At Crossings Community Church we do not have a denomination on our signs, website, or anywhere else. Sometimes this comforts people and other times it makes people skeptical. People often associate certain beliefs with denominational labels (or even the lack of a denominational label). Some day when I feel really daring I’ll write about the reasons behind that choice. However, I do want to make one statement in that direction. The reasons do NOT include a belief that we will reach more people by hiding a denominational label. It is very obvious when someone worships with us that we are not ashamed or reserved in our convictions. I love the kingdom advancing work denominations are doing around the world, and I have personally been very blessed by it. I have many personal stories of great blessings from denominational cooperation.
At a recent membership class we discussed spiritual gifts. This is an area where we will often hear questions because people associate specific denominations with specific beliefs about this issue (although that is a very dangerous assumption). I have taught through the controversial specifics of this on multiple occasions at Crossings Community, but a blog post demands a fairly short and concise answer to the question which I thought would be beneficial.
Whether or not there are people gifted by God as teachers, administrators, or helpers doesn’t seem to be the cause of much conversation. It is when we begin to talk about those ‘crazy spiritual gifts’ like prophecy, tongues, or healing that people begin to perk up a little. Or at the other extreme, churches become divided or even close their doors over such disagreements and lack of humility and unity. We move ahead in our vision as a church based on a couple of ideas that we feel are firmly rooted in the Bible.
We believe in a supernatural God. We read and teach from the pages of the Bible which display the God of the universe as one who is not limited by natural means. This necessitates us affirming the fact that our God can and will work in ways that we do not understand – nor can we explain. I have often said and will most definitely say again, if God is limited by my intellectual understanding, expectations, and articulation then he is no greater than me.
As we pursue a supernatural God we find supernatural gifts. I believe that all of the spiritual gifts are supernatural, yet some are more easy to explain away by natural means. There are many different places in the New Testament where Paul talks about spiritual gifts. One of the most important is in 1 Corinthians. He lists many of the gifts and talks about the beauty of the body of Christ (the church) and how each of the unique gifts work together to build and further the church. After a lengthy discussion of those gifts he says, ‘As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part…’
It appears that Paul is letting us know that these gifts (all of them) exist for a purpose that is temporary. There will be a time when spiritual gifts are no longer needed. When is that time? He continues to say, ‘but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.’
Spiritual gifts are a part of our growth and maturation in Christ. They have a purpose that is temporary and will be needed until ‘the perfect comes’ and our maturity is complete as we stand in the presence of our Savior. I don’t believe this indicates that God extinguished a few of the gifts and left a few others. Paul is making a strong argument to the church for our need for all of these gifts as we pursue the biblical picture of God’s church.
Under the instructions we read in chapter 14 regarding orderly worship, accountability, and his words regarding intentional shepherding from the elders of the church, we should affirm a supernatural God that works in supernatural ways in order to bring the supernatural purposes of his church to fruition.