Summary: Jeans, falling down, gifts, music. The modern church does look a little different, you have to admit


27. Gifts Or No Gifts?

Whether there are gifts of the Spirit in the church today is not decided by what men believe about the subject, but the fact remains that there is a wide variety of opinions about it. Among the two billion persons calling themselves Christians, most of whom admittedly are quite probably not born of the Holy Spirit as children of God, there exist, at the very least, the following views:

1. There never were [miraculous] gifts of the Spirit. What the early Christians viewed as unusual could easily be explained in natural terms. The same with strange occurrences of our own day. [Yes, there really are "Christians" who believe this.]

2. The gifts of the Spirit did indeed exist in apostolic days. But the need for them soon evaporated, and so today you will not find them. All incidents in our day that seem to be manifestations of giftedness are in fact explainable in natural terms. This belief, called "cessationism", sounds much like the one above, except for the 100 year window when God made an exception to His normally silent ways.

3. Yes, they existed in apostolic days. Yes, they exist today. Well, at least some of them do. And the ones that do look very much like what happens in our church all the time. "Prophecy", for example, is just preaching. Tongues have ceased of course, like Paul said they would. "Healing", well you never know... sometimes the doctor...sometimes medicine...sometimes if you pray really hard... In other words, this is the doctrine of the status quo: "If we ain't got it, we ain't gonna get it, 'cuz it prob'ly don't exist in the first place."

4. Perhaps more sad still is that group of believers who believe in the gifts of the first century, and the gifts for today, all of them, and all of them miraculous, just as you might see in the Book of Acts. "Oh yes, brother, we believe in it ALL." But as you attend their churches week after week you will see that First Pentecostal Church is no different than First Methodist Assembly or First Fundamentalist Temple. It's a doctrine on the books, but it has not yet found its way into the life of the congregation.

5. Then there is the belief, as in number 4, that all are still here in their pristine form. Here, watch! They will tell you. But as you look, what you see seems very human. There are people shouting, and the Sound System (I capitalize here because of the revered status of the Electronic Church) is roaring, and excitement is high. Some are even claiming to have been healed. Some are on the floor. But when all is said and done, much more is said than was done. How I wish these people would pull the plug on all their equipment, and ask God to reveal Himself as he really is.

I must interject here what most of you have guessed, or already know, about me. I do believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. I see no Biblical reason for "cessation". And I am not against enthusiasm in worship. But after many years of travelling with these dear brothers, most of what I have seen falls into the categories 3, 4, and 5 above.

But my eyes are limited. Some say I am too critical, even accusing me of having a "critical spirit", or perhaps worse, a "spirit of criticism" , which would mean I need exorcised. My defense is a lifelong study of God's Scriptures and a regular personal search for more of God in my life.

But with all of that, I have not seen all there is to see. Let me turn this over to my readers. Why not give yourself this little quiz. You surely must know that in the church in which we live today, sooner or later you must answer these questions, based first on the Word of God, then on a diligent search for God yourself. I ask you, is there a number "6" option to add to the 5 above? Does the real deal exist? Should it?Tell me,

Do you believe the gifts existed in the first century? That the Biblical account is from the Holy Spirit and trustworthy?

Do you believe the gifts exist today? Some of them? All of them? I am assuming you have Scripture to back up your position.

Have you ever seen a Book-of-Acts style miracle in your church or anywhere for that matter? Blind eyes opened? Withered arms straightened? Unlearned languages being spoken and interpreted?

Remember, I'm not talking about what you've heard or read about. Not talking about even what a person claimed in a testimony. I'm talking about first hand eye-witness documentable fact, as every miracle in the Bible was. When Jesus did His miracles, people didn't just wave their hand in the services. Deaf people heard. Crippled people walked. Hungry people ate real food. Wedding guests drank real wine.

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