The Spirit Comes Bearing Gifts

imageThe wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. (John 3:8)

Doctrine regarding the spiritual gifts is a generally accepted component of the life of the Church. It is recognized that the Holy Spirit empowers redeemed individuals with abilities useful to building up the Body. Individual Christians may be the recipients of one or more of these gifts, evidence of the work of the Spirit in their lives.

Minor intramural skirmishes occur over the enumeration of the gifts and whether Apostle, Teacher-Pastor and prophet are gifts or offices. When it comes to the miraculous gifts – tongues, prophecy and knowledge- however, hard lines are drawn between those who interpret the Scriptures to say that these gifts have ceased and brothers who insist that the Spirit continues to grant these gifts today.

If the boundaries surrounding this theological disagreement were hard and fixed, the various positions would not demand discussion. The problem that arises again and again however, is that the fluid nature of the boundaries creeps from non-essential territory into the categories of core doctrines. The cessationist position may insist that belief in the continuation of gifts shows a sloppy doctrinal position that they assume is present in other facets of one’s theology. A Pentecostal segment of the body states unequivocally that without evidence of glossolalia, your very redemption is in question. Each represents an extreme, but both affect the witness of the Church.

In a series of posts to follow, we will look at four general positions along the continuum of belief. In general, the positions break out as follows:

  • Cessation – The miraculous gifts have ceased being given.
  • Pentecostal/Charismatic – The miraculous gifts continue to be given.
  • Open & Cautious – The gifts may be given by a sovereign spirit as He desires. Their issue is not normative.
  • Third Wave – The proclamation of the Gospel is always accompanied by “signs and wonders”

Grace and peace to you.

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