Disciple Up # 92
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Pt 3
The Perpetuity of the Spiritual Gifts, Pt. 1
By Louie Marsh, 1-23-2019
This can be a controversial topic. Not as much as it used to be but it is still an area where Christians disagree. So we approach this in the spirit of openness and this being a non-essential where it’s ok to have differing opinions.
Important book on this – Counterfeit Miracles By Benjamin B. Warfield, Copyright 1918
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (November 5, 1851 – February 16, 1921) was professor of theology at Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921. He served as the last principal of the Princeton Theological Seminary from 1886 to 1902. After the death of Warfield in office, Francis Landey Patton took over the functions of the office as the first president of seminary. Some conservative Presbyterians consider him to be the last of the great Princeton theologians before the split in 1929 that formed Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Two Main Theories On the Gifts Passing Away:
1) The gifts could only be passed on by the laying on the Apostles hands, thus when the Apostles died and everyone they had laid hands on died the gifts died.
2) 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (ESV) The perfect is the completed New Testament, thus we no longer need the gifts and they have passed away.
Some Logical Consequences:
1) Which gifts have ceased? No one says the gift of teaching or knowledge or serving, etc. are gone. No, only the miraculous gifts are said to have ceased. But since, as we saw last week, the New Testament itself doesn’t divide the gifts into different categories, then if some are gone should they all be gone?
2) If this is true then that means that you shouldn’t see any manifestation of the gifts anywhere in church history. But of course we do. In fact an overview of church history seems to mirror the Old Testament in many ways. In the OT you have periods of miracles followed by periods where you don’t see many. The same is true of church history.
If you maintain the gifts have ceased then you must explain away EVERY reported occurrence in church history. Good luck.
Theory #1: The Laying On of Apostolic Hands
1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” Acts 8:14-24 (ESV)
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22 (ESV)
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 (ESV)
44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. Acts 10:44-48 (ESV)
15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” Acts 11:15-17 (ESV)
1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all. Acts 19:1-7 (ESV)
In two cases hands are laid on and in two cases hands aren’t laid on And in one case, hands are laid on but gifts are seen in the text. It’s also important to add that while Paul was an Apostle and had the miraculous gifts he hadn’t had any Apostle lay hands on him as far as we know.
Cessationists argue that the two instances of no Apostolic hands being laid on are “special events,” i.e. the door being opened to the Gentiles to hear the Gospel and the day of Pentecost is obviously unique. Therefore, they will say, their argument stands.
“This does not mean, of course, that only the Apostles appear in the New Testament as working miracles, or that they alone are represented as recipients of the charismata. But it does mean that the charismata belonged, in a true sense, to the Apostles, and constituted one of the signs of an Apostle. Only in the two great initial instances of the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost and the reception of Cornelius are charismata recorded as conferred without the laying on of the hands of Apostles. There is no instance on record of their conference by the laying on of the hands of any one else than an Apostle”. – Warfield, Pg. 21
Here’s what I think. If you look closely at theses events in Acts every single event is a special event.
- Pentecost – yep.
- Samaria – a hated group receiving the Gospel – yes.
- Cornelius household – the door opening to the Gentiles – obviously.
- Former disciples of John the Baptist being brought into the faith – of course.
This only makes sense because Luke was writing a history and so recorded significant events in the development and growth of the church as it moved from Jerusalem to Rome. He wasn’t recording everyday common things, but the historically important events that moved the faith along. This is what all historians do and Luke is no different.
Here’s another interesting perspective from a more scholarly point of view: http://reformedperspectives.org/magazine/article.asp/link/http:%5E%5Ereformedperspectives.org%5Earticles%5Ejus_holcomb%5ENT.Holcomb.Acts.html/at/Tongues%20in%20Acts
Point of Interest: the interpretive principle – Precedent VS Command.
This Doesn’t Mean Everything “Pentecostal” or “Charismatic” Is Correct.
One example – everyone speaking in tongues at once. Clearly unscriptural.
27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 1 Corinthians 14:27-28 (ESV)
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