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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington
Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

 “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Romans 1:11-12).  Again the third occurrence of ‘Christ Faith’ in Paul’s Letter, To The Romans.

 ‘Pneumatikon charisma/ spiritual gifts’ IS an exclusive contribution of Paul to Christian theology.  To be sure, the ‘chairo’ word group in all of it’s forms, complete with it’s usage ‘eucharist’ in defining the sacrament of Holy Communion, is to be found throughout scripture; but, the use of ‘pneumatikon charisma/ spiritual gifts’ can be found only in Paul’s letters— more specifically in Romans and Corinthians.

The ‘chairo’ word group as a whole in secular Greek has the sense of ‘joy’; ‘rejoice’; ‘merry’.  But when placed in religious context, it takes on emotion, mood and piety; and becomes a direct feeling, found in the seat of emotion; and now has manifestations, to include, but not limited to ‘tears of joy’.  English translations of this word is often ‘grace’; and the person who has ‘charisma’ (as Webster says) is the one who has a quality of extraordinary spiritual power capable of eliciting popular support in the direction of human affairs.

Paul introduces ‘charisma’ as a ‘gift’ when taken together with the ‘spirit’ (of Christ).  With no other references outside or inside scripture, here lies a most important facet of Paul’s work.  He writes to the Romans “concerning spiritual gifts…” that although ‘the gift’ come in varieties, it is ‘the same Spirit’.  ‘Utterances of Wisdom’; ‘utterances of knowledge’; ‘faith’; ‘healing’; ‘working of miracles’; ‘prophecy’; ‘discernment of spirits’; ‘various kinds of tongues’; and ‘interpretation of tongues’.  To the Corinthians he writes that these gifts differ according to the grace given to us.  Prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhorter, giver, leader, and compassionate— all of which become functions of the Church’s administration.

I am engaged in thought, no presently consumed in the thought that “Knowledge is Biblical.  Education is not.” (Quote me).  I put this on my Facebook Page and one comment stated that he wished he understood what I was saying: “Knowledge is Biblical”?  It took me to Young’s Analytical Concordance, my ‘go-to’ tool for scripture.  Four full column lined Pages!  Oh, and ‘Epistlemology”… one of the ‘Five Traditional Branches of Philosophy.  Of utmost urgency is the text: “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”.  Paul thinks of “utterances of knowledge’ as a ‘spiritual gift.”!

A key feature of ‘spiritual gifts’ is pointed to by Conzelmann when he states that “the gift is present, but it’s possession is only provisional”.  New Testament Professor Briggs was known by this saying— “you can’t receive ‘the gift’ without ‘The Giver’.”  When ‘the gift’ is bound by ‘The Spirit’ (of Christ) as Paul has done, it is as Jesus told Nicodemus, “it comes, and it goes…”  You neither know from whence (or when) it comes or wither it goes!  You can’t own it, neither can you possess it.  It is a very present help that is very ‘high maintenance’.

Don’t get it twisted, ‘concerning Spiritual Gifts’— this ‘gift’ is rooted in joy!  I take this opportunity to say to all the Church Ushers: “when you see me receiving the joy/gift of the Holy Spirit, when I am flooded with ‘tears of joy’, DO NOT BRING ME WATER!  Do not bring a fan!  Be afraid!  Be very afraid!”  It is as Shirley Caesar sings “This joy I have, the world didn’t give it me.. And the world can’t take it away.”

Paul had already understood his ‘quality of extraordinary spiritual power capable of eliciting popular support in the direction of CHRIST affairs’.  He also ‘discerned’ from what he had heard that there where folks in the Roman church who had also reached this level of ‘grace-joy’.  Knowing the manifestations which he had already experienced; knowing that the ‘presence’ of the Holy Spirit’ was capable of far greater works that he had seen, he was excited about sharing in the fellowship, the faith of unknown persons who might be able to strengthen him in their ‘imparting of the Spiritual Gifts’ as he would for them.

by email: myfathersmansionpress@gmail.com

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