Spiritual Gifts and Fellowship

Here is an excellent teaching by Susanne Schuberth on what spiritual gifts are and what they are to be used for in the body of Christ and what true fellowship really is. I hope you all read it.

Entering the Promised Land

At the End of the Day ... All Good Things Come from Above (Photo by Sarah Schuberth)At the End of the Day … All Good Things Come from Above
(Photo by Sarah Schuberth)

Basically, the Body of Christ should consist of many different members with many different gifts and we should all submit to one another according to the gifts the others have been given. That is the way the church initially was meant to be when the first Christians had no Bible as we know it today. We read in 1 Corinthians chapter 12,

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7 comments on “Spiritual Gifts and Fellowship

  1. Michael says:

    Well done, Susanne! Here are some of thoughts (and memories) that came to me as I read Susanne’s article…

    Susanne quoted Paul regarding spiritual gifts,

    “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” (1 Cor 12:4-11 ESV)

    When I was given new life in the Spirit in 1970 I was among some young freshly Spirit-filled Christians in a revival that became known in the media as “The Jesus Movement.” It soon became a world wide phenomena of young people that had been formally on drugs and into the “free love” hippie movement. These young people soon became a counter-culture to the counter-culture of the late 60’s and 70’s as they forsook their former hedonistic lives to follow Jesus Christ. In our local area of the Pacific Northwest of the USA we were soon influenced by many Pentecostal teachings about spiritual gifts and what became known as the Charismatic Movement was soon to follow as it swept through churches while the Jesus Movement swept through the street culture around the world.

    During this time the teachings I heard and saw back then I now consider unbalanced. They came out of the Azusa Street revival that started in Los Angeles, California in 1906. This former outpouring of the Spirit soon turned into three major denominations (It is interesting to me how movements come and go, but the denominations that spring up from them seem to linger on long after the life has gone out of them). Like one person so aptly put it, “I would much rather have life begging for order, than order begging for life!” Well, in the early days of the Jesus Movement WE HAD LIFE!

    One of the distortions that I saw and heard about during those early days of this movement was the teaching on spiritual gifts. These Pentecostals that came in taught that the gift of tongues is a sign to believers (it is not, see 1 Cor. 14:22) that one has the Holy Spirit in them. We were told as new born babes that we were expected to speak in tongues if we really had the Holy Spirit and that was that (another twist of the scriptures. see 1 Cor. 12:29-31). Well, not wanting to be “spiritual lepers” most of us caved into this teaching and that all we had to do is start saying senseless phrases like, “Shanda Machia” or “She-road-into-town-on-a-Honda” (I jest) and keep practicing it over and over and we would get our own tongue! So, many of us did just that, but the result was a wrongful focus in our spiritual infancy on ourselves and what OUR gifts were so we could impress our fellow believers and be in “the in-crowd” of tongues speakers and rise above those who did not. But what does the Bible say that spiritual gifts are for? As Susanne pointed out, they are not given to make us acceptable or even above other members of the body of Christ, but they are given “as HE wills” not as WE will and are for the edification of others and not ourselves!. Paul wrote,

    And there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:6-11 RSVA)

    First we notice here that gifts of the Spirit are given for the common good of everyone else, not to make us special or approved in the eyes of our group where the body of Christ is being formed. The nature of the love of God (see 1 Corinthians ch. 13 which is strategically located between these two chapter that speak about spiritual gifts) is that it does not seek its own, but rather the edification of others first. This is so that there might be unity in the body of Christ as it grows up in Him, not more division. Paul wrote, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him.” (Romans 15:1-2 RSVA). In short our Christianity should be about lifting up our fellow members of the body of Christ, not seeking to rise up and be a somebody in their eyes! “Look at me, I can speak in tongues!” “Look at me I can prophesy!” (For Paul’s perspective on these two gifts see 1 Corinthians 14:1-9). Paul wrote,

    Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (1 Corinthians 13:4-5 RSVA)

    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-2 RSVA)

    So often what we consider as something in church circles is really nothing in the eyes of God because we lack His love as the motive for why we seek it and manifest it. Spiritual gifts do not cause unity, though they should be used to edify one another. What brings unity to the body of Christ is His agape love which seeks not its own. We had a lot to learn as babes in Christ, or should I say, “unlearn” so we could learn the ways of God and walk with one another in His love. Paul wrote,

    Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways… So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13 RSVA)

    In my old age I have come to value God’s love and grace working in my life and in the lives of other saints far above spiritual gifts. God says that love is perfect and that all these other gifts are imperfect. Let us grow up, dear saints and let our love for one another be perfected and unfeigned. Peter wrote,

    Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:22 KJV)

    Do you want a sign for who are the real believers and who are not? Jesus gave us one sign only:

    “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 RSVA)

    Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the reblog, Michael! Much appreciated! 🙂

      It is very important what you describe here in your comments above. Your own testimony brings my article, which is more of a teaching, to life. Actually, my dear brother – been there, done that, too. Though no “Jesus Movement”, I made VERY similar experiences back in the 1990s with a Pentecostal charismatic mix that was spiritually a disaster and caused a lot of confusion in many minds about who the Living God really is. Today I wholeheartedly agree with you, it is all about God’s love that we experience and with which we should love everyone. Also, as you so well said it, loving our brothers and sisters with self-sacrificial love will make the world see that we are truly His disciples.

      Furthermore, it is crucial to know that the New Covenant is not about having a constant “ministry” whatsoever. The Lord gives and the Lord takes – as He wills. If someone thinks he or she is a prophet, a teacher, a healer etc. and believes that is a ministry with which he or she could go on until the universe is done, they might be wrong. The Holy Spirit uses us in a way that is helpful for others as long as the gift is needed. If that which God wanted to see has been accomplished, He can take the gift away, as we both experienced in the past with the gifts of healing and prophecy, right? 😉

      Michael, I was just reminded of one of Jeremy Myers’s articles about a similar issue on which we both commented as well. Although I recall having posted a link to that article on AWV before, I dare to do it again here and now. Might be helpful, too, I hope.

      http://www.tillhecomes.org/christianity-cannot-be-organized/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Susanne, you are absolutely right! God gives and God takes away. When my pride started growing up with the prophetic manifestations that He gave me for two years just before our church was torn apart by a “apostolic/prophetic” cult, God showed me how I looked in His eyes and it was ugly! He is a loving Father and He does not “use” people! Christians might use one another and then throw them away, but God does NOT. He calls us to be His sons and daughters IN Christ and a loving Father does not use his children for His own gain, but nourishes an cherishes them and does what it take to see them come into their full inheritance in Christ as many sons unto His glory. So, God saw that He was starting to lose me because of pride rising up in me with the power I was experiencing and told me that He would have to put me in the wilderness for a season to do a deeper work in me and I consented and He did. Susanne, I know that you also had a similar experience where our Father “pulled the plug on you” after seeing Him work through you with the power gifts.

        After 14 years of languishing in a spiritual and sometimes literal wilderness i was about as spiritual as Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones! It was not until these bones were “very dry” (see Ezek. 37:2) that He once again caused the Spirit wind to blow upon me. BUT He told me “You have not been this way before.” I had asked Him as He started to move on me once again if I would not have a GREATER prophetic ministry than before and He answered with Paul’s words…

        “You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.” (1 Corinthians 15:36-38 RSVA).

        When we plant a seed in our gardens we do not get a larger seed that pops up out of the ground. The seen must fall into the ground and die or it will remain barren. But what comes up when you plant a kernel of corn is a green blade that turns into a stalk and finally grows corn husks, leaves and tassels, and none of it looks like what we put in the ground as we look at it. Are any of us immune to God dealing such a death in us? Not if we are to grow up into the fullness of Christ.

        And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:23-26 RSVA)

        We who are being raised up as HIS sons and daughters must make a choice: Will we seek to find our lives with His power and our sourish abilities or will we deny ourselves and fall into the ground and die so HE can raises us up into what HE wants us to be? Will we hate our successful lives and ministries and lay them at His feet or do all we can to save them? Will we sacrifice our God given Isaac back to HIM? I find that not very many who have tasted success and the limelight of public ministry pass this test. Sister, I am so blessed that you did, because now we get to watch the Son of God raising up and manifesting His love and humility in you! We love you very much, dear Susanne!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I understand where you’re coming from, Michael, and why you do not like the word “use“ in this context. As for me (note: I am a non-native speaker 😉 ) the word “use” has had no negative connotation as yet. Indeed, when I speak of God using me for His purpose, I mean that He never forces me to do something, yet He only nudges me so that I know what to do. As you said above, it is a loving relationship between God and His children and I would not like to have it any other way.

    I love what you wrote since it’s a great picture you described here, my brother.

    “When we plant a seed in our gardens we do not get a larger seed that pops up out of the ground. The seed must fall into the ground and die or it will remain barren. But what comes up when you plant a kernel of corn is a green blade that turns into a stalk and finally grows corn husks, leaves and tassels, and none of it looks like what we put in the ground as we look at it.”

    Yes, when our old self has finally died, we do not get a better (old) self but a completely new one that knows spiritual realms of which the old Adam or Eve could have never dreamed. There is no real comparison possible between that small seed that died and that huge tree where “the birds of the air” make “nests in its branches.” (Lk 13:19 ESV)

    You also wrote,

    “I find that not very many who have tasted success and the limelight of public ministry pass this test.”

    Yes, that is true, for sure. For my part, I am not a heroine because I said ‘No’ to all these things. Of course, I would have loved to experience them as well…..BUT….. 🙂 I also had great revelations and deep experiences with God before and I felt if I had said ‘Yes’, I would have missed God’s great love in the end. It was God who put this intense longing to be one with Him into my heart so that I could eventually step back from “The Temptation of Spiritual Gurudom”. (see Susanne’s article by this name https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/the-temptation-of-spiritual-gurudom/)

    Thanks sooo much for your very appreciative words, my dear brother.

    ❤ Love you and all who write on here and read your blog very much too. ❤

    Susanne

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pat Orr says:

    Again, thanks to you and Susanne for the blogs. Much good food.

    In His love,
    Pat Orr

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Michael says:

    Pat, I am happy to hear you are being nourished by what we share on here. It seems that death has to be worked in us so that life can abound to others, like Paul said.

    Loving you in Him,
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

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