Monday, July 8, 2019

Gifts of Grace: Are the 9 Charismatic/Sign Gifts still active today?

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 1 Corinthians 12:7 NKJV

He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:5 KJV

 When you think of Grace, have you ever thought about the Gifts Grace has provided? Throughout the New Covenant Paul speaks of gifts from God. We see Ministry giftings, we see spiritual giftings many scholars call the motivational gifts that all believers have. We also see the Charismatic Gifts mentioned, the nine manifestation gifts. 

 What are these manifestation Gifts you may ask? Allow the Spirit through Paul to answer;
for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 NKJV

 These are the powerful manifestations of the Spirit in our midst. The question many have is are these Gifts for today? Ministers of religious tradition attempt to convince us unequivocally that they have in fact ceased. That God gave us gifts but then took them back. 

That God is in Heaven and we are on our own down here until we get to Heaven. That God doesn't move in our lives in supernatural ways any longer. That believers in Christ cannot expect God's hand to move in their lives in healing, or prophetic words, or supplying provision. Now, of course, they say you can pray generally for God to bless you, but He is "sovereign" and whatever will be will be. God may be teaching you through hard times. Does this sound like Jesus, the Person of Grace?

 Whenever Jesus encountered lack, He brought provision. When He encountered sickness and disease He brought forth healing. When He encountered infirmity, He brought strength. When He encountered oppression He brought deliverance. When He encountered sin and condemnation, He brought forgiveness and mercy. Whenever He encountered brokenness He brought wholeness. The Good News is Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever! Jesus hasn't changed.

 So if Jesus is the same, has the Spirit and His operations in the Church somehow ceased because of the passage of time? Tradition says it was the Apostles who worked miracles and since they've passed on, hence the Gifts ceased. Is this correct?

 If so what do we do with Peter's own words? What am I referring to? You can see Peter's words in Acts completely destroy this narrative. Peter declared it wasn't his power that brought forth that miracle healing. If the miracle was simply because He was an Apostle that God healed the man why didn't he attribute that to the root cause? 

 Peter doesn't take any credit for the healing. He doesn't attribute his apostleship. He doesn't even take into account his personal holiness or goodness. He attributes God's goodness and the God kind of Faith in Jesus name with this miracle.

The problem with religion only attributing signs and wonders with apostleship is they omit the goodness of God. They are omitting the love of God. They are forsaking the mercy and compassion of our Good Father. Instead of God ministering life, healing and wholeness because He loves His creation, He is a cold diety merely endorsing the ministry of 12 men. He isn't concerned with afflictions humanity suffers. Love looking to alieve suffering isn't the heart behind miraculous healing, rather it's just God endorsing titles of a few men until the Bible can be fully written. 

One other point to ponder. Acts records that people other than the Apostles flowed in signs and wonders. Stephan was no Apostle, he was merely a Deacon, yet he was full of faith and flowed in signs and wonders. Look at Philip. He was an Evangelist. He was not an Apostle and he flowed in powerful signs and wonders. We still have Evangelists today, and Deacons, so why couldn't the Gifts still be active?

The Gifts haven't ceased But Faith for the Gifts have ceased

 If we go back to Peter's words, what other principle does he attribute that miraculous healing too? The authority of Jesus name, and Faith in that name. Yes, the Faith that comes through Him. Faith brought forth the sign and wonder. 

 Uncertain, doubtful, unconvinced and unbelieving prayer didn't bring about this miracle. The reason some like this idea of the Gifts ceasing, and that it was only through the original Apostles, that Gifts manifested because it gives them an opportunity to make excuse for their unbelief and lack of Faith. Though it is lack of Faith and the presence of unbelief, there is still hope.

 When we relinquish the traditions of men and listen to truth instead of tradition Faith comes. The cure for unbelief is no longer feeding on doubt and instead focusing on and feeding our spirit God's Word, seeing who Jesus is. It's believing Jesus is who He said is. This means not just seeing Jesus as Savior, but also as Healer, Deliverer, Provider, Baptizer in the Spirit, and Triumphant, Victorious King of Kings, the One who already soundly, perfectly defeated the enemy! 

 In Summation, have the Gifts ceased? Are they no longer active today? Is Jesus still who He said He is? Has the Spirit changed? Not one single passage in Scripture states these Gifts will not continue year after year. Not one passage states when the Bible is complete or the last Apostle dies these signs and wonders will cease to function. 

 These Gifts are also called the Charismatic Gifts. Charismata means Gifts of Grace. His Grace is definitely still active today. God's Love is still active today. God's Goodness is still active today. God's power has not waned or grown inactive. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. These Gifts have not ceased nor will they ever in the life of the Church.
Image by annca from Pixabay

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Suffering Question: God Why? Trials...Tragedies...Trauma....Triumph!

 The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.
Nahum 1:7 NKJV
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. 
Psalm 107:1 NLT
The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. 
Psalm 145:8-9 KJV
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Psalm 34:8 NKJV

We've been in an extended study examining God's Love, mercy, and all the time Goodness in light of human suffering and tragedy. We've looked closely at God's role in the adversity, difficulty, and distresses we've all experienced in some form or fashion living in this fallen world. We've explored extensively God's Word on this subject.

 In this series, we've seen God is always good no matter the circumstance. We've seen God post-Cross is not sending wrathful judgment on nations. We've seen the truth that God is not the author of our sickness or disease or our troubles. We've thoroughly examined Job and all the traditions birthed from it. 

 Today, I sense the leading to conclude this series by simply asking God why. More clearly stated, concluding this study by addressing the questioning of God many of us have done at some point in our walk with God. All of us have experienced things that we can't always understand. There are people who have gone through things and they can't make sense of it. What do we do in these times?

Don't run from God, don't quit talking with God, run to God!

 When trouble arises that's not the time to abandon our walk with Jesus. It's not the time to listen to the lies of traditional religion. It's not the time to forsake the assembly of the brothers and sisters in Christ. It's especially never the time to listen to the lies of the enemy the accuser. 

 Listen, when the enemy can't convince you of your unworthiness, or unrighteousness, when he can't push you into accepting his accusations about your standing with God, he will immediately attempt to persuade you to accept accusations about God. He begins to accuse God to you. He tries his hardest to get you to accept his lies about the Father. He impugns God's Goodness, His justice, His will for you. He tries to get you to question God's faithfulness toward you. 

 He works to get you to accept religious lies about God;
 "God's willing to heal some but not you."
 "God's goodness and mercy only go so far."
"God's putting this on you to punish you."
"God brought this in your life to better you if you resist it you're rebelling against God."

 Resist these tactics from the enemy. The Word promises when we resist the enemy he will flee. When the enemy comes in, like a flood the Spirit will lift up a standard against him. Rejoice the enemy is defeated.

Troubles of our own making

There are two aspects of this I want to address. First, if we are experiencing difficulties, sometimes we need to take a moment to see the source of the trouble. Sometimes just knowing the source affords us the opportunity to bring a quick end to the negative.

 For instance, take the financial arena, now this isn't about condemning anyone but just about covering all our bases when it comes to answering the suffering question. Again, look at the financial arena. If struggles of insufficiency plague you ensure you're not living beyond your means. Ensure you're using wisdom in finances. Sometimes we can make poor choices and then see the result. 

 Now this works the same in all areas of life. Our health, our employment, our relationships, etc. It's not about guilt and shame ridden self-introspection either. It's about ensuring there isn't something you may be doing that is the cause of the trouble and seeing if there are ways to rectify it.

 Now when it comes to troubles of our own making the other aspect is the reality of His great Grace. What can we expect from the troubles of our own making? That is what is God's response to us? Are His hands folded in disgust and disapproval? Does He say, "this is your fault, you made this mess, deal with it, I am not going to help you"? 

 No! God is a Good Father! He sought after Peter after he denied Christ. He declared David was a man after His own heart. He said Abraham was the friend of God. All these men were imperfect vessels. 

 No matter the cause, God is always willing and ready to turn it around for your good. He is always there to turn a mess into a message of hope and deliverance. He's even ready to turn your sin into a win, turning what was darkness to light bringing redemption and wholeness and effecting change to all. He is our ever-present help in times of trouble. 

 Some would read this and think I am saying God is ok with our sins and wicked deeds. That we should sin so Grace may abound. If you don't get accused of this then you aren't preaching the Gospel that Paul preached. What I am saying is God is amazing in His Grace that He turns around even the most wicked situation and redeems everyone involve. For instance, we've seen well-known people, who were involved in criminal activity, sang music that uplifted self and wickedness, those who performed in pornographic films later in life give their life to Christ and due to their former notoriety, they have a larger platform to share their testimony. God indeed turned their sin into a win!

In the middle of the mystery

 Now that we have settled the issue that God is good and only does good we can address some of the situations and circumstances many have gone through and they just can't seem to make any sense of it. These hard times create questions. They make us sometimes doubt God's goodness. 

 This is what I like to call living in the middle of the mystery. That there is a promise given, there is a response of belief yet the answer seems not to be manifesting. Do we conclude that God lied? Do we conclude God says one thing and reserves the right to do another?

 I won't accept that God is partially good. I won't accept that God says one thing and won't fulfill His Word. Before I continue, don't think I don't know what it's like living in the mystery. I can share this, my wife and I have wanted children for many years now. Yet, we have not seen this come to pass.

 We've conceived twice and in both cases, we lost the child due to ectopic or tubal pregnancy. Now as a believer in Jesus, the One who knows us before we were born, I believe life begins at conception. So yes those were two lives lost in the womb. Sadly, both of my wife's tubes were lost in the process. Now aside from a recreative miracle, we cannot conceive naturally. Again, so we know what it's like living in the mystery.

 My heart hurts sometimes when I think about having children, yet I have a peace that surpasses human understanding. Why? Because I know who Jesus is, this is Jesus;
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 NKJV
 Jesus is always good. I have a Father in Heaven who loves me. A Father that is good and only does good! That is my conviction, and I have seen His goodness over and over and over again in my life and in those around me.

 Ok, you may say, I get it God is good, but I am going through some really hard times. I can't see His goodness. What now? What do we do in the middle of the mystery? I am glad you asked.

 What do we do in the middle of this mystery? When I was going through the worst of it, we just went through this last December, I had the same reactions and many questions. The answer came as I was listening to a worship song.

 There was a line that spoke of being in the middle of the mystery. The answer went off in my spirit like a nuclear bomb! I saw it and it brought me so much joy and refreshing. I was renewed with this simple truth. That is we praise Him even more in the middle of the mystery.

 Singing His praises in the middle of the mess, in the middle of the trial, in the middle of the hard times brings supernatural peace and refreshing. So whatever you're going through, turn your eyes to Jesus. Put Him in remembrance. No matter how bad it seems, His goodness and Grace are greater. Raising a praise is your weapon, it's the solution.

 In summation, concluding this series, we know and understand God is always good. We know that He is the healer and the One who makes us whole. He is not the One bringing destruction. He is the One who brings life and turns our situation around. In the midst of the worst scenarios, let praise be your response. Let a melody of praise and worship be the weapon you raise against the enemy. The suffering question? Jesus is the answer! 
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay