The Spiritual Gifts

This might be a little controversial to some but the discussion at the Biblical Studies class last Tuesday taught by Rev Dr John Tay triggered some interesting thoughts. I am only sharing parts of the discussion that I think are key points as this is quite an extensive topic.  The key passage is 1 Cor 13:8-12.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Cor 13:8-12

Some have believed that the Canon of the Scripture is the moment in time “when the perfect comes”. In Greek, “perfect” (τὸ τέλειον) is in neuter. The Word (ὁ λόγος) and Christ (ὁ χριστός) are masculine. It is not possible that the “perfect” refers to the Word of God or Christ when this passage is read in Greek. A possible clue as to what perfect means is from the term “face to face”. The phrase is only applicable in the context of 2 persons and therefore the interpretation of perfect as the Canon of the Scripture is eliminated. The only option left is to come “face to face” with Jesus Christ and this refers to the Second Coming of Christ. Since we are still waiting for the glorious return of Christ, this implies that the gifts mentioned in this verse should still be active in the community of believers as we are in the “partial” and not yet in the “perfect”.

There are 3 gifts mentioned in this passage, prophecy, tongues and knowledge. Nobody in this generation will dismiss knowledge as this whole modern society is driven by information and knowledge – perhaps an over-saturation. Weekly sermons, Bible studies, and other teachings that come forth from the church are ways in which knowledge is imparted to believers which I believe most churches have never cease doing. Yet prophecy and tongues are 2 gifts that have received much less attention and emphasis. It does not seem possible that one out of the three are actively present but the other two have ceased or become inactive. I will leave this as a thought so that those interested can search the Bible for deeper understanding in this.

Here is an account of my own personal experience that totally blew my mind away. This happened when I was in West Timor, Soe. You can read my testimony in how I ended up in Soe in another post. On a Sat evening I was in the car and my host was driving me to the prayer meeting where I was to preach and minister like every other evenings. Prayer meetings happen in many places every evening in Soe. Little did I know that I was going to the home of the highest ranked government official in Soe. I delivered the message and strangely I felt deeply convicted to break out in tongues over the microphone. It is not my practice to break out in tongues when I am preaching as I am fully aware that I need to speak in intelligible language, at least to my translator who then can translate it to Bahasa Indonesia, so as to edify the body of Christ. As I was speaking in tongues, I realized my translator was also speaking in Bahasa Indonesia at the same time. The Lord gave me understanding of the tongues and with my less-than-amateur Bahasa Indonesia, it sounded as though my translator was translating my tongues into Bahasa Indonesia through his microphone. I did not feel led to give the interpretation of my tongues using my own words as I was fully aware that an interpretation is needed. I do not always understand the tongues that I speak and it is definitely for a reason why such clear understanding was given to me then. I asked my translator to read Ezekiel 47 which was what the tongues were about. When my translator was reading the passage, I saw the bewildered and amazed faces of my translator and all those who were present. I was not fully certain of what happened at that point in time but only suspected. I closed the meeting in prayer in English with translated Bahasa Indonesia as I usually do.

After the meeting, I asked the translator if he was interpreting my tongues to Bahasa Indonesia. He affirmed it and shared that this had never happened to him before! It was the first time experience for him and that he supernaturally knew that he understood my blabbering tongues. The reading of Ezekiel 47 was a confirmation for him that he was indeed interpreting my tongues and it was a testimony to the listeners too. All present witnessed the demonstration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work, yes, even the official who was participating in the meeting from a hidden room.

“Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.” –  1 Corinthians 14:5

I have never witnessed the gift of interpretation of tongues in the corporate setting before this! I was speechless when I realized the magnitude of what God demonstrated in that evening. This translator continued to translate my tongues in other meetings. To God be the glory!

 

Stepping Out into the Unknown

Last Saturday, 20 April 2013, I was looking through my iTunes library and found a recording of prophetic word released to me in 2006 by a highly respected minister of God. The focus of the word was directed to my impending mission work in East Timor where I was sent out at that point in time. The summary of the word is that God will perform signs and wonders through me in the land and the lives of the people will drastically improve through community transformation. As I look back, I know deep within me that I did not walk in the fullness of the prophetic word that was given. In my own assessment, I believe I walked about 20-30% of what God intended for me at that point. I did witness AMAZING signs and wonders and was blown away but what I experienced was only the tip of the iceberg that God has in store for me. The journey to Timor was so amazing that YWAM Singapore Faces magazine featured a summary of the my story of how I ended up in Timor. Upon coming back to Singapore, due to pressures from all sides, I did not continue the work and missed out on God’s promise for myself to see the transformation that God will do in this beautiful island. God’s destiny for Timor is not hindered by me as God is bigger than this, but because of the decisions I made, I missed out in being part of a move of God that He has invited me to be part of so as to experience Him in a different way. Below is the article in FACE that summarized God’s amazing work in my journey of mustard faith in 2008.

Article on Faces (YWAM Singapore Publication) in 2009
Article on Faces (YWAM Singapore Publication) in 2009

My church is taking hold of the promise that 2013 will be a year of moving into the new level, a higher level. This is also what the Lord put in my heart as I crossed over into 2013. New level means getting out of my own comfort zone and trusting God in ways I never had before. I cannot let my fear of man and fear of the unknown shortchange me of walking in the fullness of God’s blessings. The only person who can hinder my journey with God is myself.

Here’s the song that has given me much encouragement and strength and hope it blesses you as well! O God, give me Your faith to walk this journey ahead!