Tag Archives: Spiritual Gifts

The Truth about Spiritual Gifts

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed… to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  1 Corinthians 12:1, 7

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:1-3

I wish I could see exactly what the question was from the Corinthian church.  I mean, I wish I could know exactly how they reported their issue with spiritual gifts to Paul.  The mediator in me has watched Paul call out three of the four factions in that church in the first part of this letter (“I follow Paul”, “I follow Apollos”, and I follow Cephas”), and I wonder if the “I follow Jesus” faction was representative of the culprits here, because that is the way it comes across in so many of our church conflicts today where spiritual gifts are at issue.  Somebody is making a practice of doing something that is causing all kinds of havoc in the church, i.e., ripping the church apart, and their excuse is that “I am just exercising my spiritual gift…it is the Spirit of God Himself working through me…I am just following Jesus.”  I am troubled by that for several reasons, not the least of which is that spiritual gifts are ALL ABOUT UNITY and bringing …

“I see broken relationships…they’re everywhere.”

Tuesday Re-mix –

Peacemaking means a lot of things to a lot of people, even within the context of the church.  There are gentle, non-anxious leaders who are often called peacemakers.  There are true mediator-like people who help resolve conflict.  I believe there are even those who have a Spiritual gift of peacemaking.  In my ministry, I suppose I am a bit of a “collector” of peacemakers.  That is, I have people from all walks of life who have joined me in peacemaking in churches all over the world.  So I can say with some confidence that peacemakers come in all shapes and sizes, and how they do what they do comes in many forms as well.

But I have also come to see some commonalities among them.  There are common experiences and common reactions to circumstances.  There are things all peacemakers do, whether they know it or not.  And that is what this series of posts will address.  I am calling it Habits of Peacemakers.

The first observation is the clearest for me.  Every true peacemaker I have ever known has been given an ability, a “gift”: peacemakers see broken relationships.  Usually, peacemakers see them before most other people see them.  Often, peacemakers see them before the parties themselves even realize the brokenness is there.  I’m sorry for this connection, but I just couldn’t help drawing from a favorite movie of mine.  Maybe you remember it.  M. Night Shyamalan’s best effort yet, in my opinion.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2sDw-XBuKc&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

“I see dead people.” Haley Joel Osment’s line will go down in movie history.  And real peacemakers relate to his  character’s problem.  When a genuine peacemaker looks across the landscape of a congregation, even a relatively happy, healthy congregation, he/she sees broken relationships.  Other people see wholeness and happiness and progress.  But for

Unity is the Pathway to Doctrinal Purity

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Ephesians 4:14

Over the years, as my passion for unity in the church has intensified, some of my more conservative brothers and sisters in Christ have expressed concern that too much emphasis on unity could actually hurt the church, especially in the area of doctrinal purity.  The premise is, I think, that we can have complete unity or we can have doctrinal purity, but we cannot have both, i.e., that the two concepts are somehow mutually exclusive.  That concern is understandable, even predictable…but badly misplaced.  The call to Biblical unity is not a call to some sort of compromise in order to get along.  Moreover, maintaining doctrinal purity should not mean constant pushing and shoving to keep people in line.  Some in the church believe that, in order to keep our doctrine pure, we’ve got to step on a few toes and bang a few heads.

As confrontational as he was capable of being, I believe Paul would disagree with this “bang a few heads” mentality.

In Ephesians 4, Paul writes one of his most complete lessons on unity in the church.  He calls us to live a life worthy of the calling we have received, he reminds us of some things we can all agree about, he teaches us about Spiritual gifts, and he gives some very practical counsel about our life in community with each other.  He paints a clear picture for us of unity, and in the middle of that discussion, he …

The Spiritual Gift of Blah, Blah, Blah

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

If I speak in the tonguesof men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3

You really cannot have a complete discussion about unity in the church without talking about Spiritual gifts.  They are, after all, an essential piece to the puzzle.  The Spirit of God Himself, manifesting Himself through the believer, is a huge promise from Him…a promise upon which unity rests.  Without the Spirit of God working in and through us, there would be no hope for unity because there is no other provision for unity other than the Spirit.  How He chooses to manifest Himself, then, through believers (i.e., what we call Spiritual gifts) is a critical cog in the machinery of the church.

Paul begins his discussion of Spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12 with these words: “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.” He then teaches the concept of Spiritual gifts wonderfully, including the whole metaphor of the church as a body.  But then at the end of that chapter, he segues from that discussion with these words: “And now I will show you the most excellent way.” In other words, now he is going to paint a picture of how it all looks in a very practical, understandable way.  And with that …

Coloring God…

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s 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. Ephesians 4:11-13

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. I Corinthians 12:7

When I was in elementary school it was kind of a big deal how big your box of crayons was.  They had little boxes of 8, bigger boxes of 24, large boxes of 48 and then they had the super duper extra large box of 64.  That last one was the one you wanted.  It was important.  You just never knew when you might need those odd colors like goldenrod or periwinkle.  You wanted options.  You didn’t want to find yourself limited to just a few simple colors, especially if you had a project that demanded a broader spectrum.  You didn’t just want “red”.  You wanted every imaginable shade and phase of red.  It was frustrating trying to color pictures with a few colors when an entire palette of colors was required in order to get it right.

In that same vein, I’ve always been troubled by interpretations of “Spiritual gifts” which purport to limit the “gifts” to a list of 5 or 9 or 14 gifts.  I know there are several New Testament passages which discuss spiritual gifts and which do list specific examples of them, but I …