Friday, June 11, 2010
I remember reading a book by John F. MacArthur Jr. entitled "The Charismatics". He was summarizing the gifts of the Holy Ghost (charisma) and the four-fold ministry appointments (1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4).
At one point he addressed the signs and wonders manifested in the Book of Acts confirming the Word of God, and suggested that these were reserved for the apostles, those who had seen the resurrected Christ and had been sent in the original commission out of Jerusalem.
He gives a quote from Paul where that envoy asks the Corinthians, 'Did I not do the works of an apostle among you?'
2 Corinthians 12:
12. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, in wonders, and mighty deeds.
I no sooner read that suggestion than the Spirit quickened to me the recollection of Ananias, a believer (not an apostle) who prayed for the blind Saul after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Read from Acts 9:
3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
10And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
11And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
12And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
17And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
Here was dear, simple, obedient believer Ananias receiving a vision, going on a valiant mission, testifying to the once murderous Saul, ministering healing and leading to the waters of baptism. He was a charismatic!
Now it is suggested that these sorts of manifestations were necessary to endorse the message of the Word until such time as the written record of scripture ("that which is perfect") came into the hands of the Church (1 Corinthians 13:10). If this verse is the only authority for saying that the age of signs and wonders has passed, then take courage fellow believers...it hasn't.
Do not conclude that I saw no value in MacArthur's book. He very appropriately addressed the presumption of many charismatics in expecting the gifts to arrive without cleanliness, consistency with scripture, compassion or a clear impression from God that He was going to operate. If we are to be endowed with power from on high, it will be in proportion to the purity of input of Christ in us. We are not given any magic wand or incontrovertible mantra.
When Jesus spoke of having faith as a grain of mustard seed he was acknowledging that the seed though small, was pure, unadulterated, unmixed. It could and it can move mountains!