THE ATTITUDE OF THE WRITERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT TOWARD THE GIFTS
In the New Testament we see the gifts, but we have to consider the whole New Testament. In the book of Acts we see that Paul was powerful in divine healing during his early ministry (Acts 14:9-10; 19:11-12) though he did not stress it, but in his latter ministry when his spiritual son, Timothy, had stomach trouble, he only told him not to drink water, but to drink a little wine (1 Tim. 5:23). Also, Paul’s intention in writing 1 Corinthians was to restrict the saints a little, or at least to adjust them, that they might use the tongues properly (1 Cor. 14:6-11, 18-19).
In Ephesians, the book on the church, Paul does not say anything about the miraculous gifts. In chapter four the gifts are persons. Paul knew that the best way to build up the church was not with teachings, nor with the gifts, but by the Spirit with life.
In all his latter books, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, Paul didn’t say a word about the miraculous gifts. Furthermore, neither Peter nor John said anything in their books concerning the so-called Pentecostal gifts. Paul, Peter, and John were persons full of experience, yet none of them stressed the Pentecostal gifts.
THE WAY OF LIFE
The way of life by the Spirit is the profitable way. It goes very slow, but it is steady and steadfast. For the long run, nothing can beat this way. It goes on year after year, and it goes from place to place. It also becomes stronger and stronger, and it gets more and more solid. It is slow, but for the long run it is the fastest way. It is like raising an orchard. The trees being grown for the production of fruit grow quite slowly, but for the long run it is not slow. Eventually, the way of life by the Spirit produces something that nothing can shake or destroy.
A FINAL WORD
We should not oppose anything that is genuinely of the Bible. The local churches must be all-inclusive. However, whether in teaching or practice, it is wise to use the things which are better. When we come to the generality and the practicality of the church life in the forthcoming chapters, this will become more and more clear. So many things are not within the circle of the speciality, our Christian faith, but in the realm of the practicality, which is for practice. An example is pray-reading. We don’t insist on pray-reading, because it is not an item of our Christian faith. But it is something for our practice. I believe that by fellowshipping in this way we all will become clearer and clearer.
(The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)