Blogtext. Have the spiritual gifts come to an end?

 ”The end of spiritual gifts in the Church of Christ”

Has that really come?

Few things excite such overall ’hot under the collar’ discussions as the issue of the Gifts of The Spirit in the Church. It should be noticed at the outset that nothing causes the love of God to be lost in the fray of debate as this kind of battle. The first victim is the Love of God which is poured out by the Spirit into our hearts. And that long before we even can speak of the gifts, let alone apply them. And the central portion of the apostolic teaching on the gifts (1 Cor 12-14) is therefore gutted before it is even studied. If the maintaining of the gifts is upheld as opposed to the Unity of the Spirit in the bonds of love then it is surely condemned.

If the adamant claim of the cessation of the Gifts is made in the most characteristic manner then the very love that is claimed to be the cause of the disappearing of the gifts, (the perfect comes in love so the gifts are no more) shows that the love is far from perfected. Nay it has died. The fact that so many churches fear the Charismatic Gifts goes a long way to show that Love has not taken the place of the gifts. Love casts out fear, it does not produce it. It also betrays a grave misunderstanding of the meaning of ’gifts of grace’ in the scriptures.

Why do both sides of the debate sacrifice love in order to maintain their claims? Having partaken of the heated debate for five decades I am totally sure that neither side is right. Partly because of the way love is sacrificed. Partly because the actual written Word is nullified. Partly because of the way that both sides extinguish the Spirit. 

The M
aintainers (some call them Continuators) claim not only to have the access to the gifts, but do it along lines unknown to the Apostle. Their very refusal to obey the instructions as to how the gifts are to be used betrays eloquently that they have not received the gifts from the HOLY Spirit at all. Because the gifts given by Him are all hedged about with specific instructions of how to use them. If those are not obeyed then the Spirit Himself is left standing and is shamed through the way His gifts are abused. The fact that the gifts have been copiously abused is undeniable. And it has done unimaginable damage to not only the Church but to the Name of Christ which is inveigled to be the guarantor of the spirituality of the ’gifting’. Nothing worse can happen to a gift than that it is used against the exact instructions of the Giver of that same. And when the gift hides the Giver things are really off course.

Sporting those spectacular gifts in a wrong manner is addressed by the Apostle: ” We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart.”” For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you.”

Already here there is a first obvious reason to raise alarm. If any gifts are used in a manner that shows pride or boasting then it is not the work of the Spirit. Pride is the evidence of the workings of the flesh. In fact: whoever is proud of himself or of his ’gifts’ is way out of love. ”Love is not proud.”
But pride is as easily seen in those who deny the gifts, they pride themselves of a ’correct’ theology. No less here: Love is gone.

It is to be noted that no other church has such lavish fullness of gifts as the Church in Corinth while at the same time no other church is shown to be so carnal as this one. It is the very wrong use of the Spiritual gifts in the hands of carnal and immature people that draws the hardest criticism and corrective measures from the Apostle. Some therefore claim that all the gifts mentioned belong to the immature stage of the church, but only a moments reflection shows the folly of that. But it remains true that immature abuse brings them into disrepute. Far from being a sign of immaturity to have the gifts, we are made aware that only the mature know how to use them.  And it is quite possible that the Enemy will add momentum to an excess of and in a certain gift in order to discredit it for generations to come.

Gifts and the Giver

Unless we take a look at the entire sequence of ’gifting’ we will most likely miss the place of where the Spiritual gifts come in. They are not a matter of ’Christ AND the gifts’ as if they could be treated apart from Christ. Here is the ’daisy chain of gifts’ according to the scriptures.

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable/indescribable Gift
”He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us
 all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? ”
”For God so loved the world that he 
gave his only begotten son.”
”The Father loveth the Son, and hath 
given all things into his hand. ”
”And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were 
given unto him of my Father. ”
”As thou hast 
given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. ”
”For I have given
 unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. ”
”And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast 
given me, that they may be one, as we are. ”

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. ”Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. ”
”Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord 
added to the church daily such as should be saved. ”
”And believers were the more 
added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.”

For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. ”
”I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye 
present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. ”
”For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; ”

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

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:

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”

”Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”

If..not..A more excellent way

At this point Paul puts his foot down about the apparent wrongdoings of the Church in Corinth. It had separated the exercise of the gifts from the primary work of the Spirit in pouring out the love of God in our hearts. The rampant immaturity which caused him to despair as to the food they were able to eat is clear . ”I could not talk to you as to mature people. You fight about everything, disagree on most and even have divided up Christ among yourselves.”

Abuse of the gifts is naturally caused by not discerning 1.) by whom the gifts are given, 2.) for what purpose the gifts are and 3.) for whom and how they are to be used. So what is the overall perspective of the gifts of God?

God has given his Son as a gift to the world. To Him God gives those who will be saved. These he adds to both the Head of the body and to the body. As they are His gifts to the body the body must receive, recognize and accept them as gifts to the body. When they have been built into the body then they will work works beforehand prepared by God, with the whole body of believers and for that work Christ will give gifts.

First He gives the needed gifts of leadership: On the one hand for the serving in the natural realm since the church is still in the world even if not of it. We see them as the ’servants’ or deacons in Acts 6. The other leadership entity is a plural one with one core function. ”The ministry of the Word and prayer” So Christ equips the local church with all the needed gifts for the five fold ministry. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. These all have one specified common task: to equip the saints for their work. Notice in 1 Cor 12:28 that the leadership gifts are listed among some functions of the whole body: ”And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”

Cessationists will have you believe that the only gifts available today are ”preachers” (Which are not even in the list) and governments/administrators and ’helps’, like foodbanks for the poor and homeless. And the performing arts such as Music play a very dominant role in many places. Emphasis: performing arts! Nothing is so pleasant to the fleshly than to be seen and heard. Many a beautiful voice has waylaid the heart of the one thus gifted.

Maintainers will have you separate out some of these gifts and elevate them above all the others.
They will allow ’prophets’ to overrule the teachers, allow tongues to be rampant without interpretation, claim healing business on demand, and turn the gifts of service into big business. They often claim that unless you speak in tongues you are not a child of God, or not baptized in the Spirit.
 They will claim that if you are not healed by prayer or ’miracle workers’ it is because you have too little faith. The list is endless. Particularly noticeable is the way in which the very words of Jesus are ignored: ”Think not that you will be heard on account of your many words.”

Second: Christ distributes various gifts in order for that work to be done in the Spirit not in the flesh. The ministry of the Church according to the NT is the concern of the entire body and every member of it contributing to the upbuilding of the whole, so that the Christ who left behind his earthly frame now takes upon himself our humanity so that as He was then in the world, so are we.

The gifts are then gifts given to a cohesive body were each member holds fast to both the Head and the body. Gifts are not given to limbs on the lam. The gifts given are related to real needs of the outworking of grace in all sorts of services. I doubt whether the passages in either Romans or Corinthians are exhaustive. And I note that there is only one kind of classification. Those which serve the greatest number of people seem to be more valuable. The gift of prophecy is desired for the most, not endless messages from one, but the instructed voices of the many. The faith in Christ the Anointed one, leads the Apostles to say that because we are partakers of Him, we also share in the anointing. This anointing teaches us all and makes all co-responsible for sharing the word of God in our time. To edify the whole Church is done by what is known as prophesying. That is why the gift of tongues is hedged with the reference to the personal upbuilding which is useless to the body unless it is interpreted. Individual upbuilding, however is as important as firing the bricks before attempting to put them into the wall.

Spiritual and supernatural

The Church is not primarily ’supernatural’ but ’spiritual’. She is not ever merely a commonplace human assembly of charitable human ingenuity. She is set apart to show forth the mighty deeds of God. She dare not be acceptable to the world because that is enmity with God. Some of the gifts are very much alike ordinary things in the world. Motivations may differ, but the working of feeding the hungry is the same irrespective of whose hands do the distribution. But the ’charismatic’ gifts are not normal, they are supernatural. They set the Church apart and show it to be a foretaste of the Kingdom to come. Remove them and the Church becomes commonplace. The denial of the gifts is part and parcel of denying also the other things in scripture that do not fit the thinking of fallen man. The virgin Birth, the raising of the dead, the walking on water, turning it to wine, etc etc.

Now who would have that goal as his prime target? Who will do everything he can to push mankind back into the squalor of the fallen world? Who will do his utmost to prevent mankind from seeing Christ and him lifted up? Who will cast doubts on every word God ever said? Who gains most from ruining the tools of the Church?

So when do the gifts become unavailable? Or even remain in counterfeit form only?

Cessationists will adamantly tell you that some of these gifts have ceased. By their ingenuity and on very arbitrary grounds, they have managed to extricate some from the rest and now tell us that these ceased with the apostles. The odd thing is that none of the apostles were in on that plot. None of the apostles considered that the gifts would no longer be needed as long as there were people to be reached with the gospel. The gifts were given to augment and enhance the work of proclamation of the Kingdom of God and they were needed for the upbuilding of the church. None of those were ’once and for all’. Even today we have several hundreds of groups of ’tongues and nations’ that are as yet virtually unreached. The church was not built up once and then called to rest on it’s laurels as a sort of ’pater noster’ selfgoing concern. A sort of perpetuum mobile..! It does not. The faith of the fathers is not transmitted by the Church as an organisation from one generation to the next. Neither does it ’contaminate’ the new generation by infusion or immersion. It is reborn in every age and generation. In every generation men and women ’must be born again.’ The faith of the Father’s died with them and is not inherited by reading about what they believed. Only if personally appropriated will the faith of the Father’s faith be of any use. But then it is not their faith but our own. Every man dies for his own sin, and lives by his own faith alone. William Tyndale and thousands of others were burned at the stake for insisting on that.

The organisation of the christian religion will not be given spiritual gifts, because they are given by the head of the Church, the living Christ to his living organism. The Body of believers. No greater fallacy can there be than to equate the physical membership of the Christian organisation with the living body of Christ. The organisation runs perfectly well without the spiritual gifts. In fact organisation is the very enemy of the ’surprising’ , ’the spontaneous’ the ’unexpected’, and nobody has yet managed to schedule a miracle. Protocol and control are uncannily close to each other. You cannot tame the wind.

The body of Christ is dead without the gifts of God. Fighting over gifts is a sure sign that the church is still living in the flesh. 

Spiritual discernment

At the feast of remembrance we are told that it is vital for the right use of the bread and the wine that the partaker can distinguish between the natural and the spiritual. To be incapable of discerning the difference is devastating. 
To confuse organisation and organism is a monumental fault. To equate the modern church pattern of a basically ’sitting and listening’ congregation, whose major and almost only contribution is their offering and their joining in the singing and signing up for any number of programmed points of jobs needed, with the fellowship of those who ’when you come together, you each have something to bring’ is surely the rankest lack of discernment possible.

What has the day of Pentecost brought to the fore? How did it differ from the mosaic order of worship? They who were added to both Christ and to each other immediately took upon themselves the four pointed compass of the heart of God: ”The teaching of the apostles. The fellowship with one another, the breaking of bread, and the prayers.” ”And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all people, and the Lord adding to them day by day those who were being saved.”

Koinonia”, Fellowship is the body life where every individual is counted as valuable and is counted for the gift that they are before they minister in the gift that they are given by the sovereign decision of the Spirit. They may seek gifts for service if they serve. There are no gifts given for people sitting still and letting the paid staff do the work for them. Joining a church is becoming and being recognized as a gift that is received by the church. The only gift needed in the average church today is what is known as ’good sitting cushion’ and ears that enjoy hourlong monologues. And O, lest I forget, a voice for singing and a generous wallet. None of them classify as spiritual gifts except possibly, ’giving with liberality’.

The gifting of the Spirit is then done as we are ’built in’and find our place in the holy spiritual building ’not made with hands.’ When we are newborn and come into the church we ought to be trained and nurtured and encouraged to grow in our discipline of being saints. The Spirit will give gifts to those who are received as such, often by the laying on of hands and the public acknowledgement of the gift as it is seen by the leadership. But then the space to serve with that gift must also be made by the same leadership. Or the gift will be left to almost die and needs rekindling if it is to be useful. Paul addresses this danger to Timothy. A gift unwanted soon dies in lethargy.

Normally people who come to a church are already people familiar with gifts. But usually the ’new’ church has a set, immovable, unchanging program and the new-comers are not expected to augment and enhance the Church with their gifts, but to slot in on some well-known and well-worn path which is so established that it cannot be questioned. So people come and go. Their gifts unrecognized, their service to the whole body simply not in demand. They come. And they go. They sometimes do well to do so. But the fellowship left behind may never know what it has lost. But if it wonders why it is standing in the same spot it might ask: what have we seen pass us by? Jesus comes to many a church in the middle of the night, his head full of the dew of night, but the bride is tardy and slow to respond to his visitation and by the time she has made herself ready for his blessed appearance, he has passed her by. (Song of Solomon 5:2-8)

Note the paradox: The gifts of the Spirit are given in response to the need that is met by the Church as it ministers to the ones that are to be saved. So it is the need at the forefront of the life of the Church that determine which gifts are called for, asked for and given. At the same time it cannot be denied that the gifts are given ’to each one according to the will of the Spirit.” Sounding as if the gifts are parcelled out to individuals. Thy are not fixed but still given.

The gift of teaching

Crucial to any church is the teaching done. Whatever cessationists think of the gifts, this one has never been assorted into the theological trash can used for the more charismatic ones. In many churches Teaching/Preaching is in fact all that is left. The two are not the same. Preaching is proclamation of the truth often in the interaction with non believers as when Peter stands up on the day of Pentecost , or the next time in defense of the healing of the lame man, or when Stephen proclaims the gospel to the Sanhedrin. Teaching is what Paul and the others did in the assembly of the believers and it included the ’whole counsel of God’ for the whole church at all times. It was done from house to house or down by the river or in the courtyard of a temple, wherever people could meet. It taught what is befitting to sound doctrine. And it produces what it teaches as the Word becomes flesh. Only the Word in cooperation with the Spirit creates spiritual reality. Mere human wisdom produces only wiser sinners. Teaching for the sake of informing is not spiritual teaching at all. So here as in all other teaching disciplines: what you teach is what you get! So look at what you have got, that will tell you the quality of what you teach.

And here is the second reason why the gifts disappear. What is never taught and ever described or even minimised, downplayed and diminished with derogatory language can never bear fruit. Simple logic. A Church that has had no teaching on either the Holy Spirit or on all that the Spirit does has no chance of being ’surprised by joy’. (Because joy is a fruit of the Spirit). It is most common that were the gifts are denied or played down the fruit is also shriveled on the tree.

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is badly misapprehended in even in some of the most charismatic Churches. Whereas it is largly ignored in the majorityof Lutheran Anglican and Reformed churches, it is made too much of in the opposite camp. The Spirit is there separated from God the Father and Christ the Son. Ignoring what the whole ministry of the Spirit is according to the Lord in John 14-17 claims are made for the Spirit which are totally different from what the word says. So called spiritual utterances are off set against the Written word and are allowed to superceed the Written word. Typical is the use of the Bible as if it were a children's box of lego. Picking whatever piece that falls on the eye, allows whole houses of false doctrines to be made from a grain of truth. An existential relationship is established between the written word and the believer. ”What it means to me is what it must only mean”. Tomorrow that same scripture wrested free from its Spirit given context can mean something entirely different. Je nachdem! As you wish! It is a pandemic in many charismatic circles, The Holy Spirit is not considered as a Person in the Godhead, but as some sort of resource which we can tap into at will. The teaching is spread that we may have more or less of the Spirit as if it was a matter of cutting off a piece of cloth from a roll of textiles, to be cut off a bit more if the need arises. Nothing will quicker quench the Spirit than idolizing a false image instead of the Spirit. Who only has one object in mind: the glorification of Christ.

What happens to the understanding of the Godhead if Father and Son never change but the Spirit has changed?

No doctrine is also false doctrine.

If you never teach the doctrine the result is the same as if you falsify the doctrine. All you have left is a vacuum. As soon as the spirit leaves a house, other spirits are said to look for the clean swept house, and they will be worse than the previous incumbent. That is the teaching in one of the events where Jesus casts out a demon by the Spirit. What takes the place of the Spirit if it has been quenched and extinguished? The flesh or the perversions of the spiritual. As in the case of Corinth. A totally ’uncharismatic’ church which prides itself of it’s intellectual, predictable and totally ’thisworldly’ commonplace sanity, is in essence no more a spiritual temple than a charismaniac madhouse where every gift of God is tarnished by refusal to act out the instructions given to safeguard the gifts. 

Most cessasionists have never experienced the proper use of the Gifts and have therefore been shooed away from the gifts by the deceiver and liar called ’the opposer of the brethren’ the Satan. I maintain that the very fact of the counterfeits should lead to look for the real rather than write it off as rubbish.

Who has castrated the Holy Spirit?

The cessationist treatment of chapters 12-14 in 1 Corinthians is a marvel to behold. The most un-natural and acrobatic moves are done in order to claim assurance that the ”more charismatic” have gone with the apostles. The very placing of ch 13 between the two key portions about the gifts of the Spirit casts grave doubt on the attempt. ”When the perfect has come, they say, the gifts of speaking in tongues, the gift of prophecy will cease.” Blithely passing over the rest of what is listed: having all knowledge, having faith hat moves mountains, all acts of self-sacrificial martyrdom for the next two thousand years, all insight in the mystery of salvation. Gone ! Poof! Do they actually admit to no longer having any knowledge? Why did people die for their conviction that all of the Gifts of God where one and the same parcel of heavenly blessings and that nobody gets to pick and chose?

The perfect will not come on this side of the second coming. There is no perfection which has made a single gift obsolete or surplus to requirement. The nearest to perfection here are the gifts used in Love.

So we are asked to believe that the Holy Spirit opened up a generous bag of powerful goodies for the early church but once they had had their fill, the Spirit of God snapped the purse shut and left the rest of us for the next two thousand years with little but teaching ”line upon line and precept upon precept.” And no feedback is ever expected from the listeners. Main thing is words, words and more words. Call a moratorium on preaching and within a month the church falls apart. The Body would not, it would be ready to go on and admonish one another because every member is full of Goodness and Knowledge. They did not just sit through preaching, they have been taught to serve one another.

Or we are left to believe that He has left the church to a kind of very solemn and pious playacting out the events of the physical life of Christ in an never ending tableau of happenings long time ago. It is like a never-ending winter without ever reaching Christmas? Why did he come to earth in flesh?  So that He could take up our flesh and manifest Himself in the world through his new body. Why did he die on Calvary and rise again? So that all who believe in Him should die with him and rise to newness of life. Eternal life begins when? This is eternal life that they believe in the Father and Him whom He has sent!

For neither of these two things do you need the Gifts of the Spirit. And as for the enormous success of charismania: you only need highly excitable flesh with noumenal ambitions to act out various kinds of madness. The flesh is constantly at war with the Spirit. The flesh is constantly telling the spirit in man: ”I can do this, I can elevate myself to glory on my own. No need to die to self, no need to repent. No need to check the gifts by the written word. I can! They are my gifts, my tools to influence my surroundings, Mine Mine Mine.. If I say the word it will do what I command it to do.. ’ God cannot act without our words of faith’. I decide to enthrone God with my praises, He is helpless without me!” As the primary work of the Spirit is to bring men to repentance, the conspicuous absence of that work is a good indicator that neither does that Church recognize His other works. Religious frenzy was never in need of the sanctifying Spirit of God, nor does it ever ask for it.

What did I ask? Who counselled the Lord to stop giving his gifts? Who castrated the Spirit?

The silence of the Church?

If the gifts went on beyond the time of the apostles why do we not hear more of them?” That is a fair question. Well first of all, it is not true that the ’more charismatic’ gifts of healing, driving out demons, speaking in tongues disappeared. There is a vast difference between what is reported and what has happened. Wherever the official Church wrote the history for the whole Church there it made these gifts as defamed and as invisible as possible. The tools of chronicling the life of the ’accepted’ truth was very early handed over to the hierarchy. And those whom the hierarchy approved of. For the hierarchy the work of the Spirit has always been a problem. Those who walk in the Spirit have a rather laid back attitude to what the human powers tell them to believe. Leadership and hierarchy are soon confused. And the more ’worldly’ the Church is, the sooner does it ’become like all other nations’.

There were revivals or events for which only supernatural causes could be attributed, time and time again through history. Every revival was castigated by the un-revived as being ’enthusiastic’. The bearers of the revival fire were nearly always suppressed and maligned and vilified. And that very treatment brought about a very undesirable development. They isolated themselves out of fear and in attempts at self preservation and were radicalized by the very fires that were prepared for them. If you knew that you would be condemned whether you did nor did not, then little matters any more. They died in their faith. Read about wave after wave of so called heretics: more than a few were charismatic. But it is the conqueror who writes the history.

And those who live in the fullness have little time to write about it. Theology is written post factum and describes what happened as filtered through the eyes of the chronicler. Depending on who commissioned the text and for what purpose it was written will determine in what sort of light the events are to be understood. The art of lying by omission of what has not been understood is highly developed in the annals of the Church. What the author of the book does not like or does not know anything of will not be presented on it’s own terms at all.

Every move of the Spirit is an invitation to the flesh to usurp the work of the Spirit for fleshly ends. The Acts chapter 8 tells of a man who saw the laying on of hands and the transmission of the Holy Spirit to those Samaritans and therefore astutely and quickly drew the conclusion that this was a ’sleight of hand’ that fitted well into his arsenal of magic tricks to continue to be seen as ’a power of God.’ He attempts to buy the gift. The flesh attempting to better itself by graft and theft. He even went to baptism! ”Give me this authority as well so that whom ever I lay hands on will receive this marvellous power to heal, or to drive out demons with loud shouts. I will pay for it, anything you ask!”
Peter said: ” May your silver perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be bought for money.” There are a few thousand evil merchants all over the world who ’sell’ spiritual blessings. They are all charismaniacs’. Not charismatics.

A word of severe caution.

Although there is an awful lot of counterfeit ’spirituality’ about, there is also some genuine such. The Cessationists sweepingly call them all ”deceptions” or ”ruses” of Satan. I remind you however to be very very careful so as not to call a work done by Christ in the Spirit ’the work of Satan.’ It is the one unpardonable sin. And if you commit that you will never have any part of the Kingdom of God. Not even if you are a promoted doctor of Theology.

Experiential knowledge

I have been around for 54 plus years as a preacher of the gospel and as a Bible teacher. I have been in all sorts of churches, charismatic and utterly contrary to all of that. I have preached, counselled and worked with them all. I have spent months and years in ’Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship’, in Pentecostal churches, in Maranatha fellowships as well as in the Lutheran church. I have met and fellow shipped with charismatic Catholics and Non charismatic Baptists, with Reformed and Unreformed people ignorant of the entire work of the Spirit. I have been among more or less methodic Methodists and all sorts of presbyterian and episcopalean assemblies. I was ordained pastor in a totally non charismatic Baptist union. It had split off from a charismatic Baptist movement over the gifts of the Spirit. But I have never lived a day without the gifts of God. For over thirty years I walked in my own desert. But His protective hand was always over me.

I have some experience of the work of gifts of the Spirit. They always have had elements of total surprise and rarely have I asked for them. The need of the moment supplied the gift. I also have first hand knowledge of use and abuse of the Work of the Spirit. I subscribe to neither the Cessationst nor the Maintainer side of the matter. The truth, as always, is never in the extremes.

You see: if a theological issue causes the church to split then the split is in the flesh and not the Spirit. Splits may, as Paul says, be needed to show up who is righteous and who is not. But even so, Christ is not divisible. You can be justified by faith and still ignore the gifts of the Spirit. You can be a charismatic and still ignore the whole counsel of God. If salvation and deliverance from punishment is all the gospel means to us, then the other manifold gifts of God mean little to us.
But if we want to be part of what God has also spoken about, then there is only one answer.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

This charter can never be achieved without all the gifts of the Spirit.

To accomplish this, in every age, God gave the gifts, His Son, His people, His various gifts. They are part of a whole. Deny that and you are well under the way to serve another Christ.

The gifts of God are made known as to their existence and use by that which is written. But they are experiential and experimental in character. Reading about them is not the end of the matter. They are given by the living and Active Holy Spirit on behalf of Christ for the ministry of the body of Christ. So they are not given as objects of study while you ponder whether you should believe in them or not. They are given in response to the real need of serving God in the end times. If you have nothing but negative experiences of them, and therefore reject them, then you will never learn of their right use. Deny them and you will never know them. When the blind lead the blind..

And please do not continue to claim that you Love the Lord if you deny Him and all or some of His gifts. Christ and His Spirit are never divided. If the activities in what is known as the Church of Christ lacks the fruit of the Spirit then it is rather a matter of indifference whether the church claims spiritual gifts or not. If an opposition between fruit and gifts is artificially maintained then the Spirit has been grieved and the voice of the Spirit is silenced.

What if we have discovered that we are doing wrong to him who is the Lord of the Church by either way of fumbling His perfect gifts. The ones coming from above, yes from the the very Father of lights? What can possess the church to say ‘thanks, but no thanks to Him? Not the faith given to the saints once and for all.

Repent and seek the Lord while He may be found.  Should repentance be granted, then all is not lost, yet. Repentance is also one of the gifts of the Spirit.

Teddy Donobauer
January 2021


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