TheoThought 300

David W. Hegg

 

Spiritual Gifts

 

Introduction: The history of the church is spotted with irony. For example, the ordinances (baptism and Lord’s Supper) were initiated by Jesus, in some respects, to symbolize and reinforce the unity of the Body of Christ Those joined by faith to Christ are also joined to one another in the Spirit’s bonds of peace. Yet, ironically, these two practices have become quite divisive in the church!

 

Another such irony surrounds our subject in this lesson. Spiritual gifts, given by God the Father, through God the Spirit, are for the purpose of empowering the church to proclaim the message of God the Son. The gifts are supposed to allow our diversity to work in unity for the purposes of eternity. Yet, ironically, the gifts have become one of the most divisive issues in the church today.

 

The intent of this lesson is to understand the gifts biblically, and then set them in our contemporary context legitimately, so that the church can progress righteously in her mission to bring glory to Christ.

 

1. The Words:

 

cari÷smata (charismata); Romans 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:1, 4;  that which is freely and graciously given, favor bestowed, gift (from cariß, charis; grace)

 

 

pneumatikw◊n (pneumatikon) 1 Cor. 14:1; 1 Peter 4:10; having to do with the (divine) spirit, caused by or filled with the (divine) spirit, pertaining to or corresponding to the (divine) spirit (from pneuma, spirit)

 

Note: Paul uses these two words to describe the one element he refers to as “gifts.” Taken together, we understand his meaning.

Spiritual gifts are:

 

• graciously given, never earned, merited, learned, or in any way appropriated. They are sovereignly given by God the Father, through God the Spirit.

Rom. 12:5: Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us …

 

• given by and through the indwelling presence of God the Spirit.

1 Cor. 12:7: To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 

 

2. Spiritual Gifts Defined

 

Spiritual gifts are abilities given by God the Father, through God the Spirit, to each Christ-follower for the purpose of serving the Body of Christ in the greater mission of Christ.

 

 

3. The Texts:

 

Spiritual gifts are only mentioned in 4 passages in the New Testament:

Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; 1 Corinthians 14:1-40; 1 Peter 4:10,11

 

Note: Some also include Ephesians 4:11. But, since this uses neither of the greek terms mentioned above, and refers to offices and the men who fill them in the church, we will cover this set of “gifts” in our lesson on Church Governance.

 

 

The Texts:

 

Rom. 12.3-8   For  by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you  not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment,  each according to  the measure of faith that God has assigned.  4 For  as in one body we have many members,  and the members do not all have the same function,  5 so we,  though many,  are one body in Christ, and individually  members one of another.  6  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if  prophecy,  in proportion to our faith;  7 if  service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;  8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity;  the one who leads,  with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with  cheerfulness.

 

1Cor. 12.1-11   Now  concerning  spiritual gifts,  brothers,  I do not want you to be uninformed.  2 You know that  when you were pagans  you were led astray to  mute idols, however you were led.  3 Therefore I want you to understand that  no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is  accursed!” and  no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. 4   Now  there are varieties of gifts, but  the same Spirit;  5 and  there are varieties of service, but  the same Lord;  6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is  the same God who empowers them all in everyone.  7  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of  wisdom, and to another the utterance of  knowledge according to the same Spirit,  9 to another  faith by the same Spirit, to another  gifts of healing by the one Spirit,  10 to another  the working of miracles, to another  prophecy, to another  the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another  various kinds of tongues, to another  the interpretation of tongues.  11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit,  who apportions to each one individually  as he wills.

 

1Cor. 14.1-40    Pursue love, and  earnestly desire the  spiritual gifts, especially that you may  prophesy.  2 For  one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.  3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.  4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.  5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but  even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

 

1Cor. 14.6   Now, brothers,  if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some  revelation or knowledge or prophecy or  teaching?  7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played?  8 And  if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?  9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be  speaking into the air.  10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning,  11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be  a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.  12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

 

1Cor. 14.13   Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret.  14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.  15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also;  I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will  sing with my mind also.  16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider  say  “Amen” to  your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?  17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.  18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.  19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

 

1Cor. 14.20   Brothers,  do not be children in your thinking.  Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be  mature.  21  In the Law it is written,  “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.”  22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign  not for unbelievers but for believers.  23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter,  will they not say that you are out of your minds?  24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all,  25  the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so,  falling on his face, he will worship God and  declare that God is really among you.

 

1Cor. 14.26   What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has  a hymn,  a lesson,  a revelation,  a tongue, or  an interpretation.  Let all things be done for building up.  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.  29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others  weigh what is said.  30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there,  let the first be silent.  31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged,  32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.  33 For God is not a God of  confusion but of peace.   As in  all the churches of the saints,  34  the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but  should be in submission, as  the Law also says.  35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

 

1Cor. 14.36   Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?  37  If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.  38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.  39 So, my brothers,  earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.  40  But all things should be done decently and  in order.

 

1Pet. 4.10  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another,  as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks  oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves  by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything  God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and  dominion forever and ever. Amen. 

 

4. Categories and Lists

 

A. Categories:

 

1) 1 Cor. 12:4   Now  there are varieties of gifts, but  the same Spirit;  5 and  there are varieties of service, but  the same Lord;  6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is  the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

God the Spirit

 

Varieties of Gifts

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 

 

Varieties of Service

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

x x x x  x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 

 

 

Varieties of activities

x x x x x x xx x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x  x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

x x x x x x x x x xx x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

x x x x x x x xx x x x x x xx x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x  x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x xx x x x x x x x x xx x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 

2) 1 Peter 4:10,11: 1As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another,  as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks  oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves  by the strength that God supplies

 

whoever speaks ……. whoever serves

 

 

 

B. Lists

 

Romans 12:3-8                                                1 Cor. 12:1-11

Prophecy                                                            Wisdom

Service                                                            Knowledge

Teaching                                                            Faith

Exhortation                                                        Healing

Generous giving                                                Miracles

Leading                                                            Prophecy

Merciful acts                                                     Distinguishing spirits

                                                              Various kinds of Tongues (languages)

                                                              Interpretation of Tongues (languages)

 

Note: There is no indication that the New Testament intends to give an exhaustive list of “spiritual gifts.” These two lists, given to two different church families, are much different. It is best to understand these as representative of some of the spiritual abilities God the Spirit brings to the church.

 

5. Principles

 

A. Given sovereignly by God the Father through God the Spirit:

 

1 Cor. 12:11: All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually  as he wills.

 

It is important to note that everyone does not get the same gifts. Who gets what is determined by God, not man.

 

Note: Spiritual gifts cannot be earned, merited, or purchased:

 

Acts 8:14-23:    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.” 

 

B. Given for the Benefit of the Body of Christ:

 

1 Cor. 12:7: To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

 

The gifts are never to be seen as “belonging” to the individual believer or in some way marking the individual believer out in some special way. The gifts are always for the church, not the individual. The gifts are the Spirit’s way of empowering the church to accomplish its mission and are never a measure of the Spirit’s presence or maturity in the faith.

 

6. Issues:

 

A) What are the “sign” gifts, and are they still being granted to the church today?

 

1) The Sign Gifts:

 

In the Bible “signs” are understood to be miraculous interventions into the created order, used to identify or validate those through whom the signs are coming as authentic spokesmen for God himself.  There are 3 periods in history when miraculous signs were prevalent:

            Days of Moses • Days of Elijah/Elisha • Days of Jesus and the Apostles

 

The Sign Gifts:

Tongues (languages)

Interpretation of Tongues (languages)

Prophecy

Working of Miracles

Working Healing

 

Note: This is not to say that God is not working miracles all the time, according to his good pleasure. But, when we speak about humans being the intermediary means by which these miraculous signs are taking place, we find that only 3 eras in history evidence such activity.

 

a) The First Use of Miraculous Signs:

 

When God chose Moses to deliver his people, Moses balked. He knew the people would not listen to him. So, God declared that he would “validate” him as the divine spokesman through miraculous signs:

 

Ex. 4.1   Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’”  2 The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said,  “A staff.”  3 And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it.  4 But the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—  5 “that they may  believe that the LORD,  the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

 

b) God’s use of Signs apart from human intermediaries:

 

Luke 21.11 There will be great  earthquakes, and in various places  famines and pestilences. And there will be  terrors and great  signs from heaven.

 

Luke 21.25   “And  there will be signs in sun and moon  and stars, and on the earth  distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,

 

c) Jesus’ Use of Signs:

 

John 2.11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested  his glory. And  his disciples believed in him.

 

John 2.23   Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name  when they saw the signs that he was doing.

 

John 3.2 This man came to Jesus   by night and said to him,  “Rabbi,  we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do  unless God is with him.”

 

Acts 2.22   “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth,  a man attested to you by God  with  mighty works and wonders and signs that  God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—

 

d) The Apostles’ Use of Signs:

 

2Cor. 12.12  The signs of a true apostle were performed among you  with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.

 

sign: shmeia, shmei÷oiß, sameia, sameiois = an event that is an indication or confirmation of intervention by transcendent powers, a miracle of divine origin, performed by God himself, by Christ, or by men of God.

 

wonders: te÷rasin, terasin = something that astounds because of transcendent association, omen, wonder

 

mighty works: duna¿mesin, dunamesin = a deed that exhibits ability to function powerfully, deed of power, miracle, wonder

 

Note: These three terms all define aspects of a “sign”. This is seen in Paul’s use of all three to further define the first (signs) in 2 Cor. 12:12 above. The miraculous acts performed by the Apostles were distinctive, and not common any others. Thus, Paul could attest to his authenticity as an Apostle by the “signs, wonders and mighty works” he had performed from God.

 

e) The Apostolic Church and Signs:

 

It is clear that, during the Apostolic age, God gave “signs” through the church, also for the purpose of validating the expansion of the gospel from Jerusalem outward. We see it first in Acts 2 with the miraculous gift of languages, and then again in Acts 10 and 19.

 

Paul himself gives the reason for these signs:

 

1 Cor. 14.20   Brothers,  do not be children in your thinking.  Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be  mature.  21  In the Law it is written,  “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.”  22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign  not for unbelievers but for believers. 

 

f) False Teachers/Apostles and Counterfeit Signs:

 

The presence of miraculous activity is not always of divine origin.

 

Ex. 7.8   Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron,  9 “When Pharaoh says to you,  ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’”  10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent.  11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the  magicians of Egypt, also  did the same by their secret arts.  12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.

Matt. 7.22  On that day  many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not  prophesy in your name, and cast out demons  in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23  And then will I declare to them, ‘I  never knew you;  depart from me,  you workers of lawlessness.’

 

2Cor. 11.12   And what I am doing I will continue to do,  in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do.  13 For such men are  false apostles,  deceitful workmen,  disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as  an angel of light.  15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as  servants of righteousness.  Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Gal. 1.6   I am astonished that you are  so quickly deserting  him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to  a different gospel—  7  not that there is another one, but  there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  8 But even if we or  an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you,  let him be accursed.  9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received,  let him be accursed.

 

Alan Cole (who has served Christ in several different cultures): “None of these signs are new to me (healings, visions, tongues, exorcism). But the trouble is that I have seen every one of them (yes, tongues too) in non-Christian religions, and outwardly, there was no difference in the signs, except that one was done in the name of Jesus and the other was not.”

(quoted by D.A.Carson, The Purpose of Signs and Wonders in the New Testament, in Power Religion (Chicago; Moody Press) 1992, pg. 95)

 

D. A. Carson: “More than fifteen thousand people a year claim healing at Lourdes. Testimonies of healing are reported in every issue of Christian Science Sentinel. Pakistani Muslims claim that one of their revered saints, Baba Farid, has healed people with incurable diseases and traveled great distances in an instant. Thousands of Hindus claim healing each year at the temple dedicated to Venkateswara in Tirupathi. Some Buddhist sects provide yet another set of reports of healing.

 

“None of this demands that we conclude that genuine miracles have ceased or that all miracles ostensibly performed in a Christian context are necessarily counterfeit or even demonic. It is simply to insist that because both in Scripture and in Christian experience miracles can occur both in the context of biblical religion and outside it, it is unwise to make too much hang on the, especially if the gospel is left behind. More strongly put, it is always perilous to equate the supernatural with the divine.”

(D.A.Carson, The Purpose of Signs and Wonders in the New Testament, in Power Religion (Chicago; Moody Press) 1992, pg. 95)

B) What are “tongues?” How should we consider this issue today?

 

By far the greatest question in the area of sign gifts is that of “tongues.” Today, “speaking in tongues” is almost always associated with ecstatic speech, or “heavenly speech.” Some consider that they have a “heavenly prayer language”. But, the overwhelming evidence in the New Testament is that everywhere the gift of tongues was the ability to speak a known, foreign language unknown to the speaker.

 

1) First Occurrence:

 

Acts 2:1-13 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 2.5   Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.  6 And  at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.  7 And  they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking  Galileans?  8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?  9 Parthians and  Medes and  Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,  10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,  11 both Jews and  proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”  12 And  all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”  13 But others  mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

 

Note: Here we see a “pre-enactment” of the accomplishment of Jesus’ commissioning to the Apostles and the church to take the gospel to all nations. Through the indwelling Spirit, the people of God will take the gospel to every language spoken.

 

From this we see that the primary purpose of tongues is the proclamation of the mighty acts of God. Tongues were never meant for personal or even corporate enrichment.

 

1 Cor. 14.20   Brothers,  do not be children in your thinking.  Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be  mature.  21  In the Law it is written,  “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.”  22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 

 

The whole point of tongues (languages) is for the gospel to go forth to those who have not heard it in their own language.

 

During the Apostolic age, before the Bible was completed and available, tongues were given as a “sign” that the gospel had invaded a new geographical area (See: Acts 10 and 19). Apart from this, we don’t see tongues operating except in cases where Paul declares that they are operating erroneously and need to be corrected (Corinthian church: see 1 Cor. 12-14).

 

2) Principles of Tongues:

 

a) They were always known languages:

 

Acts 2:11 both Jews and  proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 

 

b) They were never given by God unless connected with the gift of interpretation:

 

1Cor. 14.27 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.

 

Note: This underscores the purpose of tongues. They were for the proclamation of the mighty acts of God to unbelievers. Without an interpreter, they were of no use to those in the room who could not understand.

 

7. Current Views of the Use of Tongues/Sign Gifts Today

As the battle over sign gifts rages, there are various “camps” or views:

 

A. Cessationist: This view holds that all the sign gifts have ceased and takes it name and platform from 1 Cor. 13:8:

 

1Cor. 13.8   Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

 

This view splits into the following positions:

 

1) Hard Cessationist: No sign gifts now, no way, never, no sir.

 

2) Soft Cesssationist: Sign gifts have overall ceased in the New Testament sense, but there seems to be some sense in which they are still active, as God sees fit.

 

3) Soft Hard Cessationist: Where the gospel is known and available, the sign gifts are no longer necessary given that their original purpose no longer exists. However, if there are areas in the world were the circumstances of the 1rst century are extant, and God determines to introduce the Gospel there in the way he did in the 1st century, then it is reasonable to expect that he may use the sign gifts to do so. It is up to him in any case, and their activity in such cases should not be used as proof that they are to be expected elsewhere.

 

B. Continuationist: This position holds that the book of Acts is ongoing. All the church experienced in the 1st century not only may, but must be part of the our experience today. We must recognize apostolic authority, and all that goes with it. Tongues are a sign of God’s blessing, and all believers should desire to speak in tongues. Tongues are heavenly given ecstatic speech, not known languages for the most part.

 

C. Open But Cautious: This view tires to stand in the middle, and not take any real position. It is as if they are agnostic and don’t believe they have enough evidence and Scriptural material to make a decision. They are “open” to sign gifts in the church in our world today, but want to be cautious in affirming the experience of them. These folks have decided not to decide, but to take a position they believe makes them relevant and spiritually sensitive without being involved in the controversy.

Archibald Alexander: “In judging of religious experience it is all important to keep steadily in view the system of divine truth contained in the Holy Scriptures; otherwise, our experience, as is too often the case, will degenerate into enthusiasm. Many ardent professors seem too readily to take it for granted that all religious feeling must be good. They therefore take no care to discriminate between the genuine and the spurious, the pure gold and the tinsel. Their only concern is about the ardour of their feelings; not considering that if they are spurious, the more intense they are, the further with they lead them astray.”

(Quoted by Edward D. Gross, Miracles, Demons, & Spiritual Warfare, (Grand Rapids; Baker) 1991

 

Edward D. Gross: “The tendency in our day of spiritual impoverishment is to elevate each religious experience as an unquestionable blessing of God. Then the experience is superimposed upon the Bible as a proof of its legitimacy. If it does not fit exactly, we force it into place like Cinderella’s stepsisters trying to put on the glass slipper. This practice is what Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls ‘capitulation to phenomena.’ This is the error of allowing one’s doctrine to be determined by phenomena. The facts cannot be gainsaid, so it is decided that they must be accomadated (sic) by theology and therefore theology is adjusted accordingly. But it is not necessary to do this. On the contrary, the Christian should seek to interpret facts in the light of the teaching of Scripture. He must not allow phenomena to determine his beliefs. (Miracles, Demons, & Spiritual Warfare, Edward D. Gross,  (Grand Rapids; Baker) 1991

 

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “The Bible suggests, therefore, that the Holy Spirit normally speaks to us through the Word. He takes His own Word, He illumines it, and takes our minds and enlightens them, and we are thus made receptive to the Word. Through such a process we are able to check all the experiences that we may have, so that we may be sure that we are not being led astray or deluded. It is not right, therefore to speak of the spirit or the Word, but rather of the Spirit and the Word, and especially the Spirit through the Word. The antithesis which tends to be perpetuated in some quarters even today is one which we must refuse to entertain. “ (Taken from my quote file, but sadly, I do not have a reference for it!”).

 

O. Palmer Robertson: “In sum, great benefits come to God’s people if they are willing to take seriously the fact that the ‘final revelation’ has come in the Christ of the Scriptures. Far from hindering enthusiasm and a sense of the immediacy of God’s presence in their midst, faith in the sufficiency of Scripture will move them to serve him with the full vigour of their beings. It must not be forgotten how the resurrected Christ stirred the hearts of his depressed disciples. The Gospel of Luke explains that Jesus enlivened his followers by opening to them the Scriptures. Beginning with Moses and al the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:27). Why? Why did the resurrected Christ speak to them in this way? Why did he not simply give to them a new revelation?

 

“The resurrected Jesus opened the scriptures to them because that would be the way by which spiritual life would be sustained for them from that point on. As a consequence of his opening the Scriptures, their hearts burned within them (Luke 24:32). The same principle has continued through all the ages. As the resurrected Christ through his Spirit opens the Scriptures to his people, their hearts are have burned within them. Much greater than depending on the stimulus of new revelations of the Spirit is living out the sufficiency of the final word as it is found in the Christ of the Scriptures.

 

“And why not both? Why not the illumination of the Scripture coupled with new revelations of the Spirit? Simply because if you declare a need for both, you have implied the insufficiency of the one. You have placed yourself back in the framework of the old covenant, in a time when new revelations were required because of the incompleteness of the old. But Christ is the final word. No further word for the redemption of men is the present age is needed. In Scripture is found all the truth that is needed for life and godliness. (O. Palmer Robertson, The Final Word (Edinburgh; Banner of Truth) 1993, pg. 134,135)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources

 

Books

 

Charismatic Challenge: Four Key Questions, John Napier (Franklin, TN; Providence House Publishers) 1995

 

Miracles, Demons, & Spiritual Warfare, Edward N. Gross (Grand Rapids; Baker) 1991

Power Religion, ed. Michael Horton (Chicago; Moody Press) 1992

 

The Final Word, O. Palmer Robertson (Edinburgh; Banner of Truth) 1993

 

 

 

Articles

 

Why I Am a Cessationist | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

www.thegospelcoalition.org/.../why-i-am-a-cessatio...

 

 

Signs and Wonders: Then and Now | Desiring God

www.desiringgod.org/articles/signs-and-wonders-then-and-now