A preacher in the South asks: “If the miraculous spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12-14 are still available, how do we go about receiving them?”
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Scripture does not distinguish between “miraculous” and “non-miraculous” spiritual gifts, so we must think of the grace-gifts (charismata) in general terms. We receive such gifts today the same way God’s people always have. Scripture gives us no formula, but it does provide at least four principles.
1. By maintaining close relationship with the Father (1 Pet. 4:10) through Jesus the Son (Eph. 4:7) in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:11), since the triune God bestows the grace-gifts in all their diversity, whether we label them “miraculous” or “ordinary.” Our relationship with God the Giver is far more important than any particular gift which he might bestow.
2. By earnestly desiring spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1, 39) rather than by quenching the Spirit (1 Thes. 5: 19) by despising (1 Thes. 5:20) or even forbidding (1 Cor. 14:39) the grace-gifts. Why should God give us something we neither welcome, appreciate nor allow?
3. By serving Christ with the gifts we already have, both in reaching out to a lost world and in building up and caring for others within the body of Christ. Jesus promises his Presence as we obey (Matt. 28:20; Matt. 10:19-20). Grace-gifts bring a stewardship for which we are accountable (1 Pet. 4:10-11). Christ indicates that God will not give more to the person who fails to use what he or she has been given already (Matt. 25:29).
4. By purifying our hearts and motives. Grace-gifts are for helping others, not for exalting ourselves. They are given in order to serve and to glorify God, not to satisfy our own curiosity or ego, or to cater to our desire for sensational supernatural experiences (Rom. 12:3; 1 Cor.14:12; Acts 8:13, 18-23).