Alan Frow asked me to speak on "the Gifts of the Spirit". The temptation is to simply take what I already know, salt it with some gospel, spice it with a few stories, and then repeat the old tune. The problem is however, I may have read it and taught it poorly or insufficiently from days gone by. Projecting the past into the future is one of the most regular errors made in leadership, when we do not audit our journey with honesty, biblical censure, and regularity. Sometimes the busyness of leadership, subtly distracts us from the vital necessity of review and revisit in order to remain fresh, true and current in our theological thought and practice.
So I sat at my desk and began to study the subject as if, for the very first time.
What soon became clear, was how my past experiences had fashioned my thinking and not all of them were biblically accurate nor gospel empowering. Furthermore, anyone who has been a Christ follower for any period of time, will already be the victim of cultural / contextual conclusions but not necessarily have gotten there by their own investigation. This may be:
1. Cessationism - the gifts stopped flowing at the end of the apostolic era, when the church got the scriptures, God stopped speaking...
2. Pentecostalism - born out of a great divine visitation, but many of them got stuck in the culture it produced, as well as making tongues the center stage conversation piece,
3. Charismatics - again forged by a most remarkable God visit, this time not producing denominations as much as taking the living Holy Spirit presence into churches of all shapes and forms. Many wondrous stories can be told of these times but also, much excess and weirdness discredited a most intriguing moment of church history,
4. Kingdom now - is sneaking into the radar again, whereby poor theology is directing many down the path that sets believers up for pain and disappointment. These hungry seekers are once again living in the misunderstanding that somehow, somewhere, believers can usher in a world where all can be healed every time, now...
5. Ignorance - some just don't know, living daily without the "awesomeness" of the Holy Spirit's presence, person, power and partnership that is so captivating and real.
6. Or... is there another way?
I had such a helpful convo with my friend Rick Martinez yesterday. He worked with John Wimber for many years and saw God do some pretty amazing things. Yet Rick was deeply dissatisfied, so he too set out on a journey to revisit the great and wonderful texts to see what the Holy Spirit would reveal. His perspectives were most helpful...