Show us a Sign – Full Study Into Apostolic Signs, Millennialism, Ministry of Holy Spirit
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You. But He answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. Mat12:38-39, 41, Lk11:30
It is always an evil and adulterous generation that seeks after signs, some outward manifestation to follow after instead of simply hearing and obeying Christ revealed to us through the Scriptures: For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, Rev19:10, ALL that we need for life and godliness is ALREADY revealed to us in Christ, NOTHING more need said or done, expect our own active participation in the life and power of Jesus Christ! But sadly to a large portion of professed Christianity this isn’t enough and inevitably in every attempt to bring about these signs, throughout history, has resulted in a pseudo Christian movement that wants the miraculous signs minus the forsaking of sin in the baptism of repentance. They want Apostolic power and authority apart from the Apostolic preaching of repentance and faith PROVEN by deeds. And often times, as we have seen in evolving generations since the early 1830’s, the deceiving spirits have been more than anxious to oblige their desires.
Since the early days of Edward Irving, Darby and Margret Macdonald, during the supposed ‘Revival of Gifts conferences held in Wales England in the early 1830’s, the poison of Dispensational theology has permeated the institutionalized Churches with Jesuit created ‘new age’ eschatology myths taken from the works of Jesuit monks Francisco Ribera and Manuel Lacunza, respectively, from the 1530-1830’s. In fact the end times play books written by the likes of Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye, that spawned into movies and all the mania surrounding the prophecy craze today were taken directly from these Catholic monks; who created the idea of futurism, in which the Millennial Kingdom was yet to come, after the rise of the anti-Christ and tribulation period, did so specifically to take the heat off the Pope during the early Reformation when the Protestants were identifying him as the current anti-Christ. By casting the Beast, false prophet and tribulation period into some far off future events they could coexist with the rising protestant movement and still maintain some degree of authority over the deceived on both sides who were worshipping the Great Beast System into a Mystery Babylon millennial bondage that began in the early days of Rome under the unholy trinity of Augustine, Ambrose and Constantine.
It was during this so-called Revival of Gifts in Wales that the stage was set for what would become the supposed ‘latter rain of Joel’s prophecy in the renewed out-pouring of Holy Spirit on all flesh, manifest in the reoccurrence of the miraculous gifts first seen by the Apostles during the time Acts. (there were other incidents in history leading up to this time, but here is where it began in earnest, birthing the Pentecostal, Charismatic movements that exist today) We can see this first in the alleged vision of Margret Macdonald, in which the Lord would stage a ‘Secret return to gather away His Saints before launching the tribulation period, appearance of anti-Christ and rebuilding of the Temple in Israel. This caught Darby’s attention who created the term Rapture to describe this secret gathering, they imagined fit into the 1Thes4:17 passage, in which the Saints who are living at the final (Trumpet) return of the Lord would be ‘caught up to meet Him. This teaching along with the dispensationalism of Ribera / Lacunza, went main-stream over the next 100 odd years culminating with the publication of many books, study bibles, and reference material up to present day. Now there are self-proclaimed Prophets, Apostles, Divine healers, miracle workers coming out of the wood-work, in every form of chicanery, mania, trickery and pharmakeia (Gal5:20) Over the last hundred odd years, since the early days of Azusa Street, this movement has gained momentum and become deeply entrenched into professed Christendom crossing all denominational lines; deceiving millions into seeking after ‘lying signs and wonders and falling prey to charlatans and posers.
In many ways this is also the ongoing cult of Simon the sorcerer Magus, the false prophet first appearing in Acts 8, who through the principles of witchcraft and manipulation was able to enchant people into believing he was ‘something great’, Act8:9. He, like many today, coveted the Apostolic office and saw it as another wonderful opportunity in using the Christian faith to make large sums of money. So he faked conversion and tried to buy the Power he seen working in Peter and the other Apostles. Of course Peter knew the spirit of error when he saw it and rebuked him harshly at the time, but history testifies that his supposed sincerity in asking for prayer was also feigned because his movement continued into Rome, according to the writings of Justin Martyr around 152AD, a sect called the Simonians appeared to have been a formidable force at work in Rome as great magicians, their roots traced back to the days of Claudius Caesar, 45AD, who had honored Simon for his ‘god like’ powers, erecting a statue to him on the Tiber with the inscription: Simoni deo Sancto’ (i.e., the holy god Simon) (Dictionary of Christian Biography,Vol. 4, p. 682) Its interesting to note that Justin could never confirm Peter’s presence in Rome, as is commonly taught by the Catholics as their first Pope, but Simon’s is without question and given that Rome is the root source of Satan’s counterfeit Church, blending Christianity with Gnostic pagan philosophies, Simon appears to be the RCC in miniature, centuries before the Augustinian monster gained a foothold in professed Christendom. The template for this Universal religion awash with unrighteous deceptions and lying signs and wonders has its origin in Rome and Simon the sorcerer Magus was a major player in laying the foundation. It is VERY likely that his bones lay at rest on Vatican Hill (Not the Apostle Peter!) just as the dark magic arts are STILL at work spreading from Rome to so-called ‘latter rain out pouring like wild-fire among the professed today.
Jesus said in Matt6:23, ‘If the Light in you is Darkness, how GREAT is that Darkness!’ The principle behind this profound statement is applicable to false teachings in many forms. But none so much as the ‘Light someone believes they are following is really a Great Darkness; why you may ask. It is in ‘Testing the spirits’ (1Jh4:1) we find the answer, wisely discerning the difference between the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error. ‘Believe NOT every spirit‘ John said, ‘because MANY false prophets have gone out into the world’, AND they can appear unto you as: ‘angels of Light, ministers of Righteousness, even calling themselves by Jesus Name! (2Cor11:13-15) So is it of any wonder why we have so many today claiming to have Apostolic authority, hearing from Jesus Himself, having Visions of going to hell and returning, basing their teaching on dreams, manifestations and outward signs. Certainly there is also a large number of double-tongued slicksters, fast talking con-artist, men/women cashing in on the mania, but those of us with genuine spiritual discernment in Christ know this is no battle with flesh and blood impostors only, but with the principalities and powers of darkness ‘gone out’ into the world (1Jh2:18, 4:3) from the beginning. You can ‘mark these present day Simons by identifying the two distinct characteristics present in them all:
First they specialize in Merchandising the people to make huge sums of money in the name of Jesus
Second they distract everyone’s focus to the next BIG thing and turn no one from their evil ways or from the evil of their doings. In other words all the emphasis in on receiving something from God (sign, wonder, healing, etc) rather than coming clean with Him in Repentance proven by deeds.
The Assembly at Ephesus was praised by the Lord for ‘testing those who claimed to be Apostles and finding them to be liars, Rev2:2. Paul authenticated his own Apostleship by the unique ‘signs that were present in him, 2Cor12:12. So the next time a self-proclaimed Apostle comes around claiming to have such authority ‘test him and find him also to be a liar.
Of course this is not exclusive to the Pentecostal charismatic movements, the next ‘Big thing could be the next gimmick, book, seminar, rally or even the next social, outreach activity at your local church. As long as they are receiving what they want (lust of flesh, eye, pride of life) they are under the same spell; bewitchment, Paul called it, Gal 3:1, pharmakeia can take many forms, not only in lying signs and wonders, it is ALWAYS accompanied by unrighteous deceptions as well, leading to Strong Delusions because the people will not receive a LOVE for the truth! (2Thes2:9-11) and the entire ‘End Time craze sweeping professed Christendom, with the fake Rapture, anti-Christ, coming tribulation, the neo-conservatism (fake Christian right) fanatical support of the nation State of Israel, take America back non-sense, the daily prophecies, visions, dreams, supposed Apostolic manifestations, is ALL part of the same deception, awaiting the ushering in of an imaginary ‘Golden Age (a refreshing of the latter rain) apart from Nineveh style Baptism of Repentance first announced on the Day of Pentecost, beginning the Gospel Age of gathering in the Lord’s elect. (those who repent and follow Him)
The Church or Gospel Age:
The ‘latter rain‘ began on the Day of Pentecost, Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled when Peter made his address announcing that Christ the Lord was seated on the throne ruling and reigning, triumphant over His enemies (powers of darkness) and calling all people to repentance. THIS is the ‘times of refreshing’, the rain in ‘due season’ (Deut11:14) the out-pouring of the Spirit on all flesh, Acts2:17, the Time of harvest during the Gospel age of Grace. It began then and has run concurrently to now and will until the end, when the Lord returns to Judge the world in Righteousness. The Millennial reign is NOW, not in an age yet to come, His Saints are ‘companions in Tribulation and in the Kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ’, Rev1:9. One recieves their ‘time of refreshing‘ when they ‘TURN and REPENT‘ as Peter directed from the start, Acts2:38, 3:19,
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
Jesus said the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin, righteousness and Judgment, Jh16:8, the ONLY thing restraining Him is the rebellion of man, when people turn from their ‘works of rebellion (religion, lust of flesh, eye and pride of life) the refreshing comes from heaven. Otherwise He is quenched, the heavens are ‘shut up, and they limit the Holy one of Israel. The professed Church is looking for a miraculous ‘latter rain, revivals, signs, fulfillment of prophecies (already fulfilled!) BUT the Spirit is still calling them to Repentance, again that’s why Jesus said the only sign they would be given is that of the Prophet Jonah, Repent or be destroyed! And they all miss the simplicity of the message, talking about fishes and fairy tales! Revelation is ongoing to the end, every generation gets planted in the field (world, Mat13:38) and has its opportunity to lay aside its wickedness and ‘receive the engrafted Word (seed) to the saving of the soul. (Js1:21-22) One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: And his mercy is upon them that fear him from generation to generation. (Isa51:8, Ecc1:4, Lk1:50, Dan4:34) The falling away, apostasy, strong delusion, coming of false prophets/teachers is also a progression within each passing generation, growing worse and worse to the last. There is no Set period of Time, literal 1000 years, Ten is the number of perfection in Scripture (completeness, maturity) When the age of Grace is finished (complete) the Millennial reign of Christ as Savior is finished, then commeth the New heaven and New earth in which Righteousness dwells, 2Pet3:10-13 is the best description in the Bible about the end of the world as man knows it. The 1000 years of Rev20 is an indeterminate amount of time that commenced at Pentecost and will be extend until the Lord returns. Reference to 1000 years in scripture is always used in this manner:
Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; Deut7:9
He remembers His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, Ps105:8
Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; Deut7:9, Dan9:4
Much less than a ‘thousand generations’ have passed since Adam, so the Church age within our 2000 year present timeframe falls precisely within this illustration and until it reaches the ‘Perfection (fullness, end) God desires we will see the Beast and false prophets, the Mark at work warring against the Saints within Satan’s counterfeit Church of Mystery Babylon, until the end. And even the end is not ‘Set in Stone, although only God knows the day and hour, Mat24:36, His Patience and longsuffering, unwillingness for any to perish may extend another thousand years. The truth is EACH generation must be prepared at all times for His return, regardless of signs or lack thereof, we are all passing through the Tribulation in varying degrees of suffering and trial, the Many anti-Christ’s are already here (and have been) the false teachers abound, Strong delusion is upon us! As more and more restraint is removed Satan, the Junk yard Dog, has increased freedom to roam and deceive the nations, he is still within his restrains (boundaries) toward the true Saints of God, stripped of his advantage by Christ (the binding of the strong man, the Prince of this world cast out) but roaring and raging on his chain devouring those who fall prey to the strong delusion and holding the evil political, religious, economic, systems under his sway. This will continue also until the Lord returns and puts down all rebellion and cast Satan into the lake of fire with all who followed him.
The First Resurrection spoken of within this ‘mysterious 1000 years, is simply the New Birth, when one is Born again of the Spirit (refreshed, renewed, regenerated) they are ruling and reigning with Christ in the present time (Rev20:6) as His holy Priesthood, special people called out of darkness into His marvelous light, 1Pet2:9, (here again is the true Light vs the false light, His is marvelous in that one is free from the corrupting influence of sin!) of such the second death, (lake of fire) has no power as long as they abide in/obey Christ. In this they Overcome the Beast, his image and the Mark, number of his name, dispensed throughout the Gospel age on those who fall prey to the Strong delusion. That’s why we see this played out again and again in Church history, its not something futuristic, yet to take place, its occurring NOW! The nation state of Israel has nothing to do with the scenario, nor does any other nation. Only in pseudo manifestations of people and nations rising and falling that appear to be manifestations of the Biblical narrative. But God is finished with physical Israel, the True Israel of God (Gal6:16) are those who have entered into His Covenant and Walk by faith. Their house was left to them dissolute, (Mat23:38) the 70 weeks of Daniel are completed in Christ, the Temple is within the heart of His Saints (1Cor3:16) where He rules and reigns, His Kingdom is NOT of this world, (Jh18:36) it is the inheritance promised to Abraham with its foundation in God, the heavenly country, Heb11:16, the Spiritual Kingdom God is not ashamed to call His own. Here (present earth) we are passing through as sojourners, pilgrims, strangers, (1Pet2:11) whose citizenship is in heaven. (Phil3:20) Those who fall prey to the flesh kings looking for earthly fulfillments and restoration of lands, do not reign with Christ, but unknowingly serve the Beast and have received the Mark; which is their identity as servants of lust of flesh, eyes and pride of life. They have followed the line of corruption from Rome, changing the gospel message into something more pleasing to the ear, casting tribulation into the future and preaching easy escapism, nullifying the refreshing of repentance through which a person enters His Kingdom. They are the same in every generation, growing progressively worse as time goes by.But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2Tim3:13
The Book of Revelation is a series of visions given to John concerning the Church age, they are not in any Chronological order, but repeat over the same things from various perspectives, shedding a bit more light on each series of events. The events however are not futuristic, only in that they run consecutively from generation to generation referring to the trials and tribulations the Saints will face throughout history; beginning during the time of Acts and carrying through to now. The Beast (false religious system) has been at work from the start, growing more and more diabolical with each passing generation. Those in the church system looking to the future cannot see the present deception all around them, they are blinded by the IMAGE conjured by the Beast and take pleasure in the unrighteous deceptions that keep the flesh alive and the conscience seared. There are no new revelations, prophecies, ages yet to come; the Gospel message is Complete, once delivered to the Saints, Jude3-4, Perfect in every sense to testify of Jesus Christ to this wicked and perverse generation under the sign of Jonah.
The Apostolic Gifts
But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 1Cor13:8-10
This passage is key in understanding the cassation of the miraculous apostolic gifts following the departure of the last Apostle. These gifts were given to the Apostles at Pentecost and could be imparted to other carefully chosen disciples by the laying on of hands. They already had the Spirit in them, Jh20:22-23, having been given it by Christ Himself before He ascended. The Baptism of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Acts2:1-4, was the inauguration of the Church (Gospel) age, accompanied by a variety of signs and wonders in order to testify of God’s Power working in the Apostles so that people might repent and believe. Initially they were given the miraculous ability, through the Spirit, to speak in a wide variety of languages so the people present could understand in their own dialect what was taking place. (Acts2:11, glossa, languages, not babble!) This was a ONE time event that began the ‘latter rain’ prophesied by Joel, the times of refreshing available to all who would turn and repent from that point forward. The miraculous gifts were given to AUTHENTICATE the Gospel to the pagan / heathen world, until the perfecting of the Saints could take place, the faith ONCE delivered could be completed and all testing, examination, authentication could be derived from the Scriptures, through the gifts of teaching, preaching, ministry, etc, Eph4:11. This is what the passage above is eluding to; ‘When that which is perfect has come’, CANNOT be speaking of Christ’s coming, as some think, its not speaking of a person, (no personal pronoun) but when the remnant body of Christ on earth had reached its maturity in faith, hope and love and could sustain itself apart from the miraculous. This can be seen in the sequences of the Epistles written to the churches, revealing in each more foundational truths to sustain the Saints. Jude was written somewhere around 70AD, some 20 odd years after Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in which he said the miraculous would cease, Jude spoke in the ‘past tense’ of the faith once delivered, so we can determine that the Church (body of true believers) had reached such maturity around this timeframe and the ‘remnant body’ has been in such perfection since that time, whist the professed Church has grown ever more corrupt and deceived.
Perfect in the Greek is teleious, meaning: Maturity, completeness, brought to end, finished, again, it cannot be speaking of a person, but of an event, when that which is in ‘part is ‘done away, ceases, passes away, therefore the Prophecies, the tongues, the miraculous signs were present for a time for the purpose of bringing the Saints to maturity in love. When that occurs these things will no longer be required, via the illustration: ‘ When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. With the Apostolic age coming to a close its important to understand that the true Saints would be united in Christian love and obedience from the heart, rather than rallying around great miracles signs and wonders, which always fosters an evil surmising generation seeking after MORE signs and running amuck to deceiving spirits as we see in Corinth. (a microcosm of what’s happening today in the Pentecostal movements) Since the Scripture declare to us the testimony of Jesus Christ is the Spirit of Prophecy we can know without question that NOTHING more need be revealed, His truth does not require miraculous confirmation to testify of its power to change hearts, there is no more need of Prophets, words of knowledge, speaking in tongues, working of miracles, special Baptisms of the Spirit. Its finished, done away and all attempts to revive these things throughout history have met with disastrous effects on the establishment churches and the launching of movements in the ‘spirit of Simon the sorcerer. Those already taken captive by the lying signs and wonders are not likely to be persuaded they’ve been deceived. It is a miracle in itself that a few have escaped this deception and testifies of God’s Power to awaken the dead. But most never escape it.
Even Corinth in its infancy was seduced by the deceiving spirits Paul warned them about in 2Cor11:13-15, that mimicking the gifts and turned their assemblies into a circus; much like many Churches today who have fallen prey to the revival of gifts, second out-pouring myths. You see them in utter chaos where anything goes, out of which comes all the spinning of yarns heard in modern Christendom, about miraculous healings, demons cast out, baptisms, even people raised from the dead! The people fall into trance like states, convulsing, babbling falling on the ground in epileptic type fits. Remember Matt7:21-23 says they came to Christ ‘Claiming’ to have cast out demons and done mighty works in His name, it doesn’t say they actually did so. What you find among these people is that their ears are closed tight to the message of Jonah to enter a season of godly sorrow and empty themselves of all guile and deceit until the root of iniquity is purged from their hearts and Righteousness prevails. But an evil and adulterous generation always seeks after signs and ‘Simon (or the spirit thereof) is always there to astonish them with seductive magic they will call the great power of God.
Signs, wonders, healings and tongues:
If you study the Apostolic age depicted in the book of Acts carefully you will find an important truth that accompanied every miraculous manifestation that took place at the hands of the Apostles; ‘Many Believed‘, this is repeated again and again throughout the record, beginning with the Day of Pentecost and carrying through to the abrupt ending in Rome. The miraculous signs authenticated the message, the Spirit convicted and many repented and believed, then in unity of the spirit they began building them up, grounding them in the faith perfecting them in love so they could endure the adversity ahead. NOTHING of this magnitude had occurred on earth up to this time or since and all human attempts to bring it about, again, have been wrought with distortion, lies and sorcery. In all honesty WHERE in the Acts do you find any Apostle using their miraculous gifts to self-aggrandize, enrich themselves in any way or even to draw attention to anything but Jesus Christ! When they healed someone it was instantaneous, full restoration of body and soul, not praying and waiting to see what happens, or cherry-picking particular symptoms in which people can easily be duped into thinking they’ve been healed by physco-samatic suggestions until the hype wears off. The Apostles instantly restored people born lame, cleansed lepers, saw paralytics’ bones grow back to full strength! They raised people from the dead, cast out demons rebuked the sorcerers, and in every instance ‘Many believed’, in other words many came to repentance and became disciples of Christ. Can the phonies today speak a word and someone fall down dead for lying to the Holy Spirit! Can their shadow passing by restore someone to health! Of course not, many will spin yarns about such things happening in some far off remote village or at a mass rally, but its all emotionally educed hype or demonic beguilement. The miraculous super-natural signs were exclusive to the Apostles and under FULL Control of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. THEY did not ‘have charge of (turn off-on at their will) the Gifts, the gifts were administered by the Holy Spirit in the will of God. That’s why we don’t see the circus like shenanigans, healing lines, smacking people on the head, pushing them over, kicking and punching them, anywhere in Acts; because God was in control, not men.
Mortal man could not be given such Power to use at his own whim, unless it was under the full administration of the Holy Spirit. Paul says: But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1Cor12:13 Men, not even the Apostles, could manage such power without the full guidance of the Spirit, as was entrusted to them. The self-appointed Apostles out there today cannot even be compared to the Apostles of the Bible, yet they still cash-in big time with slight of hand and sorcery that draws millions. Imagine if a man was able to use Apostolic powers at his own impulse, heal when he wished, escape danger any time he so chooses, blind his enemies, strike someone dead, he would be worshipped as a god on earth and showered with gold. Even the Apostles were mistaken as gods in Lystra, Acts 14, but quelled the commotion immediately and refused any accolades, attributing all power and glory to God. I doubt anyone but them could have acted properly in such circumstances and not allow the power to go to their heads. That’s why we must understand the Purpose God gave them such power and reasons He did not entrust it to future generations of Saints. I think a lot of sincere believes cringe at the shenanigans they see going on in the tongue speaking, signs crowd, but are fearful of saying with confidence that the Apostolic gifts have ceased, because they just ‘might run into a genuine Prophet and dare not risk blaspheming the Spirit by denying their claims. But stop and think for a moment, to what PURPOSE would God grant these gifts to someone today, who is not ALSO preaching the Apostolic message of repentance and faith proven by deeds resulting in purity of heart and righteousness of life, plus pulling down the Strong holds of Faith alone, Substitution, magic transfer, sin nature and the sin-confess cycle of ruin fallacies. I’ve never met any, every self-professed apostle / prophets I’ve encountered is under many levels of error and deception especially concerning the fundamental issues of redemption and righteousness. So its to NO Purpose of God granting these things when the expedient matters at hand are contending earnestly for the faith and exposing all the liars. Keeping the Gospel in its purest form as a restraint against lawlessness is the issue today. Truth is confirmed in its Power to open their eyes, turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God. Yes, God still heals people and the Holy Spirit still empowers, but not on the same scale as the Apostles.
That’s why we need to sort out and understand why we no longer do certain things featured in Acts for specific reasons. First we no longer need to lay hands on anyone so they can receive the Holy Spirit or to have Him imparted to us in some special manner when we’ve already come to Christ. It was only necessary during the interim period between the introduction of the Gospel at Pentecost and the bringing in of the faithful who had been converted either during Christ’s ministry or immediately after His resurrection, who had YET to receive the fullness of the Spirit and come to a complete knowledge of the Gospel message under the New Covenant. We see this among the Samarians, Acts 8, who had believed when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, John 4, and she went to testified of Him to her people. They were believers in the Messiah, but had no knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s ministry yet to come. BUT all New converts after Pentecost received the Spirit when they came into the faith, like the Ethiopian Phillip was sent to convert in the desert, he believed and was baptized, his conversion complete, Holy Spirit indwelled. But there were others spread out over the land converted before Pentecost like Cornelius and Lydia, Apollo, some disciples at Ephesus, who had not heard about the Holy Spirit, consequently we see it imparted to them by the laying on of hands in several incidents throughout Acts. But as I said, there is no longer a necessity of doing this after this initial interim period in which there were Old and New Testament believers living at the same time. We can find no second century Saint doing this type of laying on of hands to receive the Spirit, or reporting of it after the Gospel age was well under way. Anyone who repents and believes today receives the Holy Spirit as a Vessel Fit for His use! (2Tim2:21) There is no need today of special Baptisms, laying on of hands to receive the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues and NO ONE has any such miraculous power as were seen in the Apostles. In submitting yourself to such things there is the a huge risk of demonic spirits captivating your mind and beguiling you. Again that’s why its so important to distinguish between the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error.
The people who claim to possess the gifts of healing, tongues, special baptisms, prophecies etc, have no similarity to what occurred in the Acts under the administration of the Spirit and more their Message is FAR REMOVED from that of the Apostles; Repentance and faith Proven by deeds, Acts26:18-21. They all lust for the Baptisms (power from on-high) BUT not the Baptism of repentance, where it all begins; thus they operate in the ‘Carnal mind and interpret Scripture to please the flesh. The Apostlesexclusively received the promise of Luke24:49, ‘Power from on high‘, which endowed them with particular miraculous gifts as a means of preaching and authenticating the Gospel message. In EVERY incident these Powers were present in Acts, you will find in the Text that; ‘MANY BELIEVED’, the Power was NEVER used as a means to spare themselves or others from suffering, or merely to escape dangerous situations or against their enemies in a punitive manner. If they had, why were their own faithful workers taken out of service killed and left sick, even unto death, Phil2:27, 2Tim4:20, healing wasn’t necessarily merely to relief human suffering or for the convenience of friends and family. (heal me Lord because it hurts!) The Holy Spirit administered the gifts through them and in no instance where they misused for self-exaltation, financial gain or to create a special class of Christians endowed with gifts over and above those without them. Ever since the 2nd century, and progressive over time, the corrupters consistently have tried valiantly to change the Gospel message but it has remained unified and unchanged from the beginning! Otherwise we have to assume that the Holy Spirit has failed in His mission to introduce and perfect the Gospel among the Saints and there’s somethingYET to be done. As though some mighty men of renown would arrive on the scene and bring in the Second Wave of out-pouring to ‘Seal up the Book; so the ‘faith once delivered to the Saints’, requires further clarification concerning the end of time. Again, this is claiming that HE (Holy Spirit) has not ALREADY given God’s one time Revelation to the Saints and more Prophets and seers must rise up and ‘receive additional ‘revelations to unravel the mysteries behind the Beast, false prophet, anti-Christ, Mark, Rapture, etc. BUT, not only has He given it, He has kept and guarded it among His remnant Saints who know the truth and can Cast down the Strongholds of lies these lustful men have brought in. And to their discerning eyes the work of carnal men is blatantly obvious and the work of the Holy Spirit testifies against them.
Here’s what we find in Acts:
The Apostles received the power (gifts) at Pentecost
They could impart these gifts and a special infilling of the Holy Spirit to others by the laying on of hands
The miraculous gifts ceased somewhere around the close of the 1st Century AD, after John departed, there is no reporting of them by Second Century Saints who were hand trained by the Apostles.
The incidents of Holy Spirit Baptism:
In Act 8 with the Samarians, Acts10 with Cornelius, the Disciples at Ephesus Acts19, each incident was exclusive to these groups who were Believers in Christ BEFORE Pentecost or in the brief interim period afterward when the gospel spread throughout the lands and many had come to believe, without having an accurate understanding of the Way, like Apollos, Acts18. On the other hand ALL who Repented and Believed, received the Spirit when they believed and were (water) Baptized. There is no evidence in these mass conversions that they also received some kind of special Holy Spirit Baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues. As initially in Act2:37-39, thousands repented and were Baptized. The Gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in V:38, is Given to ALLthose who Obey Him, Acts5:32. ONLY by assumption can it be said that this means everyone who Repented ALSO received a special Holy Spirit Baptism, other than the ‘Washing, Renewing and Regeneration’ of the Spirit that occurs in conversion. Following Pentecost and the interim period of gathering in the faithful, it was and is NO longer necessary for a true Convert to Christ to seek after further Baptisms, special laying on of hands (other than by brethren praying for your well-being Js5:14) or the ‘evidence of speaking in tongues’, giving them some special status above others.
Its interesting to note that in Acts13:6-10 Paul encounters a false prophet, sorcerer named ‘Bar-Jesus’, who was deceiving the people with wonders, recall John’s warning: ‘Believe not every spirit, but test them‘, 1Jh4:1, Today we find many out there claiming to be hearing from ‘Jesus, ‘Jesus told me’, they claim, but they preach ‘another gospel. Without proper spiritual discernment many fall prey to these false spirits; we must always beware. Again in Acts16:16-18 Paul encounters a slave girl with a spirit of ‘divination, which in the Greek means: ‘Dragon, serpent, who was obviously the source of great income in that such spirits are known as fortune tellers, palm readers etc . We can take special note of these things in our time in that many of those involved in the signs and wonders movements also have a tight hold on the pocket books of the people they deceive; therefore always beware of those wanting your money. And the next time someone comes along telling you they are ‘hearing from the Spirit’, and have some special revelation, vision, dream, word of knowledge to give, you must take heed to WHAT manner of spirit they are hearing from! God has ALREADY given us His FULL Revelation though His Prophets, Apostles and Son, there is Nothing more to add. Any person, any city, land nation, ‘anytime’, can receive their times of Refreshing NOW and become a part of Christ’s Millennial reign. The Next Prophetic event yet to unfold is the Return of Christ, then the resurrection and the Judgment, that will conclude human history as we know it and commence eternity with Christ. Peter gave us the most vivid details of this final event:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2Pet3:10-13
So what Manner of people should we be, certainly not as those looking for signs and wonders but:
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2Pet3:14, 17
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
I think its important to understand the working of the Holy Spirit in conversion and in the life of a believer in light of those running around telling folks that they need to be ‘Baptized in the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues to confirm they have Him. Paul said in Rom8:9, ‘Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ is none of His‘, therefore if the Holy Spirit does not immediately take up His ministry as Comforter in the believer at conversion how can they be called a child of God without Him. That’s the point Paul is making in the text:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Rom8:14-17
Those who have ‘received the Spirit, been converted, born again, are FREE from Bondage to sin and such freedom is witnessed within that this has INEED taken place! If not, you are NOT His, the Spirit is not going dwell in a Vessel unfit and still defiled with sin, 2Tim2:20-21. The Cleansing, Purging (Sanctification) MUST take place at initial conversion, ‘the washing, regeneration and renewing of the Spirit’, Titus3:5, any teaching that claims a person can be born again (saved) while still defiled with sin (dwelling in them) is False. There is no such thing as a ‘second act of Sanctification, some kind of ‘special Baptism of the Spirit that cleanses out the remnants (stain) of sin dwelling within due to a defective nature inherited at birth or even a ‘gradual dying out to sin in some imaginary clean up process that takes place after conversion. The Convert grows in Grace and Knowledge, 2Pet3:18, but no where does it say he grows in Sanctification, in that slowly dying out to sin over time. You were ‘washed, Sanctified and Justified’ Paul said in 1Cor6:11, he didn’t say they were slowly dying out to the sins listed in the previous verses 1Cor6:9-10. Sanctification is always associated with initial conversion in Scripture:
to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Acts26:18
elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: 1Pet1:2
If you have not been Sanctified (cleansed, purged) in conversion, you’re NOT a Christian! Sin doesn’t die out gradually or in some ‘second act of grace. ‘Knowing this that the old man (selfishness, lust, sin) WAS Crucified with Him, that the body of sin (lustful desires) might be DONE away with! Rom6:6, Those who are in Christ HAVE Crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, Gal5:24, Past Tense, DONE, finished NOT to be repeated over and over again. Those who the Son has Set free are Free indeed! Jh8:36. The only reason the Sanctification Doctrines were invented to begin with is to necessitate the ‘sin nature fallacy that takes away man’s ability to do his part in Repentance. If a person is incapable (as they claim) of ‘Cleansing themselves of all filthiness and overflow of wickedness in repentance’ Js1:21, 2Cor7;1, then they will NEVER be Purged and Sanctified by the Blood, Heb9:14, because God is still waiting for them to do their part in Coming Clean with Him to begin with. No additional laying on of hands to impart the Spirit is going to cleanse anyone who has not first forsaken their rebellion in repentance.
It’s the Baptism of Repentance (a emptying self of all deceitfulness and guile) that must take place, a ‘refreshing of the spirit within, (meaning a ‘recovery of breath) Spirit is from the Greek word ‘Pneuma, a movement of air, (our word for pneumatics) in Gen2:7 it says that the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground and ‘Breathed into his nostrils, the BREATH of Life! Man is ‘body, soul and spirit’ (1Thes5:23) In the Greek: ‘Soma, Psyche, Pheuma’, the miracle of the New Birth is the recovery of LIFE in its fullness, as Jesus said; ‘that you may have life and have it more abundantly!’ Not merely a psyche existence in a body of flesh, but a renewed (regenerate) Spiritual life in Christ! Call it the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, New Birth, Regeneration, Sanctification, or ALL of these things, but understand that this is what occurs at Initial Conversion, not afterward; unless a person is ‘Washed, Sanctified and Justified’, they are not Saved nor do they posses the Comforter. (Holy Spirit, Jh14:26) They may be under conviction of the Spirit or have a consciousness of His presence when they do wrong, but they’re not children of God until the bondage to sin is broken. They may even be ‘speaking in tongues, but if still defiled within, they remain in darkness.
Before Jesus departed He promised His disciples they would not be left in the world alone as orphans, but be sent a Comforter, paraklētos, literally: ‘called to be at one’s side’, (Jh14:12) He will teach you all things, bring them to your remembrance, guide you into all truth and always testify of Christ. (Jh14:26, 16:13) He will also Convict the world of ‘Sin, Righteousness and Judgment’, Jh16:8. It’s important to understand that at Pentecost they didn’t receive the Spirit (which they already had, being already saved and born again) they received the promise of Lk24:49 to be ‘endued‘ with the power of the Spirit from on high. Endued means to ‘Put on’, as in the sense of sinking into one’s garment, ‘be Clothed, arrayed in’, ‘Put on the Full armor of God, Eph6:11, the Breastplate of Righteousness, Eph6:14, the New Man created in righteousness and true holiness, Eph4:24, Armor of God, Eph6:11, 14, Breastplate of faith, 1Thes5:8 and the Putting on of the Wedding garment, Matt22:11. Although we are no longer endued with Apostolic Powers, these ‘putting on’ passages are to be a ‘reflexive (spontaneous) action of being filled with the Spirit. Understand that this implies more than merely ‘wearing a garment as a covering’, the Greek indicates something sinking into, going under, plunging into, ‘endyo‘, to become so possessed in the mind of Christ in word, deed and action that you resemble and reproduce His life through yours! That’s what happened in the Apostles, to authenticate the Gospel message they ‘reproduced the works of Christ (Jh14:12) and turned the world upside-down with the truth. And so the Holy Remnant, perfected in love, throughout the generations have also turned world’s upside-down in life’s brought out of darkness into His marvelous light.
1Thes5:16-22 gives the Saints some important directives:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
Quench Not the Spirit, this word means to extinguish, like put the fire out, used in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Matt25:8, five who’s lamps had gone out. Understand that the Spirit is given to us as the ‘earnest‘ of our final inheritance in the Kingdom, Eph1:13-14, earnest means ‘down-payment, deposit, not guarantee (as some newer bible version translate it) so the Seal can be broken in that it is always associated with the earnest, or down-payment toward our final redemption. (2Cor1:22, Eph4:30) The Eph4:30 passage says ‘grieve not the Spirit, whereby Ye were Sealed unto the day of redemption, again the grieving, offending, saddening the Spirit in this sense, speaking of bitterness, anger, malice, evil speaking, Eph4:31, will inevitably lead to putting the fire out, extinguishing Him and He departs. Our relationship to Christ is as the Virgins, betrothed, and dependent on ‘keeping our lamps trimmed with plenty of oil … the oil representing the Holy Spirit, always burning because the fire is kindled by God. If our lamp is quenched we will not be meeting up with the Bridegroom. Our final inheritance in the Kingdom is not assured, it is a Hope Yet to be reaped, in the age to come, Tit1:2, 3:7, Gal6:7-10, always expressed in Scripture as a HOPE, in receiving the end (outcome) of your faith the Salvation of your soul. 1Pet1:9, Rom4:18, 5:2,4, 8:24-25, Gal5:5, Eph1:18, 4:4, Col1:5, 23, 27, 1Thes5:8, 1Tim1:1, Heb3:6, 6, 11, 19,
The leading evidence we have today to Prove beyond any doubt that the latter rain out-pouring with the supposed presence of Apostolic powers is 100% counterfeit is the flesh Kings promoting it have ‘sin in them’ and will NOT preach in favor of Righteousness. Because they are still Carnal sold under sin (not set free in Christ) they see the Kingdom through glided eyes. The Kingdom of God to them is earthly and nationalistic instead of Spiritual and universal, a Present Reality in which the Saints are companions in Tribulation and Christ is reigning NOW, with Righteousness as their Breastplate and Purity of heart their shield against the fiery darts of the wicked one. Their faith works by love (not signs and wonders) and keeps them Pure by Obedience to the Truth. Spotless and blameless in Christ they have Victory over sin, flesh and devil in this present age and look for the glorious appearing of their Great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for them that He might Redeem them form every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people zealous for good works! The flesh Kings are utterly without understanding of His Kingdom and under the Strong delusion that overcomes those who love not the truth. They claim Prophetic insight but preach for sin, looking to dispensational fairy tales to deliver them from evil. But it is the Present age in which the battle is being waged and the ONLY sign that matters is that of the Prophet Jonah, ‘Repent or Perish’, but in such repentance you must Come Clean, be Purged and made New. Many have been dubbed into a false repentance of trusting in His finished work, without doing their First Works of ceasing from their rebellion and entering in Him as a Vessel FIT for His use! Not defiled with the sin daily lie, ‘if I say I have no sin’ cry-baby confession of advocacy with the Father while you wallow in the Pig Pen! Advocacy in 1Jh2:1 is Comforter, paraklētos, not lawyer! If you had the Comforter leading and guiding, you wouldn’t be confessing your sins all day long shaming yourself and trampling Christ underfoot making Him a minister of your vile behavior.
Lying signs and wonders are always accompanied by unrighteous (sensual) deceptions, 2Thes2:9-10, apatē , deceitfulness, derived from ‘cheat, beguile, deceive, Lusts excited by deceit, seducing influence, the deceitfulness of sin, Heb3:12, 2Pet2:13, in other words it appeals to the base human appetites. Signs, mysteries, excitement, euphoria overcome the human intellect, the ‘working energeia of Satan, 2Thes2:9, pharmakeia, sorcery, amazements, all combine to spellbound the masses and nullify reason. logikos, means what is agreeable with logic and reason, Rom12:1-2, Isa1:18, (Come let us reason together, says the Lord) from LOGOS, the WORD, that through which God communicates to us the Way of Salvation, the TRUTH! What’s the end game to all this: ‘Those who perish because they receive NOT a Love for the TRUTH that they might be saved! 2Thes2:10. This is why its so important to understand that God’s Revelation is Complete, the next miraculous event is His Return, there is nothing yet to be done toward the redemption of mankind, there’s no Prophesies to be fulfilled, no Prophets to be sent, no divine healers or miracle workers and no Apostles. When you encounter these things, no matter how persuasive they may be or how deeply convinced the person believes they’re hearing from God, be VERY cautious!
The deceiving spirits are extremely devious and lay in wait to deceive. Paul warned about this in Eph4:14, ‘That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, Without a precise and correct Knowledge of the Truth you will fall prey to these winds. The ‘Wiles of the devil’, Eph6:11, are methodeia, Methods: cunning arts & crafts, deceit, trickery, constantly at work in the principalities, rulers of the darkness of this age, all part of the energeia of Satan. (super human efficiency, word only used in NT to describe either working of God or Devil) Understand that THIS is what you are up against when you encounter one of these characters and they will NOT be lacking in sincerity or the power of persuasion! They will always appear as our benefactors, harmless as doves, desirous of bestowing their ‘god given talents on us for our edification. But their power comes NOT from God, it’s augmented by ‘drawing away disciples after themselves’ (Acts20:30) who fall prey to the ‘greater deception energized (strong delusion) by Satan and his minions. Mixing Truth with error has always been the ‘method most used by the false teachers / prophets / pundits who unwittingly serve the Beast System, whether its supernatural manifestations or the rhetoric of great swelling words of emptiness, to tickle the ears, the SAME spirits are behind it all and unless you are fully armed in Christ and keenly aware of Satan’s wiles you WILL be taken captive by them.
Tongue speakers, healers, self-proclaimed Apostles, Prophets, Preachers who claim exclusive right to gather you into their flock serving as your overseer, proclaimed visions of going to hell and returning, alleged personal hearings from Jesus, seeing Jesus, witnessing of miraculous manifestations, supposed people risen from the dead, appearances and visitations of angels or spirits, Rapture predictions and signs of supposed fulfillments of OT prophecies leading to the rise of anti-Christ and tribulation period, claims of special revelations into obscure OT scriptures revealing present day events taking place as evidence the USA & Israel has some kind of role to play in final days prophecy. And watch out for a growing number of self-appointed mystics who claim you don’t need to study the Bible to know the truth, just listen to the ‘spirit … key word here; ‘spirits (of error!) Don’t be taken captive by them!
Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” Mk13:35-37
What are we told to Watch for? Simply His Return which can happen at any moment, so we must always be prepared to meet Him, pure, blameless and ready as Peter said, 2Pet3:14. Will there will specific Signs indicating the imminent of His return? That has been a matter of debate since the destruction of Jerusalem in 74AD and the mass persecution of Christians began. Therefore looking for an increase in wars, global commotions, kingdoms rising against one another, earthquakes, natural disasters, plagues, signs in the heavens, mysterious phenomenon, mass apostasy in the Church, false teachers, anti-Christ’s, anything associated with the nation state of Israel, or a one world government coming on the scene, is not a reliable method to predict the end of the age or the return of Christ. Simply because they have been taking place since 1st Century AD to varying degrees of intensity, and will until the end. So how can we determine with absolute accurately, compared to all that has past, that we’re NOW at the end and His return is right around the corner? In all honesty we can’t and it would be presumptuous of us to do so, failing to take into consideration the suffering endured by the early Saints under Rome and into ongoing generations of untold misery and death that most of present day Christendom has yet to experience. Therefore using increasing ‘intensity of suffering and turmoil as the determining factor is impossible because among every generation of Saints there has been good reason they should have escaped the carnage inflicted on them by the Lord putting an end to it. Our safest beat is to say that its over when its over, when the Lord returns to Judge the world in Righteousness, that generation will see it. We HOPE He’s coming soon, 2Pet3:12 ‘Looking for and hasting unto the Day of the Lord’, (to desire earnestly) but resolve within to run the Race set before us with endurance facing whatever comes in Steadfast faith and know we will met Him one way or the other and say with Paul:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Rom8:18-22
By Mike D