Archive for October, 2008

Why did spiritual gifts “stop”?

October 30, 2008

While I do not subscribe to the theory that God has stopped distributing spiritual gifts, it is certainly clear that for a long period of history, they did not appear to the extent they did in the early church.  The reasonable question is: why?

Here is my take, and it is based on thinking about Satan’s motives.  Satan’s goal has always been to dominate this world.  For approximately 4000 years he had been the (almost) undisputed ruler of the entire world.  There were a few minor skirmishes in Egypt and Canaan that hadn’t gone so well, but a little patience had dealt with that.  Suddenly, God sends his Spirit out on a small group of people, who act in obedience to it and spread the knowledge of God and Jesus and the Spirit.  The Spirit rests on those people as well, and a spreading group of people are listening to the Spirit of God and declaring the miracles He would perform immediately prior to His performing them.  They were suddenly listening to God instead of Satan.

Efforts to squash this group by military might were only accellerating the spread, something had to be done.  Enter Constantine.  I don’t know whether he was a genuine Christian or not, but I do know that he did one thing to change the dynamic of the situation radically: he legalized Christianity and pushed for it to become the state religion.

The pattern up to that point had been simple, a Christian meets a non-Christian and talks for a bit, speaking prophetically into that person’s life, perhaps performing some miracle that directly addresses that person’s needs.  The person converts to Christianity, because God is obviously bigger than Rome, and learns how to listen to the Spirit and thereby have the same effect on others.

The new pattern was also simple: if someone asks you if you’re a Christian you better say “yes”.  All of the sudden, you have millions of new “Christians” who know nothing about God, Jesus, or the Spirit.  They know nothing about the ability of the Spirit to minister to their needs in power and strength.  And there aren’t enough people to teach them all.

Repeat this pattern a few times (Crusades, Inquisition, etc) and you suddenly have a new dynamic: almost nobody has experienced the power of God.  Almost nobody has heard God speaked to them and recognized it as prophecy.  Some people have received a vision and been accused of witchcraft!  The result is a new “Christianity” in which many/most people don’t know Christ, and almost nobody knows what God is willing to do for them or through them.

I think the miracle is not that spiritual gifts “stopped”, but that churches are rediscovering them.  Satan’s best chance at protecting people from coming to know Christ was simple: legislate the form of Christianity to confuse the heart of Christianity.

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Do you trust Me?

October 16, 2008

“Do you trust Me?”  This is the one question God asks us over and over and over.  It is the key to many spiritual gifts.  “Do you trust that that thought you just had is from me?”  “Do you trust that I can heal?”  “Do you trust that I can show you which thoughts are from Me, which are from Satan, and which are your own?”  “Do you trust me to lead you?”  “Do you trust me?”

As long as you say “no”, you won’t do much.  You may not even be saved.  When you say “yes”, however, God will have a followup…  “Prove it.”  You can say you trust God to heal, but then He will ask you to pray for healing for someone.  Will you?  You say you trust God to show you what needs to be done, but then He’ll ask you to lead.  Will you?  If you really trust God, you will follow it up with action.

Why does God ask you this question?  Because trust is faith.  The more you trust God, the more faith you have.  The more you trust God, the more you are willing to obey Him when He asks you to do something that looks stupid.  Why do some people get to perform miracles?  Because they trust God when He says “Pray for this person with ….  to be healed.”  It gets really stupid sounding when the person already died.