Spiritual Gifts and the Lordship of Christ

Tom Schreiner: Spiritual gifts provide a fascinating topic of discussion.[1] Christians from different theological traditions have different opinions about the gifts. It is important to study what the Scriptures say, and it is important to understand the spiritual gifts, but we can have unity with brothers and sisters even if we are not on the same page regarding all the details of the gifts. However, there is one fundamental truth that we must affirm about the gifts, regardless of whether we hold a cessationist or continuationist view of the gifts as a whole: the lordship of Jesus Christ over spiritual gifts. Paul introduces the topic of spiritual gifts with the foundational truth of Jesus’ lordship. “Now concerning spiritual gifts: brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you used to be enticed and led astray by mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the

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Seven Principles for the Understanding and Exercise of Spiritual Gifts

Sam Storms: While much can and should be said about spiritual gifts, here are a few relevant observations or principles that I believe should guide our understanding and exercise of the charismata. (1) Every single spiritual gift, whether it be mercy, serving, giving, speaking in tongues, or prophecy, is a “manifestation of the Spirit” given “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). Therefore, every gift is by definition supernatural, since every gift is the enabling presence of the Spirit operating through us. As Paul says, although there are varieties of gifts, services, and activities, it is the “same Spirit” who “empowers them all in everyone” (1 Cor. 12:4-6). So, teaching is as supernatural as tongues; service is as supernatural as word of knowledge, and so on. (2) In light of the first point, we must acknowledge that a “gift” or “charism” of the Spirit is an impartation to enable and equip us to serve others. Nowhere in Scripture are gifts

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John Owen on the Four Main Functions of the Holy Spirit

John Owen: The chief and principal ends for which the Holy Spirit is promised and received may be reduced to these four heads:—(1.) Regeneration; (2.) Sanctification; (3.) Consolation; (4.) Edification. There are, indeed, very many distinct operations and distributions of the Spirit, as I have in part already discovered, and shall yet farther go over them in particular instances; but they may be reduced unto these general heads, or at least they will suffice to exemplify the different manner and ends of the receiving of the Spirit. And this is the plain order and method of these things, as the Scripture both plainly and plentifully testifies: — (1.) He is promised and received as to the work of regeneration unto the elect; (2.) As to the work of sanctification unto the regenerate; (3.) As to the work of consolation unto the sanctified; and, (4.) As unto gifts for edification unto professors, according to his sovereign will and pleasure. (HT: The

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10 Reasons to Desire All the Spiritual Gifts

By Bryan DeWire, Desiring God blog: Some might tell you not to really desire all the spiritual gifts. But when you say that, it does not seem to do justice to what 1 Corinthians 12–14 really says. The apostle bookends his famous chapter on love (1 Corinthians 13) with these two (perhaps surprising) charges: “earnestly desire the higher gifts” and “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 14:1). God means that we desire all of God’s gifts, not to glut our selfishness, but to selflessly strengthen others — “so that the church may be built up” (1 Corinthians 14:5). Here are ten ways and reasons from the New Testament to desire all the spiritual gifts, not just the comfortable ones. Desire all the spiritual gifts because you desire God himself. “To each is giventhe manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). Desire all the spiritual gifts, knowing that “the greatest of these is

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How John Owen Might Have Responded to the Modern Charismatic Movement

In an essay on “John Owen on Spiritual Gifts” in A Quest for Godliness, J. I. Packer points that spiritual gifts were not much debated in Puritan theology and that Owen’s Discourse on Spiritual Gifts (published posthumously) is the only full-scale treatment of the subject by a major writer. Some of the questions we are asking today were not even raised at this time. For example, Packer writes, “Seventeenth-century England did not, to my knowledge, produce anyone who claimed the gift of tongues. . . .” So how would the great John Owen have interacted with our contemporary debates? Packer writes: “it may be supposed (though this, in the the nature of the case, can only be a guess) that were Owen confronted with modern Pentecostal phenomena he would judge each case a posteriori, on its own merit, according to these four principles:” 1. Since the presumption against any such renewal is strong, and liability to ‘enthusiasm’ is part of the infirmity of every

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Cessationism and Strange Fire

Andrew Wilson‘s excellent reponse to the “Strange Fire” conference: It’s good to face robust challenges to what you believe, every now and then. The more deeply held a belief is, the harder it is to think it through afresh, and the more possibility there is that you will become hardened in a wrong position. To that extent, I’m grateful for John MacArthur and co for putting on “Strange Fire”, an anti-charismatic conference which is nothing if not robust, even if I remain convinced that the tone in which MacArthur in particular has spoken of hundreds of millions of Christians has not been especially helpful. Wrestling with the content of the sessions has been sharpening and illuminating, although admittedly difficult and painful in places. In this post I want to respond specifically to one of the more measured messages to emerge from the conference: Tom Pennington’s admirably clear case for cessationism. There are two reasons for this – firstly, it is

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Continuationist Pneumatology

Benny Phillips: The spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians Paul paints a picture for us in 1 Corinthians 12–14 of what continuationist pneumatology might look like in the New Testament church. The passage is not primarily designed to explain individual gifts of the Spirit, but rather to place their usage in the context of the larger picture of local church worship. Continuationist pneumatology is about more than our corporate worship; it carries implications for how we live life with others, and that includes our times together as a local church. Today’s church culture tends to highlight the theatrical. The music, drama and preaching all seem to be directed at an audience. The goal seems to be a good experience, including moving, engaging entertainment. As someone recently said to me after visiting a church, “I felt more like I was at a good Christian concert than a time of worship.” I don’t know how conscious church leaders are of this, but the

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Charismatic Renewal: 10 Strengths and Weaknesses

By Sam Storms: It seems everyone has an opinion on what is known as the charismatic movement. I’m no exception. But in this article I want to focus on what I perceive to be both its strengths and weaknesses. In a subsequent post I’ll comment on what I think is most needed in the charismatic world for it to move forward to the glory of God. (1) The charismatic tradition has done well in emphasizing the role of authentic experience in Christian living. Charismatics are to be applauded for bringing a more holistic approach to our relationship with God. In doing so, the dualism between body and spirit, as well as between the affective and cognitive dimensions, has been overcome. On the other hand, this has led at times to a de-emphasis on the mind (even a “demonizing” of it) and a failure to appreciate the necessity of a rigorous intellectual engagement with the faith. (2) The charismatic renewal has

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Piper on healing and exorcism

From Desiring God: What is the gift of healing? And are there “healers” today? The apostle Paul lists healing among the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, but has anything significant changed between then and now? What about exorcism? John Piper answers in the following videos, and recounts the chilling story of an exorcism he participated in early in his pastorate. What Is the Gift of Healing? Have You Exorcized a Demon?  

Spurgeon on prophecy – may be?

CH Spurgeon a continuationist? His words from Sword and Trowel … Our personal pathway has been so frequently directed contrary to our own design and beyond our own conception by singularly powerful impulses, and irresistibly suggestive providences, that it were wanton wickedness for us to deride the doctrine that God occasionally grants to his servants a special and perceptible manifestation of his will for their guidance, over and above the strengthening energies of the Holy Spirit, and the sacred teaching of the inspired Word. We are not likely to adopt the peculiarities of the Quakers, but in this respect we are heartily agreed with them. It needs a deliberate and judicious reflection to distinguish between the actual and apparent in professedly preternatural intimations, and if opposed to Scripture and common sense, we must neither believe in them nor obey them. The precious gift of reason is not to be ignored; we are not to be drifted hither and thither by every wayward

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Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Grace

Gifts of the Spirit, Fruit of the Spirit, and Shipwrecking Your Ministry. Tim Keller, via Resurgence: “You may mistake the operation of spiritual gifts for the operation of spiritual grace in your life. . . . Here’s how this danger can begin. Your prayer life may be nonexistent, or you may have an unforgiving spirit toward someone, or sexual desires may be out of control. But you get involved in some ministry activity, which draws out your spiritual gifts. You begin to serve and help others, and soon you are affirmed by others and told what great things you are doing. You see the effects of your ministry and conclude that God is with you. But actually God was helping someone through your gifts even though your heart was far from him. Eventually, if you don’t do something about your lack of spiritual fruit and instead build your identity on your spiritual gifts and ministry activity, there will be some

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Spiritual Gifts Inform Us of Our Neediness

Timmy Brister: We do not have an exhaustive list of gifts of the the Spirit in the Bible, but we do have a lot of them.  These gifts are sovereignly distributed by the Spirit for the common good and edification of the church.  When each member is working properly, the body grows and is built up in love. In the wisdom of God, He has designed that we are all ministers to one another in various ways through a variety of gifts.  Have you considered what God is saying about us with the equipment of so many gifts?  We are a needy people! You are a needy person. We do not realize how profound our spiritual needs are, but God does, and He has made provision for our needs through the gifts of His Spirit exercised through the lives of His people. For example: When the Holy Spirit intends a person with the gift of giving to be useful in the church, what does it

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Sam Storms – Are Prophets Foundational to the Church?

Sam Storms: The fact that Paul, in Ephesians 2:20, describes “apostles and prophets” as the foundation of the Church has led some to draw what I believe are unwarranted theological conclusions, specifically the idea that prophecy is a gift that was restricted to the first century and subsequently died out. Richard Gaffin, for example, says that in Ephesians 2:11-22 the church “is pictured as the construction project of God, the master architect-builder, underway in the period between the ascension and return of Christ (cf. 1:20-22; 4:8-10,13). In this church-house the apostles and prophets are the foundation, along with Christ as the ‘cornerstone’ (v. 20). In any construction project (ancient or modern), the foundation comes at the beginning and does not have to be relaid repeatedly (at least if the builder knows what he’s doing!). In terms of this dynamic model for the church, the apostles and prophets belong to the period of the foundation. In other words, by the divine architect’s design,

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Is Prophecy for Today?

The Proclamation Trust reposted a video from their 2010 Evangelical Ministry Assembly (EMA). This is a discussion/debate between Ian Hamilton (Cambridge Presbyterian Church; Cambridge, England) and Wayne Grudem (Phoenix Seminary, Arizona) on the topic of prophecy in the local church. A helpful resource on this topic is Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views (HT: James Grant)

Glorifying God Through Spirit-Filled Reliance

From Kevin DeYoung: 1 Peter 4:7-11 …whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (v. 11) Pentecost is the Sunday where the Church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit that we read about in Acts 2. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to give gifts to the church. According to 1 Peter 4, there are roughly two kinds of gifts. There are speaking gifts (e.g., teaching, preaching, knowledge). And there are serving gifts (e.g., administration, mercy, giving). Every Christian has spiritual gifts. But if God is to be glorified through our gifts, we must rely on him, which can be hard, especially when it comes to our strengths. When you lead your Bible study, do you wing it because you are intelligent and quick on your feet, or do you commit

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What do cessationists and continuationists have in common?

My Thanks to Andy Naselli for this: Kevin DeYoung, The Holy Spirit (The Gospel Coalition Booklets; Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), pp. 21–22: Those Controversial Gifts I would be remiss in talking about spiritual gifts if I didn’t say something about the debate over the “miraculous gifts.” On the one side are cessationists, who claim that some of the gifts, such as tongues and prophecy, ceased after the apostolic age. They contend: The miraculous gifts were needed only as authenticating signs for the initial establishing of the gospel and the church. First Corinthians 13:8–10 says that prophecy, tongues, and knowledge will cease “when the perfect comes.” A minority of cessationists contends that the “perfect” came with the completion of the Bible. Revelatory gifts such as tongues and prophecy undermine the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. The miraculous gifts we see today are not analogous to the gifts exercised in the New Testament. On the other side are continuationists, who claim that all the

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The Horizontal Dimension of Personal Breakthroughs

This is the third and final video John Piper made before his leave. It is about experiencing spiritual breakthroughs through the gifts of other believers. (See the first one on justification and the second one on loving others.) It ends with some implications for how we do small groups. From Desiring God.