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?