November 21, 2014
I Corinthians 1:4-8
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
I began my search 40 years ago to see if the Charismatic Movement was of God or not. The movement got its name from the Greek word charisma meaning spiritual endowment or grace gift. By the time I was exposed to the movement, it had then been going on for about 14 years, from its beginnings on April 3, 1960 when the Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett announced to his Van Nuys, California congregation of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church that he had experienced a Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit in his life.
My wife and I got to know a Roman Catholic couple who lived near my first church in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, and who were active in The Catholic Charismatic Renewal. This Roman Catholic movement had started in February 1967 at Dusquesne University in Pittsburgh. Through this couple’s influence, my wife and I experienced enough of the Charismatic Movement to impel me into my studies – was the Charismatic Movement Biblical or not?
Charismatics where not the first to emphasize Spiritual gifts. Pentecostals had been a growing part of the Christian scene for over five decades – ever since the Azuza Street Revival in Los Angelos starting in April 1906. But Pentecostalism was often considered on the fringe of mainstream Christianity. The Charismatic Movement brought the emphasis on the work, empowerment and manifestations of the Holy Spirit into mainstream denominations.
I had been trained in a fundamental Baptist seminary which was decidedly anti- Pentecostal and anti-Charismatic! We were taught that the miraculous manifestation gifts of I Corinthians 12:8 through 10 and the first two offices of Ephesians 4:11 were not for Christians today, that they had been discontinued by God by the end of the first century when the New Testament was completed – “…when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” (I Corinthians 13:10). If the miraculous gifts such as healings and speaking in tongues were practiced today, we were told they were of the devil!
But I needed to find out for myself. I decided the best place to start my studies of the Charismatic Movement was in the book of the Bible which listed the nine miraculous gifts – I Corinthians. So I started at chapter one and verse one! I still have almost 200 pages of notes I took in those studies! It didn’t take me long to make my first important discovery – I Corinthians 1:4-8:
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given
you by Jesus Christ, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utter-
ance and in all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in
you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our
Lord Jesus Christ, Who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be
blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This was an eye-opener!
• In verse 5 Paul thanked God that the Christians in the Corinthian church “…were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and in all knowledge….” Was this a reference to two of the gifts mentioned in chapter 12:8 and 10, “…the word of knowledge…[and] different kinds of tongues…”?
• If it is a reference as suggested above, then those gifts – and other miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit – were given to confirm in these early Christians, “…the testimony of Christ…” (verse 6).
• Paul wrote that the Corinthian believers “…come short in no gift…” (verse 7). It is the same word – charisma – that he uses in I Corinthians chapters12 through 14 as he describes the miraculous gifts and their use.
• But it was the last part of verse 7 and verse 8 that really caught my attention! The Corinthian Christians were to “…come short in no gift…” as they were “…eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ….” And Paul adds that such gift manifestation “…will also confirm you to the end….” “…the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ….[and] the end…” have not come yet! So that must mean the miraculous gifts – and the offices of apostle and prophet – are still valid and to be practiced today!
In our next blog on Monday, we will go back to the scripture I used in the recent Maturing In Christ series – Ephesians 4:11 through 15.