The “Relevance” of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part 1)

Relevance – noun 1. the condition of being relevantor connected with the matter at hand

I hate this overused buzzword! So before we delve into the gifts of the Holy Spirit, let’s talk about relevance for a second.

First of all, the relevance of the Church – God’s holy Church – will never change. Whether you’re still reading KJV only and playing southern gospel or hymns only at your church, your relevance to your congregation remains the same. Do you need to be open-minded to growth, depth, and change? Absolutely! Bottom line: you need to truly seek the Lord and His calling for you and your church. The end.

Relevance is not defined by having the coolest lights, graphics, PA systems, etc. It’s defined by God’s calling upon you, your specific church congregation, and His desires for you. I think the Church needs to stop trying to be relevant based on “their” (who is this “their/they” anyway?) idea of what is relevant but what Christ has called each of you to do.

That is my soapbox on relevance.

Hey! So guess what? The gifts of the Holy Spirit are just as alive and relevant as they were in the early Church. After all, if one has the audacity to say that the Holy Spirit is irrelevant then I will stand 20 feet from you to avoid the soon incurring lightning bolt from heaven that’s about to take you out. 🙂 For those of you who can’t take this type of talk, you may stop reading now. For those of you who are curious, keep reading, because this is going to be an exciting journey.

This Tuesday evening at band rehearsal, I discussed the gifts of the Holy Spirit with our band. It was an incredibly awesome time that we shared together. I realize that we don’t all come from the same background. I come from a charismatic background, so the workings in these gifts are second nature to me. Unfortunately, some of my experiences within my charismatic upbringing did not lend me to having the most healthy look at the gifts.

First let’s talk a minute about what Scripture says the gifts are. 1 Corinthians 12:1-11:

Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I tell you no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ”Jesus be cursed,’  and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of workings, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophesy, to another distinguishing between the spirits [discernment], to another speaking in different kings of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All of these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. *emphasis added

Tongues

First of all, let’s dispel what I think is a myth about the gifts: I was taught that in order to be “baptized in the Holy Spirit,” there came the evidence of speaking in tongues. I don’t believe their is really a Scriptural precedence for this. I do, however, understand why the charismatic church believes this.

While speaking in tongues was commonplace in the early church, I don’t think that’s so much the case now. (That is not to diminish it’s relevance though). You see, during the beginnings of the Church, people were coming from far and wide to hear the Gospel of Jesus. They needed to hear it spoken in their own language in order to accept it. So I believe there was an outpouring of that specific gift during that time so the Gospel could be spread far and wide. But I will say this to be completely honest and transparent with you (because I don’t believe in being any other way): I speak in tongues, but you’ll never hear it coming out of my mouth unless God reveals to me that there is an interpretation. The Bible does say in Romans 8:26:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

This is how that particular gift manifests itself through me, I believe.

Next, 1 Corinthians 14 goes on to talk about how prophesy is greater than speaking in tongues and how gatherings are not to be chaotic in relation to everyone speaking in tongues or prophesying at the same time.  I think one point that God was trying to make here is that tongues is not this ultimate gift. There are nine listed gifts of the Holy Spirit, and if He gives them as He wills then we should use them as He wills.

So, let’s jump off the speaking in tongues train, and move on to another gift which is edifying to the Church.

Prophesy

This is an incredibly important gift. I love what the book of Joel says about it:

And afteward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. *emphasis added. – Joel 2:28-29

Yes! Women are included in what’s to happen in these last days! I digress…

Prophesy is a gift that is flowing through the Church today. I think sometimes you may not even realize that it is happening. For instance, during the music portion of our worship services, we may carry a song on for a little bit longer and head into a spontaneous/prophetic type of worship. I know there are many articles out there that talk about the difference between spontaneous and prophetic worship. I think it’s all semantics, personally, so for the sake of ease in writing, I may refer to prophetic worship as spontaneous worship at times. But I really mean the same thing.

There are times during those spontaneous moments of worship that I can hear the gentle whisper of God’s Spirit, and I may put those words with the music. As a matter of fact, sometimes afterwards, I go and write these messages down as a foundation upon which I may want to write a song. But those messages during spontaneous worship times are so important, because I believe that God is trying to say something to someone (or a lot of people) specifically. Maybe He’s trying to capture someones heart or trying to answer a question that someone has had for a long time.

With Pastor Mark’s messages, you get the same thing. Pastor Mark doesn’t memorize and simply recite His sermon. He has notes, but He definitely leaves openings for the Spirit to say what He wants to say. Not everything is church needs to be scripted. God just asks us to be orderly (1 Corinthians 14:33).

With that being said, I will tell you a secret about this week’s worship set. We’re doing one of my favorite new songs, Good Good Father. (Watch the video of this song below). Travis will be singing this song, and I’ve asked God to let His Spirit just fall mightily during this song. God’s already given me a vision of how it’s going to go down. I can see God’s Spirit all over Travis as he sings it. You’re going to love it. 🙂

Side note: Whenever I hear that whisper from the Holy Spirit, I must always test it against Scripture. Scripture is our standard, and nothing that God would say to me or you would contradict that.

So, today we’ve covered only 2 of the gifts, but they tend to be the more controversial of the nine. Next week, I plan to write about the other seven, so that we can all (myself included) have a better understanding of how God’s Spirit works in and through us. Stay tuned for more!

*I’m adding a tiny little disclaimer here: When we talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are only talking about those listed in 1 Corinthians 12. We know, through Scripture, that the greatest gift of all is love, so I would ask that if you disagree with me on a point I’ve made please do so in love. Also, understand that when I’m writing about these things in this blog or any blog, I am doing so with the intention of love being at the forefront. This issue of the Gifts is one that has separated the Church for ages. It’s probably the biggest reason there are so many different denominations in the Church, which is also a reason why many refuse to come to church. So, before you try your hand at any of these gifts, so to speak, make sure you’re working out the love issue first. Everything Christ did was out of love for us. Giving us the Gifts came from a deep place of love from the Holy Spirit, so let that be your focus before anything else.

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