Monday, May 16, 2011

Unwrapping the Spiritual Gifts

We've been beating this one around in house church every since we got it started.  Nobody wants to step out of bounds but I'm coming to the conclusion that Jesus pretty much took the boundaries away when He said that we'd do greater works because He went to the Father.  (John 14:12)  I haven't quite got my mind wrapped around what that means, but I'm ever-expanding.

I do have some thoughts though on how this is all supposed to work with the average ordinary person, and I may not have it all right, and you can agree or disagree, this is really to get you to think and ask God about it anyway.  I'll put some scripture down, tell you what I think and you can decide what it means to you.

So the main concentration of gift scriptures is in 1 Corinthians.  "Each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that." 1 Corinthians 1:7  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: (1 Cor. 12:7-10)
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all." 1 Cor.  12:7  "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills." 1 Cor. 12:11  "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Peter 4:10  Many people just look at those scriptures and say that we each get one gift.  Then there's a lockdown mentality that because I've operated in one particular gift before, that must be my one and only gift.  And if you are just looking to Paul for an explanation, then yeah, it kinda looks that way.  Here comes the monkey wrench.  Jesus said "And these signs shall follow those that believe: In my name they shall cast out demons: they shall speak with new tongues: They shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not harm them: They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover." Mark 16:17-18  Tongues and healing are on that list, they are also on the gift list.  Notice how it didn't say the super-special gifted believers would do these things.  It just said believers.  Why that would be me!  What I want to suggest is that we are living far below our potential as Christians.  Now since we want to use Jesus to interpret Paul, not the other way around, I think it's safe to say that we can all speak in tongues and lay hands on sick people if we want to.

Paul also said we could all prophesy. (1Cor. 14:31) and prophesying is just hearing from God and then telling somebody else what He said.  I think all denominations accept that we can hear God.  (My sheep hear My voice") so if you can hear God, you should be able to get words of knowledge, words of wisdom and prophecy.  And there are people who are very prolific with these things and I'm not one of them, but I do get revelation.  I don't know if that constitutes gifting, or just stepping into what I rightfully have as a follower of Jesus.  Frankly, I'm not that worried about it.  I've stopped assuming I can't do something.  I'm not tying myself to the idea that I can only operate in one gifting or no giftings. "He who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also." John 14:22  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons; freely you've received, freely give." Matt 10:8  The bible puts a lot more responsibility on Christians than most of us are willing to recognize.  Now don't get into a works mentality.  This stuff is not hard.  It should just be a natural extension of who you are in Christ.  The only hard part is that every time you operate in a gift, you are metaphorically getting out of the boat.  Peter didn't walk on the water, he walked on Jesus' word, and that is what this is all about.  As I was saying, there is no striving involved.  The NT commandments are 1. Love God and 2. Love your neighbor.  If you get after doing those two things, the rest all falls into place.  You can however, have all the love in the world, but if you never get out of the boat not much will happen.

The other attitude that's out there that I wanted to address is those that say "I don't seek after the gifts.  I seek the Giver."  Yup, that sounds very spiritually advanced and holier than me but also completely unscriptural.  "Covet earnestly the best gifts" (1 Cor 12:31)  "Wherefore brethren, covet to prophesy." (1 Cor. 14:39)  The one time in the bible where we're supposed to covet!  And do you know why we're supposed to covet?  Because the gifts aren't for you silly, they're to help you to help other people!  This kind of coveting should come out of love for others and if you read further, Paul goes into all that.  What it comes down to, is if you love someone who's sick, you're gonna wanna lay hands on them and see them get healed.  And since prophesy is for edification, exhortation and comfort, (1 Cor. 14:3) if you love someone who's been beaten down by life, you're gonna want to be able to prophesy to them.  The more love you have for people, the more you're gonna be coveting.  Knock yourself out!  But don't sell God short and don't sell yourself short.  He's a big God.  I figure if He can use a donkey, He can use me.

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