30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
February 27, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" This morning we will conclude our study that we began three 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 conclude our study on "The Holy Spirit" here on WAVE 1450. I want to thank all of you in the listening audience who have listened to our in depth study of "The Holy Spirit" 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 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. 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. In John's letter to the seven churches of Asia, he said to each congregation,"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches" (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). My obligation is to speak only where God's word speaks. Your obligation is to accept only what God's Word teaches. So, get your Bible, your pen and paper, and let us "reason together, saith the Lord."
For the past three weeks we have been studying the subject of the Holy Spirit. In our lessons we have made references to the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit as referred to in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. I wish to look at these gifts a little more in detail this morning.
Let's begin by reading from 1 Corinthians 12, beginning with verse 4 reading through verse 11."There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills."
Let us examine each of these gifts that were given by the laying on of the apostles hands as seen in Acts 8 and in Acts 19. The first is the gift of "wisdom". The word wisdom is defined as, "a faculty, from a good judgment of the circumstances of actions, to do them at the best time, and in the best manner wherein they may be serviceable to their ends." Every Christian needs to use wisdom in the application of God's word to their lives and affairs. But, this was a miraculous power (a gift) to assist the early churches to solve the problems that would arise from day to day. Surely, none in the church could be wiser than were those to whom the Spirit gave the word of wisdom.
The second gift listed is "knowledge." Knowledge is defined as, "teaching which appeals to the rational faculty,... the intellectual is made the buttress of the moral and spiritual." This knowledge led men who could speak the truth, and present gospel facts accurately, as revealed by the apostles until the New Testament could be written. Man, of his own invention and mentality, could not know the mind of God. Thus the necessary knowledge was imparted through this special gift. Great truths such as God, the Father, Christ, the Son, salvation from sin, heaven, hell, and the many other needed lessons. This gift of knowledge was essential to revealing God's mind to mankind. Remember, the book we call the Bible had not been written at this early time. So, until the completed written word was given, it was essential that these early converts be divinely guided in the knowledge of God. We studied last week the passage in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians that this gift was to be done away when the completed Book of God had been finished. There would no longer be any need for the gift of knowledge, because God will would be given to man in written form in the book we call the Bible.
The third gift mentioned is "miraculous faith". You will notice that this faith is not the faith mentioned in such passages as Hebrews 11:6, where the inspired writer says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God...." That faith is obtained by hearing God's Word. Listen to Paul in Romans 10:17, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Saving faith comes through a study of God's word, an acceptance of the testimony of Jesus the Christ as the son of God, a belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ from the dead; His ascension unto the heavenly Father; and our salvation by obedience to the good news proclaimed by Christ when He said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). This faith in 1 Corinthians 12 was received after one became the child of God; it was a miraculous faith; a faith that could move mountains (1 Corinthians 13:2; Matthew 17:20). The Bible does not give us much information as to the usage of this gift. Perhaps the individual with the gift of faith knew when God wanted him to perform a particular work.
The fourth gift mentioned is the gifts of "healing". More than one kind of sickness was healed. Christ performed miracles on many: the blind, the dumb, the leper, the palsied, a withered hand, an ear restored, and more. The apostles worked varieties of healing: a man born lame who walked immediately; many healed in Acts 5:12; the palsied and lame in Acts 8:6-7; and many more. There were no failures after the Spirit came to guide the apostles.
The fifth gift mentioned is the "workings of miracles". Jesus had worked mighty works and wonders and signs. Peter states, "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know" (Acts 2:22). He walked on water, fed 5000 with a boy's lunch, raised the dead, turned water into wine, stilled the storm, etc. The Greek word used here probably implies works mightier and more striking than healing, though they are in the same area. The apostles performed great miracles: "special miracles performed by Paul," Acts 19:11, 12; Ananias and Sapphira struck dead, Acts 5:1-6; raising the dead in Acts 9:36; 20:10; bitten by a poisonous snake without ill effect, Acts 28:4; casting a blindness upon a false teacher, Acts 13:8, etc. Indeed, these early disciples performed great signs and wonders because of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Let me hasten to point out that those today who claim to have the same gifts which the early disciples had do not do the things which these early disciples did. Have you witnessed anyone raised from the dead; anyone casting a spell of blindness upon another; or any one of the others that have been mentioned. Often we hear the explanation given, "It is because you do not have enough faith." But, you will notice, Elymas was a false teacher upon whom Paul cast the blindness. Again, I say, cast a spell of blindness upon me and your claims will be verified. No need to debate, why not demonstrate?
The sixth gift listed is that of "Prophecy". This gift would give one the ability to speak by divine guidance. It includes the ability to foretell future events also. Remember, the Bible had not been written at this point or time. There was the need to have men who could speak the truth by direct guidance from heaven. Men who would not err in this revelation. God did not leave it up to men to remember everything which Christ had taught them. The Spirit was sent to "guide them into all truth," (John 16:13). Prophecy was to exhort (1 Corinthians 14:3); to edify (1 Corinthians 14:4); to teach the church (1 Corinthians 14:31); to teach the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25). The gift of prophecy was to fill the gap between the first converts in Acts 2, until the completion of the perfect message from Heaven. Remember, the gift of prophecy was to cease, to be done away, 1 Corinthians 13:8, 9, when that which is perfect, God's completed revelation, is come. We now have that completed, perfect word and the gift of prophecy is no longer needed. Remember, Jude states, "Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). Did those early disciples have all they needed to serve God? Who among us would deny that? What more could be added today that they did not have? You see, the need for present day revelation or prophecy is past.
The seventh in the list of miraculous gifts is that of the "discerning of spirits." This gift would give the recipient the divine ability to determine between truth and error. In Acts 5:1-6, when Ananias and Sapphira lied, Peter could discern this. There were many false teachers in the first century, as there are many false teachers in the twentieth century. How do we today determine if one is a false teacher? By comparing what they teach with the Bible, the word of God. But, in the first century that book had not been written; so the need for divinely guided members who could determine whether or not one was speaking the truth, thus the "discerning of spirits."
The eighth gift listed by Paul is that of "Tongues." To speak in tongues was to speak in another language; a language which one had not learned nor studied. Thus, when the apostles spoke in tongues in Acts, chapter 2, the audience understood what they were saying. Acts 2:4 reads," And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speaking in his own language," reading through verse 6. Then verse eight says, "And how hear we, every man in our own language wherein we were born?" And again in verse 11, "Cretans and Arabians, we hear them speaking in our tongues the mighty works of God." There was the need for these early disciples to go forth into all the world and proclaim the gospel of Christ. Jesus had given them the command, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). The ability to speak in other languages enabled them to carry out that command.
The word "tongue" as used in the New Testament is taken from the Greek word, "Glossa." It is sometimes used simply to identify the organ of the physical body called the tongue. In Mark 7:33, we find that Jesus touched the tongue of a man who had an impediment in his speech and the man was instantly healed and he spoke plain. In Luke 16:24, we read of the rich man in torment who requested that Lazarus would dip his finger in water and cool his "tongue." In both of these cases the word tongue simply means the organ of the body contained within our mouth which we call the tongue.
We have in our English language a figure of speech called Metonymy. Metonymy is defined as "use of one word for another that it suggests, as the effect for the cause, the cause for the effect, the sign for the thing signified, the container for the thing contained." (Webster's Dictionary). An illustration of metonymy would be when one might say, "That is my favorite dish." Is the person talking about the plate or about what is on the plate. Jesus told his disciples to "drink the cup." Was He telling them to drink the container, or the contents of the container? We have no difficulty in understand these two illustrations. In like manner, the word tongue is used to refer to the language spoken by the tongue. In Acts 2:8, we read, "And how hear we, every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" What is meant?
The word tongue is used matonymously, it simply means the "language." Those who heard the apostles speak heard them speaking in the language of the country wherein they were born. Had we been there we would say, "We hear them speaking in English." In Romans 14:11 it states;"For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, to me every knee shall bow, And every tongue shall confess to God." This passage is simply saying the tongue speaks. The tongue confesses to God. The tongue utters words. The tongue speaks in a language. The same thing is found in Philippians 2:1, "and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Thus, the usage of the word "tongue" in these passages has reference to the words or the speech that is spoken by the tongue. The word "tongue" is also used to identify a particular language. Note John 5:2, "Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesada, having five porches." Acts 22:2, reads, "And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence." In Acts 26:14, "And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." In these three passages, as well as others, the word tongue is used to identify a particular language. The Hebrew tongue or the Hebrew language.
Sometimes the word "tongue" is used to identify a certain tribe, nation or people. Note Isaiah 66:18, "For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory." In Revelation 7:9, "After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues; standing before the throne and before the Lamb..." In these passages the word "tongue" simply means a group or nation of people who speak one language.
Sometimes the word "tongue" is used to denote that which is shaped or has the appearance of a tongue. In Acts 2:3-4 we read: "Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Here there was that which resembled a tongue, specifically tongues which were like as of fire. This sign was evidently given to identify those who had received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as given to the twelve apostles there in Jerusalem, as Christ had promised them in Acts 1:5, when He said to His apostles, "for John indeed baptized with water; but you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Look back to verse four of Acts 1 and you will see that this promise was made to His apostles, and not to the 120 later mentioned in the chapter.
There are three points which I wish to emphasize just here and hope that you in our listening audience will keep in mind. First, the American Standard translation, as well as many later translations, translates the word "tongue" with the word "language." The King James uses the word "tongue." Second, the word "Unknown" as seen in 1 Corinthians 14:2, 4, 13, 14, and other places in the King James Version is not in the original language. The word "unknown" was supplied by the translators, it is not in the Greek text as it was written by those inspired men almost two thousand years ago. The insertion of the word "unknown" has lead to much misunderstanding and confusion. I know one thing for a certainty, when the apostles spoke in tongues in Acts 2, the listeners understood what was said. They heard them speaking in the tongue (language) in which they were born; that is, their national language or tongue. Thirdly, the apostles were promised to be able to speak in "new" tongues. Reading Mark 16:17 it says: "And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; and they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Indeed, the apostles did speak in "new" tongues. It was tongues which they had not spoken before, tongues which they had not learned, languages which they had never studied, languages which were new to them. If this gift were present today, a teacher going into another country, for instance Germany, would be able to speak in the language of that country without having studied or learned the language. And if one from Germany came to the U.S. and spoke in the Germany language, the gift of interpretation of tongues would give that one the ability to understand the German language without studying or learning it. A study of 1 Corinthians 14 would show these points. Perhaps we may spend some time in that chapter in the very near future.
If you have been listening these past three weeks in our study of the "Holy Spirit," you will remember that we noted from 1 Corinthians 13 that Paul said these miraculous gifts would cease, or be done away with. They would cease when the perfect law of liberty was completed. The gifts were partial, the finished revelation would be complete. These gifts were for the purpose of confirming the message from Heaven, the Word of God. When God's Word was thus confirmed there would be no longer any need for these miraculous gifts.
I want to add an additional note here: The gift of speaking in a tongue or foreign language was not used very much in the first century. There are only four times that the gift of tongues is mentioned. The first time was in Acts 2 in the city of Jerusalem. The second time speaking in tongues is mentioned is in Acts 10, in the City of Caesarea when the Gentiles in Cornelius household spoke in tongues. The third time was in Acts 19, in the city of Ephesus when the 12 converts upon whom Paul laid his hands spoke in tongues. The fourth time was in the city of Corinth where Paul rebukes the brethren there for their abuse of speaking in tongues.
Another point of interest is the statement made in Acts 11:15, when Peter was recalling the conversion of Cornelius and his household comprised of Gentiles. He said, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning." What Peter is saying is that there was something that happened similar or like that which happened to the apostles in Acts 2. If it were a common occurrence for converts to speak in tongues, why did not Peter say, "The Holy Spirit fell on them as it did upon the Samaritans (Acts 8), or upon the Ethiopian Nobleman (Acts 8), or in Damascus (Acts 9), or in Lydda or in Sharon (Acts 9). Why did Peter say it fell on them as it did upon us in the beginning? Because it was not a common occurrence. It had not happened between Acts 2 and Acts 10. At least as far as the Divine Record states. To say that it was a common occurrence is to speak without divine testimony. And also it is interesting to note that only ONE epistle speaks of it. This is not to say that just because something is not mentioned often it did not occur; we are just saying that it was not a common occurrence. At least as far as the Bible tells us.
I wish to make one final point before we close today. Let us compare what we see in the first century as those early converts spoke in tongues with what is seen today by those who claim to speak in tongues. In the first century when tongues were used the audience understood what was being said (Acts 2:8). The practice of tongue speaking today is not understood, it is not a language. In the first century the speaking in tongues was controlled by the speaker (1 Corinthians 14:32). Today it seems to be spontaneous or uncontrolled. In the first century, tongues were to convince the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 14:22). The practice today is to convince those who believe. In the first century, if an interpreter were not present, the speaker of tongues was to keep silent (1 Corinthians 14:28). Today, the practice is present even though not interpreted. Thus, we see a vast difference between what is taught in the Word of God as to what happened in the first century and what is observed in the religious world today. Could it not be that what we see today is not the same thing that was being done in the first century. I leave it to each listener to examine these facts and then to reach your own conclusions. Be sure that you compare what you see today with what the Bible talks about in the first century.
If you have any question as to what I have discussed concerning the Holy Spirit these past four weeks, please let me hear from you. My soul, as well as your soul, hangs in the balance as to how we handle God's precious Word. It is so vital that we "speak where the Bible speaks, and remain silent where the Bible is silent." Next week we will have a lesson on obedience entitled "Noah and the Flood." Please join us again next Sunday morning at 8:30 AM here on WAVE 1450 to discover "What Is Truth?"
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?"