Some thoughts about the “extraordinary” spiritual gifts

Pentecost

An Eastern Orthodox icon of Pentecost. This is the Icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. At the bottom is an allegorical figure, called Kosmos, which symbolizes the world. (from wikipedia)

Some of the more extraordinary spiritual gifts have worked their way onto my “radar” over the past few weeks via church-related events and discussions.  At this point in life I am more or less convinced of my belief/position on the place of tongues, prophecy, healings, and other similar spiritual gifts.  Still, I think I can say that the concrete hasn’t completely set (semper reformanda) for me concerning this issue, and I am open to listening to and learning from the opinions of those I respect and have learned from in the past.

John Piper is one of those people for me, and while I may not agree with everything he has said, written or done, I do with most of those.  Today I was at www.desiringgod.org reading about his upcoming 8-month leave in which he’s going to “unplug” from his public life, and I noticed an article that had to do with visions and tongues, called “Have you ever seen a vision or spoken in tongues?”  Clicking on and reading this article led to a few more: “Must I speak in tongues in order to be saved?“, “Why don’t we experience the miracles that the apostles were capable of?“, “What would you say to someone who feels like the Spirit’s leading has authority over Scripture?“, and “Why some spiritual gifts attract unstable people“.  A longer article dating back to 1991 is “Signs and Wonders: Then and Now” in which Piper explains in greater depth his position on this issue, referring a few times to Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his position on signs and wonders.

Where does this leave me?  Frankly, I don’t know.  Or to say it differently, “The jury is still out.”  Over the past two decades of being a Christian, I have not, as far as I can remember, experienced or witnessed one of these “extraordinary” gifts of the Spirit.  Nor have I “heard God speak to me” outside of the Bible.  He has spoken to me extensively through the words of the Bible, in reading, studying, and listening to teaching and preaching through the years.  I have grown in the grace and knowledge of God and of his son Jesus Christ, and I’ve failed him miserably time and time again, and he has forgiven me time and time again.

Does all this matter?  Well, yes and no.  Compared to eternity this life is incredibly short.  If this life were all there was and it was longer, then I would probably be more focused on and in pursuit of these extraordinary gifts.  As it is, I am a stranger and a resident alien in this world, and my home is elsewhere.  And there, in that permanent home, I will see and experience and know my God and my Savior face to face, and I will not have any “need,” perceived or real, for an extraordinary spiritual experience, because every moment of eternity will be all that and more than I can possibly imagine.

Trying to think like Abraham, Sarah, and others, who walked by faith and

died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.  (Hebrews 11:13-16)

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