Do spiritual gifts come in a box?
Scott Ashley presented the first keynote of the 2013 General Conference of Elders titled “Edifying the Body Through Spiritual Gifts.”
Mr. Ashley stated that Dennis and LeeAnn Luker are partly responsible for this topic being discussed…. Mr. Ashley wrote a detailed study paper on the topic….
Section 3.2 of the UCG Constitution actually mentions spiritual gifts as an important aspect of the role of the Church of God. The Church’s efforts aren’t just the efforts of the ministry, the home office or the Council of Elders, but what every member supplies to the work of God.
He said that the Bible is clear that members of God’s Church should be desiring spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31). Not everyone has the same gifts, but God’s people are given gifts so that they may serve in different roles and fulfill necessary and profitable tasks for the Church.
~ “GCE 2013: Scott Ashley Illuminates Spiritual Gifts“, United Church of God, United News, May – June 2013
I recently was forwarded a copy of a “Spiritual Gifts Assessment“, and I’m making it available for viewing, but only as evidence of what is going on and not because I want you to get involved in Satan’s ploy to distract people from what they should be doing. It is a handout that was passed out in some UCG congregations. It is apparently used to try to determine your “spiritual gifts”. To say this is concerning is quite the understatement!
Where does this sort of notion come from? Is it biblical? Is it godly? I’m going to come out and say this is ungodly! UCG seems determined to see how close it can get to evangelical without actually becoming so, just as a moth gets as close as possible to a flame without becoming burned. Of course, the result is almost never good.
Not all in UCG are so blind, however. One speaker gave a sermon warning of this path. Unfortunately, it seems that it was revised at least once and then taken down. Did someone at UCG HQ complain? I have my suspicions.
It should be clear that the origins of this “doctrine” is in Pentecostalism. It is also clear that it has morphed, been toned down and is now infecting various mainstream churches. The Lutheran Missouri Synod did a study of this back on 1994, partly as a result of concerns over doing inventories trying to assess one’s spiritual gifts. Here is what they have to say on this:
The concern for Christians to discover and develop their spiritual gifts appears to be a relatively recent phenomenon. C. Peter Wagner refers to it as a “new thing.” Historically the emphasis on spiritual gifts coincides with the rise of two important theological and ecclesiastical movements in the latter half of the 20th century. Both of these movements strongly advocated the need for a renewal of the church and identified spiritual gifts as one of the keys to the church’s renewal.
The first movement that helped create and contribute to the current interest in spiritual gifts was the Pentecostal movement, out of which arose the neo-Pentecostal or charismatic movement. The latter has proven to be more of an interdenominational movement than the former. During the 1960s and 1970s the neo-Pentecostal movement found its way into many of the mainstream Christian denominations such as Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Presbyterianism. Reflecting on the characteristics of these movements, Wagner has observed that “the most prominent facet of this new experience of the Holy Spirit is spiritual gifts.” According to his research, the bulk of the literature on spiritual gifts has appeared since 1970. In fact, he contends, more has been written on this subject since 1970. In fact, he contends, more has been written on this subject since World War II than during the previous 1,945 years put together. Generally speaking, the neo-Pentecostal and charismatic movements have focused largely on the so-called miraculous or “sign” gifts, especially glossolalia (speaking in tongues), healing, and miraculous powers. These have been discussed in two previous CTCR reports.
The second movement that has contributed to an intense interest in the subject of spiritual gifts—although for slightly different reasons—is the so-called Church Growth Movement, which many identify as having originated in its contemporary form at Fuller Seminary, California. Unlike those involved in neo-Pentecostalism, the advocates of the Church Growth Movement tend not to focus on the so-called “sign” gifts. They emphasize instead the less spectacular gifts listed in the Bible. Also unlike neo-Pentecostalists, who stress a distinct second experience of the Spirit manifested by gifts, proponents of the Church Growth Movement assume that certain gifts have already been given to all Christians at some point in time. They maintain that every Christian possesses at least one gift and that many have several gifts in varying numbers, degrees, and variations. This is the basis for the belief that if the church can mobilize its people to discover, develop, and use their particular gift(s), it cannot help but grow in numbers and vitality.
It is the Church Growth Movement that has given rise to the development and use of spiritual gift inventories. These are instruments designed to aid the church in discovering and implementing the spiritual gifts of its members….
~ “Spiritual Gifts“, Lutheran Missouri Synod, 1994
As I’ve stated before, my mother was raised a “holy roller”, and much of that side of the family still has a charismatic bent. Speaking in tongues at church or “praying” is a way of life for them, and it is supposed to be a “gift of the spirit”! Yeah, well, it might be a spirit alright, but not necessarily the spirit they are looking for!
The evangelical version certainly is stripped down and presumably not as dangerous, but in the end, is it right? Seriously, did the apostles sit down and “inventory their gifts”? Are even most of the “gifts” they are talking about anything more than natural talents?
David Register apparently had gotten wind of this sort of thing going on, and he gave a sermon on “Gifts of the spirit” that is as of this writing still online. If you have any doubt about what I’m writing, I urge you to give it a listen.
There is one area, however, that he gets it a bit wrong. Notice 1 Corinthians 12:1:
12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
If you will notice, I pulled that from the AV online rather than the public domain KJV. Bible Gateway online makes no alterations to their texts — not even the public domain KJV. I dunno. It sounds silly to me, but they don’t, in spite of one or two obvious errors. Another thing about the public domain KJV is that the italics are missing. Notice that “gifts” is italicized! That means the KJV translators added the word “gifts” to that verse!
In fact, if you do a word search on BibleGateway.com for “spiritual gifts” in the AV, all of the verses return with “gifts” italicized!
So, what is a “spiritual gift” then?
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast.
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Notice these gifts! Grace is a gift. The Holy Spirit itself is a gift. And, of course, you cannot be saved without the Holy Spirit, so salvation and eternal life is a gift!
Are there spiritual gifts then? Sure! However, all of them have to do with organizing, exhorting and supplying needs for one another.
So, should we be doing an assessment for these gifts then? No!
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
Then, Paul launches into the “Love Chapter”, doesn’t he? Instead of trying to build up some sort of supposed gift, a “better way” is to cultivate love!
No, it isn’t “gifts of the spirit” we should be looking for, but Fruits of the Spirit!