Summary: One of the works of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers is to impart a spiritual gift. Spiritual gifts is fraught with confusion and misunderstanding. This sermon seeks to sort out what the Bible teaches about the different types of spiritual gifts.
Holy Spirit and You, Part 3: The Key to Spiritual Gifts
Series: Acts, #3
February 23, 2014
A PowerPoint presentation is available for this sermon upon request by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our series through the book of Acts I took a short detour to preach a 4-week mini-series titled “The Holy Spirit and You” where we examined who the Holy Spirit is, and when He came. Last week we talked about four activities in the lives of those of us who are saved: To keep us eternally saved; to teach us; to develop godly character in us; and to comfort us in trouble.
We’ll finish out this series next week, but today we’ll concentrate on another important activity of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, but it is so misunderstood and so fraught with controversy that I’m going to devote all of today’s sermon on the topic.
The fifth activity of the Spirit in believers’ lives is to impart a spiritual gift for service.
There are a lot of questions about this though that need answering, such as…
• Are all the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament meant for our day? As we will see this morning, we believe the answer to that question is NO. We believe in what is called the “Cessationist View” of the sign gifts.
• If this view is right, are any spiritual gifts imparted to believers today, and upon what basis may we legitimately sort out what were strictly for the early church and which were meant to be normative for the church after the infancy of the church?
• Finally, what is the purpose of spiritual gifts for you and me today?
Before I begin, let me hasten to say that this is not an attack on anyone who differs with us. It is rather a DEFENSE of the Cessationist View of the sign gifts, which in turn explains why we don’t have tongues-speaking, healing-lines and so on at GBC. Of course, if you believe differently, this will be a difficult, challenging sermon for you. All I ask is that you listen and evaluate and consider and pray for the Lord to reveal the truth or error of these matters to you, and come to your own conclusion.
Finally, today we’re going to go back to school. We’ll get into some more technical stuff, including the meaning of important Greek terms. There’s going to be more of the meat of the Word than the milk of the Word. So put your thinking caps on and let’s get started!
I. FIRST, CONSIDER WITH ME THE CONUNDRUM (which means a puzzle or mystery)
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that some things about the New Testament church are very different from Christianity in later times.
• In the beginning chapters of Acts, which took place in the 30s AD, Peter and Paul both had the power to heal the sick at will.
• Peter was able to pronounce supernatural death sentences on Aninias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit—and they instantly literally “dropped dead.”
• On two occasions Peter experienced supernatural prison escapes in Jerusalem, as did Paul in Philippi in Acts 16, though Paul refused to leave the prison in order to save the Philippian jailor’s life and to win him and his family to Christ.
Yet even before the First Century church era was over, there began to be a waning of all these supernatural signs and wonders.
• In about 64 AD, Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 1 that he had turned Alexander over to Satan for judgment; yet Alexander was still alive and well three years later in 2 Timothy 4. – What Peter could do in 32 AD with Ananias and Sapphira, Paul could not do in 64 AD.
• And both Peter and Paul later were imprisoned and put to death by Emperor Nero. – What could deliver them from prison in earlier years…could not 30 years later.
There are 26 chapters in the book of Acts….
• The phrase “signs and wonders” is found 6 times in chapters 1-7, but only once after that—in chapter 14, just over halfway through Acts.
• The words miracle or miracles is found 7 times in the first half of Acts, and only once in the second half, and that in chapter 15, only two chapters past halfway.
• Only three times are the words heal or healing in the sense of physical healing mentioned in Acts, all before the halfway point in Acts, the last one in chapter 10.