After a few weeks of looking at the many ways God has blessed my life, during my August Birth-Month, I am now getting back to our study of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Although I normally do not like to focus on our differences, it is important to take a look at the different views Christian denominations have concerning the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, not to be divisive, but to come to grips with what we believe and to understand different points of view.
In Part VII, we ended with looking at how the Apostal Paul ended his discussion on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, in I Corinthians 12:31: “But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way” (v. 31). What did Paul mean, “desire the greater gifts”? What was “the most excellent way?” He answers these questions in I Corinthians 13, known as “The Love Chapter” the Apostle Paul writes that there are “tongues of men and of angels” (v. 1a), but Paul also writes this in I Corinthians 13:1-8a
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not LOVE, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not LOVE, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not LOVE, I gain nothing. LOVE is PATIENT, LOVE is KIND. [LOVE] does not envy, [LOVE] does not boast, [LOVE] is not proud. [LOVE] is not rude, [LOVE] is not self-seeking, [LOVE] is not easily angered, [LOVE] keeps no record of wrongs. LOVE does not delight in evil but REJOICES in the TRUTH. [LOVE] always PROTECTS, always TRUSTS, always HOPES, always PERSEVERES. LOVE NEVER FAILS…”
Paul goes on to say that all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (prophecies, tongues, knowledge) will someday cease because they will no longer be needed when we see Jesus face to face – “then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and LOVE. But the greatest of these is LOVE” (vv. 12b-13). With the “Love Chapter” in mind, Paul teaches, “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid the speaking of tongues. BUT everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (I Corinthians 14:39). It again comes down [or up] to using our Gifts of the Spirit alongside the Fruit of the Spirit: “LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL” (See Galatians 5:22-26).
(Pam and me on the Bridge of Flowers)
I will end with a story that happened to a friend of mine. Pam went to visit a mutual friend who moved to Virginia. The three of us know each other because, at one time, we attended the same church. While visiting the friend, Pam and she went to a prayer group. After everyone prayed and went their separate ways, Pam’s friend asked her, “Did you feel uncomfortable?” Pam was surprised by this question and replied, “No. Why do you ask?” Pam’s friend told her that one of the men spoke in tongues. Pam did not realize that he spoke in tongues because Pam understood everything he said. Now, Pam is a close friend and sister in the Lord. We have known each other for decades. I know that what Pam told me was true “for it is God Who works in [us] to will and to act according to His good purpose“ (Philippians 2:13). Who are we to judge others? The most important thing is that the GOOD NEWS of God’s LOVE, through death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, by the POWER of the Holy Spirit be shared with the whole world! Amen.
“This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory” (Colossians 1:19-20; THE MESSAGE).
“Brothers [and sisters], do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother [sister] or judges him [her] speaks against the law [of God] and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Law-giver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12).
What about healing and miracles? Do they happen in the 21st Century Church, as they did in the 1st Century Church? This topic will be tackled after the Little League World Series is over and at the end of my August Birth-Month.