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Particulars of Christianity:
310 Pentecostalism,
the Charismatic
and Faith Movements

What Happened to the Gifts:
Scriptural Indications (Part 2)

What Happened to the Authentic Gifts?
Comparing Theories to Historic Documentation
Comparing Theories to Scripture (Part 1)
Comparing Theories to Scripture (Part 2)
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 4
| Section 5

Further indication that it was the Church's shift away from apostolic doctrine that led to the decline and loss of the gifts comes from the words of Jesus' himself.

John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

What stands out first of all from the passage above is verse 7. In verse 7 Jesus states, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye will ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Let's compare this statement side by side with some of the passages we looked at near the very start of this section.

Matthew 7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Luke 11:10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

In all of these passages, Jesus says roughly the same thing, Jesus is telling his disciples that "whatever they ask for in prayer, if they believe, they will receive it." Yet John 15:7 differs from the others in that it includes a condition for our receiving. In John 15:7 Jesus informs us that our receiving what we ask for depends upon our abiding in him. If we do not abide in him, we will not receive what we ask for. He also says in verse 5 that apart from him we can do nothing. This tells us that it is not our faith that has the power to bring about our desires. Instead, it is Jesus Christ who has the power to bring our desires to pass if they are in line with his will, if we believe he will do it, and if we are abiding in him. This explains why Paul and James understood that desires and plans were ultimately subject to whether or not God permitted them.

But what does Jesus mean by "abiding in him?" Well, in verse 3, Jesus declares that the disciples are clean because of the word, which he has spoken to them. And in verse 10, Jesus plainly states that abiding in him is a matter of keeping his commands. So, we know that what Jesus has in mind here with the phrase "abide in me" is that we keep, live in, and walk in his teaching. It was this teaching that passed down from Christ Jesus to the apostles and which they handed down to their successors. If we deviate from this sound doctrine, then we cannot receive from God no matter how much faith we have for that desire to come to pass.

This is very important because it explains why the New Testament authors repeatedly emphasized the following concept in the epistles. (Please excuse the number of the quotes below but it is necessary in order to establish the importance of these types of statements.)

Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

1 Corinthians 11:2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

1 Timothy 1:3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

2 Timothy 1:13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Titus 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it...13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

Titus 2:7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it as needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:6-8 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

2 Thessalonians 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing...

2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves.

2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

These 18 quotes from the epistles demonstrate that Paul, John, Peter, and Jude all understood and emphasized that the Church as a whole and Christians as individuals had to continue in the doctrines exactly as they were taught by Jesus Christ to the Apostles and by the Apostles to their successors. This is most directly stated perhaps in 1 Timothy 6:3, in which Paul refers to anyone who "teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is very clear that the Apostles were extremely concerned with making sure that the Church after them continued in the doctrines of Christ without corrupting or deviating from them.

And John 15, which came long before the epistles were ever written tells us why they emphasized that the early Church must remain in the doctrine of Christ just as they had been taught. For in John 15, Jesus explains, "If ye keep my commands, ye shall abide in my love" and "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Jesus himself taught that Christians would not be able to receive what they asked for in prayer if they deviated from his teaching as it had been taught. And this is why the Apostles repeatedly instructed Christians to remain in the doctrine of Christ just as they had taught them from the beginning without corruption or deviation. The Apostles knew based upon Jesus' statements in John 15, that if the Church were to deviate from the sound doctrine as it had been handed down from the beginning then Christians would lose the ability to receive what they asked for in prayer.

What is remarkable about this is that we already know from our survey of history that the charismatic gifts passed away sometime between the end of the second and the fourth century AD just as the Church was being overrun by the false doctrine that the Apostles had been contending against from the beginning. It is no wonder then that as the Church as a whole began to be penetrated and influenced and won over entirely by false teaching that deviated from the sound doctrine taught by Jesus and handed down through the Apostles, the charismatic gifts disappeared in perfect accordance with Jesus' warning in John 15 that if we did not abide in him, and in his words, we would not be able to receive from God.

In conclusion then, although it remains somewhat speculative, it is our belief that the Church gradually lost the gifts over time as Gnosticism and other heresies as well as a host of other compromised behaviors gained ground in the Church. This decline culminated somewhere between the writing of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus in the latter half of the second century AD and the writing of John Chrysostom and Augustine in the middle of the fourth century AD. At this point, when compromise and heresy reached a certain level, the miraculous gifts ceased entirely. And because of such compromise and corruption of doctrine, the Holy Spirit stopped manifesting the miraculous gifts.

This is an event that is strictly a matter of the Holy Spirit's own initiative and discretion given the fact that the gifts are manifest according to his will as 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 states combined with the fact that the Holy Spirit's role was to testify to the teaching of Christ Jesus (John 15:26, John 16:12-15), and not some other doctrine. As stated above in greater detail, the Holy Spirit is not bound or required to manifest the miraculous gifts even if we repent of our historic compromise and return to sound doctrine. The decision of the Holy Spirit to manifest the gifts is based upon greater factors and not simply something that happens automatically whenever sound doctrine is present. Therefore, even thought the Church must return to its first love and to the first works, doing so does not in anyway imply or guarantee that we will receive the miraculous gifts back.