Saturday, October 13, 2012

Are the miraculous spiritual gifts for today? Part 1

Do you wonder about being Spirit-filled, or being "baptized with the Holy Spirit" as a separate event from the regenerating work?

Do you ponder whether whether the miracle gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians have ceased?

And what about “praying in the Spirit”? What is that all about?

I was asked these questions this week and I answered in an email but decided to bring the issue to the blog also. I had an interesting conversation this summer with a person who attends a Pentecostal church and the issues that were raised then are still on my mind. So when the email came...

Disclaimer: I have friends who are in or who came from circles where it was taught or demonstrated that the miracle gifts are a normal part of Christian walk. As I explore whether the miracle spiritual gifts have stopped or not, I plan to make it a biblical exploration. Please do not consider this an attack on any person's particular faith or denomination. I want to soberly take a look at the question, but I know that in so doing, the fact that so many people have had an experience which is tied to their emotions, they may react emotionally. Let's just put Jesus in the center and discern His word,with full assurance from me that this discussion is from the heart and not a jab at any person's salvation or any particular denomination's legitimacy.


The question is discussed in various circles and it is an ongoing discussion. It is called "Cessationism versus non-cessationism" or in other words, if the miracle gifts have ceased or have not ceased. Sometimes the discussion gets heated. However, it is not a salvation issue nor it is something that impacts the essential doctrines of faith, so in discussing the issue here or anywhere let's have grace and remember not to bring division. This isn't a hill to die on, but it does call for discernment. The bible does tell us the miracle gifts are foundational, and the foundation has already been laid by the Apostles. So we must be careful when we see what someone claims is a miracle or says they are speaking for God with a word, just as we are told to test all things.

First, we look at the Holy Spirit and what He does for His church. These are links to all the bible verses collected on the topic of the Holy Spirit in each of His ministries--

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit as comforter:

Holy Spirit, The Personality of

Holy Spirit, The Teacher

Holy Spirit as God

Second, what are the spiritual gifts the Spirit gives, and where are they in the bible?

GotQuestions answers that one:
"The three main passages describing the spiritual gifts are Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; and 1 Corinthians 12:28. The spiritual gifts identified in Romans 12 are prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, and mercy. The list in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 includes the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. The list in 1 Corinthians 12:28 includes healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."

The essay goes on to define each gift a little more.

The Holy Spirit delivers spiritual gifts to all believers. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). All people have at least one gift, and some have two or more. For example all pastors are teachers but not all teachers are pastors. Some of these were gifts of revelation from God and others were gifts of miracles, like healing or languages.

Third, what are the miracle gifts, specifically?

Bible.org states:
"On any given day of the week, Christians can be found debating with one another over the "sign gifts"--that is, the spiritual gifts of tongues, prophecy, miracles, and healings. [emphasis mine]. The debates center on a simple issue: Are they for today or not? There is no debate about whether these gifts were a part of the first-century Church. That part is assumed by all who embrace the Bible as the Word of God. Rather, the debate is whether these gifts have continued or have ceased. There is no debate that certain spiritual gifts have continued to today, such as teaching, mercy, administration, service, etc. But whether the more overtly supernatural gifts continued is a different matter. Again, the issue is not whether God is still powerful enough to work such miracles. Rather, the issue is whether he does so through individuals as special emissaries of his power."

Why were these gifts given as described in the book of Acts?

The purposes of spiritual gifts given to the Apostles was to reveal and confirm God's will for man. The miracle gifts were given to authenticate that these men were indeed from God and their words and deeds could be trusted as coming from the Divine source. The miracle gifts were to authenticate His men who proclaimed His will. And cessationists say that authenticating work was completed during the lifetime of the original apostles when the bible was closed.

Painting: Peter raising Tabitha, Acts 9:40,
Pierre-Jacques Cazes, Louvre.

Others say no, they are not finished, that the normal Christian life is, or can be, full of miracles and healings and supernatural knowledge and "tongues" just as actively as it was in the immediate post-resurrection time. The question is not whether God CAN work this way. His power is perfect and His will is His will. The question is, does He still work this way, and as a result, does the Spirit still distribute these miracle gifts to believers today?

"Jesus invested supernatural authority in his own apostles (Matt 28:16-20) to bring this good news to the world. These apostles and certain others in the early church had a measure of some of these gifts. Whether they represent all Christians of all time or whether theirs was a special time and a special gift is the question." (source)

The folks at CompellingTruth.org wrote:
"The early church did not yet have the full revelation of Scripture. The Scripture was revealed to the apostles – the same apostles who by signs and wonders were proven to be authentic messengers of God. Their gifts of prophecy, knowledge, wisdom and inspiration were now added to the list alongside healing and miracles, and were given in order for the early believers to know God’s will and plans. But these “revelatory” gifts, now that the Bible is finished, are obsolete. The Bible is a supernaturally-inspired book, given to the apostles, God’s proven messengers. We are commanded not to add to or take away from the Word of God as revealed to the apostles (Revelation 22:18-19). Because the revelatory gifts have ceased, and the sign gifts were given to give credence to those receiving God’s message, it is safe to assume that the sign gifts have also ceased."

People who hold to the stance that the miracles still continue today point to the fact that Jesus is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8) so He would certainly still continue to distribute gifts via the Spirit. However, the bible shows us that some miracles He performed will never be repeated. (source)

  • Creation - Gen. 1,2 (cf. 2:1,2)
  • The flood of Noah's day - Gen 6-9
  • The virgin birth - Matthew 1:18,20; Luke 1:35
  • Jesus' resurrection
  • The work of apostles living on earth (Acts 1:21,22)

So does that mean Jesus is different today than He was yesterday? No.

I am of the opinion the miracle gifts of languages, healings, prophecy, interpretation of languages and sundry miracles have mostly ceased- in believers. I believe that God still performs them or at least he can still perform them. I hold this opinion because of my high regard for the closed canon of the bible. It is God's word and in it He said that no one is to add to it nor take away from it. Additional revelation, such as when Beth Moore says she was lifted up into another dimension, shown things by Jesus through His eyes, and sent back down to teach them, I believe are false.

If we believe Moore, and the myriad other people who claim to have a prophecy or a revelation or a miracle, where does it stop? It doesn't. It is chaos. These modern "revelations" have the exact characteristics of false prophecy, not true prophecy. Falsity brings chaos, and that is exactly what we have today in the believing church. Chaos. [Here is a good series on the topic: Miracles and Spiritual Gifts]

John MacArthur is a cessationist who wrote a book called Charismatic Chaos, based on a preaching series he did. I recommend it.

So what about all the hubbub we see in the church of hearing a word from God, or the tongues, or miracles of healing we see on TV and in charismatic or Pentecostal revivals?

Benny Hinn crusade, Nashville?,people "slain in the Spirit"
Do you wonder about being Spirit-filled, or being "baptized with the Holy Spirit" as a separate event from the regenerating work? And what about “praying in the Spirit”? What is that all about? And what is it to speak in tongues? More on that next.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Part 2: Tongues
Part 3: Baptism of the Spirit

13 comments:

  1. Am I the only one who hears Yakkety Sax upon seeing Benny Hinn?
    -Vincent

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  2. hey elizabeth,
    this post is perfectly timed. I visited a church lately that happens to be Pentecostal and I wanted to know what you thought about Pentecostal churches. I was planning on messaging you soon. God is good isn't He?

    Brittany:)

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    1. Hi Brittany :)

      I'm glad you're planning on visiting a church! I you read my disclaimer, you note that I *don't* condemn any one denomination. I do note however that most of the extra-biblical teaching about the miracle gifts in the past seem to come from many Pentecostal churches which seem to adhere to the continuationist stance. Even at that, some Pentecostal churches don't teach that 'tongues' or miracles are the norm.

      We are so far down the road of apostasy that *any* in any denomination or any non-denominational church these days can teach these things. Go on and visit if you still want to, but now you have a little biblical understanding under your belt to detect if you are taught something that seems extra-biblical.

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    2. You said that there is no miracle today. You never cited any scripture that states or prove that they are past. You have to state a scripture; Revelation 22:18-19 - not to add to the bible does not prove that miracles are past. It only states do not add to the scripture.
      You stated in writing: "The bible does tell us the miracle gifts are foundational, and the foundation has already been laid by the Apostles. "
      Please can you give me where it is written or is this, your own thinking, or what was taught to you in your church or you heard it when you were growing up?
      Jesus did miracles, taught and encourages his disciples. Paul taught the churches about gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit. You believe that the gifts of the Spirit have PASSED AWAY but we are encouraged to have the fruit of the spirit. How come the fruit of the spirit has not passed away today and not for the early church only? Is this not the same bible and same teacher by the name Paul?. Paul taught both gifts and fruit of the Spirit to the church. Therefore they are for today.
      1 Corinthians 13 and 14 - both chapters proves that Paul taught spiritual gifts, the church in general were speaking in tongues, prophesying.

      In John 14:12 - Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
      This refers to everyone that believes.

      1 John 1:1-3 - The apostles declared everything that Jesus taught and revealed to them. I believe this includes miracles because Jesus taught and instructed them to do miracles.

      1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
      2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
      3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

      Mark 16:17-18 -
      17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
      18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

      If you don't believe this scriptures refers to every Christian in every age until Christ returns, then we should not be born again because Jesus was only talking to Nicodemus or we should forget about fruit of the spirit because Paul was only referring to the early church only.

      Lastly, because miracles are not wide spread in certain denomination does not mean they are past the reason is simple - It's simply because of unbelief - see Matthew 17:14-21:-
      14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
      15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
      16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
      17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
      18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
      19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
      20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
      21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

      How many Christians today fast? How many Christians today put the WORD of God in their heart day and night? - Joshua 1:8; Proverbs 4:20-23. Some of us today is like what happen in the time of Paul; Paul and Silas I know but who are you?

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    3. Hi Anonymous thank you for your questions and your comment. I'll do my best to answer.

      1. You claimed that I said "that there is no miracle today." I do not say that. God can and does miracles today. *People* don't do miracles today.

      2. Anonymous referred to my statement "The bible does tell us the miracle gifts are foundational, and the foundation has already been laid by the Apostles" and asked, "Please can you give me where it is written or is this...?"

      In the Acts and the Epistles, most of the miracles are performed by the apostles and their close associates. This was to mark an apostle, to validate their ministry to observers. “The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance” (2 Corinthians 12:12) and Ephesians 2:20 tells us that the work the Apostles did was to build the foundation. (Also Acts 14:3).

      The healing gift was already fading out when Paul was ministering. Paul raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9-12), but did not heal others (Philippians 2:25-27; 2 Timothy 4:20; 1 Timothy 5:23).

      Further, the other reason for the signs and miracles were not only to mark and apostle as a valid worker of Christ, but as a sign to unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 14:22 as re-stated from Isaiah 28:11 which pointed to tongues as a coming sign of judgment).

      Paul said tongues will cease. 1 Cor 13:8.

      3. You asked if my stance "was taught to you in your church or you heard it when you were growing up?" This seems to indicate that you don't hold those in high enough regard. Whether or not I grew up in a church and/or was taught these things is immaterial. If I HAD been in church since I was 3 years old and it HAD been taught to me, I'd be grateful. That is why Jesus raises up pastors and elders and teachers. To teach us. (Hebrews 13:7, Titus 2:1-15, Colossians 3:16). Of course, I'd consult the scriptures myself to determine if what I am taught is true, but being taught and being in a church growing up is a good thing, not a bad one.

      3. You said "You believe that the gifts of the Spirit have PASSED AWAY". You are incorrect. I do not believe the spiritual gifts have passed away. I believe the *miracle gifts* have passed away, because the bible shows us that they will and history shows us that they have. The Spirit still dispenses gifts. Just not the miracle ones.

      4. You said "Lastly, because miracles are not wide spread in certain denomination does not mean they are past the reason is simple - It's simply because of unbelief"

      It is very dangerous and totally incorrect to state that if someone cannot perform a miracle it is because the lack belief. Have you raised someone from the dead lately? Walked on water? Unshriveled a withered arm? Hmmm?

      In your other comment, which I am not publishing you also equated lack of miracles to God's power. Just because God is not performing doesn't mean He is not working. Still worse, it doesn't mean His isn't powerful. If you equate belief and miracles in this comment, and power and miracles in the other comment, then what about the 500 years between OT and NT miracles? Or the 800 years since a time of miracles? Or the 500 years since an angel appeared? Or the 400 years between when God spoke to a prophet? Was He powerless? Were there NO believers in the whole world? That would have to be your stance, since no miracles were done for hundreds of years that must mean God wasn't powerful and/or no believers were on earth.

      In this present Age of Grace, What of the fact that there were no miracles/no tongues in 300AD? 400AD? 900AD? 1200AD? 1400AD? 1600AD? 1800AD? 1900AD?

      History shows what the bible reveals, the miracle gifts were for a specific purpose and when the purpose was fulfilled, those particular gifts went away.

      I encourage you to read the links, they offer you a teaching where the verses are in context, not snippets ripped out of context. I hope this answers your questions and clarifies any place I might have been unclear.

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  3. Elizabeth you've gone out of the frying pan (politics)and into the fire with this one. This particular topic on miracles/gifts can be faith rattling and at the very least raise a lot of questions for the rest of us believers. This can also be a source of ammunition for non-believers. Along with Hebrews 13:8 you have John 14:12 that I've heard used more than a few times to support claims of what Christ says we have the power to accomplish in Him. This link has a deeper explanation of that verse http://letusreason.org/Biblexp107.htm.
    I for one can tell you that I would love to be able to heal broken bodies, feed thousands with very little, walk on water and raise others from the dead all in the name of Jesus. I was taught to believe that God can use us to do such things and thought it was a lack of faith issue when I didn't see them happen. My view has changed somewhat since my pre-teen and teen years. Do I believe God can use a present day believer to perform miracles? Yes, He's God. He can and does do what He purposes and according to Revelation there will be two who perform various signs in the Father's name. I do believe miracles happen now in multiple ways...of course the gift and life changing miracle of salvation to those who believe in Jesus....I've personally walked away from a head on car collision with nary a scratch and stepped on a water moccasin barefoot and didn't get bit, I think both of those were miracles. I have also seen the aftermath of unanswered prayer for those expecting/believing a miracle was going to take place and it didn't. I've also heard Christ follower's who said they were directed by God or directed by a "called" disciple to expect a miracle in a certain area of their lives and it never happened. I think it would take an extrodinary person to be used by God to perform miracles.....I say that because of....PRIDE! Even if you sincerely gave all glory to God for the wonders done, how long do you think you could hold off on feeling "specially" chosen by God to do these things. The greatest thing we can do as believers is to tell others about our all powerful Savior who paid the price for my all my wickedness and will do the same for any who ask and believe.

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    1. I indicated that the strongest biblical position is cessationism. If you missed that then I'll take a look at how I can make that more clear.

      I don't see how belief or non-belief in whether the miracle gifts exist today are "faith rattling". I stated they are a non-essential doctrine. (non-salvation impacting). Here is an essay on the essential doctrines of the faith, essential meaning one must believe these to be considered in the faith. http://carm.org/essential-doctrines-of-christianity

      Believing or not believing the continuation of the miracle gifts is a secondary non-essential. http://carm.org/doctrine-grid

      And let's face it, non-believers use anything and everything for ammunition.

      This is part 1, posing the question, because it IS a question that is under a lot of discussion today. Part 2 is coming up later today.

      I opened with a disclaimer and noted that we need to be graceful when discussing this issue. I'd appreciate it if you displayed some and refrained from making response that I'm crazy. Thanks.

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    2. "I'd appreciate it if you displayed some and refrained from making response that I'm crazy."

      I think this response must be to a comment someone else made. I can't find anywhere in her comment that she called you crazy. ????

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    3. You are correct, it was a comment someone else made. I mixed it else up. I apologize to one and all!! To the anonymous who made a comment and to all others who read it. I am sorry!

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  4. hi Elizabeth,as the body of christ each one of us has a spiritual gift that the holy spirit gives to us when we come to faith in jesus christ ,each gift being driffernt but all from the holy spirit ,and i beleive we exercise our gifts to encourage ,teach ,strenghen,comfort,equip,the true beleivers in christ to futher the preaching of the gospel message that was given to us down through the ages from the apostels of jesus christ ,now i have a thought about the reason for the gift of tongues on the day of pentecost if we go back to the tower of babel we see that the lord confused the language of man so they could not understand one anothers speech, hense the nations spoke driffernt languages ,now on the day of pentecost when the holy spirit came upon the apostels they spoke in tongues ,i beleive the speaking in tongues was a massive drawing of the holy spirit for the nations to hear the gospel message ACTS 2:6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

    7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

    8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born , today God has give us the ability and gift of learning new languages so we can take the gospel message to the world hense missionarys so i would wonder then why we would really need speaking in tongues in theses days , again as the apostel paul says in 1Cor 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
    so we see that the gift of tongues was for the benifit of the unbeleiver .

    now for the gift of healing ,i beleive God still heals today but only if it is his will to do so and is according to his plan and purpose for each individual ,somtimes our conditions are used to show Gods power and strengh and to glorify his name ,but if we have people who have this great ability to heal why would we need doctors ,hospitals medicine,medical services etc , 2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
    now i beleive we have false teachers who use gifts for there own purpose and gain and there are many wolves in sheep clothing today and you have many false prophets aswell who lead many away from the truth of Gods word with lying signs and wonders so we really need discerment in these days we live in as many are deceived into beleiveing that it is from God and i have heard of people who have beleived they were healed only to find they never really were with these so called faith healers or men who profess to have the gift of healing therefore i beleive the supernatural gifts the apostels had were to show the wonderful works of God ,god bless

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    1. Hi shane mark,

      See part 2, I just posted it a minute ago and it describes much of what you commented on. Thanks!
      http://the-end-time.blogspot.com/2012/10/are-miracle-spiritual-gifts-for-today.html

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  5. Oh indeed they are

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    1. If you care to read the piece and see the scriptures I pray the Holy Spirit shows you that indeed they are not.

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