The gifts of the Spirit appear to have ceased with the death of the Apostles (including Paul) as they were the only ones who could pass on the gifts by the laying of hands. For example:

“These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.” (Acts 6:6)

“And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.” (Acts 19:6).

“For this reason I [Paul] remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).

In Acts 8,  we find that Simon tried to buy this power of passing on the Spirit but found that it was something only the apostles could do.:

“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:18-19).

The Apostle Paul said that the gifts would finish, in 1 Corinthians 13:8:

“Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”

The Spirit gifts were given for a purpose — to help convince people that the gospel message was true (Mark 16:15,17-18) and establish the early Christian church (Eph. 4:8-14). Once Christianity was established (Eph. 4:13 — ‘mature’, perfect), the gifts passed away (1 Cor. 13:10).

We don’t need the Spirit gifts today because we have the full revelation of God in the Bible to guide us (2Tim. 3:16-17) — it has everything we need to make us ‘competent, equipped for every good work’. In the times of the New Testament, they only had the Old Testament and a few of the books of the New Testament as they were written. When the Bible was finally completed, the gifts ceased to be.

In Hebrews 6:4-5, the author speaking of the Spirit gifts says that they were a taste of the powers of the age to come:

“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come …”.

So we can expect a new age of Spirit gifts when Jesus returns and establishes his kingdom.

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22 Responses to Have the Holy Spirit gifts died out?

  1. Jeff Bramlett says:

    What to you make of these writings then:

    Justin Martyr – 150 A.D.
    Justin Martyr wrote an apologetic to Typhro the Jew: “If you want proof that the Spirit of God, who was with your people and left you to come to us, come into our assemblies and there you will see Him cast out demons, heal the sick, and hear Him speak in tongues and prophesy.”

    Irenaeus – 115-202 A.D.:
    Irenaeus was a pupil of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John. He wrote in his book “Against Heresies”, Book V, vi.: “In like manner do we also hear many brethren in the church who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light, for the general benefit, the hidden things of men and declare the mysteries of God, who also the apostles term spiritual.”
    “Those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ], and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years…. The name of our Lord Jesus Christ even now confers benefits [upon men], and cures thoroughly and effectively all who anywhere believe on Him. ”
    Ante Nicene Fathers, vol 1, Irenaeus Against Heresies, bk 2, chp 32, sec 4, pg 847.

    Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, writes: “Whoever was baptised in apostolic days, he straightway spoke with tongues, for since on their coming over from idols, without any clear knowledge or training in the Scriptures, they at once received the Spirit, not that they saw the Spirit, for He is invisible, but God’s grace bestowed some sensible proof of His energy, and one straightway spoke in the Persian language, another in the Roman, another in the Indian, another in some other tongues, and this made manifest to them that were without that it was the Spirit in the very person speaking.

  2. Dave Burke says:

    Jeff, your alleged quote from Justin Martyr is spurious. It was attributed to him by Francis Sitwell in “The Purpose of God in Creation and Redemption. And the Successive Steps for Manifesting the Same in and by the Church” (available here: http://tinyurl.com/2ec3t8t), but appears nowhere in Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho.

    The quote from Irenaeus (Against Heresies, Book V, vi; available here: http://tinyurl.com/2cvzfkv) does not contradict anything Sandro has said. Irenaeus lived in a period that would have overlapped with the lives of the remaining Christians who still possessed Holy Spirit gifts. Of course, this does not prove they are still available today.

    The quote from Chrysostom (Homily XXIX, available here: http://tinyurl.com/29vlkgu) does not contradict Sandro either. Note that Chrysostom refers to “apostolic days” (not his own) and speaks in the past tense. In the same place he refers to “their cessation” and says they “used to occur but now no longer take place.”

    Thus Chrysostom is not claiming that the Holy Spirit gifts were still available, but instead confirms that they had ceased.

  3. Jeff Bramlett says:

    The same author as you link has says this:

    “This is a point we particularly call attention to. Men say that the manifestation of the prescence and power of the Holy Ghost in the church was only for the confirming pf the mission of Jesus Christ, and that of His apostles; and that, when that purpose was accomplished, those manifestations were to sease; but they only reason thus because they have forgotton the gospel of the kingdom; and, moreover, this is asserted in the face of all evidence, that there manifestations did not cease till three centuries after, when the Church formed its first alliance with the kings of the earth.” The Purpose of God in Creation and Redemption. And the Successive Steps for … By Francis Sitwell pp 34,35

    Is this also spurious from Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho?
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.iv.lxxxii.html
    “For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time. And hence you ought to understand that [the gifts] formerly among your nation have been transferred to us. And just as there were false prophets contemporaneous with your holy prophets, so are there now many false teachers amongst us, of whom our Lord forewarned us to beware; so that in no respect are we deficient, since we know that He foreknew all that would happen to us after His resurrection from the dead and ascension to heaven.”

  4. Dave Burke says:

    Jeff, I am not interested in Sitwell’s opinion; I am only interested in Biblical and historical evidence.

    Your quote from Justin Martyr is legitimate, of course. I agree that the Holy Spirit gifts were still operating in his era.

    In his Second Apology (chapter 6), Justin writes “For numberless demoniacs throughout the whole world, and in your city, many of our Christian men exorcising them in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, have healed and do heal, rendering helpless and driving the possessing devils out of the men, though they could not be cured by all the other exorcists, and those who used incantations and drugs” (http://tinyurl.com/2bw5w5a).

    Like Irenaeus, Justin lived in a period which overlapped with the lives of the remaining Christians who possessed Holy Spirit gifts. However, this does not prove they are available at the present time.

  5. Jeff Bramlett says:

    Biblical evidence is that there are gifts And there is the manifestation of the spirit. (one is not identical to the other) . See comments at: http://bibleq.info/answer/53/comment-page-1/#comment-703

    A manifestation of the spirit is available if one has the spirit. I do not believe that God has withheld the spirit, the promise of the Father, after the apostles died.

  6. Jeff Bramlett says:

    I do not dismiss someones work (Francis Sitwell) lightly. Nor do I take whatever someone says at face value.

    There are some very serious students of ecclesiastical history which show agreement with Sitwell. When it comes to history, opinions are valuable, especially those opinions of learned men.

    “In the course of the second century, this original spontaneity of utterance died away. It may almost be said to have died a violent death. The dominant parties in the Church set their faces against it. The survivals of it in Asia Minor were formally condemned. The Montanists, as they were called, who tried to fan the lingering sparks of it into a flame, are ranked among heretics. And Tertullian is not even admitted into the calendar of the Saints because he believed the Montanists to be right.

    It was inevitable that it should be so. The growth of a confederation of Christian communities necessitated the definition of a basis of confederation. Such a definition, and the further necessity of guarding it, was inconsistent with that free utterance of the Spirit which had existed before the confederation began. Prophesying died when the Catholic Church was formed.
    In place of prophesying came preaching.” Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages Upon the Christian Church” by Edwin Hatch, Page 106, 107

    Edwin Hatch, is renowed, and very respected, and he shows agreement with Sitwell. I, for one, cannot dismiss Sitwell, or Hatch, on the basis of “opinion”, the other historians bearing agreement also (Harnack for instance).

  7. Jeff Bramlett says:

    Just to be certain . . .

    Tertullian is recognized as a very learned man, and so was Origen. Thier lives did not “overlap” with the apostles. Here are their quotes with the references as well as the years of thier lives.

    Tertullian ca. 160 – ca. 220 A.D
    Tert. ad.Scap., c. iv. p. 71;
    All these things might be suggested to thee, both by thine own duty, and by those very advocates, who themselves feel the good services of the Christians, though they cry out against us as they list: for the secretary of a certain man, when he was thrown down by a devil, was delivered from it, as was also a kinsman and a little boy belonging to certain others. And how many honorable persons(for I speak not of common men) have been healed either of devils or of infirmities! Even Severus himself, the father of Antoninus, was mindful of the Christians.

    Origen  185–254 A.D.
    Orig. in Cel 1ii
    We have to say, moreover, that the gospel has a demonstration of its own, more divine than any established by Grecian dialectics. And this diviner method is called by the apostle the “manifestation of the Spirit and of power:” of “the Spirit,” on account of the prophecies, which are sufficient to produce faith in any one who reads them especially in those things which relate to Christ; and of “power,” because of the signs and wonders which we must believe to have been performed, both on other grounds, and on this, that traces of them are still preserved among those who regulate their lives by the precepts of the gospel

  8. Dave Burke says:

    Jeff,

    Tertullian certainly believed that some gifts were still operating in his day, but his was a minority view, strongly influenced by his adoption of the Montanist heresy. It is significant that Tertullian’s belief in the continuation of the gifts was almost universally rejected at the time.

    Edwin Hatch’s account of Tertullian’s experience is highly subjective (a result of his own personal theology), but even he did not believe that the Holy Spirit gifts continued to the modern era. Note his claim that “Prophesying died when the Catholic Church was formed.”

    Origen apparently believed that the gifts were still available (Contra Celsum 1:67, 2:8, 7:3-4, 7:8-11) but unlike Justin Martyr he had no personal experience of them, and was reliant on second- and third-hand reports. This is not sufficient to prove their continuation.

    The apostle Paul himself said that the Holy Spirit gifts would eventually cease:

    I Corinthians 13:8 (NET Bible)
    Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside.

    This prediction has been vindicated by history. No Christian in the present era has ever successfully demonstrated a Holy Spirit gift of any kind. They were withdrawn nearly 2,000 years ago.

  9. Jeff Bramlett says:

    Apparantly then the “gifts” were in operation After the Apostles were long dead.

    Discounting Hatch (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Hatch) is to miss his point altogther.

    The biblical crux of your postion appears to be that in regards to this scripture:

    1Cr 13:10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

    You are making an interpolation that the “perfect” in this verse is the canon, since these things must be until that “perfect” is come.

    The statement of yours “This prediction has been vindicated by history. No Christian in the present era has ever successfully demonstrated a Holy Spirit gift of any kind. They were withdrawn nearly 2,000 years ago.” necessitates a Full knowledge of history for the past 2000 years, this is a very large assumption! It is as well a claim of knowing all that God has done during this 2000 years.

    As another note: When did it become reasonable to use the actions of men over time (a.k.a. history) to interpret the words and will of God?

  10. Jeff Bramlett says:

    The arguments presented for the cessation of gifts thus far seems to be an exercise in circular reasoning;

    “How does one know that the gifts ceased?” Is answered by “Because they were not appearing”

    and

    “Why were they not appearing?” is answered by “Because they ceased”.

  11. Rob Johnson says:

    The prophet Joel held the key to understanding the Spirit gifts. See Joel 2:23 The gifts can be likened to the former and latter rain in Israel. The former ‘lighter’ rain is in Autumn, little or no rain in winter and a big burst in Spring known as the latter rain. The latter rain in Spring represents the much bigger outpouring of the Spirit in the beginning of the Kingdom Age.
    We are still in the winter period of little or no rain awaiting the return of Jesus and the resurrection which will be the beginning of Spring and an enormous outpouring of the Holy Spirit, firstly on Israel and later on the Gentile nations who decide to serve the new King in Zion.
    This outpouring is referred to in Heb.6:5 as, ‘the powers of the age to come’.
    No claimed spirit gifts today come anywhere near the first century former rain so image what the latter rain will be like when Jesus returns.

  12. Jeff Bramlett says:

    Just because Peter quotes Joel in Acts 2 does not mean that the quote is intended as a fulfillment of Joel 2.

    E.W. Bullinger has this explanation:

    From http://www.biblestudysite.com/183.htm

    “This is That” (Acts 2:16)
    This Is Appendix 183 From The Companion Bible

    “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” There is nothing in the words to tell us what is “this” and what is “that”. The word “this” is emphatic and the word “But”, with which Peter’s argument begins, sets what follows in contrast. This shows that the quotation was used to rebut the charge of drunkenness (verse 13)
    So far from these signs and wonders being a proof that “these men” were drunken, “this”, said the apostle is “that” (same kind of thing) which Joel prophesied would take place “in the last days”. Peter does not say these were the last days, but this (that follows) is what Joel says of those days. He does not say “then was fulfilled”, nor “as it is written”, but merely calls attention to what the prophet said of similar scenes yet future.

    Therefore to understand what Peter really meant by “this is that”, we must turn to the prophecy of Joel. And in order to understand that prophecy, we must see exactly what it is about.

    It is about the Christian Dispensation? or

    The Dispensation of judgment which is to follow it? or

    Is it about the Jew and the Gentile? or

    Is it about the church of God?

    The Structure on page 1224 (in The Companion Bible) gives the scope of Joel as a whole, while that on page 1227 (in The Companion Bible) gives that of the last member B (page 1224 in The Companion Bible) in which occur the “signs” to which Peter points in connection with “this is that”. From this it will be seen that the prophecy of Joel links up with the last clause of the “song of Moses” in Deuteronomy 32:43 (see Revelation 15:3), which ends

    “And (He) will be merciful unto His Land and to His People.”
    So Joel 2.18 begins:

    “Then will Jehovah be jealous for His Land, and pity His People.”
    “THIS”, therefore is “THAT”. It is the subject-matter and remote context of Acts 2:16. It concerns Jehovah’s Land and Jehovah’s People, and has consequently nothing to do with the church of this Dispensation. Peter calls “the house of Israel” (verse 36) to the very repentance spoken of in the call to repentance of Joel (1:14 – 2:17; see A, Structure, page 1224 in The Companion Bible).

    But the key to the correct understanding of Peter’s quotation lies in the word “afterward” of Joel 2:28. The question is, after what? This we can learn only from Joel himself. Peter does not explain it, nor can we understand it from Peter’s words alone.

    The Structure (page 1227 in The Companion Bible) shows us that the whole subject of 2:18 – 3:21 is, – evil removed from the Land and the People, and blessing bestowed on both; and these are set forth alternately. In 2:28, 29 we have spiritual blessings connected with the temporal of the previous verses, introduced thus:

    “And it shall come to pass AFTERWARD, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh,” etc.

    After what? The answer is AFTER the temporal blessings of verses 23-27. It is important to note that the temporal precede the spiritual blessings. The holy spirit was not poured out on all flesh at Pentecost: only on some of those present. None of the great signs in the heavens and on the earth had been shown. No deliverance took place in Jerusalem: both Land and People were still under the Roman yoke.

    Thus, from a careful study of the two passages, it will be seen that there is a wide divergence between the statements of apostle and prophet on the one hand, and the general belief of Christendom, which the majority hold so tenaciously, not to say acrimoniously, that “the church” was formed at Pentecost (see Appendix 181 and Appendix 186), on the other.

    (a) There can be no mistake about the meaning of Joel’s word “afterward”. It is not the simple Hebrew word ‘ahar = after (compare Genesis 5:4, etc.), but the compound ‘aharey-ken = after that (as Genesis 6:4, etc.).

    (b) It is therefore certain that the word “this” in Acts 2:16 refers to what follows, and not to what precedes; to the future events predicted by Joel, and not to those then taking place in Jerusalem.

    (c) As Joel speaks of no gift of tongues, “this” cannot refer to these Pentecostal tongues, the outstanding cause of all the wonder and excitement.

    (d) None of the things detailed in verses 17, 19 came to pass. “This” therefore could not be the fulfillment of Joel’s prediction, as the “pouring out” was only on the apostles and those associated with them.

    To sum up: As we have seen, there is in Acts 2:16 no fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy either expressed or implied, and Peter’s argument narrows down to this, videlicet, that a charge of drunkenness can no more be sustained against “these” than it can be against those in the yet future scenes spoken of by Joel, when the wondrous spiritual blessings will be poured out on all flesh AFTER THAT, that is to say, after all the temporal blessings spoken of have been bestowed upon Israel’s Land and Israel’s People.

  13. Randy Clark says:

    The Montanists claims to being the last prophets, that there would be no more prophets after them was refuted by the early Church. Eusebius records that Miltiades does so against Maximilla and concludes, “it is necessary that the prophetic charisma be in all the Church until the final coming.” (See Ruthven’s On The Cessation of the Charismata p.15,16) free onlin

    Augustine wrote in his Revisions, a reversal of his earlier statements that were cessationist. He wrote, “It is indeed true: that not everyone today who has hands laid on them in baptism thus receives the Holy Spirit so as to speak intongues; nor are the sick always healed by having the shadow of the promise of Christ pass across them; and if such things were once done, it is clear that they afterwards ceased. But what I said should not be taken as understanding that no miracles are believed to happen today in the name of Christ. For at the very time I wrote this book I already knew that, by approaching the bodies of the two martyrs of Milan, a blind man in that same city was given back his sight; and so many other things of this kind have happened, even in this present time, that is is not possible for us either to know of all of them or to count up all of those that we have knowledge of.” He noted over 70 healings that had occurred in his own bishopric in the past two years.

    Also, over 1,000,000 people have been led to Christ in Mozambique through the Iris Ministries and 10,000 churches planted. Almost every deaf person Heidi Baker prays for is healed. Over 400 people have been raised from the dead. These dead raisings and miracles are the primary reason they have been so successful in reaching the Muslims of the top to Provinces of Mozambique. I have met people raised from the dead, the families of the dead who were raised, and seen the effects upon the villages.
    Likewise Leif Hetland has led over 850,000 Muslims to the Lord Jesus in his healing meetings during the past 15 years since he received an impartation for healing and a call to missions to the unreached through a prophecy. He has started over 2,000 “Light houses of Love” in this Muslim country.
    I have other friends who are successfully reaching Muslims in Malaysia at risk of their own lives. Lutherans who were so powerfully touched at a meeting through the laying on of hands that they stopped their very, very, lucrative business and went into missions. It is through the power of the gifts of the Spirit that they are successfully reaching the Muslims.
    I have experienced scores of thousands of Indians coming to Christ when they saw the power of God to heal that accompanied the preaching of the gospel.
    The fact that Time magazine stated that 1 out of 12 people on the face of the earth today has had a pentecostal experience (though they may not have a pentecostal interpretation of that experience) indicates how important the modern day ministry of the gifts of the Spirit are to world evangelis

  14. Nikki says:

    I speak in tongues just as they did in the Bible. I have healed the sick by the power of the Spirit & I know hundreds and hundreds who do the same. Therefore the gifts have NOT ceased. They are alive and well, you are just not looking in the right place. I think that if Jesus needed to manifest Spiritual gifts such as healing to reach people then we definitely need the Spirit’s help to do the same!
    Perhaps look up someone like Reinhard Bonnke who is a modern day evangelist preaching the gospel with signs following just like the apostles.

  15. Nikki says:

    Dave,
    to comment on your statement “No Christian in the present era has ever successfully demonstrated a Holy Spirit gift of any kind. They were withdrawn nearly 2,000 years ago.” WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN MAN?!!! You are reading the wrong paper & listening to the wrong news report! You are missing out on what God is doing in the world! Go somewhere people are open to being used by God in the power of the Spirit!

  16. Dave Burke says:

    Nikki,

    Come to my local hospital and cure dying cancer patients. Restore damaged limbs. Give sight to the blind. Give hearing to the deaf. Give speech to the mute. Raise the dead to life. Do this and I will believe.

    • Jonathan Morgan says:

      Dave,
      While in principle I agree with you, this seems exactly the same kind of argument as is used by some on the existence of God (some variation on “If God exists, why doesn’t he prove his existence / strike me dead / … right now?”).  If God were working with the spirit gifts now (and I admit that is a big if) why would he be obligated to work in hospital wards?

      • Jonathan, it’s not the same argument at all. Those who claim to have spirit gifts are the ones making the bold, extravagant claims. They’re the ones who hold ‘healing’ services in which *they* make the claims that they can cure disease, so it’s entirely valid to ask them to perform what they already claim to be able to do in another environment, one in which those claims of healing can be objectively verified. More to the point, hospitals tend to have people with significant medical problems other than the bad backs, hysterical paralysis / blindness and other problems which have no obvious pathology.

        Curiously, such ‘healers’ are incapable of restoring amputated limbs, enucleated eyes, reversing stomas from colectomies, regenerating lungs in women with
        lymphangioleiomyomatosis or anything with obvious, unarguable evidence which, if reversed before a sceptical audience would be inexplicable by anything other than miracle.

        The comparison with the sophomoric atheists who duly ask God to smite them down doesn’t hold, as – with the exception of Ananias and Sapphira, Herod and Elymas – the NT is largely absent of cases where enemies of the faith are struck down by God. Even then, these people didn’t issue the challenge directly, as our hypothetical atheist does.

        • Jonathan Morgan says:

          Ken,

          Good points.  I understand the difference between hospital cases and church healing cases, and realise the significance of the fact that many/most of these healed in healing services are in medical areas where natural remission and the placebo affect are valid explanations of healing.  However, I still have the philosophical question of “Is it reasonable to require God to act in a particular way before we will believe in him?”

          • Jonathan,

            There’s excellent scriptural evidence that suggests it is entirely reasonable for us to believe in God in the absence of overt evidence of Divine power. John 20:27-28

            Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”  Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Therefore, the archetypical soapbox atheist challenging God to provide a showy miracle on demand before he believes isn’t going to get the miracle he wants, as John records Jesus as saying that those who believe without seeing the special miracles are blessed. If we assume these verses to be normative for Christian belief, then I suspect we have an answer to the question.Ken

          • Jonathan Morgan says:

             Ken,

            I don’t disagree with you on John 20, nor do I support faith healing as it is commonly practiced.  However, as I don’t think we are answering the same question and I don’t think the point I was making important enough to keep up the debate, I will quit the dialogue here.

  17. Joshua says:

    Food for thought, straight from the Word. Not one individual here received the laying on of hands….The Holy Spirit fell on those who believed, and manifested through the speaking of tongues.
    Acts 10:34-35, 44-48
    Then Peter opened his mouth and said: In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 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. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

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