• New Testament,  Theology

    Posts about Prophets, Apostles, and Spiritual Gifts

    The topics of prophets, Apostles, and spiritual gifts are of interest to many people. For ease of reference, this post will serve as an index of sorts, pointing inquiring individuals to some of my thoughts on spiritual gifts, and more specifically, the cessation of the miraculous gifts. What follows is a listing of the various post titles with a brief description of the contents. Are Apostles for the Church Today? Historically it has been common to acknowledge that the office of Apostle has passed from the church. However, there are more and more individuals today who are arguing for the continuation of Apostolic authority. There are at least four reasons why there are no Apostles in the church today. Prophets and Prophetic Revelation Prophets are closely tied to the office of Apostle (cf. Eph 2:20; 4:11), so this is another important discussion. It is in vogue today to redefine prophecy,…

  • New Testament,  Theology

    The Link between Eschatology and Spiritual Gifts

    Although not often thought about, there is a link between eschatology and the spiritual gifts. There are many ways to argue for the cessation of spiritual gifts (for example, the cascade argument). But in this article I simply want to look at the correlation between one’s eschatology and the belief about miraculous gifts. Simply put, what what believes about eschatology, specifically the kingdom of God, has a logical impact on their understanding of the spiritual gifts. Before talking about eschatology, we can overview the Bible and see that there are specific times in history when there are major displays of miracles. Further reflection shows that these miraculous exhibitions are linked with time periods that are related to the Kingdom of God. To show this in summary form, I have adapted a chart from Mike Vlach: Kingdom Situation Time Period Kingdom Mediator(s) Result Signs and wonders to deliver Hebrews from Egypt…

  • Church,  New Testament

    Are Apostles for the Church Today?

    Although it is becoming more and more popular to argue that there are Apostles in the church today, this is far from a majority position. Rather, it is generally recognized that the Greek word used for apostles in the New Testament can be used in both a generic sense (simply meaning “sent one”), or in a specific sense. Romans 16:7 is an example of a generic sense where Paul uses the term “apostle” to refer to individuals who are sent out from a church for some purpose. But there is also a more specific category of apostleship which relates specifically to apostles who represent Jesus Christ as His authoritative ambassadors. In other words, these Apostles were viewed with the authority of Jesus because He commissioned them himself. Note, for example, that Paul, an Apostle of Christ, had the authority to give instruction which was on the same level of Christ…

  • Church,  New Testament

    What Does it Mean to be Filled with the Spirit?

    Ephesians 5:18 commands believers to “be filled with the Spirit.” But what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Being filled with the Spirit has been understood in a variety of ways. Some have interpreted as some sort of spiritual manifestation of speaking in tongues. Others have said being filled with the Spirit is the same as being filled with Christ. Although there are many notions as to what being “filled with the Spirit” means, I think if we pay attention to the grammar and broader context of Ephesians, we can understand this passage. First, there is the problem of what it actually means to be filled “with the Spirit.” Many of the English versions (NASB, ESV, KJV, etc.) translate it “with the Spirit” which is ambiguous, because it could mean two different things: “Filled with the Spirit” could communicate content (one is filled with the content of…

  • New Testament,  Theology

    The Cascade Argument against Miraculous Gifts

    There are a variety of ways to deal with the issue of continuationism (i.e., the belief that miraculous spiritual gifts like prophecy and tongues are currently in operation in the church today). In these discussions I often point to the cascade argument which is well summarized by Sam Waldron in his book, To Be Continued? His argument goes like this. There are no Apostles today. This is an important starting point, and fairly obvious to anyone who reads Scripture. Although there are apostles in the sense of general “sent ones” (cf. Phil 2:25; 2 Cor 8:23), there is also a clearly defined special group of Apostles. These Apostles were: (1) eye-witnesses of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22; 10:39-41; 1 Cor 9:1; 1 John 1:1-3), (2) directly appointed by Christ (Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2; 10:41; Gal 1:1), and (3) were able to confirm their mission through miraculous signs (Acts…

  • Church,  New Testament,  Old Testament

    Prophets and Prophetic Revelation

    Since the beginning of time, God has communicated with His people through prophets. We can deduce from Genesis 3:8 that God likely communed with Adam and Eve at regular intervals. We are also told in Luke 11:51 that Abel was among the prophets, and thus received revelation from God. Prophets spoke for God. Perhaps better stated, prophets were God’s mouthpiece. Jeremiah 1:4-10 is quite instructive for the prophetic role. In v. 9, God specifically tells Jeremiah, “I have put my words in your mouth.” That is the role of the prophet—he speaks God’s words. As a nation, Israel was given special instruction for prophets. Deuteronomy 13:1–5 lays down the important principle that prophets cannot contradict previous revelation. If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if…