Tuesday, July 06, 2010

. Spiritual Gifts that Keep on Giving

Interestingly, I have/had to teach on spiritual gifts in two different settings this week, a small group with college students and my Sunday Bible study class. "Teach" on them is not the right word; I just had to lead a discussion on them. With the college students I was going by a book by Richard Foster et al on spiritual formation (apparently there is a Bible translation that goes with it?) in the book of Acts. The book is quite interesting and was chosen by the BCM college minister, who actually has two colleges to minister at so I am helping some. Anyway, one of the questions in the books was "What spiritual gift would you add to the lists Paul gives in Ephesians, I Corinthians, and Romans?"

My first response was, "Stupid question, if God wanted more spiritual gifts mentioned He would have done that." But I tried to think "outside the box" (cliche alert). Is it possible there are other spiritual gifts that are not mentioned, that might be applicable today? Could these be modern applications or variations of the ones in the New Testament? For example, one of the students mentioned the gift of leading worship. That may or may not be related to great musical talent, but it could be related to a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and an ability to patiently and reverently lead people to corporately focus on God. Why not?

While I would not want to add a bunch of silly and superfluous spiritual gifts to the list (the gift of humor, the gift of baking cookies), I am willing to accept that there may be a few more that specifically help the body of Christ to grow and that aren't just a natural gift. Most would fall under mercy and helps, though. For example, some people are good writers but not good speakers, and they can write books to help others study the Bible. That would be teaching, just not oral.

If there might be a few more gifts (very few, mind you) not listed in the New Testament, are some of those listed by Paul no longer around? Ah, that's the question. And I will be heretical. Other than apostleship, I don't think so. I think they are still around; the only problem is, they are misunderstood (tongues, notably) and misused, or they are ignored (mercy and prophecy).

One thing I will say about the Holy Spirit. We need to get out of the way with our set ideas. I was taught in my Bible School (very fundamentalist, but generally sound) all about what God couldn't do because of some verse in the Bible. I presently do not think it is wise to tell God what He can't do. It makes more sense to be still and listen to God and get out of the way and let Him do what He wants.

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