A Brief Review
Let's review so that we can make sense of the numerous Scripture verses presented:
In the first page of this series, Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the subject was broken down into four main parts. These are: Gifts at Creation, Gifts for the New Creation, Gifts in Use and Gifts in Abuse. Gifts at Creation reviewed what is called common gifts. They are part of our humanity and are combinations conferred genetically from our ancestral lineage through our parents to each of us. These arrive in distinctly different combinations and degrees of capacity to each of us. These common gifts are used by men, women and children throughout the world without regard to their religious or spiritual interests or perspectives.
The Gifts for the New Creation are received from God at the time of our spiritual conversion, i.e. our regeneration as new creatures, through faith in Christ's salvation. These may be a combination of some of the common gifts activated to new heights along with new gifts specifically endowed upon us in view of God's plans and purposes for our lives. These gifts, as long as they are not neglected, are used in various degrees throughout the stages and circumstances of our lives. These Gifts for the New Creation are designed for and primarily intended to be used for the work of promoting, growing, maintaining and serving Christ's church. These gifts are for the benefit of others and to be others focused. That does not mean we derive no benefit from them, but it does mean we are not to focus them upon ourselves for any form of self-promotion or benefit. They were intended to be used to help evangelize, grow, develop, care for and bless the people of God.
Gifts in use showed how these various gifts were used in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the beginning of the church. Part of the spiritual gifts were for education, development and growth of the believers, some gifts were to aid, comfort and help others, while another group were to help defend the church from internal and external corruption. All were given for the whole church to prosper and to be used for their designed purposes for the benefit and well-being of others.
Gifts in abuse brings warnings about the misuse of spiritual gifts for personal gain of position, power, recognition or wealth. This is not to say that no one will fail or incorrectly use these gifts. We are sinners saved by God's grace and need for ourselves re-direction, correction, sometimes stern warnings and even punishment. Keeping close to God's word, praying for wisdom from above, walking in obedience to the Spirit and learning from others how to faithfully use these gifts will enable us to do well with them. Because, there will be a day of accounting for our use, misuse or neglect of them. (Matt 25:14-30; Luke 19:13-26; 1 Corinthians 3:13; Jude 1:23)
The second page of this series addressed what is known as the Miraculous Spiritual Gifts. This page was divided into four main parts: Purpose of Miracles, The Place for Miracles, Miraculous Spiritual Gifts and Duration of Miraculous Spiritual Gifts. God was initiating a new thing and very much like the special display of power with Moses in Egypt and in the wilderness for forty years with Israel so also miracles were used with the beginning of Christ's church. And after those forty years with Moses and the first years of Joshua's battles, miracles were rare and exceptional. This laid out by prior example that these miraculous spiritual gifts would recede when their work was accomplished.
The Purpose of Miracles by Jesus and His Apostles was to convince the people that the message brought by them was from God. The miracles were the credentials or proof that God had commissioned them and sent them with this gospel, His holy message of good news. The Place for Miracles was for the beginners of the early church to assist and validate their gospel message, by spectacular power, as witnesses unto Jesus both in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Hebrews 2:3-4; Acts 1:8). Though some other early believers, Jews and Gentiles, had received some of these gifts, the capacity to pass on gifts to another person was given only to the Apostles. (Acts 5:12; 6:5-7; 8:14-17; 19:1-7; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6).
The heading, Miraculous Spiritual Gifts, was broken down into three sub-sections: Use of miraculous gifts, Personal use of miraculous gifts, and Speaking in tongues. The miraculous spiritual gifts are not those various charismatic gifts given as God pleases to enable the believer to live the Christian life and to perform ministry and service to the church for the glory of God. They were given by God directly to the Apostles (Matthew 10:8), to some other early believers and to those to whom the Apostles imparted them to be used in the work delegated to them. The Use of miraculous gifts showed how the Apostles and others applied miracles to carry out the work of the Holy Spirit. For truly it was "stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus." (Acts 4:30) Those signs brought about by the Apostles, with many recorded as testimony, follow all believers through the ages and are for our review and study as proof of the genuine ministry of the Apostles and new believers.
Personal use of miraculous gifts showed us that these gifts were to convince unbelievers of the authority of the message. The Creator of heaven and earth sent these messengers and they were commissioned by Him to relay the gospel message about Jesus Christ. These gifts were not to fix the messengers' personal problems. Speaking in tongues was for communication of the message of salvation to people in their native foreign language. This special ability was to enable them to rapidly and effectively communicate the message of the gospel to many more people in many more languages.
Duration of Miraculous Spiritual Gifts addressed the necessity to establish and protect the church during its infancy. The miracles, from those gifts (Matt 10:8), displayed to others that the believers had the power of God behind this "teaching" about Jesus Christ. These miraculous spiritual gifts were used to establish a local church body, educate and develop believers, prepare and establish "faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:2), and encourage and strengthen them for fruitful use of both their common and charismatic gifts. None of these miracles needed to be repeated for the new believers because they were persuaded by the evidence presented, by the transformation in their own lives and in the new lives of fellow believers through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The heading, Duration of Miraculous Spiritual Gifts, was broken down into two further sub-sections: Cautions about false teachers of miraculous spiritual gifts and Miraculous gifts in abuse. Because God will hold false teachers accounatble for misleading any of His people, Christ warned, "Beware of false prophets." (Matt 7:15) Moreover, the Apostle Paul added, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy" and "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (1 Tim 4:1 & 2 Tim 4:3) So the early church believers, comprised of many who had these miraculous spiritual gifts, were given warning about their misuse and straying from this good news sent down from heaven for their eternal salvation.
>Miraculous gifts in abuse addressed four warnings about false teachers: Promotion of themselves and their ministry, Promotion of a new holiness, Yielding to another spirit and Promotion of a glossolalia test. To these warnings take heed because those who follow false paths are often very subtle and it takes time to reveal their fruits. Many things can dazzle the eyes, the false claims of men can appear true, but the results take time to be revealed. After a while the real fruit of their ways will unfold.
This brief review will help you to follow the logic derived from examining and carefully applying the numerous verses presented detailing the Holy Spirit's intended use of these gifts: the common gifts, the special Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Miraculous Spiritual Gifts.
Exploring the Reasoning
We assert that the miracles performed using the miraculous spiritual gifts of the Apostles and many of the infant church faded away. Here are a list of ten reasons:
1. A careful review of Paul's second and third visits to areas and cities brings no further mention of these gifts, except Paul's personal miracles and a warning (Acts 19:11-20; 21:1-4, 10-11), in the historical record of the book of Acts that Luke prepared for us in great detail. In the writings of the books we call the Gospels, Apostles Matthew and John make little mention of them except in the context of Jesus' ministry with them. In Peter's epistles he mentions his writing to inform them and speaks especially of Paul's letters but says nothing about any of the miraculous spiritual gifts. Neither does the epistles of James or Jude, the half-brothers of Jesus, or John, the beloved friend of Jesus. In his Epistles Apostle Paul mentions the illnesses of Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25-30), Trophimus (2 Tim 4:20) and Timothy (1 Tim 5:23) that are unable to be helped by him. These statements confirm to us that the Apostle Paul no longer had the power to cure illnesses, especially for fellow believers.
2. When is the end of presenting the new message from God finished? [The New Testament gospel is the old message expanded. Gal 3:8; Gen 12:3] Miracles are used to initiate and validate the message and messengers as recorded with Moses and Joshua for Israel and in the book of Acts for the infant church. Won't ongoing miracles of the same type confuse the completion of that message? How many "New Messages" about salvation through faith in "one sacrifice for all" (Heb 10:12) can be given? Either the message of the birth, life, ministry and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) (validated by numerous prophecies and recorded details) presenting Him as the eternal "once for all" sacrifice (Heb 10:10) is sufficient or we have been severely deluded and it was good for nothing (1 Cor 15:18-20). This Gospel message is an all or nothing proposition (Rom 6:9-10) and there cannot be ongoing 'new messages.'
3. When God sent His message through messengers at Pentecost (Acts 2) it was in full accord with Jesus' message while He taught them here on earth. Because, He was the same person guiding them now through the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-14) the message was one and was consistent. Jesus began His ministry and validated it with numerous miracles in each new territory but ended His life only with repairing the ear of Malchus. (Mark 14:46-48; Luke 22:50-51; John 18:9-11) In other words the purpose of the miracles receded1, 2 once the messenger was established. Will another message or another gospel be consistent with the first message?
4. The implication of ongoing messages from new messengers with another or additional gospel [The New Testament gospel is the old message expanded. Gal 3:8; Gen 12:3] is that God could not and did not know what He was doing and therefore had to fix His former mistakes! It means that Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 1:20, "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen," or his emphatic words in Galatians 1:6-8, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 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," are just another lie. Will God then swap out one mind and put in another so as to change His mind and send another message when he already said that He preached this same gospel unto Abraham? (Gal 3:8; Gen 12:3) "Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid!" (Rom 7:13) "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid." (Rom 9:14) This cannot be for God has said, "Be ye holy; for I am holy." (Lev 20:7; 1 Pet 1:16) and again "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; but hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour." (Titus 1:1-3; 2 Tim 3:15-17) The spirit that seeks to change the word of God is Satan himself. (John 8:44; Matt 24:24; Jude 1:3; 2 John 1:7)
5. The Apostles preached and lived a new life (2 Cor 5:17) in Christ according to "the spirit of holiness" (Rom 1:3-7): "If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation [conduct] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind." (Eph 4:21-23) "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Pet 1:13-16) For this Gospel has called us to renounce, repent and depart from: "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful," etc. Will another gospel give us another holiness, different than departing from these wicked things? And how carnal, debased and ugly will that one be? Therefore, watch out for those "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." (Rom 1:25)
6. In 1 Corinthians 12:28 Apostle Paul lists these special gifts of the Spirit according to their importance saying, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. At the bottom of the list we notespeaking with tongues! (So also 1 Corinthians 12:4-10) In chapter 13 verse 13 Paul uses the term "now abides" or "now remains". Regardless of how we interpret verses 9-12, verse 13 tells us that faith, hope and love remain after the miraculous gifts of prophecies, tongues and knowledge named in verse 8 cease. Not only would these miraculous gifts end but we also note that each believer had only some of those special gifts because they received various combinations of them according to God's purposes. (1 Corinthians 12: 4-10, 29-30) God requires each believer to maintain faith, hope and love whether in the early or the later church period.
First Corinthians 13:8 states that love, the greatest of these, will never fail. That is because every gift given to and for the church is to be exercised in love for God and for fellow man. The two chapters of 1 Corinthians 12 & 13 taken together show the transitory nature of the Miraculous Spiritual Giftsthat they will end. All we have now is the record of the Apostles' work and teaching, of their use of miracles and other gifts to plant, build, develop, grow and protect the church. Likewise we have the historical record of the use and benefit of speaking in tongues. The direct personal ministry from the highest giftApostles to the lowest special giftspeaking in tongues has stopped with the death of each person possessing those miraculous spiritual gifts in the early church.2
7. "It is written" (found 80 times in the Bible) is the highest form of retention of valuable and historical information. Adam and his offspring wrote of events and their lineage, Noah and his offspring wrote of events and their lineage, Abraham and his offspring wrote and recorded for us their history. Moses took these former writings and collated, organized and codified them in the book of Genesis and then he added the historical account of Israel in Egypt and their wilderness experience up to his death in the books of Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Joshua, in his book, recorded Moses death and the early years of Israel in the promised land of Canaan, Samuel recorded the books of Judges and Samuel, and likewise the prophets through Malachi.
Then the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was recorded by the very people who directly heard and observed Jesus (Luke 1:1-4) (Matthew and John), or it was relayed to them and written as done by Mark (Barnabas nephew, Acts 12:25; Colossians 4:10; and possibly Peter's nephew, Acts 12:12), or gathered the information from observers and carefully recorded it as done by Luke. In the same manner the Holy Spirit directed the record of the initiation, infancy, direction and early journey of Christ's church. The early churches eagerly desired to hold unto and pass to each other the letters and epistles from the Apostles and Elders (Acts 15:23; 18:27; 1 Cor 7:1; 16:3; 2 Cor 3:1; 7:8; 10:9; 10:10-11; Gal 6:11; Eph 3:3; Col 4:16; 1 Thes 5:27; 2 Thes 2:2; Heb 13:22, 3 John 1:9; etc.). This compilation we call the New Testament was written (from about 45 to 96A.D.) before the last Apostle, John, died about 100A.D. The codification of the details and teaching was started by about 45A.D. (Acts 15:23) and completed, before 70 years had passed after Jesus died, and was within the lifetime of the earliest believers or their direct disciples (1st person and 2nd person witnesses). Therefore, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the introductory verbal proclamation of the gospel message, i.e. the expanded gospel (Mark 1:1, 15; Matt 4:23; Acts 8:25; 16:10; Rom 1:1, 16; 2:16; 16:25; 1 Cor 14:37; 1 Tim 1:11; 2 Tim 2:8; 1 Pet 4:6; etc.), comes to an end and it is codified for us to examine to give us an assurance of salvation through Jesus Christ. (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:20-21)
8. Since we believe that Jesus intended to fulfill His word to continue to guide His disciples (Matt 28:20) we also expect He would guide the assembly and completion of the New Testament. That means there would be a Revelation of God's Word and a Confirmation of the Word.
John 14:26 and John 16:13 tells us of the Revelation of God's Word, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." and "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."
In Galatians 1:12 Paul says this of the Gospel message, "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." and again in Ephesians 3:1-5 he says, "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit."
Mark 16:20; Acts 20:27; Hebrews 2:3 and Jude 1:3 tells us of the Confirmation of the Word (New Testament), "And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."; "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."; "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him." and "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
John, as the last living Apostle, finished the work given to the Apostles when he said in Revelation 22:17-19 "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
9. With a finished message (Acts 14:22; 20:27; Eph 6:11; Php 1:27; Col 1:23; 2:7; 2 Thes 2:15; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 4:7; Titus 1:13; Jude 1:3;etc.) Paul's words in 1 Timothy 4:13 become important when we read, "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." and again in Colossians 4:16, "And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea." It also makes sense of Paul's warning in 2 Corinthians 11:3-5, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit3, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." and again in Galatians 1:6-7, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." Apostle John confirms the same when he records for us Revelation 14:6-7, "I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."
10. How could we now obey this invitation extended by John, "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev 22:17), if the events, fulfilled prophecies, teachings, manner of life and important words necessary for our salvation were not already completed, sufficient and recorded for us?
These reasons do not preclude from God the exercise of healing someone or the performance of a miracle as He so chooses. Even now God is still healing people in miraculous ways when the Gospel is presented to them. This is occuring in remote areas, in places were God's word is highly restricted or forbidden, or simply as God sees fit to further His will here on earth. But these reasons presented above simply mean that since Apostle John and the last of those early disciples died the subsequent disciples do not possess those special Miraculous Spiritual Gifts. They were given to the Apostles and early church to plant, build and grow Christ's church throughout the world, and "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". (Matt 16:18)
That the Miraculous Spiritual Gifts, namely those mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28, as taught and manifested in the word of God ceased with the closing of the Apostolic Age.4 Jesus Christ spent His efforts to preach the kingdom of God, not to speak with tongues. The Apostles did the same and so should we. (Matt 10:8)
"It should be a part of the business of all good men to help expose heresy, especially such dangerous heresy as McPhersonism, Holy Rollerism, Pentecostalism and such like."5 Dr. Ben M. Bogard
Present day results:
To get a good idea of the outcome of the false teaching of continuing 'miraculous spiritual gifts' view this video: Wretched: Charismatics Criticizing Charismatics
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:11-14
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25
2. Does God Want Christians To Perform Miracles Today?, Whitcomb, John C., 1973, BMH Books, Winona Lake, IN ISBN: 0-88469-016-4
3. "A Plea to Some Who Speak in Tongues", Christianity Today, February 28, 1975, http://www.christianforums.com/t4915518-4/, accessed 11/22/2013 (Compare these quotes with Galatians 6:3, 7-8)
"Professing to be filled with the Spirit of humility and holiness, these persons expressed the opposite. The subtle but real spiritual conceit became more apparent until the words Spirit-filled came to have a regrettable taint. Other pastors with whom I have talked have had similar experiences. There is often a know-it-all attitude among those who speak in tongues that exactly contradicts what they profess in testimony. They definitely give the impression that those who do not speak in tongues have not arrived spiritually, do not have the sensitivity to interpret the Scriptures, do not have prayer power that can bring results. These persons are insensitive to the concept of Christian discipline. In many of them, habits of worldliness remain while the tongues-speaking flourishes. They are unteachable. Again the spiritual superiority complex rears its ugly head. The tongues-speakers apparently believe that they know it all. ... "
These assert that "... Only the charismatic communion in all denominations can hear all that God is saying in this age of the Spirit."
4. The McPherson-Bogard Debate On Miraculous Divine Healing, May 22, 1934 (Amie Semple McPherson versus Dr. Ben M. Bogard)
5. Other names used are: Apostolics, Come-outers, Four Square Gospel adherents, Holy Rollers, McPhersonism, Pentecostals, Modern Miracle sects, Divine Healing, Speaking with Tongues and such like.