Click to Change

Return to Top

Return to Top

Printer Icon


Prior Section Next Section Back to Commentaries Author Bio & Contents
The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Are All Spiritual Gifts Active Today?

Don Stewart :: What Observations and Conclusions Should We Make regarding Spiritual Gifts?

toggle collapse
Choose a new font size and typeface

What Observations and Conclusions Should We Make regarding the Subject of Spiritual Gifts?

Are All Spiritual Gifts Active Today? – Question 21

After looking at the main issues regarding the subject of spiritual gifts, especially those of a supernatural variety, there are a number of observations and conclusions that we can make. They include the following.

The Controversial Questions over Spiritual Gifts Will Not Go Away

The cessationist, non-cessationist question is one that will remain in the church. Indeed, it will not go away. It is something that every Christian will have to live with. Consequently, we should deal with it in a matter that is consistently Christian.

We Should Not Use Uncharitable Labels to Those Who Disagree with Us

No matter what our particular position may be with respect to the issue spiritual gifts, we should not resort to placing uncharitable labels upon people who disagree with us. It does no good to try and categorize those who hold different views than us as immature, stubborn, divisive, and arrogant. This does not do anybody any good.

Unfortunately, there have been some unloving assessments from cessationists about non-cessationists as being emotionally unstable, or unwittingly spreading a satanic counterfeit. Likewise, there have been statements from non-cessationists that cessationists are not filled with the Spirit and are consciously attempting to stop God’s work in this age. This type of behavior is unchristian, unbiblical, and counterproductive.

There are immature, arrogant, and divisive people on all sides of this issue. In addition, there are also godly, spiritually mature, and biblical literate people on all sides of these issues. We should seek for Christian unity in our diversity of views. Paul wrote about the correct attitude all believers should hold.

Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace (Ephesians 4:3 NLT).

There is room for our differences over the issue of spiritual gifts. The church should be united in its diversity.

We Need to Make All of Scripture Our Guide – Not Just One Verse

We must be careful how we develop our own understanding with respect to the issues surrounding spiritual gifts. It is possible to find one verse and use it as a basis for an entire system of belief. Again, both sides on the cessationist, non-cessationist issue often make this mistake.

Some cessationists often use First Corinthians 13:10 to say that that the sign gifts have now ceased because the “perfect,” or “the Bible” is now finished. This becomes the basis of their argument that some gifts were temporary while others were permanent.

On the other hand non-cessationists use First Corinthians 14:39, “Forbid not to speak in tongues” as the basis of their beliefs about the permanence of all of the spiritual gifts. Every other passage on spiritual gifts is interpreted in light of this verse.

Both of these approaches are wrong. One must seek to find out what the totality of Scripture has to say on the subject – not merely one verse that will be the basis to support their interpretation.

Bad Arguments from the Other Side Does Not Prove Your Case

In addition, the fact that some may have used bad arguments to prove their case does not necessarily mean what they believe is wrong. All it means is that some have offered unconvincing arguments! This is important to understand. We find in the writings of both cessationists and non-cessationists the idea that they have proved their case because they have pointed out illogical arguments from those who have a different position. Pointing out bad arguments from those who disagree with us only means the other person has bad arguments. It does not settle the matter.

In recent years, both cessationists and non-cessationists have refined their arguments. Consequently, any examination of these two perspectives must be based on the very best arguments each side has to offer – not some poor argument that was popular in the past.

Let Us Realize That the Experience of Each Believer Is Unique

The experience of each believer is unique. Therefore no one should attempt to make everyone conform to his or her own particular experience with the Lord.

For example, there are some believers who feel that they have drawn closer to the Lord through tongue speaking. They think that other believers really do not know what they are missing by not speaking in tongues. Many times, for the right motive, they attempt to encourage all believers to be as them with respect to this gift. In doing so, they can make other believers feel uneasy because they have not had the same experience. However, if God wishes to give someone any valid spiritual gift, the Spirit of God is certainly able to create a desire in that person for that gift.

On the other hand, there are many fruitful mature Christians who have never spoken in tongues. They do not feel any need for the gift of tongues and resent others making them feel spiritually inferior. Some of these Christians have convictions based upon their understanding of Scripture that this particular spiritual gift, along with certain others, no longer operate in the church. Neither side should force their beliefs concerning spiritual gifts on those who do not hold the same convictions.

It is wrong for one group to feel superior to the other. The possession of spiritual gifts should never be a criterion on the spirituality of a person. The Apostle Paul warned believers about comparing ourselves with one another.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense (2 Corinthians 10:12 NRSV).

The only thing that believers ought to make foundational to the Christian faith is the Person of Jesus Christ – not some spiritual gift.

We Should Not Think That We Have All the Answers about Spiritual Gifts

It is possible that our belief system with respect to spiritual gifts is too comfortable – we think that we have all the answers. Again, this is true for those on all sides of these debates.

We think we know God well enough to the point that we can know how He operates in the realm of spiritual gifts. This is a very dangerous position to hold. We need to give God the ability to work any way in which He wishes – we cannot limit Him to the way we think He will work. Jesus, in comparing the work of the Holy Spirit with the wind, said.

The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit (John 3:8 HCSB).

The Holy Spirit works in the ways in which He desires. He certainly does not always operate according to our understanding.

We Can Learn from Those Who Have a Different Viewpoint

All of us can learn from those believers who hold differing viewpoints with respect to the work of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, we shut not shut ourselves up to only those who agree with us on these issues. If anyone disassociates themselves from other Bible-believing Christians on the basis of their view of spiritual gifts, it does not show their orthodoxy, it only shows their immaturity. These issues are not ones that should divide believers, or keep them from associating with one another.

Traditionally, cessationists have been characterized as those who love to study the Scripture and understand its teaching but lack sufficient emphasis on the personal side of the work of the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, non-cessationists have generally been viewed as overemphasizing the experiential aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit while underemphasizing serious study of the word.

While these depictions are not always accurate, they do tend to expose some of the areas where both sides can improve.

The Burden of Proof Is upon the Cessationists to Prove Their Case

Whichever side is correct in this matter of the cessation or non-cessation of certain spiritual gifts, it is clear that the burden of proof is upon those who argue that some of these gifts have ceased. Unless a strong case can be made from Scripture that certain of the gifts no longer are to be operating, then we should assume that all the gifts are to remain in use during this age. Cessationists, of course, feel that they have proved their case.

The Gifts Are to Be Exercised According to the Rules

For the non-cessationist, who believes that all the gifts are still operating today, they must exercise them according to the rules that the Bible gives. Too often we find the more spectacular gifts exercised in a way that is contrary to the rules in which the New Testament sets down. All spiritual gifts were given to build up the body of Christ for the work of the ministry. Consequently it is imperative that they be exercised in the exact way in which the Bible prescribes.

Let Us Produce the Fruit of the Spirit

If a person claims to have a spiritual gift but does not show fruit, it does not necessarily mean that he or she does not have the gift. Lack of fruit shows lack of maturity. The sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence is fruit – not gifts. Gifts are the means but fruit is the end. The gifts are given to build up the body of Christ, to promote the work of the ministry. The result of using these gifts should be maturity in our Christian character.

These are some of the conclusions and observations which we can and should make with respect to spiritual gifts. It is our hope that believers will unify behind the work of the Holy Spirit whose ministry is, first and foremost, to exalt Jesus Christ. This is where our energy should also be directed.

Summary – Question 21
What Observations and Conclusions Should We Make regarding the Subject of Spiritual Gifts

The subject of spiritual gifts is a difficult topic. Nobody denies this. There are good people who believe some of the gifts which were originally given have been withdrawn by God while others argue that all of the gifts are still here. This being the case, there are a number of important observations that need to be made about the subject of spiritual gifts.

First, everyone needs to realize that the controversies over spiritual gifts will not go away. The controversy is here to stay. Thus, we need to deal with it.

Those who disagree with our position should not be labeled with uncharitable descriptions. Indeed, they may be right and we may be the ones who are wrong!

In attempting to determine the correct view on any of these issues the entire Scripture should be our guide. We must be careful not to select a certain verse here and there to prove our position.

Each believer is unique in his or her experience with respect to spiritual gifts. Thus, we should not assume that our experience should be exactly the same as others. At the same time, we should not assume that everyone ought to be like us.

In addition, we should not assume that we have all the answers – there are always things that we can learn. All sides on these debates can learn from each other.

With respect to the idea that some of the gifts have ceased.

Why Is There So Much Division among Christians over Spiritual Gifts? ← Prior Section
Does God Want to Heal Everyone? (Introduction) Next Section →
BLB Searches
Search the Bible

Advanced Options

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval

Daily Devotionals

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.