CharisMissional

empowered by the spirit for mission

What is Discerning of Spirits?

Spiritual discernment is telling the origin of a word or action. Is it inspired by God? Is it just someone’s good idea i.e. from their own spirit? Is its origin from some evil forces? As Christians this should be carried out with a charitable attitude. We need to take care that our seeking of the truth doesn’t end up making us angry and bitter mud slingers. Too often have I seen internet discussions between Christians go this way.

Discernment inside the church

When a prophecy, teaching or an idea is brought to the church or Christian group it is important to discern its origins. Paul says that prophecy should be weighed. If the group is small enough a good way to do this is through questions and discussion. In a larger church situation this conversational approach may be more difficult. But however it is done the final responsibility of sifting what is said rests with the elders. However if God gives this gift to others they can express their feelings on this to the elders.

Discernment outside the church

It could also be we need to be aware of the forces at work in our community, workplace or wherever we are trying to reach. I am aware that some charismatics have some quite bizarre ideas about how the devil works and how we should deal with him. We often need to be discerning about our approach to discernment.

Further Reading

Nigel Goring Wright’s Theology of the Dark Side gives a helpful and balanced understanding of how these forces may work. See my review of his book here.

Discerning of Spirits a post by by Scott Lencke on Prodigal Thought

September 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

What is the Gift of Prophecy?

What is prophecy?

As a charismatic I believe that God still speaks today. God speaks through the Bible and the Spirit may emphasise certain verses to us and show us how these apply. This is the beginnings of prophecy.

Christian prophecy should never contradict what the Bible clearly says but it will be more than just someone explaining what the Bible means. It is someone speaking God’s perspective on a particular situation that may include facts that God reveals and even predictions of what God will do.

God may bring ideas to our minds as we focus on him either to be spoken right away or to be meditated on and then spoken at another time.

How should prophecy be worded?

In the Old Testament prophecy was mainly spoken in the first person as if God was actually dictating the message word for word in the prophet’s mind.

Interestingly in the New Testament we see prophecy said as ‘the Holy Spirit says that…’ rather than ‘Thus says the Lord…’ I have heard prophecy today in both formats but I must confess to feeling more comfortable with someone explaining what they feel God might be saying than saying ‘God says…’

This more conversational approach leaves us room to weigh what God is saying. It allows people to take what is good without worrying if they think that one or two phrases were not of God.

Where do we prophesy?

Prophecy may be for each other as we gather together in each other’s homes or in larger gatherings but also it may also be for others outside the church.

It could be that God gives a prophecy that is very relevant to a non-Christian who is visiting our meeting. But it could also be that God speaks to you with something to say to one of your friends or colleagues. If so we could end up prophesying anywhere – in a cafe or in a pub.

I wonder if raising a topic in conversation may prove a more fruitful way to explore what God is saying than saying ‘God told me this…’ especially if you are talking to someone who isn’t a Christian.

Whoever the prophecy is for whether the gathered church or individual friends or colleagues we need to pray for an opportunity to speak it out – and then go for it!

Update

Scott Lencke has started a series of posts over on Prodigal Thought on ‘What is Prophecy?’ Part one is here.

September 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

What is the Gift of Miracles?

picture by jczorkmid on flickr

Miracles are powerful sudden and undeniably supernatural works of God. They may include sudden healings or unexplained provision of needs. As a charismatic I believe that miracles continued throughout history and do occur today although by their very nature they are not a common occurrence.

Miracles build our faith

Stories of true miracles are thrilling as they show God at work and bringing his grace and mercy to needy people. It is so encouraging when a friend or colleague tells us of something amazing that has happened as a result of our prayers. This can increase our confidence in praying for the needs of our friends.

Though I am skeptical of hype

Unfortunately if we search the internet for stories of miracles today we find stories of healings in big meetings surrounded by hype. God may well be at work in some of the situations but I must admit to being skeptical.

There are also cases of miracles such the appearance of gold fillings in people’s teeth or gold dust falling from the ceiling. I cannot see why God would do this as I can see no real benefit to the people involved.

I am sure that there are true miracles today

I am thrilled by personal accounts of God answering the prayers of people I know.

I also love hearing stories that are often ‘off the radar’ so to speak. It is great to hear stories of God providing for people, especially in poverty stricken countries, healing people or even bringing them back from the dead in places where access to medical care is limited. Here I can see God’s hand meeting people at a point of need.

Yes, despite my skepticism of the hype I believe that God can and does move today. These are Gifts of miracles!

Related post

Is This Revival? on my previous blog.

September 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

What are the Gifts of Healing?

A definition

Gifts of healing occur when believers pray for the sick and see them recover.

Any believer can pray for the sick

The Bible says that elders are specifically called to pray for the sick. But it also shows that others may pray for healing too.

Writers such as Mark Stibbe and J Rodman Williams point out that the use of the present continuous tense here indicates that anyone who has been used in healing may expect to be used again in this way.

Of course they would agree that there are no guarantees. Perhaps that is why Paul does not use the term ‘healer’.

Let us pray with faith

The gifts of healing do appear to have a link with the gift of faith. When faith is present healing can happen and lack of faith can inhibit it.

We shouldn’t blame others or ourselves for lack of faith when healing does not occur. This sort of faith is a gift from God as much as the healing is. I don’t know why God doesn’t always heal. But I still keep praying for people and expect them to get well.

Don’t just pray for the sick in church

Of course we pray for each other to be healed when we gather as a church. We may even do that with the laying on of hands. But the Book of Acts shows us that this gift also has an important place in mission.

‘Healing on the Streets’ – a missional project that I looked at earlier this year – follows the Biblical pattern of speaking to the sickness in an authoritative yet gentle way, often also with the laying on of hands and sometimes anointing people with oil. But I don’t believe that street outreach should be the only or even the main outlet for this gift.

Offer to pray for your friends

In everyday conversation if someone tells us about an illness we can offer to pray for them. We may offer to pray for them audibly in front of them and lay hands on them but we don’t have to. We can offer to pray in our own devotional times or suggest that we ask our small group or church to pray.

We can be hesitant sometimes because we fear that God may not heal them. But even if God does not heal them, people will often be grateful for our prayers. So let’s take the opportunity and offer to pray anyway. We might be surprised at the result!

September 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)