I was wondering about spiritual gifts. What part do the supernatural gifts (prophecy, tongues, interpretation, miracles, etc) play in the life of a person living in grace? Daniel
Thanks for writing and asking about this. :) As I read your question I couldn't help but notice how our contemporary versions of Christianity have caused us to overlook the most amazing supernatural realities of our life in Christ by reserving the claim of supernatural for certain gifts. This is not a rebuke, so please don't take it that way, because I have said and thought in the same terms for much of my life.
Do you realize that most of our perceptions about prophecy, tongues, interpretation, miracles, etc are based upon a letter written to a group of people who had fallen back into the comparison game where they were boasting as to who was more spiritual? Do you also realize that everything Paul wrote to them was a revealing of how these perceptions caused them to live according to the wisdom of the flesh and to mistreat one another under the pretense of spirituality? Oh, yeah! Even these gifts seem to have been USED in order to put one another down.
In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Paul uses three different ways to express what we call gifts: gifts, ministries, effects. Paul's point to them was that differences in how the Spirit works in the body had nothing to do with comparisons as to who was better than who, but was only concerned with the common good. Paul's whole emphasis was on unity because of the reality that we have all been made equal. The Corinthians had lost the sense of this in their everyday dealings with one another, and all they could show for it was factions, or cliques based on competitiveness. They had become the definition of what it is to be split.
Here we are 2000 years later still trying to get these supposedly more important supernatural gifts by following instructions that were really one long rebuke. Here we are reinterpreting Bible verses (even those from Acts) to give us something to shoot for that might give us the sense that God is really working in us (that is the desperate hope behind all this).
Okay, does God's Spirit work in believers in supernatural ways? Most definitely. But guess what? We can't see it because we're too stinking busy pursuing those things we esteem to be supernatural. Paul ended up telling the Corinthians the same thing, but we have fit it neatly into our modern understanding. Paul basically told them that they were overlooking the true spirituality because it was found in faith, hope, and love and that love was the greatest of all.
Why do we so automatically remove faith, hope, and love from the realm of the supernatural? Is it merely because of appearances? Do we think that love is so common that expressing love does not reveal Christ more than being able to speak in somebody else's language without learning it? Do we think that if someone gets temporarily healed that it is more supernatural than to witness REAL love coming from the thing that used to be empty and totally devoid of love?
My brother, the supernatural is happening all around us and yet we overlook almost ALL of it. You may discover a lot of things about those gifts but never, ever let the things that seem impressive overshadow the real work of God behind the scenes. For if we have not love ...
Read 1 Corinthians over again with this difference outlook:
For I determined to know nothing among you except Christ and Him crucified 1 Corinthians 2:2
If this reality flickers even once while you are considering the points Paul makes then you are missing EVERYTHING that he was saying in the whole letter and especially the specifics, like gifts.
I have witnessed over and again the amazing work of the Spirit in the lives of believers who have gathered together and the simple fact is that the work of the Spirit is the least obvious things to our perceptions. The miracle is in being aware of what God is really doing among us as member speaks to one another with a love and care that go beyond understanding. Words are only one form of expression, but they are so full of life when the confidence is there. As far as ministering to one another with our words we are only puffing ourselves up to seek for foreign languages from God. How is it that we use endless words and yet have no real heart to heart communication? Paul said it clearly, I'd rather use five understandable words otherwise I'm speaking mysteries only understood by God! And still we look for some kind of word from God totally oblivious that the words of life remain trapped behind our desperation that maybe God would give us a little bit of Himself.
Bro, I've seen words of life gushing from those who are so plain, so common, so ordinary, in this world. One of the most beautiful things I've heard from believers comes after they have just spoken the most incredible blessings, and yet will apologize that they could not express what they wanted to say!! You see, the reality is that the life of the Spirit of Christ within us expresses itself and most of the time we would totally overlook it if someone didn't stop and call attention to the miracle that had taken place.
The so-called miracles that impress our senses in our religious communities have little that could be considered of God. For we walk by faith and not by sight (another statement from Corinthians). My advice to you: forget the supernatural and simply find your confidence in Christ ... and you will realize how pathetic most of what the flesh considers supernatural really is. Christ in you IS supernatural.
I would love to hear your thoughts! :)
Hi Mr...um, Shovel%^), I'm Daniel, the guy that asked you a question on spiritual gifts. I was very interested with your response. I have only been introduced to the grace of God, this new way of living, for only a few months. I certainly don't want to argue with you, but I tell you this simply because I want to know more about this life of grace. I pray in tounges. That isn't bad, is it? Were you saying that we should seek the Giver instead of the gifts, because He still does manifest Himself in the ways spoken of in the Bible. I would like to hear your input on this. Thank you so much! Daniel
Were you saying that we should seek the Giver instead of the gifts
Yes, Daniel, well said. And I hope that in speaking to others, you speak to them of the Giver instead of a gift! :)
Hi Jim, You probably don't remember me, but I emailed you about spiritual gifts about four months ago. Your response, I recall, really surprised me, because for a while I had been going with "pentacostal" doctrines and theology. I thought that you would like to know, that I now really understand what you were telling me about. Jesus is the most awesome gift that we could ever have, and because of what He has done, we are as close to God, as accepted by God, and as loved by God as we are ever going to get. It's not a religious dream world, it's a reality! I've been reading books by Steve McVey (I found your web site through his), Bob George, Bill Gillham, Watchman Nee, etc, and it's amazing how awesome the truth is. I just wanted to tell you thank you for your response to that question I asked you, and thanks for letting God work through you to minister to people. Have a great Jesus-filled day! Daniel