A Discerning view of

Spiritual Gifts Today

If you were to ask me which Spiritual Gifts I possess, I would answer, I don't possess any!

Having spent some of my Christian life worshipping in Pentecostal or Charismatic churches, I became so uncomfortable with the increasingly undiscerning and flippant attitudes shown towards spiritual gifts that on moving to France in 2005, I was pleased to join the leadership of a church where spiritual gifts were not openly practiced or taught  My position I feel was the same as Paul's, it's better to have no gifts than to settle for the disorder and error of the Corinthian Church to whom his epistle was written.

A More Biblical Way

I believe the way we should minister the Spiritual gifts is with the attitude of ‘Your will be done Lord!

We have to ask ourselves what spiritual gifts would be like, if they were used with true humility, love and respect?

This is where I return to my statement that I do not possess any spiritual gifts. I can hear the Charismatics saying: but, but, but.... So, let me explain:

If I believe that the Holy Spirit has spoken to me about something and (after confirming it with a responsible person) I pass it on to the church.  -  who has the gift of prophecy? Not me, as I've passed it on! The Church has now been given the gift of a prophecy. Equally, if I pray for someone who is sick and they're healed, who has the gift of healing? It's obvious, the person who was sick has been given the Holy Spirit's gift of healing! I've merely been used to transmit the gift. This means that I can only pass on what God gives to me!

The Old Testament Prophets, did not possess the Gift of Prophecy so they couldn't prophecy at their own discretion! They were charged by God not to do this, but, only to pass on exactly what he said, when he said and to whom he said. See my article 'Prophets Today?' 

Doesn’t this sound more like a Biblical attitude? I’m not a Prophet or a healer and I have no status as a result of anything God has done through me. I would only say that I do my utmost to listen to God, and then obey Him, that's all. So I don’t possess any spiritual gifts, they are for passing on to those who need them when the Holy Spirit decides. A postman doesn’t own the letters and parcels he delivers.

OK, perhaps you can argue with this idea and make it into a theological issue, but the fact remains that the basic things that were wrong with the Corinthian church and the church today in the use of spiritual gifts, are things like pride, jealousy, lack of love and a lack  of discernment. It’s people who think they possess Spiritual Gifts that are producing all the extreme nonsense that we see today. 

A Way Forward

I believe that there is one simple thing that can totally change our attitude towards spiritual gifts, whatever our viewpoint, and that is that we acknowledge that spiritual gifts are the Holy Spirit's gifts - not ours. 

This change of position will help prevent anyone from feeling that they are special and superior to other Christians. It will help them to keep a humble attitude, rather than feeling that they have a gift (and consequently a status) that others need to recognise. Instead, they can only be grateful and humbled if God chooses to positively answer their prayer.

It's The Holy Spirit who decides whom he will bless, or when he wants to say something to someone and not us. This really is God's territory. We're powerless in ourselves unless The Holy Spirit chooses to work through us.

By accepting that spiritual gifts are God's to give as and when he wills, and that these spiritual powers are not ours, there should be no reason for anyone to reject spiritual gifts today.

In reality, what good is a church full of people who believe they're healers if God doesn't choose to heal? 

We must let God be God! Even Jesus said that he only did what he saw the Father do. Let's have the same attitude, otherwise we will only be rushing around 'ministering' in our own strength, and most likely doing more harm than good. It's so sad to see that most of the so-called healers today use similar methods in their meetings which hides all those that do not get healed. They draw on the placebo effect while still claiming God wants to heal everyone.

So Spiritual Gifts are not born in us or inherited in our genes, as many Christians believe, but remain the Holy Spirit’s property.

Barring extremism of course, if you're prepared to be real, then you will understand that this is the heart of the problem. Viewed this way, you can see how close the two sides of this old contentious argument actually are!

Do you have the faith to really place this issue into God's hands, and let the Holy Spirit guide you in love, or will we continue to cold-shoulder those who don't agree with us? 

I cannot over emphasise how important it is that we bring love and humility into this situation! This is the key that will open every door, even those that we ourselves have locked and barred. After all, it's by loving one another that men will know that we are His disciples.

If you find that in getting down to the heart of this problem I've over-looked concerns that you have, you can email me or I'm sure you'll find more information in my other articles. Particularly 'Spirituality today', 'Prophets today' and 'Discernment or Judgment’.

I believe that a new way forward is needed and that means not raking over all the tired old arguments, this would achieve nothing.

Martyn Cunnington  

© Martyn Cunnington revised 2021