“If little else of practical benefit comes to you who read this chapter, I pray that you will move forward in your Christian life and in whatever ministry God has given you with a newly found and biblically grounded confidence in the authority and power given to every believer in the name of Jesus.
Don’t live in fear of the devil and his minions. Stand firm.”
– Sam Storms
Stop or Go with Gifts?
Do you believe the Holy Spirit still works today in miraculous ways? Or instead do you believe he stopped moving supernaturally near the end of the first century?
Whichever view you hold, this book might interest you.
Sam Storms (also the author of One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God), in his newest book, Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Your Life, says this:
“I believe that one of the reasons why spiritual gifts are less frequent in certain seasons of church history than in others is due to the fact that people didn’t seek, pursue, or passionately and incessantly pray for these gifts. And often the reason they didn’t pray for them or ask for them is because they had a prior conviction or belief that they did not exist or were not available to them.
In other words, they had not because they asked not, and they asked not because they believed not!”
In other words: if you don’t think it will happen, it’s less likely to.
So chapter by chapter, gift by gift, Storms writes why he does believe that the Spirit still works through humans with special gifts.
I agree with him on many points, and disagree on others. My views are still in flux.
But whether you agree or not, you won’t feel pushed in this book. Storms writes with humility. He includes scriptures and personal experiences to back up his claims. The tone of the book is positive, not prideful for those who do believe or condemning for those who don’t.
Worship in the Spirit
I particularly enjoyed Chapter 12, “The Importance of Worship in the Spirit.” Storms doesn’t say worship itself is a gift of the Spirit. He does say worship can be awakened, sustained, and energized by the Spirit.
He differentiates between . . .
- those whose greatest fear in worship is emotionalism and those whose greatest fear is intellectualism,
- those who only sing about God and those who sing to God,
- those who mostly cultivate fear and reverence and those who aim for joy and love.
I’ve worshiped in both types of churches. The differences are real. I have a preference. You likely have one, too. It’s not a right or wrong choice.
This happened yesterday at our church as part of Palm Sunday. I call this expression of worship a spiritual gift. It’s a gift I’ve not been given. But it’s one that moves me when others share it.
Lists of Reasons
The book ends with two appendices, An Alternative Interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, and Are Miraculous Gifts for Today, derived from Storms’ previous writings.
The latter appendix includes this list: “Twelve Bad Reasons for Being a Cessationist” (one who believes certain gifts have ceased, stopped). One of the reasons is:
“If signs, wonders, and miracles were essential in the physical presence of the Son of God, how much more essential are they now in his absence?
. . . In other words, if the glorious presence of the Son of God himself did not preclude the need for miraculous phenomena, how can we suggest that our possession of the Bible does?”
Storms follows that list with another list: “Twelve Good Reasons for Being a Continuationist” (one who believes that all the gifts of the Spirit continue to be given by God today).
This list includes reasons like #3, the extensive New Testament evidence of miraculous gifts among Christians who are not apostles, and #5, the fundamental continuity or spiritually organic relationships between the church in Acts and the church in subsequent centuries.
Read them for yourself in Practicing the Power to form your own conclusions.
Here are a few quotes from selected chapters in Practicing the Power.
- Chapter 1, Welcome the Spirit
Regarding embarrassing examples of faith healers on TV (or in person), Storms says, “I resolved in my heart that I would never justify my disobedience to God’s Word because of the abusive or embarrassing practices of others.”
“God is far more pleased with our obedience than he is with our success. Success is not something we ultimately control. I can’t guarantee that my prayers for the sick will result in healing. I can’t promise that my word to you will be spot-on accurate. But I can control whether or not I am willing to step out and take a risk. And the risk is worth it.”
- Chapter 3, Praying
“When God wants to bless us with a miraculous answer to our prayer, he will take the initiative to cultivate and build into our hearts the fulfillment of the condition he requires.”
- Chapter 4, Fasting
“Fasting is about spiritual indulgence! It is not a giving up of food (or some activity) for its own sake. It is about giving up food for Christ’s sake.
We are always driven to fast because we hunger for something more than food.”
- Chapter 5, Healing
“The primary reason God healed through Jesus prior to Pentecost was because he is a merciful, compassionate God. And the primary reason God continues to heal after Pentecost is because he is a merciful, compassionate God. God is no less merciful, no less compassionate, no less caring when it comes to the physical condition of his people after Pentecost than he was before Pentecost.”
- Chapter 9, Deliverance
“Don’t ever think of yourself as at one end of a rope and Satan at the other, both of you struggling to overpower the other. No! You are in Christ who is over all. Satan is beneath you, in Christ’s name.”
- Chapter 11, Ministry
“We are to pray, ‘Come, Holy Spirit,’ and be confident that he will, whether or not manifestations follow. If they do, we should not prevent them from occurring. But neither should we take steps to artificially induce them.”
I recommend this book be read with an open mind. You may or may not change your mind on anything you believe, but in the challenge, you’ll still learn and grow.
We likely can all agree on this prayer offered by Storms in his conclusion:
“Pray yet again that God would increase your spiritual hunger pangs, that he would intensify your thirst for godly power, that he would never allow you to settle for the status quo.”
* * *
Do you believe the Spirit is still active today, or that he now speaks only in the words of the Bible? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
My thanks to BookLook Bloggers
for the review copy of this book.
- Don’t Stop Looking
- When You Want to Pray WITH Others, Not Just FOR Others