According to Acts 2:38, every genuine Christian has received the Holy Spirit at the point of conversion, when he or she turned from their old lives and was baptized in water. The very next verse informs us that this promise remains valid for coming generations.
What a precious gift! God’s Spirit grants us assurance of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13; 2nd Corinthians 1:22). He empowers us to overcome old destructive habits (Romans 8:13) and helps us in prayer (Romans 8:26). There are several other gifts which may become manifested in the Christian life – yet it is the Spirit’s decision “… giving to every man separately as his pleasure is” (1st Corinthians 12:11) – not according to our pleasure.
Our ideas and God’s idea about which spiritual gifts are needed for our situation today may be different at times. As a church we have experienced that God gives us exactly these gifts which we need the most. This includes teaching, counselling, giving, hospitality, love for enemies and many more.
We are very grateful to our Lord for these gifts! But we need to understand that God’s gifts are not primarily given for personal edification. Rather they are to help us in service to others (Romans 12:6-21; 1st Peter 4:8-11).
The New Testament gives witness to additional supernatural gifts. Those signs and wonders are able to show people that there is real life in Jesus and salvation in His name. These signs can still convince people today. How so? In John 20:30-31 we read:
“A number of other signs Jesus did before his disciples which are not recorded in this book: But these are recorded, so that you may have faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and so that, having this faith you may have life in his name.”see also Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:1-4
The supernatural acts done by Jesus and his apostles were so powerful that their witness in scripture can still speak to people’s hearts even today. The Bible story shows how God had a goal in mind at all times when he allowed for the supernatural to happen: Growth in Faith. In the desert He once let special bread rain from the sky, but when His people had learned their lessons and entered the promised land, they could live from the harvest of the land instead (Joshua 5:12). Likewise God allowed Jesus and many of the first Christians to do many supernatural things. In the long run however Christians are supposed to develop spiritual qualitites such as: “… love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22 ASV).
It is a process of learning to go after these things which are needed for today. We don’t experience people walking on water – but we keep meeting people who found Jesus through an exciting journey of faith. We don’t have prophets among us who bring new revelation but we have His prophetic word written down in the Bible and still as strong (2nd Peter 1:19-21). We don’t see spontaneous healing today but we do encounter God everyday, being carried by Him through difficult times and getting better step-by-step (Romans 8:22-25). We don’t speak in foreign languages without having learned them – and yet, besides German, you can hear English and Hungarian being spoken among us.