There I was as a child playing in our gravel driveway in the little village of Laurelville, Ohio when a shimmer of light caught my eye from among the rocks. Could it be? I reached down and carefully picked up the small nugget. GOLD! I couldn’t believe it! I found gold! We were going to be rich! I hurried inside and excitedly showed my mom. My hopes were quickly dashed and for the first time, I learned about something called pyrite. Pyrite is a composition of iron and sulfur that has deceived many into thinking they have struck it rich. It’s also known as fool’s gold and has very little value. We have plenty of it in our church parking lot you’re welcome to help yourself. A good lesson learned is that not everything that glitters is gold.
Today in churches across our world the Holy Spirit receives credit for a lot of things taking place– from speaking in tongues to jumping pews, to rolling on the ground in uncontrollable laughter. Is this the Spirit of God? Is this how He manifests Himself? Or is this pyrite? Is it fool’s gold? The true church has always faced as much danger from those who would seek to corrupt it from the inside as those who attack it without. Many are being led astray when it comes to the topic of spiritual gifts. All that glitters isn’t gold, and just because a person claims something to be a demonstration of the Spirit doesn’t mean that it is. The only way to know for sure is to test said experience by God’s Word because the Spirit of God would never do anything to contradict the Word of God. We must not be ignorant. Anything that God does, Satan counterfeits. The gifts of the Spirit are not exempt from this.
Often Christians are intimidated by the study of the Holy Ghost as there is a multitude of bizarre beliefs about the third person of the Trinity. However, this should motivate us to increase our study, not discourage it! As Vance Havner once commented, “Satan has scored a point in making us so afraid of extremism about the Holy Spirit—which abounds indeed—that we may miss the truth in our fear of the false. We can be so wary of getting out on a limb that we never go up the tree!” Because of the great confusion concerning the work of the Holy Spirit in the church today we must be ever more diligent to know the truth!
We all recognize that the Spirit gives gifts to every believer.
1 Corinthians 12:11 – But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
The important question we must answer is whether all the spiritual gifts are still operating today. There are two predominant views concerning this question. Let’s consider a simple definition of each view before going any further.
- Continuationism – this is the belief that all spiritual gifts, including the miraculous gifts, are still functioning today.
- Cessationism – this view states that certain gifts such as a miraculous gift of tongues and the gift of healing have ceased as the canon of Scripture was being completed and the time of the Apostles came to an end.
We hold to the position of cessationist—that certain spiritual gifts in the Bible were temporary gifts given for a specified time while other gifts are permanent. It is important to understand the issue in question is not whether God can heal people or perform miracles today. We still believe the Lord does miracles! After all, the greatest miracle a person can experience is salvation in Jesus! Miracles have not ceased because if they did then salvation would cease. We fully believe that God is able and still performs miracles today; however, we do not believe the Holy Spirit distributes the apostolic gifts (tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles, physical healing) to individuals any longer.