Charismatic Gifts for Today
Is God now withholding the charismatic gifts?
Some vociferous personalities mistakenly think God's generosity ceased with completion of the Bible.
Here's why that's not true.
A. We Still See Through a Dark Mirror. The anti-gift crowd usually cites I Cor. 13: "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 perfection comes the imperfect disappears... Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face."
They argue perfection arrived when the Bible was completed, so the gifts have disappeared. However, 1) "perfect" here clearly refers not to the Bible's completion, but to seeing God face-to-face.
Further, 2.) tongues, prophecy and knowledge are all grouped together, so if tongues and prophecy have ceased, then knowledge has ceased as well! Ironically, the very quote cited argues that the gifts are still available.
B. Prophecy Illuminates the Bible. A second complaint is that prophecies today add to the already perfect Bible. However:
(1) prophecies today are the same as those within the BIble , e.g., Acts 21:9. These were valid revelations, though not Biblical additions.
(2) Confusion dissipates when we distinguish two Greek terms "logos" and "rhema", which both translate as "word." Logos is God's eternal, perfect, unchanging revelation; rhema is God's time-sensitive, relative revelation.
Christians today receive rhema; not new truth, but that part of the eternal truth (logos) needed to illuminate a given situation.
Rhema activates logos, but neither substitutes for the other.
C. There are Many Types of Tongues. A third attempt by the anti-charismatics is to claim charismatics act outside of God's will because they don't always interpret after they speak in tongues. However, 1 Cor. 12:28 reveals that there are different kinds of tongues.
- One type is intelligible and needs no interpretation (like at Pentecost),
- another is unintelligible and requires interpretation for the assembly (I Cor 14:13);
- another is unintelligible and requires no interpretation because he speaks only to God, edifying himself (I Cor 14:2, 4) See more on Prayer Tongues.
D. The Need Still Exists. The buzz-killers claim that the need for charisms doesn't exist since we have the Bible, which is enough. I'm not sure why they say this. It's like saying there's no need to experience Christ because we have the Bible.
In addition, 1 Cor. 1:7 says "You do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed." Here the Greek word "revealed" is apokalupsis ("apocalypse"), which ties together spiritual gifts with the return of Christ! That's pretty clear.
E. The Test of the Spirit. The Bible says test any revelations you receive. An enormous majority of the charismatic revelations call for repentance and turning to Christ as Lord. How can they be of the devil?
F. The Charisms Have Been Present Through History. Anti-charismatics claim that charismatic experiences are a merely modern phenomena. However, manifestations have occurred variously throughout the ages (e.g., Tertullian, St. Hilary, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, the Quakers, and, of course, most markedly in the past 200 years).
The massive outpouring of the Spirit in the early up to the first eight centuries have led charismatics to conclude we are experiencing the fulfillment of Joel 2, where the Lord says he will pour our early (spring) and latter (autumn) rains. To claim the rain must flow in a predictable pattern is rather linear, compartmentalized thinking. And not only that, but the Bible prophecy in Joel (quoted by Peter) itself says the Spirit will be poured out on everybody in "last" days. The Spirit gives gifts as He wills (Heb 2:4).
G. Charismatic Experience Bears Good Fruit. "You will know my will by the fruit it bears." (Mat 7:20) The experience of explosive 600 million Christians worldwide is significant love of Christ and others, increased power, joy, self-control, generosity, peace, etc. It is not logical to conclude this is simply made-up or from the devil.
H. Trans-Denominational Witnesses. The most influential names in Christianity, from every Christian denomination, unilaterally encourage the charismatic gifts:
- Billy Graham - One of the most influential preachers of all time
- Charles Stanley - Tough-talking, established Baptist stalwart
- Benedict XVI - current head of Roman Catholicism, the world's largest Christian body
- Pope John Paul II - perhaps the most influential Catholic of modern times
- Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa - the Pope's hand-picked spiritual director
- R. C. Sproul - Influential teacher and intellectual.
- Dr. Walter Martin - The original Bible Answer Man and founder of CRI.
- Jack Hayford - Well-balanced, popular radio evangelist
- Peter Kreeft - Master apologist and popular Catholic author/speaker
- Scott Hahn - The most influential Catholic apologist today
- T.D. Jakes - Popular televangelist
- Derek Prince - Perhaps the most widespread international Bible teacher
- Sid Roth - Outspoken Messianic Jew
- Mother Angelica - The strongest presence on the Catholic cable (EWTN)
- Fr. Benedict Groeschel - The second strongest presence on the Catholic cable (EWTN)
- Ralph Martin, Fr. Francis Martin, Fr. John Bertolucci, Fr. George Martin, Ann Shields, Karl Keating, Fr. Michael ScanlanCatholic heavy-hitters.
- Fr. Thomas Green - Famous spiritual director
- Dr. Tony Evans - Lively, popular preacher
- Michael Yousef - Popular radio personality
- John Bevere - Modern day fire-and-brimstone preacher
- Ravi Zacharias - Philosopher and teacher
- Pat Robertson - Founder of the 700 Club.
- Bob Mumford, Don Basham, Charles Simpson, Ern Baxter, John Poole - Mainline charismatic teachers
- Clinton and Sarah Utterbach - Popular radio preachers
- Joseph Prince - Pastor of one of Asia's biggest churches
- Bob Gass - Publisher of The Word for You Today
- Lester Sumrall - International revivalist and missionary
- Smith Wigglesworth - Famous Revivalist
- John Wesley - Founder of the Methodist denomination
- Dwight Moody - Founder of the Moody Institute
- The Apostle Paul - Writer of most of the New Testament. :)
- Plus many more.
Since every major Christian denomination experiences the charisms, it's obvious spiritual vanity to maintain that the extremist anti-charismatics are the enlightened few, while the larger, diverse, multi-denominational, multi-cultural weight of Christianity is wrong. (Solution? Receive the Kingdom like a little child. Luke 10:21.)
If God is so clearly acting, why do some resist the Spirit's gifts? For the same reasons we hesitate to come to God at all: we insist on control and especially don't want to appear foolish to others.
Self-preservation is neither an aim nor an end. Its leading causes great consternation to the soul; its fruits are worry, fear, anxiety, selfishness. When you feel the yearning deep inside upon facing a difficult situation, begin to seek the Spirit as to what is going on within you.
Man naturally seeks to protect the flesh, a mere image, so often just a pretense. And for what? And why? If you were to trust in My continuous, unending, diligent love for you, you would know I am there in the midst of it all.
I ask you to die to self not to be anxious in relinquishing your supposed control, but to clear the way for My Spirit to have dominion in you, producing peace, joy, and hope, wherever this life finds you.
Your control is a fantasy, an insidious tool of the enemy to keep you out of union with Me. Though temporary circumstances will imitate what you deem 'being peaceful', it is only in your heartfelt surrender, your relinquishing of cares and concerns that you will know the one true source of light: Jesus Christ, your savior, your Lord, your brother, your beginning, your end, your all in all.