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A Brief Introduction To Spiritual Gifts
While Jesus was on earth, he was empowered by the Holy Spirit to do his ministry. In John 14:12, Jesus says that believers will do greater works than him. Let's see what this means and doesn't mean. This statement does not mean that believers after Jesus were greater than Jesus, rather it means we will as a church be able to do ministry to a much broader audience than Jesus. Today in the world, there are 7 billion people. That is a lot more people that can be reached today by the good news of the gospel than in Jesus' time.
Spiritual gifts are for the building up of the body of Christ. Spiritual gifts are the tools God have given us for the increase of sanctification. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says the gifts are for the common good of the body. Spiritual gifts are essential tools in the sanctification process of the saints and equip them for the ministry.
There are three basic positions on spiritual gifts today in the church. The first position is cessationist. Cessationism is the belief that the more extraordinary, supernatural gifts such as tongues and prophecy, miracles and healings have ceased or that God gradually stopped bestowing them to the church toward the end of the first century, probably at the closing of the work of inspiration of the writing of the Scriptures. This does not mean that God cannot heal today; it just means he doesn't gift certain individuals with the gift to heal, or prophesy or speak in tongues at will.
The second position is continuationist. Continuationists are those that believe that ALL of the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Scriptures continue to be given to the church to use today. It is important to note that a biblical understanding of the revelatory gifts is that contemporary revelations revealed today by God to his people are not equal to Scripture and are to be verified by the Scriptures. Modern day prophets and prophecy must bow down to the Bible.
There are a wide range of beliefs among continuationists. There are some who believe prophecies today are not bound by Scripture. Some believe that we still have modern day Apostles in the same sense as the Apostles in the New Testament. Some believe we still have Prophets with the same authority as those who wrote Scripture. Some believe that speaking in tongues is THE sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit and some who of course disagree with that statement.
The third position is open but cautious. Open but cautious groups would say something akin to believing in all the gifts being available for use today but are cautious in encouraging the practice of the extraordinary gifts in public services. Perhaps they know of a few people in their church with these gifts but do not actively seek that these gifts flourish.
To be clear, believers are to be open to the Spirit's gifts and we are also to be discerning. Paul tells us to earnestly desire gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1), to not treat prophecy with contempt (1 Thessalonians 5:20), and to not forbid the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39). However, we are reminded by John about the urgent need to be discerning (1 John 4:1) and Paul tells us to test everything and hold fast to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It seems that for some who claim to be open but cautious, the word “cautious” might be an excuse to not seek the gifts because of fear of the misuse of gifts. This fear of misuse valid but should not prevent us from seeking spiritual gifts. When Paul admonishes the Corinthian church because of its misuse of tongues and prophecy, Paul does not forbid the gifts, rather he corrects their error. Some believe that if God sovereignly gives gifts then we are not to go out of our way lest we try to manufacture an experience. After all, if God sovereingly wills to give me a gift, I will get the gift. But Paul says to earnestly desire spiritual gifts!
Spiritual Gifts Today
There are a few things to keep in mind about spiritual gifts today:
- Spiritual gifts are not natural talents (musical ability, creativity, athletic agility, mathematical skills, computer skills, etc.) Natural talents are given at birth. Spiritual gifts are given at and/or after spiritual birth.
- We are given different portions of a gift.
- Gifts are given according to God's sovereignty.
- Not all are to speak in tongues. Not all are to have prophecy.
- Speaking in tongues in not THE sign of being filled with the Spirit, but it is a sign.
- Spiritual gifts must be desired.
- Once spiritual gifts are received, we must use them for the edification of the body of Christ.
- We are not to neglect the gifts that God gives us (1 Tim. 4:14).
A Brief Introduction To Spiritual Gifts
CityLights Church, 5120 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60641.
You are Always in The GYM. Are You FIT?
To be fit is to be of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose. It is not enough to say that you are fit. It is not enough to appear to be fit.
Fitness requires Faithful action.
Fitness requires Intentional action.
Fitness requires that you remain Teachable.
Are you fit?
This is a question I continue to ask myself. I never really feel like I am fit to be a minister for Christ, but I continue to trust that He is making me what He wants me to be. Nevertheless, I use this question to examine myself periodically going to God and asking Him if I am fit for His purpose
Always In The GYM with Coach T aka Rev. Taurus M. James