The Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Gifts: A Review2
The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts (a review from www.verticallivingministries.com).
As someone who was brought up in Cessationist churches and schools I was always taught that the miraculous gifts in the Book of Acts and 1 Corinthians had ceased and were no longer in use today. In 1999 I went on a missions trip to India and witnessed several healing miracles, heard several prophecies, and personally experienced the power and presence of the Holy Spirit like I never had before. These experiences didn’t jive with what I had been taught about the ceasing of miraculous gifts. Since that time I have participated in several churches that are “open but cautious” and “Charismatic” about miraculous gifts and their usage today.
My experience has taught me that the miraculous gifts do indeed exist today. However, what about abuses, and what about sound exegesis and what are the applications today of the relevant biblical texts on miraculous gifts? Is there a theologically sound basis for the usage of the miraculous gifts today, or have these miraculous gifts ceased?
Enter in Sam Storms. Following on the heels of another Dallas Theological Seminary grad – Jack Deere – Storms was skeptical of miraculous gifts today. However, Storms, like Deere, was unconvinced of the exegesis of Cessationists and that coupled with his experience of the miraculous gifts through him, and around him changed his course of belief and practice of the miraculous gifting of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Storms defines Spiritual gifts in this manner: “Spiritual gifts are not God bestowing to his people something external to himself. They are not some tangible ‘stuff’ or substance separable from God. Spiritual gits are nothing less than God himself in us, energizing our souls, imparting revelation to our minds, infusing power in our wills, and working his sovereign and gracious purposes through us…[in summary] Spiritual gifts are God present in, with, and through human thoughts, human deeds, human words, human love.” The rest of the book is an expansion and exposition of the miraculous gifts based on this definition of the Spiritual gifts addressed in 1 Corinthians 12-14.
Storms does a remarkable job of providing scholarly exegesis and practical insight of the nine miraculous gifts mentioned by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12-14: (1-2) Words of Wisdom and Knowledge; (3-4) Faith and Healing; (5-6) Prophecy and Distinguishing Spirits; (7) Miracles; and (8-9) Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues.
I highly recommend this book to all evangelicals from the spectrum of Pentecostalism to Presbyterianism. I think Storms gives much needed food for thought to Cessationists, those who hold to an “Open but Cautious” view, Charismatics, “Third Wave,” and Pentecostals – as well as needed correction to those who practice “counterfeit” and spiritual gifts in an unbiblical manner. Though this is a controversial topic, Storms writes with much love and patience with those who disagree with his views. I found the book to be convincing in many respects, packed with wisdom, and especially helpful in understanding spiritual gifts that I have never personally experienced, but have been the beneficiary of from other believers – especially the gifts of prophecy, faith and healing. Storms has written an easy to read, yet theologically articulate guide to help Christians understand the miraculous gifts; their function in private and in corporate worship, and guidance for their development and application in the light of the Scriptures.