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A Response to Stephen Nichols, Steve Lawson, and Burk Parsons on the Continuation of Spiritual Gifts (Part Four)

Again, this continues my response to the Ligonier panel on spiritual gifts.

(6) All of you appear to have concurred that the so-called “sign” gifts or miraculous charismata were somehow uniquely tied or tethered to the original apostles. In the absence of those men, we should not expect the gifts to be found.

But the apostles were hardly the only ones who operated in the power of signs and wonders. The NT describes numerous non-apostolic Christians exercising with great success and spiritual benefit to others the many gifts that we are supposed to believe no longer exist in the church. One thinks immediately of the 70 (72?) non-apostolic followers of Jesus who were authorized and empowered to cast out demons (Luke 10:9, 19-20), as well as at least 108 men and women among the 120 who were present in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-17).

There are also individuals such as Stephen (Acts 6-7), Phillip (Acts 8), and Ananias (Acts 9). We also read about prophets in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1) and several unnamed individuals in Tyre who “through the Spirit . . . were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem” (Acts 21:4). When Paul baptized several unnamed disciples of John the Baptist, they prophesied and spoke in tongues (Acts 19:6). Then there were the “four unmarried daughters” of Philip who are said to have “prophesied” (Acts 21:8-9), the unnamed brethren of Galatians 3:5, together with believers in Rome (Rom. 12:6-8), believers in Corinth (1 Cor. 12-14), and Christians in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 5:19-20).

When one reads 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 it does not sound as if Paul is saying that only apostles are endowed with the charismata. On the contrary, gifts of healings, tongues, miracles, etc., are given by the sovereign Spirit to ordinary Christians in the church at Corinth for the daily, routine building up of the body. Farmers, shopkeepers, housewives, as well as apostles and elders and deacons received the manifestation of the Spirit, all “for the common good” of the church.

(7) Gentlemen, I was actually quite surprised (shocked!) when I heard you say that for someone to operate in the supernatural or miraculous gifts of the Spirit is a sign of immaturity and childishness. Seriously? What should we then conclude about the apostle Paul himself, who unashamedly declared that he “thanked God” that “he spoke in tongues more than you all” (1 Cor. 14:18)? And if it is childish and immature for believers to operate in these gifts, then what are we to conclude from Paul’s exhortation in both 14:1 and 39 that we should eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially prophecy?


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