Empowered: Accept Your Gifts

There is no doubt that everyone has a special gift that makes them unique. It is what sets us apart from others and what brings us together. Our gifts are used to add to society and continue its growth, but where do these gifts come from? For those who believe, we believe it comes from God. These are just our natural gifts that we were born with, according to the New Testament there are gifts that each person of the Triune God gives to individuals.

A study of the Bible will reveal that God gives many different kinds of spiritual gifts. Some gifts are inner motivational gifts that God gives each individual. Others help believers to “do the work of ministry,” and yet other special ministry gifts are given to individual leaders to “train God’s people to do the work of the ministry.”[1]

[1] Ron Myer. Fivefold Ministry Made Practical (Kindle Locations 218-220). House to House Publications. Kindle Edition.

Sadly though, there are individuals, cessionalist, who believe that today we no longer receive all the gifts that the Triune God gives. To understand what is being argued, first I must answer what are those gifts? In Romans 12:3-8 it states:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 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; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 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.[2]

[2] Romans 12:3-8 NIV https://www.bible.com/bible/111/ROM.12.3-8

These are the gifts that God the Father gives to everyone at birth. They can function in whatever capacity He gives in their special gifting. These gifts are considered still active by cessionalist. The gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 are the gifts of the Spirit.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. [1]

[1] 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 https://www.bible.com/bible/111/1CO.12.7-11

The last set of gifts comes from Christ. They are gifts of leadership to help build up the church for ministry. These can be found in Ephesians 4:9-13.

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions ? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. [1]

[1] Ephesians 4:9-13 NIV https://www.bible.com/bible/111/EPH.4.9-13

The gifts in Corinthians and Ephesians are thought to have ceased according to cessionalist. The theory is that the gifts ended with the last apostle, who was John, because the Bible had been completed. God has revealed all He needed to reveal to humanity. What is odd is none of this is actually mentioned in the Bible. Honestly, the only part that speaks of these things ceasing in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 says this: “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.”[1] It speaks of completeness coming and I highly doubt completeness is the completion of the Bible, but of the return of our Savior.

This opinion is a dangerous one but has prevailed up until the twentieth century, in 1906 when William J. Seymour led a Holy Spirit revival and the Spirit poured out on all who sought it. This does not keep you from going to Heaven, because once you are saved and have given your life over to the Lord, you are going. What makes this dangerous is that it takes away the power from the Christian church. We need the gifts of the Spirit to convert non-believers along with the Word of God. The gift of the five-fold ministry is there to equip the entire church for ministry. These gifts prepare us for the return of our Savior.

Of course, there are those who doubt this, like in John 9, when Jesus heals the blind man by putting spit and clay in his eyes. The Pharisees swore that Jesus was sent by the devil and that was how He healed the blind man, simply because He healed on the Sabbath. “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.”[1] See the devil’s army is not divided but are quite organized and we know that by Ephesians 6:10-12. They have a hierarchy and their mission is to destroy mankind. Christianity is a threat to that plan.

Looking at history, the fact that it looks like the gifts ceased was warfare in nature. There was chaos going on, the apostles were executed and anyone who professed Christ as their Savior was losing their lives. They had to go into hiding if they wanted to keep their lives. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman and does not force us to use our gifts. It is evident through history there were even those who worked in the power of the Holy Spirit, without full knowledge of doing so, like Joan of Arc, who heard from God how to save her people during war. Then there are the many different activists throughout history like Martin Luther who brought the Reformation, and even later Martin Luther King Jr who fought for Civil Rights in the name of the Lord.

For hundreds of years, based on the history of the church, you can see the warfare play out. Christians having to hide to save their lives, then three hundred years later, Constantine makes Christianity the established church of Rome and the government integrating pagan rituals into Christianity (Easter and Christmas). Turning Christianity into something it was never meant to be, religion. Martin Luther started The Reformation and the persecution that followed it, and the many denominations that sprang up out of the Protestant movement. It was like the Holy Spirit was saying to the people this is not what I wanted for the church. Now, today the Charismatic/Pentecostal churches are the fastest growing and biggest denomination in the Protestant history. [1]

Why is this important now? For me personally, I went from being a personal trainer to crippled. A year ago, I was hit with a debilitating auto-immune disease (that’s all I know about what it was), I could not walk for very long without my joints swelling and squeezing my nerves. I could not comb my hair without my hands and elbows hurting. Imagine your funny bone hurting without hitting it on anything for hours or days. My thyroid swelled up and my mother had to take care of my son. I became angry at the situation and God, because I was going through a lot already with my spouse, I asked Him flat out, why was this happening to me? He slowly began to reveal the spiritual aspect of what was going on. I began to study spiritual warfare and talked to my mother about it. I told her it was time to fast. On May 3rd, the third day of the fast, my mother came into my room and God used her to heal me. She told the spirit of Infirmity to leave my body. Three days later I had a bicycle I could ride for twenty minutes with no pain. I still get pain, but it does not cripple me. I get it when I am eating a poor diet. The first time I felt the pain come back, I asked God, I thought you healed me, He said He left a little bit to remind me, to eat healthfully. He explained the way satan was able to attack me was through a poor diet and I was not taking care of my temple.

What does any of this have to do with the spiritual gifts? If prophecy had ceased, I would not have been able to ask God what was wrong with me and get an answer. I would not have been able to tell my mother the issue. God would not have been able to use her to heal me. I would not be in Seminary right now training to be the Prophet God has called me to be. I would not be able to raise my son and worst of all do the work that God has given for me to do. All of this happened, because of spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit and Christ. We cannot allow satan to disarm the church any longer.

[1] 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 NIV https://www.bible.com/bible/111/1CO.13.8-10

[1] Luke 11:17 NIV https://www.bible.com/bible/111/LUK.11.17.NIV

[1] Edith Blumhofer, 2006. “Azusa Street Revival.” Christian Century 123, no. 5: 20-22. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed February 22, 2018).

 

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