Friday, September 01, 2006

Gifts

Disclaimer: Warning** Specific doctrinal beliefs presented here of this author. You do not have to agree with them. You are not being cast aside if you disagree. This is not an attempt to stir up strife. These are merely my observations and thoughts put to electronic "paper" so to speak. I make no apologies.

Phil over at Something to Consider has brought up an interesting topic--speaking in tongues. Near the bottom of his post he makes an excellent point: The Baptism of the Holy Ghost promises "power for service"--not immediate/automatic spiritual maturity. This is where I think a lot of non-Pentecostals miss the boat. They do not realize the spiritual benefits related to the concept of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Many look at the speaking in tongues as a means to an end. The get saved, the get baptized in water, they get the "Baptism." And they stop there. If speaking in tongues were all it was to it, then my friend, it's much like the author says in 1 Corinthians 13, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not charity, I am a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal."

If you're seeking the gift of tongues because that is just what you've been taught you do, or that because you think it will make you better than other Christians, you're motivation is off. Spiritual gifts are just that--gifts. I was a bit dismayed the other day while reading a site of an Independent Baptist Church --won't say which one--that quoted text from the Assemblies of God web site. And then they proceeded to put their spin on what we believe. Had he asked me, (and he didn't, my friend) I would have told him that his question --of why, if tongues are promised to all believers, doesn't everyone receive--was based on a faulty understanding of gifts.

If your husband/wife/mother/friend had a special gift for you, had promised it to you, wrapped it up special and held it out to you--then your husband/wife/mother/friend has fulfilled that promise of providing the gift. Now, if you turn your back and say, "That's not the gift I thought I asked for," "I'm afraid I won't like it, or it won't fit," or "No, I just can't take it," then you refuse the promised gift, and if you don't take it, you can't receive it. Is anyone following me? And who of us refuses a gift without at least even opening it? Hm...At the same time, some of us, when we see what it is, lack the spiritual understanding to appreciate the gift. And sometimes it takes a long time for us to get it out of the box and put it on. It's sitting there on the bed, on the table, in our hearts --just waiting for us to use it. It is a GIFT. We are not obligated to use it. We do not lose our salvation if we do not use it. And I dare say, we will not lose it, if we don't use it. We can only "lose" it if we throw it away, much like, and I'm getting sticky here, our salvation.

The Assemblies of God believe the only unpardonable sin is blasphemy-- or turning your back completely on God and His spirit. (Unlike the brother at the Independent Baptist unnamed site who said it was in the Assemblies of God, (gasp) divorce. But that's a different post. How can you be saved if you don't believe? How can Christ's blood cover and forgive you of your sins when you will not accept His gift? If you throw away your spotless robe after he's given it to you and refuse to wear it, refuse to put on the armor of God he's given you, then how can God allow you into His perfect, sinless kingdom--if you are unwilling and still spotted by the world and its practices. There has to be some acknowledgment of this gift, it would seem to me. You didn't earn your white robe; you didn't pay for your white robe. But not to wear such a beautiful and precious gift, in fact to even walk away from the gift and put your own filthy rags back on is, well-- it's tragic. Does God not love you because you've chosen to put the filthy rags back on? Oh, my friend God will never stop loving you. And He never stops trying to get you to change your ways, your spiritual clothing, your life. But if you take that white robe and you continually leave it lying out with the dirty rags, it will eventually become soiled. And UNLESS you wash it clean in the blood of Christ daily, submit to the Father's will daily, and repent daily, it will remain soiled and unfit for the kingdom. Yes, Christ died for ALL of our sins, past, present, and future. It is His gift to us. What good is a gift if we take it and don't use it and/or take care of it??
Are there strings attached to God's gifts and promises? Only to the extent that the conditions benefit us as Christians. God will not ask you to do anything that is harmful to you. God will not ask you to speak in tongues to humiliate you or make a fool out of you. It is to empower you. To make you bold in the faith. To confirm in your heart that there is a language stronger, more powerful, more beautiful than anything our human hearts can fathom. And He understands it--it is the language of our hearts. And that is one of the most beautiful gifts I can even imagine.

6 comments:

Lisa said...

Hi Cindy,
Tell me how you REALLY feel?? :)
I love it! I love how you lay it all on the line. Good for you.

I get an extreme amount of comfort as a Christian that even though I may fall away from God's plan for my life, He is there to help me find my way back. (of course he was trying all along ;) I might not have followed thru with his perfect plan for me, but He showed me the way, and I ACCEPTED his will and his gift of a better life, even though I was stubborn and followed my own way.

He will not desert his children! Whether we use our gifts or not, He is there for us. His Ultimate Will for His Kingdom Will be Done--we might take the long way, but God will be there with open arms when we finally find our way back. This, too applies to our spiritual gifts. Our gifts are with us whether we use them or not. Some use their gifts sooner than others, but gifts don't have a time limit and expire. It's nice when we can find our gifts out early on, so that we can use them for the glory of God, but I believe that God knows when the right time is for each individual to use his or her own gifts to further God's will. Speaking in tongues might be for one, while another type of gift is there waiting for another; each just as important as the other. The gift is a blessing, but ultimately it is for God! It's all about God, not us. This is my comfort in life.

Thx for the awesome, thought-provoking post, Cindy.

Phil Hoover, Chicago said...

But the Promise is not the "gift of tongues"...the PROMISE OF GOD is the "fullness of the Holy Spirit"...This promise was made by John the Baptist, was re-iterated by Jesus, and was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, empowering the young Church in the New Testament.

HE (The Holy Spirit) is the Promise of the Father--not His gifts...but HE, the Holy Spirit.

Love your blog by the way...Keep it up.

C. H. Green said...

Thanks for your comments, Phil.


But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 1:8, King James Version

C. H. Green said...

For anyone interested, there is an excellent position paper published here:

http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_4185_spirit-filled_life.cfm

Kathleen Marie said...

You seem to have a real understanding of the gifts of the spirit. They are tools to be used for God's service.

I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit for years. Speaking in tongues is very natural for me and often times I find myself praying in tongues, especially when I just don't know what to say to my Lord, such as when I am in distress about something or even over joyed.

Have you ever read Tommy Tenny's book God Chasers? He really lays it on the line as well.

God gives us so many wonderful gifts, we just need to use them.

Blessings Galore to you!

Gretchen Lavender said...

I just came across your blog today. I am goig to mark it in my Favorites list. I was raised Pentacostal and have just started blogging recently. I look forward to reading more of your stuff in the future.