Disclaimer: This post is about my personal journey to live out a spine-tingling spiritual life. I’ve diligently searched scripture regarding spiritual gifts. I’ve made a determination of belief based on what was written in the Bible and not on what is or is not happening in our world today.
Cessation vs Continuation
Depending on what church you attend probably determines your belief about spiritual gifts. If you attend a cessation church, you might believe that some, if not all spiritual gifts have ceased. You would say that tongues, healings, and miracles were for the establishment of the early church and are no longer needed. However, if you attend a continuation church, you most likely believe all the gifts are active, desperately needed, and still given by the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ.
Now, I’m a bit more complicated.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church. My daddy was the Youth Pastor and I was there with my family at every service. My church didn’t preach sermons on the gifts of the Spirit. I grew up believing that people who spoke in tongues were of the devil. I can remember driving by the Assembly of God church in our town and making fun of the “devil worshipers.” The stupid things we did as teenagers!
As a young adult, I left my Christian upbringing and went out to discover the world. What I found was a bottomless pit of despair and sorrow. You can read the sordid details on my page, My Story.
In 1985, I rediscovered my spiritual roots and invited Jesus back into my life. However, the Christian who helped me find my way back to God attended a continuation or Pentecostal church. He came for dinner a lot so we could discuss the Bible and inevitably, the subject of spiritual gifts came up. I was horrified to learn he spoke in tongues. I promptly said he needed to kick the devil out and vehemently argued against it. This went on for weeks until one night he told me to go read the book of Acts and ask God to show me whatever I needed to see. That night I did just that. I hadn’t read this particular book of the Bible, but afterward, I remember being really upset that I’d never heard this stuff before. Where did this come from? Has this book always been in the Bible?
I started attending church with my friend and discovered a spiritual life I never knew existed. Soon after, I was what some refer to as baptized with the Holy Spirit and I was given a prayer language. I’m able to pray in a language I don’t understand. In 1 Corinthians 14:2, Paul says this isn’t for speaking to men, but to God. “Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.” And I have to say, it’s pretty awesome! Whenever I don’t know how to pray, I pray in my spirit language.
I prefer to just be a Christ-follower, but if I must wear a denominational label, I decided to be a Bapticostal, one who is Baptist and Pentecostal. I don’t regret my upbringing. It taught me a lot of God’s Word about the basic tenants of the faith, about God the Father, salvation through Jesus, water baptism, and heaven and hell. I learned many of the stories scattered throughout the Bible. But the Pentecostal church brought me to an understanding of the third person of the Trinity – God’s Spirit and all that the Spirit enables us to do. I’ve witnessed miracles of healing on several occasions, for me personally, my daughter, and in others. Christians have given me words from God that only He could have said regarding situations in my life. The Holy Spirit has been alive and active in my life and ministry for over 30 years.
More, I Want More!
Fast forward to 2017 where I found myself rusty at defending spiritual gifts. I took a journey back through Jesus’ words and specifically studied 1 Corinthians 12 through 14, where the Apostle Paul teaches the early church what spiritual gifts are and how to use them properly. His teaching was clear. Spiritual gifts should be in operation today. A hunger began growing in my spirit to see God’s power restored to His body so that more people are saved, healed, and delivered.
Revival: God Pouring Himself Out On His People
I’ve read stories of past awakenings like the Welsh Revival in 1904 and Azuza Street that started in 1906 and lasted 9 years. One can’t read about the events that took place and not hunger to see it happen in our day. Over 100,000 people were saved during the Wales revival that lasted less than a year. Miracles of healing and salvation took place at Azuza at a rate we haven’t seen in America during my lifetime. Many other historical revivals have occurred with much the same happenings.
What Does The Bible Say
Okay, these are recorded in our history, but is it biblical? Did these things happen in the New Testament church? Yes, they did! You don’t have to read very far in the Book of Acts to find tongues, miracles of healing, demons cast out, and thousands getting saved. It is the same throughout Paul’s ministry. I cannot find one verse to indicate these things stopped in the New Testament.
Some use 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, which says tongues, prophecy, and knowledge will pass away when perfection comes because we will be able to see face to face. Jesus is the only perfection that has a face and He has not returned yet. I don’t think anyone would say knowledge has passed away either; therefore, all the gifts are still in operation until Jesus comes back. Jesus himself said we would do these things and even greater things than He did because He was going to His Father and would send the Holy Spirit to live in us (John 14). This brings us back to 1 Corinthians.
Spiritual Gifts, Services, and Workings
I don’t have room in this article to include the entire passage, so if you will indulge me, allow me to paraphrase. Please read 1 Corinthians 12 through 14 for yourself.
The Holy Spirit gives the following to each believer as He determines for the common good. These include:
- Miraculous powers
- Distinguishing between spirits
- Different kinds of tongues
- Interpretation of tongues
- Workers of miracles
- Gifts of healing
- Ability to help others
- Speaking in different kinds of tongues.
God’s Arrangement And Order
God’s Spirit gives all these to the body of Christ in order for us to fulfill the great command to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Paul continues on in 12:12-26 to explain how a body is one unit, but made up of many parts and so it is with Christ. Each of us are a part of Christ’s body through one Spirit who empowers us with supernatural abilities. We can’t tell any part we don’t need you or pick and choose which parts we’re comfortable keeping. Verse 18 says:
But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
Chapter 13 tells us we must live out our part in love for without love we gain nothing. Chapter 14 says following the way of love, we are to eagerly desire spiritual gifts and then details how to use these gifts, especially when we’re gathered together in church.
Christ’s Body Is Handicapped
I’m not seeing a lot of this in our churches today and yes, there have been abuses and counterfeits, which has given spiritual gifts a bad name. It make sense that the devil would attack the very thing that scares him the most, the work of the Holy Spirit. He can’t do anything about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, but He can try to defame the One who has been sent in Jesus’ place. When I asked why we aren’t seeing more people saved, healed, and delivered, God said, “My body is handicapped. It’s cutting off the parts it doesn’t think are needed.”
The body of Christ needs every spiritual gift, service, and working! The uncomfortable or controversial parts should not be cut off. The Baptists can’t say to the Pentecostals you aren’t needed and vice versa. I can’t tell administrators they are not needed in the kingdom just because I’m not administrative. God arranged every part as He wanted them to be. He sent His Holy Spirit to give the gifts He knew we needed. It’s up to us to desire those gifts and use them in a proper way.
Power Can Be Restored
God wants to reattach these spiritual gifts to His body. America won’t repent or the lost be won for Christ until His body is whole and powerfully operating, so will you join with me? Will you seek God’s mercy and favor with me to see an awakening come to our churches, families, and world? God’s will is not at stake. He will accomplish what He has said, but we must choose to play our part to its fullest. We can go along as we are now, limping and handicapped or we can desire spiritual gifts and move out in power through the work of the Holy Spirit. God can be glorified and Jesus proclaimed in our lives and in the world around us!!
Until next time,
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