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11. ARE THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT FOR TODAY?

The continuation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is a topic that in some denominations of the body of Christ causes confusion and even debate. Today, the body of Christ, as far as the gifts of the Spirit are concerned, is divided into two groups; (1) the continuationists and (2) the cessationists.

 

The cessationists argue that the gifts of the Spirit ceased at the end of the apostolic age. Continuationists, on the other hand, defend that the gifts of the Spirit are still present to this day.

 

We, as always, are going to subject everything under biblical scrutiny. Since our ministry is not subject to any particular denomination, we have no outside pressure to evaluate a particular doctrinal issue.

 

So, let's see what the Bible says about the continuation, or not, of spiritual gifts. As always, we will do it in a concise manner to make it quick to read. This does not mean that we have not carefully and thoroughly studied all kinds of arguments and objections for each of the two beliefs. Please remember, we are happy to answer any questions you may have about this topic.

 

The principle of "Sola Scriptura"

 

Those who know a little theology have heard this term on some occasions. This is one of the principles of the Reformation. The Reformation was a movement when the Protestant church arose and separated from the Catholic church.

 

This term  indicates that the Bible is the only infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice.

 

Therefore, anyone arguing that he does not abide by this principle would have no value in deciding whether or not the gifts of the Spirit are in effect.

What do we see in the New Testament church?

 

It is evident to all parties that the gifts of the Spirit were present in the New Testament church. The two modes of thinking (cessationism/continuationism)  that we have mentioned both agree on this point.

 

The New Testament leaves us numerous records in this regard. Below we have a list of churches and places where the gifts of the Spirit abounded:

 

  1. Establishment of the church (Acts 2: 1-5)

  2. Antioch (Acts 13:1)

  3. Tyre (Acts 21:4)

  4. Galatia (Galatians 3:5)

  5. Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:7, 12:27-28, 14 etc ..)

  6. Ephesus (Ephesians 4:11-11)

  7. Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:19–22)

  8. Rome (Romans 12:3–8)

  9. Christian Jews in the dispersion (James 5:13–16)

 

It is therefore a fact that the Gifts of the Spirit were present in the early church. Now the question we should ask ourselves to determine whether or not the gifts are active would be the following:

 

Is there a prohibition or a mandate that says that the gifts must cease and end after the apostolic era?

 

How long will the use of gifts, procurement, and the standard of spiritual gifts last?

 

The Bible tells us when the gifts of the Spirit will be present, active and for how long. In Acts 2, for what for many is the beginning of the church at Pentecost, Peter says the following:

 

Acts 2.14–21 - 14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

 

17 ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,

‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;

And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

And your young men shall see visions,

And your old men shall dream dreams;

18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,

I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit

And they shall prophesy.

19 ‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above

And signs on the earth below,

Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.

20 ‘The sun will be turned into darkness

And the moon into blood,

Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.

21 ‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

 

Peter is mentioning the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32. Furthermore, Peter even adds "in the last days" which in the book of Joel says, "after this". It is important how Peter declares the prophecy as it says "I will pour forth my Spirit on all mankind". It does not only say to the first century, to the apostles (i.e., apostolic era) but to all mankind.

 

We see how later, in this same speech, he adds that the gift of the Holy Spirit, with all that this involves (prophecies, visions, gifts etc ...) is a promise for all those who were there, their children and "for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself ”. We see this is a universal promise.

 

Acts 2.37–39: -37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

 

Now the question is, what is the time period of "the last days."?

 

Some cessationists argue that the last days refer to the end of the apostolic age. Others argue that it is the moment when the canon is closed. However, these are nothing more than speculations, since the word of God clearly tells us what the last days are.

 

The biblical text without a doubt explains to us that the last days are the period from the death and resurrection of Jesus, until he comes (second coming). In fact, in the same prophecy that Peter mentions from Joel, we see both the beginning of these manifestations, as well as their end:

 

Acts 2: 19-21: -19 ‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above

And signs on the earth below,

Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.

20 ‘The sun will be turned into darkness

And the moon into blood,

Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.

21 ‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

 

These are clearly prophetic references to the end of the world and to the coming of the Lord:

 

Mark 13:24–27 - 24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

 

Revelation 6:12 - 12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;

In fact, we have seen before how Paul tells the Corinthian church that they do not lack any gift...waiting for what?:

 

1 Corinthians 1:7  - 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

We see therefore, that for Paul the gifts of the Spirit were not only something that should be a norm, that we should long for and that we should never prohibit, but for him we should experience them until the manifestation of Jesus Christ (the second coming). Paul did not know when Jesus was coming, but the reality of being in the last days indicated that these experiences were to be the norm until the Lord's second coming.

 

The phrase in the “last days” is also mentioned by the author of Hebrews to speak of the time from when Jesus was on earth:

 

Hebrews 1:2 - 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

So will they end at some point?

 

Yes. The word of God does explain to us when, where and why spiritual gifts will cease.  This will happen when we are adopted, when we receive the glorified body and are in the presence of God, then the gifts, the prophecies, and the revelations will end. But, in the same way other actions and mandates that the Bible speaks to us about now, as we are in the last days, will also end: the church, the services, the preaching, the intercessions, the evangelizations.

 

How do we know this? Because Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13: 8-13:

 

1 Corinthians 13.8–13 - 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

What is “the perfect”?

 

  1. “The perfect” is when we see Him face to face (v. 12). Do we see Him face to face now? No. Although it is true that we have a relationship with God, we do not see him face to face as, for example, Moses did. It is for this very reason that Paul, who had spiritual gifts more than anyone else, said this same thing “Now we see in a mirror, dimly; but then face to face ” Therefore, when will we see him face to face? When we are in his presence. Paul speaks of the future, of adoption, of when we are in His presence.

  2. “The perfect” is when we know God perfectly (v. 12) in the way that he knows us: Do we know God as He knows us now? No. It is interpreted in the same way as the previous point where Paul speaks clearly of a moment in the future.

 

When will this happen?

 

When Jesus comes. When we are glorified. At that time we can talk to Him as Moses

 

What did Jesus say about this?

 

His words could not be clearer:

 

John 14:12 - 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

 

The context is talking about miracles. It is a clear command "he who believes in me." This is not referring to a specific group, or a specific time. If it were, then we would have to annul the sayings of Jesus such as:

 

John 7:37–38 - 37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”

 

 

John 11:25  - 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,

 

John 6:34–35 - 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

John 12:44–48  - 44 And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 46 I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

 

Jesus said something similar to the verse in John 14:12  in Mark 16: 17-20[1] :

 

Mark 16:17–20  — 17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

 

19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.

 

 

NOTE ON MARK 16: Although in several of the oldest manuscripts, like the codex Sinaiticus and the Vaticanus and others, they do not contain the part of Mark 16 from 9-20, in many other Greek manuscripts these verses are recorded. Also, defenders of the word of God like Irenaeus, includes Mark 16:19 in his work against heresies.

 

 

First impressions, conclusions

 

We can distinctly see that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were active in the New Testament church. There was no prohibition, but instead Paul encouraged the brothers not to quench the Spirit, not to despise the prophecies, and to seek spiritual gifts.

 

1 Corinthians 14.1–40 - 14 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.

 

 

12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.

18 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

1 Thessalonians 5.19–22 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

The promise of the Holy Spirit goes together with the power to preach or  its supernatural manifestations, or even both together. Acts 1:8, 4:7, 4:33, 6:8, 8:10-13, 10:38, 19:11 etc:

 

Acts 8.13 -13 Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.

 

Acts 19.11 (NRSV) - 11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,

We saw how Jesus declares that all who believe in Him will do greater things.

 

Paul clearly states how the body of Christ has members, and these members employ functions related with the manifestations[2]  of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:27–31, Romans 12:3–8, 1 Corinthians 12:4–6)

 

With this in mind, we need to ask ourselves the following question:

Where in the Bible do we see that the church from the 2nd century and onward is prohibited from doing everything that the early church not only practiced, but that which the apostles urged and set forth as the standard?

 

This is an essential question, because we clearly see that the gifts (1) were active and (2) the apostles urged members of the body of Christ to seek them.

 

Conclusion

 

The clear counsel of the Bible shows us that the gifts are active. We are urged to practice them. We are given clear orders not to forbid them and we are told that when the Lord returns, then we will have no need of them. We have also seen that it is not something exclusively reserved for the apostles, but rather for the whole body of Christ.

 

This does not mean that there hasn’t been and will continue to be abuses by people who maliciously or with unbiblical doctrine abuse spiritual gifts. The fact that these abuses exist does not in any way mean that the gifts are not active. We know this to be true as in the same way that false prophets and false miracle workers in the OT did not nullify the authentic prophecy of God or the miracles of God.

 

Therefore, with the authority of the word of God, we must declare, without a doubt, that the gifts of the Spirit are valid for all those who believe in God and like everything, it is by the grace of God that he distributes to whom he wants and how he wants.

This is a brief explanation of the topic in matter. To learn more about the Bible, or if you want more details of its truth please contact us and we will gladly explain everything. 

 

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