Miraculous Gifts of The Holy Spirit

Gift of the Holy Spirit

In the early days of the church, followers of the Lord did not yet have the written word to guide them. That is the reason for the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” which the apostle Paul lists in 1 Cor. 12:8-10.

“For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.” This list includes nine “gifts of the Spirit,” all with a common purpose. They needed some means to convince unbelievers that what they were teaching was from God.

Apostles promised the Spirit

When Jesus told the apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15), He promised both guidance and confirmation of the message that was preached. We see the result of this stated in Mark 16:20, “they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed…” Thus, the message they preached was the result of the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Lk. 12:12; Jn. 14:25-26; 16:7-13), and their preaching was confirmed (or proved) by the miracles (signs) which they performed.

Later we read, “God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Heb 2:4). The purpose then of these “gifts of the Holy Spirit,” was to deliver and confirm the word of God, so that all could know the truth of what Paul declared, “I thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God…” (1 Thess. 2:13).

The “gifts” were to benefit others

The apostle Paul gives some very important information in 1 Cor. 12:4-11 about these “gifts of the Holy Spirit.” First, he shows they were given “of the Spirit…for the profit of all” (1 Cor 12:7). That means they were, “given for the common good.” This is vital, if one would understand the real purpose of these gifts.

Not one of the gifts was given to benefit the person to whom it was given, nor was it for that one’s personal blessing. Thus, the “gift of healings” was to benefit the one healed. The “gift of tongues” was to bless the hearer, not the speaker. Each “gift of the Holy Spirit” was given so that a Christian might serve others with it. Secondly, Paul shows that these gifts were given by “the same Spirit…distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Cor 12:11). These gifts were not given in response to man’s desire, but in accordance with God’s will. They were given to fulfill God’s purpose, not to fulfill man’s ego. This is what Paul is addressing in 1 Cor. 12:31 when he exhorts, “earnestly desire the greater gifts.” For he goes on to say, “yet I show you a still more excellent way.” That excellent way is explained in the next verses and is defined as love (1 Cor. 13:1-8).

“Gifts” were not meant to be permanent

So, the apostle Paul shows that these miraculous “gifts of the Holy Spirit” would cease (or be done away with) someday. He wrote of three of these, as typical of the nine that he had named (1 Cor. 12:8-10). “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. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away” (1 Cor 13:8-10). The term for “the perfect” in this passage is the Greek “to telion.”

Notice how Greek-English Lexicons define this as meaning: “Complete, perfect, entire, mature, fully developed.” In other words, during the time when the word of God was being delivered to man, these “parts” that brought it into being were necessary. But when the revelation of God was completed, His inspired word delivered and confirmed there would be no more need of these gifts. That inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17) has now been “…once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3) and confirmed by the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Heb. 2:4).

James indicates the same

It is evident that the above meaning is correct when we compare 1 Cor. 13:8-10 with other passages. Paul wrote, “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” (1 Cor. 13:12). Here he says we investigate this “perfect” and see ourselves as in a mirror. When only the “parts” were available, the reflection was dim, hazy and dark. But since “the perfect” came the reflection is clear and we see “face to face” seeing ourselves as we really are. James wrote of this also. He says, “if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:23-25).

The “part” was no longer needed

Notice that this passage in James has the same things that Paul wrote about in 1 Cor. 13:8-10. The “perfect” is the “mirror” in which we see ourselves; and that is “the word.” Paul writes again of reading the word of God (2 Cor. 3:1-17), and then adds, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). The mirror in James 1, 1 Cor. 13 and 2 Cor. 3 is clearly stated to be the word of God. That is the mirror which is defined as being “perfect” (1 Cor. 13:10, 12; James 1:25). Therefore, when that word was completed, the “parts” that brought it into being were “done away” and “ceased.” The word of God has been delivered and confirmed, thus there is no more need for the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” which brought it to us. We have the “perfect law, the law of liberty.”

WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?

by Jerry Henderson

Who is a Christian

The word “Christian” is used 3 times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16). It is both noble and honorable to wear the name of Christ (James 2:5-7). The “name” the rich were blaspheming in James 2:5-7 was without a doubt the name of Christ. The name by which they were called was “Christian” which is a combination of “Christ” and the suffix “ian” and when put together means a follower of Christ. A Christian is more than just a baptized person; church member; weekly worshiper or just a good person. There are many counterfeits, but few that are real or genuine (John 8:31).

Some considerations about the name Christian

First, we want to consider the origin of the name “Christian”. God promised to give a “new name” (Isaiah 62:1-2). It would not be an old name with new significance, it would be a new name. It would be given when the “Gentiles would see the righteousness of Zion. It would be given by the mouth of Lord not by the enemies of the Christians. Isaiah 56:5 says it was to be “within my house.” God’s house is the church according to 1 Timothy 3:15. Therefore it is unscriptural to call one a Christian who is not in the Lord’s church. This name was to be an “everlasting name” (Isaiah 56:5). That means it is to last forever.

Now consider the meaning and use of the name “Christian”. As noted above, the name means: a “Follower of Christ” (Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon); or an “Adherent of Christ” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). It is not used in Scripture in a hyphenated way as it is used today: such as, “Baptist-Christian; Methodist-Christian or some other man-made name attached to the name “Christian”. There are no “conservative Christians” or “liberal Christians.” The Lord never prefixed or suffixed the name Christian. “Christian” is a noun, not an adjective! Yet the word “Christian” is tacked on too many things – homes, schools, colleges, Sabbath, etc. The term “Christian Atheist.” is even used. It is thought if a person was a good moral Atheist, he or she was a Christian Atheist. People even talk about Jewish Christians, but a person can’t be both a Jew and a Christian. One can be of Jewish descent but not a Jew from the religious standpoint.

Let’s answer the question, who are not Christians

Just who are not Christians? Certainly, those not in God’s family, the church, can call themselves a Christian. Obviously, someone can appropriate a name and wear it even though they are not entitled to. One could call themselves “Jones” when not in the “Jones” family. They have “assumed” a name rather than it being “assigned” to them because they are a part of the family. Identity theft or the stealing of a name and or the identity of another is a major problem in our society today. Abraham Lincoln is said to have asked: “If you call a cow’s tail a leg, how many legs does she have?” Most answered five, but he replied: “No, four, calling a tail a leg does not make it one!” So, neither does calling someone a Christian make them one! Not all “good” people are Christians. Yes, one must be good, but that in and of itself does not make one a Christian. Nicodemus was a good man but had to be born again to be a part of the Kingdom (the church or family) of God and thereby be called a Christian (John 3:1-5). Cornelius was a very devout man, but he had to hear words to be saved (which made him a part of God’s family and a Christian) (Acts 11:14). Not all “religious” people are Christians. Even those who are heathens are religious (Acts 17:22). The apostle Paul, before his conversion, was very religious, but he was holding on to what was false (Acts 26:5, 9). He even persecuted Christians. So, even though he was very religious he was not a Christian before his conversion. There are, in fact, two kinds of religion, “pure” and “defiled” (James 1:26-27). Not even all church members are Christians. Just joining or attending a church does not make one a Christian. There are even some who call themselves members of the “church of Christ” who are not Christians (John 8:31).

Then who are Christians?

Then just who are Christians? Wearing the name “American” involves duty: such as upholding the constitution, obeying laws, good citizenship, etc. Those who do not obey laws, burn flag, and try to destroy this country we call “un-American” because they are not demonstrating the characteristics of an “American”. Wearing the name “Christian” involves a life of duty to Christ. A Christian is something a person IS, not just something they are called. A Christian is a person who has obeyed the gospel – been baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and is therefore “in Christ” (Galatians 3:26, 27)

Questions to ask yourself

The following are some questions a person can ask themselves in their effort to determine if they are, in fact, a Christian. Have I obeyed the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17)? One is not a Christian if they have not put on Christ by obeying the commands He has set forth in His Will, the Gospel. Did I obey the gospel out of conviction or convenience (Romans 6:17)? If a person did what they did just for family, prestige, or for any reason other than their desire to submit to the Lord and His will, they are not a Christian. Am I willing to suffer as a Christian (1 Peter 4:16; Hebrews 10:32-34)? A person willing to suffer for something has conviction. A person unwilling to suffer for Christ is not a Christian. Am I separated from the world in recreation, language, conduct, apparel, etc. (Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15-17)? A person cannot serve God and mammon (material things) (Matthew 6:24). Am I truly devoted to Christ? Do I love the brethren, or do I have no time for my brethren or others (John 13:34-35)? Do I attend services as much as I can or as little as I think I can get by with (Hebrews 10:25)? Do I give liberally or miserly or do I give the leftovers to God (2 Corinthians 9:6, 7)? Am I truly interested in leading others to Christ? Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and if we are Christians, we are followers of Him (1 Peter 2:21). Do I appreciate strong preaching or am I offended when the Bible condemns my sins? What is my reaction when error is exposed (Galatians 4:16; John 6:66)? Am I growing in the faith (2 Peter 1:5-8)? Am I concerned about my spiritual development and that of my family? We are taught that we must “glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:10-11). Therefore, everything we do must be such as would bring glory to God or I am not a Christian even though I might call myself such.

What’s Important

When our spirit leaves our body, the important question will not be “was he or she rich, a great athlete or a scholar, etc. etc…” But rather the important question will be “was he or she a faithful Christian?” So, are we really Christians, or are we just wearing the name? If you are not a Christian, you can become one by obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ. That means you must hear the Word (Romans 10:17); believe in Jesus Christ (John 8:24); repent of your sins (Luke 13:3); confess your faith publicly (Matthew 10:32, 33); and be baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). You will then be added by the Lord to the church, the family of God (Acts 2:47) and you will be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. There is an old spiritual song that says “ev’rybody talkin’ bout heav’n ain’t goin’ there.” There are also a lot of people calling themselves Christians who are not. ARE YOU A “CHRISTIAN”?

The Church Of The Bible; Which One Is It?

Matthew 16:18
Matthew 16:18

When Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am,” Peter and the other apostles confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied to this confession and said, “…upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:15-19).

So, we see these words of the Lord stand today as a monument to the folly of man. According to His promise, He built His church. Yet despite His promise, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted” (Matt. 15:13), men have “built” (or added) many other churches to the one which Jesus built. However, it seems there are many who are perfectly willing to compete with the Lord by establishing other churches.

Today, in the United States, there are more than 400 distinct religious organizations in existence, each one different from all the rest in a few ways or, in some cases, many ways. And they make all kinds of different claims as to purpose, authority, source, etc. In the face of so many claims, how can one know which is the right church; or even if any of them are? The only way to be sure is to go to the Bible, the inspired word of God, and find the church revealed there.

The beginning of the church of the Bible

We need to find where, when and how was the church to be built. The scriptures supply the answer. “Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:2-3). Notice some pertinent information in this passage.

    1. The “house of God” was to begin in Jerusalem.
2. It was to begin “in the latter days.”
3. It would be composed of “all nations.”
4. It was to be established by “teaching” and not by war.

Continued

The “house of God” is identified by Paul in giving direction to Timothy when he says, “in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Also, Zechariah confirms that the house of God, the church, would begin in Jerusalem: “Therefore thus says the LORD, “I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem” (Zec 1:16).

It must have been quite a surprise to the Jew, for centuries the chosen people of God, that the “house of God” would consist of “all nations.” But a change was coming. Other nations would be a part of the church that was to be built. A church built in some other place cannot be the church of the Bible.

Jesus promised to build the church of the bible

The church

Notice, in Matt. 16 the Lord promised, “I will build My church … And I will give you the keys of the kingdom.” The church is repeatedly identified later as the kingdom: “the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven…a kingdom which cannot be shaken…” (Heb. 12:23, 28). And those who were “translated into the kingdom” (Col. 1:13) were members of “the body, the church” (Col. 1:18).

But the Jews were looking for an earthly kingdom, one that would cast off the political and military yoke of the Roman Empire. However, Jesus plainly said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting…” (John 18:36). Physical birth made people citizens of the kingdom of Israel, but Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3-5). This kingdom, this house, this church was to be completely different from Israel.

Power was to come with the establishment

When was this church, or kingdom, to begin? Jesus had told the apostles, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mk 9:1). Later, after His resurrection, He told them, “behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24:49). So, we see that the kingdom was to come during the lifetime of the apostles, it was to come with power, they were to wait in Jerusalem until Jesus sent the power upon them.

Just before His ascension, Jesus “commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:1-8). As we continue to read, we notice, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:1, 4). When the accusation was made, “They are full of sweet wine” (Acts 2:13), Peter answered: “These men are not drunk, as you suppose…but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind’” (Acts 2:15-17). Thus, all the pieces of the prophecies come together.

Prophecies concerning the church of the bible

The church was to begin “in Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:8; Zech. 1:16) “in the last days” (Isa. 2:2-8), during the lifetime of the apostles (Mark 9:1) “with power.” The power was to come when the Holy Spirit was given (Acts 1:8). It all fits. The apostles were waiting in Jerusalem as Jesus instructed and the Holy Spirit came as He had promised. And they preached that “the last days” had now begun. Therefore, we should expect the church (kingdom) to begin – and it does!

When the gospel was preached, people asked, “What shall we do?” God’s answer “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls…And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:38, 41, 47). Jesus had promised, “I will build My church.” That promise had now been fulfilled. That church had now been built, and when the Lord saved people, He added them to His church.

Continuing through the book Acts, we find the church growing as people were “obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). This was the church of the Bible. Any church that began at some place other than Jerusalem cannot be the church of the Bible. Nor can any church that did not begin during the lifetime of the apostles be the church of the Bible. Also any church that is not composed of ALL the saved cannot be the church of the Bible.

The head of the church of the bible

The apostles writings (Romans through Jude), picture Jesus’ church for us. The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, “He is also head of the body, the church…God gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body…There is one body…He Himself being the Savior of the body” (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-28; 4:4; 5:23). The church that Jesus built is the “body of Christ.”

Surely no man-made church can make that claim! That church is also the bride of Christ; “I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin…For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:23-32).

Without a doubt the most meaningful description of the church of the Bible is that of “the family of God.” Paul wrote to those in the church in Ephesus, “you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Eph. 2:19-20). Also this same apostle said, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). When those on Pentecost were baptized, the Lord saved them and added them to His church (Acts 2:47). In other words, because they were “born of water and the Spirit” they were now in the kingdom (Jn 3:5) which is the church. Thus, all of God’s children are in His family, which is the church of the Bible. Therefore, if one has been “born again” he is in God’s family, which is the church.

Conclusion

So, the conclusion we reach is; any church with origins at another time or place, or in another way not in keeping with what we read in God’s word is not the church of the Bible. Nor is one composed of different people than what we read in God’s word the church of the Bible. Jesus taught clearly about the source of the church, the kingdom, “The seed is the word of God” (Lk 8:11). The apostle Peter wrote later, “you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God…And this is the word which was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23, 25). So, if you will receive the same seed, the word of God, and obey it the same way those people did 2000+ years ago, the Lord will add you to that same church.

The Apocalypse

I was reading an article by someone who was trying to explain The Revelation given to John (the Apocalypse). This Revelation was given to the first century Christians during a time of intense persecution so that they would have encouragement and comfort.

Things Which Must Shortly Take Place

The New King James says in verse 1, “things which must shortly take place.” However, the New American Standard puts it this way, “things which must soon take place.” This same writer tells us the marginal notes in his Bible say shortly means “quickly” or “swiftly.” I would agree. But then he tells us “shortly” must be interpreted considering verse 10 (the Lord’s day) meaning the day the Lord extracts judgment. Thus, he deduces when the end comes, it will come so rapidly it will astonish people and leave them frightened. Yet, how could this be when over and over the New Testament writers say the time of Jesus return is not revealed (Matthew 24:36; 25:13; 2 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10)?

In the Old Testament, the idea of God’s judgment is put forth many times (Isaiah 13:6, 9; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15 and others), but we also find the same term used to indicate the day the Lord had set forth for other reasons (Isaiah 58:13, etc.). So to simply intimate this must be the case here also is to disregard the context of the letter. First of all, we are looking at the New Testament, not the Old Testament. However, in the New Testament, it sometime used the same way. However, the expression “Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10) is found only in this place and is hen kyriakē hēmera. The “day of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:2) is expressed as ē hēmera tou Kyriou. Almost all commentators agree John is speaking of the “first day of the week” (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) which would make it a day of worship not a day of destruction. In light of this we must look to the context of the book.

How to Interpret the Book

There are many other views as to the interpretation of the book. Some think that the book reveals all of history from the beginning to the end of time. Others think it reveals the future for the church–the rise of the Papacy, Mohammedanism, the Reformation, etc. Still others say that these are not actual historical events but are symbolical of temporal and physical forces at work. Some, in the light of this, say that the book was fulfilled in John’s day and could have no meaning for us. Besides all these, there are Millennial groups which have formulated their own various doctrines from the book. All of this makes it very difficult for people to find the meaning of the book.

To rightly interpret the book, we should seek to find the meaning the book had in the day of its origin. In other words, “What did it mean to the Christians of John’s day?” The things in it “must soon take place” (Revelation 1:1,3; 22:6,10). Revelation 1:4 says, “John, to the seven churches that are in Asia…” Furthermore, we should seek to determine its meaning for all ages and especially for our own age. Thus, “What does the book mean to us today?” All readers are blessed (Revelation 1:3), and it is for “everyone who hears” (Revelation 22:18). It is written to “his servants” (Revelation 1:1). Therefore, in our study of the book we should seek to understand how its principles applied then and observe how they will apply in similar situations now.

The Apostle Paul makes it clear the early Christians were looking for the return of the Lord during their time (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17). To them that would have been the “end times.” Christians at the time when the book was written were being beheaded and slain for the word of God and the testimony which they held ( Revelation 2:13; 6:9-11; 7:13-17; 13:7-8; 16:6-7; 17:6; 18:24; 19:2; 20:4). This means the book was written in the atmosphere of intense and widespread persecution.

The Main Theme

The victory of Christ is revealed throughout the book (Revelation 1:18; 5:9; 6:2; 11:15; 14:1,14; 17:14; 19:15). Christ conquers death, hades, the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, and those who worship the beast. The book also pictures the victory that the saints have through Christ–as having washed their robes (Revelation 7:14; 22:14), as having come out of the great tribulation (Revelation 7:14), as standing upon their feet and not dead (Revelation 11:11), as victorious over the beast (Revelation 15:2), as reigning on earth and with Christ (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:4). The book, therefore, was given to bring comfort for the church and to encourage the saints in time of great tribulation–for example, God sees their tears (Revelation 7:17); their prayers shall rule (Revelation 8:3-4); suffering on earth is surpassed by glory (Revelation 14:13; 20:4); their blood will be avenged (Revelation 6:9-11; 19:2); victory is assured (Revelation 15:2).

It should be noted the book met a need at the time of its writing and it dealt with an historical situation in which spiritual forces were at work. Further, its message will apply to all generations. In the book we see the conflict between God and Satan. God’s forces are Christ and the church, while Satan’s forces are evil government and false religion. God and His righteousness will triumph. Satan is destined to destruction; he and all his helpers will be defeated. Christ is victorious and His saints can be victorious through Him. This idea is set forth gloriously and completely in Revelation 17:14: “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful” (NASV). This is the main theme of the book.