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Can a Christian use the Miraculous Gifts of God Today?
It is clear, from scripture, that the spiritual gifts, administrations and operations are not only in existence today, but also are the means from which God manifests His Will through His people. To say such gifts and operations do not exist today, would be the equivelant to saying, God does not operate through his people today. Yet, as we all know, God works within our lives daily through the Body of Christ.
However, why is it that we do not always find these administrations within our local churches? God recognizes and uses prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Yet, often, we find only the pastor/priest and teacher within our local church. Where are the apostles, evangelists and prophets? Maybe not in name, but we do find the occasional apostle or evangelist among bishops and certain hierarchial pastors and leaders in various churches and organizations. A good example of an evangelist would be anyone who preaches the gospel (such as door to door, to friends or neighbors, or by other means). Perhaps pastors like John MacArthur would be a good example of an apostle, as he is an "eminent Christian teacher", which fits the original greek definition perfectly. Or even a noted missionary would qualify as an Apostle, as he or she would be "one sent forth with orders", similar to how the Apostle Paul went to various regions to preach the good news.
Yet with the office of the prophet, we can not as easily identify who is fulfilling this role. Perhaps David Wilkerson, Jan Markell or on the other spectrum, Chuck Missler? You may be wondering, how do all of these people fit the role of a prophet? With David Wilkerson, he has, according to some, foretold future events. I have heard that his church prayed for 3 months prior to 9/11 as they sensed something bad was going to happen. The 2000 sandwhich one the day before 9/11/2001 is made up (not by him, of course), however the 3 months of praying before 9/11/2001 is real. With Jan Markell, as she says on her own radio broadcasts, she considers her ministry to be a "watchman on the wall", which was the task which God gave to Ezekiel, as can be seen in this scripture here. Further, the greek term for prophet includes a definition (2e) which seems to fit her exactly. Regarding Chuck Missler, you would likely not think of him as a prophet, as he for the most part just teaches scripture, however, he often discovers the secret and deep things of God, which is a mark of a prophet as well, as seen in definition (1) on the greek term "prophet".
Is it possible for people today to fortell future events by the Spirit of God? I believe Acts 21:10-12 proves that men and women in the Body of Christ can make predictions of the future:
However, one thing I have found is that:
So, in actuality, there are people today, who can predict the future, or who spend their time seeking out the hidden things of God, or who plead for people to return to the Living God. All of these actions fall under the operations of a "prophet". Personally, I have on a few occassions predicted something before it happened and I have seen one or two others do it as well. I am no charismatic, but I do operate with the prophetic gift and discernment of spirits (number 6 and 7 above). I actually predicted how many times my ex-wife would leave me, about 1 year before it occurred. God showed me 3 claw marks on my family photo (in my mind) and I asked him, "What does it mean?" And he told me my wife would leave me 3 times. When I looked at the photo I saw astonishment in my eyes. It was basically God telling me that I am going to be shocked and surprised by it all. He also told me that she would come back the first time within 1.5 months and it occurred exactly as he said. Mysteriously, he would not tell me if my marriage would be saved or end in divorce. However, it did indeed end, though I prayed against it for a year. I even told my ex-wife all of this before it came to pass! She thought what I was saying was basically rediculous or crazy. However, it came to pass, so I guess I am not as crazy as she thought, as she left me exactly 3 times prior to the divorce. What IS crazy,though, is doing something wrong, when someone predicts what you are going to do before you do it.
With the gift of "Discernment of Spirits" I discovered basically it is an extension of prayer, where you are asking God, things about people and the intent behind things. So as to know something hidden about their character or situation in life, etc. Basically, I could look at a person, and God would show me something spiritually about them. I use this gift on a regular basis. For example, about 16 years ago, I was preaching on the street the gospel to college students and one pretty girl came up to me to hear what I was saying. And when I looked into her eyes, I saw "deep wells of fornication". I saw a pool of water that was deep and the word fornication (yes all in her eyes). How did I see it? Its like a mixture of symbolic and words and God putting some image in my mind. Actually, I am not entirely sure if it is only in my mind or maybe something spiritual on them. I asked her bluntly, "Do you have a lot of sex?" And she said, "Yes, it is part of my religion". And I ask more, and it appears she was doing some form of sex magic or sex with witchcraft on a regular basis. Now, was it just a good guess on my part? The thing is, this has happened so many times, I could not count. I could tell you several such stories. Where I could look at someone and know things about them, their character, their attitude, their thoughts on some topic, etc. And it has always been right, 100% of the time.
As I said, I have used this gift of discernment even daily within my life. To give a few more examples, one time, I was talking to a man who was partly drunk. He was loud, mocking type, smiling and kind of laughing. I started to talk about something within the Bible. And God told me his thoughts. They were something like, "Does this guy actually believe this stuff?" I could tell, God was saying these were his exact thoughts. So, I actually said to him, you are thinking, "Does this guy actually believe this stuff?" And repeated exactly to him what he was thinking. This guy, who was all mocking, and smiling, instantly started to cry and was very serious all of a sudden and then some friend took him and walked him off. It was the weirdest thing to see a fraternity guy start crying from saying one thing to him. Another time, I was at a Christian gathering, and one of my friends, was cooking some food. And when I looked at him, I saw on him spiritually that he was really angry about something. Afterwards, when we were back in his dorm room, I asked him, where you very angry back when we were at the gathering? As you looked totally normal on the outside, but I saw spiritually on you that you were rather angry. And he said, yes, I was angry about something a guy did to me. And very recently, my cousin Zane died, who to my knowledge had not become a Christian. Yet, when I prayed, I could sense, he was in Heaven. And when I went to his funeral I discovered that he actually became a Christian within just the last year or so of his life. This shows, that I did hear God correctly regarding where his spirit went.
Probably the most shocking example of this gift would have been this one time when I was visiting a new student, back in my college days. He claimed to be a Christian, so I thought I would meet with him and get to know him more. The strangest thing occurred. I am sitting down in a chair and he is sitting across from me. But, whenever I looked at his forehead, I saw a pentagram! And even weirder, I could see like as if someone was drawing it on his forehead. This really weirded me out! As I had never saw anything like this before (or ever since). And I was seeing this spiritually and wondering in my mind, how in the world could a Christian have a pentagram on his forehead! Well, as I am wondering this, I turned my head to my left side, and guess what I see?!? Since I had never been in his room before, and since the rest of the room looked quite normal, I was rather shocked when I saw a huge poster of a man on a cross with a bull's head on! And then noticed it said a musical group called "Danzig". I was quite shocked to see this poster, as you can imagine. And I asked him, who's poster is this? And he said, it was his roommates. And I told him it was messed up and evil. And then he starts telling me how he has to respect other people's thoughts and beliefs (I am thinking to myself what a load of b.s. while he is saying this). Right after he says this, his roommate walks in. Now, the weirdest thing about his roommate is that he would be the last person in the world you would suspect to have such a poster. As he was a "country boy". You know, wearing cowboy hats, listening to country music. Yet, he had this one vice. He loved "Danzig". Well, after he walked in, I took this as my que to leave. And while walking out, I said, "This poster here.. It is a piece of shit." And as I am walking out, this roommate of his, ran across the room towards the door and slammed the door so hard, it almost hit me. He slammed it so hard, I thought it was going to break something (it was a heavy door). After this, I just walked back to my room. Now, why did I see a pentagram on this man's forehead? After praying and thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that since the pentagram commonly represents witchcraft/satanism and that witchcraft can also within scripture mean to compromise of doctrine, I believe God was saying, he was compromising his faith and was committing sin against God. This was probably my most striking instance with this gift.
Now, maybe some of you are not fully convinced a Christian can do this or that I am accurately conveying the gift. Maybe some examples of Jesus doing it will show how it was done within the Bible. Most of the time, people skim over these verses and do not fully realize what they are saying, however, please read some of the examples from scripture below of Jesus utilizing the gift of discernment:
Notice, that it says "Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves". So, this means, Jesus did not hear them say anything (maybe they are whispering to each other, etc). He perceived or "discerned" their thoughts and mind. This is an example of Jesus using this gift.
With this passage above, we can see an example that shows Jesus stating a fact about the woman's life. He knew she had five husbands and that the man she currently lived with was not even her husband. This is a very good example of the "Discernment of spirits" gift, as Jesus clearly demonstrates that he knows things about her past and present that he would not know unless he actually knew her. This relates to my experience with the pretty girl that I spoke with, while preaching on the streets. I knew from God, that she had lots of sex and it was sexual immorality, for which, she admitted and even detailed on what type of sin it was (witchcraft sex magic).
Here, it clearly states that Jesus perceived their "thoughts". He did not hear them say anything, but rather, simply knew their thoughts. This is another example of the "discernment of spirits" gift.
Again, if you just skim over it and do not really pay attention, you will miss the fact that it says the pharisee, "spake within himself" these thoughts it mentioned. And Jesus knew, what he was thinking. He did not hear him say something audibly. Again, proving, Jesus used this very same gift in his ministry on a regular basis. Which, shows, I am indeed showing how this gift is used, and how my examples from my own experience mirror the miraculous use by Jesus.
I believe anyone God wants can have this gift. This is what scripture says. I literally showed one Christian how I do it, and he was able to instantly do it himself. I was quite surprised at how quickly he learned. As I told him, all I do is pray to God and ask him to reveal the nature of a person, object or situation. And I see something in my mind or I sense something spiritually or God uses scripture to explain. And I told him to look at this Christian poster I had up on my wall. And I asked him, what do you see spiritually on this poster. And I said to him. I see a cross right in the middle. And he said, man, I saw the same thing before you said it. What is interesting, is if you looked at the poster for long enough, you notice three hidden crosses in the name (above the center and not really noticable). So, I realized, any Christian who has child like faith can utilize God's gifts.
Regarding the gift of healing, I have seen my friend use this gift in the past (about 16 years ago when preaching on the streets). However, the idea you can just heal any person you see, I believe is an error. It is not your will be done, but rather, God's will be done. What I have learned from the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is that you need to be unbiased and listen to His voice. To see what he may say. With the gift of healing, you would need to listen to see who he wants you to heal. And to pray for those he gives you a word to heal and would have to do so with full faith. So, you should not assume that you, by your own motivations, can choose who to heal. Rather, you should seek God's will and follow his lead. It would be God guiding on who to heal and how to do it. As Jesus used various methods when healing (mud on eyes, fasting with prayer, declaring, etc).
One thing I learned about the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), is that you have to be very careful when using them. What I mean is, when I wanted to learn something very specific about a situation or person, I would first make sure to clear my mind of any bias I had and then pray. Then, I would sometimes just stop thinking about it and let God speak when he desires. And in this manner, I did not deceive myself into thinking I heard God say something, when it was just one of my thoughts. Then, I would pray this same prayer, more than once, until I heard more than once the same thing (without having bias or my thoughts clouding the process). This is how, I knew it was from God. And over the years, I became very good at it, to where, I would just think my prayer, and God would answer quickly. Or, I would just look at someone and know things about them. So, it was a form of prayer that turned into these various gifts, simply by listening to God and becoming very good at hearing his voice. I believe this would also be the method in which you would learn all the gifts of the Spirit (see below). So, it has nothing to do with your will or selfish desires and having faith in such things. But rather, allowing God to have control and listening to him without bias and being scientific or clinical in your approach to ensure you heard him correctly.
With any gift you receive from God, or any operation, or administration, you should use it prayerfully and seek God's Will with fear and trembling. As, it seems, you often can find Christians either ignoring the spiritual gifts and offices, or abusing the gifts and offices. Neither approach is godly. Rather, we should be conscious that we represent Christ and should be careful to avoid hypocrisy and remain biblical in all that we do.
In other words, if you are an evangelist, pastor, teacher, etc you should take an approach more like John Macarthur rather than Todd Bentley. As John Macarthur has made sure to avoid any situation of any sort, which could compromise his ministry. He made sure not to be seen with other women, not to be seen or photographed in a compromising manner, etc. He studied the scriptures, to make sure, he was preaching the gospel truth. On the other hand, Todd Bentley, at the peak of his ministry, was committing adultery and was later found out. He also has been known to do such outlandish things as hit people who needed healing, saying that God told him to do so! And to have said things regarding an angel named Emma who helped start their prophetic movement. The fact is, God starts prophetic movements (see any one of the prophetic books, such as Ezekiel 1), not angels. However, we do know one angel who would start a false prophetic movement (the Devil disguises himself as an angel of light). Could 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 be talking about people like Todd Bentley? As it clearly says in verse 14-15, "11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 11:15 Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." Bentley's works speak for themselves.
So, there are some very simple checks within scripture to see whether a minister or prophet is of God:
Accepting such people and not seeking God's face or His scriptures just leads to error. If you are a charismatic, understand, you can not receive something that you can not be trusted with. If you are seeking your desire, rather than seeking God, you will find yourself without spiritual growth. God is not your servant. You are his servant, and are to be God seeking, not self seeking. People like Creflo Dollar are not real ministers of God. They are self-seeking worshipppers of money. They teach a false gospel of prosperity, which is painfully not scriptural, as can be seen by the Apostle Paul's testimony here:
Now, ask yourself, "Does the Apostle Paul's words above reflect what Creflo Dollar says below?"
So, do you feel like a "money magnet"? If not, you maybe are a sinner, according to Creflo. The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, says the greatest among us have death working in them, while the least of us have life (wealth, freedom, etc). I guess I will let you be the judge on who is right in this case.
Regarding Kenneth Copeland, he is a great hinderance to the Christian faith and probably one of the worst in the faith movement when it comes to false teaching. He is not a pastor of God, due to the fact, he teaches heresy. Don't believe me? Consider a few of the below quotes from Kenneth Copeland:
Does this mean all charismatic preachers are bad? No, there are some good ones. I would have to say, many Christian apologists like Hank Hanegraaff go a bit too far in the judgements sometimes. As Christ said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged". We are to be careful with our judgements. Generally, he is correct in most of his analysis, but I think sometimes, he just has a beef with all charismatic teachers and preachers and has to put every single one of them in the same boat. For instance, consider Joyce Meyers. Hank will often say she is a false teacher. However, to me, she seems often biblical in her understanding of scripture, particularly when compared to many of the other charismatic preachers. The whole beef Hank and many others have with her was that in her early stages of ministry, she upheld the idea of Jesus paying for your sins on the cross AND in Hell. However, since then, she has disavowed the portions of this teaching which lead to saying you need more than Christ's death on the cross for payment of sin. So, should I judge her? I will not, because it appears she has amended her ways. Does this mean all of her teaching is perfect? I would not assume such a thing about anyone, yet we should always strive for perfection. Now, I have not reviewed the entirety of Joyce Meyers' teaching, so don't go digging up one thing she said in 1995 and claim it somehow proves that she, today, is some evil teacher. We have to consider, that people change their ways and could teach error at first. Consider the Apostle Paul (who was at one time Saul and arrested Christians due to his false doctrine). Hank does have one relevant point about Joyce Meyers: even though she has disavowed the serious portions of her error, she still seems to not have disavowed it completely. She should actually disvow and sever all ties with the false Word of Faith preachers, as their ministries are a hinderance to the gospel. It is truly sad to see the state of the church in many sectors, with so many people just teaching what they want to teach. God is not your ATM machine or magic genie.
In conclusion, the Spiritual Gifts, Administrations and Operations are still operating today. However, we need to be careful with the things of God, and to study diligently to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Further, we should be careful as to what we say is a movement of God and shrewd in our analysis of those claiming to be ministers of God. Last, we should not forsake the miraculous gifts of God, because of fear or uneasiness. Rather, we should embrace God's spiritual gifts and use them for His glory (per the design of scripture).