Those of us who long for revival, for the fire of God’s presence to revolutionize our lives and for souls to be saved aren’t content with the current state of the church today. To many of us it has become lukewarm, like the Laodicean church mentioned in Revelation chapter 3. It doesn’t stir the heart or excite the soul. Perhaps that’s because spiritual gifts such as prophecy, tongues, miracles and the like are largely lacking. Some denominations, in fact, preach against such things. The number of anti-charismatic sites on the web is astounding.
I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, considering how many people have abused spiritual gifts, with prophecies that lead people astray or heavy-handed exhortation that puts people in bondage. Some cults masquerade as Christian but have no more to do with Jesus than the man in the moon. Spiritual counterfeits are everywhere, but Satan can’t counterfeit things that aren’t real. That’s one reason I don’t believe in cessationism, the idea that so-called “charismatic” or “Pentecostal” gifts aren’t for today. I mean, read the gospels and the book of Acts and ask yourself: Would the devil be for or against the use of true spiritual gifts within the church? I mean, look at the fruit of such gifts. When the Holy Spirit came with fire and people spoke in tongues, it resulted in the salvation of some three thousand people at one time. After Peter healed the lame man in Jesus’ name, some five thousand people got saved.
I think most Christians are familiar with Matthew 7:23 where people boast of prophesying, casting out demons, and doing many wonderful works (miracles) in Jesus’ name. But He tells them he never knew them. Why did he never know them? Not because spiritual gifts such as prophecy are forbidden but because these people practiced iniquity (lawlessness). Like Judas Iscariot, they had no true heart conversion. Does that mean they weren’t called to do miracle healings, cast out demons and raise the dead? Well, as one of the twelve, Judas was called to do that too. But he wasn’t a true believer. He might have felt remorse after he betrayed Jesus, but the scripture gives no indication that he repented of his deed. Jesus knew all along that he was a thief. And what does the thief do, according to John 10:10? Steal, kill and destroy.
The greatest thief, of course, is the devil, who works to steal our hope, kill our joy, and destroy our faith. He wants these things to cease, so he takes the good stuff from God’s Word and replaces it with conditions God never put there. Consider the passage in I Corinthians 13:8, for example:
“As for tongues, they will cease” (I Corinthians 13:8). Some claim that tongues have already ceased, so that all speaking in tongues is of the devil. If so, then that’s a shame in light of how international our world has become! We constantly meet people from foreign countries. But if we don’t speak their language, then how can we effectively share the gospel with them? The early church waited for Jesus to baptize them in the Holy Spirit and he enabled them to speak in tongues that other people understood. How then can we say that the gift of tongues (or interpretation of tongues) is not for today?
“As for prophecy, it will pass away (same verse)” Well, if prophecy is no longer needed, then we sure are missing out on the purpose of it, which is to edify (build up), exhort and comfort. Do today’s believers really not need those things? Think of the suicide rate among teens. Think about the Christians you know who are depressed. Wouldn’t a word of prophecy build them up? Wouldn’t it comfort them? I Corinthians 14:24-25 explains the usefulness of this important gift: “But if all prophesy and there comes in one that believes not, or unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all. And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.”
If more people operated in the gift of prophecy, maybe our churches would see more people get saved. Perhaps those who come forward to answer an alter call will submit their lives to Christ with all their hearts instead of paying mere lip service to the gospel. It seems to me that if there’s any time in history when true prophecy is needed, it is now.
Oh, and let’s go back to I Corinthians 13:8 once more. Here Paul states that “As for knowledge, it will pass away.”
Well, if knowledge has left the church, then we’re really in trouble. How can we possibly stand for the cause of Christ if we have no knowledge?
“Don’t mind me, I’m just a dummy for the LORD. Durned if I can fix the leak in this little gospel boat, ‘cause all them spiritual gifts done swum away…”