As we continue to look deeper into the gifts or manifestations of the spirit, it’s so important to realize that they are given of God for service. Pride is such a natural bent in us as humans that we need to guard against thinking it’s all about us or that we are doing things when God is actually the one working through us.
The vice-president of a large corporation died suddenly and a brash junior executive asked the president, “Do you suppose I could take his place?” “It’s fine with me,” answered the president, “If you can arrange it with the undertaker.”
As we look at the gift of prophecy, the key words are service and grace.
1 Corinthians 12:1, 8-11: “Now about these gifts of the spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
I think one of the constant struggles people who are serious about their study of the word of God have, is continually being aware of the fact that we have preconceptions that we need to work through and walls that sometimes need to be blown up for us to really get what the truth of the word of God is all about.
As individuals we have ideas sometimes that become set in concrete. For some Christians there are doctrines they believe that could be directly contradicted by Scripture, but they are going to go on believing them anyway. They have a mentality of “That’s just the way I think and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Every one of us, whether we like it or not, and whether we recognize it or not, have what I would call a grid through which we perceive truth. It’s a grid that we have developed since childhood – a way of thinking – things we’ve learned all our lives, and anything outside of the way we think can become very uncomfortable.
As I have been getting into this study – and quite frankly – for much longer as the Lord’s been working in me – I’m becoming aware of the fact that there’s a message that has always come across to me. This message was nothing that was proclaimed from the pulpit – it was just a very subtle thing, lived out in how we operated and acted and responded to what God was doing. The message was this: God used to work in power, but he doesn’t any more. It was never proclaimed from the pulpit that “God doesn’t work anymore,” nobody said that, but that was the underlying message. We loved to look and see what God used to do back in the Old Testament and the New Testament, the miracles, etc. But – those things don’t happen anymore – so don’t get excited.
So, the church came up with doctrines that somehow would protect us from ever getting too excited. After all, we wouldn’t want people to get disappointed when something doesn’t happen the way they thought it should. If they get disappointed they’ll get disillusioned and if they get disillusioned, they’ll fall away from the faith. Let’s just protect this whole thing and don’t worry because God doesn’t work anymore in power. Don’t let your expectations get to a place where you expect what is not going to happen anyway.
I hope God is teaching us some things about His power – that our God is still in the business of making crooked people straight, sick people well, bound people free, broken people whole, and sinful people new. It’s called the gospel. And the gospel of the New Testament is the gospel of today. And its power is expressed partially through the manifestations of the spirit as He empowers us for service.