Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Don’t bring that gift in here:

Let me preface this post by stating that, while I grew up in a Spirit-filled church, I myself have not been incredibly active in using them in my life and ministry. It has just been recently that I have begun to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts”. In fact, using the word “eagerly” unfortunately might be too strong. But, why don’t many, or most, of us eagerly desire with passion spiritual gifts? Why do we shy away from prophesy and tongues? Didn’t God give us these gifts to build each other up and to bring him glory? These questions are rattling around in my brain after reading 1 Corinthians chapter 14 today.
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
Many churches seem to avoid, and outright discourage, the gifts of prophesy and tongues in their services. These gifts were actively included in the early church gatherings. Paul spends a whole chapter in 1 Corinthians discussing the subject and encouraging their proper public use. Maybe it is just that churches are worried that they will not be able to ensure that these gifts of the Holy Spirit will be properly practiced. So, let’s the throw the baby out with the bath water. Isn’t that what has been done? That’s not what Paul suggested.
Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
I am not advocating out-of-control church gatherings where the gifts of the Spirit are placed on some kind of sacred pedestal and allowed to run unbridled. Neither am I advocating that the gifts of the Spirit should have a greater emphasis than the acts of teaching the Word of God or engaging in corporate worship. I am simply throwing out the question, “why have the gifts of the Spirit been completely removed from most public services?”

We have a whole generation or two that have never experienced these gifts in use. They have never heard a Holy Spirit directed speaking of tongues and the subsequent interpretation. They have not experienced the presence and power of God displayed in prophesy. This is sad. God is powerful and he has given his church these gifts to build up, edify, and strengthen the church. I know it can seem nearly impossible to incorporate this level of freedom into the modern church service. But, I would say that where there is a will, there is a way.

11 comments:

Josue said...

"We have a whole generation or two that have never experienced these gifts in use. They have never heard a Holy Spirit directed speaking of tongues and the subsequent interpretation. They have not experienced the presence and power of God displayed in prophesy. This is sad."

This statement is so true and sadly I am part of this generation that has not seen these gifts in practice. As a result I do not know how to even try or tap into these gifts. I was never encouraged or given examples of how to prophecy and speak in tongues. So when I do see it happen, I get uncomfortable around it because I am not accustomed to it. However, I know these gifts are important and I want to learn them and use them appropriately.

Peter Kirk said...

Amen to this! But one point:

We have a whole generation or two that have never experienced these gifts in use.

Surely for most people and their ancestors it is more like 70 or 80 generations, or however long it takes to get back to the time of the Montanists in the second century, who used the gifts of the Holy Spirit but managed to give them a bad name with some of their abuses.

Of course there have been churches more recently which have used the gifts, notably Pentecostals and Charismatics over the last century or so. But, sadly, these have always been a minority of churches.

Anita Hensley said...

right on brother!

Greg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg said...

What does it mean to "eagerly desire," though? Does it imply some sort of seeking action? What? How? It's confusing to me, and I've thought about the passage you mentioned a lot. I am one of those people you mentioned who've never experienced the gifts in use, and I wonder: what do they look like? Who uses them and how? How do you test things and know they're from God?

Anita Hensley said...

Greg,

Good questions! I think that "eagerly desire" is just that- learn about, purpose to go after, press in. It does imply some seeking after.

I think that the way that we do that is by reading what the Word has to say about prophecy, mulling that over to understand it, and asking God to give us the gift of prophecy.

I think that we identify the ways that God communicates to us: His Word, His Holy Spirit through prayer, others (pastors, teachers, friends), nature (book of Job, Romans, Isaiah), etc. This seems to most often be through an "inner impression."

We learn to be aware of His "voice" always testing it against the Bible for veracity. We pray for others and ask God what He would like us to pray, we ask Him for a word of knowledge or prophecy for them and ask them to discern the truthfulness of what we "hear."
Those are just some of my beginning thoughts on this. I have taught about the gift of prophecy for years and find that God often encourages people through simple times of praying.

Blessings,
anita

Anonymous said...

I have thought about this issue in some length. In my church we do not use tongues or prophesy, but I have a friend whose church does encourage such things. She told me once that we do not have the Holy Spirit because if we did, people would be speaking in tongues. But we do have the Bible, in which the Holy Spirit speaks. In the time before Christians had the Bible as we know it, what did they prophesy about? Was it things for the entire church of all the world that they didn't have available for everyone yet (as included in our Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit)? Or was it just "small" local things specifically for their congregations? Will there ever be such a prophesy that will add more to our Bibles, or is our Bible complete? Does the Spirit tell us through the Word recorded there ALL we need to know for our salvation and Christian living? My friend was told by a prophetess that her son would become a great leader in their church. Is that something the Holy Spirit would want all of us to know or only a select few? If he is going to become a great leader, then can we know that Christ's second coming won't happen until that prophesy is fulfilled? And how can we test that prophesy against what the Bible says? There are lots of questions I have, but can they be answered? The main one is, what is the true purpose of prophesy and is it needed today? If we should have it today, must what is revealed always be checked against what the Bible says?

Josue said...

Anonymous, the gift of prophecy is extremely needed today and we should all
ask God to help us tap into that spiritual gift. The heart of prophecy is
being able to make the word of God clear. You are able to apply the word of
God very well and make it speak into peoples lives in ways maybe they could
not see. Prophecy has very little to do with predictions, but more to do
with being able to look into a current situation and be able to apply God's
word to that situation in a way that brings God's truth to the surface. To
say it is not needed is absolutely a misunderstanding of the nature of the
gift. Check out this talk about prophets, its pretty interesting
http://www.calvaryphx.com/podcasts/podcastfiles/GUG/Radio/08-13-07%20GUG%20NTL.mp3

Anonymous said...

It seems that there is some degree of disagreement on what constitutes prophecy, especially once we get into these modern times. If prophesy has nothing to do with predictions as some have said, but is really about making scripture more clear, then is a teacher/preacher also a person with the gift of prophesy? There is a gift of teaching mentioned. What is the difference? Shouldn't a teacher be able to make the scriptures more clear? OR was the gift of prophesying once about predicting or providing new information at the beginning of the church, but then it changed functions after all inspired writings had been given?

Anonymous said...

Concerning the gift of prophecy, we must constantly bring any prophecy in alignment with the Bible. Something to be mindful is that we are told to test the spirits always because the enemy can mimic and counterfeit spiritual gifts.

In my particular situation, my husband, fiance at the time was involved with a man who claimed to possess the gift of prophecy and who started a very small ministry which my husband helped out in. This other guy, let's call him Jim, was extremely resistant to working with other churches or groups or even people. Jim liked working with my husband because they had forged a friendship previously and because my husband had a genuine desire to be used in a grass roots ministry.

What had been happening all along, for some time I learned is that Jim was planting seeds of doubt in my husband about me, claiming that I possessed demonic spirits of witchcraft, control and jezebellic influences. He actually confinced my husband, my boyfriend at the time to break up with me. He later came to his senses and presented me with an engagement ring and after seeking the Lord, I agreed to marry him. Only after the announcement of our engagement did I realize what had been going on with Jim and Evan (my husband) because Jim finally attacked me and told me I had to submit to his ministry or I would come under judgement. The basis of the attack is that Jim stated that he felt very strongly that I didn't trust him completely and that I wasn't buying into his teachings which was true. My discernment was telling me that there was something very dark, controlling and prideful in his ministry but because I never really got involved much and rarely attended his meetings, I didn't know exactly what it was.

Jim continued to try to convince my then fiancee to break up with me claiming that God had given him visions of me keeping Evan from having a relationship with the Lord, that I was likened unto the adulterous woman in Prov. 5 according to further prophecy, etc. etc. It should be noted that I met my husband through church and that the primary reason he fell in love with me is that he could feel that I was committed to the Lord. It should also be noted that Jim's marriage had failed a few years prior and Jim claims that his wife was cheating on him and eventually left him for another man.

Eventually my husband cut-off his relationship with Jim and stopped helping him with his ministry because Jim would not repent or stop. I also told Evan that I could not enter into marriage with him so long as he was involved in a ministry that seeks to condemn people, believers or not. (I witnessed other cases of condemnation in which it was always women who were slandered and it was always FEMALE demonic spirits that Jim said he detected.

What do you say about prophecy and how it related to personal relationships, particularly marriage? Besides prayer, how do you try to reach someone like this to bring to their attention that they are not properly using their spiritual gifts? How do you deal with someone who will not come under the authority of a church or a church body as biblically ordained?

With thanks and blessings.

Soraya

Anita Hensley said...

Soraya,
Your problem was NOT the gift of prophecy. Your husband's problem was the fear of man. (was- because he corrected it!) The other man was operating in witchcraft or soulish control. This usually finds an open door when someone has fears.
As for personal prophecy- we don't allow people to prophesy over who people should marry, who they should be friends with, where to move, etc. Those issues are best left to God's wisdom, godly counsel of mature Christians and your personal discernment and preferences.
Blessings and glad your husband got free from unbiblical influence.