God's Sovereignty Over Spiritual Gifts, Healing And Deliverance
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
“In faith, unity; in opinions and methods, liberty; in all things, charity.” - Richard Baxter
The believers role with the demonic and the “name it and claim it” theology.
Demonic influences exist in varying degrees—deception of truth, destruction of lives, leading saved souls astray through temptation, sin causing illness, spirits causing illness, demons possessing souls with physical side affects. The ultimate goal of these influences is to deceive the lost and hinder the preaching of the gospel. Christians have been equipped to battle these influences through God’s power. Romans 8:35-39 clearly states that no outside source or power can separate us from God. Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. It goes on to describe the armor God gives us to battle these influences. It is the power of God not our words that give us victory.
Where doctrinal beliefs conflict is in the practice of expelling these influences; as, for example, the “health and wealth” gospel. The “health and wealth” gospel or “name it and claim it” approach is dangerous in leading people into thinking God is a form of cosmic Santa Clause and ignores our accountability to sin and the sovereignty of God.
God most certainly does want us to treat our bodies well and His power overcomes sin and spirits (2 Cor 6:16; Ps 103:3; Mk 16:17). Clearly the Bible shows the power of the Holy Spirit in providing healing regardless of the cause. Jesus and Paul successfully healed the sick and verbally rebuked demons that cause illness, and it is undisputed that Christ does in fact answer healing requests according to His will (Mt 20:29; Mk 10:46; Lk 18:35). But no man should assume a theology of guaranteeing healing because it depends on the will of God and the vital importance of obedience and sin. (Mk 11:25; I John 1:9 obedience prior to answer prayer).
Which leads to six conclusions:
- Demonic and spiritual influence is real, at least to a level of temptation. Eph. 6
- One’s belief in the level of demonic influence in a given situation remains uncertain and must not be a point of division. The mission of the church to heal and restore in order give the gospel is more important than the debate over the cause of an illness. We do not always know the cause of illness, but we do know that God can heal. The method should always be to seek God’s power for healing.
- If one believes in spiritual influences then discernment is key when approaching healing or intercession as many other factors both spiritual, physical and emotional are involved. Not even the apostles were 100% accurate in their approach to healing as Christ had the discernment of the correct approach—Mt. 17:14-21; Mk 9:17-29. Scripture shows that sometimes fasting or prayer is also necessary.
- Biblical spiritual warfare always revolves around the mind and soul. Ultimately, Satan’s greatest achievement is not to occupy our bodies, but to steal our souls. Satan does want our souls, but we know that his power has been defeated by Christ’s sacrifice, John 10:10.
- Regardless of the form of Satan’s influence, individual’s actions remain accountable to God and covered by His grace. Even if the spiritual force is beyond a believer’s strength to overcome, we cannot be disobedient and claim, “the devil made me do it.” We struggle with our sinful natures, Romans 6:12; Romans 7:14-25 but God gives us the ability to stand up under temptation if we seek his strength 1 Cor. 10:13, Gal. 5:16 and we have victory over sin and death through Christ Jesus, 1 Pet. 2: 24.
Similar to demonic influences, the problem for our understanding is not in the existence of the manifestations but the application. More specifically, how do you prove a manifestation is from the Holy Spirit because there can be two other sources—Satan and emotions. One cannot let the manifestation itself be the proof it was from God because He can do the same work without the manifestation.
There are only 2 proofs: 1. Scripture evidence supporting the manifestation; and, 2.When the manifestation is ambiguous, the presence of fruit from the Holy Spirit. Gal. 5:22-23
Like spiritual gifts, manifestations should not be glorified, nor a source of pride or envy as they serve to give glory to God and build up the body.
Spiritual Gifts and Speaking in Tongues
The problem is not with being charismatic. The word “charisma” is a Greek word meaning divine gift. The problem lies in the heart of how one approaches being charismatic. A church can go to one dangerous extreme of pursuing the meta-physical and abandon their pursuit of God. This is commonly accompanied by attitudes of pride, arrogance, and control resulting in guilt, shame, and an ungodly caste system of “haves” and “have-nots”. Or they can go to the other extreme out of ignorance and fear and exclude God’s desire to bless and equip.
Like Paul did in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14, we want to encourage our flock to desire spiritual gifts so they may be empowered by God to do ministry & service. We want our emphasis to be on how those gifts are being used on a daily basis in order to expand God’s kingdom. It is clear scripture does not want us to pursue spiritual gifts in any selfish, boastful or pious way.
As such, here are some current biblical principles HOPE has had since our existence:
· Not every believer will receive tongues. Tongues are not essential for salvation and we should not be prideful about receiving it or expect or require others to receive it. The issue is not whether tongues exist, that is assured. What remains an unresolved issue among Christians is whether or not one can have a 100% certainty of receiving a specific gift. (This also applies to healing and deliverance—God makes it available, but only he decides who gets it and when.) Our leadership believes the sovereignty of God reigns over distributing these gifts and they may not show up for every individual. We also do not consider this belief to be worthy of being divisive as many Christians believe it is available to all and they are no more or no less of a Christian for believing it. Yet, at Hope, we do not support the instruction that there is a 100% guarantee of receiving tongues (or that a healing) is a forgone conclusion.
· Private speaking in tongues does have the benefit of blessing the individual as it lifts up ones relationship to God on a spiritual plane, but it is not necessary to speak tongues to do this. There is strong Biblical support for seeking interpretation from God while speaking in tongues individually. 1 Cor. 14: 13-15.
· Scripture encourages us to pursue spiritual gifts and further instructs us that tongues should not be forbidden but embraced with proper instruction. Allowing fear of the unknown to limit our relationship with Christ is not the intention of these scriptures, being orderly and non-divisive is the intent.
· Public speaking in tongues can be problematic as a course for deepening the church and non-believer’s faith. Allowing disorderly pursuit of God’s gifts in public is equally detrimental and deserving of biblical ordained discipline, 1 Cor. 14. For the biblical purpose of order and avoiding confusion and divisiveness among believers, we do not practice public speaking in tongues, nor tongues during public moments when “praying by the spirit”, unless there is the biblical practice of interpretation.
· We emphasize humility, grace and God’s love as the power behind all gifts and not human pride of being more powerful, enlightened, or successful for God. A person’s public enthusiasm for receiving any gift must be channeled to exhort Christ and not oneself. The issue is not “look what I’ve got”, but “look at what God did.” James 3:13
· As tongues, prophecy and other gifts are not essential to salvation, we will let each individual decide for themselves how much they need to “earnestly desire” the gifts as they ask God specifically for it.
· Practice Orderliness: Any public speaking in tongues or prophecy on Sunday corporate worship will be immediately addressed to insure there is an interpretation. If no interpretation is made there will be an immediate instruction as to the lack of biblical order and a request to stop.