Are the Spiritual Gifts for Today?

The Bible is full of provocative accounts of miraculous healings, signs and wonders that draw people’s hearts back to God. The Old Testament, the Gospels, the Book of Acts, and the letters of the New Testament all contain examples of prophets and apostles working signs and wonders in order to confirm the gospel message. There are also numerous healings, dreams, visions, and prophecies that build up the church and testify to the loving character of our Father.

Depending on your personal context, however, the experience of your church may not align with this trajectory in Scripture. Have the spiritual gifts ceased? Are there some gifts that qualify as “charismatic” gifts which are no longer operative today? In light of Paul’s instruction to eagerly pursue the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:1), this is an issue with which we should wrestle.

Are you interested in learning more about spiritual gifts? We recommend the following resources for further study and prayer:

Gift and Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today by Craig Keener
“Gifts of the Holy Spirit,” in Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere
Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala
Power Evangelism by John Wimber

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5 Responses

  1. I want to click the link and see what Craig says, but then I looked at the recommended resources and I think I know the answer. 🙂

  2. Thank you for an excellent discussion of the gifts. I get frustrated with the “discover your gift” movement that really amounts to “discover your talent.” I think that even the “natural” gifts that are listed with the “supernatural” ones are to be understood as Spirit-empowered manifestations that go beyond the natural. I also think that we should recognize that the gifts are depicted in Scripture as coming through a Pentecost-like experience, often through the laying-on of hands. I’ll close quickly with a reference to John Wimber’s Power Evangelism, in which he believes that the Christian may experience a series of Pentecost-like experiences. This, I think, is a helpful answer to how to understand the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter Professor Keener. In typical charismatic tradition, the seven minute presentation lasted eleven minutes – ha!
    I would like to put forward the notion that many who struggle with, or deny, the so-called “charismatic gifts” struggle more with the exercise of the gifts than the existence or continuity. Specifically, it would be immensely helpful to discuss accountability in the exercising of the charismatic gifts in public. How is the message of the modern day prophet tested? Is the interpretation offered of the message in tongues subject to question? Has the one who uttered a message shared a message for others or one that God, the Holy Spirit, has spoken to that person for their own life. Is it acceptable to question, when a word from the Lord is spoken, whether those gathered discern together that the message is from the Holy Spirit and therefore some response is appropriate? What is the process to discern that response?
    Addressing these kinds of questions, or even acknowledging that they are valid questions, would begin to open the ears of those who have been closed!

    1. Good points Martin. I was saved in a charismatic church and found that many of those who exercised gifts were basically self-centered. The American church is so weak and wanting today. I’m not anti-gifts and don’t believe gifts have ceased, but the church needs some Christ-followers with humility and character.

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