The week after Easter can be something special. Coming off of Spring Break for the kiddos and ministry movement back to normal after special services and feasts. So here we are with warmer temps and an eye for summer, which will come faster than we know.
Before the weekend hits with its refreshing and rest, read up. A journal worth checking out and a prayer for those graduating from seminary.
Themelios is the Gospel Coalition’s “international, evangelical, peer-reviewed theological journal that expounds and defends the historic Christian faith.”
And this month’s issue deals with some of the conversation around the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit. With pieces from Andrew Wilson and Tom Schreiner it should be a helpful look at the issue.
It is on my reading list and I thought it should be on yours as well. Download it here.
Five years ago today I graduated from Western Seminary with a Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. It was quite the journey and the time in seminary was tremendously valuable.
The most meaningful portion of the ceremony was the prayer by Todd Miles for the graduates. Later he published the same prayer as a blog post and it is worth praying again.
So Father, we ask for them that they would always remember the gospel, for it is the gospel that actually dedicates, it is the gospel that consecrates them to service, it is the gospel that has called them, it is the gospel that has saved them, it is the gospel that continues to empower them. Father, may they never, ever forget that.
We ask that you would give them wisdom — wisdom to follow you, discerning hearts to understand the difference between those thoughts that go contrary to the Word of God, and those that have been taken captive in obedience to your Son. We pray, Father, that you would give each of them an attentiveness to your Spirit, that they would depend upon His enablement, His empowerment every day and in every way.
One of the most prominent arguments against the embrace of functioning spiritual gifts (those outlined in 1 Corinthians) is that they ceased to exist in the church after the first century and twentieth century realizations of these gifts are void and misguided. This point is striking and requires us, especially those of us that maintain a view of the active work of the Holy Spirit through gifts, to study further and evaluate if it is true.
Sam Storms has presented telling examples of historical work of the gifts throughout church history and gives seven points to consider in how we view spiritual gifts. This is a must-read for anyone contemplating spiritual gifts in the church.
While the complete text is refreshing and challenging, a few statements and thoughts leave me pondering today.
Storms points out that even among cessationist churches, those that claim gifts expired with the early church, the gifts could be functioning but we refuse to label them as such. Storms claims that “God mercifully blesses us both with what we don’t deserve and what we refuse or are unable to recognize. I am persuaded that numerous churches today who advocate cessationism experience these gifts but dismiss them as something less than the miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit.”
“For example, someone with the gift of discerning spirits may be described as “possessing remarkable sensitivity and insight.” Someone with the gift of word of knowledge is rather said to have “deep understanding of spiritual truths.” Someone who prophesies is said to have “spoken with timely encouragement to the needs of the congregation.” Someone who lays hands on the sick and prays successfully for healing is told that God still answers prayer but that “gifts of healing” are no longer operative. These churches wouldn’t be caught dead labeling such phenomena by the names given them in 1 Cor. 12:7-10 because they are committed to the theory that such phenomena don’t exist.”
This is a challenging thought that we as a church have simply semantically denied the work of the Holy Spirit. I think it robs God of glory when we try to rationally process things in our lives that are more rightly understood as a work of the Spirit. To this point Storms strongly suggests that “Both theological ignorance of certain biblical truths and a loss of experiential blessings provided by spiritual gifts can be, and should be, attributed to factors other than the suggestion that God intended such knowledge and power only for believers in the early church.”
Storms finishes his lengthy, but easily digestible, piece with thoughts on Sola Scriptura, that the Bible should be our only guide in determining how we are to live and experience the Holy Spirit’s work. “The final criterion for deciding whether God wants to bestow certain spiritual gifts on his people today is the Word of God. I am continually shocked and grieved to hear people cite the alleged absence of a particular experience in the life of an admired saint from the church’s past as reason for doubting its present validity. As much as I respect the giants of the Reformation and of other periods in church history, I intend to emulate the giants of the NT who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I admire John Calvin, but I obey the apostle Paul.”
I am coming off of a week of some great conversations about the Charismatic movement and have launched myself into a fuller study of what it would mean for a new generation of leaders to “reclaim” Charismatic expression and pair it with solid biblical theology and teaching.
Roger Olsen’s comments are getting a lot of attention from those closer to his own ascribed Arminian leanings. But I wonder how this looks mingled with more Reformed theology. Groups like Sovereign Grace and New Frontiers are merging what some would see as two opposites but times are changing and thinking is shifting.
Our goal is not to see a movement gain credibility or start to exclude impostors among them, but instead that people would realize what Christ has done for them and pursue him. I might lose Reformed points for believing that God desires for everyone to be saved to it is toward this goal that I wonder how we can reclaim the Charismata of Paul and the first century church.