Monday, January 4, 2010

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (Supernatural Gifts)

Christianity is more than simply a belief system or a worldview. It is a supernatural thing. However, plenty of Christians today espouse a belief in the supernatural in theory, but are hesitant to see it in their own sphere. It is understandable. Mystical experiences are highly subjective and require people to believe in things based purely on someone else’s word. It is always healthy to appraise and accept supernatural things—even those that you witness—only based on God’s canonical word.

That being said, the Bible supports the understanding that Christians are gifted supernaturally. All Christians. By supernaturally, it means things that are not merely natural talents, abilities or personality traits. These things also come from God, but spiritual gifts are supernatural and received when one becomes a Christian—not before.

Of course, there are also supernatural abilities that do not come from God, but from sinister sources. How does one tell the difference? For one thing, Paul says here that people acting in God’s power will always glorify Jesus and declare Him Lord—not curse Him or glorify themselves. Other than that one can always look to God’s word to better recognize the powers that come from God, and distinguish them from demonic ones.

Spiritual Gifts are supernatural abilities given to believers by the Holy Spirit. There are a variety of giftings, but only one God. Paul is anything but systematic in his teaching. He was writing occasional letters. Here and in the letters to the Roman and Ephesian churches there are differing lists of gifts. Are they somehow combinable into an exhaustive list? Where do Peter’s teaching and other supernatural abilities described in the Bible fit in? Each passage needs to be taken on its own, and in all likelihood the answer is a bit of yes-and-no. One thing is for sure. These are gifts that are discovered in their usage not a series of multiple choice questions.

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