A Spiritual God in a Physical Church

A-Spiritual-God-in-a-Physical-ChurchIn the beginning, Adam walked daily in the supernatural. During the cool of the day, the presence of God would come to Adam, endearing and empowering him to a closer fellowship with his Creator. At the center of this intimacy, God placed a Law that said, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.” Adam rebelled against this command and ate of this tree. This resulted in mankind losing his place in Eden, his access to the Tree of Life, and suffering curses and spiritual death. But even in his sinful state, the supernatural presence of God still sought Adam out and spoke to him of a promised redeemer who would someday reunite mankind to his God, thus returning man to that which had been lost through his fall. Through this first account of God’s dealings with man, we see that whether man was in a perfect spiritual condition or in a fallen sinful condition, the supernatural presence of God was still actively keeping him in fellowship with his God, or actively bringing him back into fellowship with God’s Covenant (see Genesis 2:8-9, Genesis 2:15-17, Genesis 3:1-24; Romans 5:12-19).

Displays of God’s Presence

The Bible confirms God’s power was displayed in various ways during the Old and New Testaments. God started out as a very active “hands-on” parent with His first children, Adam and Eve. Throughout time, He did not change, but used His supernatural signs to indicate that His presence was with His people. Here are a few examples where this is found:

Moses came back from his burning bush experience with more than a sacred name of his God; he also returned with supernatural signs and wonders that were used to prove God was with him. By using these astounding manifestations of God, Moses convinced his people that he was their God-ordained savior, and persuaded the Egyptian taskmasters that they should let his people go free (see Luke 4:6-17).

The Mount Carmel showdown was to see whether the god of the prophets of Baal or the God of the prophet Elijah would answer with fire. When God sent fire down to consume Elijah’s waterlogged sacrifice, all Israel then knew he was a true prophet, and that his God was the true God of Israel (see 1 Kings 18:19-39).

A religious leader of the Jews named Nicodemus came to Jesus because, as he said, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2). John shows supernatural manifestations influenced this Rabbi to inquire about Jesus.

Paul said the credentials that proved his Apostleship were not his knowledge of God’s Word, but the power and demonstration of God’s presence manifested through his ministry (see 1Co 2:4). Paul said of this, “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (2Co 12:12).

In chapter 11 of Hebrews, its writer gives us a wonderful depiction of how God’s miraculous power has always accompanied people of great faith. He also shows these same supernatural signs and wonders are to now follow the faith of those in the New Testament. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is [He is God], and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him [that God is supernaturally active in a believer’s life]” (Hebrews 11:6). How does God reward? With supernatural intervention and activity in every true believer’s life. This is exactly what this entire chapter in Hebrews is demonstrating (See Hebrews 11).

Spiritual Gifts as a New Covenant Witness

God’s people, empowered by the Holy Spirit, were to supernaturally advance the Kingdom of God throughout all ages. About this Daniel prophesied: “How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:3). “From generation to generation” can only mean these signs and wonders will be continually available to all generations of mankind. Daniel also shows here that these were to help advance God’s Kingdom throughout the earth. Jesus agreed with this broadcasting purpose of the Holy Ghost: “But YE SHALL RECEIVE POWER, AFTER THAT THE HOLY GHOST IS COME UPON YOU: and YE SHALL BE WITNESSES UNTO ME both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

God’s people, empowered by the Holy Spirit, were to supernaturally advance the Kingdom of God throughout all ages.

Signs and wonders are promised to follow the testimony of a believer of Jesus Christ (see Mark 16:16-19). Peter and John used such power to heal a man crippled from his mother’s womb. When the man received his healed legs, his miracle pleased the crowd that witnessed this supernatural manifestation, which thereby allowed Peter to preach to them the gospel of Jesus Christ (See Acts 3). These manifestations will continue empowering the Church despite any opposition it might face from this world’s system (see Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:14; Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15).

Will Spiritual Gifts Ever Cease?

Now that Jesus’ New Covenant is fully established, would He then chose to remove its accompanying spiritual manifestation from mankind? Are there any scriptures that say this union of God’s Spirit in man, which was the apex of His New Covenant, would, after its initial outpouring in the First Century Church, someday cease from being available to the Church? To answer these questions in a word, “No.” Yet there are still those who teach that God’s Spirit is no longer poured out as it was in the Book of Acts, and that its manifested signs, miracles, and wonders were only offered a short time in the First Century. Those who teach this are known as “Cessationalists.” Mostly this doctrine develops over a misunderstanding of one area of scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. Here is what Paul wrote there:

1 Corinthians 13:8-10
(8)  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
(9)  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
(10)  But WHEN THAT WHICH IS PERFECT IS COME, THEN THAT WHICH IS IN PART SHALL BE DONE AWAY.

Let’s look at some areas where Cessationalists use this passage to arrive at the belief that the spiritual outpouring of the Holy Ghost and accompanying gifts are no longer available. Here are some examples and my accompanying comments:

The Bible’s Writing:  Some Cessationalists contend Paul’s 1 Corinthians 13:10 statement, “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” refers to the completion of the writing of the Bible’s New Testament. But since there is not one scriptural witness to this being the case, this really is nothing more than and opinion based on conjecture. Also, contrary to this view is the fact the New Testament contains the only book in the Bible that has no ending, the book of Acts. This book chronicles the progression of the New Testament Church through its First Century beginnings. Its writer, Luke, never ended his historical account probably because the Church was to continue “throughout all ages” (see Ephesians 3:21).

A Dispensation without Gifts: Another idea says Paul’s reference to “that which is perfect is come,” speaks of Jesus’ 70 AD coming as being the closing fulfillment of all biblical prophecy. This cannot be correct since the Bible speaks of only one covenant as it passed through the ages of man.

To teach that the First Century Church was anointed with God’s supernatural Gifts, to only 40 years later lose them, defies the continuity of scriptural witness about God’s covenantal plan, and in itself creates a dispensational time period in which God deals with man in a way unknown before or after. Such an unbiblical premise would create a dispensation that opposes the truths of the Bible.

Some men teach that the Church has and always will fail in its attempt in maturing in the things of God. Such a doomed existence for the Church is not found in the teachings of Jesus nor His Apostles. Through divine inspiration, the Bible teaches that Jesus fulfilled everything necessary for man to be perfectly forgiven for his sins and regenerated through the power of the residing Holy Ghost into Christlike maturity (see Hebrews 10:14; John 16:13; Ephesians 4:7-15)! To teach anything different makes Jesus’ sacrifice imperfect thus leaving His Church anemic and unfit to meet the needs of the world in which, they as Jesus’ Body, were sent to serve.

Through divine inspiration, the Bible teaches that Jesus fulfilled everything necessary for man to be perfectly forgiven for his sins and regenerated through the power of the residing Holy Ghost into Christlike maturity.

Jesus dying for man’s sins was not a dispensational provision for a “Church age,” but was in fact the same plan promised from the foundation of the world (see Revelation 13:8). God first announced this plan about a coming redeemer to Adam (see Genesis 3:15). Abraham received a promise that through his seed (singular/Jesus), the entire world would be blessed (see Genesis 17:17; Galatians 3:16). Moses said that this coming One’s words should be heard over those of the Law (see Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22; Hebrews 1:1-2). Angels proclaimed Jesus’ miraculous birth, and both the common shepherd and the wealthy Magi came to worship Him (see Luke 1:28-38, Luke 2:8-16; Matthew 2:1-12). These and many other examples show God did NOT have different salvational plans throughout the Bible, but instead always had one master plan, for believers from both before and after Calvary, that relied totally on Jesus’ sacrifice and indwelling Spirit (see 1 John 2:2; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:12-14, Hebrews 9:26-28, Hebrews 10:1-14; 1 Peter 1:19-20, 1 Peter 2:24). And since God’s people have always experienced His supernatural manifestations to one degree or another, unless a person believes in a covenant different than the one God first promised to man, they must then believe Jesus’ Church will always be blessed with the manifestation of His Spirit and spiritual gifts for all time!

1 Corinthians 13’s Perfect Maturity and God’s Gifts: Through His prophets, God promised when Messiah came, He would mature His people to a closer union with their God. This intimacy was prophesied to come through the New Covenant indwelling of God’s Spirit in man. Such a union was to be the apex of God and man’s earthly relationship, and was first made available to all men with the Holy Ghost outpouring in Acts 2.

During the time of the New Covenant, Peter said, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). The “gift” to which Peter is referring is that of the Holy Ghost. When this gift came, the Bible records it was evidenced by a supernatural “tongue” (language). The Holy Ghost is God’s infilling presence. It brings to a believer supernatural gifts that include: The Word of Wisdom; Word of Knowledge; Discerning of Spirits; Gift of Faith; Working of Miracles; Gifts of Healing; Gift of Prophecy; Gift of Diverse Tongues; Gift of Interpretation of Tongues. Supernatural gifts are to edify the Church, and since “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal,” as long as ministers are being perfected to edify others, supernatural gifts will be essential and existing in the Church (see 1 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Paul spoke of maturity in his 1 Corinthian 13 statements about a believer’s perfection in biblical love. Paul starts this chapter by showing a person displaying all kinds of miraculous supernatural signs is still not mature in Christ unless they also manifest “charity” or “love” (Verses 1-3).

To properly understand this chapter, we must follow the context Paul established in his opening statements. He continues on with this focus by explaining what biblically mature love is in verses 4-7. It is only after this foundation is established that Paul states, “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).

Statements in verses 8-10 are not talking about a time when the outpouring of the Holy Ghost or its manifested signs was to end. How do we know this? Through reading the context of everything else Paul wrote in this chapter, which clarifies this is saying that SIGNS FROM A BELIEVER UNACCOMPANIED BY CHANGE IN A BELIEVER IS NOT WHAT GOD DESIRES IN HIS PEOPLE.

This is shown clearly in the Bible in Basic English translation of these verses:

“Though the prophet’s word may come to an end, tongues come to nothing, and knowledge have no more value, love has no end. For our knowledge is only in part, and the prophet’s word gives only a part of what is true: But when that which is complete is come, then that which is in part will be no longer necessary ” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10 BBE).

Plainly this version shows Paul is saying that WHILE ONE IS IN THEIR IMMATURE STATE, THINGS CAN FAIL AND BE INCOMPLETE, BUT WHEN THEY MATURE TO THAT PERFECT STATE OF BIBLICAL LOVE, THEN THAT WHICH THEY DO WILL NEVER FAIL.

What is that state of perfect love? Jesus already defined this for us in Mark 12:30-31: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (also see Deuteronomy 6:5, Deuteronomy 10:12, Deuteronomy 30:6; Matthew 22:37-40; Luke 10:27-28). This type love agrees with Jesus’ other statement about perfect love as found in John 15:12-14: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Jesus calls us to lay down our life for our “friends.” Jesus said this friendship was to specifically to be between a man and Him! This was not a Calvary-type death, but one in which a man would forfeit control and die to his old darkened life so that he could be raised anew to live and mature into the man he was created to become. This is Jesus’ will for each man, woman, and child in the earth. And those who live as such reign with Christ as His joint heirs and friends.

This is Jesus’ will for each man, woman, and child in the earth. And those who live as such reign with Christ as His joint heirs and friends.

In these afore examples we see that Peter, Paul, and Jesus are explaining the fact that salvation happens the moment a believer obeys the Gospel of Jesus Christ; but to mature or perfect that believer will take a lifetime of them following God’s Word and Spirit. This is what Paul meant when he wrote: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christlet us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2). Paul is not saying here that these salvific elements are unimportant, because he describes them as the “principles” of Christ’s doctrine; nor is he saying perfection arrives when one obeys the gospel, otherwise he would not tell believers to reach toward that which they had already received. This leaves the conclusion being Paul telling the believers to move past these starting principles, onward to the perfection available only through Christ.

Saint’s maturing to perfection is a key element found in Jesus’ Great Commission. My statements are added in the [brackets]: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [Teach them the Gospel] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you [After the Gospel teach them all things necessary for maturity in Christ]: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. [Not just to the end of the Jewish age, but throughout ALL times as well. Jesus being with us is a promise that through maturity He, as the head, will operate through His Body – the Church.] Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The Apostle Peter also dealt with this growth to perfection when he wrote: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. [This is salvation] And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. [This is going on to perfection through sanctification] For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Maturity of a believer] But he that lacketh these things is blind [Darkness like at the beginning of creation], and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. [Immaturity of a believer] Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:4-11). Remember what Eve suffered through God’s judgment in Eden; she would desire her husband’s union and she would suffer through childbirth. Here we see a promise of not being barren or unfruitful; this is the birthing of a mature godly man through a perfect knowledge (to become acquainted with) of our Lord (“Kurios” or “master,” is the same root meaning as “Ishi” or “husband”) Jesus Christ. The Bible makes clear that Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church is His bride. Peter’s words describe a restoration of the union lost in the Garden that is shown as coming through Christlikeness (see Genesis 18:12; Hosea 2:16; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2, 9).

Man’s maturity and immaturity are found in the verses on the fruit (or lack thereof) of the Spirit from the Apostle Paul: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh [Immaturity] are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit [Maturity] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:18-23). Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘maturity’ as:

(1)  the state of being mature; ripeness: The fruit will reach maturity in a few days.
(2)  full development; perfected condition: maturity of judgment; to bring a plan to maturity.

By applying Webster’s definition to a man’s life we see spiritual fruit matured to ripeness and a life aligned to follow the ideal plan, are the same provisos as set in the Bible concerning a life heading toward maturity or perfection in Christ.

From the previous scriptures, did you notice that Peter and Paul equated the maturity process of a saint with their salvation? True salvation, they knew, is more than just receiving a ticket to someday escape this life; it also involves salvation that comes when one is set free from their former sinful nature. This type salvation allows a believer to not only be saved, but to live saved right now! This was the salvation for which Paul yearned: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferingsbeing made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfectbut I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phi 3:10-15). Concerning Paul’s earnest desire, the 18th Century preacher John Wesley wrote:

“That I may know him – As my complete Saviour. And the power of his resurrection – Raising me from the death of sin, into all the life of love. And the fellowship of his sufferings – Being crucified with him. And made conformable to his death – So as to be dead to all things here below.” (John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible)

Paul’s longing wasn’t for salvation to enter eternity; he already received that when he was born again of the water and Spirit in Jesus’ Name; what Paul desired was salvation from those things within him that kept him from maturing further into the image of the One he so deeply loved – Jesus Christ! Maturity or perfection in Christ is a journey, not a location; it is a lifelong process that even the Apostle Paul said was a “mark” to which he was still reaching.

Through the biblical examples in this section, we see that unless a saved person can honestly say they love both God and man with ALL their heart [seat of man’s emotion], soul [spiritual, immortal substance in man], mind [seat of man’s thoughts or will], and strength [power by reason of influence, authority, resources, numbers, wealth, etc…], they are still lacking spiritual maturity. If all were honest, they would say they still have room to grow in these areas, so “that which is perfect” has not “come,” but is still in the unending progression of repeatedly coming. This means 1 Corinthians 13 can in no way be used to ‘prove’ the manifestations of God’s supernatural miracles, signs, and wonders are now done away since the very reason they were given is still a very necessary reality for every member of the body of Christ.

Maturity or perfection in Christ is a journey, not a location; it is a lifelong process that even the Apostle Paul said was a “mark” to which he was still reaching.

Cessationalism is Similar to Deism

Despite the great cloud of witnesses that proves God’s supernatural presence has consistently manifested itself among men throughout all time, some cessationalists still disagree. They do so by claiming that all things spoken of in prophecy are now fulfilled and finished including those concerning the spiritual gifts and manifestations of God. Such teachings are a twisting of scripture that stands opposed to the innate power of the body of Jesus Christ.

An example of how this affects a believer is found in the way it erodes the power of prayer: Prayer expressed through the Holy Spirit heightens petitions to a heavenly crescendo since such prayers are invoked with divine intervention (see Jude 1:20; Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 6:18; Mark 11:24; Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4; James 1:17). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines prayer as:

“The gift of the Spirit, promised by Christ (John 14:16 ff, etc.), HAS RAISED PRAYER TO ITS HIGHEST POWER by securing for it a divine cooperation (Rom. 8:15, Rom. 8:26; Gal. 4:6). Thus Christian prayer in its full New Testament meaning is prayer addressed to God as Father, in the name of Christ as Mediator, and THROUGH THE ENABLING GRACE OF THE INDWELLING SPIRIT.”

If Cessationalists are to stay true to their doctrine, they would have to say that prayer communication with God has also ceased, or at best decreased, since the indwelling Holy Ghost and His accompanying signs and wonders are now (as they believe) unavailable. Such a belief does not elevate the Church to a higher status or power, but instead reduces it to a lesser anemic membership. Such a posture inevitably affects a believer’s faith and spiritual maturity since it alienates them from a closer relationship that’s made available through the indwelling Spirit of Jesus Christ. The removal of such cornerstone truths of the Bible closely aligns the Cessationalist’s views with those of Deism. Webster’s defines Deism as:

(1) belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation (distinguished from theism). (2) belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.

Any teaching that positions itself against God being supernaturally involved among His people cannot be substantiated from the Bible. Remember, God said, “I change not.” He is said to be “the same yesterday, today and forever.” He has “no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” These are a few of the passages that show God does neither changes or turns away from that which He has always been (see Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17).

Any teaching that positions itself against God being supernaturally involved among His people cannot be substantiated from the Bible.

Cessation of Apostles and Prophets

Cessationalists also propose the offices of Apostle and Prophet are now done away. Paul said, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachersFor the perfecting of the saintsfor the work of the ministryfor the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13). Paul placed these offices in context with spiritual manifestations. Both of these gifts are used to minister to those within the Church and to those without its salvational boundaries. “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28).

To teach “that which is perfect is come,” has now ‘arrived,’ and because so the office of Apostle and Prophet are no longer needed, is really a literal impossibility. Why? Because the same passage that lists ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets,’ also lists ‘teachers.’ These positions are found side by side without any sign that one calling is any more or any less important than another. Nowhere does the Bible say any of the callings in either Ephesians 4 or 1 Corinthians 12 will ever end. For a person to believe that Apostles and Prophets are now done away, they would also have to believe that evangelists, pastors and teachers have also ceased. This means those who advocate cessationalsim could not teach their beliefs because the office of “teacher” had ended. Literally this leaves the cessationalist to chose that: (1) giving up their evangelizing, pastoring, or teaching ministry, or (2) admitting that since these positions are still needed to reach and teach the Church, then the callings of apostle and prophet must also still be available to the Church. Of course number ‘2’ is the only real choice. To confirm this, the Apostle Paul said these ministries – ALL of them – were in the Church to perfect the saints until the full stature [maturity] of Christ (see Ephesians 4:12-13). As demonstrated earlier, all believers are somewhere in the stages of maturing into the perfection of Christlikeness. Therefore, these five-fold ministry callings will always be needed to edify the saints, and, as a result, will never end.

A Kingdom Requires Power

 A kingdom requires an empowered and enthroned King. Jesus is such a King. He said He HAS “ALL POWER in Heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). “ALL” is a tiny word with enormous meaning. To clarify where exactly His power consists, Jesus said – “in Heaven and in earth.” This makes Him both Lord (Sovereign God) and Christ (Savior) of both the spiritual and physical realms (see Acts 2:36; John 17:2; Ephesians 1:21).

Please ask yourself why Jesus would take away His supernatural power and spiritual manifestations shortly after establishing His throne within His Church. Such abandonment not only doesn’t make any physical sense, but it more importantly is outside the continuity of the scriptural promise found in God’s New Covenant. Remember, the New Covenant was to be accompanied with a supernatural change in a person. Here is how it was described by the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 31:31-34
(31)  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
(32)  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them, saith the LORD:
(33)  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
(34)  And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Remember, the New Covenant was to be accompanied with a supernatural change in a person.

Jeremiah prophesied that the New Covenant would bring each person a new heart dedicated to obey God’s Will and a new relationship that is more conformable with God. The writer of Hebrews quoted Jeremiah but further explained the witness that this New Covenant arrival in a person is the receiving of the Holy Ghost.

Hebrews 10:15-17
(15)  WHEREOF THE HOLY GHOST ALSO IS A WITNESS TO USfor after that he had said before,
(16)  This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
(17)  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Ezekiel confirmed that this new heart and new placement of the Law of God happens when true salvation through the indwelling Spirit of God comes to all men.

Ezekiel 36:25-27
(25)  Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
(26)  A NEW HEART ALSO WILL I GIVE YOU, AND A NEW SPIRIT WILL I PUT WITHIN YOU: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
(27)  And I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU, AND CAUSE YOU TO WALK IN MY STATUTES, AND YE SHALL KEEP MY JUDGMENTS, AND DO THEM.

This salvation, with its indwelling evidence, agrees with what Peter and the other apostles first experienced on the Day of Pentecost.

Pentecost is the celebration of the giving of the Law. It was on that day that God chose to pour out His Spirit with the supernatural sign of speaking in tongues (see Acts 2). This sign drew a crowd who stayed to hear the first anointed message from the apostle Peter. After he and the other apostles stood in agreement together, Peter told them to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins, and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:38). Three thousand received Peter’s gospel message that day and were born again. This same message continued being preached throughout the book of Acts (see Act 8, 10, 19). Nowhere does the Bible say this message would ever change, but rather that it never will (see Galatians 1:6-7). The Apostle John said the following about this:

1 John 3:23-24
(23)  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
(24)  And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And HEREBY WE KNOW THAT HE ABIDETH IN US, BY THE SPIRIT WHICH HE HATH GIVEN US.

John said the salvation message would come through Jesus’ Name, and that once received would have an accompanying sign that God’s Spirit was abiding in the believer. This is universally consistent and easily recognized no matter where in this world a person receives the Holy Ghost, and is based upon a supernatural occurrence rather than a human feeling or emotion. The Bible gives us a lot of information on the subject of the “sign” that accompanies the gift of the Spirit. The following shows the consistency of this throughout the Old and New Testaments:

  1. Isaiah 28:11……. God’s rest comes to those who speak in another tongue.
  2. 1 Corinthians 14:22……. Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11 and says it shows tongues are for a sign to unbelievers to let them know God’s Spirit is present.
  3. John 3:1-8……. Jesus said the Spirit of God comes like a wind with a “sound.” “Sound” is the Greek ” pho?ne?,” which means: saying or language: – noise, sound, voice.
  4. Acts 2:1-2……. The Holy Ghost came as “sound [language] from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” that “filled all the house.” (Fulfilled just as Jesus said in John 3.)
  5. Acts 2:3-4……. All the Apostles, disciples, women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, spoke in tongues as the Spirit empowered them to speak.
  6. Acts 2:5-13……. Some spoke in other languages, but others acted as if they were drunk.
  7. Joel 2:28-32……. This Old Testament prophet said God would pour out His Spirit on “ALL flesh” and that this would be accompanied with supernatural signs.
  8. Acts 2:16-21……. Peter said Joel’s promise began being poured out on the day of Pentecost.
  9. Acts 2:16-33……. Peter’s message about God pouring out His Spirit, which the people there could “see and hear.”
  10. Acts 8:5-25……. The Samaritans are baptized in Jesus’ name but still need the Holy Ghost. When it came it had a sign that all could see.
  11. Acts 10:44-48……. The Holy Ghost is given to the first Gentiles, Cornelius and his house, for they heard them speak with tongues.
  12. Acts 11:15……. Peter testifies of the promise to the Gentiles as well as the Jews because they heard them speak in tongues.
  13. Acts 19:1-6……. The Ephesians believed, but still needed to receive the Holy Ghost. When the Spirit fell, they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
  14. 1 Corinthians 14:18……. Paul said he was thankful he spoke in tongues more than other men.
  15. 1 Corinthians 14:39……. The Apostle Paul said a person should not forbid another from speaking in tongues.

This is a biblically based truth that is still occurring throughout the world today!

A Gift that Will Never Die

The Kingdom of God does have an empowered King, Jesus, and since His Kingdom is without end, His presence and power within His Kingdom (the Church) will also be never ending. This never-endingness is witnessed from the First Century Church history as found in the book of Acts. The book Acts is the only book in the Bible with no ending. This is because the Holy-Ghost-filled Church of Jesus Christ does not end at the last chapter and verse of Acts, but continues on, as biblically promised, without end…(see Ezekiel 37:26; Isaiah 9:7; Hebrews 1:8; Luke 1:31-33).

Truth is not spoken of as setting a person free, but as making a person free. The Bible records Jesus saying, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). This passage speaks of a continual molding process, which transforms a person from his fleshly beginnings into matured Christlikeness. Such a transformation necessitates supernatural intervention. This is what Jesus said His indwelling Spirit would do: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13). Truth is a noun, a person – Jesus. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6). So to be led to all truth speaks of one moving in the direction of Christlikeness. Such a status change is not a coming promise, but a becoming one, which, through Jesus’ Spirit, is available right now!

In John 3, Nicodemus said he knew God was with Jesus because of the supernatural signs wrought through His ministry. Every believer is called to be just like his Master (see Luke 6:40). So to speak, touch, think, and walk like Christ is what places the Church in oneness with its head – Jesus! About this unity the Amplified Bible translates Paul’s writings as follows: “And He has put all things under His feet and has APPOINTED HIM THE UNIVERSAL AND SUPREME HEAD OF THE CHURCH [A HEADSHIP EXERCISED THROUGHOUT THE CHURCH], [Ps. 8:6.] WHICH IS HIS BODY, THE FULLNESS OF HIM WHO FILLS ALL IN ALL [FOR IN THAT BODY LIVES THE FULL MEASURE OF HIM WHO MAKES EVERYTHING COMPLETE, AND WHO FILLS EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE WITH HIMSELF] (Ephesians 1:22-23 AMP). So the Church is Jesus’ body responding in obedience to its head, Jesus. This is why the Bible says when a person is baptized into Christ they have “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). In reference to what this “putting on” is about, the following is from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible:

“To put on, or to be clothed with one, IS TO ASSUME THE PERSON AND CHARACTER OF THAT ONE; and they who do so are bound to act his part, and to sustain the character which they have assumed. The profession of Christianity is an assumption of the character of Christ; he has left us an example that we should follow his steps, and we should, as Christians, have that mind in us which was in him.”

The Bible tells us there is one name and one baptism that consists of water and spirit of which we are all to partake. Baptism saves us from our old ways and births us anew into Jesus’ way.

“Paul believed that God had invested Jesus with a name above all names, potent to constrain and overcome all lesser powers, good or evil, in heaven or earth or under earth. Baptism then in the name or through the name or into the name of Christ placed the believer under the tutelage of Christ’s personality, as before he was in popular estimation under the influence of stars and horoscope. Nay, more, IT IMPORTED THAT PERSONALITY INTO HIM, MAKING HIM A LIMB OR MEMBER OF CHRIST’S BODY, AND IMMORTAL AS CHRIST WAS IMMORTAL.” (“Baptism,” Britannica Encyclopedia 11th Edition, Page 368, #12 Use of the Name)

Through His gospel, Jesus made this opportunity for spiritual union with God a living reality for every believer. This intimacy changes a man forever. About this change the Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christhe is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This spiritual transformation causes a mortal man to receive immortality, which removes him from the time restraints of this life, and instantaneously translates him into eternal life. This agrees with what Paul said: “So when THIS CORRUPTIBLE [THIS corruptible requires a corruptible body yet alive] shall have put on incorruption, and THIS MORTAL [THIS mortal requires a body yet alive] shall have put on immortalityTHEN [at THAT time] SHALL BE BROUGHT TO PASS the saying that is written, DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY. [At this transforming time is death done away!] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)? Paul is explaining here that neither death nor the grave will ever have power over a child of God, and because so, they will live forever and never see death!

Jesus described His promise of eternal life as follows: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, [the dead in the grave then who had their faith in Messiah] yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth [those breathing both then and today with faith in Jesus] and believeth in me SHALL NEVER DIE [will never be held in the grave, but will pass from this life right into eternal life with Jesus Christ]” (John 11:25-26a).

Jesus Christ did not come to rapture His Church away from an evil world. He came to resurrect His people from their dead sinful nature. This resurrection of life begins when a Child of God is born anew into a new nature and image of Jesus Christ. This is the likeness God planned for man to enjoy since the beginning of time. This transforming power, and its hope of eternal life, is available now through Jesus! Peter agrees with this in the following verses: “Praised (honored, blessed) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)! By His boundless mercy WE HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN TO AN EVER-LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [Born anew] into AN INHERITANCE WHICH IS BEYOND THE REACH OF CHANGE AND DECAY [imperishable], unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, Who are being guarded (garrisoned) by God’s power through [your] faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5 AMP). Peter explains this true hope of the Church is found in the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ. This promise will never see change or decay. This is because those spiritually recreated into the image of Jesus are promised to never suffer alteration or decay in the grave. Why? Because when such a believer dies, they pass from their earthly life right into the focus of their life, which is the eternal spiritual realm of Jesus Christ! This is the life Jesus brought man, and it is our promise and our hope.

Conclusion

The truths in this study both exposed the errors of Cessationalism in regard to post 70 AD spiritual gifts, and emphasized the availability of God’s Spirit working in and through the Body of Christ today. Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Regardless how doubtful it may be to believe the God of the Universe still supernaturally responds to the needs of His people, overwhelmingly the Bible shows God has always been active with His people and that such a dynamic was to intensify through His New Covenant’s indwelling Spirit.

The first Adam sinned, but the supernatural presence of God still came to him, calling him to repent back to a more harmonious relationship with his Creator. Man receiving a restored relationship was first promised to Adam, but it was almost 4,000 years later before it became available through Jesus Christ. He, as the last Adam, not only came to restore the life mankind lost through Adam’s rebellion, but to also to give man a closer relationship with God than was first available in Eden. The next verses show how the last Adam, Jesus, affects man today: “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit [Life giving Spirit]. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. [Fleshly life came before Spiritual life] The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy [Our sin nature]: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly [Born again man will receive Jesus’ nature to resemble Him in the earth]” (1 Corinthians 15:45-48).

God first began His relationship with Adam by walking with him in the garden and ends with man spiritually dying and being expelled from God’s paradise – Eden. Similarly, Jesus began His 3½ year ministry by walking with man, but He ends it by Himself dying and pouring out His Spirit on man giving man access to paradise – God’s Kingdom. This was the life Jesus came to restore to man; a life of not just walking with God, but one where God is walking in man (See Joh 14:17)! This type of restoration changes the spiritual man’s “old man’s” nature into a “new man” made after the image of Jesus. This union is how each believer making up the body of Christ – the Church – is truly “complete in Christ” (See Colossians 2:10, Colossians 1:16-18, Colossians 3:11; John 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 1:20-23, Ephesians 4:15-16).

This was the life Jesus came to restore to man; a life of not just walking with God, but one where God is walking in man.

Hebrews speaks of this everlasting promise to perfect believers when its author said, “Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), [Isa. 55:3; 63:11; Ezek. 37:26; Zech. 9:11.] Strengthen (complete, perfect) and MAKE YOU WHAT YOU OUGHT TO BE AND EQUIP YOU WITH EVERYTHING GOOD THAT YOU MAY CARRY OUT HIS WILL; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it)” (Heb 13:20-21 AMP). Such a transformation comes through the ministry and spiritual gifts the Bible substantiates were – and always will be – available to the Church, to mature believers to more perfectly function as members of the body of Jesus Christ. Intimacy with the supernatural is the Church’s biblical calling and inheritance. To accept anything less is to be outside the abundant spiritual life Jesus promised was available to regenerated men through His everlasting New Covenant.

 

Copyright © 2005 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.
www.tkburk.com

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