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In This We Believe, a statement of belief of our church body, we maintain: “The Holy Spirit also equips the church with all the spiritual gifts it needs for its well-being (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). During the beginning of the New Testament era, special charismatic gifts were given to the church, such as signs, miracles, and speaking in tongues. These gifts were connected with the ministry of the apostles (2 Corinthians 12:12). There is no evidence in Scripture that we today should expect the continuation of such charismatic gifts.” God of course can do anything. If he chooses to give a person special gifts, he can do so. The key statement in the section above is the last sentence: “There is no evidence in Scripture that we today should expect the continuation of such charismatic gifts.” Because the claims of many people who supposedly possessed such gifts have proved to be fraudulent, it is wise to approach this subject with caution as you are suggesting. The ecstatic speech of charismatics today is far different from the gift of speaking in known, intelligible languages in Acts 2. Spiritual gifts are to be used “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). When people cannot understand the syllables coming out of another person’s mouth, there is no value to others (1 Corinthians 14). Also, keep in mind that “prophecy” in the Bible can refer to the activity of the prophets who relayed specific messages from God, or it can refer to Christians who have been gifted with the ability to speak God’s word to others (Acts 2:18). Rather than focusing on spectacular gifts that God definitely gave in the past, churches would do well to consider what God says about spiritual gifts in general (Romans 12:1-8; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 Peter 4:10-11). While you mentioned that you were troubled by your current church’s understanding of spiritual gifts, I would encourage you to give some thought to your current church’s understanding and teaching of baptism, the Lord’s Supper and faith/conversion. Non-denominational churches can easily have unscriptural views toward these doctrines. Do understand what your church teaches about those doctrines and compare those teachings with the Bible. In everything, be a Berean Christian (Acts 17:10-11) and see for yourself what God’s word teaches. Then, distance yourself from any false teachings (Romans 16:17) and enjoy fellowship with people who are united in biblical doctrine (1 John 1:3).
In Deuteronomy 22:5 God had instructed Old Testament Israel: “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” The People’s Bible Commentary on Deuteronomy provides a good explanation of that command and a response to your question. “While this law might sound like a blanket prohibition against wearing any clothing ordinarily worn by the opposite sex, some commentators have seen a deeper meaning here. There was a connection between cross-dressing and some features of Canaanite fertility religion. Worship directed to Astarte, the twin sister of Baal, sometimes featured men masquerading in women’s clothing and women appearing in men’s clothing. Homosexuality was also associated with Baal worship. “The New Testament contains no hard-and-fast regulations for the kind of clothing God wants his people to wear, but it does include general principles for people of all times. Peter told women, ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment.’ Such outward adornment will take various forms and styles in different cultures. ‘Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight’ (1 Peter 3:4). Paul urged women to ‘dress modestly, with decency and propriety’ (1 Timothy 2:9). Paul told the Corinthians that ‘every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head’ (1 Corinthians 11:4, 5). The details of the Corinthian custom aren’t entirely clear to us, but God wants the customs among any group of people faithfully to reflect the roles he’s designed for men and women. “Styles change from one time and place to another; it’s impossible to dictate a specific dress code for all the rest of human history. God wants men and women to appreciate the dignity of their own sex, instead of assuming the appearance or preferring the role of the opposite sex” (pp. 197-198). To those thoughts I would add the reminder of what Christian freedom is all about. In areas of Christian freedom I am mindful of what is in the best interests of others and how my actions might negatively affect them. While Christian freedom means that I can pursue a course of action, Christian freedom also means I have the right not to do something.
Pastor Timothy J. Winkel
2651 Shettler Road
Muskegon, MI 49444
Telephone: 231 777 3011