A reader responds to the blog on edification with concerns about gifts of the Holy Spirit (see also comments on that blog) He writes, “… what about the unmentionable, controversial inclusion of…the Holy Spirit’s role in edification by the coveting of and inclusion of charismata in the assembly as stated by Paul in 1 Cor. 14:1-4?
“If the charismata have passed, as concluded by many, how is the church going to be edified, exhorted and consoled as Paul states in these verses and especially verse 3-4? ‘But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men edification, and exhortation, and consolution. He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.’”
Well it is not exactly “unmentionable,” since I did mention it. Is it controversial? Yes, because the problem has always been about authenticity. Persons in the assembly believe they have a prophecy for the church. How can their words be proven and accepted as genuine? Is it even important to do so? Can we not simply accept that God is speaking through a person and let it go at that? The danger of doing so is seen in the many warnings about false prophets and the tremendous damage they can cause (Matthew 7:15; Mark 13:22; 2 Peter 2:1). John cautions us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
In the context of I Corinthians 14, the Sprit reveals through Paul how prophecy can be tested and proven genuine, “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you” (I Corinthians 14:24,25). When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well and revealed facts about her life he could not have known naturally, she said, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet” (John 4:19). Jesus was very specific, “Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly” (John 4:17,18).
I, for one, would welcome genuine prophecy in the church. In fact, I would welcome all authentic spiritual gifts. How could I do otherwise? None of us, however, should put the church in jeopardy by acceptance without testing.
In the meantime, let us strive to edify the church in word and deed.