Comparing the Resurrection and the Miraculous Gifts

by Scott

I was thinking through some things today, as I tend to do that a lot. Well, let me start off my saying that I’ve been writing about and considering the gifts of the Spirit on a more regular basis since we launched our new blog, To Be Continued.

With regards to the gifts, there are two basic views: 1) Continuationism, which says all gifts of the Spirit have continued post-first century and 2) Cessationism, which more recently prescribes to the view that all gifts of the Spirit are to continue, but some of those gifts (mainly the ‘sign gifts’ such as prophecy, tongues, healings and miracles) are not normative since we now have the faithful testimony of the first apostles recorded in our New Testament Scripture.

No doubt each group has varying beliefs and both groups are continually reforming their views in an attempt to be faithful to Scripture. But that is a decent, general overview. And it should be clear, at least now, that I am a continuationist.

Now the thoughts that I want to share in this article are by no means deep or theological. Rather I have a simple, practical notion that came to me about the gifts. It came about this way:

Easter is approaching. So I’m thinking about the death and resurrection of Jesus, considering some things for our Easter gathering at Cornerstone. I remembered how the Scripture says that Jesus appeared to over 500 people (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-11).

Can you imagine the difficulty in those days of sharing this testimony that Jesus had risen from the grave? For us, it’s second nature, as they say. It’s part and parcel to our faith. Oh, yes, it’s the truth. But you might just find a lot of people saying, ‘Oh yeah, I know that already,’ which could lead to an unhealthy point in our faith. Not always, but it could.

But, for those first Christians, it was still something new. I mean, even those first apostles and close friends of Jesus struggled with Jesus’ resurrection. Some struggled to believe (think Thomas),some were disillusioned (think of the two on the road to Emmaus) and even the others had lost hope for those few days………until they saw the resurrected Christ.

It was absolutely awesome to know that their Lord had risen and had been faithful to His word. He had been hinting at His resurrection, but His death seemed so final. Thus, there was an honest struggle in their soul.

But once they had seen the resurrected Christ, they knew. And Jesus not only appeared to the twelve, but he appeared to over 500 people. That’s a lot!

So, can you imagine these 500+ followers of Jesus telling others:

He’s risen! We’ve seen Him! We even touched Him!

What? No, it can’t be.

Yes, it’s true. We’ve seen Him. We have SEEN Him alive!

I’m sure something like this happened because, again, it also happened to some of Jesus’ closest followers in those days between the crucifixion and resurrection. There was doubt, questioning, soul-searching. But, by the Spirit of Jesus, people’s hearts and eyes were opened to the reality of the resurrection of the Son of God.

So, what’s my point with the resurrection.

Well, with regards to the gifts of the Spirit, mainly those mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, I sense the same reaction today. Not only with the world, but even with followers of Jesus.

Please know I am not trying to be derogatory, poke fun, or any other such thing. I’m just saying that this comparison between the reaction to the resurrection and the reaction to the gifts of the Spirit came to me today as I was pondering the resurrection.

This has happened in my own life. People who do not believe the gifts from 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 still exist today, or don’t think they are normative, sometimes ask for proof or real examples. So, I share about examples of prophecy and revelations I have had, or I share about healings that I have seen or that my ministry friends have been used in, but the reaction is quite the same.

Ah, that’s what you say. But I need to see it myself.

They don’t believe they can take my word on it.

Sometimes it makes me wish that these gifts were kind of accessible whenever I wanted them. But it’s not like that. I know it sounds like an excuse, but I really believe He is sovereign over His gifts, not I (i.e. 1 Corinthians 12:11).

So, when they don’t want to believe my own testimonies, I share about a couple of books to check out that record (faithfully) various miracles, healings, etc. They might check out the titles online, but most of the time I hear back that the books don’t look trustworthy or something similar.

I don’t know what to say other than, in the end, if God is as sovereign as I believe He is, then He and He alone can open the hearts of humanity to the work of His Spirit. No, the work of His Spirit is not limited to nine gifts from 1 Corinthians 12. By no means. But it is part of the Spirit’s activity, even today.

And so, I ponder the reactions of those first followers of Jesus to news of His resurrection and to those being reached with the gospel in those early years. I’m sure there was a struggle to really believe that some of these people had actually seen the resurrected Christ. But, they kept on proclaiming the truth.

Today, I look to give what I believe is solid biblical and theological evidence for the Spirit’s continuing work in things like miracles, healings, prophecy and tongues. I also look to share stories of how this has really and truly happened today in my life and the lives of others I know. But, people will still disagree, doubt or even outright deny it.

I’m not here to puff up continuationists as better than cessationists. We are all pursuing God as best we know how. We all love Jesus as best we know how. But I know what I have seen and I am convinced of what I have seen, just as those first disciples were convinced of what they had seen.

I can only ask that the Spirit continue to be active in the fulness of what He desires and wills. And I will leave Jesus to be the head of those whom He gave His life for.

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11 responses to “Comparing the Resurrection and the Miraculous Gifts

  1. So now we judge God’s Word by what we feel or think? God’s Word judges us and that is scriptural. When we stand before the Bema (judgement Seat) of Christ and say Lord I thought, or Lord I felt, how much weight will that carry? None. Do a deeper study of I Corinthians chapters 14 and 15 and believe what it says instead of feeling. God’s Word is Factual.

  2. James –

    I am not really sure what you are accusing me of? I would like you to elaborate. I believe Scripture is God-breathed and have never denied that. Did you think that is what I was saying in my article? Because no where have I said such. I believe Scripture is the starting point for our faith and practice of it. And I believe Scripture teaches that these gifts will continue, and I have seen them in my life – actual, real healings.

    I don’t base my whole theology on feelings, but isn’t God personal like us? Does not God have feelings? Can we not feel our way towards God as we seek Him, as Paul says in Acts 17:27? Of course, we want to weigh such against the Scripture. But are feelings evil?

    I love, read, study, meditate on, teach and preach from Scripture. And, God has given His Spirit to understand it and help us live like Jesus said His body could live.

    So I think the words of your comment an unfair assessment and like a low-blow to me.

  3. James, thanks for both reading and commenting. I hope you will be a frequent visitor.

    What puzzles me about your comment regarding believing God’s word, is that what Scott’s post is talking about is just exactly that, that we should believe God’s word, though sometimes people have trouble doing so. Jesus clearly predicted his resurrection, but still some doubted. Scott is drawing a parallel in that the Bible clearly teaches spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ following Pentecost and until the Return of Christ. Yet some people do have difficulty believing God’s word on the subject.

  4. Hey, looks like Scott and I were replying simultaneously.

  5. Dear Scott,

    My background is supralapsarianism. However since I have come to the gifts I find that I must qualify my understanding of God’s predestination by the truth that He is love and not hate. He is love as defined in 3 John 2. Scripture does not indentify God as inhabiting hell. The prodigal does not confess that he sinned against hell. he sinned against heaven by denying it. He sinned against heaven by associating it with hell. The wrath of God comes from the denial of heaven. The wrath of God is elementary and childish in comparison to manly love of God. I am grateful I am elect and saved from eternal conscious torment by by faith I am claiming my BMW as well. God is big enough to save me from hell and also to save me from the devil. He is big enough to save me from this present age after he saved me from the next age.

    In Christ Jesus,
    Jim Cronfel

  6. Jim –

    Thanks for the interaction here.

    I hope you know I was not, by any means, saying that we should now start claiming our favourite cars.

  7. Scott, I wasn’t trying to be mean, sarcastic or send a low blow. There is terminology in your post about what “came to you,” what you “have experienced” etc. The point I was trying to make is – so many judge God’s Word by what they experience. I would point out there is a specific purpose for sign gifts and that Paul instructed the church at Corinth when they would end. That would be on my blog -james1948.wordpress.com. Thanks for the input and forgive for any sensed demeanor that is mean.

  8. James, I have to ask whether you actually read what Scott wrote. I looked for the things you said you saw in it. He did use “came to me” twice, but this clearly refers to ideas he had while pondering the Scriptural account of the resurrection in preparation for preaching on Easter. You are not here to claim that thinking has ceased, are you? (though sometimes I think perhaps it has.)

    On the other hand, I can’t find the word “experience” in there anywhere, though you put “have experienced” in quotes.

    Reading your comment, I don’t personally think there is so much a problem of either sarcasm or a “low blow” as that your comments don’t even remotely relate to what he says.

    Now, I understand that you disagree with a good deal of both Scott’s and my point of view on things, and I have to say, you are all the more welcome here because you do. Neither of us wishes to shy away from vigorous discussion of the Scriptural texts, but it would be helpful to interact with the points he or I or someone else actually does make.

    I looked at your blog as well, and I do see that you present a particular interpretation of 1 Cor 13 in regard to the cessation of gifts. Scott and I both heartily agree that the Scriptures are factual, but I don’t think either of us would find your treatment of 1 Cor 13 very persuasive, and that for exegetical reasons, not experiential ones. (In fact I don’t know whether you noticed but I have a treatment of that very passage on this blog.)

    Your comment is to “Do a deeper study of I Corinthians chapters 14 and 15.” I’m not sure whether you actually meant 14 and 15, but I hope you’ll see that your suggestion that our disagreement with how to understand chapter 13 in particular is because of lack of “depth” on our part is more than a tad condescending.

    If you have some particular exegetical points to make on these passages, you are far more than welcome to make them here or on your own blog and direct us to them from here. We welcome dialogue on these important subjects.

  9. Hi James. Thanks again for the interaction. I am glad to clear up the misunderstanding from my point of view when reading your comment. I had felt almost attacked, as if I must be absolutely out of my mind on things. But that was not your intent. Thanks.

    Again, I would reiterate that the Scriptures are the foundation for our theological understanding and we must not live by experience only. Our experience must not contradict the God-breathed Scripture. So do know we are in agreement there.

    And, actually, as I was pondering the Scriptures themselves, specifically 1 Corinthians 15, I really ‘sensed’ something in my study. I simply used a word that I believe is helpful, but maybe misunderstood. I wasn’t even trying to claim an extra-special revelation from the Holy Spirit, though I believe the Spirit continues to communicate to us today. I simply described something as I was pondering, reading and studying the Scripture. My conclusions were from the Word itself. So be encouraged of my starting point and that we agree together of the major importance of the Bible.

    By the way, as Marv mentioned, he has put up an article looking at 1 Corinthians 13. It is entitled, What Is The Perfect?. You might be interested in reading it.

  10. Dear Scott,

    Claiming your favorite cars makes no sense from the stand point of loving cars or loving self. But from the standoint of loving God and worshiping God claimning favorite cars makes sense. From the human standpoint humility is deprivation and pride is extravagance. But heaven is extravagant and from the standpoint of the worship of God and goodness of God (not the goodness of man) a BWM makes sense. According to common sense which was perhapes best deliniated by Buddah we should not claim a BMW. But by faith in Jesus we transcend our deprived gnostic common sense unto worshiping the God of streets paved with gold and praying God honoring prayers in accordance to streets paved with gold. The true God is extravagant and so should our worship of Him be. But from a human earthly common sense standpoint claiming a BMW seems oppressive and self seeking. But is salvation unto streets paved with gold self-seeking? Was the prodigal son more self seeking to take his inheritance or to return to his Father. Was the Father wasteful and spoiling his son by killing the fatted calf? We are being like the prodigals complaning brother when we don’t claim our positive desires from God. Anything less is false gnostic humility that is derived from fear of God’s wrath not from and understanding of His love. I think I am being true to the text even though it sounds radical and goes against all human sensibilities. Salvation is radical. I fully acknowelged the fear of God when I acknowelged His eternal conscious torment, which I firmly be in and is not self-seeking to be saved from. If the ministry of condemnation is glorious the ministry of righteousness is more glorious. (2cor 3:9) As God is negatively extravagant He is more so positively extravagant. A BMW is not even more positively glorious than negative eternal conscious torment.

  11. Jim –

    I am not against BMW’s, nor am I against praying in faith for certain things. But, in the end, our prayers must be Spirit-directed and Spirit-informed.

    I have been stirred to pray for specific things at times. But that is just it – I’ve been stirred by Him in faith, not in my own decision of what house or car or computer or cell phone I think is best.

    Thus, I will pray for God’s best as I hear Him. Until then, I’ll look to pour out a heart of thanks for my Ford Focus and the money I’m saving can be utilised in blessing in other areas.

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