Thursday, January 16, 2014

Are the Holy Spirit's gifts for today?

"Saul Stricken" by Peter Paul Rubens
Saul/Paul's salvation through a "sign" - Acts 9 - "Saul Stricken" by Peter Paul Rubens

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

"I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Jesus Christ … so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 1:4,7.

In 2013 a prominent American minister held a conference in his church called Strange Fire (at which event he launched a book by the same name). During the conference he and many speakers claimed and attempted to prove that the miracle-working signs-and-wonders era of the Holy Spirit's gifts was / is a thing of the past. I wonder what Paul would say about that—Paul the writer of today's reading whose prayer for the Corinthians is "that you come short in no gift."

[Gift - charisma means gift of grace, a free divine gratuity, spiritual endowment, miraculous faculty … especially used to designate the gifts of the Spirit - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible p. 5486.]

From the word charisma comes the word charismatic, used in our times to describe the person who has one or more of these gifts functioning in his or her life, or who believes these gifts are for today's church.

If you haven't already picked up on it, I'm on the charismatic side of the fence. And I thank God for that Strange Fire conference and how it confirmed me in that position!

If you're grappling with whether or not you should take the Bible's teaching at face value here, the book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere will give you lots of food for thought. In it Deere says:

"If you were to lock a brand-new Christian in a room with a Bible and tell him to study what Scripture has to say about healing and miracles, he would never come out of the room a cessationist. … This is not a system of doctrine that I would have ever come up with on my own. I had to be taught that the gifts of the Spirit had passed away. … There is one basic reason why Bible-believing Christians do not believe in the miraculous gifts of the Spirit today. It is simply this: they have not seen them" - Jack Deere, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, pp. 54, 55 (emphasis in the original).

I believe we need these miraculous gifts as much as ever. Deere names some reasons why God continues to heal and work miracles even though His revelation in Scripture is complete (cessationists teach that miracles were mainly to confirm the legitimacy of Jesus and Bible writers):

1. God heals because He is asked to heal.
2. God heals to remove hindrances to ministry.
3. God does miracles in order to teach us (about Jesus, His nature, His ministry).
4. God does miracles to bring people to salvation.
5. Miracles manifest the Kingdom of God.
6. God heals for sovereign purposes.
Points taken (and elaborated on) from Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, Appendix A, pp. 219-227.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You that the Bible is clear on the availability and necessity of Your Spirit's gifts for me today. May I not quench the Spirit or commit the sin of unbelief in order to rationalize why I don't see more of those gifts in my life and the life of my church. Amen. 



New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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