June 7: Concerning Spiritual Gifts
This is the Third part of the series “The Holy Spirit – Who Is He?”
NOW ABOUT the spiritual gifts (the special endowments of supernatural energy), brethren, I do not want you to be misinformed. ICorinthians 12:1 (Amp)
The gifts that Paul is talking to the Corinthian church about in this section of his letter are also known as The Gifts of the Holy Spirit. What is strikingly important to realise here is that he is not talking about innate talents. They are not psychological or intellectual gifts. Instead, he makes it very clear that these are “Supernatural” gifts. They are of spiritual origin and that they are not resident; they don’t become the possession of the user.
There has been so much confusion, within the church, on this subject alone, that it is worth spending some time to give it the respect, it is due, and to take the time to examine some of the fallacies that have been perpetuated, most of them doctrinal, based on nothing more than mere opinion, rather than the due attention that scripture itself spends on this subject.
More often, than not, these same opinions were generated by men, themselves ignorant of any experience of walking in the spirit themselves; as Paul describes them: carnal minds unable to discern the difference between the Spirit, Soul and the Body. Paul, in an earlier part of this same letters already dealt with this inability:
But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated. ICorinthians 2:14 (Amp)
The concept of Doctrine, Dogma and Tradition as the “Foundations of the Church” is insufficient when it comes to the discussion of spiritual matters. Doctrine, Dogma and Tradition are constructs of ‘religious’ men. They do not originate from the spirit, but from the sensory, or carnal, fleshly nature of the person.
Now, this is the second time I have referred to the opinions and constructs of “men” and I make no apology for that. By doing so, I am pointing out the lack of involvement that women have been permitted to be involved in these matters. I am laying the responsibility for these matters fairly and squarely at the feet of those responsible. This does not, for on moment mean that women are incapable of making the same mistakes. On the contrary, it is merely a matter of pointing out the facts.
In Jesus’ day, as in Paul’s, the watchword of the Pharisees and the Sadducees was “Tradition.” On more than one occasion throughout the synoptic gospels Jesus is noted for pointing out how the traditions of these men had “Made the covenant of God ineffective.” The practice of their religious traditions had taken the place of the power of God to be able to manifest itself in healing and deliverance from sickness, disease and had allowed the devil to blind the minds of the Children of Abraham to all the meaning of the redemptive names of Jehovah. Their traditions nothing more than human constructs trying to reach the God who is omnipresent.
Don’t get me wrong now, the pentecostal movement has had its far share and opportunity to fall into this snare of the enemy. many of the traditions have come about as a result of misunderstanding an aspect of a mighty move of God.Consider this:
In a revival in a small town church somewhere a member of the congregation received a miraculous healing and was able to see for the first time in 40 years. But, instead of looking to God to find out what they had done and the attitudes that had allowed this miracle to be manifest they looked to the circumstances:
“About the time that Sister so-and-so got her sight back we’d sung hymn number 34 four times. Brother Steve had been blowing his nose hard into his handkerchief. Mary-Jane was wandering among the pews and Old Mother Jones had felt the glory upon her so bad she’d taken off at a run around the church. With that the Pastor knocked over a vase of flowers beside the pulpit and Elder Samuel had slammed the front door to the church, real hard……….” And on it goes.
Since then, every Sunday morning, faithfully, for the last 30 years they’ve been replicating those same conditions, to the point that there’s a hole in the floor beside the pulpit, where the water has caused the boards to rot and Old Mother Jones (we almost lost her last year) doesn’t so much run any more, as shuffles around the church, at a snail’s pace. “But we’re sure that one of these days God’s gonna do one of them miracles again!”
This particular example is an exaggerated fiction. But, it is similar to stories I have heard, over the years an it is the way traditions and “Sacred Cows” are born. However, I think you probably get my drift. Human beings want to see everything that happens in relation to their 5 senses. But, as Paul said “The things of the Spirit are spiritually discerned.” That is where Faith, real bible Faith comes into operation. Faith takes over where the senses fall short and all things from God require us to approach them in Faith.
It is important to remember, that Paul is writing this letter to a church that had taken the use of spiritual gifts to the extreme. In his attempt to bring some order and decorum to the situation, he was also aware of the need not to quench the spirit and the enthusiasm of these people. As he says later on in this letter of instruction: “The Holy Spirit does things decently and in order.”
As we read the book of Acts of the Apostles we are given insight into the growth of the early church over something of a 30 year period. From its beginnings in Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost, just after the resurrection and at each step of its growth out into the wider world, it is clear to see that the supernatural nature of the church, and the use of the supernatural gifts and ministrations of the Holy Spirit were not an adjunct to, but rather an integral part of that growth. You did not receive Christ without following through with water baptism and you did not receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, a subsequent action to salvation, without the manifestation of the Spiritual gifts; most importantly the individual, personal gift of “Other Tongues”; to ensure you had a way to build up and to maintain your faith.
Sadly, this spontaneous utterance has been watered down, to the point where people have been led to believe that the disciples, only on the day of Pentecost, spoke in tongues and that they were speaking the different languages of the peoplle in the regions that had gathered in Jerusalem. Very little, if any, attention is paid to the significance of that particular event in Jerusalem, as well as the perculiar language that Luke uses to describe the event.
He does not so muc say that the disciples were speaking in kknown languages, as much that the people from all around ‘HEARD’ them in their native tongue. By diminishing the supernatural aspect of this event the neglect the fact that there was as much “Interpretation of tongues” going on, as there weere people speaking languages they had never learned.
The initial sign, the signature gift of the the Holy Spirit, endowed upon all of those who are baptised in the spirit, is also the doorway intom the supernatural aspect of Life in the Spirit and the empowering that Jesus emphasised that ALL his disciples would need to be able to function effectively as a part of the body of Christ. Anyone who suggests that the supernatural aspect of Christianity is unnecessary is either a fool, or is blinded by “the god of this world,” or both. A cursory glance at the list if the most popular shows onn television over the past 20 years alone would demonstrate how much people crave the supernatural in their lives.
It has come to the point where witches, demons, vampires, werewolves and zombies, previously portrayed as either evil, or the villains in the past, are now regarded as heroes and states of life to aspire towards. The church, deservedly so, is portrayed as weak, ineffective and irrelevant in the face of oposition to this craving; particularly by the youth right through to those in their late forties. Deservedly so, because the church has been more interested in getting caught up in politics and affairs of distribution. It’s priests and ministers have been embarrassed as some within their ranks have been exposed for the fakes and charlatans that have sought refuge and abuse their privilege among those of good conscience within church organisations, bringing them into disrepute.
People, declaring themselves to be the prophets of a new age, the infiltration of ‘other‘ mysticism offering alternatives; usually accompanied by a taste of the supernatural, such as Yoga as well as the proliferation of ‘Martial Arts,’ in the guise of exercise and self defence alone have introduced Eastern mysticism that appears superior to the ways of Christ and his church. Yet the disciplines are rooted in religious practices in opposition to Christ.
The outcome of this is a drawing away, paricularly the next generation of leaders. With the ascendancy of these rites within the church as organisation, rather than as the body of Christ, has seen the undermining of the Charismatic renewal within the existing Christian denominations in the 1960s. The adoption of Aquarian practices and the attempt to mix these with authentic practice, in an attempt to legitimise them. The Buddistic Ohm took precedence over the Authentic Tongues as a gift from the Holy Spirit.
I will make a point here, in case anyone is of the opinion that any of these things, in and of themselves actually affect, or hurt God, or Jesus, or, are even slightly capable of inflicting harm upon God;; I would suggest a serious re-think. None of these things are capable of harming God. But, it is the people of God who are aflicted and undermined, while in this present world, by these practices and their accompanying dis – ease. It iis for this reason alone that God is even concerned about them; he is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, for our sakes.
The church that has the manifestation of the spiritual gifts, which are supernatural in origin and demonstration and not dependant upon emotion are more than sufficient to meet the needs of those who are drawn away from churches that have become dry and lifeless as a result of dead tradition and nothinbg more than a social gospel. To address this falling away (which has been prophesied from old) will require a revival in the church heretofore unprecedented. The demonstratiion of the Holy Spirit and Power, the Dunamis, the world changing, life changing power of God will need to be commonplace, rather than sporadic and has been prophesied by Joel and spoken nof by Peter at the very beginning of the church age, on the First Pentecost.
This revival will require the emergence of the Five-fold Ministry gifts with both Ecsusia and Dunamis, both Authority and Miraculous power in the Name of Jesus. It will require leadership like the church and the world have not seen for a very long time; the word of God preached with authority and demonstration. The difference is that this revival will require those who have been regarded as base and unremarkable; those who have been rejected or undermined by those in leadership in recent times.
This is one of the reasons for the rise of the affirming movement in the church; as God alone builds his church. It is the weak and the broken, who know that they are is the result of God and not their own efforts, are those preparing a testimony of power and with authority; able to attest to the saving Grace of God. Add to that their hunger for the Word of God, and their use of that word as their foundation and their benchmark; they build a testament to all that God is truly able to do to and for those who truly love and trust him.
As Paul commands:
But earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and the choicest graces). And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one that is better by far and the highest of them all—love]. ICorinthians 12:31 (Amplified)
Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desireand cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), especially that you may prophesy (interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching). ICorinthians 14:1 (Amplified)
So [to conclude], my brethren, earnestly desire andset your hearts on prophesying (on being inspired topreach and teach and to interpret God’s will and purpose), and do not forbid or hinder speaking in [unknown] tongues. ICorinthians 14:39 (Amplified)
Now more than ever we need to be encouraging the use and practice of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit combined with the development of the Fruit of the Spirit. Rather than the trend of forbidding, not through any blatant proclamation; rather constraining the opportunity for those gifts to be used and given the credibility they deserve.
Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; do not spurn the gifts and utterances of the prophets [do not depreciate prophetic revelations nor despise inspired instruction or exhortation or warning]. IThessalonians 5:19-20
For additional reading about the importance of Tongues in the believer’s life I highly recommend Robert Lardon’s book “Why The Devil Doesn’t Want You To Pray In Tongues.” Click on the image to go to RLM bookshop to purchase your copy today.
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