1st Cor 14:1 NIV “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1st Cor 14:7-11
There are other verses and passages speaking of the gifts of the Spirit. The argument among theologians is if and when these gifts have ceased. Are they still active nowadays? Some believe many of them, in fact, still do exist, but are manifested in less miraculous ways. For example, God does definitely still heal, but not instantaneously (or by the laying on of hands). I’m sorry, but as one who has seen it happen several times and has been given on occasion the actual gift itself, I must disagree. I also have to explain I have always been a very skeptical, analytical and cynical person. I continue to be so as a Christian. Now, I am also equipped with spiritual discernment, and I’m telling you, these things are real!
Understand, I am not speaking of gifts and talents that God has given all to have. I am only speaking of those gifts that are performed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Usually, it seems these gifts are manifested for the edification of the universal church. " So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church." 1 Cor 14:12 "What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification." 1 Cor 14:26 “4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:4-8 NIV
The other reason for spiritual gifts (such as healings and miracles) is to confirm that the message is true. Some say this is why the spiritual gifts have ceased – because now Satan has been given power to perform counterfeit miracles so people will believe his message. So what does that mean? God has just given up on trying to prove His power? Even though it’s true God can change a heart without a sign or wonder, He will also perform miracles while verifying them with the Truth of the Gospel or divine revelation. There is story after story after story of where God has led a person to a particular pastor or preacher to be taught the Gospel, received Christ and healed of their infirmities. I really feel for people, even Christians, who have never experienced or recognized such divine intervention.
So have the gifts ceased? Again, some theologians believe so based on 1st Corinthians 13:8-10, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away...For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” It is absolutely true love is the greatest gift to perfect. But it is thought that this verse is saying the gifts would pass away when the Bible was completed. Of course, this is foolish, because the Corinthians knew of no New Testament.
However, we need to read on to understand when “completeness comes”. Verse 12, “ For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Face to face with who? Jesus Christ at His coming! When shall we fully know? Jesus Christ at His coming! At Christ’s coming, there simply will be no more use for the spiritual gifts. There will be no more reason for the universal church of all believers to be edified. There will be no more non- believers to convince.
I believe more churches do not exercise the gifts of the Spirit is because they’re deathly afraid of appearing to be categorized as “charismatic” or “Pentecostal”, thus not to be taken seriously. (Unfortunately, their concern is not unfounded, for there is a lot of abuse of the gifts.) They’re concerned that somehow, if they hand over some of the control of their worship service to the Spirit, all heck will break loose, and things will become chaotic. While it is true that this would be an opportune time for the devil to squeak his way into the doors of the church with his counterfeit shenanigans, all it would take is a pastor or elder with discernment to gently (or sometimes forcefully) rebuke the demonic oppression. So what are these leaders of these churches afraid of? Are they actually willing to stifle the workings of the power of the Spirit so they do not create waves in their church community? Are they unsure of themselves or lack discernment in dealing with unholy spirits?
The sad thing is, there can also be a lack of discernment amidst the congregation. For example, let’s say in the middle of prayer time, a person stands and begins speaking in tongues. The church is not used to this sort of thing. A true discerning pastor or elder asks them to please sit and be quiet, because they are disrupting the service. Now this event suddenly becomes political and personal. Some believe the religious leader’s action was called for. However, others who believe in the speaking of tongues and do not have the discernment that they were inappropriate are completely offended, which causes dissention in the church. Some of them may eventually leave the membership. Churches have split over much dumber things than that. Unfortunately, this could be a reason why leaders of churches do not even want to begin to think about introducing the gifts of the Spirit.
The core of this sort of problem is simply the lack of faith:
1) The lack of faith of the church leaders in their own prayers that God will have complete control of their worship services and classes. (Hopefully they’re constantly praying for that and not depending on their own wisdom and prowess.) We can pray all we want for something and really not mean it!
2) The lack of faith of the church leaders that God will give them spiritual discernment and wisdom as to how to deal with spiritual problems occurring in their congregation. Again, this requires much prayer.
3) The lack of faith that results in the persistence of church leaders to insist upon “putting God inside a box” simply by deciding how the Holy Spirit should “behave” in their church. In my life I have seen the disturbing trend of less and less expression of praise during worship, which leads me to my next point...
4) The lack of faith of the congregation that their church will be more than just a place you go to on Sundays to sings some songs and hear a good sermon. What a great time to be zealous in praising the Trinity with an assembly of believers of like faith. There’s power in that! But if the church leaders do not condone such an atmosphere of freedom, the moral of the church can whither, and can spiritually die.
“...everything that is not done in faith is a sin.” Romans 14:23b Although Paul is speaking here of not causing a weaker brother or sister in Christ to stumble by eating meat in front of them, these words are a basic principle Christians must live by. This “faith” spoken of is not whatever we decide is correct to live by, but rather what the Bible tells us to live by. In fact, all of Romans chapter 14 is about not judging the things other Christians believe or letting them judge you (unless they are issues of salvation). “16 Do not therefore let what seems good to you be considered an evil thing [by someone else]. [In other words, do not give occasion for others to criticize that which is justifiable for you.] 17 [After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.18 He who serves Christ in this way is acceptable and pleasing to God and is approved by men.19 So let us then definitely aim for and eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual upbuilding (edification and development) of one another.” AMP
If only our churches would truly understand this about harmony in the face of disagreement. I believe that the gifts of the Spirit are still in operation today. But I certainly do not CONDEMN anyone who does not believe. This blog is simply making observational judgments about how I believe the Spirit is being quenched in churches today. Should a person go to their pastor and unload all their feelings on him about how they think the church needs a spiritual overhaul. Absolutely not. That’s not their place to show him. That’s God’s place. If the person feels convicted enough, there’s always prayer.
So, finally I ask you, why would God continue to give His Holy Spirit to those who will believe upon the Lord, but stop the power that was once available to them? Just by the very nature of the fact that the Spirit is a dynamo, a dunamis means that He is His own inherent, neverending source of power. Why would He shut off any of it available to humankind? It is my believe that our lack of faith has shut it off. Anything not done in faith is sin. And sin blocks the Holy Spirit from working in our lives. Thus, there is less evidence that He is working, which makes us more prone to believe that He has ceased.
Whatever you believe about this subject, study, examine and pray about it. If you doubt the gifts still exist as they did in the New Testament, then doubt it, and let it be. If you believe they do exist, chances are very good you have had personal experience(s) to prove it. In either case, you will have at least exercised your free will to make the decision you believe God has shown you to make.