The manifestation of the Spirit is not supposed to be the exception; it is supposed to be the norm. To how many of us does God give spiritual gifts? “To everyone.” Someone might think, “Not to me. What Paul is talking about hasn’t ever happened to me.” My answer is “Yes, it has! You just didn’t have the theology, the practice, or the encouragement to recognize it and respond.” Most of us, frankly, are just too dull and lethargic about our Christian witness and responsibility to be able to release the gifts. Furthermore, many of us are ignorant about spiritual gifts simply because we have not received biblical teaching about them and have not seen healthy examples of them (1 Cor. 12: 1). It is part of the job of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to encourage and prod the church to operate in the gifts. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.
For John Wimber, it wasn’t good enough to say that he believed in something. For him, belief always meant doing something about it.
So when it came to spiritual gifts, it wasn’t good enough for John to say that he believed in the existence of spiritual gifts. He wanted both a personal life and a church where the spiritual gifts were fully functioning: a church fully aware and fully alive in the gifts of God!
When we read Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church (First Corinthians 12 in The Message), we find a very similar attitude.
What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable….God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! e variety is wonderful:
healing the sick
distinguishing between spirits
interpretation of tongues.
Just imagine what the church of Jesus Christ could look like and the effectiveness we might have in our world today, if more churches were informed, knowledgeable, and operating in these same gifts Paul mentions in his letter to the Corinthian church!
Back in the day, some called a church community who encouraged everyone to operate in the spiritual gifts a church with “body ministry.” As I see it, it might be good if that term were restored to the church again today. “Body ministry” meant that on any given Sunday morning, the gathered saints would come expectant; not only to receive from the Lord and from each other, but they would also come believing that the Holy Spirit was gifting them as well to bring encouragement to others during their time together. Certainly that seemed to be Paul’s expectation of the gatherings of God’s people in Corinth! Look at what he instructed them to do in chapter 14:26:
So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight (The Message).
Today, Sunday morning church services look and feel more like a concert or a lecture hall where all the hard work is being done on the stage. Sadly, in many congregations across America, about ten percent of the Christians are doing the heavy lifting (i.e. teaching, preaching, leading worship, teaching Sunday School, etc. etc.) while ninety percent sit in the comfy pews, sipping gourmet coffee while doodling on their iPhones!
Heaven forbid, pastors and overseers!
John Wimber envisioned a church where the pastors, teachers, prophets, apostles and evangelists (see Ephesians 5) were commissioned by Jesus to equip the saints to do the ministry of the Spirit, not stand up on the stage and show folks how good we are at it! Shame on us for entertaining the troops while Satan traffics our world, oppressing the good citizens of our planet. As I see it, it’s time to restore “body ministry” where everybody who calls themselves a follower of Christ is fully trained, equipped, and sent out as commissioned soldiers to love “the hell” out of the world, while operating in the full array of the gifts (and fruit) of the Holy Spirit.
Anybody wanna sign up? Jesus is calling. Will we respond?
Jesus, you’ve provided your church with everything we need to fulfill your commission to go and love. The powerful gifts of the Holy Spirit are readily available to any and all who might respond to that call. As a pastor, may I step up to my officer’s commission and do my job of not only operating in these gifts myself, but spend my days training, equipping, and sending out my brothers and sisters, in the knowledge and power of these Holy Spirit-given gifts as well. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- How am I choking off Jesus’ commission to train, equip, and send out laborers into the harvest field?
- Am I sending folks out with everything the Holy Spirit has given them? Are they trained in the gifts of the Spirit? Are they knowledgeable?
- Are they encouraged to operate in the full array of fruit and gifts of the Spirit? If not, what changes do I need to make in my job as pastor/overseer?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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