Tests for the authenticity of alleged gifts of the Holy Spirit

Especially for the spiritual guides of the church


Brian Kuehmichel
March 23, 2013

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The elders therefore among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according unto God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock. 1Pe 5:1-3 (RV)

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 1 Corinthians 12:1-7

Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. 1 Corinthians 14:12

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I (Apostle Paul) write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 14:37

Tests for the authenticity

The Bible includes at least nine tests2 just for the authenticity of alleged gifts of the Holy Spirit. All of these tests must be satisfied before you can conclude that a supposed gift is authentic in an individual.

    Positive Tests

  1. Scripture — Does the alleged gift conform to the word of God rather than the outlook of the world? (Acts 17:10-11, Romans 12:2-3, and 1 John 4:1, 4-6)
  2. Lordship — Does it exalt God, and Him alone? Specifically, does it exalt Jesus as incarnate Christ? (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 1 Corinthians 12:1-3, and 1 John 4:1-3)
  3. Fruits — Does the person who manifests it have Christian speech and character? (Matthew 7:15-20 refers to the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:19-24 identifies these fruits as traits of Christian character. Matthew 12:33-37, Luke 6:43-45, James 3:5-12, [and also Ecclesiasticus 27:6 which is in the Apocrypha], single out holy speech as an especially important sign of such character. But Matthew 7:21 warns that holy speech is not the same as superficially pious God-talk.)
  4. Edification — Does it build up the community of believers? (1 Corinthians 14:12, 26 — but in the context of the entire chapter.)
  5. Order — Is it under voluntary control and compatible with good order in worship? (1 Corinthians 14:28, 33, 39-40 — but in the context of the entire chapter.)
  6. Corroboration — Do those who have mature spiritual discernment and oversee the congregation judge it authentic? (1 Corinthians 12:10b and 14:29 and Ephesians 4:11-16)
  7. Accountability — Does the person manifesting it willingly submit to this testing? (1 Corinthians 14:36-38)
  8. Negative Tests

  9. Sin — Does the supposed gift involve any moral evil, or even the appearance of moral evil? If so, reject it. (Psalm 5:4, Malachi 2:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, James 1:13, 1 Peter 1:16 [which alludes to Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, and 20:7], and 3 John 1:11)
  10. Predictive Failure — Has it even once given rise to a prophecy that failed to come true? If so, reject it. (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)


1. Pastor-Minister-Overseer-Bishop

2. List of nine tests and citations originally found at: http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0000160.cfm


Matthew Henry Commentary - 1 Corinthians 14

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