23 May 2014 by Lim Poh Ann –
What do you think is the true measure of a believer? Does it rest solely on how much anointing or power he or she has? Or how many spectacular feats he or she can perform?
At the end of our lives when we stand before the judgment seat, I think the qualities that matter most are character, an intimate relationship with God and faithfulness in utilising the time, talents and resources God has given us. I come from a Pentecostal and Baptist background and have been a believer for more than 40 years. I have studied the Word a la Ezra as well as witnessed many signs and wonders. I believe we need both the Word and Spirit in our lives.
Even so, if I were forced to choose either the Word or the Spirit, I would lean more on the Word (Matthew 24:35). What makes me take this stance? Sad to say, leaders who emphasise charisma rather than character are more often associated with excesses. It does not mean that the more conservative ones are all clean. But somehow it is more difficult to be upright when one has power, fame and riches. More: http://bit.ly/MT1BW7
To reiterate, it’s our faithfulness that counts in the end. Don't we just long to hear the Master’s commendation on judgment day? “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
On that day God will judge us (believers) whether we have been faithful in utilising the time, talents and resources that He has given us. Some may have more quiet gifts while others have more spectacular ones.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us” .
"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way"(1 Corinthians 12: 27-31). And what is the better way? LOVE.
And we should not belittle those with less spectacular gifts: The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary (1 Corinthians 12: 21-22).
However, it does not mean that signs and wonders aren’t important in ministry. And it is true that we should earnestly desire the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14: 1). However, danger arises when we run after these signs and wonders and lose our focus (Hebrews 12:2, Colossians 3: 1-3). More: http://bit.ly/1m0GVre
If we are so mesmerised by signs and wonders to the extent that we idolise certain “dispensers” of signs and wonders, we may become victims of deception as is evident in this post: http://bit.ly/1kLjwYF *
Signs and wonders are not the litmus test of spirituality (read God's approval). That signs and wonders are merely the icing on the cake is evident from the following:
- Ultimately, we are called to be faithful with what we have been entrusted (Parable of the Talents).
- Love is the better and higher way (1 Corinthians chapter 12 transitioning into chapter 13).
- Knowing God and doing His will are more important (Matthew 7: 21-23).
Finally, what do you think is the true measure of a believer? Does it rest solely on how much anointing or power he or she has? Or how many spectacular feats he or she can perform? Are there not other more important considerations such as an abiding relationship and intimacy with God, obedience, self-denial and faithfulness?
The foregoing does not imply that spiritual gifts are unimportant. The moral of the story is that we must not put the cart before the horse.
Presumptuous faith, failure to walk closely with God, discern and do His will could prove disastrous finally for many on the day of judgment: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7: 21-23).
Undue emphasis on signs and wonders has its dangers. We have to tread with caution when a certain truth—in this case, signs and wonders—is emphasised at the expense of other equally fundamental truths.
In our quest for signs and wonders, we need to ask ourselves the following:
- Have we taken our eyes off the true finishing line—Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2)?
- Have we neglected other more important considerations? Such as servanthood (Mark 10:45), self-denial (Luke 9:23), love (John 13:35), knowing His will (Ephesians 5: 17)?
RUNNING AFTER SIGNS
Is there a rationale for pursuing signs and wonders?
WHEN A LEADER FALLS
When a prominent Christian leader falls from grace, there are significant lessons to be learnt. What are they?
WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
Nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man's character, give him power.
WORD OR SPIRIT?
Should the believer emphasise the Word or Holy Spirit more?
CHARISMA versus CHARACTER
Charisma and character are important qualities in an outstanding leader. Which is more important?
When we travel outstation, we depend on milestones to tell us how far we have already gone and how far more we have to go before we reach our destination.
As Christians, how do we measure success? What are some “milestones” to help us monitor progress?
People are naturally hungry for supernatural manifestations. Some are willing to be zapped by any supernatural force—if only they could feel their bodies tingle or shake. Some could have come from a conservative church background and want to opt for a “change”. Their mantra could be something like this: Life is mundane, we want signs, we want power, we want God to “show up”. But are signs and wonders invariable when God shows up? Can He not work in quiet ways?
Often such hunger provides fertile ground for deception to thrive.
Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (December 2008 – October 2011). He can be reached at his blog, Porridge for the Soul: http://limpohann.blogspot.com/
References for pictures