The big issue with spiritual gifts, like with baptism, is determining their purposes. If the purpose of baptism is to indicate personal faith, then infant baptism is irrelevant and a misapplication of the sacrament.
If the purpose of “sign” gifts was simply to establish the church, not to continue building it up, then contemporary speaking in tongues is irrelevant at best, and misleading at worst.
However, I still struggle with this issue. My church has taken a clear stand on this issue, but it appears to me that Paul specifically forbids forbidding tongues (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:39-40).
As long as I keep in mind that this policy is in place to encourage non-Christians to attend services and learn more about Jesus, and to avoid Paul’s concern in verses 22-25.
What these verses say to me is that the purpose of speaking in tongues is outreach to people who speak different languages. The way I’ve experienced tongues in charismatic services is very disorderly, the way Paul criticizes in these verses.
As so often happens in life, it appears that both extremes miss the point as a result of fear. Charismatic congregations ignore Paul’s guidelines to keep things orderly, and conservative congregations adopt a cessationist perspective which denies the reality of tongues in today’s world.
In my mind, the gift of tongues is a miraculous outreach gift that can expand God’s kingdom today, but that is used unbiblically in many worship services.
Like many other things I belive on faith, not sight, I believe in the contemporary biblical application of tongues, and am not a cessationist. However, I can balance this perspective with the church’s teaching and my tactful facilitation.
I appreciate the approach that my church adopts.
There is a balance between biblical truth and secular discoveries. It makes sense that if performance objectives work in business, then they should be applied responsibly to the operation of a church organization. If personality typing can improve relationships among colleagues at work, that this thinking should also apply to ministries at church.
This is particularly significant since Gary Smalley, a well-known Christian relationship expert, is a world leader in the interaction among people of different personality types.
Lord, I pray that I will be able to teach these concepts with wisdom and insight, and in a way that helps our church members and church ministries grow in capacity.
What are my performance objectives for facilitating NH301? I think I can follow the structure of national health objectives for breastfeeding: an initial percentage of “new recruits” and a lower but significant number of people firmly established in new ministries. How can we track this data through existing systems in the church office?
Paul writes, in Romans 1:11-12, that he wants to see the members of the Roman church in person.
A principle which I see in these verses is that there is great value in meeting people in person. There is a level of emotional connection which cannot be replicated online or via email, texting and IM. It appears that there is a similar limitation spiritually.
What this says to me is that I need to apply the concept of Management by Walking Around not only to my teaching, but also to my spiritual objectives as well.
As an aside, it is surprising to see Peter Drucker, the management guru, credited with coining SMART objectives in 1954. Hmm…a couple of posters claimed to review the primary source, The Practice of Management, and can’t find SMART goals anywhere in his writings.
In 1 Corinthians 14:1, Paul encourages the members of the church in Corinth to desire the gift of prophecy. He goes on, later in the chapter, to compare prophecy to speaking in tongues.
One verse that stands out is 39. I think I should explore this with my cofacilitators. In our materials, our church specifically forbids speaking in tongues. I wonder why we make this restriction, since Paul specifically forbids forbidding tongues?
A foundational explanation of spiritual gifts is found in 1 Corinthians 12.
The is the chapter in which Paul describes the Church as a body. His key point is that every Christian brings unique skills to the table, and only by working together can we accomplish the Lord’s work effectively.
In 1 Peter 4:8,10 we are reminded to use our gifts in love.
I was just approved to help teach a course at church which deals with the relationship among spiritual gifts, natural talents, and service in the body of Christ.
Therefore, I will explore different views of spiritual gifts in preparation for this great opportunity.
Dr. John Ruthven, a professor at Regent University, has concluded that cessationism, as outlined in Benjamin B. Warfield’s 1918 book, Counterfeit Miracles, is seriously flawed. His online summary of a more substantial doctoral thesis, is available here: On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Post-Biblical Miracles.
Brilliant, Christian minds, clearly believe in a full range of possibilities, from full cessationists to full continuationists.
See the following blog related to this debate: Continuationism and Cessationism: An Interview with Dr. Wayne Grudem.
In 1 Thessalonians 3:12, Paul writes, “May the Lord make your love for each other and for everyone else grow by leaps and bounds. That’s how our love for you has grown.”
When I think about loving other people, I always imagine that it’s a feeling and an action that I generate within myself. Paul teaches us that since God is love (cf. 1 John 4), love grows as God allows it to grow.
Therefore, when I feel the need for more love, I should first pray to God to allow my love to grow.
Again, I see that the best first step toward growth is prayer.
It is interesting to note the dynamic between Timothy and Paul in 1 Thessalonians 3:5-6. I wonder what lessons there are for us today?
1. The leader doesn’t have to do it all
2. Find people you can trust with the most important missions
3. Trust your partners
4. Don’t partner with people you can’t trust! How different, unimaginably, history would be if Jesus had chosen 12 trustworthy disciples, and not just 11!
5. When you are betrayed, accept that God’s big picture is still intact.
6. Like Timothy served Paul, so I serve Christ
Christians often predict great suffering.
What is the difference between a healthy, spiritual view of suffering and an unhealthy anticipation?
Jesus models an appropriate anticipation of suffering in Luke 22:39-46. He balances his natural desire to avoid suffering with a clear submission to God’s will.
In Acts 5, we get a different perspective on suffering. In verses 40-42, we learn that Peter and some others “rejoiced” that they had the privilege of suffering for the name of Jesus.
It is better to suffer unjustly for doing God’s work than it is to suffer justly at the hands of the law and people.
The key is to focus on God’s work and purposes. Jesus and the apostles didn’t go looking for a fight. Their suffering was at the hands of people who didn’t like their message of truth.
When I suffer, it’s usually a result of my selfishness and sin. I won’t pray to avoid all suffering, but I will pray today that when I do experience suffering, it becomes more and more a reflection of my faith.
Paul explains to the Thessalonians that, “We wanted him [Timothy] to make you strong in your faith and to encourage you.”
We cannot grow spiritually in isolation.
Paul had a direct experience with Jesus.
We learn, in 1 Timothy 1:18-19, that Timothy received prophesies about his future service. I wonder what exactly this means.
The only prophetic word I remember receiving is from Chris D. at a former church, who said each time I spoke that she saw me serving as a pastor someday.
It’s nice having that sort of encouragement, but I wonder where to go with this information. I love teaching, and I’ve accumulated too much debt to become a pastor! Maybe this is an opportunity to explore after I’ve retired from public service. Hmmm…
I have received spiritual encouragement from dozens of people. I am surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses.” Hebrews 11:1-12:1 gives me great encouragement. I can add many names to the list in Hebrews 11 from my personal experience.
As I pray today, I will include thanks to God for the people he has placed in my life who have helped me to grow spiritually.