One of the questions I often asked about is the question regarding spiritual gifts. People ask:
“Are you a cessationist?”
“Do you believe God still heals?”
“Do you believe in prophecy?”
Coupled with these questions, people make remarks such as the following:
“We must not limit the work of the Holy Spirit?”
These questions deserve an answer. Comments like this requires clarity.
Undoubtedly, the Holy Spirit and his work have received considerable attention with the rise of the charismatic movement, and this is no bad thing. As we confess in the Nicene creed “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.” It is only right that God the Holy Spirit, along with the Father and the Son be glorified for he richly deserves it.
Now call me cynical, if you wish, but I believe that one of the reasons for our obsession with the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with him and everything to do with us.
Gifts for the Spotlight?
When I started to think through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I was not all that concerned with who God the Holy Spirit is and what He does. I was interested in how he had gifted me. Mind you, I had no interest in having the gift of administration (1 Cor 12:28). The gift I wanted was something more spectacular. I wanted to dream dreams and interpret them for others. I wanted to have visions of the future. I wanted something for the spotlight. Perhaps this was because it seemed as if all my friends seemed to have these sorts of gifts. They claimed that they had the gift of tongues, the gift of prophecy, and worship leading. Interestingly, all of their gifts demanded that they be in the spotlight.
In fact, I remember a time when people had to fill in a sheet to find their spiritual gifts. Again, everyone who filled this sheet in ended up having some gift for the spotlight. The number of apostles and prophets has risen considerably since those sheets were filled in.
To this day, I have never met anyone who joyfully claims to have the gift of administration.
Gifts of the Spirit?
In the next few weeks, I will seek to bring clarity to the person and work of the Holy Spirit but before I do that, at the very outset, I want to state that our desire for understanding must be fuelled by humility. This is not about your glory. It is about Gods. Everything God does is for his own glory and for the good of his people.
The very gifts of the holy Spirit are given to us not so that we might be in the spotlight or gain an audience. The purpose is to glorify God as his people are edified.
“When Christ ascended on high, he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men (Eph 4:8)”…why? To build up the body of Christ (Eph 4:12)