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HAVE YOU GOT THE GIFT?
by Dr. Fred Wittman
The following was included in the June 1985 issue of INNER WITNESS, an Australian publication: “With this issue you should have received a copy of the booklet “Have You Got the Gift?” as a supplement. . . . We commend this work to you as a critique of a key aspect of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. It is readable but scholarly and provides something for people of every academic level.
This simple question seems to be the most frequently asked question in religious circles throughout the world in recent years. Those who ask this question are sincerely concerned for those of whom they ask it. Sincere concern for the spiritual status of others is commendable! How good it would be if many more demonstrated such concern for the eternal welfare of others.
A question dealing with such magnitude must be clear, simple, and straight forward. It must ask only one single thing and admit only one answer. Although this question, “Have you got the gift?” is simple and straight forward, it lacks clarity. The verb ‘got’ is the past tense of get, which (in this case) means “to obtain or gain possession of.” Thus the question is asking if you have present possession of the gift. But the word ‘gift’ is ambiguous. There are several meanings to which ‘the gift’ could refer. Thus, the addressee or the one of whom the question is asked can respond with another question. “Which gift?” Since this is true, it appears there is a pressing need to carefully consider what is involved and what The Scriptures say about this question. For a starting point it seems best to
EXAMINE AND ANALYZE THE MEANING OF THIS QUESTION.
It is assumed that this question relates to a spiritual experience and therefore to understand its meaning requires reference to The Scriptures commonly known as The Holy Bible. The Bible mentions several gifts which have been given by God, some one of which is no doubt intended by the question under examination. But which one? It is necessary, therefore, to
Enumerate and Acknowledge the Options
for the meaning of ‘the gift.’ There are five possibilities in The Scriptures to which ‘the gift’ could refer. The First use of the word ‘gift’ in The New Testament refers to
GOD'S GIFT TO THE WORLD.
In a dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus referred to God’s gift to the world, recorded in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God’s only begotten Son was God’s gift to the world. Jesus left Jerusalem and went to Samaria where He rested at Jacob’s well outside the city of Sychar. There He conversed with a Samaritan woman. He asked her for a drink. She expressed amazement that a Jew would ask a drink of a Samaritan. Jesus replied,
“If thou knewest the gift of God, and Who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him and He would have given thee living water ” (John 4:10).
Jesus indicated that The Son of God, born in human flesh, was God's gift to the world. He came to give His life in agonizing death on Calvary, to endure the wrath of God, and to shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins. He rose again to give eternal life to all who will repent, believe with complete trust, and receive God’s wonderful and precious gift of His Son. The Second gift that The New Testament mentions is
GOD’S GIFT TO THE CHURCH.
On the day of Pentecost the Jewish nation had gathered in Jerusalem to observe the annual Feast of Weeks (Lev. 23:15-21 cf. Deut. 16:9,10) fifty days after the Passover. The disciples of The Lord Jesus Christ were in one place when God sent The Holy Spirit to descend upon His disciples. Peter addressed the nation in Acts 2 and declared what happened. He related how the hearers could also receive the gift of The Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38. Jesus had referred to this gift in Acts 1:4 as “the promise of The Father.” Earlier, just before He was crucified, The Lord Jesus told His disciples,
“I will pray The Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even The Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16,17).
The collective group of disciples was called the Church in Acts 2:47. “And The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.” Those who responded to Peter’s proclamation of the gospel were added by baptism into the Body of Christ (the Church) by The Holy Spirit. Only those who received the first gift, the gift of God’s Son can receive the second gift, the gift of The Holy Spirit. The Third gift found in The New Testament is
GOD’S GIFT TO THE BELIEVING SINNER.
In Romans 6:23 Paul describes this gift of God as “eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This gift of eternal life is also received by receiving the first gift, God’s Son. Only those who receive God’s Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, can receive this third gift, eternal life. Paul refers to this gift as “salvation” in Eph. 2:8,9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast.” The Fourth gift mentioned in The New Testament is in the plural.
SPIRITUAL GIFTS GIVEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO THE CHURCH.
In Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians in chapters 12 through 14 he discussed the gifts of The Spirit to the Church. Note especially in 1 Corinthians 12:28,29 that these gifts are given to the Church through people.
“And God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues . . .”
Also in Ephesians 4:8-11, Paul described that Jesus gave gifts unto men. Verses 9 and 10 are parenthetical, therefore are set apart by a parenthesis ( ) . This indicates that he has inserted these two verses to clarify what Jesus did just before He gave gifts to the Church and he lists in verse 11, “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.” These are people through whom the gifts are given to the Church. The purpose of the gifts is given in verse 12, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of The Body of Christ.” Thus it is noted that spiritual gifts in the strictest sense are gifted men given to the Church. People are only incidental. Spiritual gifts are given to the Church by The Holy Spirit through the vehicle of people.
Spiritual gifts to the Church are also mentioned by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans (12:6-8) and by the apostle Peter (1 Peter 4:10,1 1). In each case fewer gifts are mentioned than in 1 Corinthians 12 and neither Paul in Romans nor Peter mentions tongues. There is yet a Fifth option which is mentioned with hesitation. Though there is great reluctance to broach the subject, it must be carefully considered if proper treatment is given to the question at hand. One would be remiss to treat the question, “Have you got the gift?” without including a careful consideration of this final option, which is
When asked what would be the sign of His coming, The Lord Jesus Christ included a counterfeit display of miracles among the conditions which shall prevail just before He returns. In Matthew 24:24 He said,
“For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders: in so much that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
He made it very clear that great signs and wonders would be performed just before He returns in order to deceive people into thinking that those performing them are true prophets or true Christs, when in reality they are false and deceitful.
We learn from this that counterfeit demonstration of supernatural gifts shall be a prevalent sign of the end time. But John indicated that even in his day (AD. 90 to 100) there were many antichrists (1 John 2:18; 4:3). Then. too, Paul indicated to Timothy “that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits (demons); and doctrines of devils, (teachings contrary to God’s Word.” These originate from and are propagated by demons)” (1 Timothy 4:1). We are now living in these latter times. Counterfeit demonstration resulting from apostasy will become more and more evident.
Thus five options are given to the meaning of the term “the gift”: the gift of God’s Son, The Lord Jesus Christ to the world; the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to the Church; the gift of eternal life to the believing sinner; spiritual gifts given by The Holy Spirit to the Church; and counterfeit gifts which resemble those gifts given by The Holy Spirit to the Church. Since the possible options of the meaning of the word ‘gift’ have been enumerated and acknowledged, it is necessary now to
Eliminate and Abandon the Improbable or Unlikely Possibilities
of the term “the gift.”
It is unlikely that the first gift, the gift of God’s Son to the world is intended in the question, “Have you got the gift?” Because generally the question would be asked differently. “Have you received The Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior?” is more appropriate than “Have you got the gift?” The reference to eternal life can also be eliminated from such use for the same reason. “Have you received the gift of eternal life?” would be preferred. Thus two of the possible options are eliminated. Since it is unlikely that these two New Testament gifts are intended in the question, it is essential to
Examine and Appraise the Remaining Options.
It is possible that some who ask the question “Have you got the gift?” may be referring to
THE HOLY SPIRIT.
For there are those who believe that when one is baptized by The Holy Spirit there is a supernatural demonstration of the receipt of this gift. One of the pressing needs of the Church today is an adequate study of Pneumatology (a doctrinal study of The Holy Spirit as found in Scripture; see Notes titled The Doctrine of The Holy Spirit on the website www.happyheralds.com or .org). Years ago the Church placed a strong emphasis upon Pneumatology. But through the years and more recently there has been a laxity in such emphasis upon the doctrine of The Holy Spirit. It is necessary to examine what The Scriptures teach concerning
HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS RECEIVED.
In Jerusalem, at the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (booths), in which for seven days the Jews dwelt in shelters made from branches of trees, The Lord Jesus introduced The Holy Spirit.
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying. If any man thirst, let Him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as The Scripture hath said out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of The Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive, for The Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)” (John 7:37-39).
Verse 39 clearly indicates that The Holy Spirit would not be given until after Jesus was glorified. Nevertheless Jesus spoke of The Holy Spirit as an available gift while He was still ministering, even before He went to the cross of Calvary. He could not be glorified until after His resurrection and after His ascension. It is clear that the gift of The Holy Spirit could not be obtained by anyone who did not totally commit his or her faith (complete trust) in the person of The Lord Jesus Christ after He was glorified. What it meant for Jesus to be glorified is indicated in John 17 where the High Priestly prayer of The Lord Jesus Christ is recorded. Jesus began by saying “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son that thy Son also may glorify Thee” (John 17:1). It is very clear here that The Lord Jesus Christ was not yet glorified. But He prayed that The Father would glorify Him, indicating that He anticipated that He would be glorified sometime in the near future. In John 17:5 The Lord Jesus Christ clarified what He meant by His petition to The Father to glorify Him. “And now, 0 Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” In order for Jesus to be glorified He must be seated at the right hand of The Majesty on High. He must be ascended into Heaven and seated at God’s right hand, where presently He is seated. Not until The Lord Jesus Christ was glorified -- seated at the right hand of God -- could the gift of The Holy Spirit be given or the baptism of The Holy Spirit take place.
Some will turn to John's gospel chapter 20 and cite verse 22 as evidence to the fact that the disciples received The Holy Spirit before Christ was glorified. This would seem to be a contradiction to the previous statement that John made concerning The Holy Spirit who could not be given until Jesus was glorified. In the context of Jesus appearing to His disciples in the upper room on the day of His resurrection at evening Jesus said, “Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. And when He had said this. He breathed on them, and saith unto them, receive ye The Holy Spirit” (John 20:21,22). “Receive ye The Holy Spirit” is the hinge upon which the misunderstanding of when The Holy Spirit was received swings. It is the nail upon which the misunderstanding hangs. The word “receive” is translated from the Greek verb which means take, welcome, or receive. Many times it carries the idea of extending hospitality, to warmly receive with a hearty welcome. To gain further insight into the meaning of Jesus’ statement it is necessary to go back to the original Greek. When The New Testament Greek grammar is understood and what John wrote in the original language and what the first century Christians understood that Jesus said is properly perceived, there is not a contradiction at all and the meaning is clarified. If the reader is not familiar with the Greek language let him not fear. An attempt will be made to explain simply and clearly the grammar of the Koiné Greek so he or she will be able to understand the meaning of Jesus’ statement.
In Greek the tense of the verb indicates kind of action and not time of action as does the English verb tense. There are three kinds of action: punctiliar (at a point), linear or continuing, and undefined. The verb which is translated “receive” is in the aorist tense. The root of the word “aorist” forms the word from which we get our word “horizon” with a prefix which means negative or without. Thus the meaning of aorist is “without limits, undefined.” The aorist is the most difficult of the Greek tenses to translate. In some cases it requires quite an explanation in order to translate properly and understandably into English. The text before us is one of these difficult texts because of the aorist tense and its use here. According to A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament by H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey published by The Macmillan Co., Toronto, Ontario, 1955 (pp. 195-200), there are three regular uses and three special uses of the aorist tense. To determine which of these uses the author had in mind when he wrote, it is necessary to consider the context in which the aorist is used. One general usage of the aorist tense considers the total action without reference to duration of time. It brings the whole concept of time into a single occurrence, whether it is a momentary action, a series of acts or events, or a single event stretched over a long period of time. None of these aspects in the context relates to what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Receive ye The Holy Ghost (Spirit).” The event (of The Holy Spirit being received by the disciples of The Lord Jesus) had not taken place until after Jesus was glorified (John 7:39).
Another general use of the aorist signifies that the action is being conceived at its inception or at its beginning and thus it indicates that one is entering into a state or a condition. It is used with verbs which indicate a state or condition. When Jesus said, “Receive ye The Holy Ghost (Spirit),” He wasn't talking about entering into a condition or a state in which the recipient begins to receive The Holy Spirit. The verb “receive” does not indicate either a condition or a state, nor the entering of the same, but rather in this case it refers to the act of accepting a gift or a possession.
Another general use of the aorist is from the viewpoint of the whole event, stressing the results which remain. It deals with the end or the result of a process. Certainly this command to receive The Holy Spirit is not the result of a process. Otherwise it would not be so stated. In addition, the Acts 1:4,5,8 passage indicates that the disciples had not yet received The Holy Spirit. Thus the three general uses of the aorist tense have to be eliminated because they do not apply to the context and to teaching of other Scripture. Therefore it is necessary to consider the special uses
of the aorist. The most common special use is one in which the action is habitual or a generally accepted fact or a truth that is certain. This does not apply to the verb ‘receive’ because The Holy Spirit was not yet given and according to John 7:39. He will not be given until Jesus is glorified.
Another special use of the aorist is employed when the writer places himself in the mind of the reader at the time the statement is to be read. Thus he will take a past event and put it either in the future or into the present for the reader. This can not apply to John 20:22 because it is not a past event. It is a future event!
The final special use of the aorist is the dramatic aorist. It is used for emphasis. What has just been realized or what is so certain to be accomplished and is at the point of being accomplished so that the writer or spokesman will use the dramatic aorist. It is used to state a fact that is yet future and so certain to happen that it is considered as if it has happened. There are several verses of Scripture in which the dramatic aorist is employed. John has used it three times in his Gospel.
In John 13:31 we read: “Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is The Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.” It is known by what has been written above that Jesus has not yet been glorified at this point in time. Jesus' statement in verse 31 was made at the Passover, at the time the Lord’s Supper was instituted in the upper room, the night prior to His death. As a matter of fact, shortly after this The Lord Jesus Christ “was shamed, embarrassed and disgraced when He was crucified on the cross. But the fact that He would be glorified was such a certain event and fact in the mind of The Lord Jesus, and it was so sure to be accomplished, that He used the dramatic aorist. He put the statement of the future in the present by saying, “Now is The Son of Man glorified.” The translation of that statement is from the verb in the aorist tense in The Greek New Testament. It is the exact word and form of the verb which also reads, “and God is glorified in Him.”
This dramatic use of the aorist is also found in John 17:4. “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” The word “finished” in the Greek is in the aorist tense. Yet in John 17, The Lord Jesus Christ had not yet gone to the cross of Calvary. He had not yet said, “It is (stands) finished!” as He did prior to giving up the ghost (spirit) and dying. The word The Lord Jesus used in John 17:4 is in this dramatic aorist tense, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” The work wasn't yet finished, but it was certain to be accomplished. It was a fact accomplished in His mind. There was nothing to deter Him from completing it. He, being God, was omniscient and able to say, I have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do.” He could see the future. He could see the end from the beginning. So when Jesus used the dramatic aorist again in John 20:22 He had in His mind that sending The Holy Spirit was a completed act. For He had been crucified, He rose again from the dead, and there only remained for Him to show Himself to be alive by many infallible proofs, then to ascend into Heaven and be glorified before He send The Holy Spirit. He used the dramatic aorist to portray that all was accomplished and the sending of The Holy Spirit was certain. It was the disciples responsibility to receive Him -- to welcome Him.
Consider the context. He had said to them, “As My Father hath sent Me even so I am sending you.” His Father sent Him into the world. He was sending His disciples into the world. Now they needed power to go forth and do His work. They could not go in their own strength. They were not to go forth right away. Indeed they cannot go forth right away because He commanded them to tarry in Jerusalem until they received power (Acts 1:4,8). It is evident that they did not yet receive The Holy Spirit because Acts 1:4 states He “commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of The Father, which, said He, ye have heard of Me.” They had not yet received The Holy Spirit because “baptism with The Holy Spirit” was still future according to Acts 1 :5, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with The Holy Spirit not many days hence.”
In John 20:22 the verb ‘receive’ or ‘welcome’ is in the imperative mood. Now in Greek, tense has to do with the kind of action, but mood has to do with the attitude of the mind of the speaker. It has to do with whether the speaker considered the action actual or possible. Is it a reality or a possibility? In this case the future action is possible and Jesus is giving a command. Also the action requires the volition of the will of the disciples. Therefore the imperative mood is used. The Lord Jesus, in giving the commission, says, I am sending you as my Father sent me. You need to receive the Holy Spirit in order to do this. They had not received Him yet. The disciples were commanded to respond to Him when Jesus sent Him. They were commanded to welcome Him and receive Him as they would any other gift.
Answer to a Pastoral Student’s Question: “What actually happened in that incident when The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples?
When John wrote, “He breathed on them,” he used
AN UNUSUAL VERB.
The verb John uses for “breathe” is found only here in all of The New Testament. It is an unusual word to express “breathe,” but here is an unusual occasion. The word is used in The Septuagint (LXX), which is the Greek translation of The Old Testament Scriptures from which so many of The Scriptures which are found in The New Testament are quoted. There are two outstanding occasions cited in which the same Greek word is used.
The first usage is most significant to John's usage in 20:22. It is used by Moses in describing creation of humans. “And The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). When God created Adam, the first human and the progenitor of human life, He breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living soul, an eternally existent being. Thereafter all humans received breath at birth. This was a special act of God upon Adam.
Man may die physically and his body be put in the grave but his soul continues to exist and will exist forever. Adam had the choice of eating of the fruit of ‘the tree of life’ and living forever, or of eating of ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ and dying (both spiritually immediately and physically ultimately). His spiritual death was immediate separation from God. He no longer enjoyed fellowship and communion with God, and when he died physically his soul continued to exist because God had breathed into him.
Thus The Holy Spirit directed Moses to use this unusual word to describe the creation and beginning of life for humans made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26,27)
THE DRY BONES
The other outstanding occasion on which the same Greek word for “breathe” is used is Ezekiel 37:9. The prophet was taken to the Valley of Dry Bones. There scattered dry bones came together and sinews, flesh, and skin covered those bones. But there was no breath in those carcasses. They were dead until Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy, “Come from the four winds, 0 breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” When he so prophesied they came to life. This prophecy refers to the assured resurrected life of Israelites in the future.
LIFE OF A NEW ORDER
Thus it is seen that the word “breathe” is used to indicate in Scripture commencement of life, but especially the initial life of a new order. It is interesting to note that, try as one may, he is hard put, or at a complete loss to find an occasion in the life of Christ prior to the cross where Scripture indicates that His disciples actually received eternal life. However, many Scriptures indicate that eternal life depends upon the resurrection of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:17,20-22,45; Rom. 4:24,25; 5:10; 6:4,5; 2 Cor. 13:4; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:5,6; Col. 2:12,13; 1 Pet. 1:3).
Here in John 20:22 is the only apparent Scripture that introduces the disciples to new life in Christ. The disciples are the progenitors of eternal life and the foundation of the Church. Just as The Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples gathered in Jerusalem in the upper room, so Jesus breathed eternal life into His disciples and commissioned them to communicate to others. Then as The Word of God was proclaimed by the disciples, The Spirit of God baptized into the Church those who responded with repentance and faith. So also eternal life came to them and to those who respond in the same way today.
In the second chapter of the book of Acts on the day of Pentecost The Holy Spirit came from The Father and the disciples properly and obediently responded. Two things happened on the day of Pentecost when The Holy Spirit came. First, they were baptized with The Holy Spirit. “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with The Holy Spirit not many days hence” (Acts 1:5). And second, they were filled with power. “But ye shall receive power, after that The Holy Ghost (Spirit) is come upon you” (Acts 1:8). “And they were all filled with The Holy Ghost (Spirit)” (Acts 2:4).
The Holy Spirit does not impose Himself upon people against their will. So The Lord Jesus had appealed to the will of the disciples to receive The Holy Spirit (John 20:21). Then He reiterated that the promise that He gave, the promise of The Father, would come upon them if they waited in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4). That promise was fulfilled in Acts 2:1, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Now it says in verse 4, “And they were all filled with The Holy Ghost (Spirit).” It is interesting to see that not once in Acts chapter 2 does The Scripture state that they were baptized with The Holy Spirit. It is understood that this was the baptism by The Holy Spirit. We know that what happened in chapter 2 was The Holy Spirit baptizing the disciples because of Acts 1:5 cf. 1:16,18. But there is no verse of Scripture in Acts 2 that states that they were baptized with The Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The word ‘filled’ is used. The house was filled with “a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” (verse 2). And all of those who were there were “filled with The Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as The Spirit gave them utterance” (verse 4). So it was the filling of The Holy Spirit that prompted or enabled them to speak with tongues.
Some say speaking in tongues is an evidence of the baptism of The Holy Spirit, but actually according to verse 4 it is an evidence of the filling of The Holy Spirit. Now note that there were repeated fillings of The Holy Spirit. In each case when they were filled with The Holy Spirit someone spoke, not necessarily in other tongues or languages. For instance Acts 4:8 reads, “Then Peter, filled with The Holy Ghost (Spirit), said unto them.” And 4:31 reads, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with The Holy Ghost (Spirit), and they spoke The word of God with boldness.” No mention of tongues in either case. Now this indicates that the filling enables one to speak, but not necessarily in tongues. However, on the day of Pentecost the tongues were actual languages which were spoken by Jewish people from foreign lands. This is obvious from verses 7 and 8,
“And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how here we every man in our own tongue (language), wherein we were born?”
Then there is a list of all the various tongues which were spoken on the day of Pentecost. “We do hear them speak in our tongues (languages) the wonderful works of God.” So that in Acts chapter 2 the tongues that were spoken are actual languages or dialects of languages. The gospel is being communicated to the people in their native tongue so that they can understand what the gospel is, what The Christ has done, and what is their responsibility and necessary response to the gospel.
The question is raised,
WHAT IS THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Baptism of The Holy Spirit is described in 1 Cor. 12:12,13,
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
Baptism of The Holy Spirit is the act whereby The Holy Spirit baptizes (immerses) or unites us into the Body of Christ, which is the Church. The initial baptism of The Holy Spirit is the birth of the Church. We can see this in fulfillment in Acts 2. For when Peter had finished preaching on the day of Pentecost and the people who heard responded, it says, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Now note that the conclusion of chapter 2 is, “And The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved” (v. 47). Now the adding to the Church is the work of The Holy Spirit which is called baptism of The Holy Spirit (1 Cor.12:12,13). Filling is something else again. There is only one baptism of The Holy Spirit, but there are many fillings. Baptism of The Holy Spirit is an initial act. Being filled with The Holy Spirit is often repeated. The verb ‘baptized’ (1 Cor. 12:13) is in the aorist tense -- punctiliar action. The second use of the aorist described above is the most applicable. The context indicates the work of The Holy Spirit is placing the saint (1 Cor. 1:2) as a member into the Body of Christ. It is conceived as entering into a state -- the Body of Christ. It is the inception or beginning of a permanent relationship with Christ as a member of His Body. On the other hand, the verb ‘filled’ (Eph.5:18 where Paul commands the faithful in Christ Jesus (1:1) to be filled with The Spirit) is in the present tense -- linear action. “Keep on being filled with The Spirit.” Continual repeated action is expected. Thus being baptized by The Holy Spirit is a one time, initial act -- once for all, while being filled with The Holy Spirit is repetitive -- over and over again.
Filling with The Holy Spirit is likened to the action of drinking wine to excess. The one doing this loses self control of his faculties and becomes controlled by the wine (spirits) of which he is filled. His speech is affected most prominently. When an individual child of God is filled with The Holy Spirit, he is so controlled by The Holy Spirit that he is able to speak for God and perform a ministry for The Lord. His speech is also affected most prominently. In the early Church those who were filled with The Holy Spirit often spoke in tongues or other languages as recorded in Acts. But in Ephesians, Paul indicates that the results of being “filled with The Spirit” are “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to The Lord;” and “giving thanks” (Eph. 5:18-20).
WHY DID THEY SPEAK IN TONGUES?
The Greek word translated ‘tongue’ has two meanings: the body organ and a language (a spoken means of communication by a people group). The word in First Corinthians in plural number refers to languages. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that ‘tongues’ or ‘languages’ is a sign to those who do not believe. “Wherefore tongues (languages) are for a sign not to them that believe, but to them that believe not” (1 Cor.14:22). Paul made it clear to the Corinthians, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Cor.1:22). The Jews would not respond to this new covenant and to this new message from God without a sign. They were so entrenched for centuries under the law that they would not come to God in grace and receive The Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah because they had crucified Him. Unless there was a sign to prove that God was indeed acting and working in this new economy of relationship with Him they would not believe. So God gave the sign of speaking in languages. It is interesting to note at the close of the chapter which describes The Holy Spirit’s coming upon the disciples that the emphasis is on the Church. Now the Church was not mentioned before, except twice in the Gospel of Matthew by The Lord Jesus Christ (Mt. 16:18; 18:17). So it is concluded that the birth of the Church took place at Pentecost and the coming of The Holy Spirit is not primarily for individuals but for the Church. Although the ministry of The Holy Spirit in salvation and conviction of sin is to the individual, yet in relation to His coming on Pentecost His ministry is to and through the Church. It is imperative to note that The Holy Spirit did not enable an individual or just some individuals to speak in tongues or languages. But He filled them all and they all spoke in tongues. Quite a difference from the emphasis that is placed on tongues today which stresses that the individual should speak in tongues!
The summary of what has been discovered in The Scriptures concerning when The Holy Spirit is received is as follows. Jesus gave an invitation at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles. John clarified that He spoke of The Holy Spirit which would be given after Jesus was glorified (John 7:39). Jesus clarified when He would be glorified and what was meant by His being glorified in John 17:5. ‘Glorified’ meant for Jesus to be back on the throne, next to His Father, seated on His right hand as He was before the world began.
In John 20:22 Jesus commanded the disciples to receive The Holy Spirit. But He was not yet glorified, therefore they did not receive Him at that time. He was commanding them to hospitably welcome Him when He would come so that they could fulfill the great commission which He gave them, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” In Acts 1:4,5 it is clear that they were not yet baptized and had not yet received the promise, but were commanded to wait in Jerusalem for the promise and for the baptism of The Holy Spirit. In the upper room in John 20, there were ten men to whom Jesus spoke. But on the day of Pentecost there were a hundred and twenty (according to Acts 1:15), which were gathered together and all were filled with The Holy Spirit, all began to speak with other languages or dialects called tongues. There is a difference between baptism of The Holy Spirit and filling by The Holy Spirit. Baptism is the work of The Spirit of God immersing or uniting individuals who respond to the gospel into the Body of Christ as members of that Body. Filling is the controlling of The Holy Spirit over those who are members in the Body of Christ and have been baptized by The Holy Spirit and who yield to Him for control. Filling results in speaking, but not necessarily in other tongues or languages. The speaking in tongues recorded in Acts chapter 2 was a sign giving evidence to the fact that The Holy Spirit had come and the message of the gospel and the New Covenant with The Lord Jesus Christ was valid. God was showing the Jews the validity of The Messiah's death, burial, and resurrection, the authenticity and inauguration of the New Covenant, and the beginning of the Church. Response to the gospel message enables The Holy Spirit through repentance and faith in Christ to regenerate and unite those who believed and were baptized into the Church. They not only received the gift of God’s Son, the first gift; the gift of eternal life, the third gift; but also the gift of The Holy Spirit, the second gift described on page 2.
Since Scripture records that Peter referred to this second gift as the gift of The Holy Ghost (Spirit) both in Acts 2:38 and 10:45, it is not in keeping with Scripture to refer to this as simply ‘the gift.’ This is further substantiated by the fact that Scripture never refers to The Holy Spirit merely as ‘the gift.’ Furthermore, it would not be proper to refer to the gift of The Holy Spirit merely as ‘the gift’ because confusion results since there are two other gifts which could be referred to in the same way. Therefore, another option, namely reference to The Holy Spirit as ‘the gift’ is also eliminated and should be excluded from common usage. Now consider the Fourth option:
SPIRITUAL GIFTS TO THE CHURCH.
As noted above the largest treatment of spiritual gifts in Scripture is found in 1 Corinthians 12-14. A reading of 1 Cor. 12:4-11,28-31 reveals a rather lengthy list of gifts. It is apparent that these gifts can be divided into three categories: supernatural or sign gifts which are termed miraculous gifts, speaking gifts or communication gifts, and service gifts or ministry gifts. It is interesting to note that in verses 7-11 each spiritual gift is mentioned as being given to an individual, while in verses 28-31 the reference is to the men who exercise those gifts. “And God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of languages” (v.28). Then Paul asks the question, “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?” Now the reference is to the men who exercise the gifts in the Church. Above under the list of options it was noted that spiritual gifts are given to the Church by The Holy Spirit through the vehicle of people. These are gifted men given to the Church.
PROCEDURE FOR PROPER INTERPRETATION
It is not an accepted principle of interpretation to proceed to build a doctrine, especially dealing with the practical ministry of the Church, upon a passage from a single Book of The Bible even though that Book is a Pauline Epistle. Objections will be strongly raised if that Epistle is corrective in nature and not didactic or instructive. This is the case with 1 Corinthians. Paul wrote to the Corinthians to correct their erroneous behavior when they gathered for spiritual services and ministry.
The accepted practice to reach the proper interpretation is to examine the historical progression of revelation regarding a particular truth or doctrine throughout the chronology of Scripture. And when the author has been credited with other Books in the canon of Scripture, observe carefully what he has written in them regarding that particular truth or doctrine. When the explanation of gifts are traced through the Scriptures it is noted that historically Paul wrote first to the Corinthian Church about gifts. Therefore the First Epistle to the Corinthians is introductory to spiritual gifts. It was written in late (between June and November) A.D. 56. Later Paul wrote to the Romans between December A.D. 57 and March A.D. 58. In writing to the Romans, Paul mentions spiritual gifts in Chapter 12. Only one supernatural gift, the gift of prophecy is included in the list. Whereas in Corinthians he has mentioned apostles, prophets, miracles, gifts of healing, tongues, and interpretation of tongues as those who are the gifted men who have the supernatural gifts listed in verses 8-10.
Later in mid A.D. 62 Paul wrote to the Ephesians from the Roman prison and included in his list of gifts: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph.4:11). But in Eph. 2:20 Paul indicates that the gifts of apostles and prophets will pass off the scene because they are foundational. The only other mention of gifts in The New Testament is by the apostle Peter in his first Epistle, which was written between A.D. 64 and 66. Peter makes no mention of supernatural gifts. Only the speaking gifts and the service gifts are included in 1 Peter 4:10,11,
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.”
The historical progression of revelation in The Scriptures concerning spiritual gifts reveals that the earliest passage includes all the gifts. But the further along in the first century the less reference there is to supernatural gifts until the latest Epistle written by Peter eliminates supernatural gifts from the list of gifts. However, Peter places a greater emphasis upon the speaking and service gifts. This would indicate a decrease in the importance of the supernatural gifts and an increase in the importance of the speaking and service gifts in the Church. The first century from A.D. 33 to the turn of the century was a period of transition in the Church and the epistle to the Corinthians is corrective, while Romans and Ephesians is instructive, and 1 Peter is exhortative.
PRINCIPLE OF SUPREME AND FINAL AUTHORITY.
It is necessary at this point to acknowledge that there must be a supreme standard by which all creeds, opinions, and conducts shall be tried. It is needful briefly to summarize Bibliology (the study of the theology or doctrine of The Bible). Unless we have such a supreme standard and an absolute authority for our doctrine and practice, there is the possibility of anyone claiming to have authority and revelation today. But God has provided a supreme standard in The Perfect and Complete Word of God.
“The Bible is the complete, final, and authoritative revelation of God's will and word.” This is substantiated by several Scriptures.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim.3:16,17).
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy: whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of The Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by The Holy Ghost (Spirit)” (2 Pet. 1:19-21).
The Bible is replete with statements indicating that it is The Word of God. The question that creates the greatest controversy is, When has The Bible become the complete and final revelation of God? Historically, chronologically, and positionally the Book of Revelation comes at the conclusion of the canon of Scripture. The early Church recognized that it indeed was the last of the Books written and has been placed in order at the close of The Bible. It was written approximately A.D. 96 to 100 by the beloved apostle John. John testified in the last chapter that this Revelation of Jesus Christ was given by Jesus Christ. He quotes the words of Jesus in the last verses of the Book (Rev. 22:16-19). “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches” (v.16). Jesus is testifying! Now what does Jesus testify?
“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book. If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (v. 18).
That verse of Scripture makes it very plain that there is no more prophecy from God. The words of the prophecy of this Book are complete and if any man adds unto them, the plagues which are found in this Book shall be added to him. This includes the plagues from the seven seals which are broken, the seven trumpets that are blown, the seven vials that are poured out, and the plague of the burning in the eternal lake of fire for ever. There is to be no more prophecy from God after the prophecy which was given to John was recorded in the Book of Revelation.
Further, verse 19 states,
“And if any man shall take away from the words of the Book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this Book.”
To take away from the words can even be the minimizing of verse 18. To say there is more prophecy from God or we do have prophecy today is to take away from the words of the prophecy in verse 18 which says there is no more prophecy. If anyone says that there is further prophecy or that they have a prophecy from God, they are lying because Jesus said there is no more prophecy. Now that there is no more prophecy of Scripture, the canon of Scripture is complete. The Word of God is perfect, complete, finished entirely. It is fully developed and brought to completion. There is no more of God's Word to be communicated to man. All that man needs to know is found in The Complete and Perfect Word of God. In the original record there were no errors. It was perfect and without short comings as well as complete. With the completion of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we have the consummation of The Entire Perfect Word of God. Now this is born out by the apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians for we read that Paul described the gifts given to the Church as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The first two are supernatural or sign gifts. Apostles and prophets demonstrated miracles. The apostles had the ability to perform miracles and they had the miraculous gifts of a word of wisdom and word of knowledge. They spoke in languages and had the gift of healing. But the apostle Paul said in Eph.2:19,20,
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”
The Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Now once the foundation is laid no one can keep building the foundation over and over again. Once the foundation is laid there is nothing further to be added to it. The superstructure is built upon it. The apostles and prophets were the foundation. They are no longer in operation now. The superstructure of the Church is being built upon the foundation. After the foundation of the Church was laid in the first century the ministry of the apostles and prophets ceased when they passed away. The supernatural gifts of apostles and prophets are no longer available. There is no further need for apostles and prophets.
That The Word of God is complete is further born out by the apostle Paul when he wrote to the Corinthians concerning spiritual gifts. He included a chapter to relate how these gifts should be used. He indicated that there would be a ceasing of or a completion of the use of certain gifts. He wrote,
“Love 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” (1 Cor.13:8).
A Precise Translation reads,
“The love not even ever falls out of place. But whether |there be| prophecies, they shall be negated; whether languages, they of themselves shall cease; whether knowledge, it shall be made ineffective.”
Paul very clearly indicated that prophecies shall come to an end, tongues shall of themselves cease, and the word of knowledge (the supernatural gift of uttering knowledge) shall vanish away. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which (τò τέλεον) is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (vs. 9,10).
The word ‘perfect’ - τέλεον means to bring to an end by completing or perfecting. It is in the neuter gender with the identifying neuter article and not in the masculine gender which would be necessary if the reference was to The Lord Jesus Christ. The exact same word in the very same form (nominative case, neuter gender) is used by Paul in reference to the will of God (Romans 12:2) and by James in referring to every gift of God (James 1:17). James uses it a second time to refer to The Word of God (1:25).
“But be ye doers of The Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of The Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect ( τέλεον) law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jas. 1:22-25).
These three other references in addition to the 1 Corinthians 13 reference are the only occurrences of this word in this form (τέλεον) in The New Testament. In each context the reference is to the will of God or The Word of God. The will of God is made known through The Word of God. Thus that which is perfect in 1 Cor.13:10 is The Word of God. As noted above The Word of God is now perfect. Nothing can be added to it! It cannot be changed in content! It is indeed perfect! And since it is perfect there is no further need for prophecy and there is no further manifestation of prophecy. It is interesting to note that the same wording in the Greek in verse 10 is used in verse 8 twice, ‘shall be done away’ The same verb is used with prophecies, knowledge and that which is in part. The action comes from without--outside the subject. That means, God is going to intervene and do away with the gifts of prophecy and (word of) knowledge. Since the reference is to the supernatural gifts mentioned in 1 Cor.12:8-10, it would appear that the reference is to ‘the word of knowledge.’ The tongues shall of themselves cease. That verb is in the middle voice, which means by itself it shall fade away, whereas prophecy is in the passive voice (acted upon from outside) and shall be done away. God shall intervene and cease giving prophecy to the Church. That is exactly what Jesus said in Revelation 22. He indicated God intervened and no more prophecy will be given. It is apparent then that the supernatural or miraculous gifts are going to pass off the scene. The speaking gifts and the service gifts shall be those gifts which shall remain and God shall increase the Body of Christ, the Church. The other gifts shall vanish and cease to operate but the speaking gifts and service gifts are to continue for the edification of the Body and the building up of the saints.
PROMOTION OF THE GIFT OF TONGUES
Listed eighth in order among the supernatural gifts is the gift of tongues or languages. It seems that this gift is singled out of all the supernatural gifts, of all the speaking gifts, and of all the service gifts, by many people as an indication that one has been baptized by The Holy Spirit. It would seem that some are referring to the gift of tongues when they ask the question, “Have you got the gift?” However, there were thousands of people who were converted in the early days of the Church, of whom it is not said they spoke in tongues. As a matter of fact, only three times in the Book of Acts is there a mention of people speaking in tongues.
The Acts 2 Passage has already been considered. It was very clearly noted that the tongues were languages of the people that had come from all over the Roman Empire, at that time, to worship in Jerusalem.
The second occasion in which tongues is mentioned is in Acts 10. The first Gentile converts who heard the gospel at the hands of Peter and six brethren who accompanied him to Caesarea spoke in tongues or languages. It is interesting to note that The Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles while Peter was preaching. As a result they were baptized in water. The reverse was true of the Jews in Acts 2. They were baptized in water and then received the gift of The Holy Spirit. But the Gentiles in Acts 10 received The Spirit and then were baptized. It is also interesting to note that when the Samaritans who were hated by the Jews heard the gospel and responded they received The Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-20). But there is no mention of them speaking in tongues. The only other occasion in which there is a record of converts speaking in tongues when they received The Holy Spirit is in Acts 19. There were certain disciples of John the Baptist at Ephesus whom Paul met. When they were baptized in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ by Paul, he laid hands on them and The Holy Spirit came upon them. “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, The Holy Ghost (Spirit) came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). These are the only three occasions in the book of Acts in which there is a mention of tongues. The word tongues refers to languages. No where in Scripture is there an indication that the Greek word refers to muttering or babbling ecstatically, which has been called ‘glossolalia.’ Although Paul exhorts, “Covet earnestly the best gifts,” and ‘prefer’ or ‘rather’ a particular gift, he does not ever indicate that the gift can or should be sought. It can be desired, but it is not to be sought. Man is not to seek after the gifts of The Holy Spirit. This is demonstrated in the life of Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8. He came to Peter seeking the gift of The Holy Spirit in order that he may lay hands on people and give them The Holy Spirit. Peter responded in verse 20, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.”
So seeking a gift of The Holy Spirit or the gift of conveying The Holy Spirit has been condemned by Scripture in the demonstration of how such effort is treated by Peter in the life of Simon the sorcerer. Yet the implication of the question, “Have you got the gift?” is if you don't have it you should seek it. The Word of God does not indicate that we should seek the gift of tongues or the gift of The Holy Spirit. Paul taught the Corinthians that The Holy Spirit divides the gifts as “He will” (1 Cor. 12:11). Since it is according to the will of The Holy Spirit and He is sovereign we are not to interfere with His work by seeking a gift. Therefore, the question, “Have you got the gift?” cannot refer to the fourth option, Spiritual Gifts to The Church. It is apparent that Scripturally the question does not refer to any of the first four gifts in Scripture. This leaves the Fifth option to be considered.
The god of this world (2 Cor.4:4) is a super master at counterfeit and deceit . The True God said that Satan “deceiveth the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). As noted above The Lord Jesus Christ in Matt.24:24 warned that in the last days there would be false Christs and false prophets who would appear and if possible would even deceive the very elect. However it is not possible! It was also observed that both John and Paul indicated a counterfeit demonstration of supernatural gifts could be expected to be manifested in the Church. As a matter of fact ‘counterfeit demonstration’ was evident in the first century. The apostle Paul spoke to the Galatians and also to the Corinthians concerning another gospel. He first wrote to the Galatian churches:
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; which is not another: but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6,7 AV).
“I marvel that you& are so hastily deserting away from The One |Who| summoned you& in Christ’s grace unto another gospel of a different kind, which is not another of the same kind, except some are the ones disturbing you& and are desirously willing to alter the gospel of The Christ” (Gal. 1:6,7 APT).
The Galatians removed or hastily deserted away from the grace of Christ to another gospel which is not another -- another gospel of a different kind which is not another of the same kind. Two different Greek words are used in referring to ‘another.’ The first, heteros is the word from which we get heterogeneous, heterosexual, and heterodoxy. It means of a different kind. Paul indicates there is a gospel which is another kind, a different kind. He wrote,
“But though we or an angel from Heaven, preach any other (of a different kind of) gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).
The second word is allos which means ‘another of the same kind.’ Heteros is used in contrast to allos in verse 6 to distinguish the two kinds of gospels presented: the false gospel propagated by Satan, the god of this world, which results in eternal damnation for those who believe it and the genuine gospel of The True God’s Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, which results in eternal salvation for those who totally commit trust in the person of The Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul uses the same language in speaking correctively to the Corinthians.
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Cor. 11:4 AV).
“For if (and it is true) actually the one coming proclaims as an herald another Jesus of the same kind, whom we did not proclaim as an herald, or you are receiving another spirit of a different kind, which you did not hospitably receive, or another gospel of a different kind, which you did not hospitably receive, you were continually forbearing well with |me|” (2 Cor. 11:4 APT).
This verse indicates that even in Paul’s day there was a counterfeit gospel (of a different kind than Paul preached) and a counterfeit spirit which presented another Jesus of the same kind. The spirit which puts emphasis upon himself and the gospel which stresses getting that spirit is contrary to the gospel which Paul preached and that spirit is contrary to The Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ promised to send. For He said,
“Howbeit when He, The Spirit of truth, is come. He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself: but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come” (John 16:13).
He shall not speak of Himself! The Spirit which Jesus Christ promised to send would not call attention to Himself, but would focus attention on Jesus Christ. The false gospel, the deceitful gospel puts emphasis on the spirit and not altogether on Christ alone. So according to Paul, this different, deceitful gospel proclaims another Jesus of the same kind but a spirit of a different kind.
Now to show the falseness and deceit of such a gospel concerning its messengers Paul said,
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
Satan puts the emphasis on this false gospel to deceive even the elect if it were possible to do so (Mt. 13:22). Paul wrote to Timothy that there are going to be those in the last days who “shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” or teachings of demons (1 Tim. 4:1). Therefore, there is this manifestation of a false gospel today. In order to give credence to this false gospel there is a need to imitate the miracles and the signs which accompanied the authentication of the true gospel which Jesus Christ preached and which was the means of establishing the Church in the Book of Acts.
Ecstatic speech has been called glossolalia and speaking in unknown tongues -- unknown because these cannot be identified with any tongue or language. The Encyclopedia Britannica Mircropaedia, volume 10, page 42 states that glossolalia occurred in some of the ancient Greek religions and in various primitive religions. The mystery religions in the first century had sophisticated rites and rituals which were patterned after Christianity, sacrifices for sin, feastings and fastings, baptism, and rituals that involved magical sensuous communion with deity and then set them into a semi-conscious, hallucinatory, hypnotic spell in which there was ecstatic speech. Then, back in the days when more emphasis was put on the preaching of the gospel than on social reforms and social assistance, World Vision produced several films showing the impact of the gospel on maidens going through frenzied contortions and various emotional movements beseeching the demons to possess them. When they were possessed they spoke with unknown tongues or ecstatic speech. So it is seen that glossolalia or ecstatic speech has been for centuries a manifestation of a religious experience other than that which the true Church of Christ experienced.
There is a reluctance to attribute to the forces of evil any spiritual manifestation which appears to represent good and a reality of faith. However, it has been demonstrated that the first four options to which the term ‘gift’ could refer have been eliminated by a study of The Scriptures. The only other option which The Word of The God substantiates as the possible meaning is the fifth option, COUNTERFEIT DEMONSTRATION.
Yet, surely someone will think while reading this that God is all powerful and certainly able to demonstrate His power today by enabling humans to speak in tongues. If The God so demonstrated His power on the day of Pentecost, He can do it today because He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” And this is true. He can demonstrate His power today! But He told us through His Word that He will not demonstrate His power through supernatural demonstration. His Word is complete as explained above on page 13ff under the heading entitled, PRINCIPLE OF SUPREME AND FINAL AUTHORITY. Therefore God will demonstrate His power in our day through His Word by His Spirit. Surely the transformation of the life of a great sinner, criminal (murderer or thief), wizard, witch, or prostitute unto a child of God who lives for Jesus Christ and witnesses to the saving grace of Christ is a far greater demonstration of His power than ecstatic speech. God does not need to demonstrate His power through ecstatic speech if His children will properly communicate the gospel and demonstrate His power to change lives by living for Christ and walking in The Spirit. Therefore it would appear that counterfeit demonstration is the real and significant use and meaning of the question, “Have you got the gift?”
EXCLUDE AND ABANDON THE USE OF ‘THE GIFT.’
It has been shown that it is proper and wise to refer explicitly to each of God’s gifts specifically and not merely in general as ‘the gift,’ so that proper respect is given to each, confusion is eliminated, and ignorance is not demonstrated. The gift of God’s Son to the world is “The Lord Jesus Christ.” The gift of Another Comforter to the Church is “The Holy Spirit” or “The Spirit of Truth.” God’s gift to sinners is the gift of “eternal life.” The numerous gifts of The Holy Spirit to the Church are “spiritually gifted men” through whom the Church is blessed. Therefore, it behooves every child of God to refrain from referring improperly to God’s proffered gifts. It is well to exclude such reference from verbal communication. Should the reader be one of those who have been innocently entangled in such counterfeit demonstration, be assured there is hope for you. God loves you. The Holy Spirit will certainly lead you to separate from those involved with counterfeit demonstration. The appeal that the apostle Paul made to the Corinthians applies to you today. After his corrective teaching in 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote in a second Epistle,
“Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith The Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And I will be Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith The Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 6:17-7:1 AV).
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see The Lord” (Hebrews 12:12 14).
Since God plainly indicates that those who separate will be received and shall be sons and daughters (future tense) to Him, it is imperative to obey, come out from among them and be separate. You, who are sincere, hear and heed this appeal now! Do not delay! The longer you remain involved the harder it becomes to sever the ties. Do not consult with other people but follow Paul’s example stated in Gal. 1:16. “Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Act upon The Word of God now! Refuse to be persuaded to wait and give it further consideration. God’s time to act is NOW (2 Cor. 6:2). Failure to respond keeps you in a precarious status. Repudiate your involvement with counterfeit demonstration and separate unto The Lord today.
Finally, since it has been concluded that Scripture indicates the use of supernatural gifts is no longer valid, it behooves every child of God to separate himself from involvement in the practice of imitating the supernatural gifts of The Spirit and from those who both teach and practice that they are for the Church today (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1 cf. Rev. 18:1-4; 2 Thes. 2:1-12). Which church? Satan’s? or The Lord Jesus Christ’s?
Dr. Fred Wittman
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