empowered by the spirit for mission

What is the Gift of Faith?


Faith by 4thglryofgod

The ability to move mountains

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says ‘If I have a faith that can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing’. This is a reference to what Jesus said about mountain moving faith in Mark 11. These verses show that the gift of faith is a supernatural confidence that God will remove any obstacle that gets in the way of us his purposes.

What, all the time?

I don’t agree with much of the Word of Faith teaching sometimes referred to as the ‘faith movement’ that is popular in some Christian media such as the God Channel. They imply that we are called to live in such mountain moving faith all the time. This sort of teaching can get people into serious financial trouble.

No, not all the time

In reality we pray and do not always see the answer come. We may be convinced that it is what God wants but still God does not do it. We also have doubts and we should not be made to feel guilty about that. A friend of mine David Matthew has written this article on this inspired by his own situation of praying for his house to sell.

Just sometimes

I believe that on occasions God does give us a confidence to see an obstacle overcome to further the purposes of his kingdom. This is the gift of faith.

August 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

What is the Word of Knowledge?

Continuing our series on the gifts of the Spirits we now come to the gift known as the ‘word of knowledge’ or in some translations the ‘message of knowledge’.

What do we understand by the term ‘word of knowledge’?

In the 1980s John Wimber popularised the term of a ‘word of knowledge’ as a supernatural insight into a person’s heart or situation. In practice what it often meant was someone getting up in a worship gathering and saying, “There is someone here with…” and describing a certain illness or injury. It is still often used in this way today.

What does the Bible say?

But is this popular idea really what the Bible describes as a ‘word of knowledge’? We can read stories such as Jesus and the woman at the well where God reveals facts supernaturally but what reason do I have to call this a word of knowledge?

Apart from 1 Corinthians 12 the phrase ‘word of knowledge’ doesn’t appear in the Bible. So in order to answer this question two authors I have much respect for Mark Stibbe in Know Your Spiritual Gifts and J Rodman Williams in Renewal Theology both look at the immediate context of what Paul meant by knowledge.

To Paul knowledge didn’t involve finding out about other’s people’s secrets. It involved receiving insight into God’s secrets now revealed – into the “unfathomable depths of God’s grace”, the wonderful truths about “his gracious gift of his son”, this grace that is now available to us his church.

This is not to say that God doesn’t speak supernaturally to people about situations just that they can’t see any justification for calling that a word of knowledge. They both suggest it would be more Biblical to call such experiences prophecy as Bible passages indicate that this is how the prophets spoke and never use the term ‘word of knowledge’.

So how should we define ‘word of knowledge’?

Perhaps it would be more accurately to use the term ‘word of knowledge’ to describe the sharing inspired insights into God’s purposes and grace with those we talk to.

What do you think?

Further Reading

Word/Message of Knowledge on Prodigal Thought – Scott Lencke sees it as including both these ideas.
Know Your Spiritual Gifts – a summary by Alison Morgan of Mark Stibbe’s out of print book

August 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

What is the Word of Wisdom?


Wisdom by zigazou76 on flickr

The first gift to look at in this series on the nine gifts  is the word of wisdom. The word of wisdom can be seen as an inspired application of a supernaturally revealed insight into a certain situation.

So is a word of wisdom just God planting a seemingly random thought into our head of what do in a certain situation? Or it is insight about how to apply the truths about God’s ultimate purpose of sending Jesus? Looking at chapters such as 1 Corinthians 2 I get the feeling that it is it is more likely to involve the latter.

In Know Your Spiritual Gifts Mark Stibbe points out that it is not surprising that Jesus – wisdom incarnate – astounded people with his wisdom, such as when he answered his accusers’ questions about eating with sinners or when he said of the woman caught in adultery, ‘If any of you is without sin let him be the first to throw a stone’. Such insights were fundamentally theological but spoke about God’s purposes into situations in very practical ways.

A word of wisdom, then, is God helping us to apply our insights about God’s purposes into the ever the changing situations around us. Perhaps it can involve God helping us to listen to others and to really hear what they saying. The Spirit might bring to mind the questions that we need to ask or a story that might have some bearing on the situation that brings such insight into what is being discussed.

Though the context of 1 Corinthians 12 is the gathered church I see no reason to limit it to church conversations. God also speaks as we are involved in mission. Many of the words of wisdom spoken by Jesus are in conversations with people other than his disciples.

Let us look for God to guide our conversations with everyone so that we may demonstrate God’s wisdom to the world.

Further Reading

Word/Message of Wisdom on Prodigal Thought
Know Your Spiritual Gifts – a summary by Alison Morgan of Mark Stibbe’s out of print book

August 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

What are the Nine Gifts of the Spirit?

As a charismatic I believe that the gift of the Spirit are still in operation today and that we need them all to fulfil the mission to which God has called us.

Photo by Ken’s Oven on flickr

Announcing a new blog series!

I have discussed the gifts briefly before here but in the following series I want to look at each of the nine gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-12 in more detail. What are they? How do they work? How do they help us fulfil God’s mission?

Paul refers to these nine as manifestations of the Spirit. There are a number of other lists of the gifts. Some refer to spoken contributions when we gather as church. Others include more natural abilities that can be used in serving such as administration. Others list roles in the church such as apostles. Many of these lists overlap and none may not be exhaustive.

1 Corinthians 12:8-12

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.

So what are the nine gifts?

My aim in this series is to define each one of the gifts in this passage in turn and look at how they work especially in relation to mission. Of course the purpose of the gifts is to build each other up as the body of Christ but the impact of these gifts also overflows to others.

I will start with the word of wisdom next week and then work through the list in order:

Word of wisdom
Word of knowledge
Discerning of Spirits
Interpretation of tongues

Further Reading

Audio teaching on 1 Corinthians 12 Gifts of the Spirit on Prodigal Thought

August 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)