Spiritual Gifts for this generation?

Spiritual gifts is a term that’s not easily understood by some in the church and especially those outside of the church. People often times get them mixed up and confused with the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Spiritual gifts are endowments given to us to edify the body of Christ, sometimes these gifts can be natural talents we’ve already possessed and the Lord increases our ability to use them for his glory. Other gifts may be things we could never imagined. However as we grow in our relationship with Christ we also begin to bear more fruit (Jn 15:1-8). The Fruits of the Spirit are a sign of our maturation, because as we grow in each successive fruit enhances and becomes more evident. This does not mean that they will always develop in exact order as an example; when you grow in a lifestyle of love, you have more joy, which allows you peace, leading to patience with others, showing kindness and goodness, proving your faithfulness to the Lord, which gives you a gentleness in dealing with others, and proving you have self control.

Now spiritual gifts are those things listed in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 (keeping in mind these are not exhaustive list). After a person has given their life over to the Lord, he blesses them by giving them at least one special talent that can be used for the building up of the body of Christ. Wayne Grudem in his book Systematic Theology gives a list of several great examples of how one classification can be broken down into smaller subsets (for examples look on pg 1020).

Concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit it is my understanding that we receive His presence at the time of our conversion. There is no “second blessing” there may be times when we are closer to the presence of the Lord being guided closer by the Spirit. Elwell states it this way, “In these references the Christian’s reception of the Holy Spirit is no longer the alternative to a water baptism of repentance, but at least its fitting analogue, more probably its supplement and fulfillment. Since for Judaism, for John, and for the apostolic church baptism by water was a rite of initiation into the people of God, the initial experience of the Spirit’s indwelling and enduement came to be called a “baptism in” or “with” the Holy Spirit.” (Elwell 1984,2001, 137)

According to 1 Corinthians 14 the gift of speaking in tongues consist of a man not speaking to men but to God and this usually will occur in a time of prayer and worship. It says that no one understands him but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. And for those who speak in tongues build up themselves. Seeing as how there are many gifts and none of us posses all of them, speaking in tongues is not necessarily the sign of the baptism of the Spirit. Elwell says, “In verses 29-30 it is clear that Paul denies the contention of the enthusiast that every on truly should speak in tongues: “ Are all apostles?… Do all speak in tongues?”” (Elwell 1984,2001, 1207)

Speaking in tongues is still valid today, but no longer as a way to lead people to the Lord (with the exception of some missionary work). Speaking in tongues should primarily be used as a private prayer language, although if someone feels they have the gift of tongues and chose to use it in corporate worship without an interrupter they are violating scripture (1 Cor 14:27-28). In reference to the prefect in verses 8-10 Paul is referring to the time when we shall be face to face with the Lord, because for now we live in an imperfect world.

Many cessationist and dispensationalist would say that the gift of speaking in tongues ceased with the apostles. If this were true then why would Paul speak about the gifts continuing until the “perfect comes”. Since we understand the perfect to be the time we see the Father “face to face”, so until the due time we possess these gifts he has given each to his own (including tongues). So whatever gift you have been given exercise it well that you may encourage the body Christ by doing your part.

 

Elwell, Water A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids,MI: BakerAcademic, 1984,2001.

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