All Things

Sometimes when I have heard a certain part of a Bible verse emphasized my whole life, I fail to notice the rest of the verse until it pops out and surprises me.

I felt that jolt this week while reading 1 Corinthians 14. I had stumbled across an online article that deeply disturbed me. The article was similar to what too many churches teach–some spiritual gifts are for us today, most are not. The reasons were lengthy, but at the end of the article, I realized that the use of Scripture throughout the essay was almost nonexistent, so I went to 1 Corinthians to reread what God has to say about gifts.

I found a list of the spiritual gifts given to the church:

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:28 (ESV)

Following several chapters talking about gifts and how they ought to be used is this verse wrapping up 1 Corinthians 14:

But all things should be done decently and in order.

I Corinthians 14:40 (ESV)

I’ve always heard the decently and in order part emphasized–capitalized and underlined twice with several exclamation marks. I knew that a church service must be decent and orderly. And yes, that is Biblical.

But there’s another half to the verse. It also says all things should be done. That simple phrase dealt a death-blow to the shaky logic of the article I had read. The Bible doesn’t say we should pick which spiritual gifts are more easily controlled and use those. It doesn’t say we are allowed to ignore big chunks of the New Testament to support our pet doctrines. It does not say that fear should preside in our decency and order.

The phrase “all things” comes up in 1 Corinthians 14 more than once. Here is another verse:

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

I Corinthians 14:26 (ESV) emphasis mine

For all things to be done, we must overcome our resistance to asking for and accepting the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many times I’ve just mildly hoped for a spiritual gift but of course it would be proud to admit what I’d like and most certainly I shouldn’t ask for something. If I did ask for or exercise a gift, I thought I should make sure it was within the church’s acceptable practice. The church didn’t want to deal with certain gifts, so I fortified my reasons for not wanting or using them.

That’s not at all what the Bible says. We are to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, and we are not to forbid them.

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

I Corinthians 14:1 (ESV)

We don’t have permission to strike out spiritual gifts that can be messy and make us uncomfortable. Something is wrong with a church that is proud of their adherence to Scripture yet rejects what God has clearly outlined in the Bible.

So my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

I Corinthians 14:39 (ESV)

Look again at the list of gifts that God has given the church:

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:28 (ESV)

How many of these gifts do you see displayed in your local body of Christ? Which of these gifts that God has appointed in the church do we have the authority to reject or forbid?

Do we want all of the Holy Spirit’s power, or just a little?

Can we let go of our fear, and embrace all things?

What spiritual gifts do you long for? Which ones make you uncomfortable? Why?

For further reading about spiritual gifts–I also wrote Miracles and the Gospel and Does God Give Good Gifts?.

6 thoughts on “All Things

  1. Victoria

    Great post. This was a topic of hot discussion in college. I wonder why people are so afraid of spiritual gifts and using them?


    1. I think it boils down to an issue of control. We can’t control what God might ask us to do. We have to be delivered from fear before we are able to unclasp our tight fingers and receive His gifts!


  2. Jean Zook

    Thank-you for this very honest look at Scripture. There is a groaning in my spirit for this…a deep longing….in spite of the fear. I pray God teaches us how to make this our life experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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