Why We Believe Spiritual Gifts are for Today

We at Azle First Assembly (AFA) believe that the Gifts of the Spirit listed in Scripture (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12) are still in operation today. We reject the notion that these gifts were only for the first century church, and that they ceased with the closing of the canon of Scripture or with the death of the Apostles. Nowhere in Scripture is it even implied that these gifts would not continue throughout the church age. There are many reasons why we at AFA believe that all of the Gifts of the Spirit are still in operation today, and we will discuss a few of those reasons in this post.

1. Scripture Encourages Us to Pursue Spiritual Gifts
Paul writes to the church in Corinth, "Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives - especially the ability to prophesy" (1 Corinthians 14:1, NLT). Some believe that even desiring to operate in spiritual gifts is wrong. They may even claim to believe that the gifts are for today, but we are not to desire them. Often times they will quote Matthew 16:4 in defense of their beliefs. In context that verse is not about spiritual gifts, but about people demanding signs from Christ to prove His Deity. Obviously, you can desire to operate in spiritual gifts out of impure motives, but if you desire to operate in spiritual gifts for the equipping of the Church, your heart is in the right place. Not only is it okay to desire spiritual gifts, we are commanded by Scripture to desire them!

2. Spiritual Gifts Build up the Church
Paul lays out the purpose for spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:7, "A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other" (NLT). Spiritual gifts are not given to us so we can appear more spiritual than others; they're not given so we can build a large platform for ourselves; and they're not given so we can be recognized for our giftedness. Simply put, spiritual gifts are given to us for others. The gifts that Holy Spirit gives to us is for the building up of the church. We are to employ our gift for the benefit of the church, not ourselves. When everyone operates in the gifts for the benefit of everyone else, the church is built up and equipped. When a church rejects the gifts, or people are operating in the gifts for the purpose of benefitting themselves, it produces an ill-equipped and poorly built church.

3. We Need the Gifts Today
Cessationists (those who argue the gifts have ceased) claim that the gifts are no longer needed today because we now have a closed canon of Scripture. While we agree that "all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives" (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT), we also understand that it is not the purpose of Scripture (God's written revelation) to give us the answer for every decision or choice we must make. Sometimes we are faced with circumstances that the Bible seems to be silent about, and what we need is a word of wisdom, or a word of knowledge to guide us on the path Holy Spirit desires for us to take. Spiritual gifts do not add to, or take away from, Scripture, but they do compliment Scripture in a way that may bring clearer meaning to what is written. If those who walked with Jesus, witnessed his death, burial, and resurrection, and experienced the inaugural outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost needed the Gifts of the Spirit, how much more do we need them today, 2000 years removed from those events?

The Continuationist Position is the Biblical Position
Many cessationists argue that continuationists (those who believe that spiritual gifts continued beyond the first century church) do not have a high regard for Scripture. Actually, I would argue it is because of our high regard for Scripture that we believe and operate in the Gifts of the Spirit. Often times, when debating with a cessationist, you will see that Scripture ultimately isn't the reason for their position, but experience (or lack thereof). The cessationist position is based on anecdote, not Scripture, therefore their position is not a reliable or biblically valid position. The Scriptures are clear that Holy Spirit desires for us to operate in the gifts He has given to the church, and it takes a lot of hermenuetical (biblical interpretation) gymnastics to arrive at a position of cessationism. 

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