Be not deceived. You can only supply to others that which you yourself have received from God (Matt. 10:8; Acts 3:6). When spiritual gifts become the central focus of our attention, Christ takes the backseat.
This has been the tragedy of many assemblies that have emphasized gifts over life. Among such groups, there is an abundance of soulish excitement coupled with an absence of the self-emptying experience of the cross. In this regard, Frank Bartelman, reporter and eyewitness of the Azusa Street Revival of 1907, solemnly warned the church of this danger saying,
The temptation seems to be toward empty manifestations. This does not require any particular cross or death to the self-life. Hence, it is always popular. We may not put power, gifts, the Holy Ghost, or in fact anything ahead of Jesus. Any mission that exalts even the Holy Ghost above the Lord Jesus Christ is bound for the rocks of error and fanaticism. There seems to be a great danger of losing sight of the fact that Jesus is “all in all.” The work of Calvary, atonement, must be the center of our consideration. The Holy Ghost will never draw our attention from Christ to Himself, but rather reveal Christ in a fuller way. We are in danger of slighting Jesus—getting Him “lost in the Temple,” by the exaltation of the Holy Ghost and of the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus must be the center of everything. The Lord Jesus becomes a stranger among His own people when they give the Holy Spirit preeminence over Him, when they praise Him but will not fellowship with Him, and when they seek His power rather than Him who embodies all spiritual things. Put another way, the upper room should never overshadow the cross or the empty tomb.
In short, the giftings of the Holy Spirit are to do away with self and bring the Lord Jesus into greater view. If they are not doing that, then there is good reason to question their source. Note that the Spirit does not speak of Himself. Instead, He always speaks of and glorifies Christ (John 15:26; 16:13-14). Thus a person who is filled with the Spirit will be consumed with Jesus.[Continue Reading...]