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BIBLE PROPHECY
A Beginning of Global Governance - #1 in a series
Prophetic Signs that we are in the End Times
The Earth Charter's Spiritual Agenda - #2 in a Series
The New Age Influence at the United Nations - #3 in a Series
Jesus is the Messiah Prophesied in the Old Testament
Like a Thief in the Night - The Rapture of the Church
The Coming War of Gog and Magog, an Islamic Invasion?
Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Prophecy Comparison
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There will be False Christs
Is the E.U. the Revived Roman Empire?
Should We Study End-Time Prophecy?
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In the church I attended in my youth, little attention was paid to the gifts of the Spirit.  I don’t recall 1 Corinthians chapter 12 ever being the topic of any sermon or Sunday school lesson. Our church was…reserved.  I was in high school before I ever saw someone raise their hands in worship during the service.  I remember wondering if this person wanted the pastor to call on him for something.   

As I grew older, met new people and attended different churches, I also discovered new ideas.  Well, these weren’t truly new ideas, but they were to me.  I found that some churches sing modern songs whose lyrics are projected onto a screen or the wall.  In fact, some of these churches didn’t even have hymnals!  My quasi-liturgical roots were dangling loose below me as I tried to adjust to the accompaniment of guitars – both acoustic and electric – as opposed to the somber, penetrating tones of the organ.  I enjoyed this new form of praise and worship, but admit that I felt grounded in familiarity when we would sing the doxology following the collection.   

To me, healing, prophecy, and tongues were ideas of flamboyant excess.  These were the things of early morning televangelism shows and tent revivals, and I couldn’t see how they would or should fit in to a respectful worship service.  I was pious, and I didn’t even know it.  The odd thing is, I had never seen nor heard anyone speak in tongues.  My understanding (or more exactly, misunderstanding) of the gifts of the Spirit was based entirely on preconceived misconceptions.  The only thing I knew is that I was a cessationist.  A cessationist refers to someone who believes that the gifts of the Spirit lived and died in the first century.  There are a lot of cessationists in the evangelical Christian community. 

Years later, I still have not heard anyone speak in tongues.  Jennifer and I enjoy singing contemporary Christian praise songs in church, though you can still catch us singing “How Great Thou Art” around the house.  My perspective on spiritual gifts has changed, though.  In this regard, I was influenced neither by the Foursquare church I once attended, nor by the Lutheran church in which I once worshipped.  My perspective changed when I read – and studied – the New Testament.  My teacher was Paul. 

My reading of the New Testament reveals that the churches of the time were steeped in spiritual fervor.  Speaking in tongues, prophesying, healing, and miraculous works were commonplace in the churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, and elsewhere.  Paul himself spoke in tongues, performed healings, and prophesied.  Perhaps the most clear passage regarding the gifts of the Spirit is 1 Corinthians 12:1-11:

Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.  You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.  Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the works of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

While the above passage is perhaps the most thorough, there is also mention of the gifts in Romans 12:6-8:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

The issue of the gifts of the Spirit can be a touchy one in the Christian community.  In the coming series of studies, we will look at each of the gifts Paul described, and we will examine their purpose and their relevancy in the church today.  Our position on this subject will not be taken from any church denomination or affiliation.  We will simply present what the Lord gives us in His Word, and it will be up to you to formulate your own opinions.  As this study progresses, we hope you will be like the Bereans, and study your Bible to see if what we say is true (Acts 17:11).

 

 
 



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