I got this on email today:
I was wondering if you can tell me how tongues and prophecy are being used in your church. Right now I am in the open but cautious heading toward desiring. Thanks for you blog and sermons.
How can any charismatic blogger ignore an email request like that? Not this one! Clearly my bloggers block is now resolved. I will indeed in a series of posts explain how we use spiritual gifts in Jubilee and other similar churches.
So, here’s my plan, I will blog my way through 1 Corinthians 12. It will not be a complete exposition, instead I will focus on explaining how our understanding of this passage works out in practice in the churches that I have been so glad to be a part of. If I can find my Gordon Fee God’s Empowering presence in a box somewhere I will try and refer to that where I need some help.
I am open to others joining me on this blogging quest, including those whose views are somewhat different to my own. Lets, discuss and explore exactly what this portion of the bible has to say to us. I for one want my practice and understanding of spiritual gifts to be bible-driven. If I have something wrong, please show me from scripture and I will listen, and if you convince me I will change my mind.
So, to begin with verse 1 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed”
Given the context of this book verse 1 is nothing short of amazing. Paul might well have said “concerning spiritual gifts brothers, please just STOP IT!”. He didn’t. Despite all the excesses both morally and spiritually of the Corinthian church Paul is eager that the people learn about gifts.
The Corinthians seem to our first sight to have over-emphasized gifts. Paul on the other hand almost seems to imply that they haven’t emphasized them enough! Or at least that they are ignorant of them and their true nature and usefulness.
This would have been the perfect opportunity for him to have said something like “look, the gifts are really for me and my fellow Apostles, so whilst we aren’t around you might want to just hold off on all this tongues and prophecy stuff” or even “don’t you realize these things are only temporary, don’t get so attached to them”!
Instead Paul is eager that people reading his letter are not ignorant of spiritual gifts. He wants them to be “informed”, to understand.
A crucial question we should ask ourselves at the outset, and one that I realize is controversial is do these words apply to us? I would say without hesitation “of course they do!”. In my honest opinion it takes a peculiar view of the cannon of scripture to imply in any way that they don’t. The bible is inspired by God, and the letters are chosen by God to be preserved for us. What I would ask any cessationist who still reads my blog is this – “Why is this verse or passage in our bibles today if it isn’t to spur us on to pay attention to what follows with the intention that we experience it?”
It is an indictment on the church today that so many Christians both inside and outside of the charismatic wing of the church are ignorant of spiritual gifts and what the bible says about them.
Paul seems to think they are important for us to hear about. Why not join me on a journey and lets explore together exactly what this passage has to say to us today in the 21st Century?
O God, I cry to you that these few words, and the series that follows will bless everyone who reads it. I pray for the questioner who prompted this whole post and series of posts. May you gently draw him irresistibly to a position where he desires, yearns, longs for your gifts. Indeed may such a desire be true of all of us. Use this time to stir my own heart to more boldy desire and expect you to act through your Holy Spirit in my own life.
But more than that, o Lord, we pray that as we begin to experience these gifts of the Holy Spirit they will cause us not to fall in love with them, but rather to fall in love with YOU more. May your beauty and majesty and love capture our hearts all over again. Amen.