Spiritual Gifts/Acts Church/Doctrine


(Hannah Boyd) #1

I’ve been looking into doctrines of the charismatic churches and comparing to the New Testament Acts chapter - this has come up after hearing a testimony of someone that made question things.

I grew up in the Baptist church so speaking in tongues, visions, healing, dreams, prophecy, and casting out demons didn’t come up at all. My understanding from my upbringing is that speaking in tongues isn’t a sign of having the Holy Spirit and that time in Acts was for that time for that particular church age to explode in growth.

If it’s in the Bible, especially in the miracles/acts of Jesus’ ministry, wouldn’t some of this still come up today and be a part of our ministries?

What is the correct Biblical doctrine relating to these gifts?


(Rob Lundberg) #2

Excellent question. Being saved in a Baptist church and exposed by friends excited about my salvation who were in Pentecostal churches to Charismatic churches, in New England, I went through similar questions and challenges.

Being in the faith for over 38 years, having formal training I have had the opportunity to write a paper in seminary doing a special study on the gifts, in a missiology class. From that class, and even today, I have a question I use as a rule of thumb. That question is do we worship the same God today, as the God who disclosed Himself with the miraculous in the first century and in the Old Testament?

I think that it is easy to answer that question in the affirmative. But because some of us here who live in the West, where their is a lot of empiricism still at large, even in the minds of those in the church, we raise the question you are raising. That is why a good biblical interpretative understanding where we see the gifts manifested is descriptive and not prescriptive. We do not see any commands saying you shall have such and such a gift. They are only listed, and there is no gift “job description.”

That is why I use the question as a rule of thumb. Then I moved to what does tongues mean in the New Testament, and found that it was a known language and not an unknown language. It WAS unknown to the one speaking it, but not unknown to the hearer. And if there are tongues today in the church, it needs to be in order and there MUST be interpretation. Do we see a biblically proper demonstration of this? Not likely. Has it ceased? I do not believe it has.

The same goes for other gifts. I will mention this and then others chime in. Does and can God heal today miraculously? Yes, whether in faster than a micro second or through medical intervention. However do people have healing ministries? I do not believe that people do. Can the Lord use people? Yes but it usually does not center on a “circus type” setting. If it does, it is truly seen as a miracle.


(SeanO) #3

@barefoothannahb That is a great question. There are two basic views - cessationists who say that miraculous gifts are a sign to unbelievers when God is doing something special in history and no longer function today. And continuationist who believe that God is the same today as ever and therefore we should expect to see miraculous gifts for this reason. I’ve included an overview and some articles for each perspective below. I’ve also included a book that goes through 4 views at the bottom.

In truth, many Christians are not at either of these extremes. I personally believe God can still heal, but I am very skeptical of tongues and prophecy. I have seen so much false prophecy - people claiming to have words from God for a person and those words not coming true. If it were truly the type of prophecy we see in Scripture it would always come true - that was the test for a true prophet of God in the Bible. If their words came true 100% of the time they were God’s prophet.

So I think we need a balance. We should not put God in a box - people in my own family have been healed. But we should also not give into superstition and people who are faking gifts they do not truly possess. I think prophecy is dangerous because there is so much false prophecy and I am very cautious of it. I do not condemn the people who are misled into behaving in that way, but I am very cautious.

Hope those thoughts are helpful. The Spirit of Christ grant you wisdom and understanding as you study and give you discernment to be able to tell truth from error. Feel free to ask further questions.

Cessationist

The general opinion of cessationist is that:

1 - God gives miraculous gifts as a sign during times he is working in powerful ways in the world or when the Gospel is shared where it has never been heard (days of Moses, Elijah, Jesus, tribes that have never heard)
2 - Most of the claims of miracles or tongues or prophecy today do not meet the test of real scrutiny - the prophecy is fallible (in the Bible a prophet was stoned if they made a false prophecy - if they prophesied it and it did not come true that was false prophecy)

" My position falls somewhere between a cessationist and open but cautious, with a heavy amount of leaning on the former. This view comes from a few different angles:

1. Historical Observation: As I look around today and at church history I don’t see happening what I see in the early church. I don’t see people speaking in known languages, healing people completely and instantly, as well as speaking and giving new revelation from God.

2. NT Trajectory: As you read the NT it seems that in the early days of the church (cf. Acts) you have an abundance of these miraculous gifts. People are speaking in tongues, prophecy, and people are being healed. However, as time passes, the trajectory of the New Testament seems indicate these supernatural gifts are tapering off. Their function of authenticating the preaching of the word has served its purpose.*

“I know of no credible accounts of the kind of dramatic miracles we see described in the New Testament—a limb regenerating, a dead and decaying man being raised. Whatever “miracles” I hear of today are nowhere near as dramatic, visible, and instantaneous as the ones we see described in the ministry of Jesus and his Apostles. I know of no Christian who has been able to preach the gospel in a language he does not know. A number of times I have had well-meaning people prophecy to or about me but these have always been vague impressions more than authoritative words from God.”

Continuationist

The continuationist stresses that:

1 - God is the same today as He was in Bible times and therefore we should expect miraculous sign gifts to still be present
2 - There is no indication in Scripture that the sign gifts would cease
3 - Evidence for miracles and tongues today

Comparison of Views