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.

The Difference Between Discipline and Condemnation

Some who hold to an “error-by-emphasis” concerning grace ignore the fact that Jesus disciplines us and the Father chastens us. Their thinking is, “If Jesus forgave all my sin and I’m not condemned, how could He discipline and chastise me?”

But the Scripture plainly states that He does. Imagine a father who says of his toddler the following:

My daughter will always be my blood-kin. I will always unconditionally accept her and she will always be related to me. I will never disown her, no matter what she does. I’m related to her by blood. That will never change. In fact, I love her so much that she’s already forgiven, despite the wrong things that she will do in life and the mistakes she will make. But when my daughter does something wrong, there are consequences. I discipline her. Why? Because I have a duty to train her to do good and I want her to mend any relationship she damages. It’s the same way with God. He unconditionally accepts us. He is our Father and we are His children. That doesn’t change. In addition, because of Jesus’ shed blood, He has forgiven us long before we ever screwed up. But because He is our Father and He loves us, He will chasten us when repeatedly act contrary to our new nature in Him. And Jesus will discipline us. This isn’t condemnation, it’s loving correction. It may not feel good, but sometimes love doesn’t feel good.

            Point: Just because you and I are forgiven by the blood of Christ for all our sins–past, present, and future–that doesn’t mean there are no consequences to our actions. It doesn’t mean that the Spirit cannot be grieved. It doesn’t mean the Spirit cannot be quenched. And it doesn’t mean that the Lord cannot be displeased with a particular act or attitude we adopt.

God can unconditionally accept us, while disciplining us because we are His much-loved children. Remember, His ultimate goal is to confirm us to the image of Jesus, His Son (Rom. 8:28-29).

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!  They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11, NIV

From Jesus Now by Frank Viola, author

Jesus – Author & Finisher of Our Faith

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith …

Hebrew 12:2 KJV

Beyond being our high priest, chief shepherd, and heavenly bridegroom, another aspect of the present-day ministry of Jesus Christ is His ability to complete what He began in us.

This aspect has to do with spiritual growth and transformation. Not only is Christ in heavenly places interceding for us, but He’s also within every believer by His Spirit, forming His character within each of His disciples.

One of the most incredible promises in all of the Bible is Paul’s statement in Philippians 1:6:

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Paul was confident: What Jesus Christ began in your life will be completed.

Consequently, when you feel discouraged that you’re not growing like you want to … when you feel depressed that you keep having the same struggles and challenges … when you don’t see any progress in your spiritual life, remember: He who brought you to Himself will eventually perfect you. He will complete the work that He began in you, for He is the author and finisher of our faith.

Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life. Consider the word “life.” Just which is “life—“ the beginning or the end of it?

Is life more about the birth, growth, or maturing? We need to decide. I say this with a wink and a smile. We would never say that life is any one of those things. Life is all of them, and every point in between. Life is up and down, backwards and forwards, breathing and holding our breath. Life is about stopping and starting, action and reaction, giving and taking.

Life is! And the same can be said of Jesus Christ. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning and the end. The A to Z. He is the One at the starting point and at the end, at the same moment.  And His life is deposited within every believer when they repent and believe upon Him. But that’s not the end. That life–His life–grows in us and shapes our characters. If we allow it to.

by Frank Viola Author