(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).
Some Christian groups, called cessationists, believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, with his gifts and power, ended in the immediate post-Apostolic age, with the death of those whom the original Apostles laid hands on to receive the Holy Spirit and his gifts. The cessationists believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were to vindicate and authenticate the ministry of the Apostles and the gospel they preached, as well as to enable them receive direct revelations for the writing of the New Testament Scriptures. However, with the closure of the canon of Scriptures, it is argued that the gifts of the Spirit are no longer needed in the Church. Was the baptism of the Holy Spirit promised only to believers of the Apostolic age? Were the gifts of the Holy Spirit to cease from the Church after the Apostolic age? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.
To understand how long the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts that accompany it are to remain in the Church, let’s look at the purpose of the Holy Spirit and his intended works in the Church. If we can understand that, then we’ll know if and when he’s supposed to be finished with the Church. One of the main reasons for the coming of the Holy Spirit is to take the place of Jesus Christ in the lives of believers as comforter, helper, teacher, guide and leader. The Holy Spirit is to continue to be and to do with believers what Jesus was doing with them while he was on earth. And, that ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers is to continue till the end of the Church age! The comforter/helper Jesus promised to send would be with the disciples forever! Also, Jesus promised that all who believe him will have the Holy Spirit flowing from their hearts, like rivers of living water! The flow of the Holy Spirit from the heart is for every believer in Christ, not just for those in the Apostolic age!
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—
John 14:17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
John 7:39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
The Holy Spirit and his gifts are to empower believers to witness effectively for Christ, and to carry out the great commission with great success. Preaching and other works of the Church are to be done in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. If the gifts and power manifestations of the Holy Spirit were to end with the original Apostles, does that mean that other generations that followed them were not to witness for Christ again? Of course that’s not true, for the Church is to continue to witness for Christ till the end of the ages! Also, on the day of Pentecost, Peter told his audience that the gift of the Holy Spirit was for them, their children and for as many people as God would call, including those afar off from the Apostolic age! For as long as God is still calling people to salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit will still be given to believers! The Scripture also tells us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will follow those that believe in Christ, as a sign of their supernatural faith. As long as people keep believing in Christ, the signs will keep following them! Nowhere does the Bible say the gifts of the Holy Spirit would stop after the original Apostles! For as long as people keep believing in Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit will keep filling and enduing them with power from on high! Children of God in all ages are to be filled and led by the Spirit of God!
Luke 24:46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,
Luke 24:47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Luke 24:48 And you are witnesses of these things.
Luke 24:49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
The Acts 1:4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;
The Acts 1:5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
The Acts 1:7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
The Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
Mark 16:18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Mark 16:19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
The Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Acts 2:39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
1 Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit and the release of his gifts into the Church are also for the edification and building up of the body of Christ to perfection and spiritual maturity. The Spirit is to continue to fill and build up believers until the Church comes to spiritual maturity and perfection. Has the Church come to that promised perfection and spiritual maturity now that will make the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit to cease in the Church? Are we better off today than the original Apostles who needed the Holy Spirit in their day to grow to maturity? Are we more mature and more perfect than those of the Apostolic age that God would now withdraw the Holy Spirit from us? The answers to these questions are obvious! We are spiritually less mature and more imperfect than the Apostles were in their age! Therefore, we need more of the genuine Holy Spirit and his genuine gifts than the Apostles needed them! We need more of the Holy Spirit now to reach and surpass the Apostolic standard! To attain the stature of the perfect man and the fullness of Christ, we need the fullness of the Holy Spirit and power! The Spirit is to help our weaknesses and intercede for us as we grow in grace. We build up our faith as we pray in the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit! Believers in every age need the Holy Spirit and his gifts to realise their potentials and become who God wants them to be!
Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Ephesians 4:8 Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”
Ephesians 4:9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?
Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
Ephesians 4:13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
Ephesians 4:14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
Ephesians 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—
Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Romans 8:27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
Jude 1:21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Those who argue that the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased in the Church quote a portion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in which he spoke about when prophecies and tongues would come to an end. Let’s carefully examine that portion of Scripture to get the complete context and meaning of what the Apostle intended to convey.
1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
1 Corinthians 13:9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
1 Corinthians 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
In the passage above, the Apostle was comparing love (a fruit of the Spirit) with the gifts of the Spirit, in terms of both the ability to edify as well as their longevity. It is apparent at first glance that love trumps all gifts of the Spirit in both its ability to edify and its longevity, for love is eternal! All gifts of the Spirit will come to an end someday, after bringing the Church to spiritual maturity and helping it fulfil its mission and the great commission. Love is, however, for all eternity. The question is, when will the gifts of the Spirit like speaking in tongues, prophecy, knowledge etc, cease, fail or vanish away?The answer is found in verse 10: the gifts of the Spirit will cease when the church has attained perfection!
1 Corinthians 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
And when is that perfection to come? That will be when we are glorified! The Church will come to perfection when our knowledge is perfect, when we will know even as we are known, when we will see and understand the things of God clearly, not as dimly as we do now. For as long as we know in part and prophesy in part, for as long as our knowledge is imperfect and we’re still children spiritually, we will continue to need the gifts of the Spirit! When shall we know even as we are known? That is when we’re on the other side of the curtain of time! That’s when mortality has been swallowed up by immortality, when imperfection has put on perfection! For when the Lord appears and we’re with him, we shall be exactly like him! And when we’re like him, we shall not need the gifts of the Spirit anymore, for then, we shall know even as we are known!
1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—
1 Corinthians 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15:55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
1 John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Thus, we see the promise of the gift of prophecy made to God’s people right up to the second coming of Christ. God promised as far back as in the Old Testament, through the prophet Joel, that one of the gifts of the Spirit, prophecy, would be poured out abundantly upon God’s children, men and women, old and young, at the time of the second coming of Christ. If one gift of the Spirit is to continue till the second coming of Christ, then, we can safely conclude that all the other gifts of the Spirit, along with the baptism of the Spirit that ushers in the gifts, will continue right up to the coming of Christ. That is the plain promise of God in the Scriptures!
The Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.
The Acts 2:15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.
The Acts 2:16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
The Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
The Acts 2:18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
The Acts 2:19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The Acts 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
The Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’
In conclusion, we’ve shown that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the accompanying gifts of the Spirit are for all believers throughout the entire Church age, for the promise is to as many as the Lord shall call. The Holy Spirit is the comforter, helper, teacher and leader for all Christians, as well as the power of God to preach and witness for Christ effectively. The Spirit and his gifts are to build the Church to spiritual maturity, and the gifts will be with us till the second coming of Christ, when we all would have attained perfection, having been glorified together with the Lord. Besides, if we still have pastors, evangelists and teachers in the Church (who are all gifts of the Spirit), then we should still have all the other gifts of the Spirit in the Church, including Apostles, Prophets, tongues and interpretation, miracles, healing etc, for nowhere in Scripture are we told any of these would cease before the Church comes to perfection. Therefore, the assumption of the cessationists that the baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit ended with the Apostolic age is false and unscriptural.
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