Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Gifts of the Spirit

Today the "Urban Renewal" conversation starts here in OC. This "Word / Spirit conversation around mission", is going to be a fun time with some dear friends from both LA and the nations gathering together around this most weighty matter.

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...


  1. Hi Chris, thanks for this little summary. I would love to hear more on your point 4. Especially when you say "sneaking in again" ... Where have you seen it before?
    Thanks, and hi!

  2. It rose to the fore during the early days of the Word of Faith in the 80's... it caused do much pain because people who were not healed were led to believe they "did not have enough faith..." or other dreadful conclusions... oh dear so many people were made to feel so guilty when family died... if only they had prayed more or.... dreadful, non grace, guilt... our theology has to have much more humility, living with mystery and much less dogmatic legalism...