Sometimes I wonder what unbelievers in our culture consider church to be. The programming of GodTV, TBN, and the like doesn’t always show what a Biblically-based gathering of the church should look like. Even the local “seeker sensitive” church may not be following Biblical guidelines for the gathering. So if an unchurched or unbelieving person were to visit your church service, what preconceptions might he come in with? And maybe more importantly, what notions might he leave with? It is these questions (in part) which make 1 Corinthians 11-14 so important in the conducting of a church service.
In the world of Christianity today, we unfortunately see much perversion of the spiritual gifts which God distributes for His glory and for the body’s edification: the gifts of faith and healing being used as tools of prosperity, the gifts of tongues and prophecy being used chaotically for self-glorification. The result is that many Christians shy away from seeking and/or using these gifts. But this is not the Biblical way to respond to such abuse. As Pastor Todd put it, the solution to abuse is not disuse but proper use. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:1,39, “…desire earnestly spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy…. Desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 Paul again says, “Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances (i.e. gifts). But examine everything carefully….” So we are to desire these gifts–especially prophecy– and we are also to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Certainly we are to use spiritual gifts, and in using them to exercise discernment (1 John 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21) and order (1 Corinthians 14) and love (1 Corinthians 13).
When it comes to gifts such as these–tongues, prophecy, healing–there is a certain level of fear that comes with our unfamiliarity, lack of knowledge, and misconceptions; but if we suppress these gifts for such reasons, we most certainly are missing out on the edification for which God has given them. As a body, may we believers earnestly seek spiritual gifts–for the right reasons–and properly use them that we may be edified and God glorified.