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The Transitional Era of the Book of Acts and its Unique Spiritual Gifts

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Question #1:

Hi Bob,

"He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."
(John 3:29-30)

There is a very good chance that I am willed by God's sovereign plan to be obscure and completely forgotten by the time I die. Will I gladly fade into obscurity if it meant more glory for Jesus Christ?

Yes! Curse fame if it is not for God's glory.


Response #1:

As I often remark, the problem with "Church history" is that it assumes that the events / groups / personalities we know about because they are obvious to us "from history" are the important ones. But at the Judgment seat of Christ, "But many who are first will be last, and the last first." (Matt.19:30 NKJV).

Jesus knows "who we are". That is incredibly comforting in encouraging . . . for those who are really doing things His way.

See also:

Church History

Church History II

Faith vs. History, Archaeology, Philosophy

Recommended Reading

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Dr,

I pray all is well with your family and work situation. I was approached to potentially do a 6 week course on the history of the bible to include church history. If you happen to have any used materials that I could work off of, that would be appreciative. I will also look at your studies to see any literatures you recommended.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #2:

One comment on church history: the books I recommended are 1) the classic treatment from a traditional protestant denominational point of view (W. Walker) and 2) a more recent standard treatment from a more evangelical point of view (K. Latourette). While both authors are well known and well respected, church history is an academic discipline, and that is something quite different from the Bible; so while Latourette is not as liberal in his approach as Walker is, he does take an academic approach (which is by its very nature secular). The fact is, that for about the first three hundred years of the Church Age, we actually know almost nothing of what happened – outside of the time period covered by scripture. That hasn't stopped church historians from speculating or from relying on extra-biblical materials and drawing what in my view are very erroneous conclusions. The biggest mistake everyone seems to make when dealing with "church history" is to assume that what makes the newspapers, so to speak, is "church history". In truth, actual believers in Christ are the Church, and what we are doing in growing, progressing and producing for the Lord, THAT is the history of the true Church with a capital "C". The believers who were really making a difference for the Lord and what they really did for Christ after the apostles passed from the scene are almost completely unknown to us – and that is largely the case all the way through from the apostles right up to the present day. Yes there are some brothers and sisters who have become known historically who may be as great spiritually as their secular reputation suggests (though that, I believe, is a rarity, judging from what we know about present day church-visible "stars" in worldly terms). But whether or not they are great in God's eyes, the fact of their fame so as to be included in secular "church history" does not change the fact that the true history of the Church is written in the hearts of those who love and serve the Lord, and those who do so in truth do so almost exclusively out of the limelight. All will be revealed in the presence of the One we love on that great day to come.

We do, of course, have trends for the Church Age provided for us in the seven churches of Revelation chapters two and three (see the link), and these tell us much more about what has really happened (and is happening today in lukewarm Laodicea) than any church history book ever could (popes and church fathers notwithstanding).

A difficult week here. My colleague was essentially forced to retire, and now I'm scrambling to try to find someone to pick up her first year courses (we will lose the rest of her classes).

Never a dull moment – but the Lord is our Rock.

In steadfast faith in Him who is absolutely faithful, Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

What are your thoughts on local churches supporting their church members who are in financial crisis? I thought about it because of this passage:

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
(Acts 4:32-35)

I haven't came across any local churches that follows this practice. Are churches today supposed to follow what is stated in the above bible passage?

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #3:

There were many things which "actually happened" and are correctly recorded in the book of Acts which were not meant to be prescriptive or proscriptive for the whole Church in the future for all times. I wouldn't want to say that a local church should "never" function in this way, but I think it is fair to say that selling all of one's property for the sustenance of others in the local church is not workable or necessary today – and wasn't so long-term at the time in Acts either. This situation only obtained for that brief period following Pentecost when believers where ostracized and unable to work et al. in the very first days of the Church. Later, after the persecution caused the dispersion of the believers, this procedure is never followed again. Thereafter, believers are expected to work for a living.

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
2nd Thessalonians 3:10 NKJV

Certainly, there are times when other believers need help, but that is something best seen to by other individual believers. The local church exists to teach the Word of God and to support the teaching thereof. It is true that believers mutually encourage one another and mutually help one another, and it is the community we may be associated with most closely who will get our attention so that helping those in need in that community is a good and godly thing to do. Institutionalizing that as some sort of procedure is not necessarily wrong, but as with all other rule-making, it is probably a bad idea. Such things have been the death of all denominations and the downfall of most local churches.

Here are some related links:

Interpreting Historical Books of the Bible

Historical and Transitional Nature of Acts

Peter's "Learning Curve" in the Time of Transition

More on the Transitions in Acts


The Lives of the Apostles and the Writing of the New Testament I

The Lives of the Apostles and the Writing of the New Testament II

Paul the Apostle: Aspects of his Life and Ministry

The "apostle" Matthias

Apostles and Evangelism

Matthias and the Numbering of the Twelve Apostles.

The Deaths of the 12 Disciples / Apostles of Christ.

The manner of the apostle Peter's death.

Are there apostles in the Church today?

The Apostles, the Jerusalem Council, and Legalism then and now

Wishing you a happy new year in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Bob,

I want to ask if all true believers have the Holy Spirit why in Acts 8:16-17 believers in Samaria don't have the Holy Spirit until Peter and John lay hands on them?

Response #4:

Today, anyone who believes in Christ receives the Holy Spirit (e.g., Rom.8:9).

On the day of the first Pentecost of the Church, however, no one had the Spirit indwelling them until He fell upon the assembled believers in Jerusalem. That meant that there were believers elsewhere who were saved but who did not receive the Spirit because they were not in Jerusalem at that time (cf. Acts 19:2). Now God could have worked things differently. He could have caused the Spirit to indwell all believers wherever they were. But it seems that the reason He did things the way He did was so that priority would go to the Jewish believers first, to the Samaritans believers second (they are what we might term "half Jews and half gentiles; cf. Acts 15:3 where they are distinguished from gentiles), and then to the gentiles: this is the exact order of priority our Lord gives just before the ascension at Acts 1:8.

An additional reason to temporarily and initially limit the gift of the Spirit was to establish the authority of the apostles. In the early going, they had to "place hands" on those who would receive the Spirit; but as Acts 10:44 shows, that did not continue once the apostles had been sufficiently demonstrated to be the Lord's special ministers for the establishment of the Church. Later, once that divine priory has been amply satisfied, in Acts chapter ten we find the Spirit falling on those assembled in Cornelius' house the instant they believe and without any laying on of hands (Acts 10:44). That is what happens today too – albeit without the miraculous manifestations of the Spirit such as tongues. These miracles were meant as an inaugural emphasis for the Church and do not extend even all the way through the period of the apostles as the final chapters of Acts shows where no such things are present.

Acts documents the period of transition between Israel and the Church, and also the incipient period of the Church where numerous miraculous gifts are necessary in the early going because there is as yet no infrastructure of organization for the rapidly growing group of believers. The apostles were unique to that time for that reason, as was their authority and as were their powers along with many of the "sign gifts" people sometimes want to pretend they have today. In short, there are many things which happen in the book of Acts which only happened then and there for the reasons described above. For that reason, building any doctrine on things that happen in Acts or following the practices described in therein without confirmation from elsewhere in scripture that "that is how it should be" for the Church after the apostolic period is a huge mistake – one which is sadly made over and over again by those who prefer experience to truth.

Here are some links on all this:

Misinterpretations of the book of Acts

Apostolic learning curve

Historical and Transitional Nature of Acts

Peter's "Learning Curve" in the Time of Transition

More on the Transitions in Acts

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Acts 15:19-21 (NASB):
19 Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.21 For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

I wondered at first why, out of all the things that James could have decided to mention here, he decides to include "things contaminated by idols" and "what is strangled and from blood". Paul in his epistles leaves those choices down to an individual believer, but also there are so many other points on which James could have focused here.

Now I am revisiting this having written a response on this very passage, so hopefully you would consider the points below as a valid explanation:

In the Old Testament God prohibited eating of blood as a symbol of life and the sacrificial atonement that was to come in the person of Christ. Law of Moses also contained other specific dietary regulations for the Israelites to teach them through a symbolic distinction to avoid all that is unclean and sinful.

When Christ came the Law was fulfilled and is no longer in force, which also applies to the food restrictions. We are not under the Law and we are free to enjoy any food.

The edict of the Jerusalem Council was not given because the Old Covenant principles were still in force, but with the purpose of ensuring unity in the incipient church which brought the Jews and the Gentiles together. The principles given by the church leaders would help to promote peace until the Jews understood that the Law of Moses was now obsolete. The additional benefit for the Gentiles resulting from the regulations would be a complete separation from pagan practices.

The edict was based on the principle of love according to which strong believers should not offend their weaker brethren or cause them to act against their consciences. This is due to some food practices of the Gentile converts being likely to become stumbling blocks for the Jewish believers who still did not part with the Mosaic Law.

Paul later described the principle of love in detail and it still applies today, also in matters not related to food. Under certain circumstances we should choose to limit our freedom for the sake of our weaker brothers and sisters in order not to cause them to stumble.

Response #5:

This is very good indeed. I heartily agree.

Question #6:

Could you clarify Acts 15:21? What argument does James here present and how does it link to previous verses? I read the commentaries on it, but I’m still at a loss here.

Response #6:

As I see it, this is James' way of deflecting criticism to the effect that more restrictions of the Law ought to be included: that is unnecessary, he says, because those restrictions are no secret for those who want to know about them or think them important, inasmuch as there are synagogues in every major city where the Law is read weekly. This is very clever on James' part, because the obvious and unsaid conclusion is that in order to hear "the rest" one has to go to the synagogue, which is going backwards, not forwards – which is exactly what insisting on continuation with the Law is in any case.

Question #7:

Acts 16:3-4 (NASB):
3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.

How is it that Paul circumcises Timothy right after the Council of Jerusalem when circumcision was deemed unnecessary for salvation and the very next verse teaches us that “they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem”?

Response #7:

This took place during the second missionary journey. Paul also had a learning curve to climb when it came to the transition from the age of Israel to that of the Church. He also baptized with water on this journey, though later he regretted it (1Cor.1:17). He also took a vow and shaved his head, though later he would warn against such things. And in terms of circumcision, he will later tell the Galatians that they will have "fallen from grace" if they engage in the practice (Gal.5:3-6). Timothy was born of a Jewish mother and was therefore "Jewish" ethnically, so to avoid trouble for Timothy on this basis he did what he did. I'm fairly confident that some years later Paul would not have done so (cf. Gal.2:3-5). Which of us can say that we would do things today the same way we did when we were new to Christ and to the truth? I certainly hope that we have all learned things which have refined our behavior; that was true of the great believers of the Bible as well. They had to learn just as we do. They were great because they did keep learning, did keep believing the truth they had learned, and did in fact respond to that truth in the way they lived their lives and served the Lord. Rather than failing to understand this principle and repeat their early mistakes or find fault with them that they weren't perfect right out of the starting gate (or deem it impossible that they weren't), we ought to "go and do likewise" in response to what they actually did, namely, continue to GROW.

Question #8:

The NIV SB, a very useful resource which is right on many points, seems to justify Paul's decision with “expediency”.

16:3 he circumcised him. As a matter of expediency so that his work among the Jews might be more effective. This was different from Titus's case (see Gal 2:3), where circumcision was refused because some were demanding it as necessary for salvation.

Other commentators also justify this decision in one way or another, but this is where perhaps the fact that it is a historic account comes into play. If the purpose was not to offend the unbelieving Jews, which is the reason given by many commentators, then why not abandon preaching Christ too – since that also is offensive.

Response #8:

That is the correct logic for the "why" Paul circumcised Timothy. As to whether or not it was the right thing to do, Acts records what happened usually without weighing in on the right or wrong of it. The Paul of ten years later would not have done it, in my view (e.g., Gal.5:4), just as I think if he had the last Jerusalem visit to do over again he wouldn't have gone or would have refused to participate in the ceremony that resulted in his arrest (see the link: Paul's Jerusalem error).

Question #9:

Acts 16:6-7 (NASB):
6 They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them;

NIV SB: 16:7 Mysia. In the northwest part of the province of Asia. Luke uses these old Hellenistic names, but Paul preferred the provincial (Roman) names. Bithynia. A senatorial province formed after 74 BC, it was east of Mysia. Spirit of Jesus. The identification of the “Spirit of Jesus” with the “Spirit of God” (“Holy Spirit,” v. 6) is a clear indication that Jesus is truly God. Cf. Ro 8:9. not allow. The Spirit may have led in any of a number of ways: vision, circumstances, good sense or use of the prophetic gift.

It seems quite a good observation about Holy Spirit and Christ’s divinity?

Response #9:

Yes. I see the logic of it too.  It would be good to include in a treatment for believers, but I would be reluctant to use it as an apologetic argument. That is because many people wouldn't see the logic here as necessarily forcing this conclusion (even though it is correct).  I have learned from experience that if you have nine good arguments / points of evidence which prove the truth, and one weaker one, people who disagree with you will tend to ignore the nine strong points and spend all their time on the one weak one to prove you wrong.

Question #10:

Some commentators point to a textual issue here and point that “of Jesus” in Acts 16:7 may not be a part of the text here. I have checked the textual apparatus and the external evidence for including it seems very strong.

Response #10:

Yes, there is VERY little justification from the point of view of text-critical evidence for changing the reading here, even if one was inclined to want to do so for whatever reason.

Question #11:

Hello Professor,

A few questions for you.

Acts 21:20-25 (NASB)
20 And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; 21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.”

NIV SB: 21:24 purification rites. In some instances the rites included the offering of sacrifices. Such rites were observed by choice by some Jewish Christians but were not required of Christians, whether Jew or Gentile. pay their expenses. Paul's part in sponsoring these men would include (1) paying part or all of the expenses of the sacrificial victims (in this case eight pigeons and four lambs, Nu 6:9–12) and (2) going to the temple to notify the priest when their days of purification would be fulfilled so the priests would be prepared to sacrifice their offerings (v. 26). living in obedience to the law. Paul had earlier taken a vow himself (see 18:18 and note), he had been a Jew to the Jews (see 1Co 9:20–21;), and Timothy had been circumcised (see 16:3 and note). However, Paul was very careful not to sacrifice Christian principle in any act of obedience to the law (e. g., he would not have Titus circumcised, Gal 2:3).

a) Should any vows have been kept at all after our Lord's first advent? Was it not an act of coming back to the shadows of the Law, both on part of Paul (Acts 18:18) and the four men here?

b) The note seems to justify Paul's actions by saying that he was a Jew to the Jews, but was he not reverting back to the Law here?

c) Was James the spokesman in these verses? Was his understanding that the Gentiles need not keep the Law, but that the Jews should keep it? His position is hard for me to understand, on the one hand in chapter 15 he takes away the burden of keeping the Law from the Gentiles, with only a few rules to be followed, but here turns out to be agreeing with the Jewish zeal for the Law.

Response #11:

On questions a/b/c: In my opinion, Paul, having been warned by the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem was wrong to go up (see the link). Once there, he was in the uncomfortable position of an adult in the company of adolescents where the adolescents were in charge. Not that James was not a great believer or that he wouldn't eventually "get with it" as did the other apostles, but at that moment Paul may have been the only leader of the Church who truly had come to understand grace, to realize that the shadows of the Law were fading and were meant to fade, and that in that era of transition once a person had the knowledge of the truth and had believed it, going backwards was wrong. Similarly today, an immature believer getting baptized in water is understandable; someone in touch with this ministry who has grown to maturity and understands the truth would be violating their conscience to submit to such a ceremony.

So the notes are wrong, but that is not surprising. This issue of "the period of Acts as one of transition from shadows of the Law to the reality of the Spirit" seems to be generally misunderstood and unappreciated in modern evangelicaldom (as much else is as well). So while making vows may have been not so bad for those growing up in Judaism and being in Jerusalem where the reality of the change from Law to grace for believers had not yet sunk in entirely and so was not being accurately taught, because he knew better this was a BIG compromise on Paul's part – as later events seem to show. Later on, this problem among the Jewish believers of Jerusalem did not get better as rapidly as it should have – in fact it got worse. That is the reason Paul eventually had to write the book of Hebrews, and also, in my view, one major reason why the Lord removed the temple and the city itself not many years afterwards. Otherwise the Church may never have escaped from the practices of Judaism – indeed, so many want to go back to them today even so!

Keeping you in my prayers for guidance and all other things.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hello Professor,

Thank you for your words of encouragement.

As for my questions - all understood and clear, thank you very much. Would you say that James' guidelines in Acts 15 could have been correct through Spirit's guidance (Acts 15:28), but in the events described later he followed his own understanding of these things, which at that time still needed to be progressed?

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #12:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I'm happy to hear your good news.

As to "deserving", none of us deserves anything except condemnation. Everything we have is of grace, God's favor to us given on the basis of His goodness not on the basis of our merit. As those who belong to Christ, we already have eternal life, a place in the New Jerusalem, a coming resurrection body, and an eternity with the One we love in company with all of our brothers and sisters in the Church. Whether or not we get "blessing" here in this life or "cursing" as the world sees these things really makes no difference to those eternal truths, nor will we be happier there because "things went well" in this life (from our worldly point of view) or less happy because "they went poorly most of the time" (from our worldly point of view). The only effect that "good" and "bad" events have on our eternal situation has to do with how we react to them spiritually so as to grow / progress / produce more or less as a result – and of course all things "good" and "bad" are tests in and of themselves and these likewise affect growth and reward.

Think of it this way. If we were horse trainers with a very large farm and many horses of a wide range of quality and disposition, we wouldn't be concerned about past rebelliousness or races won or lost; we would be informed by the history of the horse in question, and our sole desire would be to get the most we could out of said horse; and if changing techniques could turn a loser into a winner, that is what we would do. The nags we had who were disinclined by temperament to ever race well we would just put out to pasture and let them live "good" lives without sweat or effort because, well, we love our horses, even the ones who won't race. Now with human beings, of course we have free will. So the way God sets out to train us is far more complex than this simple analogy. But I think it is fair to say on the one hand that the reason why so many genuine Christians are not having to fight through the flak that truly positive believers often experience is precisely because we who are willing to run are being trained to race even faster – and are therefore also being opposed by the evil one of course – but that too is part of the training / testing. Our lukewarm brethren are "out to pasture" unless and until they decide they decide that they want to get into the racing business; and on the other hand it is also fair to say that God's objective towards us who are willing to respond is, like the horse trainer, to get even more – to get the most out of us. This glorifies Him. This blesses us.

If we have lost races in the past, that doesn't mean we can't win in the future. And while horse racing is greatly dependent upon physical attributes no matter how great the "heart" of the horse, our fight is all about the heart. In the plan of God there is no failure that cannot be overcome, and there is no limit to the spiritual advance of which we are individually capable – except the ones we may choose to place upon ourselves – as long as we are here in this world. Each day is one day only, and each day is a fight. How well will we fight? How well will we race today? That is always the question, regardless of how well or how poorly we did yesterday. Looking at things from the Lord's point of view, the question really is how to get the most out of Bob or ___ . He knows our spiritual limits, that is, the ones we have set, and He knows how we will react if we are stretched past these limits. Even the greatest believers can be pushed too far – as in the examples of Job and Moses. But occasionally one finds an Abraham, someone who is willing to go beyond – because of total trust in God. He is 100% faithful and worthy of our absolute and complete trust. Getting to the point of digesting that truth and responding to His complete faithfulness with corresponding total faith – or as close as we can come to it – is what this life on earth after salvation is all about. And the one thing I can tell you about it is that we have to fight this fight and run this race from where we actually are RIGHT NOW, not from where we were, or where we wish we were, regardless of where we are at the moment or how we got here.

On James, there are three aspects to the letter that he and the "Jerusalem council" sent to the gentiles: 1) no meat sacrificed to idols; 2) no blood; 3) no porneia. All three of these things were staples of gentile life at the time and all were connected directly and intimately to pagan idolatry. So staying away from all three was beneficial in keeping the peace between Jewish and gentile believers at a time when the Church outside of Judea was somewhere around half and half of each. It was a fair compromise for the times. The gentiles were not required to keep the Law; the Jews were not subjected to the three things they found most offensive. We know that in truth there is nothing wrong with eating meat even if it was bought in the temple meat market – although it was not acting out of love to do so in flagrant display (1Cor.10:27-33). We know that porneia of every sort is sinful, even if legal and even if a commonplace and part of "life" in the world of that time. We know that even Noah was told to avoid blood because of its symbolism (Gen.9:4) – but of course the letter in Acts speaks of the custom of strangulation rather than slaughtering so this is a somewhat special case.

Question #13:

Hello Professor,

Although it is something that every believer knows - or at least they should - your words that the things taking place here don't influence how we will be in eternal state have brought perspective that is at times easy to lose.

Whether or not we get "blessing" here in this life or "cursing" as the world sees these things really makes no difference to those eternal truths, nor will we be happier there because "things went well" in this life or less happy because "they went poorly most of the time".

And your comparison to the horse training is simply great. It is one of the best and most helpful parallels I have ever come across. I thank you for these teachings from my heart, Professor. And for your patience.

I would have never anticipated my life would turn out as it has, but this is also something you told me early when I was saved or possibly even before that. I would also have not anticipated the tests I have been going through, but in terms of "getting most of Bob or "___, I know they are exactly the tests which I need and which are perfect. God's perfect wisdom and God's perfect knowledge of my shines through all of them.

All understood on the Jerusalem council. A question just occurred to me that somehow James got these things right at the Jerusalem council, but was wrong afterwards - that can be difficult to understand.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #13:

You're very welcome as always, my friend. And, yes, it is a battle, a fight to the finish, with no "finish line" until we see the Lord face to face. Simply put, there isn't time to worry about the past. You can't critique the game while you're still on the field. All you can do is keep playing your guts out and hope for the best. And in our case, we can be assured that God is working it all out for the best no matter what.

There is a sweet spot between lukewarm complacency that demands little to nothing of oneself and absolutist perfectionism that by its very impossibility petrifies our progress. As the Romans say, fac modo! – "just do it". We've all made a lot of mistakes if we've been in this world any length of time, and part of the encouragement we have from scripture is seeing that even the greatest believers all made serious mistakes too, but kept on plugging forward regardless. The Lord loved them even when they failed – and we know that He REALLY loved David, a man who continued to love the Lord and put Him first even after falling down. The Lord loves us too, even when we fail. Failure is normal. Recovery and aggressive forward progress in spite of failure is what is uncommon – and that is what leads to our Lord's pleasure, His glory, and our great reward.

On James, I would say rather that in the first instance (the Jerusalem counsel) he wasn't wrong, and in the second instance (his conversation with Paul) he wasn't yet learned enough on this important issue of the transition to be right. Paul was and yet did not act accordingly – and that was at the heart of the problem.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

On Amos 5:26 and Acts 7:43, I'm still at a loss. Could you briefly explain these two points which Meyer makes?

The reason for the Septuagint's odd translation is twofold:

1) In the Masoretic text, the Hebrew words "tabernacle" and "pedestal" are spelled normally as to their consonants, but as to the vowel points (which are all later than the consonantal text), instead of using the correct pronunciation, the later scribes in both cases supplied the vowels appropriate to the word shiqutz or "abomination". This is a very familiar device in the Old Testament, employed both to avoid pronouncing the name of the pagan deity and also to degrade all such mentions of idolatry (cf. beelzebub in place of Ba'al Zabhul: "lord of flies" instead of Ba'al the Lofty, as Thomas Kelly Cheyne has pointed out; see also A. Fruchtenbaum on this). This alteration of the vowel points, a scribal euphemism to avoid blasphemy, was apparently confusing to the translators of the Septuagint.

2) The word "pedestal" begins with the letter chaph ("ch"), a consonant which is very close in the old Semitic script to the letter rhesh ("r"). Confused by the spelling in the text of his Hebrew exemplar, the LXX translator was probably reminded of the name of the pagan god "Rephan" (i.e., prob. "Saturn") in some variation so that this is what he wrote (but again we have him copying the degrading vowel points of shiqutz: "Riyphun").

I can't work out how one can take Amos 5:26 and arrive at what Stephen says in Acts 7:43. Should we in any case take Stephen's words as inspired?

Response #14:

Acts records what Stephen – a great man of God – actually said; since this is part of a speech in Acts, I wouldn't, therefore, use the passage to authorize the Septuagint's emendation of the Hebrew MT at Amos 5:26. Stephen is following the Septuagint: the paragraphs you quoted demonstrate how the LXX got what they got from the MT (I can explain that further, if you like, but it's not important for the interpretation of either passage).

Question #15:

Ok, understood. I thought that maybe the fact that Stephen used the Septuagint reading in his speech means that it is inspired and that's where I was struggling. But if we assume that there could have been some errors present, then there is no issue. I know that Acts is a historical book, but I wasn't sure how to take this particular speech.

Response #15:

On Stephen, if you or I were giving a speech in a dire circumstance such as this, I think we could likewise be forgiven for paraphrasing or quoting a version we knew that wasn't 100% accurate to the original languages and also for not adding verbal footnotes. The Holy Spirit quotes the words precisely – from Stephen. And he certainly made his point. Using the quote for something for which it was never meant is a poor method.

Question #16:

Professor - let me give you a positive report and I know it's something you have seldom been get from me as I have often been despairing over my own unfaithfulness. When I was abroad our two friends again and we had a wonderful time together. Although we did catch up when it comes to what is going on in our lives, we spoke mainly about things spiritual. Only with believers is such fellowship possible. They have been listening to Curt's lessons (Bible Academy) and, although this is more challenging for them for language reasons, they are now reading ichthys also and have completed Peter's series. They are growing now, and that is encouraging since under the teacher that they listened to in the past - pastor Chris Oyakhilome - this was not possible.

Also, I was going through Guthrie’s discussion of the speeches in Acts and wanted to find out your take on this. As always, many references given proceed from a low level of inspiration, but there are also those who do acknowledge the inspired character of the book and Luke’s writing and provide a few views on this issue. Are the speeches exact quotations of the words spoken by different people throughout the book or are they rather Luke’s summaries of these speeches and can this view be maintained if we believe his writing to be inspired?

Response #16:

I'm also thrilled, of course, to hear the good news about our friends. They have been on my prayer list for some time as well, so I am cheering all this news.

On your question regarding speeches in Acts, books have been written about this topic (which I have never had the patience to read in toto). As I am sure you are aware, going back to Homer there is a longstanding tradition to put speeches into action narratives, speeches which (in the absence of documents), the writer "made up". So for example there are speeches in Thucydides' History, and the nature of the Greek makes it very clear that the principles did not deliver these speeches verbatim in the way Thucydides presents them. But T says very clearly in his introduction words to the effect "they speak as appropriate", meaning, T was aware of the historical circumstances and the nature of the debate, and in some cases was present and in others was able to interview witnesses. Given his qualification, this means that the gist can be taken as authentic though not the form. Luke, on the other hand, says that he researched everything anothen, which, while it could mean "from the beginning (theoretically), actually is a claim of divine inspiration (meaning, "from above").

Now there is nothing that the Spirit cannot do. The Spirit without effort could have given Luke the exact words used in any case. But take, for example, the letter from Claudius Lysias to Felix the governor. In that case Luke says "the letter was according to the following manner (typos)" – which seems to be a qualification to say this was the gist / translation: not a guess but inspired rendering of the substance of what was written (no doubt in Latin). So Luke doesn't give the Latin (or in other cases the Hebrew or Aramaic), but he does claim that he investigated everything thoroughly and had divine help (inspiration – anothen: Lk.1:3).

Does this mean that Greek speeches in Acts are verbatim as recorded? It may. And if it does not, it does mean that what we have been given has been vetted by God Himself for accuracy of sense and for our benefit (not having thirty pages but a paragraph, for example, in the case of long speeches – and most speeches were probably actually longer than the ones recorded in Acts). So the difference, if there is one, between the verbatim transcript and the inspired biblical account is not a truly significant one that should concern a Christian who is after the truth. It is, however, one of those "documentary" questions which has a tendency to exercise scholars and (if not carefully and correctly appraised) send the average layman into a tizzy. But it shouldn't. If you tell me, "I'm off to the grocery store" and someone asks me what you said and I report "He said he was going to the market" have I lied or given a misleading account? Not at all. And the longer your speech, the less I'm am likely to include in interest of accuracy and pithiness. If we can accept this as true testimony – even in a court of law under oath – how much more so when the Holy Spirit is making sure for us that the sense is absolutely correct!

The most important thing is that such questions and their consideration not be allowed to diminish a believer's respect for the Bible as the absolute Word of God, perfect in its inspiration in every way, guaranteed by God the Holy Spirit Himself.

Question #17:

Hello Dr.

Sitting in my motel room getting ready to start the day up here I find myself in need of a bit of spiritual guidance concerning my spiritual gift and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Years ago in college I took a spiritual gifts test and the result was "prophet". However, I had enough spiritual sense to know this was incorrect according to scripture. Over time I came to see that my main gift was one of exhortation, with mercy a close second. I understand this mixture because as one who is exhorting the church to study, believe, and apply the scriptures, and encourage the lost to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, it's easy for the exhortation to get a little intense and the mercy tends to take the edge off. The thing is, I'm usually very good at controlling myself with the exception of trying to wake up the sleeping church. There are times (not always) when trying to wake up a lukewarm brother or sister that I seem to lose control of my presentation. Everything I say makes perfect sense and is accurate according to scripture, but I can become very intense ( never in a hateful or judgmental way, ( with the exception of false teachers from time to time) but in a way that seems to offend our brothers and sisters in Christ. I tell myself I need to tone it down in these situations, but before you know it, there I go again, and the only way I can explain it is that it feels like a loss of control. Can this be The Holy Spirit taking control of me to get His message through? You know I'm no charismatic, but I know God can use His vessels any way He chooses. So maybe when I'm intending the volume to be soft, He's turning it up because He knows it needs to be louder?

Your insight on this matter is greatly appreciated, as always.

Thanks for all you do.


Response #17:

I hope things are going as well as can be expected for you. Apologies for the delay. Difficult time (I had to spend a lot of time this weekend working the "work" problems, and Saturday is posting day as well). As to your question, here is what I read in scripture:

And the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.
1st Corinthians 14:32

I also read this:

If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
2nd Corinthians 5:13 NIV

The first passage indicates that even in those situations where "prophetic ecstasy" or the equivalent is rising, we do have the ability (and the obligation) to control it as appropriate. The second passage indicates that this control is something done out of love for the benefit of the recipients of our ministrations. I'm sure I'm not perfect in this either, but I do try to model my responses to the perceived ability of the recipient to "get" and also to be able to "take" what I'm trying to say – not to the point of compromising the truth in the least way, but in an effort to get the best hearing for the truth I can. It takes practice and I still have a lot to learn too. But it sounds to me as if your zeal for the Lord is genuine, and that you are merely about the business of fine-tuning an already very good approach.

Keeping you and yours in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Robert,

Thank you for your response. It was filled with the spirit of a sound mind and love God bless you. I wanted to ask, is there any biblical examples of sleep paralysis? I have experienced it myself countless times but some people say they see demons or some sort of being?

Thank you

Response #18:

I can't think of anything of this sort in scripture.

I always advise Christians to take all dreams with a grain of salt. The ones recorded in the Bible as giving prophetic teaching to prophets are very few and far between. What they do tell us is that if God means to talk to someone directly He leaves not a shred of doubt about the fact of it. So in all unclear cases, we ought not to take anything from a dream that we have not already taken from the Bible.

One other thing to note is that the more we are "walking with Him", the more our dreams tend to reflect that, but we shouldn't think that God is trying to tell us something we do not already know through them – that's why we have the Bible, after all.

Here's a pertinent link which will lead to others: "Interpreting Dreams and Analyzing Prophetic Claims"

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Do you tell Prophetic interpretations (Genesis 40:8) freely (Matthew 10:8)?

Response #19:

Dear Friend,

All studies posted at Ichthys are made freely available to any visitor and are available for anonymous download. I do ask users to adhere to the copy policy at the link: "About Ichthys".

As to your question in regard to Genesis 40:8, I do not have any gift of interpreting dreams. God is free to do anything He pleases, clearly, and He did give to Joseph and Daniel, among others, this special ability on specific occasions, but it is very rare in scripture and these instances of interpreting someone else' dreams are not repeated in the New Testament. So if there were any such gift given in the early days of the Church (before the completion of the canon; cf. 1Cor13:8ff., and see the link), it seems clear that it must have now ceased (see the link: "Interpreting Dreams and Analyzing Prophetic Claims").

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:


I want to ask what is speaking in languages and its necessary for believers? I think it's just that we can speak in multiple languages, but I'm confused about 1Cor.14:2. Can you please explain me?

Response #20:

I think you are referring to what we call in English "speaking in tongues" which is recorded for the first time in Acts chapter two and treated by Paul extensively in 1st Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen.

There is a great deal of confusion on this topic, but you are correct that in the Bible "tongues" are genuine human languages, and the gift of tongues involved empowering believers to be able to speak a language they did not know in order to give the gospel to others whose language they did not otherwise speak (Acts two makes this very clear). That gift ceased to be given early on in the apostolic period, and what charismatic groups call "tongues" today is anything but actual speaking in tongues: mouthing gibberish without meaning, rather than speaking actual languages with spiritual content. I have written a great deal on this subject; the latest link is "The Gift of Tongues: Part 3" (and it will lead you to many others).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Bob,

"For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries in the Spirit."
(1 Cor. 14:2)

Paul says that

1. Tongues are for communication to God, not unbelievers.
2. Nobody understands the tongues, even though it is possible to get an interpreter later.

Response #21:

With that incorrect translation ("understands" is unacceptable for akouei, e.g., which means "hear", cf. acoustic), without explanation, and taking the verse out of context (with verse one in particular) it might be possible to come to these two conclusions – but they clearly are precisely contrary to what Paul says in the prior two chapters and later on in this chapter two. Here is the operative part of a explanation with expanded translation from the site:

In 1st Corinthians 14:2 Paul is not, in fact, either authorizing or describing "private use of tongues", but is instead presenting his opening salvo for correcting the abuse of the public use of tongues in the Corinthian church. Here is my expanded translation of that verse:

The reason I say this (i.e., in v.1, that you should rather desire gifts that give content such as prophecy) is that a person who speaks [by the Spirit] in a language [not otherwise known to him or his listeners] is speaking not to people (i.e., since his audience doesn't in that case understand the language he's speaking) but to God (who understands everything). For [in such a case] no one is listening to him (i.e., no one is going to even pay attention to a person speaking in another language they don't speak, let alone gain any edification from the experience), but he is speaking by the Spirit (i.e., he himself doesn't even understand the sounds he's making) mysteries (i.e., things that can't be understood without an interpreter).
1st Corinthians 14:2

Thus 1st Corinthians 14:2 is describing the situation Paul is remonstrating against throughout the rest of the chapter, namely, the inappropriate use of the gift of tongues at a gathering of believers. In that context, "no one is listening" – that is what the Greek says (Darby and Young are the only two version I know of who don't mis-translate the verb akouo here as "understand"). The big problem with the false rendering is not that the meaning is so different but that "understand" implies a more general application (i.e., anyone, anywhere, at any time), whereas if I say "and no one is listening to him" (the actual Greek), the phrase can be rightly taken for what it actually is, namely, the situation in these assemblies where individuals were speaking in tongues without an interpreter (i.e., "at that time" or "in this situation"). As this interpretation jibes with everything else Paul has to say about tongues in this context and everywhere else while the generalized "no one understands" (meaning, it is not possible to understand under any circumstances) does not, the former is much to be preferred to the latter.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

I think of all the books in the NT, First Corinthians is the one I understand least and the ones where translations harm instead of help.

Response #22:

Faulty translation is a problem throughout the scriptures, but I would agree that historically there has been more of this in Paul's epistles than anywhere else. No doubt that is at least in part because, as Peter says, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood" (2Pet.3:16a KJV).

This is an important point to remember in regard to translation. All translation is interpretation, but if the person doing the translating doesn't understand precisely the meaning of what he/she is translating, we are obviously going to have not just an inelegant translation but an actually incorrect one. Paul is "hard to understand" for a number of reasons, but one of them is that most who try to translate him don't really "get" the basics of the theology he is assuming in writing his letters; he can leave many things unsaid and unexplained because he has previously taught the principles behind what he now writes and has explained them to most or many of the recipients on prior occasions in person and at length. We do not have that benefit, so we have to reconstruct everything "between the lines" and from other portions of scripture.

Blessedly, there is one unified "truth", one true "theology" which, when understood correctly, will help us to be guided to an understanding of particular points in Paul's epistles as elsewhere in scripture. I like to think of this process – when being done in the correct way – of closing in on the truth by approaching it in an ever tightening circle until we arrive at the center. When done the wrong way, however, those who proceed with an incorrect method (of which there are a plethora) are spinning farther and farther away from the truth with each revolution.

1st Corinthians is difficult in many places for many additional reasons, not the least of which is our ignorance of what had previously happened at Corinth – apart from what we can glean from the letter itself (and from Acts and 2nd Corinthians). For my money, 2nd Corinthians has always been the one I have found to have the most passages which are difficult to translate accurately.

But all things yield to work – if one is diligent and perseveres in doing things the right way under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

The subject of speaking in tongues has stirred up a bunch or debates in Christianity. I understood it as speaking in an earthly language as in Acts 2. Some denominations such as Pentecostals and Charismatics are adamant that there is another language, and it is a heavenly language. And they use this passage to back it up:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
(1 Corinthians 13:1)

They also use this verse to back up their teaching of speaking in tongues:

I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
(1 Corinthians 14:18)

For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
(1 Corinthians 14:2)

They would say that since no man understand what the person speaking in tongues are saying, then it must be a heavenly language. Or they will say, how else would angels communicate to each other in heaven?

I visited a church once and sat in the first row on the pews. And the Pastor kept walking back and forth speaking in tongues. I had no clue as to what he was saying. But I had an odd feeling that something wasn't right.

Does the bible actually teach that there is a language of angels, or is speaking in tongues merely human languages? Thanks in advance!

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #23:

I have written a lot about this subject as you probably know. I will give you some links below, but I do need to tell you that Ichthys is having some problems because of my host company's difficulties in migrating it over to a secure protocol (so the links may or may not work right away).

1st Corinthians 13:1: Paul is speaking here in a hypothetical, clearly. He does NOT speak all human languages so we should not assume from this statement that he speaks ANY angelic language. We have no idea what language(s) angels have or how they communicate except from what may be gleaned in scripture – and in the Bible, when they appear, they always speak in Hebrew or Greek so as to be understood. And THAT is the key point about the gift of tongues: it is given with the purpose of being understood and NOT to be not understood. But today, everything that passes for tongues is gibberish as far as the ear can hear. Even in Paul's discussion of the issue in these chapters in 1st Corinthians (12-14), it is clear from a casual reading that NOT being understood was the very PROBLEM he was addressing, and that is why he gives the command for NO speaking in tongues "unless someone interprets" (1Cor.14:5), that is, has the gift of interpretation or otherwise knows the human language that the person is speaking in. Because the actual, biblical gift of tongues ALWAYS results in speaking a real human language . . . for the purpose of evangelizing.

"Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"
Acts 2:7-11 NIV

So this passage, 1st Corinthians 13:1, only does not say on the face of it that any human being has ever had the ability to speak in an angelic language but also does not even prove that there even are discrete angelic languages. There may well be, and that is a fair deduction (only) from the passage, but there is nothing here to suggest that people have ever had this gift, even in the 1st century when the actual gift of tongues was actually being given – that would be difficult to explain, moreover, since angels need no evangelizing. The true gift is no longer being given today, as far as I can tell, for never has anyone who has claimed to have seen this gift ever been able to produce any verifiable evidence of someone speaking, e.g., Swahili, without ever having studied it. In an age where everything is captured on cell phones, it's really incredible that such a phenomenon would be happening "all the time" yet never ever have been validated even one time.

1st Corinthians 14:2: Getting the translation correct and expanding it to demonstrate the context helps here:

The reason I say this (i.e., in v.1, that you should rather desire gifts that give content such as prophecy) is that a person who speaks [by the Spirit] in a language [not otherwise known to him or his listeners] is speaking not to people (i.e., since his audience doesn't in that case understand the language he's speaking) but to God (who understands everything). For [in such a case] no one is listening to him (i.e., no one is going to even pay attention to a person speaking in another language they don't speak, let alone gain any edification from the experience), but he is speaking by the Spirit (i.e., he himself doesn't even understand the sounds he's making) mysteries (i.e., things that can't be understood without an interpreter).
1st Corinthians 14:2

Thus 1st Corinthians 14:2 is describing the situation Paul is remonstrating against throughout the rest of the chapter, namely, the inappropriate use of the gift of tongues at a gathering of believers. In that context, "no one is listening" – that is what the Greek says (Darby and Young are the only two version I know of who don't mis-translate the verb akouo here as "understand" – which is dead wrong and unparalleled in Greek). The big problem with the false rendering is not that the meaning is so different but that "understands" implies a more general application (i.e., anyone, anywhere, at any time = "no one CAN understand"), whereas if I say "and no one is listening to him" (the actual Greek), the phrase can be rightly taken for what it actually is, namely, the situation in these assemblies where individuals were speaking in tongues without an interpreter (i.e., "at that time" or "in this situation"). As this interpretation jibes with everything else Paul has to say about tongues in this context and everywhere else while the generalized "no one understands" does not, the former is much to be preferred to the latter (especially since the word never means "understands").

1st Corinthians 14:2: In Sinaiticus, the queen of the manuscripts, the correct reading is singular, "tongue". Even in the plural, we would need to understand this statement generically (i.e., "speaking in tongues" is not even taken by tongues-speakers to mean "multiple tongues"), so there would be no evidence even in that case for Paul speaking in more than one language he didn't study, but as it is, it is singular so there is no warrant here to say anything more than that he had the actual gift – but what is his bottom line?

But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
1st Corinthians 14:19 NIV

Isn't that exactly the opposite of what you witnessed?

It's possible to twist any passage of scripture to have it say what a person wants. But all anyone needs to do to find the truth is to read in any English version (even with the errors of translation) the entirety of these three chapters, and it will be obvious that Paul is encouraging edification through understanding the truth and not condoning babbling in sounds that no one can understand – in fact, just the opposite.

The gift of tongues is not being given today. What passes for it is a fraud. Stay away from places where people play these games. If they can pretend that they are being used of the Spirit when it is all a sham, what else might they pretend in their flippant lack of respect for the truth?

Here are those links, again, with the caveat that they may be unavailable for a little while [problem long since solved as of posting]:

The Gift of Tongues: Part 3

The Gift of Tongues: Part 2

The Gift of Tongues: Part 1

Dreams, Visions, Miracles, Exorcism, Tongues, and False Prophets

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hi Dr,

I hope all is well with you and your family. I had a lively discussion with some pentecostals here. As you know, I have not been raised up under any specific denomination. They said that there is a difference between "baptism of the Holy Spirit" vs being filled with the Holy Spirit". I disagree and we had a long discussion around that. What is your take on baptism vs filled and can you provide some linguistic background to it.

The following verse is what they have given me Lk 11:13 which they states means the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience separate and apart from the initial salvation experience and is always recieved after one is saved.

Here are some additional verses: 1 Cor. 14:39, Isa 28:12, 1 Cor 14:14 and Rom 8:1-2. They even state the gifts mention in 1 cor 12 comes with baptism of the Spirit and teaching and pastorial doesn't. I totally disagree and gave them some scriptural basis on why teaching and pastoring is a gift and more important than healing and miracles. It seems to me this sort of teaching teaches that there a special class of believers and in order to get to this higher echelon you need to be baptized vs filled with the Spirit.

Your insight for my own edification is much appreciated and i will do some studying on my own as well.

Hi Dr., as an addendum to my earlier email, I believe the Lord during this phase of my growth is increasing my discernment in all things. I have noticed I have been approached with different types of issues that addressed different aspect of the walk to help me discern the truths. First it was constant bombardment of recruiting from muslims, then it was you are not saved unless you show evidence of speaking in tongues, then it was issue of church division and unity in the body, cults, now issue of denominational variances within the church. I have been hit with more issues around faith, the word and the bible in 3 months I have been here than the 4 years since I recommitted my life to the LORD. Amazing. But it doesn't come all at once and different topics.

With each of these and others instance I defend the word of God but still have to research His word and listen to the spirit to find other truths that I was wrestling with. Your emails have also helped along with constantly studying the word.

Does the Holy Spirit impart spiritual discernment at different levels of your walk or is it that you can tune in better because of diligent study or is it a combination of both?

Thank you for all you do.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #24:

Yes, I have no doubt but that the Lord is preparing you for greater ministry by exposing you to all of these false views. This experience (which I too went through over many years) has a number of positive effects: 1) It inoculates you to various dangerous groups and viewpoints which can be quite persuasive and seductive to the uninitiated, especially for anyone coming into contact with them at a low point in their lives when they are especially vulnerable: their zeal in particular is attractive, but truth is more important than emotion, obviously; 2) It gives you some idea of the "avenues of attack" these groups use so that you will be better able to fend them off personally but also and even more importantly have a better idea of how to defend your sheep once the Lord puts a flock under your charge; 3) It forces you to learn certain aspects of biblical doctrine better including the foundational scriptures where they are taught and the reasons why these verses must mean what they mean and not what others falsely claim that they mean. So it is all for the good – for a person who has the necessary "right stuff"; it is clear that you do, meaning that this is an important part of the gift of pastor-teacher which you have been given in grace by the Lord.

As to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I will give you same basics here, but I am also going commend a full reading of BB 5A Pneumatology (at the link).

The first thing to note and dogmatically so is that the claim that the gift of the Spirit is something separate from salvation is a very dangerous lie with absolutely no biblical support. The only verses that can be adduced in support all come from the book of Acts. We have spoken before about how the book of Acts is a divinely inspired biblical record but that this does NOT mean that everything everyone does and says is 100% biblical, and there are also very many things that happen uniquely in the book of Acts because it was a unique time of transition between Age of Israel and the incipient Church Age. So, for example, while Philip was picked up by the Spirit and transported many miles supernaturally at one point (Acts 8:39-40), there is no indication that such a thing ever happened before or since – it's certainly not happening today, and any group wanting to claim that without such an experience a person is not saved would be insane. But how would that be any different from claiming that other things unique to the time of transition from Israel to the Church are necessary for salvation, etc.? It wouldn't be and it isn't. When the day of the first Pentecost of the Church occurred, there were already believers in the world who, and not just in Jerusalem, who did not receive the Spirit at Pentecost. These believers for the most part also didn't know anything about the new dispensation of grace and very little about the Person and work of Jesus Christ (even the disciples betray weakness here before Christ's resurrection). So the Church just getting started needed to have specially gifted Apostles to organize things and to spread the detailed knowledge of the truth now revealed in Christ (and there are no more after the 12 of them, not with a "capital A" at any rate) and needed to have their authority established to do so (special gifts being important for both objectives, including their initial mediating of the gift of the Spirit). Those two factors explain how at that brief moment in history and for a few years only there was sometimes a temporary disparity between being saved and having the Spirit. But here is what Paul says only a few years after those early days in Acts:

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Romans 8:9 NKJV

Having the Spirit is having the Spirit; having the Spirit dwelling in you is having the Spirit dwelling in you. All believers, according to scripture, have the Spirit dwelling in them. That is half of "the baptism of the Spirit" and specifically that "baptism with the Spirit" or the gift of the Spirit who anoints all when they believe (from the early days of Acts onward; cf. Acts 10:1ff.); the other half of this gift is "the baptism by the Spirit" wherein He makes us one with Jesus Christ so that we are "in Christ" and part of His Body the Church – and by definition of course all believers have this as well. When a person believes from the time at least of Acts 10 onward, that person is immediately indwelt by the Spirit and made one with Christ. That is "the baptism of the Spirit" (the general term "of" including both parts, i.e., the "with" and the "by").

During the early days of the Church there were also special gifts which have now "ceased" (1Cor.13:1ff.); those gifts were helpful in getting the Church started in a time when there was not already in place a large cadre of men gifted AND prepared to minister the Word of God. As you yourself can attest, such preparation is time-consuming and cannot be speeded up past a certain point – not to be done right, anyway. So some were given prophecy, some wisdom, some tongues, etc. But not everyone had every gift, certainly not tongues (1Cor.12:30). The other problem for the charismatics is that tongues – a gift no longer being given – was a real language (cf. what happens in Acts 2); it was the gift of being able to speak a language you hadn't learned in order to evangelize people who spoke that language; it could also be used to edify the local church IF there was someone there who had the gift of interpretation, that is, being able to understand languages he hadn't studied. The point is that a "tongue" is a language. So any time some charismatic claims the gift, the easiest thing is to ask him/her what the language is he/she has been given. They don't know? Someone will know and it will be easy enough to find out . . . if it is really a language and not babbling – but nowadays it is always babbling and never a languages – i.e., it is NOT really the gift of tongues.

There are a lot of ins and outs here. I'm happy to answer any specific questions; there is also a lot of positive info in BB 5A, but not a lot of apologetic stuff, so for further debunking you may write me back and I'll try to get to you quickly.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

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