This post is part of a series of articles asking and thinking deeply about hard questions. For more information about the series and where I’m coming from you can read the introduction.
The Holy Spirit is one of the most controversial aspects within Christianity. Even great men disagree about the Holy Spirit, so I definitely do not claim to have a complete answer. However, this will not dissuade me from at least asking questions about Him.
I want to do this with reverence and humility: there is much that I still have to learn about God and His Holy Spirit. I think the same goes for all of us, no matter how many degrees we acquire or how many years we spend studying the scriptures.
[NOTE: I always hope and even assume my readers will read any Scriptures that I cite. Please take the time to look up the references, both to verify what I say and to challenge yourself with new perspectives on Scripture. Perhaps you know it by memory, but there may be a word or context either of us never caught before.]
How does the Holy Spirit interact with Christians today? Does He still give revelations? And if so, are they on par with the revelations found in the Bible? Does the Holy Spirit ever bypass Scripture and impart insights and knowledge directly into people’s minds and hearts? Does He give gifts like He gave to the apostles, such as tongues and healing? Is Scripture as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago? Will He ever tell someone to do something which contradicts Scripture?
Here’s what we know about the Holy Spirit:
- He is part of what we call the Trinity and therefore God (Matt. 28:19)
- He inspired the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21)
- He was sent to (in some way) “replace” Jesus (Jn. 16:7)
- It is to our “advantage” that Holy Spirit came (Jn. 16:7)
- He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement (Jn. 16:8)
- He will guide us into all Truth (Jn. 16:13)
Let’s unpack these ideas further…
1. The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity
Christians believe in a God-head of three distinct persons loving and honoring each other with such unity that they work as One holy and inseparable Entity (Deut. 6:4; Jn. 10:30, 17:21; Colossians 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5). Three-in-one; both a community and an individual. Love being the “bond” which holds them together, and thus love is a major characteristic of God (Gal. 5:14; 1 Jn 4:8). We call this Godhead, for simplicity’s sake, “the Trinity.”
As usual, Timothy Keller says it best:
“The life of the Trinity is characterized not by self-centeredness but by mutually self-giving love. When we delight and serve someone else, we enter into a dynamic orbit around him or her, we center on the interests and desires of the other. That creates a dance, particularly if there are three persons, each of whom moves around the other two…. Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them.” — Tim Keller, The Reason for God, 224
Each divine Person cares so much about each other’s desires and concerns that no one of them has to say “You do this.” Each of them perfectly loves the others voluntarily. This dance Keller describes, is the pulse of authentic Love, the rhythm to which every person ought to set their life-dance.
An open-minded, fresh reading of Scripture would indicate that there is some deference of the Spirit to the Son and ultimately to the Father. There are many interpretations and assumptions that could be made about this.
What is obvious from Scripture, though, is that all three are equally God and equally eternal and they equally delight in each other. So apparently, it is not a matter of divine hierarchy, but of divine roles. To my limited mind, even this seems unnecessary. Will the Son ever rebel against the Father? Will the Holy Spirit really turn rogue and start spewing His own words? Since they have the same desires, there will never be a contradiction between them. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, they generally seem to embrace separate roles.
The Holy Spirit is fully God and part of the Trinity and thus deserves to be worshiped as such.
Some of us feel uncomfortable doing this because we have been taught that the Holy Spirit will not “speak of himself.” I believe this, being King James English, is better understood as the Holy Spirit will not “speak on His own.” In other words, He will only speak the words Jesus tells Him, who also, in turn, only says and does whatever the Father tells Him to say or do. It does not mean the Holy Spirit will never talk about Himself.
“Don’t worry,” Jesus says, “He’s only going to say what I say.” Because One of the Trinity would never consider making Himself independent of the other two. The Trinity speaks as One because They are One.
Jesus was not diminishing Holy Spirit’s God-ness, instead, He was reassuring the disciples that the Trinity all say the same thing. He was legitimizing the Helper.
Jesus goes on to say that having the Holy Spirit come is better than if Jesus stayed. Why is this? Because Holy Spirit lives inside of every believer, but Jesus had limited Himself to one body. Holy Spirit’s indwelling was literally Jesus everywhere. This is, obviously, better.
Think of the Holy Spirit—the Helper, the Spirit of Christ, the Comforter — as the “Modesty of God.” Because He moves and transforms lives, yet always points to the Father and the Son. Do not imagine the Father and Son looking down on the Spirit as some divine “less-than.” Instead, imagine the Spirit shining and beautiful but preferring not to be noticed.
My Mom wonderfully portrayed this modesty. Beautiful, caring, and hospitable — she definitely deserved any glory she received, yet she always seemed embarrassed by the attention. I think that is the atmosphere of the Trinity. Not one of jealousy and contempt, but of delight from the Father and Son and modesty from the Spirit.
(The concept of the Trinity is so established, in fact, that nearly every time “God” is mentioned in the old testament, it uses the Hebrew word “elohiym,” which is plural. Literally translated, Genesis 1 would say “In the beginning, Gods created the heavens and the earth” and Deuteronomy 6 would say “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our Gods, the LORD is one.”)
2. The Holy Spirit inspired Scripture
R.T. Kendall nailed it when He said that many believe in “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Bible” (40 Days with the Holy Spirit).
The Scriptures are a work of Holy Spirit: they do not replace Him. Nowhere in the Bible does it say Scripture replaces the Holy Spirit. Nowhere. This is akin to saying that a Lover’s letter, a Parent’s note, or a King’s decry replaces the Lover, Parent, or King, which is absurd.
Which has more value: The Author or the book? Which can you know in a Trinity-reflecting relationship: The Person or the thing? Can you have a loving relationship with a “thing”? We usually call that idolatry.
This idea can be scary because it requires attentive and genuine relationship. And relationships are hard! They usually involve much failure as you learn what pleases the other person and how they communicate. It would be much easier to approach my faith like a literature course or a math problem. I can handle general rules and formulas from which I extract some sort of meaning, but relationships transcend rules and formulas. They take time, energy, commitment, patience, and a serving heart.
People might also be scared because they feel this undermines the value of Scripture. But it doesn’t! It does the opposite! The Bible has value because Holy Spirit inspired it. Therefore, if I claim Holy Spirit told me to do something contrary to Scripture, then Holy Spirit is speaking out of both sides of His mouth which is deceptive and duplicitous — not characteristics of God. Satan is the deceiver. Therefore, if someone ever has an idea to do something contrary to Scripture, you can be sure it is not the Holy Spirit talking, even if it feels right at the time!
However, there are things about life which Scripture does not explicitly address.
In these areas, I think we should seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance and follow Romans 14, which says, in essence, that some people have weaker consciences and no one should force their convictions on others nor let their freedoms cause others to stumble.
Romans 14 is not talking about issues explicitly explained in Scripture, nor does it give credence for any man to wallow in His weakness.
Take alcohol for instance. Scripture explains drunkenness is sin; drinking alcohol, however, is not. Some Christians feel the liberty to drink, while others do not. Neither one should tell the other what to do nor should the one who drinks tempt the other to defile his conscience by drinking, or worse, by getting drunk.
Because each believer or community has different backgrounds, present circumstances, and future callings, each must personally lean on the Spirit for guidance regarding such issues (which includes receiving much counsel from wise people!). This will result in differing beliefs about those things not explicitly commanded in Scripture. That’s okay.
We must not look down on people who interpret and apply Scripture differently than we do. We must strive to be at peace with all men. This means we must learn how to love and get along with people we disagree with — which is really hard.
The Holy Spirit has already made clear, through Scripture, what is across the board for all believers. Another part of His role is to help us see and correctly interpret such broader issues. Since the Holy Spirit lives in every believer, community is important for proper interpretation.
3. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment
Holy Spirit also convicts (or convinces) the world of sin. Once we repent of our sin, He begins to convince us of our righteousness in Christ. Once we understand our identity as righteous children of God, He convinces us to carry out justice on the kingdom of Darkness because “the ruler of this world is [already] judged” (Jn. 16:11; for more on this, see Chapter 10 of Jonathan Welton’s book, Eyes of Honor).
4. Holy Spirit leads us into all truth
Some people think when Jesus said the Helper would “guide you into all truth,” He was speaking of how Holy Spirit would inspire the New Testament writers. Although very true, this is not entirely what Jesus was talking about. He spoke this in John 16 as part of a much longer discourse to His disciples. The whole passage is to all the disciples and by extension, the church universally.
It would be inconsistent to pick out a few verses or passages and say, “This applies to the whole church, but that doesn’t.” Furthermore, it would be presumptuous to assume such a role. We must suppose, then, Jesus meant the Holy Spirit would guide all Christians into all truth both through Scripture and personal revelations.
5. The Holy Spirit gives revelations
I think the word “revelation” scares some people because of its quacky connotations. The dictionary definition of “revelation” is simply “the act of revealing or disclosing.” In a theological sense, it means “a manifestation of divine will or truth” (The American Heritage College Dictionary).
Although my oldest brother goes by the name Marcel, his full name is actually Ernest Marcel. I have just given you a revelation; you have just received one.
When I wake up in the morning and God reminds me that He is good, I could tell my sisters “I have had a revelation! God is good!” But since this type of language sounds pseudo-spiritual and trite, it is much more pleasant and practical to simply say “I know in my heart that God is good.” Nevertheless, this is still a revelation from God.
Think about the time when you were praying and reading your Bible and all-of-a-sudden you were convicted about the deep-settled pride in your heart? How would you describe such an experience? “God revealed my pride”? Exactly! He gave you a revelation!
Let’s take it deeper. We know Holy Spirit is God and as God, He knows everything about everybody.
One day you wake up with Pete on your mind. So you pray for Pete. Maybe you wake up with Pete on your mind and an unsettled feeling. So you pray for Pete and maybe give him a call to see how he’s doing. One night you wake up in a cold sweat thinking about Pete. This is the Holy Spirit speaking to your spirit. Pray for Pete!
I know of guys who, having struggled through pornography themselves, have sat down beside other guys and had a sense the friend next to them also struggles with pornography. “Hey man, I know what’s going on. Let’s talk.” Is usually what they say next. I have friends who have come to victory because of such attentive boldness by other men.
Perhaps one day I am walking down the street and I hear an inner voice or a feeling say “I want to heal that man,” or “I want that lady to know I love her as a daughter. Please tell her for Me.” How do we respond? Are we even listening? If we are not listening, then we must start. We must learn which thoughts are God’s and which are not. If we are not responding, then we are disobeying. Either we obey or ignore and disobey. Do we really want to ignore and disobey God?
People who object to the idea that the Holy Spirit continues to reveal things and give gifts, often quote 1 Corinthians 13 which says “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away” (13:9-10). Essentially, they say listening to the inner voice of the Spirt and His gifts were imperfect, but the Scriptures are now completed and perfect, so we no longer need to try to understand the Spirit or receive His gifts. Hurrah!
This objection always surprises me because 1 Corinthians 13 is clearly talking about the eternal value of love, whereas knowledge, tongues, and prophesies will eventually end because they will not be needed. In no way is Paul referring to the Spirit or the Scriptures. (Interestingly, those who use this verse to say the gifts of tongues and prophesy have ceased, usually continue exercising and emphasizing the gift of knowledge.)
Another objection often comes from the last chapter of Revelation, where John essentially curses anyone who adds to or takes away from the Revelation. But that’s just it! He is talking specifically about the book of Revelation. It was centuries until John’s revelation (guided by Holy Spirit, I’m sure) was made the last book of the Bible.
Again, let me make clear: I am not suggesting the Holy Spirit will ever again add to the Bible. He most definitely will not contradict Himself by contradicting the Bible because the Bible was His idea. Since He is God, He has no mistakes to correct. I am saying that there is no Scriptural support to suggest revelations and spiritual gifts have ceased. In fact, the very opposite is overwhelmingly supported in the New Testament.
I think discussions of the Holy Spirit scare or unsettle many Christians. I understand this because I have seen Him — at least His name — exceptionally abused, even by Christians. It would be easier to simply belittle the Holy Spirit and ignore Him.
But to live in fear is to submit to satan. Again and again throughout Scripture God says, “Do not fear!” Furthermore, Paul says the Spirit we have inside us is not one of fear, but of power, love, and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7) and we should not quench or despise what He, the Holy Spirit, says (1 Thess. 5:19-20). You may have many objections about my conclusions regarding Holy Spirit, but, for Christians, fear cannot be one of them.
If anything is demonic, fear is. To make decisions out of fear or base convictions out of self-preservation is to give your future into satan’s hands. Is this really what you want, or are you ready to step out and fully trust God, the whole Trinity?
Let me know, along with your other thoughts or questions, in the comments below.
If you are interested in reading more about the Holy Spirit, check out these resources below:
In the last chapter (Ch. 14) of The Reason for God, Tim Keller gives one of the most beautiful and awesome descriptions of God I have ever read or heard. It’s hard to describe, so just go read it for yourself.
Another great resource that I came across while revising this article is a piece called “The Place of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity” by John Piper on the Desiring God website. It’s short and free, but deep.
I recommend reading either “Holy Fire” or “40 Days with the Holy Spirit” both by R.T. Kendall. I have not read either books entirely, but I trust Kendall’s respect for Scripture and passion for God. I do appreciate the passages I have read.
Kendall talks about a “divorce” of Scripture from the Spirit that has happened within the Western church. This has created two groups, one focusing entirely on Scripture but belittling the Spirit and the other focusing on the Spirit but belittling Scripture. He stresses the importance of remarrying the Scripture to the Holy Spirit, as it were.
Okay, first of all, this was awesome. I have never really thought of the Holy Spirit this way before. Thank you for this! Now, excuse me while I ponder this whole post in my head… 🙂
P.S. The verses were great!
(I’m glad to see these awesome idea kick off!) I’m going to do my best to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Everything you said about Him (It?) (Which one?) seems sound to me, so I’m looking forward to what others will add in this discussion. Thank you for putting so much work into this, I can tell you really thought it through and worked hard!
Him! =) The Holy Spirit is most often described as a person…so He’s a He. =)
Thanks! I guess I got confused because He’s pictured as a dove so I always think of a dove, which is “It.” XD
Oh gosh where do I start…ehh I don’t have time nvm. Y’all have fun discussing this!
Josh, if you find the time, I’d be happy to hear your opinion. If you don’t want to get into a long dispute with a bunch of people, you can PM me over on Revive.
Thanks….it’s mainly that I’m a cessationist. (not secessionist dumb spellcheck XD) =P
Ok, gotcha! Wait, you’re a secessionist? Like, you want to separate from the union? You rebel!
Ha, ha, I used to live there. I know what you’re talking about! Confederate flags everywhere!
Oh, wait! I have a question we can both agree on the answer to! How would you answer someone who says that believing in a God in Three Persons is believing in multiple Gods? There’s a word…poly…polytheistic! Yeah, that’s it! How would you answer someone who says that believing in a God in Three Persons is believing in polytheism?
Hmm, I’m going to steal Dr. James White’s terminology. God is one God, diverse in His unity. Three natures acting in perfect harmony and agreement under submission to the Father.
As long as they recognize the authority of Scripture, your question turns into simply a trinitarian vs unitarian/molanistic debate. If you’re interested in more info, there’s an excellent debate on YouTube between Dr. James White and Dr. Michael Brown vs Dr. Anthony Buzzard and somebody else on the subject. It’s about three hours, but it’s got an enormous amount of great information!
Yeesh, good question! If I got asked this on the spot I would not have have an answer!
Good question, Josh!
@Taylor B. gave a good answer to this question, also the article by John Piper, which I mentioned at the end of this piece, explains this pretty well, too.
But in reality, it seems like a distracting question for someone to ask you.
What difference, to someone who doesn’t believe, does it make whether Yahweh is three Gods or three persons who make up one God?
The question is: “Is the God of the Bible, actually God. Is He real and supreme? Is He the creator. Is the Bible His word? Was Jesus divine?” I don’t think you should tangle too much with someone over whether or not the Trinity is polytheism, seems like an unnecessary argument. If God is God and the Bible His word then we can accept by faith that three persons are bound together by love to make one Entity. (Exploring the idea and trying to figure it out, but at the end of the day, accepting it as true.)
Does that make sense?
Yes, good point! Thanks! =)
This was helpful – I just thought of another Q. Could someone be a true believer and not believe in the trinity? To be saved you have to realize you have broken God’s law (sinned) and are in need of forgiveness of sins, and believe that Jesus is (the Son of) God who has paid your debt and is the only one who can save you. I’ve only heard of people being “Christians” and not believing in the trinity, so I don’t know anything about their view on that. Any insight?
I don’t have a very good answer, but I’ll give it a shot (nothing to lose, right?). Well, I would share the verses that Christopher used in this article (Deut. 6:4; Jn. 10:30, 17:21; Colossians 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5), which shows that they are one. Remember the egg analogy from your pipsqueak days? I think it’s really good. An egg (more clearly a boiled one) has “3 parts” that are distinctly different, but are all equally part of the egg. Together, these 3 individual parts make up the one egg.
On a side note, I did not see there was a reply to this Q before commenting…I’m going to read it now. 🙂
Also, Christopher, I really like how you can click on the scripture references in this article and they pop up for you! Especially nice when you reference many scriptures.
Thanks! yeah, the only problem is, you have to be really careful with analogies…like the three-leaf clover one can actually be considered heresy. 😁 But thanks, that was good! =)
Yes, absolutely true. Good reminder – I just really like them because my Sunday school teacher often comes up with really cheesy yet helpful ones all the time for the super hard stuff we always discuss. I’ve never heard of the three-leaf clover analogy….explain? 🙂
It’s the one St. Patrick supposedly used to illustrate the trinity…each leaf represented one of the three “parts” of God. =0
I feel like many new believers forget about the trinity, but instead focus on Christ, as a savior in friend, which is certainly good, however, the Holy Spirit is equally important. It is what fills us and convicts us. I am really glad that you have recognized, and want others to recognize this Christopher!
“In Malaysia: Pray for a court hearing on May 14th to determine whether non-Muslims can practice as Sharia lawyers. Their presence is crucial to help MBBs [Muslim-born-believers] legalize their conversion. Without the papers, their new belief is considered illegal, and in some states, apostasy is punishable by death. Their children too will suffer the consequences of being automatically branded Muslims. Please pray for a favourable outcome, especially since a Christian Sharia lawyer is waiting for her license to represent new believers.”
For daily prayer requests for the persecuted church, print off the monthly prayer calendar at https://www.opendoors.org/
I’ll pray @Joyful joyful:disqus!! And could y’all pray for my friend, her grandfather is not doing very well..
Thanks for putting this out here!
Thanks for letting us know of this need! I will be praying for Malaysia!
Hey, I’ll be praying! Also, though, you (and @skymac11:disqus) should check out Revive. It’s a website @programguy:disqus started where we can share prayer requests/etc. If you want to check it out here’s the URL… http://www.revivingtheredeemed.org =)
Thanks Josh, getting ready to sign up 🙂
Thanks for mentioning this! I think awareness is essential for so many issues like this, but we don’t get awareness if no one spreads it.
I’ve always struggled with this: How do you know when God is speaking or it’s just you wishing God was speaking?
Well…I have an answer…but you’ll totally disagree with me so I’m not going to post it. =P
Hey just answer! I’d like to know your opinion
…I don’t even know how to respond to that =P. I guess just give your opinion. If I don’t agree, I don’t agree. Answers in any form are good =)
Ok! @disqus_ZVcjO0n21N:disqus @lainirussell:disqus I believe that with the completion of scripture, God stopped speaking to us in ways other than the Bible…that would clear up your question but it’s probably not the answer you’re looking for. XD
P.S. I don’t have time for a big debate on this today, though. =P
Hey Josh! I appreciate that you are trying to avoid a debate. But why does it have to be a debate? Why not just a conversation? I think the way we choose to describe these exchanges contributes to how they turn out. And it seems that it should be possible for two people who love and respect each other to talk about something they disagree about without it turning into a debate.
P.S. I realize that debates aren’t all bad. I competed in debate in high school! But in this case it seems “discussion” or “conversation” would be more appropriate. Just my thoughts! =)
Hey! Honestly, I’m totally fine with either a debate or a conversation, it’s just that I’m supposed to limit the time I spend on here. I do want to discuss this with Christopher further, but I’ll try to keep it to that….a discussion. =)
Ok, thx :).
I can be confused with what God wants even while reading the Bible though. Just that method isn’t full proof. I have a talent for confusing myself =P
Wait, what do you mean? I’m getting confused, too! XD
When you need to make a decision between two good things, you pray and go to the Bible for answers. At first it seems like you should do one thing but you read another verse and it seems like you should do another. That’s one problem i have.
Another is I trying to decide whether to help lead FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) at my school. I will be a fresh-man next year so I don’t have a lot of experience and I don’t know if anyone would listen to me. I’m afraid that I’d turn this opportunity into something that would make me look good. I’m afraid it would make me prideful. I shouldn’t be serving if I don’t have the right focus. But I have a passion for helping people grow in their relationship with Christ and helping them become better followers, not just fans. This is what i want to do with my life, help young people grow in their walk with Christ (and God and the Holy Spirit). I’m also good at breaking down and explaining scripture.
Hey Mary! Thanks for sharing!
From my perspective, I don’t think you should be afraid to pursue the opportunities God is laying before you. In my opinion, understanding your weaknesses and the temptation to steal all the glory QUALIFIES you to lead!
The scariest leaders are the ones who think they are completely qualified to lead–who think they’ve arrived and have all the right motives and all the right perspectives and knowledge and talents.
Don’t worry about whether people will listen to you…press into God, admit your weakness, admit the wrong motives you sense within yourself, and ask God to change and use you! And remember, just because people don’t listen to you doesn’t mean you are not being used by God (read the OT prophets!).
(But watch out! God will probably take you seriously! ;-))
See the opportunities God has laid out before you, try to discern where God is leading, and just pick one. God will lead you as you move and pursue good works.
God called David a man after His own heart and called him to be king, even though God knew all the ways David would fail as king. It wasn’t because David was perfect that he was “after God’s own heart” but because he was surrendered, honest, and humble before God.
Does that make sense?
Yeah, thanks =)
So Josh, what are your objections? I didn’t write this article because I thought everyone believed as I do. I know there are a lot of cessationist out there and I addressed some of the common objections in the article.
So my question is…
Having read the article…why are you still a cecessionist? What didn’t convince you? What objections do you still have? Why do you still have them? What did I miss?
Three things can happen:
1. You will convince me or others to your belief.
2. I will persuade you toward my belief.
3. Or we can walk away agreeing to disagree.
Hey! I’ve actually been researching this, because we tried to have a friendly debate on this on Revive (it hasn’t really worked out, mainly because the other team was super busy).
Well, I have six big reasons why I’m still a cessationist. They’re pretty long, but if you’d like me to post them I will! I’d love to discuss this further!
Oh, let me tag a couple of the people who were on my team… @brooklynmm:disqus, @Cecesweetie:disqus…I guess the rest don’t have Disqus accounts.
Hey, I’m going to go ahead and post them but I won’t be on much until later….here they are!
1. Purpose of Miracles
There were three main clusters when miracles occurred:
a. Moses and Joshua
b. Elijah and Elisha
c. Jesus and the Apostles
There were large periods of time when God didn’t work through humans. So why did God work through humans when he did?Exodus 4:1-5 esp v. 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.”To authenticate that God’s messengers are from God. Also see Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 1 Kings 18: 36-38, John 5:36, 10:37-38, 6:14, 7:31, Acts 2:22, 14:3, Hebrews 2:2-4. These miracles were used to authenticate God’s word. Since God’s word is completed, we no longer need these miracles.
2. Sufficiency of Scripture
Scripture is not lacking, and does not need supplementing since it is finished: see 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:19-21
3. Temporary Nature of the Apostles
Like I mentioned earlier, apostleship is a spiritual gift: Ephesians 4:11, 1 Corinthians 12:12, Acts 1: 20-21, 2 Corinthians 12:12.
But check out Revelation 21:14: “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Whoa!!! That means there were ONLY 12 apostles. Therefore, apostleship as a gift has ceased, and there is no straightforward statement in scripture that says that it has.
4. The Temporary Nature of the prophets
From Ephesians 2: 19-21 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”You start building the foundation, but you’re not constantly building the foundation, are you? You move on and build the rest of the structure.
5. Nature of Modern “Miracles”
One Charismatic leader recognizes that 80% of modern “prophecy” is wrong, and most of the other 20% was misinterpreted. Literally, flipping a coin would be better!A side note: Acts 4:16 says that miracles were undeniable; you didn’t need “faith.” When someone claims that someone has “healed” him, it’s much different than New Testament miracles. Also, if the gift of healing still exists, why isn’t there someone with the gift of healing outside of every hospital?
6. Evidence from Church history
Y’all, I saved this as my last point for a reason. Pay special attention to this one. =)
After 1 Corinthians, Paul didn’t mention gifts in any of his epistles. In fact, Hebrews 2: 2-4 speaks of gifts in the past tense.
In 1 Timothy 5: 23, Paul says: “(No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)”
Guys, really think about this.
Why couldn’t Timothy be healed somehow?
Where is the admonition for Timothy to have more faith?
Why doesn’t it say this: “Timothy, I hear your stomach has not been feeling well, and that you have frequent ailments. You must have more faith, and Jesus will heal you!”
Does no one in his church have the gift of healing? I wonder why Paul didn’t write “Timothy, I hear your stomach has not been feeling well, and that you have frequent ailments. However, I have heard of someone with the gift of healing in your area! His name is Shemaiah and he lives in Ephesus. Go speak with him and he will surely heal you!”
Paul was the guy who gave his handkerchiefs to the sick and they were healed! Why doesn’t this verse say “I am enclosing my handkerchief so that you may be healed of your frequent ailments.” ??
Also 2 Timothy 4:20 says “I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus.” Why didn’t Paul heal him?
These points clearly show that these gifts have ceased. =)
On your first point:
About the whole (and I quote) “there were large periods of time when God didn’t work through humans” thing, that’s not necessarily true. In fact, there is a roughly 400 year time period in between the Old and New testaments that is entirely unrecorded, and besides that, many things must have happened in the past that are unrecorded. My evidence for this statement comes from John 21: “If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Think about all the hundreds of things that happen without being recorded in the Bible. God has worked in ways that we don’t even know of! How cool is that, right? 🙂
On your sixth point:
Sometimes God uses pain (and illness) to bring in great things. For example, I was crushed when I didn’t make the basketball team two years in a row. Understand that the basketball team in my town in THE thing – instant circle of popular friends, team trips to games/tournaments, get-togethers, etc. I was devastated – but God used that disappointing opportunity to lead me to joining track. Track led to some great friendships and ministering opportunities for me. I think that God has a reason for everything, even illness. A lady at my church had cancer and ended up converting her doctor to Christianity because of how positively she took the illness. God uses stuff, you know?
Sorry I’m not commenting on the rest of your article but I don’t have all day to comment :D. I really hope this persuades to at least think about God speaking to us! Let me know what you think.
God speaking today is separate from cessationism vs. continuationism…but here’s my big objection with God speaking to us in our heads or whatever…there’s 2 options….
1. Whatever “He says” will just say/repeat/etc what Scripture says, in which case it’s redundant and useless.
2. Whatever “He says” will contradict/add to the Scriptures, in which case it’s WORSE than redundant and useless hahaha. =P
That and the fact that there’s no definitive Scriptural evidence that God still speaks to us today… *them’s fightin’ words* XD
Oh, on what you said: During the 400 years between the Old and New Testament, there was a “famine” of God’s word. Somewhere (I couldn’t find it) it says that people will pant wanting to hear God’s word, but that He will be silent. So for (at least lol) those 400 years God didn’t speak to people at all. =)
Of course God can use illnesses, etc. But that’s beside the point. There’s not a single example in the New Testament of someone who was turned away from being healed, from “lack of faith” or “because the sickness will be used by God” or anything.
Soooooo we’re back to where we started. =P Any further thoughts?
I was just thinking about this today as I was reading! Corinthians, in chapter 13 verse 8 it says, “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” So from what that verse says, in my opinion, at least the gift of prophecy and tounges has passed away. Later on in the chapter, it talks about the old things being done away (I’m paraphrasing obviously). And I’ll probably post this for everyone in the debate discussion later, but since it pertains to the conversation here I figured I’d add my opinion 🙂
Yeah, I got your PM! Hey, what would you say about knowledge passing away? =) (cessationist to secessionist) 😉
Well knowledge can be very broad, but the way I interpret that verse is, Knowledge as we know it will vanish away. So knowledge as we know it today will seem silly in comparison to the knowledge we will possess
I encourage you guys to rea Daniel 10-12!! It talks about the end times and the anti-Christ! (We’ve been studying this is church)
First of all, thanks for writing these down Josh! Please know that I do not consider this a competition at all! As far as I’m concerned, we’re on the same team (referring to one of your previous comments =)).
Also, you should know that I do not come from a “charismatic background,” actually quite the opposite; yet, we still believed that the spirit works in modern times and even gives gifts. Nevertheless, I do know that not all charismatics are the same: there are some really quacky people out there; there are some who are just in it for the money; but there really are some very genuine, down-to-earth, God-fearing, God-loving, Bible-honoring “charismatics” or non-cessationists.
Okay, on with the discussion:
One of the first thoughts I had was that many of the Scriptures you cite refer to following prophets who lead you away from God or His word. I agree! Those are false prophets!
But we’re talking about the Spirit of GOD, here, the Spirit from Christ: He leads TOWARDS Christ, TOWARDS the Father, and TOWARDS His word (I think I made this clear in my article).
Okay, besides that: where did you learn that the appearance of miracles can be split up into three time periods? To my knowledge, Scripture makes no such division? Did someone merely observe that and determined it sufficient evidence that miracles never happened in-between? That is assuming a lot, in my opinion.
Not only does Scripture NOT make such a distinction between time periods, but the writer of Hebrews (11:32-38) says that miracles and great works of God happened throughout the lives of many different people (time periods)—not just Moses/Joshua and Elijah/Elisha.
I agree that Scripture is sufficient to reveal Jesus Christ, and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correcting, and for instruction in righteousness. That doesn’t mean the Bible will tell me whether I should be a doctor or a lawyer; whether I should be a missionary to Los Angeles or China; or whether I should marry Sue or Lucy. If all I have to guide is Scripture, then how in the WORLD am I going to figure this out? I’m going to have to spend 24 hours a day in scripture just to find out who I should marry or what job I should pursue!
But Scripture IS SUFFICIENT because it tells me that if I trust in God and acknowledge Him in all my ways, he will direct my paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). Scripture also promises the Holy Spirit will guide me (John 14-16). Whew, it’s not completely dependent on me finding, disagreeing and decoding scripture in order to determine who I should marry!
Scripture is sufficient, I agree! But how do we understand Scripture? According our own wisdom and discernment? I hope not! Isn’t that a little arrogant? As you peruse Scripture to find what God wants you to do, is it just your own thoughts directing you? Or is it the Holy Spirit directing you.
“Oh, check out Proverbs such-and-such (or Galatians or whatever).”
Don’t we need God—the Holy Spirit—to guide us even in reading, studying, and understanding scripture?
Yes, even in our searching of Scripture to know God’s will, we need the Holy Spirit to speak! Otherwise, we are completely lost and totally dependent on our own wisdom and interpretations!
Regarding apostles and prophets:
I don’t think you can determine, from the scriptures you cited, that these gifts have ceased. That is completely an *assumption* you made according to *your* *observation* (or your teacher’s or pastor’s or whoever’s).
Concerning recent miracles:
Will you deny the miracles I and countless others have observed in modern times?
I have seen many things in my life-time—many types of miracles—but I can definitely give you the phone #s for three people who have been healed of three different illnesses. The first guy was healed (over a year ago) of celiac (glucose intolerance) which he had for about TEN YEARS. He can produce medical evidence for this. This was after a combination of inner-spiritual healing (confession/repentance) and prayer by a group of us. That night he was eating glucose saturated food like the rest of us. He’s been fine ever since.
I can refer you to a dear friend of mine who was healed from Lyme’s disease. Again, he can produce medical records.
I can refer you to another friend who, for the past five years, has experienced random headaches/migraine nearly 4-5 times a week, including one 24/7 for 2 months. This past February, we started praying for her again. She hasn’t had such an episode for months!
But I could also refer you to my sister who developed a benign tumor when she was 11. We prayed for her healing, and you know what? She wasn’t—not completely. Doctors were able to reduce the size (which is a miracle of itself) but she still has the tumor.
Whether or not God decides to heal is HIS decision, not ours. But just like parents like to hear the children’s desires, I believe God is pleased when we ask for healing, or wisdom, or strength, or whatever. I think He loves it when we come to Him for help. What is wrong is when we start demanding things from Him. What He desires, I believe, is a heart surrendered but trusting and dependent.
“Father, I would love if *FILL IN THE BLANK.* But your will be done, not mine.”
I believe Jesus longs to heal us, not simply of our spiritual infirmities—though that is his primary concern—but also of our physical infirmities. He may not always do it, but I believe that is His heart.
Regarding church history:
Again, you are making a lot of assumptions based off of mere observation, not explicit scripture. To me, it seems like you are making your theology shape scripture, rather than letting scripture shape your theology.
Paul may have not talked about healing again, but James did. James 5:13-18:
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”
Furthermore, it wasn’t to prove the authenticity of God’s word that James was telling his readers to pray for healing. It was just because there were sick people in their midst. “If there are sick among you [do this].”
Regarding Paul’s letters to Timothy:
Paul mentions prophesy spoken over Timothy at least twice in the first book. The one time, Paul told him not to “neglect the gift you have, which was given by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you” (1 Timothy 4:14). So apparently prophecy was alive and well even during Timothy’s day.
Also, Paul mentions at the beginning of chapter 4 that “the Spirit expressly says…” Present tense: the Spirit is saying… So it appears your observation is wrong. Not?
Essentially, your entire argument is based on:
1. The assumption that you can split miracles into three time periods. Assuming that all miracles were recorded. This is never mentioned in Scripture, merely observed by humans—but not accurately, as Hebrews 11 indicates. All I need to see is one miracle, and that whole assumption falls apart.
2. The assumption that Revelation 21:14 and Ephesians 2:19-21 mean that the offices of Apostles and Prophets have ceased, even though neither passages refer to any such cessation. They only reveal facts, from which you observed something (which the passages weren’t even addressing) and drew a conclusion.
3. The assumption that all people who believe in healing believe it works every time. I know that’s not how I believe it works. It’s not magic; the Holy Spirit isn’t a genie: He’s God.
4. The assumption that because Paul never addressed gifts after his letters to the Corinthians we must conclude they ceased. That is completely an assumption based on an observation, which I have noted above, is not even accurate.
The Holy Spirit isn’t a puppet we can pull out or throw away whenever we want. He is GOD and He is an individual. He will heal and use people to heal others according to His will and in His timing. I believe we can ask God to heal, but ultimately it is up to Him. Sometimes, apparently, it brings Him more glory for people to endure suffering and sickness than their healing would. Other times, it’s the other way around.
And I have seen this. I have seen miracles Josh. Not fluffy, self-focused, deceptive miracles—real, God-glorifying miracles! Real healings! Real answers to prayer!
Also, by making the Bible replace the Spirit, you are replacing God, a person, with an object. This doesn’t even make sense, does it? Does it make sense that God would cease connection and relationship with you and tell you to instead “just go read about me”?
Don’t get wrong: I believe the Bible is a primary way through which God speaks…but it is still GOD, the HOLY SPIRIT speaking, not the book. Honestly, I believe, if the book doesn’t lead us to Jesus (if we’re not listening to the Spirit), then it’s worthless. Sure, we may make wiser choices, even live healthier and more fulfilling lives—but if reading and studying my Bible doesn’t lead me to a living, true, deep connection with Jesus, then it’s worthless.
I think you would agree: Jesus, God, should be our focus, not the Bible, not miracles, or knowledge, but Jesus, our precious Lord, who leads us to the Father, who surrounds with our love, and who sends us *His Spirit.*
Why would we want any less of the Spirit? Why would we not want him to speak? Why would we not want him to heal? Why would Jesus want any less connection with us? Eternal life is all about KNOWING GOD. Eternal life is relationship with God (John 17:3).
The Pharisees searched the Scriptures for eternal life, but they completely missed it because they missed Jesus.
“And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, [Why? Because] you do not believe the one whom he has sent [Jesus]. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, *yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.*”
Eternal life comes not from Scripture, but from knowing Jesus.
The way to Jesus is revealed in Scripture but it is the Spirit who enlightens our hearts. That “Aha!” moment we have when reading scripture, especially when we understand salvation for the first time, comes from the Holy Spirit.
I believe you and I are on that journey, Josh. Even though we disagree about how the Spirit works today, I sense that you really love God and are passionate about knowing Him! Keep that passion! Keep pursuing Jesus! Keep digging into His word. And you will journey well! =)
Oh, and btw. You made a good point when you talked about having people with the gift of healing at every hospital…I think they’re called doctors. 😉
Wow, man! You wrote like, a treatise! XD Hey, I won’t have time to get back to you today, but I’ll do my best to soon! =)
Yeah, I know, I’m sorry. I didn’t know how to effectively condense it.
Ok, so here’s what I wrote! Please don’t take anything the wrong way, we are still brothers in Christ (and I tend to be kind of blunt when I’m discussing stuff like this haha)
Stuff in “quotation marks” is what you said…everything else is my response.
“Also, you should know that I do not come from a “charismatic background,”actually quite the opposite; yet, we still believed that the spirit works in modern times and even gives gifts. Nevertheless, I do know that not all charismatics are the same: there are some really quacky
people out there; there are some who are just in it for the money; but there really are some very genuine, down-to-earth, God-fearing, God-loving, Bible-honoring “charismatics” or non-cessationists.”
Haha, that’s interesting because my family came from a Pentecostal church. =P Yup! There are “good and bad” people on both sides!
“One of the first thoughts I had was that many of the Scriptures you cite refer to following prophets who lead you away from God or His word. I agree! Those are false prophets!
But we’re talking about the Spirit of GOD, here, the Spirit from Christ: He leads TOWARDS Christ, TOWARDS the Father, and TOWARDS His word (I think Imade this clear in my article).”
Okay, besides that: where did you learn that the appearance of miracles can be split up into three time periods? To my knowledge, Scripture makes no such division? Did someone merely observe that and determined it
sufficient evidence that miracles never happened in-between? That is assuming a lot, in my opinion.
Not only does Scripture NOT make such a distinction between time periods, but the writer of Hebrews (11:32-38) says that miracles and great works of God happened throughout the lives of many different people (time
periods)—not just Moses/Joshua and Elijah/Elisha.”
My original wording was “three main clusters” and “There were large periods of time when God didn’t work through humans.” God can still do miracles whenever He wants, he only worked through humans (such as Moses parting the red sea) during certain time periods. Also, you said later down that it would only take one miracle worked through a human to debunk this idea. If you can find one in the Scripture, I’d be happy to change this part of my belief. =)
“I agree that Scripture is sufficient to reveal Jesus Christ, and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correcting, and for instruction in righteousness. That doesn’t mean the Bible will tell me whether I should be a doctor or a lawyer; whether I should be a missionary to Los Angeles or China; or whether I should marry Sue or Lucy. If all I have to guide is Scripture, then how in the WORLD am I going to figure this out? I’m going to have to spend 24 hours a day in scripture just to find out who I should marry or what job I should pursue!”
I highly recommend the book “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung – @BrettHarris:disqus’s brother Josh wrote the pre-opening thingy for it.
“But Scripture IS SUFFICIENT because it tells me that if I trust in God and acknowledge Him in all my ways, he will direct my paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). Scripture also promises the Holy Spirit will guide me (John 14-16). Whew, it’s not completely dependent on me finding, disagreeing and
decoding scripture in order to determine who I should marry!
Scripture is sufficient, I agree! But how do we understand Scripture? According our own wisdom and discernment? I hope not! Isn’t that a little arrogant? As you peruse Scripture to find what God wants you to do, is it just your own thoughts directing you? Or is it the Holy Spirit directing you.”
I have no problem with the Holy Spirit directing us…however that is separate from Him “whispering in our head” or whatever.
“Oh, check out Proverbs such-and-such (or Galatians or whatever).” Don’t we need God—the Holy Spirit—to guide us even in reading, studying, and understanding scripture?”
“Yes, even in our searching of Scripture to know God’s will, we need the Holy Spirit to speak! Otherwise, we are completely lost and totally dependent on our own wisdom and interpretations!”
Like I said, there’s a distinction between Him helping us understand the Bible (I believe in that of course) and Him speaking in our heads.
Regarding apostles and prophets:
“I don’t think you can determine, from the scriptures you cited, that these gifts have ceased. That is completely an *assumption* you made according to *your* *observation* (or your teacher’s or pastor’s or whoever’s).”
No offense, but it’s extremely clear from scripture that these gifts have ceased and it really sounds like you just don’t have a good response…listen:
1. Apostleship is clearly defined as a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians)
2. There were only twelve apostles (Revelation)
3. All 12 of those apostles lived in the past and are dead now (fact), so there are no apostles today.
4. Therefore, apostleship as a spiritual gift has ceased.
I’m sorry, but it doesn’t get any clearer than that. =P
“Concerning recent miracles….
I believe Jesus longs to heal us, not simply of our spiritual infirmities—though that is his primary concern—but also of our physical infirmities. He may not always do it, but I believe that is His heart.”
So I’d like you to do one thing for me: name one person in Scripture who was turned away from being undeniably and completely healed for ANY reason whatsoever. You know what? There aren’t any examples. It just doesn’t happen like it did in the NT today.
And I am totally fine with God healing people – He just doesn’t do it through humans (not like a doctor, of course that happens =P but like Joe touching Bob and Bob was instantly healed, which is what happened in Scripture).
“Regarding church history:
Again, you are making a lot of assumptions based off of mere observation, not explicit scripture. To me, it seems like you are making your theology shape scripture, rather than letting scripture shape your theology.
Paul may have not
talked about healing again, but James did. James 5:13-18…
Furthermore, it wasn’t to prove the authenticity of God’s word that James was telling his readers to pray for healing. It was just because there were sick people in their midst. “If there are sick among you [do this].”
I’d say that healing still existed at the time when James wrote his letter, but ceased shortly thereafter…so this is no problem for my viewpoint. =)
I don’t have time to rebut everything else that you said – I hope this gives you some food for thought! You’ve certainly made me think, but I’m going to have to call it quits, ’cause I don’t have any more time to discuss
One last thing: the stuff you wrote about the Bible in the last couple paragraphs was really startling to me…it really shows me that there’s a slippery slope of compromise you can fall down…. *not saying you have just saying, this is not aimed at you or anybody*
1.You first start out thinking that you can hear from God in more ways than the scripture
2.Then you start to believe that scripture isn’t sufficient for everything in your life
3. Then you start to doubt things in the scripture, such as literal days of creation
4. Then you start “filling in the blanks” in scripture, like oh there’s a bazillion years here in between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2
5. Then you start doubting other parts of scripture
6. At that point, it just keeps going downhill.
Gotta go…get what I’m saying?
Thanks for discussing it, Josh!
And of course, Celiac is gluten intolerance, not glucose. lol =D
I love your reasons! That’s exactly what I heard in a very convincing sermon by John MacArthur Jr. I’m not sure which one it is, but he has lots: http://www.gty.org/resources/search/tongues?path=-1
Another thing I’d like to add is that I once heard a pastor say, “Just give prophecy a go and you’ll eventually get it right with practice.” Personally, if someone gets their prophecy wrong, I’d call that “False Prophesy.”
John MacArthur is great! And yeah, you’re totally right on the prophecy part! The qualification for a prophet in the Old Testament was 100% accuracy! Anything other than that and they weren’t from God. Modern-day “prophecy” is anywhere NEAR 100% like it’s supposed to be…you’ll NEVER see that nowadays. *elbowing all continuationists* 😉
Hey Christopher. I actually had a question for you (because, you know, you wrote the article and all). How DO we tell when God is talking to us? I believe with certainty that He does, but I’ve been wondering a bit how. I’ve felt Him telling me to do stuff before, but I want to know what he wants me to do right now. I’m kind of in a waiting time of life, a period of time spent waiting for God to call me to something. How do I know what His plan is for me right now?
What I do when I am wondering this is to just ask myself the question, “Does this agree with what the Bible says or does it contradict?” God is the same yesterday, today and forever. If it is more of a question of opinion or an action to take or not to; then I just pray, “Lord, if you don’t want me to do this, make it so clear that I can’t miss it,” and then I go for it! If he doesn’t want me to do it, then he will close the door. Also, spend some time in prayer and ask people you trust their opinion as well. Hope this Helps!
I actually learned about this a few weeks ago when I went to a campus day at Word of Life. I shadowed a class called Pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit and I hope I didn’t spell this wrong!) and on that day, spiritual gifts was being taught. There’s a conversation down below discussing the controversial part of that lesson. Either way, I like these articles. They challenge me and make me think in the best way. Translation:Chris, you did a good job. Keep it up! 🙂
Awesome! Thanks! 🙂
I’m getting confused because of some of the comment; are you coming from a Continuationist perspective (I’m actually just learning all these words, lol)?
Ugh, I dislike labels, Emma. I have gotten around in my life-time, but I only recently realized that my beliefs are “continuationism.” I don’t even know what all that makes me, but apparently that’s what I am. =)
OK, I don’t even know what all it means but according to wikipedia (yes, I know how lame that sounds) I am too. I’ll comment more about it later.
Also, I can understand your feelings about labels. I think it would definitely be good for all of us to remember that, despite our many differences, we’re all followers of God that love Him 🙂 Because of that, we can be in unity and encourage each other. I will do my best to stay away from labels in the future.
I’m not offended if you use them. Sometimes it’s easier to communicate with labels. Nevertheless, I dislike them. =)
I agreed with almost everything in this article, except what you were saying about the spiritual gifts, I’m not saying Holy Spirit doesn’t convict and reveal truth, I just don’t believe the spiritual gifts still are in effect today. the verse you referenced in 1 Corinthians comes directly after this verse, “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tounges, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away.” It’s important to pay attention to context and I believe from the context of this chapter the verse you referenced isn’t even referring to the dispensation we are in right now. I did like how you used scripture to back up the other things you were talking about.
Thanks for your thoughts, Sydnie!
I think we are coming from several different theological perspectives.
I guess I still disagree with you! You can’t slice Scripture up like that. 1 Corinthians 13 is to the Corinthians but also to all believers, just as much as the rest of the book is! (I haven’t really studied the dispensations, so I don’t know exactly where I come out on that.)
This is 1 Corinthians 13 as I understand it:
Paul refers to love as “the more excellent way.” That still applies today. Paul is talking about LOVE, in this passage–not scripture. He’s saying that love is eternal, but knowledge, prophecy, and tongues will eventually cease IN ETERNITY. Read verses 8-13. “…when the perfect…face-to-face…I have been fully known.” He’s referring to eternity. Love is “the most excellent way” because he carries on into eternity. He’s saying that no matter what we do: speak in English, Spanish or a tongue of angels, give all we have to feed the poor, prophecy, have all knowledge, have all faith–but lack love for God and people, then we have nothing because ONLY LOVE HAS ETERNAL VALUE. So only those things done out of love–even studying the Bible–has value. That’s what I believe Paul is saying.
my pastor preached a series on this subject, I wasn’t saved at the time so I didn’t get as much out of it as I could, but he explains it much better than I ever could. Below is the link to his teaching on this subject. I plan on reviewing them as God has really been showing me this topic over and over again. My brother actually recorded those messages haha
But Sydnie, if “God has really been showing” you this topic, isn’t that the Holy Spirit speaking? Isn’t that a revelation (as I explained in the article)?
I never said he didn’t show me things, actually I think He does! I just don’t think the Holy Spirit gives gifts like, prophecy, tounges, and healing.
In Hebrews 13:8 it says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Doesn’t that mean that God still gives the gifts that he gave to the apostles back in the early church?
Well He is the same, but He would never contradict Himself when he said in 1Corinthians 13 “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tounges, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away.”
I think Christopher already explained that verse. It’s basically saying prophecies will eventually come to pass. Tounges won’t hold eternal value. Knowledge won’t help you in a lot of situations. But love never fails. I don’t think Paul was saying that those things would actually disappear from existence.
And don’t hear what I’m not saying! You can believe whatever you’d like. But I’ve seen miraculous healing happen firsthand. People DO speak in tongues. And words of knowledge/prophecy spoken at my church are legit, and it’s only through the power of God that those things are revealed. He’s definitely an awesome God, and the miracles he works through his followers today are worthy of being praised, not questioned!!!
Well if you have seen people speak in tongues, was there someone here to interpret what they were saying? Was the person speaking a woman? because if there is someone speaking in tongues there are several qualifications for when people speak in tounges. And with prophecy, unless the prophecy is 100% correct then in the Old Testament the prophet would be killed. I’m not saying that should happen today though.
*ding ding ding* nailed it! =P
Haha Josh, I just barely listened to my pastor’s message on this. I am not an expert. I do plan to listen to them again though haha! I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot actually it’s cool that there’s this article here, and the debate on Revive!
I personally don’t speak in tongues, and I actually find it a bit awkward at times when I’m around other people who do. But I believe God does speak to people through that. Speaking in tongues is something personal, something that isn’t meant for the whole church (unless there’s an interpretation). So if someone’s speaking in tongues and they’re doing it for show, not for God, I’m sorry to say that that’s their problem. They’ve got to get their hearts straight. However, a few of my friends do it and they are the most hardcore Christians I know. Don’t know if that helps, but there’s my personal experience.
Okay well according to the Bible women cannot speak in tongues. And men can’t speak in toungues unless there’s an interpreter, and there are some other stipulations too, I just can’t remember them off the top of my head
Oooooooooooo good one…
I need to find the scripture my pastor used to back that up though, otherwise I have no ground to stand on with that…..
Haha yeah. =P
Is that in the old testament or new? where is that verse found?
The verses my pastor gave to say that women could not speak in tounges were 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12. He did add to that, that he didn’t think that women shouldn’t speak to ask questions in the church, but that they shouldn’t teach or preach or speak in tongues.
Okay well according to the Bible, women can’t speak in church at all. And also according to the Bible, you should stone people who break the Sabbath. Are those things still used today? Or women being required to cover their heads? Remember, the Bible was written for people back then. Women were expected to be respectful and quiet, whereas today women are allowed to freely speak their minds and be individuals, instead of having to be under either a father or a husband their entire lives.
Okay that’s not in the new testament that you should stone people that break the sabbath, that’s when people were under the law. I don’t think women shouldn’t speak in church at all, and my pastor also added that when he preached his message on this. Most of the things you referred to are from when we were under the Law, but you and I both know that no one can live up to the standards the law gives. Your tone seems a bit vindictive, I’m trying not to sound like that but if I am let me know because as a Christians we’re supposed to speak the truth in love.
Sorry if my tone is offensive, I’ll try to cool off a bit. 😛 My point was, a lot of the rules in the Bible were for the people back then. Here’s my defense against the Bible evidence you gave-
The only place I could find anything about women not speaking in tongues was 1 Corinth. 14:34- Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. Obviously this does not apply anymore, so that gets rid of the “women can’t speak in tongues” thing.
And for what you said about there needing to be an interpretation, here is that entire passage. Please read all of it.
Good Order in Worship
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.
39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
To sum it all up, that passage it talking about prophesying or sharing words from God in church. It’s not saying that any time someone speaks in a tongue that they need to be interpreted, it’s saying that any time a tongue is shared with the congregation, there needs to be an interpretation so that the entire body may benefit from it. Does that make more sense?
That is one verse, but there’s also another verse that says, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” That’s 1 Timothy 2:11-12 So if tounges are used for the edifying of believers, then that’s teaching, therefore a woman cannot speak in tongues. But a few verses above the passage you referenced it says, “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.” (that’s 1 Corinthians 14:22) So, even if the gifts haven’t passed away they are not for the believers in churches but for a sign to those who do not believe. Jesus also says in John 20:29 that it is better to believe without seeing Him or signs. “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”
No offense, but I don’t think you’re understanding how tongues or those verses work.
1 Corinthians 14:2-
For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.
Unless the person speaking in tongues is purposely sharing their tongue, and unless someone is there to interpret it, then no, tongues are NOT for the edifying of the church. Tongues are a special gift from God to build yourself up, not others. It’s a way you can communicate with God. Tongues are NOT a way to communicate to people. That’s what prophecy is for, and that’s why they are often referenced together. Tongues are for YOU, prophecy is for the CHURCH.
1 Timothy 2:11-12-
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
See the words “teach or assume authority” there. How can you assume that this means speaking in tongues? I’ve already showed how women aren’t expected to be quiet and in full submission anymore. And as I’ve explained above, “tongues” does not equal “teaching”. They are for the strengthening of your own spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:22-25-
Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
If you read the rest of this chapter as well, Paul is saying that tongues have the power to speak to the hearts of unbelievers, but they need to have interpretations to actually have an effect on anyone beside yourself (as seen in Acts 2:4-12). Whereas prophecy is meant to be a sign for those who already believe, but God uses prophecy to amaze unbelievers as well. I hope that’s not too confusing! 😛
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
I agree with you, it is better to believe without needing signs. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t perform miracles. What would be the point? Is he trying to test us, to see if we actually believe without miracles? James 2:18 says But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. I don’t need miracles or big shows of the Holy Spirit to believe in God, but because I believe, God has given me gifts of the Spirit. Because I believe, I have the power to command out demons. I can say “In Jesus’s name!” and sickness will flee. He has given me authority over darkness, and the Holy Spirit CAN work through me in miraculous ways. Don’t try to limit God because you don’t believe in his mighty works.
Honestly, I’m sorta arguing a moot point because I don’t believe there still are the gifts of tongues or healing. I believe there’s prophecy, but that’s more like explaining future events as defined in the Bible. I do believe that Holy Spirit speaks to us, for example, lately as I’ve been reading my Bible and praying and listening to my pastor’s teaching I’ve been reminded that I need to pray more for my dad. I don’t think I’m limiting God by saying that the gift of tongues has passed away, I’m just believing what he’s stated in his Word. The link I’ve attached below explains all this much better than I could. Btw it’s really been cool learning about all this, it really has helped me to learn, and be better able to back up what I believe.
Well then, it was fun to discuss this with you!!! See you around. :))
So, tell me about the prophecy you’ve heard. I’d like to hear this!
Oh man, where do I start?
Well, the first one I’ll bring up is when our church was looking to build a new building last year. A pastor from Ghana who frequently visits then called up our pastor and told him, “God’s been telling me to tell you that you need to expand your expectations, and he will give you a better place.” (That was paraphrased, his original message was a lot longer.) The very next week, the building plans collapsed. The week after that, the pastor was offered a church building that another church was moving out of. That building is now ours, and it’s ten times bigger than the original plan. Plus, it’s smack in the middle of downtown, where ten years ago our pastor had walked with his wife and said, “Someday I want to build a church here.” That can’t be anything less than a God-thing, right?
The second example (if you get bored of God’s miracles, you can stop reading! :P) was shortly after. There were fortune tellers just down the street from us, and someone in the church said that God had been telling him that he would soon drive out all the evil from his holy ground (aka the church). We all prayed over this, and we haven’t seen the fortune tellers since.
A prophecy that we’re actually going through right now (from God through our pastor to us) is that God will take us to a place of higher praise, which will break chains and release freedom, enabling us to have deeper worship and intimacy with God. It’s hard to explain online, but it’s obvious that our church has gone through those breakthroughs to higher praise, freedom, and deeper worship.
We’ve got a guy at our church who frequently gets words of knowledge from the Lord as well. I’ll admit, I was a bit embarrassed when he stood up and said God was showing him there was a girl in the room with something wrong with their neck, and then one of the elders asked everyone to stand up if it was them. I was like, “Oh great, here we go.” But immediately, a girl who hadn’t been coming to church very long stood up. She was crying, and we prayed over her. She’s healed today. And stuff like that happens often at our church.
While we’re discussing miraculous gifts, the same pastor from Ghana was leading church back in Africa one morning. And just like a Bible story, a few men brought in a lame man, one who had been laying on his back his entire life. (He was 60-something!) The pastor told the men to get him up and bring him to the front. The men put their arms around their friend and half-dragged him toward the front. But halfway there, the man stopped them. He stood up shakily, and pushed their arms off of him. Then he took a step. And another. And another. The pastor hadn’t even prayed over him yet, but the man was healed because of his faith. They took a video of it happening, and our pastor showed us that video in church.
The gifts of the Spirit ARE alive and working in the modern world, and God DOES speak to us today. You can look online, and there’s a gazillion testimonies of this. I agree, some of them might be exaggerated, but most are the hard truth of God’s glory.
Thanks for sharing! I do have reasons why I’m still a cessationist, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything so we’ll just agree to disagree for now! =)
Haha okay, I can live with that. God bless! :))
You too! =)
Oh, btw welcome back! I haven’t seen you around in a while! =)
Haha yeah, I took a little break from the internet. It’s nice to be back!
Ahh ok…yeah, I did that a while back too…it’s good to do every once in a while! =)
Okay, I understand.
However, I still contend that you are taking 1 Corinthian 13 out of context.
1 Corinthians is a book instructing believers about the ways of Christ and the ways of the Church in Christ. Regarding unity, functionality, and proper worship. In chapter 12, Paul talks about spiritual gifts. He never mentions, at least in 12, them ever ceasing: he’s addressing it as if it is common and accepted. At the end of 12 he talks about how we are all members of one body and are equally important in Christ–apparently some were looking down on others who had different giftings.
Then Paul says in 12:31a “But earnestly desire the higher gifts…” which he, in v. 28, listed as “first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles…” etc.
He then immediately prefaces chapter thirteen (which obviously wasn’t a different chapter, originally, but a simply a new paragraph/concept/etc) with “And I will show you a still more excellent way” (v. 31b).
So He’s saying “desire the gifts” as well as “but let me show you and *even better way*” or “[an even more desirable way].”
He goes on to talk about doing things out of love. Making LOVE our motive. He’s saying *only love is eternal*. Anything *not* done out of *love* will perish: whether that’s knowledge, teaching, speaking a tongue, giving to the poor, sacrificing–if it’s not done out of love, it is *eternally worthless.* Only things done out of love have eternal value.
He doesn’t clarify WHAT knowledge he’s talking. He doesn’t clarify what kind of prophesy; or which tongues–he just says those things will disappear, so if they are not done out of love, they will be worthless when they disappear.
He immediately follows that passage up with “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophecy.”
I don’t think, from anything in 1 Corinthians, you can read “prophecy, tongues, knowledge, shall end” and determine that within a generation, the gifts of the spirit (which include knowledge, teaching, helping, and administering) will end/cease/pass away/vanish. It just isn’t there!
Also, when you have time, read Acts 2:14-23 (or the whole chapter). In this chapter, Peter quotes Joel:
“In the last days, it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:17-21).
The NT often refers to “today,” “the current time,” as the “Last Days.” I believe that we are living in the last days as much as the apostles were–more so, in fact!
Later in Acts ch. 2, Peter says that the promise of the gift of the Spirit is for “you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (2:38-39).
[A note on prophecy: I do not think NT “prophecy” is the same as the hardcore, “thus saith the Lord” OT “prophets.” This may be explained as part of the covenantal switch (which I’m talking about in the next article). From Paul’s description of tongues vs prophesy in ch. 14, it seems that NT prophecy isn’t so much about predicting the future, but about building up, encouraging, giving consolation, and instructing and proclaiming God’s truth to someone, or suggesting a calling in someone’s life. Whenever I feel led to give encouragement or suggest what I think someone’s talents/gifts/calling might be, I try to stay away from “The Lord says this…” instead, I approach it as “I think you should try pursuing this…” or “It felt like God led me to say this…” Rather than dogmatically insisting that I’ve heard from God, I throw it out there and ask them how it resonates with them. I know for myself, if someone suggests something like that, sometimes it doesn’t sit with me at all. Other times, I just kind of ponder it and see how God leads.]
Sydnie what do you say about people speaking in tongues now a days? Or if prophecies aren’t in effect today how are the prophecies from the bible still coming true? Are you sayin the people who have the baptism of the Holy Spirit are liars?
Hey Sydnie you are right their are not spiritual gifts today. But we do have the spirit that raised up Christ from the dead lives in us. this is found in Romans 8:11 than another good verse is John 14:12. Hope this helps
Wow, that was really hardcore. Keep writing stuff like this, it’s really inspiring!!!
This is a great article! I’m intrigued by the continuationist/cessationist discussion taking place in this comments thread, because I feel somewhat caught in the middle. On the one hand, I certainly believe that spiritual gifts still exist and are a significant part of Christian life. My pastor is actually currently in the middle of a series on spiritual gifts. And I personally have seen God answer prayer and provide healing many times. At the same time, however, I’m somewhat wary of “charismatic” churches and tend toward skepticism when it comes to things like dramatic healings and speaking in tongues. Do I believe God has removed these things from the world? No. But I do find myself doubting some accounts I hear of dramatic prophecies and healings and speaking in tongues. Not because I don’t believe that such things are possible, but because of the attitudes of the people who promote them. No offense to these people, but I often find “charismatic” preachers to be a little bit too over-the-top, dramatic, and often times fake. Not always, but often. They simply don’t seem as genuine and caring as people like my own pastors. They seem a bit too theatrical, I guess.
I think we need to recognize that the OT prophets, Jesus, and the 12 Apostles had certain gifts that we don’t have today, at least not to the same extent. I don’t believe the modern gift of prophecy is the same as the OT prophets’ or apostles’ gift of prophecy, because the OT prophets and the apostles had the authority to receive God’s word and literally add it to the Bible. God gave them new revelations that became our Bible. But the modern gift of prophecy must agree with scripture; it doesn’t add to scripture. Verses like 1 Thess. 5:21 remind us of this. Don’t fear prophecy, because God certainly speaks to us today. But don’t give the same authority to the modern-day spiritual gift of prophecy that we give to the Bible, which came from the prophecy of the OT prophets and the Apostles.
I guess what I’m saying is this: I don’t believe spiritual gifts have ceased, and I believe God certainly speaks to us today; but I don’t believe that the spiritual gifts of prophecy and healing are the same as the prophecy and healing practiced by the OT prophets and the apostles, who had far greater authority, even to the point that they were given the authority to write down God’s revelation to them as His word.
Benjamin, thanks for sharing!
I would have to say that I pretty much agree with everything you said. However, I would be careful with lumping all charismatics in with the people on TV or YouTube. Regular, god-fearing, Bible-honoring charismatic don’t make great TV, so they don’t quite get the same exposure.
I would say, too, that I agree with you about NT prophecy and OT prophecy being different. The apostles were normal, flawed human beings…but I agree they had a special authority… I think mainly because of their closeness (in time) to Christ. It was three hundred years after Christ, though, that the canon was compiled. So, I think it was a matter of the church realizing that certain letters were important and inspired by God. I don’t think you can biblically argue that this means no other letters were inspired, but I believe the Scriptures are sufficient as is.
Not all charismatics are alike, that’s certainly true. As I said, I do believe that such things (healings, tongues, etc.) actually happen. But the publicized examples (as in the TV/Youtube ones) have a tendency to be a bit sketchy in my opinion. I obviously can’t judge as I don’t know, but I’m more wary of those types.
As for the canon issue, I think God guided the church in knowing which letters and gospels were His inspired words and which were merely human words speaking about God. That’s why the books of the NT are almost all written by apostles, and the few that weren’t were written by people that knew the apostles personally, and their works were also accepted by the church (with God’s guidance) as God’s divine, inspired, literal word. In addition, the letters that were “officially” deemed “canon” by the church 200-300 years after Christ were recognized by the majority of Christians individually as God’s word (2 Peter 3:15-16 is an example). Most Christians believed what we now call the “canon” of scripture to be God’s inspired word before there was such thing as a “canon.” But ultimately, the modern-day spiritual gift of prophecy is not the same as the prophetic authority of the original apostles and prophets. That’s why we don’t add “Mere Christianity” as the 67th book of the Bible 😉
I agree, Benjamin! Good thoughts!
I’m going to argue a technicality, here. I think it would be dangerous and inappropriate to tamper with the accepted canon. I don’t know how the early church decided that these were the best letters (perhaps God gave them wisdom, and the letters just proved the most helpful and enduring), but I trust them better than I trust myself or even contemporary scholars!
However, this is my technicality that doesn’t really matter in the long run. I believe it is still possible for God to inspire someone 100%. Have I personally heard any messages or read any books that were so? I doubt it. But I believe that it is possible because I believe the apostles had the same human nature then and God has the same power today.
Like I said, this is a technicality. When I read a book or listen to a speaker or watch a film, I assume that there will be flaws, so I try to focus on pulling out what truth I can and learn from that. Otherwise, I would be a negative and extremely draining person to be around. =)
Thanks for sharing and thanks for letting me be overly technical. =)
Don’t worry, I like technicalities. And I agree that God certainly could inspire the writing of further scriptures, but the Bible clearly argues its own sufficiency so I don’t believe that God will do that.
Hey Benjamin, rather off topic here, but you wouldn’t by any chance be the Benjamin Vincent of the Shakespeare’s Star Wars humorous interp??
Umm… yes, yes I am. How do you know about that? (I’m assuming you’re a fellow NCFCA-er? If so, what region?)
Wait, I feel like I recognize your name… are you from my region?
Yep! I competed in Informative.
Nice! I was wondering how you knew about my humorous. I’m looking forward to getting to compete with it at Nats! What was your informative on?
My informative was on the power of imagination and stories and how they are connected to theology/the study of God; how God uses stories to pull us out of ourselves, to help us see truths better and with more clarity, and to rekindle our wonder of Him. That’s it in a nutshell. 🙂
Hey @Everybody! 😉 Are there any other NCFCA-ers on here? Anybody else going to Nationals? It would be so much fun to meet some other Rebelutionaries there!
Good idea. I’m sure there have to be some others… the question is whether they will see this.
Yeah, no kidding…. I’ll have to go ask on Revive; there are a bunch of Rebelutionaries over there. Just not nearly as many. Hmm….
You should set up an account at homeschooldebate.com. A lot of NCFCA-ers hang out and chat on there. It’s just a big forum platform for people from NCFCA and Stoa to hang out and talk about pretty much everything.
Wow, sounds pretty awesome. Maybe I’ll have a chance to see it at Nats.
Heidi, I’m Ben’s mom….and I think you were the very sweet and very patient young woman who I saw waiting for your turn in the Informative room during semi-finals. Is that you? We prayed together before you went in? If I’m wrong, forgive me!
Hi Mrs. Vincent! Yes that was me, waiting for my room (it was a long room!). 🙂 Which means that you are the wonderful, sweet mom who came over and prayed with me just before I went in! I can’t tell you how much I appreciated it and how encouraging and helpful it was to me! Thank you so much! 🙂
Haha sorry if that weirded you out! I compete in NCFCA and was at Regionals a few weeks ago, and I watched the humorous interp finals rounds. Your interp was hilarious! I am one of the souls blessed with the affliction of asthma, so I was literally in stitches. Congrats on 1st, if my memory serves.
Thanks! It’s been really fun; I couldn’t believe how well my HI did this year! It’s my first time doing an interp so I didn’t even know if I’d break. I’m glad you enjoyed it. There were quite a few people in the room during finals, otherwise I would have noticed someone I’d never met.
And don’t worry, you didn’t weird me out. I figured you must be a competitor, and I thought I recognized your name. Congrats on making it to regionals!
That’s so great you made it so far! and your first time at HI, too! I was in the same boat with my Info – it’s been an unexpected blessing to have made it as far as I have! And yes, the finals room was packed – there must have been between 30-40 people in there. 🙂
And no problem – this is my first year with NCFCA and I only attended one qualifier and then Regionals. So I wasn’t around much of the year anyway. 🙂
And thanks – congrats on making it to Nats! Are you going to be competing there in any other events?
I’m going to be competing at Nats in LD, Apol, HI, and Impromptu. Are you going to be at Nats? I’m crazy excited. I got to go last year in Apol, and it was fantastic.
Wow, you made it in a lot. Congrats! 🙂 That’s awesome that you made it last year, too! Did you break at Nats last year?
Yes, I’ll be going – I was one of the few semifinalists that received a Nats slot. I’m so excited! God is so good!
Congrats on making it! I didn’t break at Nats last year, but it was awesome anyway. Hopefully I can make it more awesome by breaking in something this year!
Chris, I have never gone so deep into understanding the Holy Spirit until now through your article. I think you should know that I prayed very soon after starting this artilce that God would put an unsettling feeling in my heart if there was something in there that was wrong and that he would give me peace if there was nothing wrong.
I felt so much peace and concentration in reading this, it was amazing. Thank you.
I agree with you trent!
Thanks Trent! That means a lot!
I love this!
There appears to be a variety of views on the spiritual gifts and I would love to talk about them more. Christopher, I am still not clear what your positions on them are, so I would love your feedback.
I am going to state my position and then cite the thought/support behind it. Again, I encourage you to look up all scriptures and examine the context to whatever extent you can.
I believe that when someone comes to saving faith in Christ, they receive the Holy Spirit in them (Romans 8:9-11). I believe that the Holy Spirit then gives this person a spiritual gift for the purpose of encouraging the building up the body of believers and sharing the Truth with unbelievers. I believe that some of these gifts (sign gifts – healing, casting out demons, the ability to perform miracles) were given only to a select few during the Apostolic age for the spreading and verification of the gospel under the new covenant and are thus no longer in use.
Here is the reasoning behind this:
1. I think we all agree that, at least at some point, the spiritual gifts exist (as stated before, I believe most of them still do).
2. 1 Cor. 12:7-11 lists examples of spiritual gifts which include healing, tongues, etc., as well as things such as wisdom, faith, etc. There are many gifts, all supplied by the same spirit (the Holy Spirit). Eph. 4:7, 11-12 seems to be saying that a spiritual gift is given to all of us (believers), and that there is a distinction between those who are apostles, evangelists, pastors, etc. and the gifts they have.
3. In Luke 9:1, Jesus gives His 12 apostles the power to expel demons and heal diseases. The only other people who were recorded having the gift of healing were Paul (Acts 19:11-12) the seventy (Lk. 10:1, 8-9) and some of the apostles associates (such as Philip in Acts 8:5-7). 2 Cor. 12:12 says “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance by signs and wonders and miracles.” I believe this is making a distinction with the “miracle” gifts (such as healing and tongues) by saying they are signs of true apostles.
4. As I’m sure we all agree, the apostles were given to the church for the purposes of:
· Laying the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20)
· Receiving the final revelation of God’s word (Eph. 3:1-5, mostly verses 3 and 5)
· Confirming/verifying the truth of the gospel through “signs and wonders” (2 Cor. 12:12, Lk. 9:2, Mark 3:14-15)
5. Finally, the whole purpose of these sign gifts was to prove the validity of the gospel to unbelievers. The gift of healing was never just for the purpose of physical healing, but to bring people to Christ. That is why Paul didn’t heal himself when he was sick (instead, God intervened), or Timothy (he gave him medical advice in 1 Tim. 5:23), or Epaphrodius (who was near death in Php. 2:27), etc. This gift was often used by the apostles only when they entered a new area for the purpose of establishing themselves as those sent from God (see example: Acts 9:34, 41-42).
The Apostolic era has ended and we have the complete, inspired word of God in our possession. Since there are no more apostles, there is no need for them to validate their identity and message. Thus, there is no more need of the sign gifts and they have ended.
Hi Emma, I’m sorry that I was not clearer as to where I am coming from.
Thanks so much for you thoughts!
I’ll try to keep this brief. If you still want more details and haven’t read some of my other comments, I would encourage you to read them too. That’ might help clarify my perspective.
Essentially, I believe:
– Holy Spirit is God, equal with the Father and Son, and should be honored, worshiped, obeyed, and loved as so.
– He is the Spirit of/from Christ; Christ (the Anointed life) in us.
– He inspired God’s Word, but is not replaced by it.
– Saying something that is actually of the Holy Spirit, “of demons” or “demonic” is blaspheming the Holy Spirit (this seems clear from the context of Mark 3:22-30).
– He still gives gifts
– He leads people, through Scripture, thoughts, other believers, authority figures, and even feelings–deep, soul level feelings (“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15).
I confess, I do not completely understand all of the gifts or how they have all continued on into today. This may be where some of the confusion stems from because I just don’t know 100%. I have some ideas… I look at Scripture and I strongly disagree with the cessationist conclusions… I don’t think, from a brand-new, fresh reading of scripture, that people would come to the conclusion that the gifts have ceased.
Now, here is where I have perhaps been too ambivalent: I believe there is a difference between the GIFTING of an apostle and the OFFICE of apostle.
I believe people can still carry the “gifting” of an apostle, without the authority given to the original twelve–or 13 (if you include Paul, more if you include people like Barnabas who did things similar to apostles).
I would consider someone who is discerning, visionary, and has some leadership skills an apostle. They’re the type of people who don’t sit still for very long. Often they either pioneer a ministry, eventually turning it over to someone else; or they come along beside and encourage multiple people serving God in multiple places.
I agree that signs and wonders authenticate the Gospel, however, I do not believe that is their only purpose, as seen in James 5:14. The only reason given in James is “…if there are sick among you, call…anoint…”
That aside, I do not believe great works are limited to Jesus or the apostles–though there seems to have been something unique about them.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me[e] anything in my name, I will do it.”
(This is in the context of a discourse generally accepted for the whole church for all time.)
“Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—”
(Miracles seems to have been passed on to the church, apart from the apostles.)
Here is an excellent article by John Piper on the subject:
This may be interesting to look at, but perhaps less volume of words would incur more responses. My advice would be to make your question/view point more brief, if at all possible.
P.S: I will try to get around to reading this.
You are welcome. Most of what i shared is what my parents or other friends have shared with me. Glad that it encouraged you!
Your sister in Christ.
Here are my thoughts on the questions you asked:
How does the Holy Spirit interact with Christians today?
The Holy Spirit indwells believers, and speaks to them through what most
like to call the conscience. He also speaks to us through His Word.
He illuminates our understanding to see the things that are relevant
to our circumstances and gives us strength to do what we need to.
Does He still give revelations? And if so, are they on par with the
revelations found in the Bible?
I would say no, to both. God has revealed all that is necessary for
life and doctrine in the Bible as we have it. I think that the cannon
of scripture is closed, and that ended with the apostles [men chosen
by God, who met with Jesus personally (1 Cor. 15 seems to imply that
“Jesus had to come back to make me an apostle”), who were given a
mandate from Jesus in some form of the Great Commision]. In which
case, I don’t think that extrabiblical revelation would be on par with the
revelations in the Bible. Take for example, natural revelation: it is
enough to condemn, because from nature, man should conclude general
truths about God (e.g., God is one, omnipotent, sovereign, etc).
However, natural revelation isn’t on par with God’s special revelation —
the Bible. Do you follow me?
Does the Holy Spirit ever bypass Scripture and impart insights and
knowledge directly into people’s minds and hearts?
Usually, no. Is he free to do so? Yes. God can work above the laws of nature
because he is not bound by them.
Does He give gifts like He gave to the apostles, such as tongues and
This is where it gets sticky… I don’t think so, but I think it COULD
happen, but is not the usual method of healing. Also, we need to
define tongues here… Biblical speaking in tongues is not some
random babbling as with a toddler learning to talk – that is just
nonsense. It is defined (by my pastor who I think did a wonderful
job) as speaking a KNOWN language without having any previous
knowledge of the language (as in how to speak it, not that it exists)
and being able to speak that language for a short amount of time
perfectly and then after that short period, you go back to normal –
not speaking in tongues (as for tongues, they shall cease 1
Corinthians 13) (No, google translate doesn’t count as speaking in
tongues… sorry guys)
Is Scripture as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago?
Solomon tells us there is nothing new under the sun. It is true. Do
people get murdered any differently? Not really… guns replaced bows
and arrows and swords. Do people steal any differently? no. Cars
replaced horses and tractors replaced oxen… I mean, nothing in
regards to law has changed. More generally, has the situation with
man changed? No… man still needs the same message: Repent and
believe. Isn’t that what Jonah was sent to preach? So I would say
that nothing but the age has changed. We live in the same age (in
God’s eyes) as the apostles (deduced from the fact that nothing has
changed since the time of the apostles beyond we have fancier toys
and google), that age is “the last days,” or “this evil age.”
Will He ever tell someone to do something which contradicts Scripture?
NO ABSOLUTELY NOT. God does not change, his standards are the same for
all men. God is himself, and how can he deny himself without making
himself a liar and Christianity being just another cult? He can’t. I
mean, that would be self referential incoherence as far as technical
logic structures go, not to mention God is perfect. If perfection (in
God’s Word) has been achieved, what is going to change that all of a
sudden perfection is not perfection? It simply can’t happen. ☺
Sorry for the long winded answer, I hope this was helpful!
Seek the true Biblical experience of being filled with the Holy Ghost that believers received in the Book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament. You will never regret it. If you think you love and want to please God now, wait until He lives in you.
He already lives in me; I trusted Christ as my Savior and at the moment of salvation He indwelt me. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not the same as being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. How then could Paul tell believers in Ephesians, “be filled with the Spirit”? We are constantly indwelt but not always filled. But I agree with you that we should seek to be filled with the Spirit. 🙂 ~AnnaGrace
Wonderful article Christoper! My pastor actually JUST spoke on this on Sunday! All of the things you said were spot on with what he spoke! Thank you for delving into this subject so much! I think this is something I should delve into more and I think I will start with your extra resources!
I think the phrase, “The Holy spirit came to replace Jesus” is not doctrinally sound, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, from everlasting to everlasting He is, so many scriptures speak of his attributes as irreplaceable.
The right way i find mentioned in John 16:7 is, “but if I depart, I will send him unto you”
Sending and replacement in my opinion are nit the same.
Otherwise this post triggers meditation into the hard things in scriptures, i appreciate it and let many more keep coming
I think what Chris meant is that while Jesus is no longer on this earth in human form, He has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us. Before Pentecost, the Spirit did not indwell men; He at times filled them and empowered them but did not indwell them. In this sense, the Holy Spirit “replaced” Jesus. Jesus came and when He spoke to men on earth He often interpreted the Scriptures (at that time the OT Law) to them–e.g. “You have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery, but I say unto you, Whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Romans 12 speaks of the renewing of our mind. Jesus is no longer here on earth explaining the Scriptures to us, but now the Holy Spirit indwells us as believers and renews our minds–gives us comprehension of the Word of God which an unbeliever does not have. I think that is what Chris probably meant when he said that the Holy Spirit came to replace Jesus. If I’m wrong, Chris, feel free to correct me. ~AnnaGrace
Thanks Grace. I’m glad you used the word “sent”
I’m definitely ready to trust God, the whole Trinity. Upon reading and also reading comments I’m inspirited to learn more. I believe the Holy Spirit definitely leads and directs us.
Hey! @BrettHarris:disqus @christopher_witmer:disqus So, what ever happened to this series? I was enjoying them…it seemed like y’all started the series and then stopped after one post. Now I have a serious question:
Was it partly my fault? ‘Cause I know I kinda started a big debate on this thread….
If it is partly my fault I wanted to apologize.
It’s not your fault at all. It’s just because Christopher’s gone. As soon as he comes back, I think it’s still on. 😉
Awesome, thanks for letting me know! =)
Hey, John! I haven’t heard about this “Hard Questions series….what is it all about???
Basically, Christopher Witmer was going through and answering some difficult questions and topics.
Let’s start this series up again!
The word Trinity itself is never mentioned in Scripture as far as I am aware, yet the concept is. If we start in Genesis 1:16-17, we see when God desires to make man in His image, he says, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. In this example, these plural pronouns give evidence to the Trinity. Also in John chapter 1, we are told that “the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Word here is reffering to Jesus.
I would love to!
Also, I just realized that I had put Genesis 1:16-17, I’m pretty sure it’s actually 1:26-27
What would you say to the ideas of the laying on of hands and speaking in tongues?
Not necessarily. If you have an opinion on that, please feel free to say it. I just want to know what ppl out there think about it.