Charismania versus Charisphobia

In 1 Corinthians 12:7–10 (NIV), Paul discussed the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, saying,

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

As the name implies, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given by God to manifest—to make known or display—the presence of Jesus Christ to and through His church.

Since the Holy Spirit’s job is to glorify and reveal Christ (John 16:13–14), the manifestation of the Spirit is designed to unveil Christ. Spiritual manifestations are given by God’s grace; consequently, Paul called them “spiritual gifts” (charisma in the Greek; 1 Cor. 12:4, 30–31).

All nine gifts that Paul listed in the above text are miraculous in nature. That is, they display Christ in a supernatural way. Throughout the New Testament, Paul made a healthy distinction between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit displays the character of God’s life in the believer. The manifestation of the Spirit displays the power of God’s life through the believer. The fruit of the Spirit relates to our walk. The manifestation of the Spirit relates to our service. Fruit deals with the character of Jesus. Gifts deal with the ministry of Jesus.

Spiritual manifestations have been a sore spot for the Lord’s people for centuries. Some have embraced the notion that those gifts are no longer present in the church.

Such folks are called “cessationists,” for they believe that spiritual gifts have ceased to exist. But there is no biblical merit for the cessationist idea. The testimony of Scripture as well as church history demonstrates that the gifts of the Spirit have been operative in the church since they were given on the day of Pentecost in AD 30.

Nevertheless, among those who accept the perpetuity—or continuation—of spiritual manifestations, there have been two predominant schools of thought:

  1. Spiritual gifts should be sought after and encouraged, for they are the zenith of spirituality.
  2. Spiritual gifts should be hindered and discouraged, for they are easily abused and often cause division, confusion, and hurt.

We will call the first view the charismaniac position and the second view the charisphobic position. I submit that both positions are imbalanced.

by Frank Viola author in Jesus Now.


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