Are The Gifts of the Spirit Still Available?

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 13:10-12 (NLT)
10 But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless. 11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

When I was very young in the faith my spiritual life was radically changed by an experience known as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I discovered this experience quite by accident at a 2nd Chapter of Acts concert in the late 70’s. During a time of worship, I began to sing in a language I had never studies, learned, or been taught. This was a traumatic experience, and afterwards I had a new passion, excitement, and spiritual empowerment. Since then it has baffled me that some Christians believe that this experience no longer exists, and some even teach that is it evil. This is the main text that they use to support their belief. They presume that the “full understanding,” usually translated “perfect or complete” refers to the completion of the New Testament at the end of the first century. They teach that since we have the New Testament we no longer need the gifts of the Spirit. Really? Is that what Paul is talking about? Would his readers have understood it that way? I don’t think so! Pentecostal as well as many non-Pentecostal scholars refute the notion that Paul is saying anything like this here. It seems more in line with the context that here Paul is looking forward to the Parousia, or second coming of Christ, not the close of the canon. Also, in these verses Paul is not even writing about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. His statements really have little if anything to do with the question of the availability of a distinctive baptism experience today (Horton, Systematic Theology, 445). Furthermore, Paul’s audience would never have understood it that way. They would not have understood Paul to be saying that “perfect” had to do with the completion of the New Testament, a concept that would have been foreign to them. Moreover, if Paul were talking about the completion of Scripture he would have been more explicit than implicit. Additionally, why would he spend so much time (three chapters) talking about something that in a short period of time would be extinct? It seems to make much more sense that Paul is talking about the second coming of Christ. After all, it is only then that we will understand completely. It will only be then that we will see with perfect clarity (face to face, NIV). Do we still need the gifts of the Spirit today? Absolutely! Are they still available today? You bet they are!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Be Healed: A Personal Testimony

Greetings IN the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.

There are those that advocate that God is no longer in the healing business. Well, I know better! While I firmly believe that God works through those in the medical profession and whole-heartedly support those in it, even they have limitations. Now I am willing to admit that there have been those who have abused this gift, however, that doesn’t negate the fact that God is definitely still in the healing business. In this verse both gift and healing are plural. This indicates, “there are various gifts to heal various kinds of sicknesses and diseases (Horton, I & II Corinthians). It also seems to indicate “that the Spirit’s gifts will heal not just one item of sickness or disease but everything that is wrong. He wants to heal the whole person” (Horton). This brings me back to the whole idea of limitations. Perhaps you have seen the television commercial for COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). It states that there is no known cure for this disease. Really? I know one, and his name is Jesus Christ! Most of the people at New Life are familiar with my dear friend Charlotte Powell’s testimony, but for those who are reading this on the Internet let me share it with you. She was diagnosed in 2004 with COPD, and had more recently been told that it was getting worse. Physical activity was becoming more difficult for her and going out in cold weather was completely out of the question for her. In May 2010 we had a week of revival services, and on the Monday of that week she came to altar for prayer. To make a long story short, she hasn’t had her medicine since that day and has never felt better. She now serves as my personal assistant at the church. God did what medical science was unable to do. Does God still heal people? You bet He does. Can he heal you? You have not because you ask not.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

 

Messiah Is Risen!

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

 1 Corinthians 15:17-20 (NLT)

17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

 Have you ever wondered what was the most important day of the year?  Most people would probably say Christmas if you asked them.  However, in my humble opinion, I would say it is Easter Sunday.  Think about for a minuet, if you will, we set aside one day a year to celebrate Jesus birth, but it takes us a whole week to celebrate His death and resurrection.  Consider this, if Jesus had just been born, lived an exemplary life, performed a few miracles, but that was it we could say He was like a number of people in history.  Moreover, if he was just born, taught some great principles, and then died a horrible death He was just another religious fanatic.  On the contrary, if He was born, lived, taught, healed, died on the cross and rose again on the third day, as He predicted He would, then He is what He claimed to be:  the Son of the Living God and Savior of the world!  The resurrection is so vitally important to the Christian faith that without it we are all out of our minds.  If Jesus has not risen from the dead, as Paul wrote, than we are to be pitied more than anyone in the world.  But the fact is, and it is fact, that Jesus has indeed risen from the dead.  In his blog on Biblical Preaching, Peter Mead wrote, “This Easter season, let’s be sure to clearly communicate that the Christian faith is founded very firmly on historical fact.  The biblical record carries an unparalleled historicity.  If Jesus rose from the dead, then the implications are massive, but if he didn’t really rise, then let’s give up and do something else with our lives.”  His resurrection changes everything, and it gives us both meaning and hope.  It is what sets us apart from the other religions of the world.  According to author Josh McDowell, “All but four of the major world religions are based on mere philosophical propositions. Of the four that are based on personalities rather than philosophies, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder. In 1900 B.C. Judaism’s Father Abraham died. In 483 B.C. Buddhist writings say Buddha died “with that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains behind.” June 6, 632 A.D. Mohammed died. . In 33 A.D. Jesus died but came back to life appearing to 500 people over a period of 40 days (McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands a Verdict. 180).   So rejoice today because Jesus has truly risen and in doing so has opened up for us a new and living way into the presence of God.  Happy Resurrection Day!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Supernatural Faith

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.

We talk a lot about faith in the church, but we usually talk about faith in generic terms. We look at as believing in God or for Him to do something. However, what we sometimes fail to see is that there are differing levels of faith. In this instance Paul is referring to “another” kind of faith, and more specifically “another of a different kind.” What Paul is referring to here is not saving faith, “but must be taken as a gift that will help or benefit the whole local body. It might be taken as a special gift of faith for a particular need. Some define it as “mountain moving faith,” bringing unusual or extraordinary manifestations of God’s power” (Horton, I & II Corinthians). The NLT appropriately translates this as “great faith,” as it means a supernatural kind of faith. There are times when ordinary faith is simply not enough, and that is when the Holy Spirit supplies “great faith” to someone in the church to meet a specific need. Maybe you have an extra-ordinary need in your life and you need supernatural faith to meet that situation. If so, the Holy Spirit is able to supply that need, even if He supplies the need through someone else in the church. The point is that the Holy Spirit is able to supply, but He does so in His own way.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark