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Bible Answers about Continuing Spiritual Gifts for Your Non-Charismatic Friends

But here we must follow Paul’s logic: this promise of the irrevocable charismata is a statement of universal truth, a generalization of the continuation of the charismata. Paul appeals to this universal truth against those who suggest that the offer of salvation to the Jews is no longer valid. Paul moves from this universal to the specific case, not the other way around. Hence, the “universal” is always true and may be appealed to in other ways, as in our case of specific spiritual gifts not being recalled.

Note further, “charismata” is a term which he applies elsewhere to all the so-called “tempor­ary” or “miraculous” spiritual gifts (e.g., Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:6). The full burden of proof lies on those who wish to change the meaning of the word to exclude frequently-named charismata: spiritual gifts of utterance and power.

This passage also teaches that just because people don’t accept God’s gifts, and because they don’t appear often in recorded history, does not prove that God has withdrawn them. Moreover, the “charismata” of the Romans 11 passage cannot simply be limited to “salvation,” since Paul saw Christ, the Messiah, as the one who bestows the gifts of the Spirit as much as the one who redeems from sin.

We now move from this general principle to another important principle about continuing spiritual gifts.

2. The New Testament says that spiritual gifts are not to be despised or neglected.

1 Cor 12:21 says that no “member” (spiritual gift) of the body is allowed to say to another, ‘I have no need of you!’” But cessationism says exactly that. Cessationism also denies clear commands of the Bible: “Desire earnestly the best gifts” (12:31). “Eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” (14:1) “Try to excel in gifts that build up the church [especially prophecy in the context]” (14:12). “Be eager to prophesy and do not forbid to speak in tongues” (14:39). Cessationism does “quench the Spirit.” and does “despise prophecy” (1 Thes 5:19-20) by denying it even exists. In contrast to cessation­ism, Paul encourages Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” (1 Tim 1:6). Many commentators feel this is the gift of prophecy.

3. The Pentecost Principle: The gifts are given for the End Times.

The New Testament teaches that since the ascension of Christ we are living in “the last days,” the time when the exalted Christ sends to the church all His spiritual gifts until His second coming.

When Peter at Pentecost describes what is happening, he says essentially, “Joel’s prediction about the Spirit being poured out, being expressed in prophecies, dreams and visions (revelation experiences), is now being fulfilled in these last days.” If the promise of Spirit-caused revelation in dreams, visions and prophecies is for the last days, then are we, almost 2,000 years after this event, now earlier than the “last days” of Peter’s time—a time when this prediction no longer applies? No. We, too, must be in the “last days,” at least until Jesus comes, and therefore these revelatory gifts are still promised for our time.

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2000

About the Author: Jon M. Ruthven, Ph.D., spent his entire adult life in ministry, starting with David Wilkerson in Boston and New York City in the mid-60s. After spending a dozen years pastoring, a couple a years as a missionary in Africa as the head of Bible school, he ended up teaching theology in seminary for 18 years. Always interested in training and discipleship, Jon is developing a radically biblical approach to ministry training that seeks to replicate the discipling mission of Jesus in both content and method. Jon has written numerous scholarly papers and books including On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles (1993 and 2009) and What’s Wrong with Protestant Theology? Tradition vs. Biblical Emphasis (2013). He continues to emphasize the biblical grounding for a practical ministry of healing, signs and wonders in the power of the Spirit. Facebook.

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