Charismatics – Part 2
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas Figart; ©2012|
|What are spiritual gifts? In the words of Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “charismata denote extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the Church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit.”|
Evaluation of the Tongues Movement
Charismatics – Part 2 (Dr. Thomas Figart)
What are spiritual gifts? In the words of Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “charismata denote extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the Church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit.”
B.Definition of Spiritual Gifts from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, p. 667:
“In the technical Pauline sense, charismata (A.V. “gifts”) denote extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the Church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit.”
C.Purposes of Spiritual Gifts
- Authentication of the Messengers of God and their Message: “Sign” gifts. In each Period, they were given for one generation only!
- The Period of Moses and Joshua. God gave Moses miraculous sign-gifts so the Israelites would accept Moses as their deliverer, and to show Pharaoh that Jehovah was the only true God (Ex. 4:1-9; 12:12) and when Moses laid his hands on Joshua in Numbers 27:18 Joshua was given the Spirit also (Deut. 34:9). However, this was for one generation only, because in Joshua 24 no one was appointed to take over, there were no more sign-miracles, and soon the people turned to apostasy.
- The Period of Elijah and Elisha. Elijah was given miraculous sign-gifts during a time of apostasy. On Mt. Carmel he was authenticated in three ways: The Person of God: “Thou art God in Israel”; The Prophet of God: “…that I am thy servant”; and The Prophecy of God: “…that I have done all these things at thy word” (1 Kings 18:36). Elijah gave the mantle to Elisha in 2 Kings 2, and he performed miracles for one generation only. No one was appointed to take over after Elisha’s death.
- The Period of Christ and the Apostles. The main purpose in the miracles performed by Christ was not to help people, though helping people was part of the process. The main purpose was to authenticate His messiahship, His deity and His message, John 5:20,36; 20:30-31. This was confirmed by the ministry of the Apostles, for one generation only, Acts 14:1-3. In Hebrews 2:3-4, the word “confirmed” is in the aorist tense, which is not continuous. The Apostles were given sign-gifts (2 Cor. 12:12) to demonstrate that their message was authentic and that they were true messengers of God. Now that we have the complete Bible, there is no further need for proof through special “signs” because the written Word speaks for itself.
- Thus, the burden of proof is on the Charismatics to show that genuine “sign-gifts” were for more than one generation, and this they cannot do. Church History gives no real evidence for miraculous gifts after the first century. (See, Miraculous Gifts: Are they for Today? by Dr. Thomas G. Edgar, Loizeaux Bros., N.J. 1983, pp. 223-259; also, Counterfeit Miracles, by B.B. Warfield, Banner of Truth Trust, Scotland, 1976, pp. 3-31.)
- Conviction of Unbelievers. Though this was involved in the authentication of the message, it is nevertheless a distinct purpose in the giving of the special sign gifts of the Spirit. We will consider 1 Corinthians 14:21-25 later.
- Edification, or building up the believer. Eph. 4:11-13; Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 14:1-5; 1 Pet. 4:10-11. Both temporary and permanent spiritual gifts included edification.
D.The Duration of Spiritual Gifts: Are they in effect today?
This depends on two things with each gift: Is the gift still needed today, or has its purpose been fulfilled? Second, is it possible to qualify for the gift today?
- Yes, some gifts are always needed for the edification of the Church. These are permanent spiritual gifts, including pastor, teacher, evangelist, exhortation, helps, administration, giving, showing mercy Eph. 4:11-13; 1 Cor. 12:28-30; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; Rom. 12:6-8.
- No, some gifts have fulfilled their purpose (either as “sign-gifts” or for conviction of unbelievers) since the New Testament has been completed and thus the qualifications are impossible to possess today. These are the temporary spiritual gifts, including apostleship, prophecy, miracles, healings, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues 1 Cor. 12:28-30; Eph. 4:11-13.
E.The Gift of Apostleship does not exist today because no one qualifies on any of the following points:
- Apostles were required to be eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. Acts 1:22; 10:38-43; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8.
- Apostles were endowed with miraculous powers, including the ability to raise the dead. Matt. 10:8; Acts 9:36-42; 20:9-12; 2 Cor.12:12.
- Apostles were chosen directly by the Lord Jesus or by the Holy Spirit Matt. 10:8; Acts 9:6; 13:2. Paul and Barnabas are definitely called Apostles in Acts 14:14.
- Apostles were called only at the beginning of the Church Age as part of the foundation of the Church. Eph. 2:20. You do not keep laying foundations on top of foundations. Thus, this spiritual gift was not passed down from generation to generation.
F.The Gift of Prophecy does not exist today because no one qualifies on the following points:
- Prophets received divine revelation from God. Gal. 1:12; Acts 21:10-11.
- Prophets had divine guidance in the delivery of the message. Gal. 2:2; 2 Pet. 1:20-21.
- Their message must bear with it the authority of God. Gal. 2:7-9; Acts 21:11.
- This included local, immediate issues (Acts 11:27-28; 21:9-14) as well as far-off future events (1 Cor. 15:51-58).
- Until the New Testament was completed, the gift of prophecy was to be “desired” (1 Cor.14:1), but upon completion of prophetic truth this gift ceased and it was unthinkable to desire it. Rev. 22:18: “If any man add to these things” not merely “to the words of this book.” This means that the entire process was closed. The prophet was part of the foundation of the Church, not its superstructure! Eph. 2:20.
- It is utter nonsense to confuse the gift of teaching as a “prophetic office” but not a “gift.” There never was an office of a prophet; the only two offices are bishop and deacon. Just because both teaching and prophesying edified the Church does not make them the same. Similarity does not mean identity!
- At the return of Christ to earth there will be prophesying as a sign of His coming . Joel 2:28-32; Rev. 11;3-7.
G.The Gift of Miracles does not exist today for these reasons:
- As already noted, this gift was given in connection with apostleship as a “sign” to authenticate their message. 2 Cor. 12:12; Acts 14:1-3.
- Four words are used to describe this gift of miracles in Heb. 2:4.
- Powers (dunamesi) translated “miracles” in 1 Cor. 12: 28. This emphasizes the power of the one performing the miracle.
- Signs (semeiois) 2 Cor. 12:12; John 20:30-31. This emphasizes the purpose of the gift.
- Wonders (terasi) 2 Cor. 12:12; Acts 2:22. This emphasizes the effect of awe on the observer.
- Distributions (merismois) translated “gifts” in Heb. 2:4. This emphasizes the source of all gifts, the Holy Spirit.
- Satan also has power to work miracles, Rev. 13:13-15; 2 Cor.11:13-15. Thus it may well be that some so-called “divine” miracles today are really Satanic. Matt. 7:21-23.
- Conclusion: God has power to perform miracles today, as He chooses, but no one has the gift of miracles, since the purpose for this gift has been fulfilled. Heb. 13:8 refers to the unchanging Person of Christ, but does not say that His purpose or program is the same yesterday and today and forever!
H.The Gift of Healing does not exist today for these reasons:
- This gift was also used in connection with the gift of apostleship. Matt. 10:1-8; Acts 19:11-12; 28:8-9.
- Even Paul could not heal at all times. He had an affliction, “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7-10) which God never removed; and some of his beloved friends were not healed Phil. 2:25-27; 1 Tim. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:20. Thus, the use of this gift was restricted within the will of God for each case.
- Is “Healing” in the “Atonement”?
- If so, then no saved person should ever get sick or die. Otherwise, you do not possess that part of the atonement.
- If healing is in the atonement, then why was the gift of healing necessary at all? Why don’t the “faith healers” simply preach the gospel? All their converts would automatically receive healing as part of their salvation!
- What about Isa. 53:4, “He bore our sicknesses”? By comparing this with Matt. 8:17, it shows that this refers to fulfillment in Christ’s earthly ministry before He died; and was not a part of His work on the Cross.
- What about Isa. 53:5, “By His stripes we are healed”? The Hebrew word for “healed” (rapha) can refer to spiritual healing, as in Ps. 41:4; 147:3. Compare the quotation of Isa. 53:5 in 1 Peter 2:24 which refers to our sins, not physical healing.
- Sickness is not always the result of sin; it can be for the glory of God. John 9:3; 11:4.
- God does heal today when it is according to His will and sought according to His Word. James 5:13-16 is as significant for what it does not say as for what it says. For example, there is not a tent meeting, no women healers, no offering, no zapping in the Spirit, no loud music or bright lights.
- 5:13 “Is any afflicted…?” (kakopathai) This is a general word for emotional or mental suffering. The suggestion: “Let him pray.”
- 5:14 “Is any sick…” (asthenei) This means weak, either spiritually or physically. This context denotes physical illness. “…call for the elders, let them pray…anointing with oil…” The word aleipsontes (anoint) is not the usual word, which would be chrio, yet it is used in the Greek O.T. for symbolic anointing, in Gen. 31:13; Ex. 40:13; Num. 3:3.
- 5:15 “…the prayer of faith” (by the elders) “shall save (heal) the sick (kamnonta; fatigued, worn out, hopelessly sick, with the possibility that death is imminent). Notice that it is prayer that is the effectual thing here, and not a gift of healing (5:16).
- Conclusion: God still heals today, but no one has the gift of healing today, because its purpose of authenticating the apostles’ message has been completed. See Acts 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 12:12.