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Pentecostal Apologetics

Church Gifts

God Expects The Church to Operate in The Spiritual Gifts

By Investigating Christ's Distribution of The Spiritual Gifts in Hebrews, Romans, Ephesians, Acts, and 1 Corinthians;  It Will Be Seen That God Gave The Spiritual Gifts (Including Tongues and Prophecies) For a Reason—Namely, to Build Up His Church.

Romans chapter 12 is identical to 1 Cor. 12-14 (Where Paul speaks to the Corinthians of spiritual gifts). Both books speak of the spiritual gifts, and how to use them to serve each other. Both speak of the church being a body with different parts, and Paul warns both, not to be proud and arrogant (which was the Corinthian's problem).

Cessationists say that Paul learned his lesson watching the Corinthians fight, so that he stopped encouraging the spiritual gifts at other churches. Just the opposite is true. Actually, Paul wrote "Romans" from Corinth, and he not only encouraged the Romans to use their spiritual gifts—he even wanted to go over there and lay hands on them that they might receive even more spiritual gifts; this, in order to help strengthen them by adding spiritual power to their faith:
 
"For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;" Rom. 1: 11
 
Apparently, according to the verse above, (and the verse below); spiritual gifts are to help strengthen the believer to fight the good fight.

"This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;" 1 Tim. 1: 18

Paul most likely wanted to lay his hands (and pray) on the Romans to impart the "gift" to them, as he would do to Timothy several years later:
 
"Wherefore I put thee in remebrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." 2 Tim. 1: 6 "Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you" 1 Tim. 4:14
 
"I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and of self-discipline." 2 Tim. 1: 6-7

"If the spiritual gifts are still active in the churches," some might ask, "Then why do not even cessationists occasionaly speak prophetically by God's power?" The answer to this is obvious. Do cessationists have the faith necessary to operate in the prophetic?
 
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith... Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith." Rom. 12: 3-6
 
God does distribute spiritual/prophetic gifts to His people--sometimes he uses other Christians to administer the impartation of the gifts. But it is God who supplies the Spirit. Cessationists should be careful not to fight against God by trying to prove that some of the gifts that He uses to build up the church, have already ceased.
     Below are a few verses that speak of the distribution of spiritual gifts for His church. Of course, Rom. 12: 6 (above) is one, but there are others:

"But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men... And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Eph. 4: 7-12
 
Peter Speaks of This Distribution in Acts:


"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh;and your sons and daughters shall prophesy... Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost , he hath shed forth this [tongues-speaking], which ye now see and hear." Acts 2: 17, 33

The Book of Hebrews Speaks of This Distribution of Gifts For The Church:


"so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken of by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, with both signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?" Heb. 2: 3-4

Unfortunately, there is an entire issue concerning the verses to the book of "Hebrews" that must be touched on here. Many cessationists believe in the "once saved--always saved" doctrine, and therefore ( I don't mean to sound critical of that doctrine because I might believe that doctrine also. I'm just not sure. But Hebrews 6 needs to be considered), they do not like Hebrews chapter 6 which sounds like people can lose their salvation. So they say that the book of "Hebrews" was written to Israel just before the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 AD. Their plan is to show that Hebrews 6 does not teach that one can lose his salvation; but, rather, that it teaches that Israel, as a whole, has rejected Christ, and is under God's judgement evidenced by the destruction of the temple, and cannot be brought to salvation. (There are variations of this argument; however, the book of Hebrews is not written to any "Hebrews" but like the rest of the epistles, it is written to the church--both Jew and Gentile. It was most likely some Catholic who decided to give it the name, "Hebrews" long after it was first written) As part of their argument, cessationists say that the Hebrews, spoken to here, did not experience the gifts mentioned (signs, wonders, gifts). They say that these Hebrews (who recieved this epistle) are merely the children of the Hebrews that were preached to--with signs following. They say that the Hebrews who received this epistle did not experience signs, wonders, and gifts listed in the verses above.
 
This argument; though popular, is almost absurd. In reality, the epistle to the Hebrews was written between 64-68 A.D. Therefore, there were plenty of people ("Hebrews") still alive who had heard the messengers speak, and who experienced the signs, wonders, and gifts of the Holy Spirit in their church. Some people, possibly apostles, were eye-witnesses of the Lord—they spoke the word to the Hebrews (These same Hebrews who were receiving this epistle) and the word was confirmed as these Hebrews received the gifts of the Holy Spirit that God wanted them to have. It could have been apostles--or maybe just some of the evangelists or followers (disciples) of Christ who did miracles, signs, and wonders at the "Hebrews" church; but these Hebrews; like the Corinthians, Ephesians, and Romans, received some spiritual gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit.
 
Notice, in the verse below, that the writer said "to us;" (not, "to them") which means that he, and the "Hebrews" were the ones who heard the salvation message and experienced the spiritual gifts. It is absolutely preposterous to say that these "Hebrews" were not the same "Hebrews" that were preached to earlier (with signs and wonders).
 
"so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken of by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, with both signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?" Heb. 2: 3-4
 
Cessationists say that there may have been prophetic speaking early on, but that today there is no need for prophets. But anyone who says that, is in direct violation of 1 Cor. 12:20-22
 
"But now they are many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.'" 1 Cor. 12: 20-22
 
It is Noticed in The Two Verses below, that God sent the spiritual gifts; not just for individuals to enjoy, but for offices in the church:
 
"And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues"  1`Cor. 12: 28

The book of Ephesians also shows that the gifts should be used for offices in the church: "And He Himself gave some apostles; some, prophets; some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Eph. 4:11-12
 
According to the verses above, prophets are listed as a necessary office in the New Testament church. Their inclusion is necessary, as they play a vital role in the church (as seen below).

Apostles start the church. For example, if you start churches in Nigeria, then you are an "apostle "(a "sent one") to Nigeria.

Pastors preach the revealed written word
 
Teachers teach using the revealed written word
 
Evangelists preach and evangelise from the revealed written word.
 
Prophets do not speak the already revealed written word. They preach/speak divine revelation—words that come directly from God.

IN CONCLUSION:

The cessationist argument that "we don't hear much about tongues and prophecy after 1 Cor." is not even close to truth. It has been shown in these chapters that Hebrews, Romans, Ephesians, the writings of John, and the writings of Peter all contain the same message of 1 Cor. concerning prophetic speaking (that is why section 2 of this chapter is important—because it shows that tongues are included when writers speak of "prophecies).
 
The book of 1 Thessalonians is particularly damaging to the cessationist argument (even though it was written before 1 Cor.) as it says that those who "despise prophesyings" are "quench[ing] the Spirit."

After hearing cessationist teaching, this author is convinced that the cessationist view against tongues and prophecies are based soley on the three most loathsome arguments:
 
1) The argument from silence
2) The argument from history
3) The argument from experience
 
"The argument from silence" states that if we do not hear of tongues at a particular church, then that means there were no tongues at that church. The absurdity of the argument from silence is that it means "We do not hear much about celebrating baptisms, marraiges, or the Lord's Supper after 1 Cor. was written—therefore, those things ceased with tongues and prophecies." The argument from silence cannot be taken seriously. There are a lot of churches listed in Acts that do not have an epistle written to them that we may read. According to the argument from silence, those churches did not celebrate the Lord's supper, have baptisms, tongues, or prophecies—in fact they did not even have church services unless there was an apostle present! Now, if it is admitted that those churches engaged in prophetic speaking, then it can also be admitted that they celebrated the Lord's Supper, marriges, and water baptisms as well.

"The argument from history" states that prophetic speaking died out after an "apostolic age"--because the early church fathers say it that it did. This issue has not been addressed in this book because this book is not about what the early church fathers taught, but what The Holy Bible teaches. But actually, the only "church fathers" are the ones who wrote the Holy Bible. All others are "late," and they are not "church fathers." It must be remembered that the Holy Bible does not say that any person or group of people ("church fathers") can understand the holy word better than you. When faced with this fact; cessationists usually say that the "early church fathers" had a lot of wisdom. That idea is basically meaningless as anyone can investigate the teachings of the "fathers" and find that some of their beliefs were incredible nonsense. Where the "church fathers" agreed with the Holy Word, they are good teachers; where they disagree with the Holy Word, they need to be silenced. The problem with the argument from history is that it is actually the argument from experience.
 
"The argument from experience"—their experience. Church history has been written by the ecclesiastically powerful. Popular, influential theologians and powerful churches are the ones who wrote (their) church history. They certainly did not experience the gifts of the Spirit, as they did not associate with those who did operate in the gifts of the Spirit. Therefore; their writings state that the gifts of the Spirit had died out. In reality, however, there may have been thousands and thousands of people (maids, barnworkers et.) of low pedigree and influence who spoke in tongues but did not write about it. If only one person, anywhere on the planet has a prophetic dream or a prophetic prayer; then tongues and prophecies are still here. Time to move on. This is silly—even to consider the arguments from silence/history/experience in a scholarly work

Copyright 2006 - 2007. Peter Kwiatkowski. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain License. http://www.pentecostal-tongues-theology.org Peter Kent Kwiatkowski --