Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Spiritual Gifts and the Work of the Holy Spirit

The Pyromaniac has caused quite a stir in the blogosphere by bringing up the subject of the gift of "prophecy" and how it relates in the modern church. To be fair, he is only pointing out that the world is full of hoodwinking rapscallions who claim to receive special revelations from God on a regular basis. Many of these prognostications never come true, and they are quite damaging to the faith of those who are duped by such nefarious individuals. The discussion has caused a debate over cessationist and non-cessationist views of spiritual giftedness. In simple terms, folks are fussing about whether or not God still gifts people with things like tongues, prophecy, miracles, healing, and etc.

It is, in my humble opinion, quite a needless debate. No matter what gift someone claims that God has given them, the Bible has given us clear guidelines on how someone operating under the guidance of the Holy Spirit should behave. They should not be disruptive, rude, selfish, money-grubbing, or uncharitable. Violate these rules and it doesn't matter what gift you claim; you are disqualified.

Has the gift of tongues ceased? Has prophecy ceased? What loaded questions! What do you mean by "tongues"? Ecstatic utterances? Previously unlearned human languages? Angelic language perhaps? A prayer language? Or prophecy? Do you mean future telling? Exposition of the written Word?

Use some spiritual sense. Is the gift edifying or disruptive. Are they trying to milk you for all your money? Honestly, if someone tells me that God has gifted them with tongues and they never interrupt Church services, never demand that others do so as well, and in general act I going to pitch a fit? I will treat them as I would if someone told me that God called them to teach. I am, as some would put it, open but extremely cautious due to blatant hucksterism and the propensity of the human heart to deceive itself.

Ultimately, here is how I understand spiritual gifts. I believe that the ultimate spiritual gift is the Spirit of God Himself. The book of Ephesians teaches that "you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14). As I understand spiritual gifts, your particular gift in the Church is the consistent way which the Holy Spirit works through you for the health of the Church. My primary function in the body of Christ is to pastor/teach. This is where I find the greatest joy of worship and sense of purpose to my fellow man. It is intrinsic to who I am. I trust that the evidence of my life indicates that I understand myself rightly, and that I am functioning as God is pleased to have called me. If the evidence were not present, then the body itself would reject me from that position.

However, I believe that since I am sealed "with" the Holy Spirit and because the Bible teaches that He is my constant companion, encourager, correcter, and helper, I do not 'limit' what He can do through me for the sake of His beloved children. What I mean by that is, while I do not believe that I have been gifted with healing, I would not hesitate to lay hands on someone who asked and pray that God would heal them. If I had a word of wisdom that was Scriptural that I felt burdened to share; I would share without worry. If the Word is apt and pleasing to God, does that make me a prophet? If the sick are healed, does that mean I am particularly gifted? I do not think so. I simply believe that God can and does work through His people as He sees fit. I do not expect such things consistently, but I do expect and explicitly depend on the Holy Spirit to be with me each and every time I open the Word to preach and teach. I do not expect Him to come in the sense that I may demand anything of my God, but rather I expect Him to come because He is the one who gifted me for the ministry in the first place; so I trust.

So these are my quick thoughts on spiritual gifts which God, in His kingly pleasure, distributes to men and women as He sees fit. His gifts are as mysterious as His election; He bestows them particularly as He sees fit. I am thankful that God has honored me to serve Him in the capicity to which I am called. I do not boast in it as if I have merited it; it is the gift of God. I am Brad Williams. I am 5'10" tall. I am a pastor. I can no more boast in my height than I can in my calling. I am just overjoyed to be here and to be given the opportunity to serve. I pray that God will make everyone's gift as plain to them as He has to me, and I pray that when He reveals it to you that you will serve with all the might and joy that God can give.


brother terry said...

I'm 6'3"...

Do I get to boast about that?

It is my humble honor to have been called by God to preach His word.


Your position on the Gifts is exactly the same as mine.

My more "charismatic" friends accept my view that God is fully able to gift how and what he pleases to whom and at what time He pleases.

Have I ever spoken in tongues?


Do I think it's possible that things like this happen?


With God all things are possible!


Elizabeth said...

Well written and I think you are correct, entirely!