Are spiritual gifts a thing of the past?

If you have attended church in the last two decades, you may be asking the same question.

Do you remember a time when the gifts of the Spirit manifested in your corporate service?

After being saved, I immediately attended a Charismatic Church. The year was 1985. It was exciting to be a part of a moving, growing church. The church of the ’80s was passionate about Jesus and reaching others in our community. 

The services were Jesus-focused, and everyone united around God’s presence and power. A part of the manifestations were individuals praying powerfully out loud, and gifts of the Spirit were in demonstration.  Service protocol was in place and things were done in order.

Some of the manifested gifts included a spoken tongue and interpreting God’s message to the church family. When we manifest God’s gift we manifest God’s heart for His body.

I believe God is well pleased when His gifts manifest in our gatherings.

I understand the need to manage the gifts in the larger congregations. But allowing the gifts to move is possible with even several hundred in the room. 

We have personally learned how to flow in the gifts with 200-300 or more in the gathering. 

And yes, this is more difficult in the mega-church. The mega-church must take the responsibility to train and teach the small group leaders to allow gifts to manifest in their meetings.

The church is a body of members with spiritual gifts and every member has a spiritual gift.

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:7, Amplified Bible)

The manifestation of spiritual gifts matures the Body and the members. God desires that we operate our gifts and flow in them.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. (I Corinthians 12:1, ESV).

We define the uninformed as ignorant, and ignorant is defined as not knowing, lacking information, belittling, and disregarding. God does not want us clueless about the gifts of the Spirit.   

Ignorance is no excuse. The church is not designed for only the staff to use and operate their spiritual gifts. So, teaching the believers to desire, discover, develop, and demonstrate their gifts is paramount. We can be ignorant through disregarding, lacking information, or belittling the info we have.

Ignorance of spiritual gifts resides in pastors and leaders of all sizes of churches. Today’s pastors are great at pontificating, organization, and service schedules.

Most churches have no system to steward God’s presence or steward the gifts of the Spirit

The gifts have been pushed aside or resisted in most churches for over two decades. Some churches have never allowed spiritual gifts to be used in services at all. Today’s pastors are not trained to use the gifts and certainly not trained to steward the gifts. It’s easier to run a predictable church than an unpredictable one.  

I am using the word unpredictable, meaning allowing the Holy Spirit to operate in the service through believers.  So, in the church where the gifts are allowed, how are the gifts stewarded?

We have lost the importance of gifts in the church.  This is the reason we have seen the rise of celebrity pastors. The celebrity pastor is not only in the larger churches. We have seen celebrity pastors in churches under 30 people. These pastors have more bodyguards than members.

They are celebrities because they stifle the gifts that should manifest through the believers and only the ministers manifest them. This makes celebrities of ministers and consumers of the members. When members are deprived of using their gifts the church becomes sick and anemic.  

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (I Peter 1:10, NKJV)

So, we see each one has a gift.

Risky Church 

I understand the challenge. Allowing the gifts to manifest is risky. We also suffer the risk of strange fire coming from peculiar people. There is always the showoff and the poser. But the reward is worth the risk. 

Without the risk of allowing the gifts to flow, we suffer the loss of not hearing from God. But when we experience the presence of God and the gifts of God flowing, it is priceless. 

The Bible-believing church that allows the gifts of the Spirit is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

We certainly need to see the church revitalized and better prepared to host God’s presence.  

Let’s start here. What is a biblical protocol to steward prophetic words?  

First, we should never despise prophecy – do not push it away. When words of wisdom, knowledge, and prophecy manifest, the scripture gives explicit instruction on stewarding these manifestations.  

“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.” (I Corinthians 14:29, ESV)

Here we go. The scripture says to discern and judge prophetic words. Prophetic words are to be discerned by the leaders, and if correction is needed, give correction in private. I am a firm believer in correcting the saints.

Godly discipline trains the saints and establishes biblical authority in the body.

Providing Godly discipline is one way we steward and pastor the gifts. When pastoring the gifts, we reserve the right to question the content. A good question is, does the gift builds up the church and the people through using the scripture. We also discern if the word divides the church, or condemns the saints.

The following questions will help to examine the motive of the gift and the giver.

-Does this gift build up the church?  

-Is the manifestation laced with the fruit of the Spirit?

-Is the gift genuine or for a show?  

-Does the gift violate moral or ethical laws?

-Does the gift shift the church off course or current strategy?

In examining the gifts, we look primarily for objective truth, not subjective. We also look at the principles of scripture more than the experiences of people. We do not look for the spectacular but the supernatural-that flows from the gifts

The gifts of the Spirit are the mind, heart, and power of God on display. We believe that genuine gifts of the Spirit make the church body healthy and aggressive and not passive or lazy. 

In other words, the gifts of the Spirit motivate the members of the church to act. 

We also believe every member is a minister, and God has given everyone a gift that defines their place in the body.

But the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:11, NKJV)

I agree that people are searching for an authentic church experience. The church that manifests the gifts is more authentic than those that don’t.

How can we claim to be authentic if God is not on display?  

Let’s make room for God to reveal His power through His people.

But everything must be done in a proper and orderly manner. (I Corinthians 14:40, Berean Study Bible)

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