I think many Christians, most of them, look a bit skeptically at the charismatic element of the Church universal. We conjure up images of the prosperity Gospel and “holy rollers”. The New Testament, though, reads like a charismatic diary.
The dispensationalists will say that God worked like that only for a time, only until the New Testament was “codified” into a cannon. Now we don’t need God to speak to people directly through prophetic words and such. We don’t need signs and wonders because we have the Bible now.
They might be right, but maybe not. God doesn’t fit into the boxes we prepare for Him.
I have come to view all the movements in the history of the Church as various times in which God emphasized specific things to His people for specific purposes. The move to get the Bible in print in plain language for the masses enabled worldwide, grassroots growth of the Gospel. The move to emphasize that salvation is by God’s grace that we receive through faith was necessary to counter error in the notion of how salvation works.
In my view, denominations formed around these movements as people put down tent stakes and tried to camp on those things God was emphasizing at particular times, but God is always doing a new thing.
Not that God changes, or that the truth changes. We change, and the flow of history changes. God is always working through it all to accomplish the ends that He has planned from the beginning.
I think we can never go wrong asking the question: What is God doing now? What does God intend for a time such as this? What is God saying in these times?
So, I am open to the possibility, which I think is a probability, that God is still “speaking” in these times through people to whom God is willing to entrust His voice. There are disparate voices, of course, even in the Church, but it’s always been like that.
I don’t believe God will say anything that contradicts what He has said in the past, but He might be saying things that contradict what we believed in the past. God might be calling us to new ways of doing things.
When God became flesh and lived among the people to whom He had intimately and directly revealed Himself, they didn’t recognize Him. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were amazed as Jesus opened the Scripture to them to reveal all the ways it spoke of Him. They didn’t see it until He opened it up to them.
In the same way, we need to have the humility to recognize that we might have wrong ideas about things. Maybe they aren’t “wrong”, but they just aren’t effective any longer in this time. The last thing that I want is to remain standing still when God is moving.
We need to be open to God showing us “new things” that we didn’t previously understand or appreciate. We have to consider the possibility that we might not recognize God when He is speaking today in the same way that God became flesh, came to His own people, and His own people didn’t recognize Him.
I say these things only as a preface to talk about an article, Continue reading “God Is Always Doing a “New Thing””