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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 142

The Gifts Part 47

Prophecy continued...

There are some who do not dispute the office of a prophet in the Old Testament, but are reticent when it comes to believing that this continued on into the New Testament. Although it would be easy to speculate, since as human beings we are readily given to speculation, there is concrete evidence within the word of God, that indeed there were men even in the New Testament that operated in more than one gift at any given time.

One of the greatest, yet most often overlooked examples in the New Testament when it comes to the operation of more than one gift is the case of Peter and Ananias and Sapphira. Peter not only knew of their sin and their pact to lie about the price they had sold their land for, but also of the gravity of their sin, and the punishment they would receive for attempting to deceive the Holy Spirit. In that instant at least two gifts operated within the apostle Peter, the gift of the word of knowledge, the gift of the word of wisdom, as well as the gift of discerning of Spirits, as Peter tells Ananias that Satan had filled his heart to lie to the Holy Spirit.

Shortly after her husband breathed his last, expired and was carried out and buried, Sapphira also came before Peter, and it was at this time that he foretold of her demise, informing her that those who had carried her husband out would soon carry her out as well.

Acts 5:9-10, “Then Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.”

In order to get around all of Paul’s teachings on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially his teaching on prophecy and the desiring thereof, some have said that prophecy is in our day and age nothing more than the preaching of the word of God. It is yet another misinterpretation and mislabeling of a gift that has caused many to stumble, and has brought a considerable amount of confusion within the household of faith.

Denominational filters notwithstanding, we must allow the word of God to have the final say when it comes to spiritual matters, and if the word contradicts a certain denomination’s dogma it is incumbent upon us to choose whose report we will believe. Will we believe the word of God or the words of men? Will we rely on men’s opinions and speculations or on the divinely inspired and eternal word of God?

A sermon is not a prophecy! There are times when within the context of a sermon God inspires a preacher or an evangelist and they give a word from the Lord, or they prophecy, but what a sermon is in essence, is a teaching or exposition on the divinely inspired word found within the pages of Scripture.

There has always been, and there will always be a place for teaching, or sermons within the house of God, because spiritual gifts cannot replace evangelism or preaching, nor can evangelism and preaching replace spiritual gifts. Both the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as the offices to which certain men are called, which include the offices of teacher, pastor and evangelist must work together, as one, for the edification of the Body of Christ and the building up thereof.

It is Paul himself who rebuked those that dismissed doctrine and concentrated solely on the gifts in Corinthians, because in order to have a stable spiritual house, you must have a stable spiritual foundation, and a stable spiritual foundation can only be had through the word of God.

Doctrine, spiritual maturity and the gifts of the Holy Spirit must work in concert with each other, for if any of these are lacking within a fellowship of believers it will become visible and painfully so in due time.

Going back to the church at Corinth, from what Paul writes to them, it would seem there was no lack of spiritual gifts, yet their spiritual immaturity, the sin they had allowed to fester and grow within the camp unchecked, their reliance on the gifts alone while dismissing sound doctrine and teaching, made for a very unsafe spiritual environment one for which Paul rebuked them sternly and repeatedly.

Yes, there were gifts within the church of Corinth, but very little spiritual fruit. There were manifestations of tongues and prophecy, but by the same token there was also sin, division, camps within the camp who would claim to follow one teacher or another. The risk of accentuating a certain dimension of the work of God while minimizing, neglecting, or dismissing others is real in our day and age just as it was during the days of the primary church. We see such things playing out often enough, and just as often with dire consequences, wherein a certain group or a certain church focuses solely on one aspect of the spiritual life while neglecting the others, and though they might experience growth for a season eventually it all comes to ruination. God intended His children to be complete and balanced, He intended His children to desire the fullness of Him not just one aspect of Him, and when we stray from this, when in our own wisdom which is no less than folly we assume and presume that it pleases God when we take it upon ourselves to countermand Him and strike out on our own seeking certain aspects of God and not God Himself, it’s only a matter of time before we fall flat on our faces, empty and rudderless, yearning for the peace and joy and grace we once had in Him.

We strive to be complete spiritual beings; we strive for symmetrical growth wherein we are not stunted in any area of our Christian walk, hence the reason for a balanced spirituality, one that incorporates both teaching, and doctrine, spiritual fruit as well as spiritual gifts.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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