Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit: Part V

In this post, I want to briefly address the problem of counterfeit spirituality. Martin Luther rightly said, “When God builds His house, the devil builds a chapel.”

When God is operating powerfully in a person or group, counterfeit spiritual manifestations will sometimes surface in the group or through people attacking the person or group whom God is using. This has been true historically.

For example, the Welsh Revival of the early 20th century is one of a number of authentic moves of God that was destroyed because people started to accept counterfeit spiritual manifestations.

Consequently, how do you know when the Holy Spirit is operating through someone or what they say is inspired by the Lord? Here are a few guidelines.[Continue Reading...]

Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit: Part IV

How does a believer rightly exercise spiritual gifts in a local assembly? The answer to this question depends on whether or not you belong to a church that allows every believer to function and minister in the gatherings (see Reimagining Church for details). If you do not belong to such a church, there will be limited opportunities for you to exercise such gifts. But assuming that you belong to such a church, or will belong to one, the following can be said.

The Bible says that “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every person for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). That means that the gifts are available to the entire Body of Christ. Paul’s exhortation to Corinth was to “eagerly desire the greater gifts” and to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts” so as to edify the church (1 Cor. 12:31; 14:1, 39). To eagerly desire the best gifts means to desire those gifts that best edify the church, such as prophecy.

The exercise of spiritual gifts begins with a desire to build up the church. It begins with observing what is most needed in your present fellowship. If some are sick among you, then healing is needed. If the church lacks perceiving God’s present mind or it needs a deeper revelation of Christ, prophecy is needed. If there is a lack of purpose, wisdom is needed. The church is a living organism. It will produce spiritual manifestations by sheer instinct if it is allowed to and if the Spirit’s manifestations are not suppressed or discouraged. This is why Paul exhorts, “Quench not the Spirit” in 1 Thessalonians 5:19.[Continue Reading...]

Jon Zens

Recently, I wrote a blog post featuring my close friend and co-worker Milt Rodriguez. Today, I want to feature my other co-worker and long-time friend Jon Zens.

I’ve known Jon since the 90s, and we’ve become extremely close over the years. Jon Zens is a brother whom I look up to and enormously respect. He’s a trailblazer and pioneer for Christians who gather outside the institutional church.  In addition, Zens has broken new ground in the area of New Covenant theology.

Here are some of the many resources that Jon Zens has contributed to the Body of Christ. You would be wise to take advantage of them.

Searching Together Magazine – one of the best periodicals in print. I bought all the back issues, which go back to the 1970s. This Christian magazine is without peer. I highly recommend it.
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Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit: Part III

This will be the longest post in our present series. But I felt it would be better to keep this particular topic all together instead of breaking it up in pieces.

I want to briefly examine how I understand the spiritual manifestations of 1 Corinthians 12 in light of their usefulness. It seems to me that these manifestations can be divided into three categories: The revelatory gifts, the inspirational gifts, and the power gifts.

Note that these manifestations are different from other “gifts lists” in the NT (e.g., Romans 12) in that they are all supernatural in nature. To my mind, any supernatural act exhibited through humans in the NT can be ascribed to one of these nine manifestations. (By the way, I’ve addressed the so-called “Five-Fold Ministry Gifts” in a previous post.)[Continue Reading...]

Interview with Brad Russell: Faith Village

Today I’m posting an interview I did with Brad Russell. Brad runs FaithVillage.

Frank Viola: What is FaithVillage.com and why did you build the site? In other words, what is your vision for it?

Brad Russell: At its core, we think of FaithVillage as a social network for faith experiences. Our vision is to gather an online community of thought-shapers, artists, church leaders and cause advocates who want to share their gifts for the inspiration of others. We think there hasn’t been a really compelling place for Christians to gather online without all the distractions, security issues and commercialization of so many other channels. We’re all about creating a compelling space where faith can be freely sparked, challenged, focused and shared.
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Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit: Part II

A cardinal mistake that many believers make is to confuse spiritual gifts with spiritual life. God’s highest aim for His children is that they grow and develop in spiritual life (1 Pet. 2:1-2). As we grow in the life of Christ, we move closer to realizing the Divine Purpose of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28-29; 2 Cor. 3:18). We also begin to function in ministry. And effective functioning requires the exercise of spiritual gifts.

Stated simply, spiritual gifts are the tools by which we express spiritual life and spiritual power. Put another way, gifts are the utensils by which we supply spiritual food to others.

Now I ask you, which is more important—gift or life? Obviously, life is more important than gift, for food is more important than the utensil. Would it really matter if you were served a piece of steak with a spoon rather than a fork? Although it is easier to serve steak with a fork, the substance of what one is served is of greater significance than the utensil by which it is served.[Continue Reading...]

Raised with Christ: An Interview with Adrian Warnock

As we consider Easter this year, I want to draw attention to my friend Adrian Warnock’s recent book Raised with Christ. The book is an excellent treatment on the resurrection of Jesus . . . why it’s important and how it applies to our lives today.

Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything  -<br /><br /><br />
        By: Adrian Warnock</p><br /><br />
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Adrian Warnock blogs at Patheos, and serves on the leadership team of Jubilee Church, London. He is passionate about refocusing the church on the resurrection. He is also keen to introduce a new generation to the life and works of Charles Spurgeon and is part of a planned documentary about Spurgeon’s life that is currently seeking crowd-sourced funding.

I caught up with Adrian recently and interviewed him on the book. Enjoy![Continue Reading...]

Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit: Part I

Today, I’m beginning a new series entitled Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit. The entire series will be 12 posts long. So at three posts per week, it will last for some time. If you find the posts of help, you can share them with your friends using the Facebook and Twitter buttons at the bottom.

In 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul discusses the manifestation of the Holy Spirit saying,

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

As the name implies, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given by God to manifest—to make known or display—the presence of Jesus Christ to and through His church.[Continue Reading...]

Interview with Andrew Farley

Andrew Farley is a friend of mine. Andrew recently released an intriguing work of fiction entitled, Operation Screwtape: The Art of Spiritual Warfare. The book is a compelling read and it highlights some wonderful truths about who we are in Christ and where our focus should be. I caught up with Andrew to hear him talk about the book. Enjoy the interview and order Andrew’s Farley’s new book.

Operation Screwtape: The Art of Spiritual War  -<br /><br />         By: Andrew Farley</p><br /> <p>

Give us the premise of “Operation Screwtape.” What is the book about?

Andrew Farley: It’s a fiction book. And in the book, an expert linguist encounters a device containing thousands of archived files revealing a worldwide conspiracy. Operation Screwtape is the largest of these files and details the intelligent scheme to steal, kill, and destroy Christianity. Here’s a video clip of the discovery of the device:


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Two of My Best Books $1.99 on Kindle For a Limited Time

I don’t usually post on Sundays, but I thought today’s news warranted it. Someone on Twitter drew my attention to the fact that Amazon is offering two of my best books (on Kindle) for only $1.99. I’m not sure how long this insane sale will last, but I suspect it won’t be long.

Here are the Amazon links with book descriptions (to see how these books specifically benefit readers). Tomorrow’s post will begin a response to a question I’ve been asked countless times. It’s called Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit. Stay tuned![Continue Reading...]