8 ERRONEOUS TEACHINGS ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT: By People Who Should Know Better
I make the bold statement that the following teachings are erroneous based on my fidelity to scripture. If we are people of the Word, then let’s be preachers/teachers of the Word
If we are preachers/teachers of the Word, then let’s have fidelity to the Word.
If we are preachers/teachers of the Word, then let’s be responsible and consistent with our approach in understanding and interpreting the Word.
When we teach a spiritual subject emphatically and before a public forum, without having the clear authority of God’s Word to back our teaching, that teaching is an erroneous teaching.
When one must resort to philosophical musings, guess-work, speculation, or filling in the blanks of history in order to formulate a theological teaching, that teaching is erroneous.
In recent years there has been a surge of teachings concerning the Holy Spirit and the Spirit filled movement by popular teachers that are quite irresponsible.
Amazingly, these teachers come from various evangelical backgrounds which adhere to the belief in the authority of scripture and inerrancy of scripture. Often these teachers have theological degrees which makes one assume that they have been taught basic principles of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics. For this reason, I make the statement that these men should know better when they teach erroneous things about the Holy Spirit.
Let us look at some of the teachings that are circulating:
ERRONEOUS TEACHING #1: THAT ONLY THE 12 APOSTLES WERE BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.
By “baptized with the Holy Spirit” we are referring to the experience in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. This promise made by Jesus is called “baptism with the Holy Spirit” by both Jesus and John the Baptist.
Recently, a popular preacher/teacher, before a mass audience made the statement that ONLY the 12 Apostles received this Holy Spirit Baptism, but that all other believers quietly receive the Holy Spirit upon trusting in Christ.
AMAZINGLY the speaker offered no scripture to back his statement.
The truth is, I cannot offer any scripture to even begin to consider this position.
Who was in the upper room?
13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication,[b] with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. Acts 1:13-14
In total, there were 120 people in the upper room, specifically waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Who was baptized with the Holy Spirit?
2 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord[a] in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4
It is pretty clear that they were ALL filled with the Holy Spirit.
If any credible student of the Bible continued reading, they would see that not only were others (including women) baptized with the Holy Spirit…but random believers AND gentiles received the very same Holy Spirit baptism!
Believers on the side of the road:
19 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:1-2,6
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Acts 10:44-46
The specific description of Holy Spirit baptism, as it happened in the upper room on Pentecost, is repeated with other believers of all types: male, female, servants, Jews, Gentiles, friends and family. There is no need for one to be a Bible scholar to clearly see the Holy Spirit baptism historically was experienced by all. Peter describes the gentile experience like this;
47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Acts 10:47
ERRONEOUS TEACHING #2: ONLY THE APOSTLES SPOKE IN TONGUES
This teaching is closely tied with the first erroneous teaching. Yet another popular teacher/author made this statement which such nonchalant confidence that one would expect it to be clear biblical knowledge for all to see.
The truth is, such a teaching is just not in the Word. Nor can such a teaching even be implied in the scripture. It is amazing that one could plainly read the scripture and come to such a conclusion.
I refer to the above scripture already given but with emphases on the speaking in tongues (languages) by the Holy Spirit.
On the day of Pentecost, they ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues (120 people):
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4
The disciples on the roadside spoke in tongues:
6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:6
Cornelius, his family, his servant and neighbors all spoke in other tongues:
46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God Acts 10:46
Paul teaches that “tongues” is distributed by the Holy Spirit within the Body of Christ:
to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. I Corinthians 12:10-11
It is very clear the Corinthians, decades after the day of Pentecost, and who were Gentile, and Greeks, spoke in tongues:
39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues I Corinthians 14:39
Bottom line, scripture is plain, speaking in other tongues (languages) as the Holy Spirit enables happened to all who were and are baptized with the Holy Spirit and the Bible is not ambiguous about this. It is pretty clear.
ERRONEOUS TEACHING #3: SPEAKING IN TONGUES IS THE ABILITY TO LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN ORDER TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO ALL NATIONS.
This idea is taught very commonly among non-Pentecostal, evangelicals, many of them well meaning. However, it is based on an illogical conclusion about what happened on the day of Pentecost.
Their conclusion is that on Pentecost, there were over 14 different ethnic groups and languages represented in the crowded Jerusalem street. These various groups heard the disciples come out of the upper room speaking in tongues, and each of the different ethnic groups understood the disciples in their own language.
Thus, according to them, this passage is a clear illustration that speaking in other tongues is the ability to preach the gospel in another language so that all nationalities can hear the good news.
On the surface, this may make sense to someone who has not read through the entire New Testament. It also may make sense if we DO NOT apply some basic principles of biblical interpretation such as:
- Scripture interprets scripture
- No scripture passage stands alone
- Consider the convergence of the whole Bible (how all scripture comes together)
- The context of the scripture
- The literal statement
But if these principles are applied, then such a conclusion is almost insulting if you are a student of the Word.
Let’s look at the plain and literal reading of the event:
5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?….. we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”
13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.” Acts 2:5-13
There were about 14 nations represented.
There were 120 disciples speaking in other tongues which they had NOT LEARNED but rather the Holy Spirit was giving them the words to say.
Of the 120 voices speaking in other languages, 14 different nations HEARD their OWN language being spoken.
If we stop right here alone, we see this is a miraculous occurrence. There was no LEARNING going on here. In fact the crowd was confused because these disciples were UNLEARNED Galileans and they even accused them of acting drunk.
That these were well poised men and women who now were able to preach the gospel in other languages is not the case here.
The passage DOES NOT show the 120 preaching at all! Each of them were praising God and those in the crowd understood what they were saying…”the wonderful works of God”.
When the gospel was preached at Pentecost, the tongue talking stopped and Peter stood up and preached a sermon to which men responded.
As we see, reading what happened literally, we do not see 120 disciples learning foreign languages and preaching to the nations. It is just not there.
If we use the principle of no scripture standing alone, then we must also acknowledge that this is THE ONLY TIME in the scripture when this miracle of people understanding tongues in their own language happens.
Only at Pentecost was there the sound of rushing wind.
Only at Pentecost were there tongues of fire.
Only at Pentecost did multi-national people hear and understand those who were praising God in other tongues.
Consider all other passages:
- The disciples in Acts 19 were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, but they and Paul alone were on the road side. No other nationalities around to hear.
- When Cornelius and all in his house were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, there were no multi-national crowds in the house, just friends and family.
If we use the principle of scripture interpreting scripture, then we must compare what Paul says about speaking in tongues in I Corinthians 14:
2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. I Corinthians 14:2
- If someone is speaking tongues HE DOES NOT SPEAK TO MEN, but to GOD.
- If someone is speaking in tongues, HE IS SPEAKING MYSTERIES!
Since scripture interprets scripture, we now see a clear description of what tongues is, a language spoken by the Spirit that is mysterious and not known to man.
14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. I Corinthians 14:14
- Paul states that when he prays in tongues, he does not understand it.
He further calls for the equally Spirit given gift of interpretation of tongues to be used, if someone is speaking in tongues aloud in a Church gathering.
It seems that the miracle of Pentecost, is that the crowd’s interest was caught by they being given the miraculous interpretation of the praise that was taking place in other tongues, by the Holy Spirit.
Looking at all passages dealing with speaking in tongues will help us interpret what took place at Pentecost. It also will dismiss the erroneous and unbiblical teaching that tongues is the ability to learn earthly languages for the purpose of preaching the gospel around the world.
ERRONEOUS TEACHING #4: THAT ONE IS BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON BELIEVING IN JESUS.
This is a common teaching among non-Pentecostal Christians for many reasons.
For one, because a reading of the New Testament brings many assurances that Christians have the Holy Spirit in them and working with and through them.
Also, a reading of the Epistles lists the many works of the Holy Spirit in the believers’ life including regeneration, sanctification, and spiritual giftings.
If you are a believer, who has never been taught the distinct promise of Holy Spirit baptism, then it may be a natural assumption that the Holy Spirit somehow is already in you in a dynamic way.
However, that we are baptized with the Holy Spirit upon believing has absolutely no biblical basis whatsoever.
Can one believe and not be baptized with the Holy Spirit? Yes. This is clear in Paul’s question to the disciples on the roadside:
And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:1-2
They were disciples, but had not received the Holy Spirit.
They were believers, but had not received the Holy Spirit.
In fact, like many today, they had not even HEARD of the promise of the Holy Spirit baptism.
It was when Paul laid hands on them that they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
It is also clear in the full Gospel lay out of Peter on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit promise is something that is made possible after regeneration.
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. Acts 2:38
The acts of salvation, repentance, remission of sins, are prerequisites to receiving the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.
You may have believed, but have you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit SINCE you believed?
Notice again what happened in Samaria:
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:14-17
The Samaritans believed and received the Word.
They were water baptized.
But they had not received the Holy Spirit.
It was not until the Apostles went down to Samaria and prayed for them specifically to receive the Holy Spirit that the received.
It is clear, Holy Spirit baptism is distinct and separate experience from the new birth. It is included in the FULL GOSPEL plan of God.
NOTE: When we read the epistles and the writer speaks to the churches as having the Holy Spirit in the past tense, we must remember that these are established churches which had been presented the FULL GOSPEL. Thus, they were churches who repented, had remission of sins, were water baptized, AND had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was the message and the norm in the first century church and so the writers of the epistles refer the Spirit in their lives matter of factly.
We must not confuse the fact that it is the Holy Spirit who brings revelation of Christ, who convicts our hearts to repentance, who draws men to Christ, and by which regeneration is made in effect as being the same as being FILLED. It is not the same as being FILLED with the Holy Spirit or Holy Spirit baptism. This is a distinct work and promise that one must receive by faith.
ERRONEOUS TEACHING #5: THAT ONE IS BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON BEING WATER BAPTIZED
I understand where some may get this teaching. The Gospels tell us that upon the baptism of Jesus that the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove. The connection is made then by some, that upon OUR water baptism, the Holy Spirit descends upon us.
Since scripture interprets scripture, and no scripture stands alone, a doctrinal teaching cannot be made from the unique experience of Jesus at His baptism.
Never is it taught, not by Jesus, the Apostles nor in any other example that we are filled with the Holy Spirit upon water baptism.
According to Acts 2:38, as we have seen, the promise of the Holy Spirit is something available to those who have converted and are baptized.
Paying attention to what happened to Cornelius and his household makes this even more clear.
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word….46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Acts 10:44-47
All those in the house were baptized with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. Because God had clearly offered the promise of the Holy Spirit to these gentile believers, Peter proposes that there is no reason that they should not be water baptized.
Holy Spirit baptism happened BEFORE water baptism.
No other verse, or directive from the Apostles, can be applied to a teaching that we are filled with the Holy Spirit upon water baptism.
ERRONEOUS TEACHING #6: THAT SPEAKING IN TONGUES WAS A PAGAN PRACTICE THAT SEEPED INTO THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH AND PAUL WAS WRITING TO CORRECT.
Allow me to make a bold statement: not only is this teaching erroneous, it borders on blasphemy of the Holy Spirit!
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is attributing the work of God to Satan. The above teaching comes very close to this definition.
Very recently, a popular teacher held a major conference in which he confidently made the following statements:
- The Corinthian church had become so corrupt that it was filled with sexual deviancy and pagan practices.
- The Corinthian church had become so corrupt that if any of us walked into one of their church services today, we would be very uncomfortable.
- That speaking in tongues was a reference to a practice among Greek pagans to channel their gods who would then speak through them. That this practice had been brought into the Corinthian church and Paul wrote I Corinthians 14 to put a stop to it.
Word people should know better.
This “teacher” should know better.
Anyone who sat under his teaching should know better.
Responsible study of the Word would NEVER come to such an erroneous conclusion.
FIRST, let us consider that such a teaching leans heavily on history rather than scripture. Bad history.
The facts are, there IS NO HISTORICAL OR ARCHEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE to back the claims that the Corinthians had a pagan version of speaking in tongues operating in their churches. In fact, there is no written documentation, or extra-biblical writings that indicate that this was the case in the Corinthian church. The claim is a massive leap into the world of speculation, not fact.
To paint the Corinthian church as a church filled with sexual looseness and paganism is a grotesque misrepresentation of this church.
What was Pauls’ view of the church at Corinth?
- Sanctified and called to be saints. 1:2
- I thank God for you. 1:4
- Enriched in utterance and all knowledge. 1:5
- Testimony of Christ confirmed in them. 1:6
- God’s field, God’s building. 3:9
- Are the Temple of God. 3:16
- Have the Holy Spirit. 3:16
- You are Christ’s. 3:23
- Are washed, sanctified and justified. 6:11
- Bought with a price. 6:20
- Praised by Paul. 11:2
- Are the Body of Christ. 12:27
- Their labor not in vain. 15:27
Hardly words to a Church full of idolatrous practice and sexual sin.
A reading of the entire epistle of I Corinthians we see that Paul is answering questions and concerns of this Church. They are hungry to know and to get direction.
His description of the Corinthian church is NOTHING like those who claim they were a church filled with sexuality and pagan practice!
Concerning sexuality gone amuck, the truth is only ONE incident of sexual sin is mentioned in the Church at Corinth. Chapter 5 mentions one individual to whom Paul exhorts the Church to deal with lest his influence affect the entire congregation.
Concerning pagan practice, the only question addressed is what should be done about food bought in the market that had once been offered to idols. This was a real issue for the Corinthians. It is clear they did not want to be guilty of honoring idols by eating this food. A Church worried about eating food dedicated to idols hardly seems like a church that would freely practice pagan rituals in the worship services!
A look at what “speaking in tongues” is in I Corinthians 14 makes it clear that to teach it was a pagan utterance is to abandon scripture and borders on blasphemy.
I will give the key verses first:
2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries
5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for[a] he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
13 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.
14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding.
18 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all;
22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers;
27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.
39….and do not forbid to speak with tongues.
You will notice that Paul never addresses pagan practices in chapter 14. The topic never comes up. If tongues were a pagan practice, there would be an urgency, an alarm in Paul’s tone and he would address it directly.
But what does Paul say about tongues?
- Those speaking in tongues are speaking to God.
- Those speaking in tongues are speaking in the Spirit.
- He wished everyone spoke in tongues.
- Speaking in tongues, when interpreted edifies the whole church.
- He who speaks in tongues should pray for the interpretation.
- Praying in tongues is praying in the Spirit.
- Paul thanked God HE spoke in tongues more than the Corinthians!
- Tongues are for a sign.
- Speaking in tongues should be done, but in order.
- DO NOT FORBID to speak in tongues.
I think scripture speaks for itself.
If you hear any other teacher claiming that tongues are of the devil, or they were a pagan practice introduced by the Corinthians, it would be safe to say that that teacher had abandoned the Word and had a personal agenda.
Indeed there are scant records that seem to indicate that some ancient cultures practiced a type of speaking in other languages, or babel in their cult practices.
Does this mean that the speaking in tongues of the Bible has its’ origin from these ancient practices?
Of course not. Acts 2 is clear that the first record of the early church speaking in tongues was as the HOLY SPIRIT gave the utterance!
Did you know that ancient cultures also practiced sacred meals with bread and wine in which they taught that their god(s) were present.
Also, that some ancient cultures practiced a type of ritual baptism?
Yet, we do not find anyone of these teachers claiming that communion or baptism are pagan traditions introduced to the church.
We must be responsible!
ERRONEOUS TEACHING #7: THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM AND THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT CEASED AT THE DEATH OF THE LAST APOSTLE.
Yes, this is actually a teaching. I can’t make this stuff up!
I must make it clear that THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO SCRIPTURE, Old or New Testament, for anyone to make such a claim.
I am not sure how those who make this claim stand with confidence behind any podium and pulpit as a Word teacher.
Allow me to throw these teachers a bone. There is a short clause, sandwiched between a greater topic in I Corinthians 13.
8….whether there are tongues, they will cease;
I knew a young man once who was so adamant about “tongues” no longer being valid in the church that he quoted “tongues will cease” with passion and fire over and over.
When backed into a doctrinal corner, shown the overwhelming scripture of tongues in its’ proper place, he reverted to “tongues will cease!” as his backup response.
Responsible people of the Word, applying simple biblical hermeneutics will clearly scratch their heads at how anyone can take this short clause, and come to the conclusion that when the last Apostle died, so did the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- No scripture stands alone.
Is there any other passage, Apostolic teaching, or verse that confirms, repeats or elaborates that speaking in tongues, or worse yet, the 9 spiritual gifts of the Spirit would cease with the death of the last Apostle? The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. Not one. Not even an allusion to it.
- Scripture interprets scripture.
If we take all the passages dealing with the Holy Spirit baptism, speaking in tongues, the operation of the spiritual gifts of the Spirit in the Church, would any of them lead us to conclude that these were only in place until the last Apostle died? The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. On the contrary, they give much teaching and instruction on how to operate and utilize such gifts for the building up and our faith, and the whole congregation.
From the get go, the promise of Holy Spirit baptism spans generations.
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.” Acts 2:39
The promise is for:
ALL WHO ARE AFAR OFF
EVEN AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD WILL CALL
- Interpret with the context of the chapter
Consider what the topic is of chapter 13. It is LOVE.
Paul is showing LOVE as far superior to every act, deed, spiritual gift.
His point, everything will fall short, but LOVE never does.
His topic is NOT on the origins of “tongues”, the future of “tongues” or the use of “tongues”, it is about the superiority of LOVE.
It is unlikely, that Paul would make such a major announcement such as: “tongues and spiritual gifts are only here until the last of us die off”, in such a small sentence clause and sandwiched in such a major topic as love.
If he were doing so, we would have to say that he went off topic in a major way to introduce another topic, then reverted back to his original topic. Does any student of the Word believe this is how the Bible was written? Probably not.
It is worth noting that Paul also says that KNOWLEDGE would vanish away.
- …whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away…
If these teachers were consistent in application of scripture, then they would have to conclude that knowledge vanished with the death of the last Apostle!
Using this sentence clause to apply to the Holy Spirit baptism, and all 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as any miraculous Spirit induced miracle is an abuse of biblical hermeneutics in the worse way.
A solid Bible student can plainly see for themselves.
ERRONEOUS TEACHING #8: THAT HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM AND THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT CEASED UPON THE ARRIVAL OF THE FINAL CANON OF SCRIPTURE.
There is not too much difference between this teaching and the one just reviewed except that these teachers extend the life of the Holy Spirit a few centuries.
The teaching is that the Spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit and other operations of the Holy Spirit were only needed for an immature and incomplete Church. When the Bible was complete, then there was no longer a need for the Holy Spirit to operate through gifts, or the miraculous.
This is bold statement.
It is a major leap to make such a profound statement of authority as it assumes to dictate to the Holy Spirit, who was promised by Jesus, and who is God Himself, how and when He is able to operate.
Therefore, one would think that to make such a strong statement scripture needs to absolutely clear.
It is not.
In fact, the prophecies or the Holy Spirit, the promises of the Holy Spirit, and the descriptions of His purpose and intent in the Church are totally absent of a timeline, or end date concerning the Holy Spirit.
Teachers emphatically, boldly, and with a claim of scriptural authority propagate such a teaching.
Here is the SINGLE VERSE OF SCRIPTURE they use.
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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
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. 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.
This sentence clause is the basis for removing the Holy Spirit from the Church equation. Entire sermons have been preached using this sole sentence clause.
A major doctrinal teaching affecting scores of other very plain passages of scripture is based on this one sentence clause.
In fact, entire chapters, and multiple passages of the New Testament are rendered void and no longer applicable based on this SINGLE SENTENCE CLAUSE!
The conclusion is that “that which is perfect” is referring to the completed canon of Scripture.
Let’s ask the logical questions:
- Will prophecies fail, once the completed scripture arrive?
- Will tongues cease, once the completed scripture arrive?
- Will KNOWLEDGE vanish away, when the completed scripture arrive?
On the contrary, it would seem that if Paul is referring to the completed canon of Scripture that he is saying that knowledge will be PERFECT and COMPLETE.
But yet, he says “knowledge will vanish away”.
If anything, upon the arrival of the canon of Scripture, knowledge would INCREASE!
Or….Paul is not referring to the canon of scripture at all.
The context of Scripture:
Let ‘s remember, that the topic Paul is writing about is “love”.
In no way is he speaking about scripture, inspired Word, or anything similar, not before verse 10, and not after verse 10.
In fact, in chapter 12 He goes to great lengths to describe the gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation in the Church, and then in chapter 14 he goes through great lengths in describing the proper order of the use of tongues and prophecy in the gathered Church. Thus to take a sentence clause sandwiched in the middle of this topic to DO AWAY with the gifts is taking a verse out of context in the extreme. It is irresponsible to say the least.
If Paul is exhorting on “love”, then it would stand keep the topic in proper flow to conclude that love perfected excels above having all knowledge, and having spiritual gifts.
Scripture interprets Scripture:
How do we interpret the short sentence clause in verse 10?
We follow the rule that scripture interprets scripture.
Do we find ANY OTHER VERSES calling for an end to the operation of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. None. Not at all.
This sentence clause cannot stand alone if we follow the principle of two or three witnesses.
On the contrary, here is what the scripture DOES say:
‘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.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
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. Acts 2:17-19
Very few ever point out that this verse refers to the “last days”.
Notice that is rings true even at the time that the “sun shall be turned into darkness” and “the moon into blood”, both signs of the imminent last days.
Notice also this rings true right up to the great and awesome day of the Lord…His return!
Let us read again what Peter said about the promise of the Holy Spirit as it was poured out on the day of Pentecost:
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.” Acts 2:39
The promise Holy Spirit baptism is for:
- Your children
- All who are afar off
- As many as the Lord our God will call.
Do we have PERFECT knowledge now that we have the full canon of Scripture?
The obvious answer is NO.
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” I Corinthians 2:9
In Revelation 10, there are things John saw and heard that he was not allowed to include in the writings of Revelation. Things we do not know until the future.
If we had all knowledge, and all understanding since the arrival of Scripture, we would have a perfect Church. We don’t. We have a Church divided into thousands of groups and denominations…many puzzled or debating what Scripture actually says!
Since Paul uses language about having “face to face” maturity, it would make sense that it is when we see Him and are changed, that finally that which is “perfect” will cause all other spiritual graces to give way.
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. I John 3:2
The truth is, if the arrival of the scripture was to do away spiritual gifts, then spiritual gifts would not have been included in the scripture itself!
Yet, the very thing that is “perfect” to these teachers is filled with promises and directives concerning spiritual gifts in the Church! If Scripture is perfect, then it should be perfectly obeyed.
However, according to them, parts of scripture are no longer valid for Christians today. How perfect is that?
Either Scripture is perfect or it is not. If it is perfect knowledge, then we accept the knowledge it gives us concerning the Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit Baptism, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The truth is that the early Church Fathers, centuries after the death of the last Apostles, and even after the books of the New Testament were in circulation through the Church, were writing about the presence of miracles, and the Gifts of the Spirit.
A few examples:
- Justin Martyr, II Apology, Ch. 6 A.D.-165 (refers to healing miracles and casting out of demons)
- Justin Martyrs dialogue with Trypho the Jew. 39 (refers to the many who have receive spiritual gifts as God had sent)
- Iraneaus, Againt Heresies, Book I, Ch. 13. D. 188 (refers to men operating in the gift of prophecy)
- Iraneaus, Book II (refers to men healing people and casting out devils)
- Shepherd of Hermas, Book II. (refers to the Holy Spirit falling on church assemblies and speaking in various manners)
- Tertulian, De Spectaculis, Ch. 29 (refers to people healing, speaking forth Divine revelations, casting out demons)
- Origen A.D. 230 (refers to those operating in I Cor. 12 type gifts, states that miracles still present among believers)
For time and space sake, not all references are given, but there are many through the early Church, and through Church history that refer to the operation of the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Gifts of the Spirit.
In conclusion, the history is just not there to back the claims that after the death of the Apostles or the arrival of the canon of Scripture the Holy Spirit ceased to operate as He was sent to do.
The question to ask ourselves: Are we Word people or not?
If we are, then we must formulate our teachings on scripture alone. A FULL GOSPEL includes the full plan and promises of God for every believer.
God desires every believer to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and to operate in the gifts of the Spirit in order to build up the local congregation in the faith!
Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?