Do you believe in the charismatic gifts of the Spirit?

To clarify, we’re talking about spiritual gifts like tongues, healing, and prophecy. Some Christians (called “cessationists”) believe God stopped giving these spiritual gifts after the New Testament was completed. Other Christians (called “continuationists”) believe these gifts continue to be given today.

I would call myself a “careful continuationist.” I believe the Spirit still gives gifts like prophecy, and healing, and tongues. But I wouldn’t support the Pentecostal belief that you must be baptized by the Holy Spirit at some point after conversion and prove that Spirit-baptism through demonstration of these kinds of sign gifts. We are baptized by the Spirit into union with Christ at the moment we’re saved, and then the Spirit gives certain gifts to certain people.

I believe the Spirit still gives the charismatic gifts to some, but primarily when the gospel is going into new places.

It’s like throwing a rock into a pond. The first waves will be the biggest and flashiest, then they’ll start fading and the water will start to even out. When the gospel is going into places where Jesus has never been named, especially places where the only spiritual influence is demonic and animistic, and people are used to strange spiritual forces, then the power of Jesus over those spiritual forces has to be demonstrated through things like healing, and tongues, and prophecy.

If you go visit pastors and missionaries working in areas with occultic practices and animistic religion, they’ll tell you they see the charismatic gifts of the Spirit all the time. So in our culture, as people have less and less exposure to the gospel and as occultic practices rise, we’ll see the gifts of the Spirit rise to demonstrate the power, grace, and love of Jesus.

Still, we need to be careful that the practice of those gifts lines up with Scripture. In passages like 1 Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4, it’s clear that all spiritual gifts are given to build up the body of Christ much more than to bless the person with the gift. And charismatic experiences in the church have much less priority than teaching and learning God’s word.

For a much more extensive exploration of the charismatic gifts in the church, I highly recommend DA Carson’s book, Showing the Spirit.