What about the miracles done by charismatic ministers?

The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were restricted to the era of the apostles. These gifts were given specifically for the confirmation of the the apostles as God’s messengers of His gospel. The miracles recorded in the New Testament were the Divine certification that Jesus is the promised Savior. Since that purpose has been accomplished the miraculous gifts are no longer in operation. Certain preachers claim to be able to perform miracles. Some evangelists and televangelists have ministries of healing. Others claim to be able to a variety of miracles. If there are no miraculous gifts today how do these individuals perform such feats?

The miraculous gifts were those spiritual gifts given to men enabling them to perform miracles as a regular and frequent part of their ministry. Mmiraculous gifting by its very nature requires the regular performance of miracles. If a miracle happened through the prayers of a person that does not mean the person has the gift of miracles. “Miraculous gifts” is not a reference to God’s healing of the sick, sunsets, the birth of babies or answered prayer. God still miraculously intervenes in the affairs of the world but He no longer gifts men to perform miracles.

Many of the healings performed by faith healers are of an entirely different quality than the healings of the Bible. The miraculous healings in the Bible included restoring the paralyzed to full strength and mobility, giving the blind normal vision, and healing completely those with gruesome or painful diseases like leprosy and epilepsy. Many modern day examples of healings claim to heal from pain, general ailments (as in, “I feel like I’m dying”), cancer and other vague or internal sicknesses. The claims of these kind of healings have been investigated and found to be temporary, untestable or just plain frauds.

A minority of those who claim to have the gift of healings have made Biblical-level claims to have the ability to raise the dead and heal the lame. Investigations into the claims of these ministries have authenticated none of the miracles and proven many to be be untrue. The reality of modern day miracle workers is no sound evidence has ever been given that proves their claims. The Biblical accounts of healing are of ailments with profound, visible physical effects which provide cases of clear, unmistakable and undisputable healings of people. Even the fiercest opponents of Jesus and the apostles could not deny the miracles they performed.

Possibly the most despicable teaching of many so-called miracle workers is any failures to heal is blamed on the sick person. If a person is not healed, then he did not have enough faith. Jesus and the apostles never blamed a misfired miracle on the one in need. The Bible does not teach that healing is dependent on the faith of the one being healed. The closest hint to this is found in Mark 9 where Jesus tells the father of a demon possessed child, “If thou believest, all things are possible.” The father responds, “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” The father knew his faith was mixed with doubt. His faith was not full and complete, yet Jesus healed fully and completely. The same story recounts an earlier failure to heal the afflicted child. Jesus gives a rebuke for lack of faith, but the rebuke is not directed to the father or the child. The rebuke is directed to His disciples. The disciples were responsible for the failure to heal, not the ones seeking healing. Faith healers have no business blaming their failures upon their victims.

Like prophecies, tongues and Divine revelation the other miraculous gifts faded out with the apostles. The claims of modern day miracle workers are a poor imitation of the glorious power of God displayed through His apostles and prophets. Their healings are often nothing more than the effects of emotional manipulation that causes a person to briefly feel better without accomplishing any actual healing. At times they are willful frauds preying upon the desperation of hurting people.

Does the Holy Spirit live inside Christian’s today?

The relationship of the Holy Spirit to believers today is a vitally important challenging doctrine to understand. The relationship of the Spirit with the believer gives comfort (John 14:16) and understanding (John 14:26) to the Christian.

A previous article stated that the Holy Spirit resides within each believer. The indwelling of the Spirit is the personal presence of God the Spirit within the saved person. The indwelling of the Spirit is more than a symbolic declaration of the Christian’s newfound closeness with God. The Holy Spirit actually takes up residence within the Christian.

Why do Christian’s believe this? The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is repeatedly affirmed in the New Testament. Jesus promsied the disciples that after His death and resurrection He would send them the Holy Spirit who “shall be in you”. (John 14:17) This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the 120 disciples were “all filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:4) That same day Peter told the Jews that God would give the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who believe. (Acts 2:38-39)

The possession of the Holy Spirit immediately became the hallmark of genuine Christianity. The presence of the Holy Spirit is so crucial to the Christian life that Romans 8:9 says, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” The presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the person is confirmation of the individual’s salvation. Those who do not have the Holy Spirit are not saved.

The indwelling of the Spirit is also taught in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 6:19 says the same thing, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you.” 2 Timothy 1:14 says, “the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” 1 John 3:24 says, “And hereby we know that (Christ) abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” The New Testament states repeatedly that God the Father and God the Son gave the Holy Spirit who takes up residence within the body of the believer.

This presence of the Holy Spirit is a major part of what makes the New Testament Christian different from an Old Testament believer. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus keeps His promise to abide in in His disciples and to never leave nor forsake them. At salvation the believer is given the Spirit. The Christian does not need to get the Spirit again, nor to get more of the Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of God’s promise to the Christian who seals and secures his salvation.

What is the sin nature?

The doctrine of the sin nature is not very popular. Even many Christians balk at the idea that all people are by nature guilty before God. Those churches which believe in the sin nature do not often teach the concept. The sin nature is also referred to as original sin and, among theologians, imputed sin. What is it?

The sin nature is the part of the person that is corrupted by sin. The sin nature is more than people committing sinful acts. The sin nature is the idea that every person is spiritually damaged. The broken part of the being produces the performance of evil deeds. 

The idea of a sin nature is found in Scriptures in the contrast between the old man and the new man. The old man is that which is natural to man and is displeasing to God. The new man is that which is supernaturally created by God in the believer with the ability and desire to live for Him. Statements like, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19) teach that man possesses a sin nature. The truths, “There is none righteous” (Romans 3:10) and “For all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) express the universal nature of original sin. When Christians say every one is a sinner we mean that every one does things which violate the commands of God and we mean that corruption in the person moves him to break God’s laws. 

The sin nature is something more than the evil deeds done by a person. This truth is made evident in several key Biblical passages. In Ephesians 2 All the unsaved are called “the children of disobedience”. All who have not received the saving grace of God are “by nature the child of wrath.” Left to their natural state all humans are in disobedience to God and are under His wrath.

Psalm 51 says the person is tainted by sin from the very moment of conception. (Incidentally, this passage is one reason why Christians believe life begins at conception. A lump of tissue cannot be guilty of sin.) “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Sin is not just an action, a thought, an emotion, an attitude, a word or a conscious choice of a mature individual. Sin is a state of being. Sin is something bound up in the nature of the person that produces sinful actions. 

The sin nature is not the physical part of the person. Body, blood, muscle, tissue and DNA are not sinful. Jesus was a flesh and blood person who possessed all the attributes of humanity. He had a normal human body yet was without sin. Likewise, Adam and Eve possessed physical bodies and were normal human beings before they sinned. Satan is the father of sin. He is an angel, a spiritual being who lacks any physical substance. The physical part of man is not the sin nature.

The sin nature resides in the spiritual part of the man. When describing the source of evil in a man, Jesus traces it to the heart. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil . . . evil things come from within and defile the man.” (Mark 7:20-23) Man’s problem is a spiritual one. Sin erupts from the corrupted heart to affect all parts of the person. The sin nature is in the heart of man and is the spiritual corruption of the individual.

Did the Holy Spirit Indwell Old Testament Saints?

New Testament Christianity teaches that the Holy Spirit resides within every saved person. At the moment of salvation God the Spirit takes up residence within the believer’s spiritual part of his being. What about the believers in the Old Testament. Did the Holy Spirit reside within them?

The Bible’s teaching about the Holy Spirit takes place primarily through the stories of the people of God. Few sections are specifically intended to teach about the Holy Spirit. The majority of those teaching passages are found in the New Testament. By observing how the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of specific people an understanding can be developed of the Holy Spirit’s Old Testament ministry.

The Holy Spirit was actively at work in the world before the coming of Jesus. The Old Testament describes various instances of the Holy Spirit coming upon individuals. The Holy Spirit came upon people to enable them to prophecy. (Numbers 24:2) Sometimes this “coming upon” happened at the beginning of their ministry like Othniel in Judges 3:10. Sometimes, like Samson, the Spirit came upon the person multiple times throughout their ministry. The Holy Spirit filled individuals like Bezaleel to perform a specific task. Very rarely does the Old Testament describe the Holy Spirit as “in” a person. Pagan kings said of Joseph and Daniel that the Spirit was in them. God told Moses that Joshua was, “a man in whom is the spirit.” (Numbers 27:18) Aside from these few references the Old Testament gives no indication that every believer possessed the Holy Spirit or was uniquely empowered by the Holy Spirit. The active working of the Holy Spirit was not the normal experience for Old Testament believers.

The Old Testament also presents the possibility of the Holy Spirit being removed from a person. This is the tragic case of Samson and Saul because of their sin. When David repented of his adultery and murder he prayed that God would not take His Holy Spirit from David. (Psalm 51:11) Those who knew the presence of the Holy Spirit were not assured of His continued working in them.

Jesus sums up the difference between the Holy Spirit’s ministry. In preparing the disciples for His departure Jesus promised to give them His Holy Spirit. He tells them the Holy Spirit was currently with them (Old Testament work of the Spirit) and in the future would be in them (New Testament work of the Spirit). (John 14:17) The Holy Spirit did indwell some believers before Pentecost, but that was not His usual ministry. The Holy Spirit empowered Old Testament saints without taking up residence within them. The Holy Spirit was with Old Testament saints. The Holy Spirit now resides within every child of God. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every believer is a unique thing that began at the day of Pentecost.

Is America Special in God’s Plan?

The founding of America holds a unique position in the annals of history. Though other nations since America have fought for their freedom, America is the first nation known to winn its independence from tyranny and establish itself as a democratic country. America’s experiment in liberty was groundbreaking. Americans are right to rejoice in their heritage. Some Christians seem to think that America is unique in history and unique in the plan of God. America is thought to be a Divine nation uniquely established by Him to accomplish great things for Christianity. 

Some facts about the founding of American are indisputable. Many of the early American settlers came to this continent pursuing religious liberty. A large percentage of the first colonists were born again Christians. Many of the founding fathers were devout Christians and almost every single one of the earlist leaders of the United States of America were devout men who believed in the existence of the Christian God and who looked to the Bible as an authoritative source of moral instruction. America was founded on Biblical ideas. The Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution are built on Biblical presumptions. The founding fathers recognized and publicly acknowledged the hand of God in the establishment of this nation. 

These historical facts cannot be questioned. The question is not if the founding fathers were devout or the American system of government was built on Biblical ideas. The question is about the specific role America plays in God’s plan for history. Does America hold a place in the plan of God that is different from all the other nations of the world? We have no idea. The Bible does not say. God’s providential guidance in the formation of America is clear, but Scripture says God establishes all nations and all governments. America appears to have been established for the promotion of good and righteousness. However, that conclusion is an interpretation of circumstances and history. History and circumstance are unreliable guides. The only definite source of information about God’s will, the Bible, is silent about the role of America in God’s plan.

Does America hold a special status as God’s favored nation or as a covenant people with God? Is America like Old Testament Israel? Absolutely not. America’s founding was unique in history, but it is nothing like the establishment of Israel. Israel was established by God through His covenant with Abrahama, Isaac, Jacob and, at Mt. Sinai, the entire nation. God made no covenant with America. God promised to send His Messiah, the Savior, through Israel. The Messiah is not going to come, or come again, through America. God used Israel to reveal His Word to the world. The majority of the Bible was written by Jews, and the portions not written by Jews were written under the direct observation of Jewish men. God has given no Scripture to the world through America or Americans. The role of Israel in world history is unique and unreplaceable.

God does have a chosen people today, a people He uses to proclaim His Word to the world. God has a people set apart from all others for Himself. God does have a covenant people. That people is the church, not America. 

Is the God of the Old Testament different from the God of the New Testament?

A common assertion is that the Bible presents two very different depictions of God. The God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath who flooded the earth, wiped out cities and commanded the destruction of nations. On the other hand, the God of the New Testament is shown through Jesus to be a God of love. He is patient, ready to forgive and tender towards sinners. Does the Biblical presentation of God change from the Old to the New Testament?

Describing the God of the Old Testament as a God of wrath and the God of the New Testament as a God of love is a caricature. The Bible gives a uniform description of God. The God found in Genesis is the same God found in Revelation. God does not change. His character and purpose has remained the same throughout the history of mankind.

The God the Old Testament is a God of great love. When God showed a portion of His glory to Moses He declared Himself to be, “The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7) The Psalms are full of descriptions of God’s love. “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all:and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:8-9)

Even in times of terrible judgment the compassion of God is evident. In the book of Lamentations the prophet Jeremiah weeps over the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet he says, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) God’s love was not restricted to the Israelites. The prophet Jonah did not want to preach in Nineveh because he knew God is “a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and fo great kindness.” (Jonah 4: 2) Jonah hated the Assyrians, God did not. God rebuked Jonah for his callousness towards the Ninevites. God asked Noah if He should not spare Nineveh that had 120,000 children? Just like with Sodom and Gomorrah God was ready to forgive and hold back His judgment. From the very beginning of the Old Testament God shows Himself to be a God of great love.

The God of the New Testament is a God of wrath. Consider Jesus’ stern warnings about hell. He said in Matthew 25 that all those who are not His followers will be condemned to everlasting torment in hell. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Jesus promises the most terrible judgment on unbelievers. He is clearly a God of wrath.

The wrath of God is not only found in the gospels. Romans 1 warns “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Colossians 3 teaches the Christian to put aside sinful attitudes. “For which things sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.” The book of Revelation is filled with the wrath of God and the judgment of Jesus. The severity of the judgments in Revelation rival anything found in the Old Testament. In Revelation 19 Jesus is described as descending from heaven. “Out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of the Almighty God.” The Jesus of the New Testament is the God of judgment who executes His wrath upon all the lost.

The God of the Bible is the same throughout. Jesus and Jehovah are not two different Gods, or two different personalities of God. They are the same God who pardons and punishes sin. His love and His wrath are equally functions of His holiness. He is the Holy God, Sovereign over His creation, exercising justice and mercy, showing love and wrath, giving grace and punishment, to all. He is God who does not change.

Is the Bible a “Human Book”?

“I begin with the Bible as a collection of human books, so I begin with its humanity. In my observation a lot of religious people begin with, ‘This is God’s holy book. Why did God write it down this way?’, instead of, ‘This is a human book.’” (Rob Bell) The author of the previous statements is a well known writer who has made his fame denying basic truths of Christianity.

If the Bible is first a human book, then it has to be viewed as a collection of religous thoughts that changed with the culture and grew as its authors became more sophisticated. If the Bible is first God’s book, then it must be treated as God’s revelation to man. If the Bible is God’s book then it has to be evaluated and understood on the basis of the claims it makes for itself. What does the Bible say? Does it claim to be primarily Divine or human in origin? Is the Bible a collection of great religious teachings or revelation from God?

The Bible claims to be God’s book. Hundreds of times the Bible uses phrases like, “The Lord said”, “God said”, “God spake” and “The Lord Commanded”. Thousands of verses in the Bible claim to be direct quotes of God. This does not include the hundreds of verses that are direct quotes of Jesus. Even those books which do not claim to quote the audibly spoken words of God claim to be the truth of God given for His people. The books of the Bible claim to be God’s Words. (Exodus 20:1; Isaiah 30:8-9; Jeremiah 30:2) Biblical authors also claimed that other authors were writing the words of God. (Daniel 9:2; Zechariah 7:12) Jesus Himself said that all the Old Testament is the Word of God. Luke 24:26-27, 44) The Bible claims to be of Divine origin, the words of God given to men through the prophets and apostles. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21)

Men were the human agents who wrote down God’s truth. God used the personalities and abilities of these men to write His Word. Every book of the Bible bears the marks of its human authors. The apostles and prophets wrote in a cultural context to real people in actual places at a specific time of history. However, these men were not writing according to their understanding and opinions of God’s nature. They were writing what God revealed.

God’s revelation through men was progressive. He did not reveal everything about Himself at once. He did not deposit on earth a completed book. He gradually taught men who recorded in writing His Word for His people. (Exodus 17:14) After man sinned, God began to reveal, a little at a time, His plan for man’s salvation. As sinful man forgot God, God began to teach, a little at a time, the truths men forgot. The Bible is not the record of man’s evolution in religion. The Bible is God’s progressing revelation of Himself, a revelation that culminates in the incarnation of God the Son. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

The Bible is clear about its claims. It is God’s Word, true and accurate in all it teaches. The Bible is not accurate in light of the cultural views or scientific opinions of its day, or accurate in respect to the spiritual lessons in view. The Bible is absolutely accurate. The events described in the Bible are genuine historical events that happened like the Bible describes. The source of this accuracy is God. For example, Jesus told the disciples He would send them the Holy Spirit who would bring to remembrance all the things Jesus had said to them. (John 14:26) God the Spirit was the active agent ensuring the historical accuracy of the gospels. The gospels’ records of Jesus teachings are certainly what He taught because the Spirit brought them to the disciples memory. All the facts of the Bible are accurate because God revealed them to men and secured the accurate transmission of truth.

The Bible is clear about its origins. It is from God. Treating the Bible as a human book denies its validity as the Word of God. Other approaches sound sophisticated and smart, but are really nothing more than the old deception of Satan, “Hath God said?” Yes. God has said. The record of what God said to men is recorded in the Bible.

What is Eastern Orthodoxy?

In April of this year the Bible Answer Man, Hank Hanegraaff, became a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Eastern Orthodoxy, and the other Orthodox Churches, are unfamiliar to many Americans. Eastern Orthodoxy rose in the eastern Roman Empire. As a result, it is most prominent in places like Russia, Eastern Africa and the Middle East. With 270 million adherents the Orthodox church is the third largest Christian group in the world.

Orthodox Churches trace back to the earliest major split in Roman Catholicism. Catholicism began to divide with the division of the Roman Empire in the late 400’s. Over the centuries differences in culture, language, ritual and leadership grew, further separating the east from the west. The divide was complete in 1054 when the Pope excommunicated the leading Archbishop and the Archbishop excommunicated the pope. Since then a few attempts have been made to repair the rift, but the two remain distinct churches. Orthodoxy bears strong resemblance to Roman Catholicism and yet retains significance differences.

Like Catholicism, the Orthodox Church believes tradition to share authority with the Bible. Orthodoxy believes the writings of the church fathers provide the authoritative interpretation of the Bible. Like Catholicism, the Orthodox church places great importance on participation in sacraments for salvation. Orthodoxy holds to seven sacraments, but replaces confirmation with chrismation.

The first sacrament of Eastern Orthodoxy is baptism. Baptism is always full immersion. The person being baptized receives salvation by his baptism. This begins the life in Christ but life in Christ must be nourished to remain. The ability to continue in salvation is received through chrismation. Chrismation immediately follows baptism. The priests anoints the baptized person with oil and makes the sign of the cross over him. This sacrament brings the Holy Spirit to indwell the person enabling him to “live the life of Christ.”

As with Catholicism, the most frequent and familiar sacrament is the Eucharist. By taking the bread and wine the individual receives the body and blood of Christ. The Eucharist provides spiritual nourishment to the receiver necessary for continued spiritual life.

The other sacraments observed by the Orthodox church are the sacraments of penance- much like the Catholic confessional, holy orders- ordaining to ministry, holy unction- anointing of the sick and prayer for healing, and marriage.

To western protestants one of the more confusing views of Orthodoxy is that of deification. Deification is the process of becoming more and more Godlike. This means something more than the Protestant idea of being imitators of God and something less than the Hindu doctrines of becoming one with the Divine. In Orthodoxy the Christian strives to enter more and more into union with the Divine nature. Through obedience the person enters into a greater mystical union with God and has a greater part in the perfection of God. By participating in the sacraments and religious rituals the person becomes more and more “like God”.

Unfortunately, like the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodoxy teaches a means of salvation that denies the grace of God. (Galatians 2:21) Salvation is accomplished by the person’s continual attendance to the sacraments and religious observances. The Bible is in clear opposition to the teachings of the Orthodox Church. No part of salvation is accomplished by the person. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 3:5)

What is the book of life?

Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter the New Jerusalem. God’s judgment upon the unsaved will be executed based upon the contents of several books. The most important book in judgment will be the book of life. Those who are not listed in the book of life will be thrown into eternal punishment. “And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)

What is the book of life? Does God have a physical book in which He keeps a list of all those who will be allowed to enter heaven? The idea of God’s record book is found scattered throughout the Bible. The first mention is in Exodus 32 when Moses pray for God to preserve rebellious Israel. Moses says, “Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin- and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Other mentions of a celestial book are found in the Old Testament, but not until the New Testament is a direct reference made to the book of life. The first use of the phrase “book of life” is in Philippians 4. There the apostle Paul describes his fellow workers in the ministry as those “whose names are in the book of life.”

Two references in the New Testament seem to refer to the book of life though they do use that phrase. In Luke 10 Jesus tells the disciples “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Hebrews 12 says those who are saved are part of the church of the firstborn, “whose names are written in heaven.”

The book of Revelation makes the most frequent mention to the book of life. During the time of the tribulation most of the world will worship the antichrist. Revelation 13 and 17 say that those who worship the antichrist are ones “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb”. Revelation 21 describes the New Jerusalem, the great heavenly city where the saved will enjoy eternal bliss. The only ones who will enter God’s city are those who “are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

The Bible does not aim to give an explanation of the book of life. Any man’s description of the book of life is based upon deductions from the Bible’s descriptions of how the book is used. What is clear in Scripture is that the book of life is a heavenly record of those who are saved. Those whose names are written in the book of life will enter into eternal life. Those whose names are not in the book of life will not.

Little else can be said with certainty. The book of life may be a just a metaphor of God’s accuracy of in keeping track of those who are saved. This author prefers the more literal reading that the book of life is a written record of all those who genuinely have eternal life. The clear truth is most important. God knows those that are His. Those who have been saved will have eternal life. Those who have not been saved will not. God will not err in distinguishing between the saved and the lost.

Are the miraculous gifts for the church today?

The spiritual gifts are a matter of significant debate and division in the church today. Millions of Christians around the world attend churches which believe the miraculous gifts are a normal part of the Christian life today. The most familiar religious television channels feature a large portion of preachers and ministries who teach the miraculous gifts are still accessible to modern Christians.

The belief in the continued use of miraculous spiritual gifts is the hallmark of the charismatic movement. Charismatics can be found in every major Christian denomination, including Catholicism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, Anglicanism and Baptist. Several major denominations were formed around the belief in the miraculous gifts, including, Pentecostals, Church of God, Assembly of God and Four Square Gospel Churches.

All Christian denominations believe that spiritual gifts continue to this day and that the Holy Spirit is actively at work in the life of Christians. The disagreement centers around the relation of miraculous gifts- tongues, interpretation, prophecy and healing- to modern day Christianity. The argument about the charismatic gifts is not based the interpretation of a single Biblical text. The discussion ranges around the purpose of the miraculous gifts in the early church and the sufficiency of the Word for today.

Everyone is agreed the miraculous gifts were not commonly in evidence during most of church history. A few scattered, small Christian groups may have believed in the continuation of miraculous gifts but the vast majority of Christian churches from the late first century to the early twentieth century believed the miraculous gifts to have ceased after the apostolic era.

This changed in the early 1900’s with the birth of Pentecostalism. Growing out of the Holiness Methodist movement Pentecostalism’s earliest proponents were searching for evidence of the baptism of the Holy SPirit. In Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came upon the first Christians they began to speak in tongues. Thus, the earliest charismatics experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit by speaking in tongues. This early Pentecostalism soon spread across the world as a result of a three year revival in Los Angeles. Pentecostals poured out from Azusa Street to spread charismatic theology across the globe.

The charismatic movement springs out of a fundamental disagreement regarding the purpose of miracles during the New Testament era. The miraculous gifts were given as signs for the Jews. The miracles of Jesus and the apostles were the Divine stamp of authenticity verifying the validity of the claims of Jesus and His apostles. “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs.” (Acts 2:22) “God also bearing (the apostles) witness both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles.” (Hebrews 2:4) (also consider Matthew 11:4-6; Mark 16:20; 1 Corinthians 14:22) The miracles done in the earliest days of the church were God’s testimony that Jesus was truly God’s Son and the apostles were preaching God’s truth. The ministry of the apostles has been completed. The gospel has been authenticated. The miraculous gifts are no longer necessary or normal for the church today.