Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Sign Gifts Have Not Ceased

1. Were sign-gifts sometimes performed by believers other than apostles and deacons?

Answer: yes.

A DISCIPLE: Ananias (Acts 9:10-22) was described only as "a certain disciple" - not as an Apostle or deacon - yet he saw a vision (the gift of the discerning of spirits); he heard God speaking to him (revelation); he was told to go so that Saul (Paul) could receive his sight (gifts of healings, working of miracles); and so that Saul (Paul) might receive the Holy Spirit (and we know from elsewhere in Scriptre that Paul did receive the Holy Spirit and that he did speak with tongues) as a result of the disciple Ananias' visit.

ELDERS OF THE CHURCH: James 5:14-15 says that if someone was sick, he could call for the "elders of the church" - not only the Apostles or deacons - the elders would then pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up (gifts of healings); and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

ONE ANOTHER: James 5:16 says "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed (gifts of healings)..."

A RIGHTEOUS MAN: James 5:16, in the context of praying for healing, says, "...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Being a righteous man was the only stated criteria - it didn't say, "The effectual fervent prayer of an Apostle or deacon only" .

EVERY ONE: I Cor.14:26 says, "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation..." Paul wanted them to express the gifts with better order - but he didn't deny that everyone could at some time or other express one of the spiritual gifts.

ANY MAN: I Cor.14:27 says, "If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue..." Not only apostles and deacons.

YE...ALL: I Cor.14:31 says, "For ye may all prophesy..."

EVERY MAN: I Cor.12:7 says, "...the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man..." They didn't all have all the same gifts - but each man could potentially experience at least one of the gifts - and it wasn't limited to apostles or deacons.

In Acts 2, and in Cornelius' household, and at Ephesus, many spoke with tongues (the gift of tongues, the sign of tongues) - many of whom were not apostles nor deacons.

2. Does the Bible state that the office of apostle and deacons have ceased?

Answer: no.

Paul wrote about the office of deacon, long after the appointment of the seven in Jerusalem. He didn't mention the office ceasing. (If the office of 'deacon' has ceased, then Reformed churches today should not be ordaining 'deacons'!)

No-one can be an 'apostle' today in the same category of apostleship as the Twelve - because the criteria were that the candidate must have been an eyewitness of Jesus' entire ministry and resurrection and ascension - obviously no-one qualifies to be in that category of apostleship today. However, the Bible does name others as 'apostles' who were not in that category. Paul is one such example. Another is Barnabas - Barnabas didn't write any part of the New Testament - and yet the Bible describes him as an 'apostle'. The Bible does not state that ministers would cease to be sent (Apostle - sent-one); the Bible does not state that the offices of Apostle or deacon have ceased.

3. Were sign-gifts sometimes repeated in an ethnic group whose particular ethnic group's inclusion into the covenant-community had already previously been attested to by signs and wonders?

Answer: yes.

JEWS received the Holy Spirit in ACTS 2 - yet Saul (Paul) who was a Jew still needed to receive the Holy Spirit for himself - and a certain 'disciple' was sent to Saul so that Paul could receive his sight (gift of healing) and receive the Holy Spirit (and we know from elsewhere in Scripture that Paul did receive the Holy Spirit and we know that Paul did speak with tongues.)

GENTILES received the Holy Spirit for the first time in Cornelius' household - yet twelve disciples at Ephesus later received the Holy Spirit themselves and spoke with tongues and prophesied. The Corinthians had also received the Holy Spirit and spoken with tongues and experienced other sign gifts - even though the Gentiles had already been included into the covenant-community way back in Cornelius' household.

4. Was there another purpose for sign-gifts besides identifying a new ethnic group's first-time inclusion into the covenant-community?

Answer: yes.


To HEAL THE SICK, because God had compassion on the sick (Matthew 8:35-38)

To CONFIRM THE WORD that was being preached (Mk 16:20)

Were sign-gifts given exclusively as a sign to JEWS? Answer: no. They were also given amongst Gentiles.

Were sign-gifts given exclusively in order to assit in the writing of the New Testament? Answer: no. Sign-gifts were never the source or basis of doctrine. The foundation of Christian doctrine was laid only by the Apostles' teaching, and by Christ, and by the Prophets. Any spiritual manifestation had to be tested against what the Apostles had already taught. The spiritual gift was never the source of new doctrine, in the New Testament.

Were tongues always understood by the audience? Answer: no. Otherwise, the gift of the interpretation of tongues would never have been needed. The gift of the interpretation of tongues was a supernatural gift, not a naturally learned skill. Paul said that if there was no interpreter present, the speaker of tongues may himself pray to interpret. If he received the interpretation, it would have been a supernatural ability, not a naturally learned ability. If he didn't ask to interpret, that didn't invalidate the tongue - it just meant that he should refrain from addressing the church in that tongue - otherwise, if the tongue itself was invalid, Paul would not have said that he may speak to himself and to God: he would have told him to just stop.

Did Jesus mention the gifts ceasing, at any time prior to His coming? Answer: no. The topic of healings, miracles and tongues was spoken of by Jesus in the context of the great commission - and the great commission is to continue until the end; Jesus even included the promise, "Lo I am with you even until the end..." Tongues, healings and miracles were mentioned in that context. He didn't mention them ceasing at anytime while the great commission was still relevant.


1. The Bible does not substantiate that spiritual sign-gifts were limited to apostles and deacons or that they were only to occur the first time any particular ethnic group received the Spirit.

2. The Bible shows that every believer was to receive the Spirit for himself, irrespective of whether or not his particular ethnicity had already at sometime received the Spirit - and that the manifestation of the Spirit (the sign-gifts) were potentially available for all believers, although not every believer will experience all of the same gifts.

3. The Bible doesn't substantiate the claim that all the purposes for which sign-gifts were given have ceased.

Monday, 18 July 2011

That Which is Perfect

Paul didn't say that faith, hope and love would continue after tongues and prophecy have ceased. It was a well-known fact of the Gospel that faith and hope shall be fulfilled when Jesus comes. When we see face to face, we shall no longer need to live by faith - for faith is the substance of things not seen; we shall no longer need to hope - for hope that is seen is no longer hope. Faith and hope won't be needed, once we can see face to face. But now faith, hope and charity remain.

Paul said that tongues and prophecy shall also cease at the same time when we see face to face. When faith and hope are fulfilled, tongues and prophecy shall also cease.