An Opinion On Spiritual GiftsHandbook 1: Article 105 - The Holy Spirit And The Gifts

Today there is much difference of opinion and division in the body of Christ concerning the function of the gift of tongues. Some say that the spiritual gifts of the New Testament Church are no longer given by the Holy Spirit to God's people. Some say that many of the gifts are manifest today but the gift of tongues isn't one of them. Some say that the gift of tongues is absolutely necessary as proof that an individual is filled with the Spirit. The purpose of the gifts of the Spirit were and are, pointedly and specifically, to build up the body of Christ. Any position which works to tear down and divide the body is a false position and is not of God.

In order to understand where we are today it is necessary to return to the beginning and see how things have changed from the original purposes of God for His Church. First, God appointed apostles. It was their function to go out and tell the good news. Through their preaching, many were converted. When several new believers banded together in a certain locality the apostles, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, appointed elders to be overseers of the work in that area. The apostles then moved on to another area and began again to found a church through the preaching of the Gospel. And so on.

The elders helped to build up the church by teaching and preaching and by shepherding the flock, both materially and spiritually. But they only helped. The responsibility for the building up of the body in the local church rested with each and every individual. To this end the Holy Spirit bestowed spiritual gifts to individuals to be used for the edification of the whole group.

In each local church God saw to it that individuals had gifts that would contribute to a whole, integrated, balanced, healthy body. Each gift contributed and ministered to the edification of the body of Christ -- the believers in that locality. Each person was an active and important segment and indispensable to the whole.

How we have changed! Today we hire a professional minister and pay him to exercise his education and expertise to teach us, preach to us, pray for us, look after church business, visit our sick, administer social programs, et cetera, et cetera. We have washed our hands of the ultimate responsibility and have hired someone to bear it for us. Many of us are no longer active alive members. We have become so inactive and passive that most outsiders consider God and the Church dead. God isn't dead but His "body" is sick.

God hasn't changed but men have changed His ordained organization. The Church today is nothing comparable to His first intention. Is it any wonder that the place and purpose of the spiritual gifts is muddled and confused?

There are still some today who have the Spirit of Christ and are anxious to fit into His plans. They seek and receive gifts from the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Church. Then what happens? Spiritual gifts are not always popular in the church today. Some feel intimidated or threatened by someone with a supernatural gift. Many feel that such matters should be left to the "pastor". A few are envious to the point of sin. Many members are simply unbelieving of what is obvious in the Scriptures and occasionally displayed as fact.

Organized as the church is today there is simply no place for spiritual gifts. Someone with a gift has no opportunity to use it to minister in a modern congregation in the way described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14: 26-33. Frustration and often persecution causes the gifted one to repress his gift or perhaps move his membership to a church where he is more readily accepted. The net result, in the area of the gift of tongues for example, is that all who have the gift band together for mutual acceptance. Local churches are thereby weakened and a church is formed that is predominantly of one gift. The body is top heavy.

As indicated in the title this is a personal opinion. One with which you may agree or disagree. I have a few further thoughts. The gift of tongues is not proof of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not speak in a strange tongue when the Holy Spirit settled on Him like a dove. Paul did not speak in heavenly tongues when he was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in me and I do not have the gift of tongues " though some of my friends do. Speaking in tongues is only one of the several spiritual gifts that may or may not be bestowed with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is God's choice for each individual. Be suspicious of someone who insists that this or any other particular gift is necessary "proof" of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Be suspicious when one gift seems to be apparent in excess of all others. Satan can and does come as an angel of light. Be careful.

May God honor you with spiritual gifts for ministering to the body of your local congregation. And may one of them be the gift of discernment so that you may know the spirits of good and evil.

HLC

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