March 2006 — Great joy, human brokenness and divine renewal marked our seminar on gifts of the Holy Spirit last weekend in Searcy, Arkansas. Sponsored by Covenant Fellowship Church (CFC) and hosted on Saturday by First United Methodist Church (FUMC), both of Searcy, the seminar included two teaching sessions followed by a question-and-answer session on Saturday morning and a healing prayer service on Saturday evening. Attendees came from CFC and FUMC, Churches of Christ and other area churches plus visitors from other towns including several guests from Tennessee. It was a pleasure to meet many gracEmail subscribers.
Avoiding extremes on both sides of the topic, the first teaching session set out clearly, simply but in biblical detail the theological framework for spiritual gifts and their purpose and duration. That framework, seen in Old Testament messianic prophecy, Jesus’ teaching and later major New Testament texts on the subject, involves the fact that the church exists “between the times,” the interim beginning with Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation and concluding with his final coming and the consummation of God’s salvation plan. During this interim, Jesus’ Spirit (which is also the Spirit of God) is present with and in his believing people on earth producing fruit, giving gifts and empowering God’s work — all moving the church toward the Goal (telos) of salvation history when Christ’s body will attain to complete Maturity or Perfection (teleion).
The second teaching session examined in biblical detail the gifts of tongues and prophecy with some comments also about gifts of healing. These grace-gifts, as all the others, serve God’s purpose between Jesus’ return to heaven and his final return to earth at history’s end. We heard the testimony of prominent church fathers and later leading Christians who attested to the reality of these gifts from the first century until the present. Following these two teaching sessions, there was a period of question-and-answer discussion.
On Saturday evening we enjoyed a liturgical service of healing prayer, concluding with people of all ages coming forward to receive the ministry of anointing with oil and personal prayer for healing of all sorts — physical, emotional, spiritual and relational. That service also included Communion, manifesting the oneness of Christ’s body as represented by those from various church traditions and fellowships.
An audio-video recording of the three Saturday morning sessions is available on DVD. To obtain a DVD postpaid in USA, send $10 to Covenant Fellowship Church, Box 8126, Searcy, AR 72143.