Did 'pastors and teachers' cease?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Link, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. Link

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    I would like to star ta new thread on an idea DHK mentioned in another thread.

    If I understand your view correctly, you do not believe in any spiritual gifts continuing to this day. You also say you believe the gifts ceased all at the same time.
    Since 'evangelists' and 'pastors and teachers' are called 'gifts' in Ephesians 4, is it true that you do not believe that there are any more evangelists or people who fucntion as pastors and teachers in the church any more?
    If you think there still are such people, how can they do these things without God graciously enabling them to do so?
     
  2. Hope of Glory

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    I could be mistaken, but I've never seen DHK claim that all spiritual gifts ceased, just the sign-gifts performed through men.
     
  3. Link

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    Read the latest thread on tongues (if you dare to read something so long) and you will see that he has claimed several times that all the spiritual gifts have ceased. He also believes they ceased at the same time.
     
  4. DHK

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    To have any meaningful discussion on this topic one must come to a consensus on a definition of terms. I will throw out some for you, and you can answer my questioins and give me some definitions to work with.

    What is a "gift"
    What is a "gift of the Spirit"
    How do the two differ?
    What is the difference between "gift" and "talent" or ability?
    Can an unsaved person have a gift, a talent, or even a "gift of the Spirit?"
    If the gifts of the Spirit are operational today how can you tell if it is a gift of the Spirit, or a gift given by God to enable a person in service for God, or a gift as in an ability that any unsaved person may have as well? How would you know the difference?
    There are (and have been throughout history) many unsaved preachers. That's how cults start. Sometimes their doctrine seems to be Biblical. Do they have the "gift of the Spirit"? How would you know, if you can't tell the difference?

    A more concrete example:

    1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

    I work among Muslims. Many Christians would be put to shame by help that Muslims give to others. Imran Khan, famous Pakistani cricket player, built with his own personal funds a state of the art Cancer Hospital in Lahore Pakistan in memory of his mother who had cancer. A man called Edhi, out does what the Red Cross can do by taking care of the wounded and dead in Karachi (known as the city of death). Arabian princes have donated of their wealth to build beautiful and well-equipped hospitals in third world nations that otherwise would never have them. The list of good works can go on and on. Does the "gift of helps apply to the unsaved, when the unsaved offer more help than the saved?

    Is this the gift of helps. Anyone can help. Anyone can take flowers to the sick, pray with them that are in grief, take food to the needy, etc. Anyone can do that. Is that the gift of helps?

    I contend that in someway that even I don't quite understand, all the gifts (including helps) were supernatural in nature. The gifts of helps was not just helping others as described above. It was more than that. It was a supernatural gift--a gift given to just a few that enabled them to help others in a way that few others would never have been able to do. How they did that, I don't know. But it was called a gift of the Spirit. It was called a gift for a reason. What made it different than just a "gift?" You decide. What made it different than a talent? What made it different than what Mother Theresa did? What was it about the "gift of helps" that made it one of the "gifts of the Spirit" and not just a gift? When you can answer some of these questions then we will be in a position to continue this discussion on a more intelligent level.
    DHK
     
  5. BobRyan

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    I know I always like to start there.
     
  6. BobRyan

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    You might as well have said "How could this possibly be true - I don't know".

    While I agree that the Spiritual Gifts were given by God and not a talent "from birth" I do not believe your somewhat while conclusion that helps is not helps.

    In my opinion tongues is tongues - they were speaking the REAL language of some one from another land. That did NOT mean that the natives of that country COULD NOT ALSO speak their OWN language just as the NT saints were given the power to instantly speak that language though for them it was never "learned" - it was a supernatural gift. "How is it that each one hears this in their own language?!!"!

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  7. Link

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    Understanding 'gifts'

    The word is closely related to the word 'grace.' John White who has written for Intravarsity Press describes charismata as 'gracelets.' Dr. William Thurman, former head of the Classics department at UNC Asheville has used the term 'gracious bestowals' to describe the charismata.

    Perhaps we should back up and consider what 'charis' (grace) means. We usually think of grace as getting salvation even though we don't deserve it. That is truely an amazing aspect of grace, but grace extends even further into our lives than that.

    If you look up what 'charis' means, you will see that it means favor, or gift. If the king has favor on you, he may give you a gift. 'Grace' is favor, and the manifestation of that favor, the gift that is given. If you go through a concordance and look up occurances of 'grace,' you will see that in some places, grace is used to describe when God enables or empowers someone to do something.

    Paul wrote that he outlabored the other apostles, yet not him, but the grace that was with him. God's grace in Paul outlabored the other apostles. It worked with Paul.

    We can see that grace is paralleled with 'power' when the Lord spoke to Paul and said,
    My grace is sufficient for thee
    for my power is made perfect in weakness.

    Notice the parallel between grace and power. This use of grace in scripture is one reason some Christians will say things like "God gave me grace to endure."

    Romans 6 teaches us that sin shall no more have dominion over you for you are not under the law, but under grace. God's grace empowers us and keeps sin from having dominion over us. It is in operationin our daily lives.

    GOD-GIVEN ABILITIES
    God's grace shows up in practical, sometimes mundane-looking ways. God saves us by His grace, even though we don't deserve it. He empowers us by His grace to endure temptation and overcome sin. He has favor on us and enables us with this grace.

    Romans 12 says that we have gifts (gracious bestowals) according to the grace given unto us. I Peter 4 says that as every man has received the gift, even so let us minister one to another as _good stewards of the manifold grace of God._ Peter tells the person who ministers, to do so with the ability that God provides. This is a good description of grace and spiritual gifts in a lot of cases-- the ability which God provides.
    The charismata are abilities that God provides. Some of these abilities are quite amazing-- the ability to know the secrets of another person's heart or the myseteries of God by the word of knowledge of the gift of prophecy...the working of miracles, and many other gifts. But some of these abilities seem quite normal. For example, teaching, giving, ministering, and ruling can be spiritual gifts.

    Does it make sense to say that all 'charismata' in the first century were spectacular and therefore giving, etc. was much more spectacular then? No. Let's think about this. How could the gift of 'giving' have been a supernatural power? What did people do, give 5 dinars and it miraculously turned into 100 in the recievers hand? That seems unlikely. Did those who had the gift of administrating or ruling have a supernatural power than made people obey them? Judging from the problems the churches faced as recorded in Paul's letters, it would seem this was not the case.

    No, Paul called abilities that seem natural and normal, 'gifts' or 'charismata.' Keep in mind that the word 'charismata' does not literally mean 'spiritual gift.' It means something like 'gracious bestowal.' God, in His grace, gave some people to ability to do certain things. Some of these things are supernatural-looking, and some seem quite mundane. But all are given for the common good. The value of a spiritual gift is not judged by how spectacular it is. Depending on how one interprets the end of I Corinthians 12, one could argue that teaching is a higher-ranked gift than the working of miracles.

    UNBELIEVERS HAVING GIFTS?

    What about unbelievers? They have natural talents. Some theologians believe in 'common grace'--that is grace that God givesall people. God enables people with natural talents. Can unbelievers have 'charismata?' Were the supernatural abilities described in the Old Testament, before the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2, also charismata?

    We know that there was grace in the Old Testament because even back then God was in the habit of giving grace to the humble, as the Bible says. Isn't it reasonable to think of Elijah or Moses' 'gift' to be able to prophecy as 'charismata'?

    But then, what about Balaam. Balaam normally resorted to divination. He is a type of false teachers in the New Testament. But we see that He also could talk with God and he prophesied true prophecies over Israel when the Spirit of God came upon him. Couldn't this be viewed as a 'charism' in action?
    What about Caiaphas, who ___prophesied___ that one Man should die for the people, even though he was plotting the death of Christ?

    And what about those wicked who Christ will turn away at the end of the age recorded at the end of Matthew 7? If they really were casting out demons, could they have really been prophesying and doing wonderful works in Christ's name, but end up not being a part of the elect?
    What about the miraculous power that Judas had when he, like the other 12, was given power to heal the sick and cleanse the lepers when the 12 were sent out two by two into the towns and villages of Israel? Couldn't that be considered 'charismata.'

    So we cannot rule out the idea that unbelievers, or at least the unelect, could potentially exercise charismata, even the pneumatika type.
     
    #7 Link, Jun 15, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2006
  8. Link

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    Understanding 'gifts'

    NATURAL ABILITIES BEFORE SALVATION
    What about natural abilities that unbelievers have to help others? Should we consider these to be 'charismata'? That is a good question, and not one I have a definite answer for. But Paul does not use the terminology outside of the context of the body of believers. We are the ones who recognize God's grace in action and open ourselves up to it by believing in Christ. If someone has a natural ability to teach before his conversion, would it be wrong for him to consider his ability to teach, after his conversion, to be a 'gracious bestowal' from the Lord. I don't think so.
    Consider the case of the saint Apollos. He knew the scriptures well and could argue from them well when he only knew up to John's baptism. After the rest of the gospel was explained to him, he continued on in his ministry, arguing and debating that Jesus was the Christ, which was a good thing. Were all of his gifts instantly received after his conversion? No. Some of them apparently were very much related to the talents and 'gifts' he had before he fully understood the gospel.

    UNBIBLICAL VIEW OF THE CHURCH
    There is not scripture that teaches that 'charismata' have ceased. To argue that it has really disconnects believers from the Bible. It makes so much of the Bible not apply to them. They are left with very few scriptural tools or instructions to minister to each other, and little in the way of ecclesiology-- doctrine on church structure and organisation.
    Local churches would no longer have 'pastors and teachers' because these gifts have ceased. There would no longer be any 'evangelists' because this is a 'charism' as well. In the Bible, we see missionaries being sent out as 'apostles', but if that gift has ceased, what is the basis for having missionaries?

    In addition, believers are left believing they have to minister to one another with fleshly talents that do not come to them from the grace of God. If there are no gracious bestowals from the Lord to do anything, how else can we labor but in our own strength? Jesus said, "Without me you can do nothing." Are we to work a lot but really do nothing until the Lord returns? The OT says unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it. if God does not work through us through His gracious bestowals, what good is it to work on the house?

    No, this idea of spiritual gifts ceasing is to create another view, an unbiblical view, of how God relates to His church and works in and through it. This is not the worldview found in scripture.

    Basically, believing that spiritual gifts ceased leaves you with a lot of scripture that is not very 'profitable for doctrine.' But we know that God does still work in His church. His grace is very active, and He still gives 'gracious bestowals' to people. God works in and through people. His grace labors with people who are productive for His kingdom. He empowers people with 'charismata' to edify the body of Christ and to reach out to the world. This is the way God interacts with the church as defined in the Bible. It is all we have. We do not have scripture that tells us about God withdrawing His grace or His gracious bestowals from the church and leaving us to labor in some kind of carnal strength that has no connection with His grace.
     
  9. J. Jump

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    Grace is God doing for man what He requires of man and then giving man credit as if he did it himself.
     
  10. Link

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    Dear J Jump

    It seems like God takes credit for His own grace in the Bible. But he counts faith unto men as righteousness.
     
  11. J. Jump

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    Exactly. Our righteousness is as filthy rags and so He gives us Christ's righteousness. God doing for us what He requires of us and then giving us credit.
     
  12. bmerr

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    J Jump,

    bmerr here. Since God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), why does He not do for everyone what He requires of everyone, (repentance - Acts 17:30), so that all men would be saved, since that is what He desires (2 Pet 3:9)?

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  13. J. Jump

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    Jesus did die for everyone, but not everyone believes in the substitutionary death. That's not God's fault.
     

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