The Holy Spirit
There are many people today who claim they possess the Holy Spirit; and there are many others who, whilst not stating that they themselves possess it, yet nevertheless confidently affirm that they know others who have the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Are such claims true or false? There is only one way in which this question may be answered and that is by a critical examination of it in the light of the testimony of scripture.
What does the Bible say?
Jesus himself promised his disciples that, when he was to leave them, they would be given a Comforter. Shortly before he ascended to heaven he told them all to stay at Jerusalem until they were given power from on high.
This act was witnessed by the many Jews who had gathered from their various countries of residence to keep the Jewish feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem. The dramatic result was that 3000 people were baptised believing that Jesus, whom their fellow Jews had crucified, was the Messiah and that he would come to the earth once more.
Twentieth Century "tongue speaking"
We ask the question, do the events related above have any bearing whatsoever on the present day claims to speak in 'unknown' tongues? (The word ‘unknown’ is not a Bible word, having been inserted by the translators of the Authorised Version of the Bible).
One point worthy of note, which will help our understanding, is that ordinary people could understand the ordinary languages spoken by the Apostles. The utterances were not mere gibberish, (as they are today), but real words spoken in the various languages of those present.
Miracles and twentieth century "faith healing"
The practice of ".faith healing" is claimed to represent the power of the Holy Spirit at work today. Whilst we do not deny that cures of various internal complaints have been effected, we completely refute that this has anything whatsoever to do with the Holy Spirit
Consider some of the miracles performed by some of the Apostles:-
Peter caused a lame man to walk:
Paul smote Elymas, the sorcerer, with blindness:
Paul raised Eutychus to life:
These miracles were intended to assist in the preaching of the Gospel. In Mark 16 we are told that the signs (miracles) were designed to support their work of preaching.
They proved the veracity of the message; that it was not of human origin but had emanated from God. They were clearly a demonstration of the power of God and were not dependent upon one's faith. Eutychus, being dead, was not able to show any faith, yet Paul raised him to life. CAN FAITH HEALERS RAISE THE DEAD?
The gifts to vanish away
The Bible speaks of a variety of gifts of the Holy Spirit some of which, as we have seen, greatly assisted the preaching of the Gospel. They had another function which Paul refers to in his letter to the Ephesians,
They had the effect of building up the faith of the body of the believers in those days. During the first century the only scripture available was the Old Testament. There was therefore a necessity, before the New Testament was complete, for the Holy Spirit to guide the believers and teach them. This is what Christ told his disciples when he said,
The dispensation has now changed and the gift is no longer needed as we have God’s written word for our guidance today. In a large section of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he informed them that when that which was perfect, or complete, was come (the complete Bible - Old and New Testaments) the gifts of the Spirit would vanish away.
Furthermore, from an incident in Acts 8:13-17, it is clear that it was only the Apostles who could pass on the Holy Spirit to others.
What was to happen when the Apostles died? Other men could no longer receive the Holy Spirit from them. Therefore any claim today to possess Spirit gifts, however sincerely made, is a false one.
The reintroduction of the Holy Spirit
There is however, a further outpouring of the Holy Spirit yet to occur on the earth. This will take place when Jesus returns to re-establish the kingdom of God here on earth. This was spoken of by the Apostles in the first century concerning the return of and will most assuredly come to pass.