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Monday, October 12, 2009

(27) Spiritual Gifts: an overview

Spiritual Gifts is a topic that many people do not understand. Some people do not understand because they have never heard of them, although this would be rare. Some do not understand because they belong to a church that does not talk about them or use them. Some do not understand because even though thy may know about them they have never taken the time out to study them. And then there are some who misinterpret the meaning behind them and therefore are confused about them. Before we get into it here are the results from last month's poll: Do you believe in Spiritual Gifts? Each one will be discussed below the results.
  • 48% said, yes there are spiritual gifts and believe in all of them. This is saying that since they are listed in the Bible then the gifts must be real. Most who answered yes to this would also say that all of them are available to the church today.
  • 29% said, yes there are spiritual gifts but some are no longer around.These people say that certain gifts have ceased and are no longer available or needed for the church. The three that they will say is prophecy, tongues, and knowledge.
  • 16% said, yes there are spiritual gifts but they were skeptical about some of them. These people want to believe in them completely but perhaps have seen or have not seen the evidence of them to be either fake or blown out of proportion, e.g.; speaking in tongues.
  • 6% said, yes there are spiritual gifts but they are not supernatural only talents given to us. These people are saying that the word gift and talent are the same thing. using your naturally given talent is the gift that God gave you.
  • 0% said, no there are not any spiritual gifts, there are no such things. This speaks for itself. These people do not believe in any supernatural gift for Christians, or do not believe in God.
The good news is that everyone who voted on the poll believe in them one way or another but as you can see there is a diverse way of looking at them. Some people though have a hard time with all of them being around today or are skeptical of certain ones. Why would some people not believe in them? Because they have misinterpreted certain pieces of scripture. The first thing that many will get confused with is that they use gifts of the Spirit and gift of the Spirit interchangeably or will not know there is a difference. Once you have accepted Jesus Christ you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which means you now have access to His guidance and intercession. The gifts of the Spirit are special offerings from the Holy Spirit to each of us to enhance our worship and service. And the one scripture that many will use to decide that some gifts, if not all of them, are no longer around is 1 Corinthians 13:8
  • Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
And they use this as unwavering proof of their viewpoint. First of all, the wording here is not "disappear forever". The wording here is "cease" and "be stilled". This perhaps should best be interpreted as a temporary quietness. Some may say that is adding to scripture. Actually it is putting it in better light, not adding. They fail to see that what they are doing is subtracting from scripture thereby negating some of the promises that God has given to His people. What promises? Take a look at 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
  • 1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.
  • 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.
  • 3 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.
  • 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
  • 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
  • 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
  • 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
  • 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,
  • 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,
  • 10 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.
  • 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
This passage is just before the one mentioned that people use to discredit certain gifts. So it is funny how people will skip over this part and rush right to chapter 13. Paul is stressing some very important issues on gifts in chapter 11. He first mentions that he does not want anyone to be ignorant about the gifts. The Corinthians were apparently very gifted in this area, no pun intended. They had access to all the gifts but were not using them the way they should and had not been living the lives they were called to live, as can be seen in chapter 1. Paul says that to each (Christian) is given a gift they can use for serving God. Not only a gift given but a manifestation of a gift. Which means we not only get a small amount, we get whatever we can handle. And some people can handle a lot while some can only handle a little. That is why Romans 12:3 says:
  • For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
We all have a measure of faith. Some of us can move mountains, some of us would be scared to even try. God knows this and will use us in the way we can handle it. If you notice Romans 12 coincides with these passages in Corinthians almost perfectly. They both talk about the Church being a body. They both talk about gifts being used and have a list of some of them. They both mention though that love is more important. And this is what the Corinthians were missing. This is why Paul writes to them and says that you may have all of these gifts but without love you are nothing. Love is forever. These gifts are not forever. But does that mean they will cease? No. People will now use the second verse of misinterpretation to use as proof of gifts disappearing. They use 1 Corinthians 12:9-10
  • 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
  • 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
What is the perfect? Those who say gifts will disappear will say it is the written word of God-the Bible. Once the Bible had been completed then there would be no more needs for the gifts, or at least some of them. But is that what the "perfect" really is? Perhaps not.

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