Monday, March 1, 2021

Let's Use Our Gifts

When most people think of gifts they tend to think of Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and showers to name a few. But for believers our first though should be the "Gifts of the Spirit." Why should this be? The apostle Paul tells us that, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all." (1 Corinthians 12:7) The gifts of the Spirit although given by the Holy Spirit to each one individually as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11) are for the profit, gain, advantage or benefit of all believers. God does not give gifts to an individual for His benefit, but for the benefit of the church, His Body. Paul also tells us "to earnestly desire these gifts" (1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1) for this very purpose. Paul further states, "Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel." (1 Corinthians 14:12) Well if these things are so, then why are the "Gifts of the Spirit" either down played or completely rejected in most congregation today? Why wouldn't church leaders encourage believers to desire them and use them if all believers benefit from them?

I believe that it comes down to the following. It is another diabolical scheme of Satan to increase the gap of division and disunity in the Body of Christ. His schemes have not changed in the history of man, yet man never seems to learn from history nor take serious the various warnings seen in the Bible, such as "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." (1 Timothy 4:1). Paul also speaks of the apostasy that would happen to many in the church, "having a form of godliness but denying its power." (2 Timothy 3:5) and "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:7) These things are so subtle and deceptive it seems as though church leaders would rather live with division and disunity rather than to admit our mistakes. Let's look at the inception of this malicious scheme of Satan into man's history.

The Bible records that Satan is cunning, crafty. (Genesis 3:1) His scheme in the Garden of Eden was to get the woman to reason away the truth by first challenging her with what God said, "Has God indeed said..." (Genesis 3:1) The command that came from God was, "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17).  Now look at the woman's response to Satan's questioning of God's Word, "...God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'" (Genesis 3:3) First, notice the woman added to the Word of God, "nor shall you touch it." As soon as we add to the Word of God by using our reasoning faculties rather than exercising faith, we are heading towards the snare of the devil. This very thing was exposed by Jesus when talking with the religious leaders, "you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition..."And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:6, 9)

Next, we see Satan once again attacking God's Word, "Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. (Genesis 3:4) Not only does Satan attack God's Word, but he also attacks God's character by insinuating that God is not being entirely honest with her,  "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:5) The deception was now complete. The woman no longer trusted the Word of God but began to reason it away, "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, (lust of the flesh) that it was pleasant to the eyes, (lust of the eyes) and a tree desirable to make one wise, (the pride of life) she took of its fruit and ate..." (Genesis 3:6) She was not relying on her spirit to lead her, but permitted her soul (mind, will and emotions) to make her decision. The great deception behind this entire incident was that she was already like God, "Then God said,"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..." (Genesis 1:26)

This very scheme is the root that causes most of the division in the church today. God has given every believer a "measure of faith." (Romans 12:3) However, when believers fail to exercise faith in the integrity of God's Word, let our soul (reasoning faculties) make the decision, the result is always the same, doctrine contrary to God's Word which expands the gap of division in the Body of Christ, God's family. This issue is not new to the church. The apostle Paul dealt with it in the church of Corinth (1 Corinthians 3:1-4) His conclusion to the church was, "you are still carnal...behaving like mere men." Jesus exposes this very deception shortly after Peter's revelation and confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16) Jesus tells His disciple of the fate that awaited Him in Jerusalem, but Peter rebuked Him saying, "Far be it from you, Lord; this shall not happen to you!" (Matthew 16:22) Notice Jesus' response, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."  (Matthew 16:23) Now we can understand Paul's response to the men in the church at Corinth. When believers reason away the Word of God they have permitted Satan's lies to manipulate their decisions causing them to be no longer "mindful of the things of God, but the things of men," acting like mere men.

So are the gifts of the Spirit for the church today? Well, think about this, "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:29). Although there is much more that the Bible reveals concerning the gifts of the Spirit, it should be obvious to us that yes the gifts of the Spirit are for the church today. There is not one verse of scripture the states verbatim that God revoked any gift that He has given to the church. The argument that the supernatural was only needed in the early church because today we have the canonized scriptures and have no need of them is strictly based upon human reasoning and not faith in the integrity of God's Word. If we really think about it and take a look at the world around us, we will have to admit that there is a far greater need for the supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit today than ever before.

The good news is not only will the world be evangelized but also, Jesus will not return, "...until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21) also takes place. I believe that the church is moving into a place through the Holy Spirit to where all the things that have become bricks in the wall of division in the church will come crumbling down. The name of Jesus will be magnified. The Word of God will prevail mightily not only in the church, but throughout the world and the love of God will emanate through believers making the church the desire of the world. So, as the apostle Paul said, "earnestly desire spiritual gifts." (1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1)

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