Stumbling Saint

Don Spivey Church

Spiritual Gifts and the Holy Spirit in the Church

Every Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit and gifted in some fashion for the glory of God and the benefit of the church. There are obvious gifts like teaching, preaching, serving, hospitality, etc. However, this question is most likely referring to the more charismatic gifts. I will briefly address those gifts. Prophecy is the reporting of something that God has laid on your heart or brought to your mind. At no time will prophecy contradict Scripture. New Testament prophets did not speak with authority equal to Scripture; neither do they today. There were times in the book of Acts where Paul ignored the prophecy spoken over him (Acts 21). If he had believed it to be equal to the words of God, he would have never disobeyed it. I believe that teaching is the interpretation and application of the word of God and prophecy is the report of something that God spontaneously brings to mind. This has happened to me in the middle of my preaching. I have in the past stopped in the midst of the message and said something like, “I didn’t plan on saying this, but…” In that moment God has suddenly brought something to mind that I believe needs to be said for the benefit of the church and the glory of God. Many have experienced this in their prayer life too. Most Christians at some point would say that they felt impressed by God to pray for a certain situation or person. That is an act of prophecy. Ultimately, God’s word, revealed in Scripture, is the lamp to our feet and the light to our path. I would caution the church to approach the use of prophecy very carefully and subject what is being said to the authority of Scripture. There may be appropriate times where individuals in the church can exercise the gift of prophecy. These times will most likely be in smaller groups and one-on-one conversations.

The question may arise about miracles and healings too. God can and does perform miracles. The Greek word for miracle can be translated as powers. Anytime we pray and ask God to move in a situation; we are asking for a miracle. You may pray that God would fix your marriage or protect your children or open the door for the Gospel to be preached, all of those are works of power, a miracle. By definition, healing would fall into the mighty working of God. There is evidence throughout Scripture that God heals. I have on occasion, while observing the Lord’s Supper, asked for those who were ill to come to the front to be prayed over. At that time, I have invited the elders of the church to join me up front to pray for the sick. Praying for the sick what James asked us to do.

Another question comes regarding the gift of tongues. The Greek word for tongues can be translated as a physical tongue and as an actual language. There is some debate as to the use of tongues in the modern day church. Clearly, Scripture teaches that it is not to become chaotic and that no more than three people are to speak and only one at a time. It has been my personal experience that this gift is highly abused and overly emotional. Nowhere in Scripture do we see people out of control or ecstatic in the practice of this gift. They are under control and very self-aware of what they are doing. For example in Acts 2, the Apostles were able to stop speaking in other languages in order that Peter might preach the Gospel to the people. I am not a fan of this gift being practiced in a public worship service because of its misunderstanding and high propensity for abuse. I am, however, open to the idea of it being practiced in private and or smaller groups.

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