God is really among you!

But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!" (1Corinthians 14:24-25)

The church is designed to be the place where God makes himself manifest. The primary way he has chosen to do this is by the charismata, the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are manifestations of the Holy Spirit, and thus by definition means by which God makes himself manifest amongst his people.

The gifts of the Spirit were never intended by God to be limited to just a "fringe" portion of his Church, nor to be restricted to a "professional" few! On the contrary it is when every member of the body moves in the gifts distributed according to the Spirit's will that God is most clearly manifest among his people. So much so that even unbelievers will be convicted by the presence of God.

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1Corinthians 12:7)

God is no respecter of denominations or persons. The gifts are not distributed according to labels or theological disposition, or even spiritual maturity. They are distributed to each.

It sounds dangerous, and it is! It sounds open to abuse, and it is! But that's exactly the trouble with too many expression of God's church - they are too safe! They have traded the dangerous path of faith, for a predictable path of religion. There does have to be order in worship, but it was always intended to be God's order not ours! Ironically it is often those who believe most passionately in the sovereignty of God who are petrified of allowing God to be sovereign in worship.

But the spirit of prophets is subject to the prophets (1Co 14:32). That is, although the Spirit gives each one a gift, he never compels them to use it [though sometimes he does urge so strongly it can feel that way! (Jeremiah 20:9)] It is up to us to eagerly desire to move in the gifts and to stir ourselves up in faith, because we can only operate in the gifts in proportion to our faith (Ro 12:6).

Eagerly desiring something is not a passive activity; it does not have the attitude, "If it happens, it happens", but it does all that is within its power to make it happen. We can cry out to God to make himself manifest, and put ourselves completely at his disposal to be used in this way if he wills... but with an expectation and determination that we will indeed be used this way. Not out of arrogance, but out of an understanding from the Scriptures that this is the way God desires to make himself known.

If we think that such manifestations are just for the "charismatic" churches, we have not understood either the nature of the Church or the charismata. God only has one Church, no matter how fragmented man has made it, and the Spirit distributes his gifts to each (whether they believe in the continuation of the gifts or not!)

Equally if we think that prophecy is just for the prophets, we have not understood either the nature of prophecy or the ministry of the prophet. For the Church is by its very nature prophetic, and it is the ministry of the prophet to equip the saints to express this more fully, not to do all the prophesying themselves.

It is when we all grasp that our walk with God is designed to be lived in community amongst the continuing awesome manifest supernatural presence of God and each play our part in demonstrating this, this is when the church will truly shine out as Zion, the dwelling place of God most high!

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