Are the Charismatic Gifts for the Church Today?

Discussion in 'Pneumatology' started by Jerusalem Blade, May 25, 2015.

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  1. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    A new paper I wrote for some friends in the UK for a problem they are having:

    __________


    Are the Charismatic Gifts for the Church Today?

    A brief look at the status of the miraculous gifts in the church in these times. Please note, these gifts were people, who performed certain tasks. Why were they given? Jesus says it clearly to people who doubted He was the Christ yet witnessed His amazing miracles: “though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:38). He desired that the covenant people He first came to save would understand that no mere man could do the works He did, and that His mighty works attested to His divine authority. After His resurrection and ascension His appointed founders of His church, the apostles, were given by Christ to likewise manifest miraculous gifts for the purpose of authenticating that their teaching was from God, thus validating the foundation of the New Covenant church which they laid, in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

    Seminary professor Christopher K. Lensch, commenting on these foundational gifts, put it like this, “…the church offices of apostle and prophet were extraordinary and temporary. This is because these offices were foundational for the establishment of the NT church. Ephesians 2:19-20 [cf Eph 3:5] is quite explicit about the foundational purpose of these two offices: ‘. . . the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.’ ” [SUP]1[/SUP]

    The greatest and most important gift was the Apostles (Eph 4:11). Those in the apostolate had to have three qualifications: 1) eye-witness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21, 22; 10:39–41); 2) directly appointed by Christ (Mk 3:14; Lk 6:13; Acts 1:2); and 3) miraculous signs confirming their apostleship (Acts 2:43; 4:33; 5:12; 2 Cor 12:12). When these men died this foremost spiritual gift to the early church no longer existed, even though the fruit they bore remains.

    The gift second in importance was prophets (Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 12:28). Exactly as with the prophetic office in the OT their prophetic utterances were directly inspired of God and infallible (without error of any sort). When recorded their words were part of the canon of Scripture. The last recorded NT prophecy was the Book of Revelation: “Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy...” (1:3). If the prophetic office existed today then the canon of NT Scripture would still be open, and the Bible unfinished. All churches agree the NT canon is closed.

    The house of God is built “upon the foundation of the apostles and [NT] prophets” (Eph 2:20; 3:5), and the foundation is already laid, and not still being built. The prophetic office is closed, as is the apostolate. So we see two spiritual gifts now ceased. Those who call themselves NT “prophets” nowadays are thus false, and all must agree they fail to meet the Deut 18:20–22 standard, and thus are condemned by the word of God!

    The gift of tongues-speakers – using distinct foreign languages – as a revelatory gift equal to prophecy when interpreted, that is, bringing an inspired and infallible word directly from God, is, on the same basis as prophecy, ceased. With the completion of the Scriptures the revelation-gifts were no longer needed, the written word of God to His people sufficient that “The man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3:17) [SUP]2[/SUP]

    Yet men and women continue to claim that the miraculous – or charismatic – gifts continue to operate in the church in our present age. No doubt the reputable among them do this with good intentions, but misguided understanding.

    We won’t comment on the supposed gift of healing, but rather just direct the person who claims that to go to those members in the congregation who suffer from terminal illness and heal them; or just as good, to a nearby hospital to the same sort of folks. Sadly, this will prove the error of their claims. Of course we acknowledge that our great God still heals, but as He will, not as men or women will.

    Our primary focus will be on the highest of the revelational gifts, prophecy, reducing the matter it to its essence, which is that contemporary prophecy is not in the category of – nor up to the standards of – Biblical prophecy, violating the mandate that all prophecy must come directly from God and contain no human error or interpretation.

    According to the prophet Joel (2:28, 29), and quoted by Peter, in the last days – which began at the time of Christ and His apostles – God will pour out His Spirit on His people and they shall prophesy (Acts 2:16-18), and in the mouth of Joel this prophesying referred to that infallible speaking the words that came “out of the mouth of the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:16), nor could it mean anything less coming from an Old Testament prophet under the law of Moses, by whom God said, “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die” (Deut 18:20).

    The modern “prophets” freely admit they are not equal to Old Testament prophets and prophecy, nor are their words equal to the canon of Scripture, the true and infallible word of God. They also agree to what is written, “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Prov 30:6), for the Scriptural canon of prophetic and apostolic words is closed. They say this in order to exempt themselves from the strict Old Testament standards for prophecy, claiming theirs is prophecy of another category than the Biblical.

    But this they call normative for these days is a “category” which would have been punishable by death under Moses – by the LORD’s decree. In other words, when they say of the new “prophecy” – which unfortunately is normative in many churches – that it is godly, and at the same time certainly would have been subject to capital punishment in ancient Israel, the disparity between these two types of prophecy reveals what is obvious: the fallible “prophecy” can only be false. For how can falsely reporting God’s word be a capital crime in ancient Israel yet in our day be deemed righteous?

    God’s living word in Scripture can never be in error or doubt to the faithful. Has not God bound His people together by requiring that they seek His will from a single source objectively known to them all, rather than through thousands of different individual sources, the “contemporary prophets”? And we all know that the “single source objectively known” to the people of God is the Holy Bible.

    The people claiming the charismatic gifts may very well be good and godly souls, genuine brothers and sisters, who simply err. The great danger is that when we allow extra-Biblical revelation entrance into the holy precincts of the church, we allow purported revelational material from sources other than that which is certified by apostolic authority as from God, and this laxity has caused havoc throughout the church, even to the point of allowing the entrance of demonic spirits and activities in the guise of the so called “Toronto Blessing” or “Holy laughter” or “Pensacola outpouring” or “Catch the Fire” and other movements with catchy names. Of course, not all charismatic phenomena is as flagrantly unholy as these, but nonetheless dangerous, for words which purport to be of God but are not, can only lead souls astray.

    When this gains entrance into a church, and cannot be halted and rectified, it may well be time for those who wish to worship God in spirit and in truth, without admixture of unholy elements, to seek a church with spiritual discernment and leaders with the backbone to stand firm in the truth of our holy Faith.

    _______

    [SUP]1 [/SUP]“The New Testament Prophet”, by Christopher K. Lensch, Western Reformed Seminary Journal, August 2007

    [SUP]2 [/SUP] Distilled from Samuel Waldron’s, To Be Continued?: Are the Miraculous Gifts for Today?
     
  2. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for sharing this paper. This is a theological subject that I someday desire to study more so I appreciate when small papers, articles, or discussions (comments) are made to bring to my attention knowledge on this from time to time. That said, Praise God that I am settled on cessation, and am not persuaded otherwise.

    I quoted this above because it jumped out at me. That line of thinking is used very often as an excuse in many areas of the Church to trivialize sin.

    Again Thanks. God Bless
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Thank you for this. I am currently writing an essay titled "Warranted Charismatic Belief" which will deal with claims of charismatic gifts along with the current anemic view of Sola Scriptura held by modern Confessionalists today. I will give a longer response later.

    I more or less agree with that.


    There have been quite a few rebuttals to that claim. I understand stating that there have been rebuttals is not itself a rebuttal. At this point I am simply noting points of disagreement and where future dialogue will take place.



    I am not persuaded OT prophets are automatically analogous to NT prophets. I might go into that later.

    I do not think this is true on a number of points:
    a) We have no evidence that the NT writers thought of a fully complete, NT canon (yes, I know Peter called Paul Scripture, but that's not the same as a systematic idea of a NT canon).
    b) Paul wrote several letters in Asia Minor which were in fact recorded (by definition, since he wrote them) yet didn't appear in the Canon.


    I have a question, and here I am following Sam Storms, "When Phillip's daughters prophesied, were they laying the foundation of the Church? When the average believer in Corinth prophesied, was that part of the foundation of the church?" With Storms, I am not convinced it is.

    I would caution against reading too much into 2 Tim. 3:16-17, The sufficiency assumed by Paul was to the OT Scriptures. Granted, I think the NT scriptures are sufficient, too, in what they aim to do, but Paul didn't have in mind the NT.

    What counts as a "Charismatic" gift? Any gift given by the Spirit is by definition charismatic. I'll come back to this.

    I hope for charity's sake we don't reduce all healing-encounters to Benny Hinn types. I will say several things.
    a.) What about the fact that Healings do in fact happen? And not immediately by God?
    b.) If the rebuttal to healings is, "Well, why don't you go to the Hospital?" then why can't we apply that same strict standard to the Apostle Paul's ministry? Piper writes,

    However, if the above strict standard holds, we can only conclude that Paul was a fake.

    My last line of questions:
    a) Are words of wisdom/knowledge necessarily the same thing as prophecy?
    b) If so, and if revelation as ceased, then what would you make of the claim that I have received words of knowledge?
     
  4. SeanAnderson

    SeanAnderson Puritan Board Freshman

    People might dispute you on this point.

    https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=898

    A lot of the New Testament was written by this time, and received as scripture.

    Concerning continuationism versus cessationism, what do people think of John Knox's foresight? Was that prophecy of future events?

    Prophecies Of John Knox - Church of the King - McAllenÂ*|Â*Church of the King – McAllen
    The Calvinist Corner, John Knox

    And what about Spurgeon's extraordinary knowledge?

    Sam Storms: Oklahoma City, OK > When a Cessationist Prophesies, or, What are We to Make of Charles Spurgeon?

     
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Per 2 Tim, a person would have to show that Paul AND the church already knew of such a canon.

    As to Knox and Spurgeon, the earlier editors of Scots Worthies actually changed the text to make it look like Knox didn't prophecy. The current edition correctly has the original. As to the other Scots, most people when confronted with the evidence dismiss it as pious gush because it contradicts theory. I, of course, accept it.

    I haven't seen a good, Humean explaining away of Spurgeon.
     
  6. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    I cannot help but think that Knox was preaching, using his knowledge of divine judgment. It is a godly extrapolation to say that ill would befall him. I feel similar unease for the path which the church of Scotland is traveling down. Likewise for the SNP Scottish government. I recall someone expounding the principal that God is quick to judge nations but gracious towards individuals.

    It requires nothing more than common sense to see that Greece cannot go on as it is without making shipwreck of the nations economy. That being the case in temporal matters I think there is a similar "common sense" amongst Christians as regards spiritual matters. I myself "prophesied" that a friend from university would either come to a more sober faith or would make shipwreck of their faith. They were charismatic, of the Santa Clause variety where everything would be provided for him. I met him many years later, drunk and leading a dissolute life. You can be prophetic without being a prophet!
     
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    When Cargill told one of his captors he would die within 12 hours, was that just "common sense?"
     
  8. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    May I ask if you saw a human way they did or did not do this would you change your mind?
     
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    If the Humean they explained it away showed that my belief was not warranted, then I could probably change it. Sure, my position is falsifiable, but I haven't seen any good reason to change it.
     
  10. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    If one reads the New Testament in historical context there will be numerous principles to establish a complete canon from the New Testament perspective. First and foremost is the use of "perfect," not as a term to describe an individual's mature character, but as indicating the completion of God's redemptive purpose for Israel in relation to the nations. Secondly, "prophets" are intricately connected with "apostles," and both are seen as foundational to the "perfect" body of Jew and Gentile believers. Thirdly, there is a process in which the New Testament itself recognises writings with apostolic authority on the same level with the canonical authority of the Old Testament scriptures. Fourthly, there is a decreasing emphasis upon revelatory gifts as the canon begins to close, and the apostles begin to be viewed as an earlier generation. Finally, the completed "revelation of Jesus Christ," which we know as the Book of Revelation, speaks in terms of covenant blessing and curse to close up the canon once and for all.
     
  11. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    So would this entail showing a human way these things are done on every example that comes up? If so I think I am not up to the task, and offer this, (miracles in the biblical sense) have passed now that we have the completed cannon.
     
  12. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Jacob, you said,

    “I am not persuaded OT prophets are automatically analogous to NT prophets. I might go into that later.”​

    Okay, give it a shot if you are of a mind to. That is a key issue.

    And then, commenting on my, “ ‘When recorded their [the prophets’] words were part of the canon of Scripture’ ”, you said,

    “I do not think this is true on a number of points:

    “a) We have no evidence that the NT writers thought of a fully complete, NT canon (yes, I know Peter called Paul Scripture, but that's not the same as a systematic idea of a NT canon).
    b) Paul wrote several letters in Asia Minor which were in fact recorded (by definition, since he wrote them) yet didn't appear in the Canon. . . .

    “When Phillip's daughters prophesied, were they laying the foundation of the Church? When the average believer in Corinth prophesied, was that part of the foundation of the church?”​

    With regard to your saying there’s no evidence the NT writers thought of a fully complete NT canon . . . a systematic idea of a NT canon, I’ll cede you that. But I have not claimed that! Perhaps only John thought such a thing, as he may well have been aware of all the NT writings (it is a moot point, though). I will assert, however, that the writers of the NT were aware they were writing the word of God, which was authoritative over the people of God, even as the OT prophets were aware of the equivalent thing in their own day. Paul for example,

    For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus... (1 Thess 2:13, 14).​

    And again,

    But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed . . . But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:8, 11, 12).​

    The “gospel” Paul preached was the word of God to the New Covenant church, and “faith comes by hearing [it], and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17).

    And with Peter it was the same,

    I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour (2 Pet 3:1, 2).​

    The Lord Jesus likewise had the same thing in mind when He said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:20). I could go on, but this should suffice. These men knew they were writing—being moved by the Holy Spirit—the word of God, as authoritative over the NT churches as the OT was over the pre-Messiah house of Israel.

    When you say, “Paul wrote several letters in Asia Minor which were in fact recorded . . . yet didn’t appear in the canon”, would you kindly give some documentation for this claim. Some pretenders to such have been debunked, and theories laid to rest..

    With regard to Phillip’s daughters and the “average believer in Corinth” [though a NT prophet is never an “average” believer] laying the foundation of the NT church, I wonder how you are thinking of it. My understanding is that, prior to the completed word—counsel—of God for the New Covenant community, the NT prophets were needed to guide and counsel the churches in the perilous days of the first century. They were an important part of the early community.

    Jacob, would you please define the way you are using the term Humean, as in, “I haven't seen a good, Humean explaining away of Spurgeon”? Thanks.

    I’ll get to some of your other points shortly.
     
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Okay.

    I agree that the writers were aware they were writing Scripture, but that is a different claim that saying something like the following:

    (P1) The writers knew they were writing Scripture but also assumed that prophecy would stop when the writing of Scripture was complete.

    I just don't see that premise in the text. Without trying to be tedious, would we say that the prophecying in Corinth and Thessaloniki ceased immediately upon John's last penstroke? We could restate (P1)

    (P1*) The prophecying ceased when the canon was circulated.

    That's a more defensible theory and probably could be supported (somewhat, anyway) by historical evidence. If that's true, however, the following entails:

    (P2) The cessation of gifts didn't happen until the Marcionite controversy.

    Phenomenologically, (P2) can be defended. That's not my position, but if I were a cessationist I would use something like the above argument.





    Colossians 4:16. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.

    Are we operating with another premise?

    (P3) Everytime the apostles put pen to ink, Scripture is the result.


    David Hume. Explaining away miraculous events. Jay Adams takes a similar approach, for example, to demonic possessionl
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
  14. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Below are two of Hume's premises that fail on the acount that men are not prone to accept unusual and incredible religious beliefs when death is on the line.

    #1 People are very prone to accept the unusual and incredible, which excite agreeable passions of surprise and wonder.

    #2 Those with strong religious beliefs are often prepared to give evidence that they know is false, "with the best intentions in the world, for the sake of promoting so holy a cause".

    So are you willing to die for the miracules and prophesy of post canonical experiences recorded by the men you cited? I am not and I hope you would not. Now my spirit is willing to die for the miracules the writers of scripture wrote about as I hope you are also.
     
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Why should I be obligated to die for them? I will say with Alvin Plantinga that since my cognitive faculties are functioning in their proper environment, and since I am not obligated to satisfy Lockean/Cartesian standards of rationality (e.g., "How do you know?" "How do you know how do you know?"), I am fully warranted in believing these accounts unless someone offers a sufficient defeater (which defeater, of course, must override any counter-defeaters).
     
  16. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If you believe them you would be morally obligated to die for them as much as those which are recorded in scripture which are fully to be trusted in. In other words, is your trust in the miracules and prophesy recorded in scripture the same as those recorded by men in post canonical times? If not why not? If so then you ought to be willing to die for them.
     
  17. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    What do we mean by "them?" Is it "any miraculous happening in church history"? I don't have to die for them because Paul told me to test them. Testing implies falsifiability. However, a thing must actually be verifiable if it is could be falsifiable.

    If Aunt Gladys tells me that she received a word of wisdom, and I note the following:
    a) Her cognitive faculties are functioning correctly in a proper environment.
    b) The content of her claim doesn't introduce new doctrine or new ethics.

    Then I may reasonably hold she is warranted in her belief until someone provides a sufficient defeater.
     
  18. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I hear you though I doubt I would defend her "word of wisdom" as coming from a direct word from God.
     
  19. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I have no deontological duty (i.e., a duty to know for certain) to defend her claim. My point was that given the proper functioning conditions, and absent any real defeaters, she is warranted in the claim.
     
  20. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    According to you, do we have a duty to defend with certainty scripture miracle and prophecy claims? Why or why not? I am curious to know your line of thinking in taking it where you are. Thanks.
     
  21. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Defend Scripture miracles? Yes. But Paul does not seem to equate words of knowledge ipso facto with Scripture, otherwise he wouldn't have told us to test them. I am just taking Paul's admonition seriously to a) not despise prophecy and b) test all prophecy.
     
  22. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Jacob, you say,

    I agree that the writers were aware they were writing Scripture, but that is a different claim than saying something like the following:

    (P1) The writers knew they were writing Scripture but also assumed that prophecy would stop when the writing of Scripture was complete.

    I just don't see that premise in the text. Without trying to be tedious, would we say that the prophecying in Corinth and Thessaloniki ceased immediately upon John's last penstroke?​

    I would ask at this point (for clarification of terms is crucial), What, then, is Scripture? And answer, It is the inspired word of God spoken / written through men for a record of His redemptive acts, past present and future. It is finite in that the inspired record has a beginning and an end. There is a saying I hold to: The Bible alone is the word of God.

    And what is prophecy? The definition is, The word of God from His mouth to the mouths of the prophets to the ears or eyes of His people. A secondary definition: It may also be used of preachers forth-telling the will of God as He has made it known in His written word.

    So prophecy, as far as we are concerned, is in Scripture, recorded, and stamped with the seal of authenticity by the Jews of the Old Testament, and apostolic warrant in the New.

    Now the “contemporary prophets” pointedly do not hold to the definition given two paragraphs up, but, as I indicated in the OP, claim for themselves a lesser and fallible sort of prophesying, so as not to run afoul the Biblical standards. They made up their own standards! They would make spiritual reality in the NT age a crapshoot, where pretty much anything goes!

    While we’re talking about defining our terms, would you please define “words of knowledge” such as you received, and Aunt Gladys’ “word of wisdom”, as you’ve brought those terms up?

    With respect to the “epistle from Laodicea” in Col 4:6, given the critical controversy surrounding this, it is a poor entrant into the conjecture that Scripture may have been lost. Wm. Hendriksen has a good synopsis of views and his most likely possibilities in his commentary.

    When you bring up stuff like that, or the conjectured defensibility of cessation of gifts commencing with the Marcionite controversy (which would be around 144), or “would we say that the prophecying in Corinth and Thessaloniki ceased immediately upon John's last penstroke?”, I wonder where you get this thinking from?

    I like to operate with Biblical criteria, not philosophical, as the latter—whatever its worth in other disciplines—tends to cloud rather than clear the air of discussion in exegetical and historical-grammatical examinations.

    About healings. We may indeed pray for the healing of others (or ourselves) and sometimes God will answer these prayers (and there is also James 5:14, 15). The Lord had a distinct purpose for not healing Paul (2 Cor 12:8, 9), and the same with Melitus; He is not obligated to heal, even when an apostle with the gift of healing prays. There is no person with the gift of healing today such as the apostles and others in the early church had. That the Lord Jesus did not grant all of Paul’s prayers does not give us to “conclude that Paul was a fake”! The gifts the Lord gave back then were not formulaic but gracious, and conditional on His will.

    Sub-Biblical definitions of prophecy bring confusion into the church community, and doubt as regards the sufficiency of God’s word and His Spirit who brings that word to life in us.
     
  23. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    On this basis you are fully warranted to believe everything, and we know that the person who believes everything in reality believing nothing. I fear for you.
     
  24. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Warrant doesn't mean obligation. As to fearing for me, whatever
     
  25. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Then your argument from warrant is irrelevant. It is clear from the New Testament that the miracles made such a case for the speaker's message as laid an obligation on those who saw them. Matt 11:21, 23.
     
  26. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    1. What are "words of knowledge"?
    2. How are we to test them (words of knowledge=them?)?
     
  27. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    [Edited and revised] This is something further I wrote for my UK friends (they were members of our church while in Cyprus); and their present church in southern England has recently been invaded by Charismania, to their great distress:

    ______

    Thoughts on the Pentecost Gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38-39:

    Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.​

    The gift of the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) on the day of Pentecost had been promised ages before by the prophets; besides Joel 2:28-29, consider also Ezekiel 36:25-28,

    Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. [emphasis added]​

    Please note that the primary purposes of this Gift are to give them a new heart and a new spirit, so they would have hearts of flesh instead of stone, and they would walk in God’s commandments and do them, and, as a result—in the LORD’s own words, “ye shall be my people, and I will be your God”, holy like their heavenly Father.

    This great blessing—God being intimately united with His people He had made holy—was the first and foremost purpose for the Gift of Jesus Christ and, on the day of Pentecost, the Gift of Christ’s Spirit to indwell them.

    As God’s redemptive plan unfolded in history, the day of Pentecost and those days following saw not only the promised gift of the Holy Spirit given to indwell His people, but attendant gifts—prophesying, tongues, healing, words of knowledge and wisdom, miracles, etc—magnifying the entrance of God’s presence and power into the very life and experience of humankind through His covenant community, the infant church of Jesus Christ. This was an astonishing event, and it was attended by astonishing, necessary—and temporary—gifts. It was astonishing because God was manifest in His glory, grace, and majestic power in the Person of Christ revealed by the outpoured Spirit; it was necessary because the new covenant community of believers was unmoored from its previous place and stability and cast into a new realm amid many hostile peoples and powers. It was a tiny group (compared to the larger Jewish community, and the vast Roman Empire), and they needed the miraculous gifts and powers to help them navigate the new treacherous waters, and to assure and encourage them that the Almighty was with them, in the Person of the Saviour they had known and come to love and follow. They needed the prophets, the healings, the words of knowledge and wisdom, the miracles, for they were babes in dark forests and amid ravenous beasts.

    But these lesser, attendant gifts were not to be forever; after the foundation of the church was laid, and after the full revelation of God given in His completed word—complete after John’s writings at the end of the first century were finished—the lesser gifts ceased, but THE gift of the Holy Spirit to indwell His people, now the new temple joined unto the Lord Christ, this central and foremost gift remained, and remains unto this day in 2015. Our focus should be clarified to perceive that “the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38) was the presence and almighty power of Jesus Christ with them now and forever, seated on the throne of glory and grace, their Friend and High Priest now with them better than ever. Of course the attendant gifts were important and necessary, but minuscule compared to the Gift of Himself revealed by the third person of the Godhead, the Spirit of Christ!

    So this matter of the giving of the Holy Ghost needs to be parsed correctly, and not all jumbled up into a mere lump of stunted information. Rather it should be expounded so as to reveal the parts of the whole, and the glory of God’s gift, Jesus Christ, at the center of it revealed in resurrection power and steadfast love for His infant church surrounded by wolves and lions. The church would grow strong, but it would be a while—almost a century—till they no longer needed the attendant gifts. But they always would have the risen and sovereign Saviour with them, even as now we have Him these twenty centuries later, in the power and the glory His wonderful Spirit yet reveals Him as!
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
  28. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    All these revelatory gifts were/are for the public assembly and were for the edification of the church- they weren't communications between private individuals where Aunt Gladys has a word (prediction of the future? supernatural knowledge about someone or something?) in private to me or other individuals and I or other individuals decide whether or not to believe her word is from God. The spoken gifts were to be tested by the church, not by private individuals. The accounts of the use of these gifts in Acts are historical accounts, not for us to think we're to imitate, any more than the accounts of raising the dead are for us to imitate. The regulation for the use of those gifts is in the Epistles, but how many continuationists actually read 1 Corinthians 14 and other texts carefully to avoid making mistakes like this? The one exception was that if no one was present in the congregation to interpret a speech in tongues, then the one with that gift should speak to himself and to God, and this was entirely permissible.

    I guess I would consider myself a "practical cessationist." If there are still people who practice the genuine gift of tongues, then the practice should definitely be private, because I never heard anyone interpret in accordance with 1 Corinthians 14! I heard interpretations of tongues as predictions of the future, or knowledge God had revealed to them about someone or a situation, or a personal rebuke or message of love to someone. But that's not what 1 Corinthians 14 (or Acts 2) says that tongues are. Paul's view of tongues in the church actually seems pretty dim by 1 Corinthians 14.

    I do believe Scripture supports the idea that it's the apostles, not the prophets being addressed in 1 Corinthians 14, who are analagous to the OT prophets. The Corinthian prophets were to limit themselves and their speech, were under the authority (the thumb!) of the apostles ("If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment") and were to have their revelations judged and weighed by the church. As others have said, it does seem that these revelatory gifts were on the wane by this time. Individuals in the church may be given great insight or ability, for the edification of the church, but it's not so as to claim that one has been given this or that gift. There is no more "thus saith the Lord" unless one is quoting Scripture, as they say. My two cents given in much love because I know this topic can be difficult! :)
     
  29. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Scripture does not see that all miracles warrant belief in them, for the Beast also uses signs and wonders.
     
  30. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This makes the assumption the beast has divine powers.
     
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