Every year I pick a subject that I am going to spend the next 12 months studying. It’s always an exciting time when I decide on a project, having narrowed and eliminated other options. My own nerdiness gets excited about compiling book lists, outlining relevant topics, and exploring the various viewpoints. This year is no different as I anticipate the 2017 study project. Next year I will spend twelve months studying the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I have, for many years, been open to the continuance of the gifts of the Spirit, but that conclusion was neither solid nor confirmed by intensive theological study. It was more loosely held and required more serious consideration of objections and a more than cursory study of the relevant Biblical texts. So, it seems as fitting a time as any to investigate the subject more intentionally.
This is a good time to start this study. Over the last year several people have served to motivate this study through the example of their lives. There are those key people who are so in tune, it seems, with the Holy Spirit, and who are walking in step with the Spirit in a way that is noticeably different from me. Their example has served to convict, challenge, and motivate me to consider more carefully my own relationship to the Holy Spirit, and my interaction with the so-called gifts of the Spirit. So, I am going to spend some good solid time studying the subject.
Here are just some of the questions I would like to answer this year:
- What does the Bible teach regarding the role of the spiritual gifts?
- What are the spiritual gifts, and how many are there?
- What are the common theological and textual arguments for the continuance of the spiritual gifts today?
- What are the common theological and textual arguments for the cessation of the spiritual gifts today?
- In a continuationist view, how do the spiritual gifts relate to the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God?
- In a cessationist view, how does the Holy Spirit relate to and interact with daily Christian living?
- In a continuationist view, how does someone acquire the various gifts of the Spirit? Are there any gifts that are more significant than the others?
- How do the spiritual gifts relate to salvation, sanctification, and ecclesiology?
- How can believers with differing views on the gifts labor together for the sake of the Kingdom?
- What has led to the rise in perversions and abuses of the spiritual gifts?
There are of course many more questions that will likely be answered, and will likely arise from the study, but these are the central questions guiding my initial research.
This is a study that I believe, once again, can directly benefit the church today. Whatever the relevance of the Spiritual gifts for today, it is of vital importance that the church continue to live with and walk with the Spirit of God. So, asking good questions, wrestling with challenging ideas, and understanding the working of the Spirit of God in daily living is of real, lasting value for all of us. I hope, then, to that end that my readers will continue to follow along and even participate in the study with me. This should, I hope, prove to be very fruitful for all of us.