Tragically, preachers and evangelists in the Pentecostal and charismatic movements are often seen as people hungry for power, who control the masses through promises of supernatural encounters only to gain money and status for themselves. Even though the accusation sometime is exaggerated, there are indeed many genuine cases of manipulation and control among us, which is extremely sad and stupid. This is defenitely not something that the Holy Spirit produces; and thus, it contradicts true charismatic living.
The basis of Christianity is love. God is love (1 John 4:8) and He loves us more than we can understand (Eph. 3:19, Rom 8:38-39). Although people have turned away from Him and sin, He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to give us eternal life through He died our death (John 3:16, Rom 5:8). God forgives our sins; by his grace we are saved and receive eternal life, not by earning it with good deeds, but by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9).
This grace is the basis not only for our salvation but also for the supernatural gifts that Jesus used to spread the Kingdom of God and instructed his disciples to use, they are gifts given by grace (greek charismata, grace gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4)) that we can not earn or deserve, but we recieve them freely by God’s grace (Ephesians 4:7).
The Purpose of the Gifts
Just as Jesus did not come to be served but to serve us by giving us eternal life (Mark 10:45), we are to serve each other (Mark 10:43) and all other human beings (1 Thessalonians 5:15); bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and put others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3) – and this we should use the gifts for:
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4 : 10).
Healing, prophecies, tongues, discernment and the other gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 are not intended to elevate a human being or create a spectacular show, but they are there to serve and help people. One of the most common miracles of Jesus and the apostles was to heal the sick. Why? Well, because God wants to relieve suffering, healing is God’s “act of kindness” (Acts 4:9). The purpose of prophecy is according to 1 Corinthians 14:3 to give people “edification, encouragement and consolation.” Speaking in tongues, according to the next verse, also is for empowerment. To cast out demons, Jesus and the apostles often did, is an entirely good and loving deeds, since an evil spirit is a completely evil creature.
Being sober and loving
In everything, we should show love, respect and sobriety, we must test the prophecies, and never try to drive out evil spirits if we are not entirely sure of what we do. We must never leave a sick person in the lurch if he is not healed, but nurture and serve him in every way we can, not only through prayer. In my view, John Wimber practiced a sober and serving sort of Charismatic ministry as can be seen in the video above.
Again, the foundation of the gifts is love, God has given them out of love for us to use them to spread the love. Therefore, Paul writes: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
The church at Corinth that he wrote this to was living in the charismatic chaos, they loved spiritual manifestations and everyone spoke in tongues simultaneously, but they showed poor care for the poor and some were living in immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1, 10:21). Many people today have seen churches that are similar to Corinth very much and become quite afraid of charisma, but Paul’s solution to the problem of Corinth is not that they will be less charismatic, he urges them to be it even more (1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1) – but he writes that it must be done in order and in love. If we forget the loving and serving role of the gifts, we will misunderstand it completely.