Daily Devotional for Wednesday February 26, 2003

Spiritual Gifts

(1 Corinthians 12)

Spiritual gifts. This is by far one of the most controversial issues in the church today. One of the things that grieves the heart of God the most, is the division within His body. Perhaps, nothing has divided the Body of Christ more then the issue of spiritual gifts. The sad fact is, it is a lack of understanding of this issue that has caused this division. Those who worship in a Pentecostal or Charismatic style church, embrace this issue, often too much so. Those who worship in more mainline denominational style churches such as the United Methodist, Presbyterian, or Baptist, often ignore this issue, often too much so. Like in most issues of division, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle, and the issue of spiritual gifts is no different.

Let me first clear up some beliefs that are 100% incorrect. Many who do not embrace spiritual gifts take the position that they are not for this day, that at some point they stopped to exist. NOTHING could be farther from the truth. There is NO, ZERO, Biblical support for this. Jesus told his followers that they would do even GREATER things then He did. He healed people, raised the dead, fed the multitudes with a few loaves and fishes, among other miracles.

Likewise, those who hold to the belief that those who do not operate in certain gifts are not saved, or spiritually immature, are just as wrong. The biggest issue in this area are those who claim that if you do not have the gift of tongues you do not have the Holy Spirit. 100% WRONG. The Bible CLEARLY says that EVERYONE who is saved, receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the "Promise" Jesus spoke of. It is the "Comforter". Being YIELDED to the Spirit of God that resides within you, is the issue. When you hear of people being "baptized in the Holy Spirit", if they are saved, they already possess the Holy Spirit. What is actually happening is that they are YIELDING to the power of the Holy Spirit that is within them. THAT is something that each person must do every day to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to flow through our life. This hotly debated issue is more an issue of semantics then anything else.

As for Spiritual Gifts. These are special gifts that God gives to His children at specific times, for very specific purposes. God does not do ANYTHING by accident. Likewise, you can not just activate the Gifts of God like you turn on a light switch. The biggest abuse of this is probably in the area of healing. YES, God does use human instruments to heal people. I will say that 99% of his human instruments are DOCTORS! Can someone rent a 20,000 seat arena, have a 200 voice choir an orchestra majestically lead the crowd in 1 hour of praise and worship, at the height of this emotional experience spend 45 minutes taking an offering, then open the alter for people to come forward and be healed, and people are actually healed? Yes. But even in this kind of situation it is God using the faith of the individual, in accordance with HIS plan, that brings about the healing. Never forget, in the Bible when Jesus healed someone, He said, "go, thy faith has made thee whole"!

The point is you do not have to go to a big crusade, or be in the presence of a certain person to be healed. It is JESUS who heals, through our faith, and in accordance with God's ultimate plan. I have over a 100,000 praise reports from people that have sent in healing requests to Liveprayer over the last 42 months who have been touched by God. Was there something magical about the prayers they got from here? NO. But God did hear those prayers and used the faith of the person in accordance with His perfect plan to bring about their healing. All Bill Keller, or any other person can do is to pray with you and challenge you to believe and to put your faith in God. The same Jesus who healed in the Bible, is the same Jesus that heals today.

The other gift that is greatly abused is that of the prophet. In the Old Testament, God often spoke through the prophet. Now that we have His Word, a prophet is someone who declares the oracles of God. A prophet is not a psychic, though God can give a prophet direction for a person or situation in advance. Most who call themselves prophets however, speak in lofty language, and much like the psychics, speak in generalities that can apply to almost ANY situation. I have always challenged ANYONE who wants to claim this gift, to read what the Bible says about a prophet. The Biblical mandate for anyone claiming to be a prophet is that the FIRST time they are wrong, they are to be taken to the edge of the city and stoned to death. I wonder how many prophets and prophetesses there would be if this as their penalty the first time they were wrong?

The bottom line to this sadly divisive issue is that spiritual gifts DO EXIST. They are NOT a sign of spiritual superiority but special gifts that God gives to His children at specific times for VERY specific purposes. The fact is that EVERY believer has at least one gift, and no believer has ALL of the gifts. The Bible says we should desire the gifts of God so that we can better fulfill our purpose of serving Him. The purpose of this Devotional is not to get into a theological debate over this issue. I am not here for that purpose, and I refuse to allow myself to get entangled in that kind of exchange.

I realize that there is much teaching on this issue, and possibly your church teaches things that might contradict what I have said. I will say this. One reason I rarely deal with this issue, is that like prophecy, people can get so focused on this one issue, that they forget the most important issue of all, which is what Liveprayer is here to do. To help you translate your faith into your every day life and fulfill all that God intends for your life to be. I have preached in churches of every denomination and the one common bond in every church no matter WHAT position they take on issues like Spiritual Gifts is that there are people hurting, and looking for encouragement and answers in their day to day life.

I love you and care about you very much. I will be praying for you today, especially that you don't allow an issue like Spiritual gifts divide you from other parts of the Body of Christ. Like Paul writes, we each are a different part, of the SAME Body. I will pray however that you open your heart to all that God wants to do with and through your life. To accomplish that, He will often give you special gifts to carry out His work. I pray that you open your heart to His will, and His plan for your life, and never limit what God can do with your life.

In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller