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Introduction
The Church as a whole debates many concepts that are in the Bible, in both theology and in practice. One of these debates surrounds the gifts that are spoken of in the Bible. In one corner are those who believe that charismatic gifts are alive and well in the church today. The Continuationist view believes that the gifts have continued on through Biblical times and are still relevant for today. In the other corner are those who believe that particular gifts have ceased to be used in the modern church and that they were only given for a particular reason in Biblical times. This view is called the Cessationist. Today each view, and other views in between, and the practice of the gifts in the current culture will be examined for truth, validity, and application by searching through each view and holding fast to the scripture as the final word of authority.
It would do well to understand what exactly is being debated before the journey is taken to explore who believes what. Charismatic gift are the central issue but that in itself does not say a lot. What exactly is a charismatic gift? Paul gives several lists of gifts in his epistles. There are two distinctive lists that come from First Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 among others. At the heart of the issue is not the all the gifts in general for they include preaching, teaching, and administration. There are not many that would disagree that there are those in the body who have these gifts. The gifts that are in question are more of the super natural gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophesying, interrupting tongues, and healings. Also within the argument one must also have to agree that the gifts are given for different purposes based on their presumptions.
Gifts in Current Culture
Body says that these gifts were given by the Holy Spirit to carry out ministry. However there are those who believe that speaking in tongues is a private communication with God, therefore there would have to be a slightly different position on why they were given. Continuationist with this view often use First Corinthians 13:1 to support this view in speaking of tongues of men and angels, however in context his view has no solid basis. Hodge says that Paul is speaking of a language defined as a known meaning of expression weather divine or human, the main point being that these are worth nothing without love. A clear teaching on the importance of love over gifts not an endorsement of a secret language used in private communion with God.
The type of misuse that was being corrected by Paul in the New Testament is still continuing today. There are many bodies of congregations who use the gift of speaking in tongues exactly in the manner that Paul warns against. That would be gibberish which is being spoken in an unorganized manner, in no way building up the church but instead exalting themselves. The use of unbiblical tongues if often a reason why some take the view of open but cautious. This theological position is not theologically opposed to the use of the gifts of tongues but have extreme concerns with the importance placed on the gifts and some unusual practices that sometimes accompany these gifts like being slain in the spirit.
Cessationist often use this point as one to support their argument that the gifts are not real or that those who are claiming to have the gift are being deceived. Deere counters with the Ceassationist always looking for abuse or doctrinal error within the group where the gifts appear, however just because there are misuse of the gifts or bad doctrine in the church can not immediately disqualify them as fakes or one would have to conclude that the gifts at Corinth were not real either. This is a Continuationist making this argument which when pondered on makes one think about that very statement. It is interesting to observe the use of gifts in application over the words that are written about them. If there were time, it would be worth while to explore several of the charismatic gifts in the way they were used in the New Testament. For example speaking in tongues in Acts is seen three times and none of these times were anything like that which is written about in Corinthians. In personal contemplation about the question was the tongues being used in Corinth real, it has crossed the mind that they were not.
Paul was writing them to correct misuse of the gifts. This would mean that some that did not have them were trying too claim them, that they had power over the gifts which they were not using correctly, or that he is correctly the Holy Spirit by telling him how to act. Bray points out in verse three of First Corinthians two that gifts are of no human effort but that they are visible signs that the Holy Spirit is at work in a believer. The later of the three would be a venture to say is not what he was teaching and also he specifically asks the question if the same gift was given to each member. At which he was making the point that no they are not all given the same gift, but are apparently either wanting the gift or acting like they had the gift.