30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
February 20, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" This morning we are continuing our study that we began two weeks ago on "The Holy Spirit." Hello, I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine this valuable truth of God's word. This morning we will continue our study on "The Holy Spirit" and will conclude our study next week here on WAVE 1450. It is my hope that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things religiously that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour, "The Holy Spirit", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. I also want to encourage you to have a pen and paper ready to make notes. If you would like to have a complete transcript or audio tape set of these lessons that have been presented on "the Holy Spirit", you may request these by writing to the Clarksville church of Christ, 407 W. Hwy 131, Clarksville, Indiana, 47129, or you may call 944-2305.
By looking at the Bible passages presented this morning, you will be able to see for yourself that what I am teaching can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about this subject of the Holy Spirit. If you have a question or a comment regarding today's lesson, please forward them to me. I will provide you with the address and phone number again at the conclusion of today's message.
For the past two weeks we have been discussing the Holy Spirit. We have learned that the Holy Spirit is a person; that He is deity; that He has spoken to man, giving mankind the Word of God; and that Word is now recorded in the book we call the Bible. We also have learned that we are led by the Spirit when we follow the teachings which the Spirit has revealed. We saw that the Holy Spirit dwells in us exactly as God, the Father, and Christ, the Son, dwell in us. And that is by and through the teachings, the message, of the Holy Spirit. We learned that at least on two occasions, the miraculous aspect of the Holy Spirit was received by those who had obeyed the gospel, through the laying on of the hands of an apostle (Acts 8:17; 19:6). You will note in both of these cases, that they became the children of God by obeying the gospel, and then the ability to speak in tongues was bestowed upon them through the laying on of the apostles hands. They were not told to pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon them that they might speak in tongues.
As we closed last week we made the observation that we would inquire as to whether or not the miraculous aspect of the gifts of the Holy Spirit were still active in our lifetime. In other words, does the Holy Spirit perform miracles today? Are the miraculous gifts of the Spirit being given unto mankind today, in our generation? Do men speak in tongues like the early disciples did in the first century? Do they have the ability to perform healing miracles? Do they have the power to raise the dead? Do they have the other gifts of the Spirit like those early disciples had? It is my prayer that each listener will study with me with the desire to find out what God's Word says on this important subject. Have an open heart. May we allow God's Word be the authority; the determining factor. It should not be man's inner feelings, emotions, or longings, that answers the question. It should not even be what I think on the matter. It must be, "What is Truth?", the truth of the Scriptures."
First, let us identify what we mean by a miracle? By definition, a miracle is an act of God superseding or suspending a natural law. I am not talking about Divine providence, or God working in the lives of mankind. I wholeheartedly believe that God is still present and active in the lives of His people. But, what I am discussing: Are divine miracles still being performed. By miracles I mean, turning water into wine, walking upon water, raising the dead, being bitten by a poisonous snake without any ill effect, speaking in a language one does not know, nor has studied, preaching by direct inspiration. These are but a few of the miracles recorded in the Bible. Events that actually happened.
Question: Why were these miracles performed? John tells us, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:30, 31). Why were signs (miracles) performed? To convince mankind that Jesus was and is the Son of God. His miracles and signs continue unto this day to confirm His Sonship with the Father. He indeed is the Son of God. Signs and miracles attest to this fact. He was finally raised from the dead, another miracle, to die no more, but to ascend into heaven, where he now rules at the right hand of the Father.
I want to emphasize a point right here. Listen friends, there was never a miracle performed simply for the purpose of helping those who received the miracle. Jesus did not heal a person just to make them well. Jesus did not feed the multitude just to satisfy their hunger. Jesus did not raise Lazarus simply to remove the anguish of his sisters. Oh, No. All of these were performed to prove that He indeed is the Son of God. Did those upon whom miracles were performed benefit from the miracle. Of course they did, but that was not the reason for the miracle. They were done to convince mankind of His divine Sonship. And they still confirm the same truth. How do we know that Jesus the Christ, is the Son of God. By the signs and miracles which He performed. These signs are recorded upon the pages of God's Book, the New Testament. Remember, we were told by John that these signs have been written that we might believe. Signs (miracles) were to convince the unbeliever, the untaught, not to cause a reaction to a believer.
Miracles were never performed as a proof of salvation. Many in the religious world today who claim to be able to perform miracles have the process in exactly the reverse order. In the early church the disciples demonstrated that they came from God by the miracles which they performed. Listen to Hebrews 2:3, 4, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard; God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy spirit, according to his own will." Miracles were for the purpose of convincing the unbeliever that God was working and speaking through those performing the miracle. If God is working through the speaker, then surely, you should listen and heed the message of the speaker. Such is not the purpose of those who claim miraculous powers today. The Word of God has been confirmed long ago. It does not need some sign to verify it. It remains God's Word. Christ remains God's Son. Both of these facts were confirmed or proven by signs and miracles.
When God's word was completed and written down, the need for confirmation was no longer there. To verify these remarks, I now turn to Paul's message in 1 Corinthians 13. But first, let us notice 1 Corinthians 12. In the twelfth chapter, Paul discusses the diversities of the gifts of the Spirit. Time does not permit us to go into a verse by verse study, but the great apostle is seeking to correct some abuses of these gifts in Corinth. Some of the disciples had been given various gifts, nine in number. But, some of them were abusing and misusing these gifts and Paul sets forth to correct them. You will notice that the various gifts were given to various members. To one was given the "word of wisdom," to another, "the gift of healing," to another, "the gift of miracles," etc. Read verses 4-11 to see this. All did not speak with tongues, all did not work miracles, all did not interpret. See verses 28-30 to see this. He then states he was going to show them a most excellent way. So chapter 13 discusses the attributes of love. In verse 8, reading through verse 13, he states, "Love never faileth: but whether there be prophesies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child; now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as I was fully known. But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love,"
Did you hear the apostle say that something was to cease, to be done away? What was to be done away, what was to cease? The gift of prophesy, the gift of tongues, the gift of knowledge. When were these to cease, to be done away? When that which is perfect is come. To what does the apostle refer when he speaks of that which is "perfect"? My friend, Jesus, the Christ, was never, nor shall ever be referred to as a "THAT." Paul is not discussing the second coming of Christ. He IS discussing the completed revelation of God's Book, the Bible. You see, when the complete revelation was given and man had access to it there would no longer be a need for prophesy, for tongue or for knowledge. Let me hasten to point out that the "knowledge" in this verse refers to the miraculous gift of knowledge. See 1 Corinthians 12:8 for that understanding. He is not discussing knowledge like all men have. If that is what he is discussing and he is foretelling the second coming of the Lord, then, we would all be a bunch of ignorant people in God's presence when He comes again, because Paul says that when that which is perfect comes, knowledge would be done away. That just doesn't make good sense does it? What Paul is saying is that when the completed, perfect revelation of God's Word was finished, there would no longer be a need for prophesy, for tongues, for knowledge. God's word would no longer need signs and miracles to prove it to be the word of God.
Friends, do you believe the Bible to be the word of God? If so, why do you so believe that? Your answer no doubt is, it has been proven to be the word of God by the signs and miracles of the apostles and others in the first century. And I will readily agree with you. I do not need to see a miracle to believe in God's revealed word. Christ and the apostles proved that fact. And I believe it. You will notice in 1 Corinthians 13, that Paul said there was something partial and there was something perfect or complete. To what does he refer as being partial? Those gifts listed in chapter 12. The church was in its infantile state, it had just begun. These gifts were given to assist the early Christians to be able to convince the world that their message did indeed come from God. Today we have that perfect testimony, God's word, written for us to use to convince the world of the need for salvation in Christ.
James refers to God's Word as the "perfect law, the law of liberty," (James 1:25) and tells us that we must be doers of that perfect message. Thus, man has all that he or she needs to become the child of God and to live a life that is pleasing unto God. Speaking in tongues is not needed to teach one what to do to become a Christian. Speaking in tongues was needed in the first century because they did not have the written word; the message was transmitted through the disciples. And when they traveled about from country to country, it would be necessary for them to speak in the language of the people to whom they were presenting the message. Remember, when the apostles spoke in tongues in Acts 2, their audience understood them. They said, "And how hear we, every man in our own language, wherein we were born" (Acts 2: 8). Verse 11 states, "We hear them speaking in our tongues the mighty works of God." Paul states, "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to the unbelieving" (1 Corinthians 14:22). You see, those who claim to speak in tongues have the thing reversed. They claim that tongues are a sign of discipleship. Paul said tongues were to convince the unbeliever.
Since miraculous gifts were for the purpose of confirming the word, there is no longer any need for these gifts today, since that Word has been confirmed for almost 2000 years. We have the completed, revealed, revelation of Heaven. It was confirmed during the first century by signs and miracles, by inspiration of those so endowed with the gift of Spirit. Paul states, "But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Spirit teaches; combining spiritual things with spiritual words" (1 Corinthians 2:12-13). Peter states, "For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). Among the last words Jesus said to the apostles before His ascension into heaven were: "For John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (Acts 1:5).
The fulfillment of this promise is recorded in the second chapter of Acts. The baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit gave the apostles power to perform various miracles: speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4); healing the sick (Acts 3:6-8); raising the dead (Acts 9:36-41); preaching by direct inspiration (John 14:26). Luke tells us, "And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people" (Acts 5:12). With very few exceptions, modern miracle workers maintain that they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. If they are right in this, then they have the same power received by the apostles. If not, why not. They should be able to speak in foreign languages, they should be able to raise the dead, they should be able to be bitten by a venomous serpent without ill effect (Acts 28:4-6). But why is it that these who claim to be miracle workers when going into a foreign country must study the local language in order to communicate with the populous? Surely, if they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, they should have the same power as the apostles had in being able to speak in tongues they had not previously learned (Acts 2:8, 11). Further, why is it that those who claim the baptism of the Holy Spirit need to read and study the Bible in order to know anything about what it teaches? Obviously, if they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, they should be able to express "all truth" as did the apostles without the necessity of any previous Bible knowledge.
There was a man who claimed that he knew someone who had died and later revived. He asked of a preacher if the preacher would like to meet him. To which the preacher replied, "No, but I would like to meet the coroner who signed the death certificate." Some years ago there was a public religious discussion that was held for four nights. One night the "gifts of the Holy Spirit" were discussed. One of the men in the discussion affirmed the position that he had the same gifts that the apostles had. In the process of the discussion he was asked to cast a spell of blindness over the other man in the discussion and that would settle the discussion. In Acts 13:6-12, the incident is recorded where the apostle Paul cast a spell of blindness upon a man named Elymas, a sorcerer. Elymas opposed the teachings of Paul and Paul performed a miracle. The point of the one man was, if the man who claimed to possess the same gifts as the apostles had, to include Paul, then he could cause him to be blind. Needless to say, both men still have their eyesight. The man said his answer for not casting a spell of blindness on his was because that "would be testing the Lord." Do you think that Paul was testing the Lord? Isn't it strange, those who claim to have the same power as the apostles cannot do the things which the apostle did.
When Paul wrote his letter to Ephesus he stated, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all, and in all" (Ephesians 4:4-6). Did you hear that? ONE BAPTISM. This letter was written in about 64-65 A. D., about 34 years after Acts, chapter 2. Was water baptism still a command? Why yes. Water baptism is taught in many passages as being a requirement of mankind to obey. Water baptism is not Holy Spirit baptism. They are two separate and distinct baptisms. Yet, when Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he states there is one baptism. What does that tell the honest person? It tells us that Holy Spirit baptism was not being received in 64 A.D., nor in 2000 A.D. Who is desirous to accuse the apostle Paul of not knowing what he was talking about. Who is willing to contradict the apostle? Sometimes those who claim the baptism of the Holy Spirit go to 1 Corinthians 12:13, "For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body...," and claim this teaches Holy Spirit baptism. If it does affirm Holy Spirit baptism we have it contradicting what Paul said in Ephesians 4:4. And if God's word contradicts itself, then it no longer is dependable. Would any in our radio audience affirm that there are two baptisms today? We shall see. Actually what this passage teaches is that by means of one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. "In one Spirit" obviously refers to the direction and influence of the one Spirit. When one is baptized in water for the remission of sins in obedience to the command of Christ Jesus, that one is following the guidance, the teaching of the one Spirit.
The apostle Peter commanded those who asked, "What shall we do?" to "Repent and to be baptized everyone of you for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"Acts 2:38). When 3000 of the listeners were baptized, they were responding to the Spirit as the Spirit spoke through the apostle Peter. Thus, under the direction of the Holy Spirit they were baptized for the remission of sins. Here is the one baptism. Immersed in water in response to the teaching of the Spirit. The Spirit spoke through Ananias in Acts 22:16, when he told Saul, "Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins." When Saul (or Paul) was baptized, he was obeying the instructions of the Holy Spirit, thus, "In one Spirit was he baptized into one body." Yes, the one baptism in Ephesians in 64 A.D. was water baptism, the same command that is proclaimed today in the great commission of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Jesus sent the apostles forth into all the world with the charge, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20). That is the one baptism that the apostles preached and it is the one command that the Ephesians were reminded of.
"But," someone says, "didn't Peter say that when you are baptized for the remission of sins that you would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?" That is exactly right. That is the promise that the apostle makes in Acts 2:38. But, what is meant by the "gift of the Holy Spirit?" Is it the Holy Spirit as a gift, or is it the gift which the Holy Spirit gives? Remember, the Holy Spirit is a person. Are you telling me that one person can be given to another person and the person being given takes His abode in the body of the second person? Thus, two persons in one body. Impossible. We discussed this matter in one of our former lessons on the Holy Spirit. Consider the other possibility. The gift of the Holy Spirit is something that the Holy Spirit gives. And what would that be? When one is baptized, that one's sins are washed away by the blood of Christ. That one has agreed with the teaching of the Spirit and receives the promise that the Spirit made. When Saul responded to the command of Ananias (Acts 22:16), "arise and be baptized," he was responding to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and received the promise (or gift) of the Spirit. That doesn't seem to be so hard to understand, does it? In the book of Acts there are many examples of those who became children of God. In every case or example, the sinner was baptized. Acts 2, 3000 souls; Acts 8, the Samaritans; Acts 8, the eunuch; Acts 10, Cornelius; Acts 16, the Phillipian Jailor; Acts 18, the Corinthians; Acts 22, Paul. Why were they all baptized? Because Jesus said,"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). All of these individuals received the gift of the Holy Spirit, that which the Holy Spirit gave, the promise of salvation. What if I said, "Wash my car and you will receive the gift of Richard." What would you think? Would you expect Richard? Or would you expect something which Richard will give you?
Let us go back to the reference to miracles. We defined a miracle as an act of God superseding or suspending a natural law. A miracle is an event that is so extraordinary, that the believer and the non-believer admit that it happened and that is was beyond normal human experience. Acts 4:16, reads, "What shall we do to these men? for indeed a notable miracle hath been wrought thorough them, is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it." Those who were the enemies to the apostles acknowledged that the miracle had been performed. If there is disagreement, the disagreement proves the event is not a miracle. But, look at the so-called miracles today. There is much disagreement as to whether a true miracle has taken place. In the book entitled, "Healing, A Doctor In Search of a Miracle," Doctor William A. Nolen, circled the earth, searching for healing miracles. He visited many, many places where miracles were claimed to have happened. Kathryn Kuhlman's healing services; with Norbu Chen, a self acclaimed healer; on to the Philippines where psychic surgeons work; spending over two years looking. When he concluded his search and completed his book, his conclusion was that there had been no miracle performed. On page 308, he states, "I have been unable to find any such miracle worker." And this from a man who went looking from the medical point of view, as a doctor. I highly recommend the reading of this book by those who are honest with themselves.
Now if you are satisfied with your feelings, you probably will not look into this any further. But, my friends, God shall not judge us by our feelings or by our emotions. We shall be judged by the Word of God, the truth of the Holy Spirit. Next week, the Lord willing, we will conclude our four week study of "the Holy Spirit." Please tune in to this station next week at 8:30 A.M. here on WAVE 1450. Again, I thank you for listening this morning and trust that you will honestly search for the truth and then obey God's teaching.
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"