Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: fruit of the Spirit

25 Flavours of Mennonites

When we lived in Ontario it would happen from time to time that someone I had just met would ask me what kind of Mennonite I was. “Does your church allow cars? electricity? telephones?”

I knew these questions arose because there were at least 25 flavours of Mennonites within a 100 km radius of where we lived and for many of them things of this nature were a big issue. I would gladly have avoided these questions because I couldn’t see what they had to do with being Christian, which should be the most essential part of being a Mennonite.

People were curious and they didn’t know where else to start. It was so easy to answer the questions and wander down a rabbit trail that didn’t lead anywhere, leaving the questioner no wiser than when he started and leaving me feeling that I’d failed to say anything really helpful.

What I wanted to say was that the way we use the things available to us in this world can reveal something about our relationship with God. But making rules about things results in a group that is impressive in their outward unity, but does not ensure that they have a relationship with God. It does not even ensure that the members trust one another; sadly, the unity is often only apparent to outsiders.

What I wanted to say was that the essence of Christianity is to be filled with love, joy, peace and all the other qualities described as the fruit of the Spirit. To do that, it is often necessary to avoid things that will feed our pride. Pride is a sneaky thing that tries to enter our lives in so many ways that no amount of rules could ever cover them all. We must each deal with pride on a personal level.

What I wanted to say was that the making of rules provides fertile ground for thinking that I am doing a better job of following the rules than others. That feeds my pride and a critical, suspicious attitude towards others. That would be to head in altogether the wrong direction.

What should I have said? What would you say? What are your questions about being Mennonite?

The glory of the Lord

God’s presence with the children of Israel during the Exodus was shown by a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. There were instances when there must have been a more glorious manifestation of God’s presence in the cloud. The glory of the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai and God’s voice spoke out of the cloud, calling Moses to come up the mountain.

The glory of the Lord appeared on occasions when Moses’ authority was questioned and when the tabernacle was dedicated. The pillar of cloud rested upon the tabernacle from that point on. Many years later, when Solomon dedicated the temple the glory of the Lord descended upon it and the cloud filled the temple. The cloud, or Shekinah, a Hebrew term not found in the Bible but used by rabbis to describe the cloud, remained above the temple until it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. The Shekinah was one of the five things said to be missing from the second temple. Ezekiel had visions of the glory of the Lord during the Babylonian captivity.

It does not appear that the glory of the Lord, the Shekinah, was seen again until the birth of Jesus. The second chapter of Luke tells of the shepherds on the hillside during that night and then verse says: “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.” No doubt the angels were also glorious in appearance, but the phrase “the glory of the Lord” refers to a glory much greater than that of the angels.

Could this also explain the star seen by the Magi? I am going beyond anything that can be established by the Bible, but there is really no physical explanation for a star that led the Magi from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and then to one specific house in Bethlehem.

The manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost could also be considered an appearance of the shekinah, or the glory of the Lord: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:2-4).

From this time forward the glory of the Lord has been with God’s new covenant people, the church. It is known today not by outward signs but by the life changing power of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.

Harvest Home

wheat-317021_1280

Here in Saskatchewan the trees are bare, the flowers have died, geese are migrating and most of the combines are parked. Garden produce has been gathered in and the long, plump, white grain bags lying in many fields are silent evidence of a bountiful harvest. Monday will be Thanksgiving.

The custom of giving thanks for harvest is first observed in the fourth chapter of Genesis where Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to God. We are not told why God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and not Cain’s, but it must have had more to do with Cain than with his sacrifice.

The three main festivals prescribed by the Law were all centred around harvest. Passover took place at the very beginning of the harvest of fall-seeded grain and the first sheaf of barley was to be offered at this time. The men then returned home to harvest their crops and seven weeks later returned for the festival of first fruits (also called the festival of weeks, or of wheat harvest and known in the New Testament as Pentecost). Fall was the time for the feast of tabernacles, or ingathering, when all the crops had been gathered in: spring seeded grains, wine and oil.

I think most peoples around the world had some kind of traditional harvest festival. In England it was called Harvest Home and began when the last of the reaped grain was brought in from the fields. It began as a pagan festival, but this is one festival that was fittingly co-opted by the church. Sheafs of grain and garden produce were brought into the church; hymns of praise and thanksgiving were sung and prayers offered to thank God for His goodness.

We call it Thanksgiving today and it comes upon a fixed day in the autumn, whether harvest is complete or not. Many of us are now quite disconnected from the production of the food that we eat, anyway. Why then do we celebrate Thanksgiving?

First off, it is good that we do not forget the rhythms of life around us, that we are entirely dependent upon God to supply our needs. Yes, we work for what we get, but it is within God’s power to withhold the fruits of our labours, or to bestow them upon us in abundance.

When He withholds, this is an opportunity to search our lives and reorder our priorities in order to bring them into harmony with God’s priorities. When He pours an abundance of material blessings upon us, we must remember that this is not merely the result of our labours but a blessing from God. And He does not want us to use it all to pamper ourselves, but to share it with others in need so that they too can give thanks for the blessings we have received.

There is another aspect of thankfulness that should be cultivated by Christians. God has called us to salvation and poured out His Spirit on us. What fruit has the Spirit produced in our lives this year? Are we overflowing with love, joy and peace? The growth of the young trees around our yard site is a visible evidence of the abundant rainfall we have experienced over the past few years. Has there been spiritual growth in our lives?

What about the spiritual harvest? Do we assume that people around us are not interested in the gospel, or do we see fields that are ripe for harvest? Jesus told His disciples to lift up their eyes; they weren’t seeing what He was seeing. Are we? Above all, do our lives, our words, our attitudes communicate thankfulness for the goodness of God, for the spiritual blessings as well as the material?

The baptism of the Holy Spirit

The Bible speaks of three types of baptism: the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of believers by water and the baptism of suffering. Of the three, the most important is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as it is a precondition for the other two. There is evidence of this Holy Spirit baptism throughout the Bible.

The anointing oil which was poured upon the head of priests and kings was a type of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, imparting to them the sanctification and spiritual gifts needed to lead God’s people. First was the anointing of Aaron, the first high priest, by Moses:
And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him. (Leviticus 8:12)

The anointing of kings; the first example is Saul, the second is David:
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance? And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. (I Samuel 10:1, 6, 9-10)
Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. (I Samuel 16:10)

A prophecy of the anointing of the Messiah:
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Psalm 45:7.)

There are many prophecies in the Old Testament of the Holy Spirit being poured out on all believers:
Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. (Proverbs 1:23)
For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. (Isaiah 44:3)
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezekiel 36:25-27.)
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:28-29)

John the Baptist also prophesied of the pouring out of the Spirit upon all believers, calling it a baptism:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. (Matthew 3;11)

The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at the beginning of His ministry:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. (Matthew 3:16.)

Jesus foretold that believers would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit:
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63.)
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:5)

The disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4)

Cornelius and his household were the first Gentiles baptized with the Holy Spirit:
And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 10:45.)
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. (Acts 11:15-16.)

Testimonies of Paul and John on the efficacy of the baptism or anointing of the Holy Spirit:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. (Titus 3:5-6.)
But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:20, 27)

Pauls description of the effect of the baptism of the Holy Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 )
For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth. (Ephesians 5:9.)

Note the consistency in all the examples of the Old Testament anointings and in the prophecies and examples of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They all show the anointing or baptism as a pouring or sprinkling, the Spirit coming down from God above upon the heads of men and women. There were often outward signs, such as prophesying or speaking in tongues, but the enduring proof of the anointing or baptism was a new heart and a transformed life.

The foolishness of preaching

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. — 1 Corinthians 1:17-21

Here is the genius of true Christian preaching: it is not a dry learned discourse, nor is it an exercise in emotional demagoguery. The preacher must have personal experience of the gospel he preaches, or his preaching will have no life. There must needs be something of teaching and something of feeling, but the preacher stands on common ground with those to whom he is speaking and talks of the aspirations and trials that are common to all and of God’s grace which is accessible to all.

A distinction needs to be made between the written word and the spoken word. A Christian writer may be inspired to write about a topic or an event and sit down to get this inspiration into written form. The writer then needs to revise and edit to make sure that the inspiration is not befogged with unnecessary words or digressions into side issues, and that all the information is there for the reader to understand the inspiration. The reader is able to go back and reread a portion that was not clear on the first reading, or perhaps read the whole thing over at a later time to let the meaning sink in.

The spoken word is immediate and fleeting. The hearers will not remember every word that was said and will have no opportunity to go back and listen to it again. If the preacher has been inspired by God with a message and opens his heart to share that message as being as much in need as his hearers, the message will have a lasting impact after the words have vanished from memory.

For this reason, I believe that preaching can truly be described as the living word. A sermon has its most powerful impact upon those who are assembled in one place to listen. I don’t believe it has the same impact when broadcast over a phone line, closed circuit TV, or other means. A sermon that is recorded or transcribed also loses much of its vitality.

In the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, we do not believe in a trained and salaried ministry. Nor do we believe that a minister should write out his sermon beforehand. All these things diminish the leading of the Holy Spirit as he speaks and weaken the authenticity of the message.

The word minister means servant, an apt description of a person who is called to serve spiritual nourishment to a congregation of believers. Ministers are also called pastors (shepherds), bishops (overseers), teachers and evangelists. But they are never to be looked upon as lords over the people of God. All his spiritual work must be done with the collaboration and support of the congregation, or it will never stand the challenges that will come.

All ministers are not equal in their ability to expound on the Scriptures, in eloquence, or even in their mastery of the language. These are all things that can be improved on with time. The most important qualifications of a minister are a pure life, humility, love for others. These are not things that can be learned from books, but the fruit of a life truly dedicated to serving God and his fellow men.

Getting along with difficult people

Go into any bookstore, secular or Christian, mortar and bricks or online, and you will find at least a couple book titles that offer to teach you how to get along with difficult people.  There is a management training organization which holds seminars across the country, year after year, to teach managers how to deal with the difficult people at work.  Evidently there are enough difficult people out there to make  a steady revenue stream available to those who write these books and teach these seminars.

How come there are no books and courses to teach the difficult people how to stop being difficult?

I don’t suppose there would be any market.  After all, I am not the difficult one, it’s the people around me who are difficult.  And even if I do come across as a little difficult at times, it’s only because I have to constantly put up with all these other people who are causing me so much difficulty.

There is a deeper problem, how can you teach someone not to be difficult?  There is a form of courtesy and good manners that can be taught, and should be taught much more than  it is.  Yet the best that good manners can do is produce a person who is difficult in a very courteous way.

I believe most of my readers are Christians, so you already know the answer.  It is not within the scope of human ability to cease being difficult, it has to come from God.  It is found in the changed heart produced by the new birth and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (James 3:17-18).

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the difficult people around me could be like that?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could be like that?

Ah, there is the rub.  How can it be that others still find me difficult to get along with if I am a Christian?  It must be that I am somehow quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

How do I look at other people?  Can I see the life of Christ in fellow believers, despite the outward quirks that I find annoying?  Which do I see more clearly?  Which do I look for?

Can I see every person that I meet, saved or unsaved, as being created in the image of God, despite the ways this image may be distorted?   Do I see the unsaved as being someone for whom Christ died?  Do I believe they are part of the “all men, everywhere” whom God is calling to repentance today?

Finally, I am left to wonder if the thing that makes me difficult to others isn’t directly related to what I am seeing when I look at them.  Lord, may I have the grace to see what you are seeing.

JOY

Joy is the second quality listed as part of the fruit of the Spirit.  If I am a Christian, yet find that joy is lacking in my life, it cannot be the fault of the giver.  God’s gifts to His children are given liberally.  Therefore, if there is a lack of joy in my life, I must search for the cause within myself.

If we seek to be happy, to have joy in our lives, we will not find it through positive thinking or an enhancement of our self-esteem.  The apostle Peter gives some pretty basic instructions.  “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Peter 3:10).  In other words, our happiness (or joy) will not come from pointing out the faults and weaknesses in others, or by disguising our true nature, but by doing all that is in our power to honestly be at peace with everyone.

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15).  “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5).  “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).  Why do the Scriptures speak of a connection between tears and joy?  Isn’t it for the simple reason that if we harden ourselves to painful emotions we grow a shield around our heart and the joy that God wishes to give us cannot penetrate that shield?

Worry has a very insidious way of robbing us of joy.  I am very concerned about brother so and so, or sister so and so, their attitudes, the things they are doing.  I am concerned about the political situation, about health care, about the rise of false religion and occult practices, about the decline of spiritual life in the church.  There is so much to be concerned about that it just wouldn’t be right to put on a happy face and say that I am living in the blessings of God, would it?

Let’s look at it this way, worry and concern are close kin to unbelief.  The reason that things are so bad around me is that so few people truly know the joy that God gives.  If I let their unbelief hinder me from experiencing the joy of the Lord, I am part of that problem.  A BIG part.

“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.  Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee” Psalm 51:12-13).

Conversion

In recent years we have been hearing a teaching that goes something like this: the new birth can happen in an instant, but conversion is the work of a lifetime.  This bizarre statement has left me puzzled about how one can reconcile it with the Scriptures.

In Acts 15:3, we are told that as Paul and Barnabas made their way to Jerusalem “they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.”  They were recounting to fellow believers along the way how that many Gentiles had come to the faith.  This was something that had already happened, there was no need to wait years after they were born again to see if they would also be converted.

In Luke 22:32 Jesus speaks to Peter, saying “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”  If conversion is the work of a lifetime, when exactly was it that Peter was supposed to strengthen the brethren?  As we follow the story of Peter, we see how he began doing this immediately after receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

Is it safe to gather from this that the new birth and conversion are completed and sealed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit?  I believe it is.  Words like new birth, regeneration and conversion all speak of a break with one’s former life, a change of direction and the beginning of a new life.  When this happens we become children of God and He gives us the Holy Spirit as a seal.

Galatians  4:6 “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

Ephesians 1:13-14 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

Romans 8:9 “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

These verses make it clear that the Holy Spirit is given to all who are truly born again, converted, regenerated.  The Holy Spirit is not just a passive passenger in our lives, He wants to direct our lives in the ways of God.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  (Galatians 5:22-25).

Where then does this idea of conversion taking a lifetime come from?  It is a proposition of Calvinism.  Believing in unconditional election and irresistible grace leaves them with masses of people who have been born again, but show no evidence of it.  Therefore, they must grant such believers a lifetime for some evidence of the new birth and conversion to manifest itself in their lives.  This may be an intellectually satisfying proposition, but it gives a false comfort to those who are struggling to maintain a semblance of Christian life without the grace given by the Holy Spirit.

Genuine evidence of the fruit of the Spirit should trump any intellectual proposition that lacks a Biblical foundation.  True repentance leads to the new birth, conversion, regeneration, adoption or whatever word might be found to describe a transformed life.  The evidence will follow; sooner, rather than later.

Power outage

We were moving from one farm house to another, with the help of friends.  I hurried to connect the kitchen stove so my wife could bake a pizza for our helpers.  This was in the day when kitchen stoves did not plug into the wall, but the wires from the stove had to be individually connected to the wires coming up through the floor.  I tried the top burners and they turned red, then I turned on the oven and the element glowed red.  The pizza went into the oven and we sat down to visit while we waited.

And waited.  Finally we sensed something might not be quite right.  This was also long before the day of digital oven temperature readouts, but we figured out that the oven wasn’t getting as hot as it should.  I was forced to confess that I really didn’t know what I was doing, so probably the oven only had 110 volt power, not 220.  We pulled the stove out, someone who knew a little more about these things connected the wires properly and the pizza finally got cooked.  I don’t remember how it turned out, but it probably wasn’t the best pizza my wife ever made, due to the long preheat session.

When a serviceman is called out to fix a piece of electrical equipment that isn’t working, in a home, an office or other commercial location, the first thing he does is check to see if it is plugged in.  If it is plugged in, the second thing he does is check whether there is electricity coming to the receptacle.  It is amazing how often something can be fixed by plugging it in or flipping the breaker back on.

There is much boasting today in Christian circles of powerful presentations of the gospel, by music, audio visual presentations and powerful preaching.  Some speak of a powerful moving of the spirit, healing, raising of the dead and other manifestations.  Yet in these same circles the rate of pornography use, marital breakdown, financial irresponsibility and outright dishonesty are  little different than among those who make no profession of faith.  Where is the power?  Are they really connected to the source of power?

I believe some of them have that connection, but is the power being transmitted to all those who fill the pews?  Many of them go home with a warm fuzzy feeling about the gospel service they have attended; however Revelation 3:16 has bad news for anyone who thinks a lukewarm fuzzy feeling is enough to transform a worldling into a child of God.

When the power of God first touches our lives, it is likely to give us an unpleasant jolt.  We cannot connect to the source of spiritual power without first seeing how sinful we are and repenting of that sin.  When the Holy Spirit flows into our lives, He gives us power to overcome sin.  We are still sinners by nature and we can expect occasional sparks and power interruptions due to slips and stumbles on our part.  Yet the power is there to get back up and resume our walk with God, living through His power, not our own.

Galatians 5:22-23 outlines the effects of being connected to this spiritual power —  the fruit of the Spirit is (with explanations from Matthew Henry’s Commentary):

love (to God especially and to one another for His sake)

joy (cheerfulness in conversation with our friends, a constant delight in God)

peace (with God and conscience, a peaceableness of temper and behaviour toward others)

longsuffering (patience to defer anger and a contentedness to bear injuries)

gentleness (a sweetness of temper that disposes us to be affable and courteous, easy to be entreated when any have wronged us)

goodness (kindness, which shows itself in a readiness to do good to all as we have opportunity)

faith (fidelity, justice and honesty in what we profess and promise to others)

meekness (wherewith to govern our passions, so as not to be easily provoked, and when we are so, to be easily pacified)

temperance (in food and drink, and other enjoyments of life, so as not to be excessive and immoderate in the use of them).

This is the power that needs to be evident in Christian worship services, and in the daily lives of believers.  There is no excuse for boasting in this, as the power is not man-made.  Where these qualities are lacking, it is appropriate to question whether there is truly a live connection to the Holy Spirit, the source of power.

Gifts or Fruits of the Spirit?

Here are some insightful words from Tom Skinner.

I hasten to add that there is a distinction between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.  We need also to understand this as it pertains to the evangelist.

Quite often we become enamoured with gifted people.  And we often assume that because they are gifted, that they are also spiritual.  We say, “Wow, that sister can really sing. She’s a great woman of God!”  But the fact that she can sing does not make her a woman of God.  We say, “Boy, that brother can preach!”  He is not a man of God because he can preach.  The Bible says God gives gifts as he pleases.

For 28 years, I have been preaching the gospel on every continent.  I am gifted to preach.  But I recognize it is a gift from God.  It has nothing to do with me.  If you judge my spirituality by my preaching, I will snow you—because there is no relationship between my gift to preach and my spirituality.

If you want to find out whether I am a spiritual person, if you want to find out whether I am filled with the Spirit, you have to wait until I finish preaching and hang out with me.

The fullness of the Spirit is not a state of perfection; it is a state of surrender.  It is not a state of sinlessness; it is a state of abandonment to Jesus Christ—when a person simply says, “I renounce all rights to myself and I give Jesus the right to do with me whatever he pleases.”

-Tom Skinner

© 1989 BridgeBuilder.  This is an excerpt from an article originally featured in BridgeBuilder Magazine, published in Washington, DC.

%d bloggers like this: