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and Faith Movements
to the Gifts:
Scriptural Indications (Part 1)
Happened to the Authentic Gifts?
Comparing Theories to Historic
Comparing Theories to Scripture
Comparing Theories to Scripture
What Happened to the Gifts:
Scriptural Indications (Part 1)
What Happened to the Gifts:
Scriptural Indications (Part 2)
Section 1 | Section
2 | Section 3 | Section
| Section 5
we have seen from our previous sections, we know three things
with certainty. First, we know that the authentic gifts did
decline and eventually disappear sometime between the middle
of the second century when Irenaeus and Justin Martyr wrote
and the fourth century when John Chrysostrom and Augustine
Second, when we consider the circumstances and characteristics
of modern charismatic gifts, we find that that they fail the
Tests of Authenticity based upon Apostolic Continuity, Origination,
Quality (Ecstasy), Heresy, and Purpose and Verifiability.
Therefore, there is no reason to accept modern gifts as restorations
of the authentic gifts of the first few centuries. Instead,
our comparison has revealed that modern gifts are more properly
viewed as restorations of the counterfeit gifts found among
the heretical groups of the early centuries. As such, the
cessation of the charismatic gifts has not been reversed but
the absence of the gifts continues to this present day, despite
widely reported counterfeits.
Third, an examination of the New Testament instruction reveals
that the gifts were supposed to continue until Christ's return
and were not supposed to pass away. A survey of the early
Church writers also reveals that the gifts continued well
after the close of the New Testament canon, the death of the
last apostle, and the destruction of the Temple. And there
is no documented expectation in the early church writers that
the gifts were soon supposed to pass away.
So, we're left with the need to explain or resolve the three
1.) The gifts were not supposed to pass away until
the return of Christ Jesus.
2.) The gifts did pass away sometime between the second
and fourth centuries AD.
3.) The gifts continue to be absent to this very day.
So, what happened to the gifts?
Scripture provides for us some strong indications. But before
we examine those indications, we need to say a few important
As we have seen from our survey of the history of the Charismatic
Movement, the expectation that the charismatic gifts should
reemerge was an outgrowth of the Wesleyan Holiness doctrine
known as "sanctification." The main premise that evolved into
the early Pentecostal Movement was that if the Church returned
to holiness, the gifts would return as well.
Before we turn to examine scriptural hints concerning what
caused the disappearance of the gifts, we need to clearly
state that we do not share this view. Even if scripture indicates
that the gifts were lost due to actions, compromises, or doctrinal
heresy on the part of the Church, it does NOT follow that
the gifts will return if the Church removes these things.
In the charismatic gifts, God gave the Church a precious gift
indeed and a powerful weapon to confirm the Gospel to an unbelieving
world. But there is no promise in the scripture that God would
restore that gift to us if we lost it through our own choices,
activities, and compromises.
It took God to start the gifts on the day of Pentecost. No
amount of repenting or preparing could have triggered that.
It took divine initiative to give the charismatic gifts to
the Church. And since the charismatic gifts were God's doing
and did not result from anything men did to obtain them, we
have no reason to suspect we can get them back by anything
we do either.
If it turns out that the gifts were lost through compromise
with the world either in deed, doctrine, or both, we will
NOT be learning how to get the gifts back. There is nothing
we can do to prompt that. The only thing we can truly learn
from this is how much God wants us to live holy and separated
from the world. The following study then, should be taken
as an exploration of how important holiness is and not as
an exploration of how to restore the gifts. God is not bound
to give the gifts back to us if the Church returns to holiness.
The gifts are not the natural product of holiness. The gifts
are an added bonus. And once we have lost that bonus, we cannot
assume that God will restore it. But we can repent of what
caused the loss in recognition of the fact that our collective
and historic compromise resulted in the loss of such a wonderful
We now turn to examine the scripture in search for an answer
to the question of why the gifts passed away when they were
not supposed to.
1 Corinthians 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit;
to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit.
James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call
for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And
the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall
raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall
be forgiven him.
Now, the words for "save" and "raise" in verse 15 are the
normal Greek words used with regard to salvation and resurrection.
In Romans 10:13, we find this same word for "save," which
is the Greek word "sozo" (Strong's No. 4982.) And in 2 Timothy
2:8, we find the same word for "raise," which is the Greek
word "egeiro" (Strong's No. 1453.) However, these same words
are also used in the New Testament in terms of being made
"whole" regarding healing from sickness and in terms of getting
up after being bedridden from sickness. Consider the following
Matthew 8:14 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house,
he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.
15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and
she arose , and ministered unto them.
Here in Matthew 8, we see Jesus himself healing Peter's mother
of a fever that had confined her to bed. She is said to arise
from bed using the same word for "raise" as we find in James
Matthew 9:20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased
with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him,
and touched the hem of his garment: 21 For she said within
herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole
. 22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw
her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath
made thee whole . And the woman was made whole 
from that hour.
"Sozo" occurs 3 times in this passage. Yet it doesn't refer
to eternal salvation. Instead, it refers to making a body
healthy and whole. From this we can see that when James speaks
of the prayer "saving" the sick person and that they will
be "raised up," he is not talking about eternal salvation
and resurrection. James is talking about the sick person being
made whole and well so that they can get out of bed and return
to normal living.
From 1 Corinthians 12:9 and James 5:14-15, we can see that
there was in the early Church not only the supernatural gift
of healing but the expectation that the sick would be healed.
Despite that, however, Paul writes the following.
1 Corinthians 11:28 But let a man examine himself,
and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and
drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's
body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among
you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves,
we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are
chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned
with the world.
In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul is discussing some problems with
the way the Corinthians conducted the communion meal. In this
segment, Paul teaches that eating and drinking the communion
meal in an unworthy manner is causing many Corinthians to
remain sick and even to die. Or, in other words, eating and
drinking the communion meal in an improper way is one specific
way that the healing gift in the Church could be halted.
And while this is a very specific statement to the extent
that Paul only speaks of one thing that could halt the healing
provision in the Church, in verse 31 and 32, Paul goes on
to make a more general and broad-sweeping statement. In verse
31 and 32, Paul states that when the Church fails to judge
itself, it then incurs the Lord's own judgment. To remedy
this, Paul instructs that the Church should judge and correct
itself. Otherwise, if the Church does not judge and correct
itself, it is in danger of being judged along with the world.
Paul's inclusion of this statement immediately after discussing
how the healing provision can be stopped indicates that it
may indeed be a more general rule that the more the Church
puts itself in a position alongside the world, the more God
treats the Church just as he would the world. The world does
not experience God's merciful healing power. And if the Church
fails to examine, judge, and correct itself, then it too will
no longer experience God's healing power. And it stands to
reason that if this is the case with healing, it would also
be the case in other areas and with other gifts as well.
This general sentiment is restated by Paul in 2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among
them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch
not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will
be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters,
saith the Lord Almighty.
Although it may only be speculation, the strongest indications
from the Bible seem to be that the gifts may have been lost
before they were supposed to due to the Church's compromise
and loss of separation from the world. This theory that the
gifts were lost ahead of time due to the Church's compromise
does four important things for us.
First, it explains why we cannot do anything to prompt the
return of the gifts, even if we dedicate ourselves to living
holy. The Holy Spirit manifests these gifts as he wills. The
gifts aren't guaranteed and won't necessarily happen. It is
the Holy Spirit's prerogative to manifest them and thus, whether
or not to restore them and when.
At this point we should also say that it is entirely possible
to be part of a return or reemergence of sound doctrine and
without being endued with miraculous power from the Holy Spirit.
That was the exact situation of the apostles and the rest
of the 120 disciples in the days between Jesus' resurrection
and Pentecost. Jesus Christ has come to restore the lost sheep
of Israel to the teaching of God.
Jesus came preaching the truth of God.
John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace
and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to restore the Israelites who had departed from
God and needed to be restored to following in God's commands.
Matthew10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the
house of Israel.
Matthew15:24 But he answered and said, I am not
sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Luke 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep,
if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and
nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost,
until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it
on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he
calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them,
Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven
over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety
and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
The apostles were part of the Israelites who heard Jesus'
teaching and received it. They were part of those sheep of
Israel that he came to seek and to save. And not only had
they sat under his teaching for 3 years before his death and
resurrection, but in the days between his resurrection and
ascension, he continued to teach them and to reveal to them
the things that had been hidden from them in parables and
shadows about him in the Old Testament.
Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the
words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you,
that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in
the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms,
concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding,
that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said
unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ
to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
Thus, before Jesus ascended into heaven, his apostles understood
his doctrine and the full context of his life correctly according
to the Old Testament scriptures as explained to them by Jesus
Christ himself. Therefore, they had correct doctrine. But
despite the fact that they had correct doctrine and had held
the doctrine of Christ without departing from it since the
time they began to follow him, the power to perform miracles
did not come upon them automatically or instantaneously as
soon as they had sound doctrine or just because they were
part of the sheep of Israel who returned to the Words of God.
Acts 1 also affirms these things by stating clearly that the
apostles had received the teaching of Jesus Christ and remained
in it yet had not on that factor alone automatically or instantaneously
received miracle-working power from the Holy Spirit. Instead,
there was a time frame that God himself had set and the miracle-working
power was given only in accordance with those factors, which
God knew and set by his own wisdom. It was not give strictly
on the condition of returning to or keeping sound doctrine.
Acts 1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus,
of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until
the day in which he was taken up, after that he through
the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom
he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive
after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen
of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining
to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together
with them, commanded them that they should not depart from
Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which,
saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized
with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not
many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together,
they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore
again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is
not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father
hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power,
after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall
be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea,
and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld,
he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
The disciples had been a part of that return to God's truth
and had embraced that truth without corrupting it in the 50
days between the resurrection and Pentecost. But the fact
that they held to sound doctrine during those days did not
guarantee an automatic manifestation of miraculous power the
moment that they had sound doctrine or just because they had
Having sound doctrine was not the only qualification that
God was waiting for but instead, while holding sound doctrine,
they still had to wait for the time appointed by God, which
was the day of Pentecost. Thus, being part of a return to
sound doctrine and keeping that doctrine does not on its own
guarantee the manifestation of miraculous power. Instead,
it is God's ordained time and purposes that determine when
he bestows miraculous power and even those who hold to sound
doctrine cannot change or alter the time and purpose of God
in this matter.
Additionally, in this example of the 120 disciples we see
that God's decision to bestow miraculous power is based upon
greater factors that are independent of simply holding to
sound doctrine even though the miracles function to confirm
the divine origin of doctrine. In this way, sound doctrine
is a prerequisite to miraculous power as we have outlined
in detail throughout this study of the Charismatic Movement,
but sound doctrine is not the only factor or even the primary
factor for God in determining if or when to bestow such power.
Just because we prepare ourselves by removing and reversing
those trends, which lead to the decline of the miraculous
gifts, does not mean that the Holy Spirit will automatically
restore them or that he is bound to do so. Instead, the gifts
remain as they always were: manifest according to the prerogative
and purpose of the Holy Spirit. What is important is that
we, as a Church, return to our first love, do the first works,
and separate ourselves from the world.
Second, this theory explains why all the gifts seemed to pass
away at around the same time. For, as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus
both inform us, the gifts including tongues, continued in
their day, which would have been the middle to latter half
of the second century AD. Yet, by the time of John Chrysostom
and Augustine, the gifts had disappeared. This means that
whatever caused the gifts to cease apparently affected all
the gifts at about the same time. In other words, what caused
their disappearance was uniform. And the rise of compromise
in both doctrine and behavior in the Church could easily provide
such a uniform cause for the disappearance of all the gifts
in the decades between the middle of the second century and
the beginning of the fourth century AD.
Third, this theory explains the dilemma faced by John Chrysostom,
Augustine, and even Gregory the Great. When faced with this
dilemma concerning how the lack of gifts impacted whether
or not Christians still had the Holy Spirit, Augustine commented
"How then, brethren, because he that is baptized in
Christ, and believes on Him, does not now speak in the
tongues of all nations, are we not to believe that he has
received the Holy Ghost? God forbid that our heart should
be tempted by this faithlessness..." (Augustine, "Ten Homilies
on the First Epistle of John)
Since the passing of the miraculous gifts, the Church has
pondered whether or not we still retained the Baptism in the
Holy Spirit. Some, like Augustine, have argued that we still
have the Baptism in the Holy Spirit even though we don't have
the gifts. The modern answer to this seems to be that the
rebirth is different from Baptism in the Holy Spirit. So,
Christians without the gifts have been reborn but not baptized
in the Holy Spirit. But this is incorrect as evidenced by
our articles on Baptism. The reality is, the rebirth is the
Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the reason the Church no longer
has the gifts is because of the scriptural indications described
in this segment and found in such passages as John 15, whereby
if the Church left the doctrine of Christ, it would lose its
ability to ask and receive and in fact, "do anything." (John
15 will be described in more detail in our next segment.)
And fourth, this theory explains how the gifts could have
passed away when, Biblically speaking, they were not supposed
to do so until the return of Jesus Christ. The gifts passed
away because the Church left its first love, left the first
works, and compromised with the world, specifically in terms
of the influence of Gnosticism and other heresies on Church
Why had the gifts ceased at around the same time Gnosticism
and other heresies were making such strong advances into the
Church? Because the Church, which had always contended with
Gnosticism and other heresies, had now been overwhelmingly
overrun by them particularly in the climactic compromise of
the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Therefore, this theory explains
why the continual rise of Gnosticism and other heresies in
the Church coincided in time with the disappearance of the
gifts somewhere between the late second and early third centuries.
Thus, the two coincided because they were related. Effectively,
the shift toward heresies including Gnosticism within the
Church contributed to the decline and loss of the gifts.