Luke 11 (HCSB)
11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Dr. Sam Storms (bio) is a former professor of theology at Wheaton College and is pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City.
Dr. Storms is what I would call a Conservative Charismatic, meaning he is Reformed in this theology while still being open to the charismatic activity of the Holy Spirit. If you are a cessationist (you believe the spiritual gifts have ceased) and you wondered about the continuationist position (the spiritual gifts have continued and are still in use today), then please read this book “The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts” with an open mind.
I highly recommend this book for those interested in an introduction into the spiritual gifts that is biblically grounded.
In this review (mostly quotes from the book), I did not get into the specifics of each spiritual gift listed in 1 Cor 12. For the specifics, you will have to read the book for yourself.
Table of Contents
- When Power Comes to Church
- Right? Wrong!
- Words of Wisdom and Knowledge
- Faith and Healing
- It’s a Miracle!
- Prophecy and Distinguishing of Spirits
- Who Said God Said?
- What is the Gift of Tongues
- Tongues and Interpretation in the Church
- Letting Your Gift Find You
Spiritual gifts must never be viewed deistically, as if a God “out there” has sent some “thing” to us “down here.” Spiritual gifts are God present in, with and through human thoughts, human deeds, human words, human love. (p12)
Spiritual gifts are the presence of the Spirit Himself coming to relatively clear, even dramatic, expression in the way we do ministry. Gifts are God going public among His people. To reject spiritual gifts, to turn from this immediate and gracious divine enabling, is, in a sense, to turn from God. It’s no small issue whether one affirms or denies these manifestations of the divine presence. In affirming them, we welcome Him. In denying them, we deny Him. (p13)
…the Church is woefully short of the life-changing, Christ-honoring power of the supernatural activity of the Spirit. (p16)
I find it nothing short of remarkable that to a church obsessed and glutted with spiritual gifts; to a church awash in spiritual gifts (1 Cor 1:5-7); indeed, to a church that had abused spiritual gifts, Paul wrote, “Earnestly desire spiritual gifts” (1 Cor 14:1)! …The solution to the abuse of spiritual gifts is not prohibition, but correction. Paul simply told them, “Do it right!” In other words, “Don’t do it less; just do it better!” …the problem was not spiritual gifts. The problem was immature and unspiritual people. The point is that supression of spiritual zeal is never the answer. The solution to abuse is not disuse, but proper use. (p29-31)
…some gifts, such as teaching, leadership, tongues, mercy and so on, are more likely permanent and can be exercised at will; whereas other gifts, such as prophecy, healing and miracles are always subject to the sovereign purpose and timing of the Spirit. (p32)
If miracles were essential in the physical presence of the Son of God, how much more so now in His absence! Are you prepared to suggest that the Bible is capable of doing now, in our century, what Jesus couldn’t do in His? Jesus Himself believed it essential to draw upon the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit throughout the course of His earthly ministry. If the glorious presence of the Son of God did not preclude the need for miraculous phenomena, how dare we suggest that our possession of the Bible does! (p33)
We mistakenly think that if the manifestation of the Spirit is more explicit, then the individual is more mature, or at least more favored of God, or surely, if nothing else, more useful to the Church. Or we think that because someone has more than one gift, that person has more of the Holy Spirit. The fact is that a person with 10 gifts may be less mature than a person with only 1. …We would all do well to heed Paul’s counsel (1 Cor 4:7). (p36-37)
This was the generation [first century] whose preaching (of Paul and Stephen and Philip and Paul) was more anointed than the preaching of any generation following. If any preaching was the power of God unto salvation and did not need accompanying signs and wonders, it was this preaching. Moreover, this was the generation with more immediate and compelling evidence of the truth of the Resurrection than any generation since. Hundreds of eyewitnesses to the risen Lord were alive in Jerusalem. If any generation in the history of the Church knew the power of preaching and the authentication of the gospel from firsthand evidence of the Resurrection, it was this one. Yet it was they who prayed passionately for God to stretch forth His hand in signs and wonders. (p94-95)
He [the Holy Spirit] will rarely, if ever, force Himself in a manifestation or display of a gift or any other supernatural or natural expression. The Spirit willingly subjects Himself to the will and timing of the believer (1 Cor 14:32). (p141)
Most believers long for maturity and theological integrity, and encouraging speech and growth. But few realize that these things are all tied to the proper exercise of spiritul gifts in the life of the Church (Eph 4:13-16). (p200)
God will more likely meet us with His gifts in the midst of trying to help His children than He ever would while we’re taking a spiritual gifts analysis test. …Look for what’s missing and supply it. When you do, the power of God–the energizing, enabling, charismatic activity of the Holy Spirit–will equip you, perhaps only once, but possibly forever, to minister hope and encouragement to those in need. So, if you’re still wondering what your gift(s) might be, act first and ask later. (p202-203)