Book of Acts & The Work of the Holy Spirit – the Norm for the Church?
Is the work of the Spirit of God in the book of Acts the norm for the Church today?
No, it isn’t. You’d have to begin with external evidence combined with erroneous presuppositions. To attempt to establish a norm for all Christians in all ages from the book of Acts is not proper. It is less than a tenuous position.
The Holy Spirit empowered the Apostles as no other group of humans since those days. There is no evidence of such after the apostles died.
Jesus Christ gave to the apostles and specifically Paul an apostolic commission and the power to do a special work, laying a foundation for the New Testament church at large, but it is certainly not ‘the norm’ for all Christians.
Are all of the experiences of Jesus Christ in the Gospels ‘the norm’ for every Christian? Of course not. Neither is it in the acts of some of the apostles.
Take Acts 10:44, 45, for example. Many today stress praying for the ‘pouring out’ of the Holy Spirit, the ‘falling down’ of the same based on this verse alone.
Look at the verse itself:
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. – Acts 10:44, 45 (ESV)
The entire context of this passage is clearly an instruction for the Jew. The ekklesia, made of Hebrews required a lesson regarding the conversion of the Gentile. This action of the Holy Spirit confirmed the same. It certainly is not the norm for the church.
Think about this: in the days of the apostles, it was ‘the norm’ for an apostle to lay hands on someone, and that person would receive the Holy Spirit.
But there are no more apostles in the strict sense of the word.
…and if you think anyone can lay hands on another, and they receive the Holy Spirit, you make a claim you cannot, biblically, confirm.
Right on,and Write on.
Excellent post. When did you convert to being a dispensationalist? 😉
I’ll spank ya later…..
Not that I agree with Dan Philips’ dispensationally deformed theology, but his concise post on this topic yesterday is quite good:
“The very fact that “continuationists” acknowledge the need to make their case to Christians by argument is, itself, a devastating and sufficient refutation of the position.”
You use the term “unbiblical” to stress the belief that the gifts and callings of the Holy Spirit have stopped. Can you give me chapter and verse?. You will support the position of ‘pastor’ and yet that word is used in the NT only one time and is a verb and not a noun…action and not office. I suggest that there is more scriptural evidence for an apostle (one who is sent…and are we not all sent by the Lord as His witness to the world?) than there is for the office or position of a ruler called ‘pastor’, unless you do not believe in the priesthood of all believers and lean to a clergy/laity seperation. Your exegesis if errant in many ways, I have noticed this quite frequently. You now use history and scholorship to defend your viewpoints, and yet scream unbiblical when other try to use the same premis. This seems to be a form of some religious pride that uses the Bible/history in a selective way to prove one’s viewpoint. IMO this is a most dangerous practice and can be misleading to down right deceptive.
“Rev” Joseph – I find it amusing you take Joel to task for calling himself a pastor and you call yourself a Reverend. Where is that term in the Scriptures? The word “pastor” is a role within the office of elder/bishop, conveying the spiritual shepherding of the local flock at a given church. Yes, it’s a verb – connected to the office of elder. “Reverend” is a man-made label meaning self-importance.
Rev is short for revolutionary…not reverend, in my case. I do not take him to task for calling himself anything…that was not the purpose of my post. Also, it would do you some good to check out elder and bishop in the Greek..
“Rev is short for revolutionary…not reverend, in my case.”
That might be funny if it was the least bit believable.
Regarding “elder” vs “bishop” in the Greek – yes, they are two different words in that language as well. In their NT contexts, they often refer to the church office of elder/bishop.
It is true that I am an ordained minister and have received the title of Reverand but, I have rejected that title as ordination produces an ecclesiatical caste that has usurped the believing priesthood. Now, a far as pastor goes the word is plural and not singular. This is significant as there is no Biblical support for sola pastora. Authority in the NT is representative. This means that while believers can express and represent Divine authority, they never assume such authority. Insofar as a member of the Body is reflecting the mind of the Head, to that degree he is representing Divine authority. Function, not position. I have learned that in the Kingdom, leadership flows out of childlike meekness and sacrificial service…being precedes doing and doing flows from being. There are no slots to fill in the Eccesia, just submission to one another in love.
One of the gifts Jesus gave upon His ascension, according to Scripture, is the gift of the pastor-teacher. My goodness, do you not see it? Pastor-teacher.
Good on ya for rejecting the unbiblical title – I would urge you to drop the “Rev.” as every thinking person will think otherwise.
I infer from your comment that you reject the common singular leader of a local church – so many have one pastor or many, one of which likes to be called “Senior Pastor”. If this stuff you disagree with, I stand with you yet again. The Scripture is consistent and clear – there were a plurality of elders installed each local church; that provides accountability and helps mitigate against the church becoming a personality cult.
Yet, I trust, you are not denying the gift of pastor-teacher, clearly taught?
Joel, I embrace the calling and filling of office by a pastor-teacher and am pondering the argument that an elder can be one if he does not teach. I just read the article from 2009 that you linked to, above, and there is much therein – and in the last comment – to provoke one to think and study. As I am in an elder/pastor/preacher training program at my church, this is of serious interest to me.
Yes…he gave apostles, prophets, pastor-teachers, evangelists…I agree. My problem is that you all are so quick to cast off the other four as un-needed and relegate them dispensationally to the past. As I have stated in another post, “all are needed till we grow up into a mature man unified in the faith”. That I do not see as of yet. The Body rejects those that the Lord gives to help us and so growth, real spiritual growth, is arrested. The false prophets and apostles of today (if they can be called that) cause us to reject the real, and believe me, there are few, but very real. I respect this blog and am not here to cause trouble. I have learned, by attending religious education, that we tend to mirror what we are taught without exegeting the scriptures ourselves to see if these things be so (The Bereans). By my own searching out I have discovered many things that christians believe simply because others have told them so. This is a dangerous way to do hermeneutics. My personal position from my study of scripture is that of a partial preterist, amillennialist which leaves me out of all dispensational thought.
“and if you think anyone can lay hands on another, and they receive the Holy Spirit, you make a claim you cannot, biblically, confirm.”
But where is the Biblical confirmation for any of what you just said? I agree that such works aren’t norms for Christians, but neither are they extinct, and to claim so seems almost distinctively un-Biblical, the highest kind of picking-and-choosing, and at least testimonially untrue. The history of Christianity (which I imagine you will dismiss as Catholic) records a giant number of miracles performed by those who could only have been inspired by the Spirit, and I know of a large number of stories among my friends as well. They are not the foundations of faith, yes, but they can certainly be blessings, and they can certainly be Spirit-empowered acts that further the kingdom. Even Christ seemed to note that such acts can be performed by those outside of the chosen NT Apostles (Luke 9:50).
So after all of that, maybe the issue is that you admit the possibility of miraculous works etc, but just want to point out it is not the Norm anymore. Fine, ok. But what if it was? And what if it was possible for it to become so? Where is this un-biblical? What if the church was an actual arm of the Almighty God where strange and unexplainable things could happen, and what if our doubt that it could be such is then the primary wall against it occurring?
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