Gifts of the Holy Spirit
*Just a reminder that this study of Wayne Grudem's book, Systematic Theology, is not by any means me teaching, but rather a simple summary chapter by chapter of his book for my own enrichment.*
A spritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church.
This can include: teaching, mercy, administration, prophecy, healing, distinguishing between spirits.
Many such gifts were rare in the Old Testament, although they longed for an outpouring of God’s spirit as seen in Joel 2 and Numbers 11, “would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”
Many times it is written that Jesus came in the power of the Spirit, and this outpouring of the Holy Spirit was clearly upon the early believers.
The purpose of the spiritual gifts is to equip the church to carry out its ministry until Christ returns, and to build up the church. They are also a foretaste of the life to come.
God has given the church an amazing variety of spiritual gifts, and they are all tokens of his varied grace. These differences are useful, and we should depend on one another to be a whole body of Christ.
We might not feel specially gifted in some things, but all are called to practice those things anyway, such as teaching (certainly teaching your children about God), evangelism, and prayer for God to heal others, for example.
We should seek to use our gifts for the building up of the church, to glorify God, and a love for others, and to that end even seek out what is needed in our local church and try to help fill that need (and thus find out if that is our gifting).
Grudem argues that the New Testament points out that “when the pefect comes, the imperfect will pass away,” and this ultimately means that when Christ returns, the gifts will pass away, so we should be wary to claim that gifts have ceased.
Any prophecy such as was done in the Old Testament, where we thus should add it to the canon of scripture, is not at all the same as the prophecy mentioned in the New Testament, but rather should be in submission and agreement with the word of God. The abuse of a gift does not mean that we should prohibit the proper use of that gift.
Grudem says, “we appreciate the desire of cessationists to protect the uniqueness of scripture and not to allow anything to compete with the authority of scripture in our lives. But if cessationists are wrong on this point, there is a danger that they are opposing something that God is doing in the church today, and failing to give him glory for it.”
Finally, cessationists and charismatics need each other….the first has more strength in doctrine and deep understanding of the teachings of scripture, and the other has more practical experience in the use of spiritual gifts and vitality in worship.