Want Some Answers ???
Dear Rev. Peter/Irene
Thanks for writing. I agree with much of your first comments as you build your reply, if I may start where we might differ -
>>...We are to experience what the Word of God says. It becomes life wihin us. We are to experience love to Christ, obedience, holiness and the "being filled with the Spirit".<<
Yes, true. But on the other hand, not all the experiences of the NT are those we should expect. And if some were for a limited season we shouldn’t seek them. Eg if tongues in Acts 2 were real languages (2:7-11) then there is something wrong if people today speak gibberish. Perhaps then, there was a purpose and reason for this gift people haven’t realized and a reason it’s no longer given?
If we ask God to reveal the truth, He will. I've studied Scripture about this and through Scripture and the Holy Spirit's ministry God revealed it. We find that those who claim to have the miracle gifts today base their acceptance of the gifts on their experience not God’s Word.
In Mark 16:20 we learn that the miracle sign gifts (tongues, healing etc) were used by the Lord to “confirm” the Good News which the disciples preached (also Heb.2:3-4 Acts 5:12). Signs authenticated the message as something from God. The unbelieving Jews required a sign (1 Cor.1:22 14:22) that God was changing His plan and reaching out to Gentiles. So the sign gifts were for an important reason.
God wanted people to believe the apostolic witness. But today God wants us to believe His Word. So today when a Roman Catholic Priest speaks in tongues, is God ‘confirming’ the doctrine of the mass, penance etc? Why not? Because today God doesn't give miracles and ‘signs’, He expects us to believe (have faith in) what we have in the Bible (Heb.11:6). Signs are not needed. The real ‘miracles’ in Bible times are not the emotional, make-believe nonsense today.
>>History records that for the first hundred years of the churches’ experience at least in Europe and Asia Minor, in every meeting they all prayed in tongues aloud together and they worshipped the Lord aloud in tongues together. John, the last of the apostles, would have been gone for at least forty years.
There is clear evidence the sign gifts occurred during the apostolic era - but not thereafter. Note the way these verses refer to the miracles in the past tense indicating the signs were already been withdrawn - 2 Cor.12:12 Heb.2:2-4. In the three centuries that followed that era there's only two references to tongues-speaking [Montanus and Tertullian also a Montanist]. The early church fathers opposed Montanus as heretical because of his prophesying and tongue speaking. There are no genuine uses of glossolalia in the post-apostolic era because it had ceased. Chrysostom stated categorically that it ceased by his time. The only tongue speakers during the first 500 years of the church were branded as heretics. It's not until the Pentecostal denominations of the 20th century that we have the modern tongue speaking practice.
>>The experiences of all the apostles and their followers, in relation to obedience to the Word and the gospel and with regard to being filled with the Spirit as they were in Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10 and Acts 19, Romans 8:26-28; 1 Corinthians 12,13 and 14 were such that we should follow their example.<<
Each occurrence in Acts 2, 8, 10, 19 were historical and unique and cannot be repeated today. They tell how the Holy Spirit came to the Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles, and John’s disciples (and so all men). With each of these groups it was for the first time. The disciples learnt that God receives all men freely by grace.
Historical evangelical theologians have drawn the heart of their doctrine from Bible passages penned expressly to teach the church. They have understood Acts as an inspired historical record of the apostolic period, not necessarily viewing every event or phenomenon recorded there as normative for the entire church age. Charismatic's, however, craving the experiences described in Acts seem to have assembled a doctrinal system that views the extraordinary events of the early apostolic age as necessary hallmarks of the Holy Spirit's working for all time. The book of Acts was never intended to be a primary basis for church doctrine.
Regarding Rom.8:26-28. Tongues are never mentioned anywhere in Romans, so we shouldn’t read into these verses something not there. Paul didn’t indicate that tongues were the experience of believers in this verse. Rather this was something common to all believers, not a select few who claim a ‘second blessing’. Have all the godly saints over the centuries, who have never spoken in tongues, missed out on something here? No. Rom.8:26 is the common experience of every believer not just a few. And it’s not tongues, Paul says the intercession of the Spirit is with ‘groaning that ‘cannot be uttered’ (that is) are not uttered. When a person cannot utter he is silent, not speaking in tongues.
Regarding 1 Cor.12,13,14. 1 Corinthians was written prior to Acts 28 before the gifts ceased, about AD 54. So when Paul writes his latter epistles, Ephesians and Romans and discusses gifts of the Spirit at length, he makes no mention of the miraculous gifts. In fact, the writer of Hebrews looks on miracles as something in the past (Heb.2:3-4). By this time, apostolic authority and the apostolic message needed no further confirmation. Scholars say Hebrews was written much later about AD 95-96 (AD120 latest AD 70 earliest - pg.1582 “Hebrews G.F. Hawthorne Pickering Bible Commentary 1984).
Before the first century ended, the entire NT had been written and was circulating through the churches. The revelatory gifts had 'ceased' to serve any purpose. And when the apostolic age ended with the death of the Apostle John, the signs that identified the apostles had already become moot [cf 2 Cor.12:12]. The Bible also documents other examples of miracles for special periods that ceased shortly after bestowal.
>>The preached Christ - that was experiential. They worshipped the Lord, again experiential. They spoke in tongues, not the least of their experiences. Any experience outside the Word of God must be negated. Any doctrine regarding the gospel and the church, outside of the epistles in particular, should be negated and disregarded. It could be a "doctrine of devils", prophesied as occurring in the "last days"..<<
Although you seem include Acts in the epistles and only parts that suite your selection of experiences. Some Pentecostals include Marks Gospel and all the five sign gifts that "shall follow them that believe" [vs.17]. Why not handle snakes or drink poison? Should I beg God for these wonderfully gifts? The only condition in the Bible to receive these is to "believe" [vs.17]. Surely then, either all five sign gifts are valid for everyone today or none is valid.
When you understand why God gave tongues and prophecy it’s easy to see why they ceased. Paul's subject in 1 Cor.13-14 is illumination, the part illumination will give away to "that which is perfect." The gifts provided the early Church that which was later provided by the NT. When Paul wrote One Corinthians, the only part of the NT in existence was 1 & 2 Thess. The early Church was at a disadvantage, so God gave the miraculous gifts to enable the assimilation of the NT truth [so readily available to us]. They were "in part" compared with the "perfection" of the completed Scriptures we have. So when the perfect came, the part was done away.
God communicates through His Word. Pentecostalism however has abandoned the principle of Sola Scriptura and claims revelation from God beyond Scripture (prophecy), as if the miraculous gifts didn’t ‘cease’ (contrary to 1 Cor.13:8).
>>The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14:15,18,20, thanked God he spoke in tongues more than all in the church of Corinth, perhaps numbering up to thousands! An outstanding statement, as one non-Pentecostal theologian has written.<<
He only makes the statement “more than all” in vs.15 and vs.16 doesn’t fit the way you apply it. Paul is not saying “in church” he speaks in tongues “numbering up to thousands”, but the opposite. He would rather speak 5 words all can understand, than 10,000 none can understand.
He’s thankful to speak more than they, because they exercised the gift in abuse and confusion. They sort self-gratification and vain-glory rather than Christ’s glory. The emphasis of Paul is upon the edification of fellow believers. But as an instrument for teaching and preaching tongues are virtually without value.
It’s questionable in Paul’s mind if a gift can be said to exist for the individual if it is not employed for the church (1 Cor.12:7). And in 1 Cor.14:13-14,17 he strongly discourages private tongue speaking as unproductive or unfruitful.
Thanks for the website address (I shall have a look).