresses the insight Paul was giving the elect at Corinth about the importance of expressing godly love with the exercise of supernatural abilities.
"Though I speak with the languages of men and of angels, and have not charity [agape], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" (1.Cor.13:1 KJV Para.).
In order to introduce the subject of godly love and the importance of expressing it in every aspect of one's life, but especially when exercising one's supernatural abilities, Paul mentions the supernatural ability to speak in various languages that are not native to the person speaking. This ability was being misused and was causing a problem within the Corinthian congregation.
Paul clearly understood that if he did not have godly love, any supernatural ability he had or could have would be meaningless to him in his work and in his pursuit of his own salvation. His use of these abilities would be as if he were just making a lot of loud meaningless noise.
"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and do not have godly love, I am nothing" (1.Cor.13:2 KJV Para.).
Paul mentions these four extremely important supernatural abilities to emphasize the point that, even if he had all of these abilities and the confidence to exercise them, he would be nothing without godly love.
"And though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and do not have godly love, it is useless" (1.Cor.13:3 KJV Para).
Here, the English word burned is translated from the Greek word kauchaomai, which basically means to brag, to praise oneself. It does not mean burned. By the use of this Greek word, perhaps Paul was alluding to personal sacrifice of wealth, time, and effort.
What is clear from the biblical record is that, if a person does not have godly love as the basis for what they do for another person or their exercise of supernatural abilities, it is of no value in a spiritual sense to the person doing them.
Many scriptures show that the righteous will be judged and rewarded according to what they have done in the flesh and the attitude in which their works are performed. See Matt.16:27; Lk.6:36-38; 2.Cor.9:6-7.
"Godly love is patient and is kind; godly love does not envy; godly love does not brag and is not haughty. It does not behave itself unseemly, does not seek its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Does not rejoice in injustice, but rejoices in the truth; it endures all things, it has all faith, trusts much, and perseveres. Godly love never fails: but whether there be predictions, they may fail; whether there be languages, they may cease; whether there be knowledge, it may vanish away" (1.Cor.13:4-8 KJV Para.).
What Paul writes is in the context of explaining the purpose for the Father giving supernatural abilities to his earthly children and the attitude in which these abilities are to be exercised.
"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away" (1.Cor.13:9-10 KJV).
Paul's says that as yet we do not know everything. He clarifies this statement later in verse 12. He also mentions prophecy, which is a reference to the giving of divinely inspired messages, not the ability to predict future events. He then explains that, when we are god-beings in the Father's kingdom, our knowledge and understanding will be perfect.
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1.Cor.13:11 KJV).
Remember, Paul is still addressing the problem of the misuse of supernatural abilities within the congregation at Corinth. Here, he uses his own example of maturing to adulthood to explain to them that what they are doing is childish and they need to mature spiritually.
In verse 12, Paul speaks to our present condition and the future after we become an immortal spirit-being in the Father's heavenly family:
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now these three remain, faith, hope, and godly love; but the greatest of these is godly love" (1.Cor.13:12-13 KJV Para.).
Paul mentions the belief and confidence we have in the Father's promises to us and his love for us, but that the greatest of these is his love for us, because it is through his love for each of us continually being expressed through his care, concern, and mercy that we can have the belief and confidence that he will fulfill his promises. See Rom.5:1-8.
In 1.Corinthians, chapter 14, Paul continues speaking about the importance of godly love and urges the elect to engage in a course of action that will lead to an increase of this godly characteristic.
"Pursue godly love, and desire the spiritual
gifts, but much more that you may prophesy" (1.Cor.14:1 KJV Para.).
The English word spiritual in verse 1 is translated from the Greek word pneumatikos, which refers to the supernatural (i.e., things pertaining to the spirit realm). The use of the word pneumatikos shows that Paul is urging the elect at Corinth to desire to be spiritual (i.e., righteous) in their thought, attitude, and behavior.
The word gifts in verse 1is not in the Textus Receptus and was added by the King James translators. The addition of the word gifts obscures Paul's intent to urge the elect to desire things pertaining to godly spirituality (i.e., godly characteristics).
The English phrase you may prophesy in verse 1 is translated from the Greek word propheteuo, which means to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, or exercise the prophetic office. In the context of verse 1, propheteuo means to speak things which are divinely inspired.
Again, the attribute to be most sought after and increased is godly love in our lives. We are also to desire to have other gifts of the spirit, but even more so the ability to say things that are divinely inspired.
In the rest of chapter 14, Paul explains in great detail that the correct use of the gift of languages is to convey understanding. But, some at Corinth were showing a lack of godly love, respect, and concern for those in the congregation who could not understand what they were saying. See the section Languages and the Interpretation of Languages for complete details about this issue.
Love Each Other
What Jesus said in his many conversations with his disciples about the expression of social, moral, and godly love, and his command for them to love each other with this same love explains why the Father's earthly children must exhibit and practice this type of love not only toward each other, but also other people.
John records Jesus telling his disciples about two types of love they should practice:
"Little children, yet a little while I am with you, and I go to him that sent me. You shall seek me: and as I said, Where I go, you cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you, That you love [agapao] one another; as I have loved [agapao] you, that you also love [agapao] one another. By this shall everyone know that you are my disciples, if you have love [agape] one to another" (Jn.13:33-35 KJV).
There are three important things we can learn about the two types of love mentioned in verses 34-35:
This love is to be social, moral, and godly.
We are to follow Christ's expression of love.
The practice of social, moral, and godly love identifies a person as Christ's disciple.
Telling his disciples to have social and moral love for each other as he had for them was nothing new to the disciples, because this was required in the law given to ancient Israel (Matt:22:37-40). What was new, was that they were not only to have this type of love for each other, but they were to also love each other with a godly love, which was a completely new concept to them.
The social, moral, and godly love these men were told to express to each other would indeed identify them as his disciples. However, this type of love was impossible for them to express while Jesus was alive, but would be possible after his death and resurrection, because God the Father would make godly love a part of their spiritual nature.
The kind of love that identifies a true follower of Christ includes social, moral, and godly love. This kind of love goes beyond what is considered love by human standards. This type of love for another individual is indeed a sign of those who follow Christ, because it is the manifestation of the Father's holy spirit within an individual.
Godly love is the love that God the Father and Jesus Christ have exhibited in providing a way of salvation for humanity. This kind of love is truly selfless and puts the welfare of others before our own. See 1.Cor.13:1-13.
Almost all people express some degree of love for other people in a social or moral sense, but only the elect can express agape love as an identifying mark. Agape love is a godly quality. True love and concern for another individual is a rare thing and is indeed a sign of those who follow Christ. This kind of love is a manifestation of God's holy spirit working within an individual.
After explaining the relationship between his heavenly Father, himself, and those who would become members of his Father's family, Jesus said the following:
"This is my commandment, That you love [agapao] one another, as I have loved [agapao] you. Greater [agape] has no one than this, that one lay down their life for their friends. You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you" (Jn.15:12-14 KJV Para.).
Jesus mentions social and moral love in the context of an attitude and behavior that should be an integral part of a disciples nature. But beyond this type of love, is godly love, which means a person is willing to give up everything including their life for their friends. This is exactly what Christ did for his disciple and all humans. See Rom.5:1-8.
Before being human, Jesus was an immortal, spirit-being who possessed the highest form of existence—life that springs forth from itself, never dying nor decaying. This immortal being who was not subject to death, voluntarily emptied himself of his glory, power, and immortality to become a mortal man in order to live a sinless life as an example for us to follow. His sacrifice is the ultimate expression of godly love. This kind of love holds nothing back and is willing to give all for those who are loved.
Although we cannot sacrifice our life in the same way Christ did, we can and must exhibit and exercise godly love toward those of the elect and toward other people. There are many other ways we can lay down our life for our friends and other people. A person's life is their time, energy, effort, and material goods which can either be spent in worldly pursuits or doing good works, which is the Father's will for those of his earthly family. See Eph.2:10; Tit.3:8, 14; Heb.10:23-24; 13:20-21.
The apostle John wrote many things about the enormity of our heavenly Father's and Christ's love for humanity and that we should emulate this type of love as we practice a righteous life:
"He that says, I know him, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love [agape] of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him" (1.Jn.2:4-5 KJV Para,). See also 1.Jn.5:3.
One of the indications that a person is exhibiting and exercising godly love is that they will be practicing God's laws, precepts, and principles which instruct one to have respect and concern for all people.
"Beloved, let us love [agapao] one another: for love [agape] is of God; and every one that loves [agapao] is born of God, and knows God. He that does not love [agapao] does not know God; for God is love [agape]" (1.Jn.4:7-8 KJV Para.).
Those who are the Father's earthly children have the attributes of social, moral, and godly love as an integral part of their spiritual nature. Why is this? It is because the Father's earthly children are not human as others are human. Although still in the flesh, they are a new spiritual creation with completely different potentials and goals than a person who is purely human. See 2.Cor.5:17.
"In this was manifested the love [agape] of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love [agape], not that we loved [agapao] God, but that he loved [agape] us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved [agapao] us, we ought also to love [agapao] one another" (1.Jn.4:9-11KJV Para.).
We are to express and exercise the same kind of love our heavenly Father has for us toward our brothers and sisters in his earthly family and by extension toward all other people, because the Father also loves them, which is evidenced by his sending Christ to sacrifice himself for all people.
"No one has seen God at any time. If we love [agapao] one another, God dwells in us, and his love [agape] is perfected in us. By this we know that we remain in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his spirit" (1.Jn.4:12-13 Para.). See Acts 5:32.
John explains that, if we are practicing the kind of love that shows an outgoing concern for our spiritual brothers and sisters, the Father's love (i.e., his character) is being perfected in us.
"And we have known and believed the love [agape] that God has to us. God is love [agape]; and he that remains in love [agape] remains in God, and God in him. Herein is our love [agape] made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love [agape]; but perfect love [agape] casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love [agape]. We love him, because he first loved [agapao] us" (1.Jn.4:16-19 KJV Para.).
The Sovereign God expressed godly love when he sent the Creator to become human and sacrifice his life in order for our sins to be forgiven. This also showed his tremendous concern for our happiness and wellbeing.
Remaining in godly love is a state of mind that views all humans in the same light as the Sovereign God and Christ view them. Remember that the Father wants everyone to be saved, and that Jesus loved us so much he sacrificed his life for us.
Godly love removes all fear from a person, because anyone who truly believes that their heavenly Father loves them and expresses this same love themselves has faith that he will keep his promises to them, and will eventually transform them into one of his immortal children. So, there is nothing to be afraid of. See Rom.8:31-39.
"If anyone says, I love [agapao] God, and hates his brother, they are a liar: for one that does not love [agapao] their brother whom they have seen, how can they love [agapao] God whom they have not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That the one who loves [agapao] God loves [agapao] their brother also" (1.Jn. 4:20-21 KJV Para.).
If Godly Love Grows Cold
One day, Jesus told his disciples about the future destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, after which they came to him privately to ask about what he had said. Instead of answering their questions about the temple, his future coming, and the end of the age of human rule on earth, he began to tell them about what would happen after his death. Later in this same conversation with his disciples, he said:
"Many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness shall have been multiplied, the godly love [agape] of many will grow cold. But the one that endures to the end, that one will be saved" (Matt.24:11-13 KJV Para.).
The many whose godly love will grow cold refers to some of the Father's elect who will either neglect their promise to diligently practice a righteous life or for various reasons decide living righteously is not worth the effort. See 1.Tim.4:1; Rev.3:14-16.
After praising the elect at Ephesus for much of their effort to live righteously, Jesus said the following:
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love [agape]. Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your lamp-stand out of its place, except you repent" (Rev.2:4-5 KJV Para.).
The English word first in verse 4 is translated from the Greek word protos, which means foremost (in time, place, order or importance). It is logical to assume that this first love (agape) is the godly love that each of the elect is bestowed when they become one of the Father's earthly children. It is also logical that the expression of this godly love for the Father, Christ, the elect, and other people is what has grown cold.
If we allow the gift of godly love to diminish in us, our spiritual lamp which lights our path of righteousness will be extinguished, leaving us in spiritual darkness. If you are truly interested in receiving additional gifts of the spirit to use for the purpose for which they are intended, this is yet another reason to seek to increase, truly understand, and express godly love in your life.
Remember, the apostle Paul said that all authorizations of spiritual power and ability are given for the purpose of performing the collective work of the church and the benefit, edification, and enrichment of the Sovereign Father's elect who are being prepared to serve all of humanity through his family and government. See Eph.4:7-16.
Godly love [agape] is mentioned over 100 times in the New Testament and is mostly mentioned as an identifying characteristic of God the Father, Christ, and the elect. The apostle Paul alone mentions godly love more than 70 times. For godly love to be mentioned this many times points to the importance of this godly characteristic.
In the apostle Paul's letter to the elect at Corinth, he stressed the importance of godly love as something which must be in evidence if we are to use the gifts of the spirit to benefit our spiritual brothers and sisters and to do the work of the church. Therefore, it is logical that if you are seeking additional gifts of the spirit, you must have and be exercising godly love in your life.
According to Christ, Paul, and other apostles, the spiritual attribute which is to be most evidenced and increased in our lives is godly love. We should also desire other gifts of the spirit, but more so the ability to say things which are divinely inspired.
If you want additional gifts of the spirit, it would be wise to take time to do a serious self-evaluation and ask yourself why. Because it is evident that the exercise of godly love is necessary in order to properly manifest supernatural abilities for their intended purpose, it would also be wise to prayerfully search the scriptures in order to understand godly love and its application before asking the Father for additional gifts of the spirit.
By B.L. Cocherell b14w3