So we have no more apostles?

 “I am the least among the apostles….”


The issue of the gifts of the Spirit, or rather, certain gifts of the Spirit, all depending on who defines the issue, brings an ongoing question to almost every table. Have the gifts ceased or have they not? Frequently the bland statement is made that they belonged only to the era of the apostles, and with the end of the specific category of those apostles their equipment has also been removed.
    It seems then that it is important to establish the NT view of what apostles were and are. If we do not do our homework on that topic confusion must reign. Without a shadow of a doubt Christ invited, called and selected 12 men whom he also equipped and sent on ‘missions’. This number was so vital that when one fell away from the group then a replacement was urgently to be found. So we read in Acts 1:21f of the way the disciples, who were waiting for the promise of God of the Holy Spirit, went about selecting a replacement for Judas Iscariot. 
Thus one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time the Lord Jesus associated with us, beginning from his baptism by John until the day he[c] was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness of his resurrection together with us.”So they proposed two candidates: Joseph called Barsabbas (also called Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know the hearts of all. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to assume the task of this service  and apostleship from which Judas turned aside  to go to his own place.”  Then they cast lots for them, and the one chosen was Matthias; so he was counted with the eleven apostles.” 

    I have long felt that this was wrong, forgive me Lord, because I, as many other, saw Paul of Tarsus as the natural replacement for Judas. This is not so. When we move along in the life of the assembly of the baptised we take note that ‘Peter stood up with the eleven’ in Acts 2:14. Matthias is then without a shadow of a doubt one of the Twelve. Paul had not yet been converted. So whatever else Paul went through, he was never one of the Twelve. And that then brings us to the next question: was the apostolic fellowship ever limited in number to coincide with the lifespan of the Twelve? Listen to the word. While Christ was alive he called, equipped, commissioned and sent the Twelve on specific tasks all related to the Kingdom of God. The apostles where stationed in Jerusalem and acted in unison within the Church and great signs and wonders were done by them. So it continues in the first 12 chapters in Acts. The further importance of the unique standing of the twelve is seen in the city of God in Revelation where the city of God has twelve gates, each bearing the name of one of the 12 Apostles.
  
  Then comes chapter 13. The church in Antioch has been established by the ministry of Paul and 
Barnabas as we are told in chapter 11. The men of God who had been forced out of Jerusalem due to the Roman persecution came to Antioch and started preaching to the Jews only, but soon some came who were not Jews and they shared the same message with the Greek gentiles who lived there also. The Lord was with them and numbers grew. Report is sent to Jerusalem and the Apostles sent Barnabas to take stock of events. He assessed the situation and on his own initiative went of to Tarsus to look for Paul. Bringing him to Antioch the two of them now do the full scale work of Church planters and builders of the living Church! A full year and the combination of Jewish end Gentile believers was by their fellow citizens identified as Christians, as men who claimed to live in Christ and having Christ living in them. No doubt as a slur and ridicule. The church is visited by prophets coming from Jerusalem. In Jerusalem Peter is in prison and James is killed. The Apostle’s ranks are being thinned out. There is no question of replacing James as they had with Judas.                                                                     
    The next development occurred in Antioch. We are told that Paul and Barnabas were part of a collective leadership of Prophets and Teachers. After one year of teaching the work of Paul and Barnabas had raised up at competent leadership of different men. They worshipped and served the Lord and in one such event the Holy Spirit, in a manner not told us, but unequivocally audibly “said unto them set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” No Apostolic succession, no Jerusalem authorisation, no accreditation from the Eleven. The elders of the Church obeyed the Spirit of Christ and did exactly what Christ had done when he first selected and sent his Disciples on their mission. Saul and Barnabas were called, equipped, commissioned and sent by the Holy Spirit in co-operation with the body of believers. The Church affirmed by the laying on of hands what the Lord sovereignly had told them to do. The church neither created them as sent ones or licensed them to do so. But they obeyed the Lord, the Head of the Church and by sending them to the work which the Spirit had sent them to do they made them “apostles”. That is: those who are sent. “Apostello” in its original Greek meaning means only that: One who has been called, equipped, commissioned and sent to do someone else’s bidding. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Man and the Son of God is the APOSTLE of all apostles, as he was sent by the Father, so he would send his disciples. See Hebrews 3:1, John 17:3. And as the Church grew, He as the Head of the Church continues to ‘send’ along the very same lines, but these sent ones are never mistaken for the original twelve. Neither do they make that claim for themselves. But they are called what they were in function and office, but not as a title within a hierarchy. 
    In Acts 14:4 we are told that the area of Iconium was divided over the message brought by Paul and Barnabas, some sided with the Jews in the synagogue and some sided with the ‘sent ones’ i e the apostles. Notice: this is the first time Paul is called apostle. And notice secondly: this sending of these two men was attested by ‘signs and wonders’ that followed. Important! “So they stayed there for a considerable time, speaking out courageously for the Lord, who testified to this message of hid grace, granting miraculous signs and wonders to be performed through their hands.” Hold this thought: apostles are confirmed in their ministry by divine favour. In uncommon signs and wonders. It is part of the ‘sending you to do greater things than these’. Their status as sent ones is attested to by God. And if the gifts of the Spirit were confined to those sent ones, then we would expect them to follow any such in our time. 
    In 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8 Paul is writing to the Church in northern Greece. He refers to himself and his two co-workers Silvanus and Timothy as apostles in a most forthright manner: “For we never appeared with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext of greed-God is our witness- nor to seek glory from from people, either from you or from others, although we could have imposed our weight as apostles of Christ; instead we became as little children among you.” Plainly and obviously Paul counted his two comrades as apostles to the Thessalonians.
    In 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 We are told of the resurrection appearances of Christ. First to Cephas, then on another occasion to the Twelve, (sometime after Acts 1), then of five hundred at once, then of James alone, and then “of all the apostles”. Obviously not the Twelve, but another company of such officers of the Church. 

    Was Paul the last apostle? Still in 1 Corinthians 15 we read:Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” Having listed the previous occasions on which Christ showed Himself to people Paul finishes his account by saying that “and the last occasion I will mention is, that I myself also saw him (Damascus road)”. He never claims to be either the last apostle nor the last one to see the risen Lord. (John in the first chapter of Revelation puts paid to that idea.) But Paul is convinced that he is the least of all apostles on account of his former persecution of the Church. Later Paul refers to the gifts of Christ for the Church as ‘some as apostles’ etc Eph 4:10ff. But note that Paul never sent anyone as ‘his apostle’. Whatever gifts are needed for the task, are given to men who on the strength of those gifts become gifts to the Church, but very often they are the ones breaking new ground in new places, so they are seminal gifts around whom the new church grows up. Basically fulfilling the great commission.. as the original apostles. But a different sort of apostles since these now “build on the foundations of the Prophets and Apostles.” Apostles of this second order are workers sent out to continue the building that was initiated by the twelve, and as they do so they are also fulfilling the role of the Apostle. They have not disappeared at all. They have been renamed. If the church had been finished at the end of 1st century, then apostles would have ceased. But the work has gone on for 1900 plus years, with the same equipment! 
    They have no more disappeared than the city of Oslo has disappeared because of the change of name from Christiania to Oslo. It happened in 1924 when Norway had finally come out into full independence after having first been dominated by Denmark, and then for some decades had belonged to and been in union with Sweden. The Danish king Kristian renamed Oslo to Christiania in about 1650 AD in honour of himself. But in 1924 the now free and independent Norwegians took back the original name and threw the offensive ‘Christiania’, so redolent of national humiliation, out of the window and into the Bay of Oslo. 
    Again: the Greek word ‘apostello’ is the verb ‘to send’, ‘to put in a place with a view to a service’. The Church gradually became more and more latinized because of the dominant role of Rome, and ‘apostello’ became the latin ‘mitto’, since that is the exact same verb: to send, to release, set in motion, throw, expel, ejaculate etc etc. So the apostle became the missionary! So yes, in that sense the apostolic office is gone. But only in name. Every one of the TWELVE were missionaries. All the consequent apostles were missionaries, sent on mission by Christ! Every missionary is by definition an apostle. Identical terms if the conditions are fulfilled: ‘called by the Holy Spirit on the bidding of Christ, equipped, commissioned and sent.’How many missionary’s biographies have you read? The often overwhelming obstacles that these men and women overcame began with a resolute decision to obey the heavenly calling. They went indomitably convinced of Him who called them. And nothing could stop them. Not even the Church. 
    Back in 1 Corinthians chapter 4 Paul defends his apostleship in a very clear manner. He invites the reader to evaluate even Paul as to his stewardship of what God had entrusted to him. Basically: I am the Lord’s servant, not your slaves. Leave judgment to Him who sent me. I was sent by Him and am accountable to him only. And he now makes this apostolic circle wider: He includes Apollos into the apostolic frame work. “I have applied these things to myself and to Apollos because of you, brothers and sisters, so that through us you may learn ‘not to go beyond what is written’, so that none of you will be puffed up in favour of one against the other. For who concedes you any superiority? What do you have that you did not receive?… For I think that God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to die, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and people.” There can be little doubt that Paul considered Apollos and Timothy and himself as a sort of apostle different from the Twelve. An ongoing service to the Church as he declares in Ephesians 4.
In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul sets out his credentials as apostle. "Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus the Lord If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, for you are the confirming sign of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my defence to those examine me." "By their fruits they shall be known.." Notice how Paul refuses to use ‘apostle’ as a title, and plainly states that the apostle’s work is the changed lives of people. Only by the direct personal effects of his ministry will people know that they have met one sent to be a “fisher of men”. That those who shut their eyes to that do not acknowledge the apostle is neither here nor there. He does not defend a title, but defines a mission. We know how keen he was to be found running his race unto the crown of glory. No human accolade can add to that dimension of assurance of the calling to the work.

    One last reference to apostles should settle the issue as to how long apostles were known as such in the time of the Bible. Revelation 2:2 reads thus. “I know your works as well as your labour and steadfast endurance. You have even put to test those who refer themselves as apostles (but are not) and have discovered that they are false.” If apostles were not in existence at that time, then the need for testing the claims of ANY apostle would not be necessary. The first person to claim any such standing would be thrown out ‘prima vista’, on first sight. The need to discern presupposes a basic mass of apostles from which to sort out the good from the bad. So there could not have been false apostles at all unless there had been some genuine ones among whom, like wolves in a flock of sheep, the false were hiding. At this time, round about 96 AD, when John as the last living of the Twelve is writing, we are informed that apostles of the second order, indeed ‘the gift to the church order of apostles’, is very much alive and well enough to be counterfeited by the enemy. And there is not a slightest indication anywhere in scripture that the church of today is in any less need of ‘first apostles, second prophets, third teachers etc’ than when Paul wrote of Christ’s gifts to the Church. If the apostles are no more then neither is the Church. 
    Well what about after the death of John and those mentioned in Ephesus? It cannot come as a surprise to anyone that the 'Didache', or 'Didaskalion', a 2300 word, early Church manual, has a clear section on apostles. As it was written around 150 AD it provides ample proof that apostles had certainly not passed out of time or the life of the Church some one hundred years after the death of most of the original 12. And fifty years or more after the death of John. The manual is written to protect the church from just those false apostles of which John had written in a message from the Lord to the churches. Hear hear: “Now as concerning the apostles and prophets, according to the teaching of the gospel, do this; let every apostle that comes to you be received as of the Lord; and he shall stay but one day, and if need be, the next day also; but if he stay three days he is a false prophet. When the apostle leaves, let him take nothing but enough bread to see him to his next stop. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet.”Whatever else the Didache said, this is certain, apostles were commonly on the roads long after the end of the NT canon. So how can their ministry be said to have come to an end and their charismata with them? The charismata, the gifts of grace were not the possession of the apostles. They belonged to the entire church. And since they were not even tied to the apostles, it would not make any difference if the apostles had disappeared, it would not have affected the spiritual gifts in the Church at all.


    There is no such thing as an ‘apostolic gift’. The gifts of the apostle which are the needed equipment for the role of apostleship vary. Paul and Barnabas are very different in the gifts they have, and they complement each other since Christ never ‘lays all eggs in one basket’. But the apostles are a gift given by Christ to the Church. There is no calling to become a statutory apostle either. The proof of being an apostle is in the sending, going and doing. It never is an honorary title, but a job description. There is a calling by Christ to serve Him by being an apostle, a sent one, to a place and a nation and people to whom Christ has the errand of proclaiming the Kingdom and proclaiming the need for salvation, and pointing to the Saviour and Lord. An apostle is a witness, in word and life and deed to the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle may be a prophet or a teacher or an evangelist, whatever the equipment Christ bestows on the person is what will be turned into the service to the people. It may be church planting among some who came to Faith by the work of an evangelist, or it may be ‘raw hide evangelism’ for years with no visible result. 
    The ‘sent one’ gives account to the Sender. Being faithful in the task is critical, success is accidental. Being found faithful unto death is the hall mark of the one thus called and eternally embraced by the Master. The approval of the many is of little consequence to the one who knows the voice of the Shepherd.

 

    So, once again, have apostles ceased to be on the scene of the world with the end of the Twelve apostles? No they have not. In generation after generation Christ has called men and women to be the ones sent on His behalf, whether they were acknowledged by the Church in their time or not. And never once in Scripture is there a slightest hint that the Church of tomorrow can do with anything less than was needed for the Church in the beginning.
But here is our problem: there are many who claim to know that conditions for the Church of today somehow have changed radically from what we see and read in the NT. The claim is made that God is not a solid Rock, but a shifting sand. The doctrine of the immutability of God, the faith in a God who says ‘I change not’ is replaced by the feeble minded mumblings of those who base their theology on ‘it depends’.”Sound and firm doctrine” is no more. All that is left is the Bible filtered through a medium which worships the lack of distinction and hails relativity. The ultimate irony is this: the stauncher the principle of ‘Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Spiritus  Sanctus and Soli Deo Gloria' is maintained, the more commonly the gifts in and to the Church are denied.
     
    They claim that the Word of God does not mean what it says, but must be understood in the contemporary context. If what the Word says does not fit with what we experience then the word must be theologically refitted to suit the landscape. But what we experience depends on what we believe! If we believe there are no apostles then we will not accept either them, or that which always follows them: signs and wonders. Because, like it or not, apostolic mission continues to be corroborated by signs and wonders. Every time that the gospel breaks through into a new culture, a new language group or a new nation, the breakthrough is attested by the very things that ‘happened to us in the beginning’, as Peter affirmed to the Church in Jerusalem.

 

    The writer to the Hebrews, probably another apostle of the second order, wrote very serious words:Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken through angels proved to be so firm that every violation or disobedience received its just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first communicated through the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him,while God confirmed their witness with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” In every generation the church starts the same way as in the beginning. No spiritual life is ever inherited, but the result of the new birth in new generations of believers. The church 2021 is not the later growth of that first generation, but a new growth in the same field of humanity. The need for conversion, redemption, reconciliation and salvation of the individual is the incarnation of the same Word of God as in the beginning. And the process is the same, the given dynamic is the same and the signs and wonders needed are the same. The gospel was to be attended by signs and wonders. And “as the Father sent me, so send I you!” “These signs shall follow them that believe”. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? We shall not, indeed the rapid loss of membership and the rapid decline of the position of the Church proves beyond doubt that we are suffering the consequences of our collective neglect. Where the Church grows in the world, there it acknowledges the apostles even if many more style themselves apostles than there is call for. Never was it more true than “not all that glitters is gold.”
It was first… and there is no hint of that not also being at the last, since Jesus Himself is the initiator, author of, and Finisher, the Alpha and the Omega, of our faith. To insinuate that the one who is the beginning and the end should have omitted the entire content in the middle between A and O is not only incredible, it is also a direct denial of the immutability of God. The Church of today must dare to say this of Jesus Christ: “Remember your leaders, who spoke God’s message to you; reflect on the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and forever.” What place is there for a faith that eliminates a large part of the things that were revealed by the Spirit to Paul and the other writers about the gifts to the church? None at all, because if you remove what Christ said he would reveal to Paul, then you no longer have a Christian church, the Christ has gone from Christian.
Acts 9:15-17 “But the Lord said to him, “Go, because this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”So Ananias departed and entered the house, placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

 

    When Paul shared with the Corinthian church about various matters he frequently refers to “I received from the Lord…” It would be very hard to maintain that this is true of the 13th chapter but was not true about chapters 12 and 14. By what trickery and deceit does the cessationist reject the cover teaching surrounding the teaching on love, when the very gifts spoken of in the 12th and 14th are Gods gifts to demonstrate the Love of God to the world through the Church? Does a normal logical reading of those three chapters allow you to reject the one preceding and the one following and only retain one or two phrases of the middle one? What is the better way? Better is a comparative, so better than what? 
    In the previous chapters Paul has dealt with one matter after the other that was brought to his attention about the state of things in Corinth. All sorts of wrong ways of doing things in a number of areas. Including that of how the gifts of God were understood. If there is a wrong way to do, then they did it. But there is a right way of using the gifts, a better way than that which was prevalent in Corinth. In chapter 12 he lists their misconceptions relative to the gifts. They had them, but did not understand how to handle them, they knew little of the Body of the Church in operation, they thought of the gifts in a fleshly and self-centered way. They were after all designated as children in the faith in chapter 3. Giving gifts to children is always fraught with danger. They thought that all must have this or that gift to be genuine, much because they had them, or so they thought. (The equivalent today is the Pentecostal claim that every true child of God speaks in tongues.) The gifts, says Paul therefore, must no longer be seen from that wrong perspective. They must be operative within the framework of Love. A love that seeks not its own, that is never arrogant or proud, not self seeking, not impatient not easily angered. And the love with which the gifts are used will transcend the gifts the same way that the essential me will survive my body. But until that time the gifts are the gifts of Love from the Father of lights. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” Rom 8:32  “Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?” If you ask anything in my name..
And far far from saying that the gifts are limited in time the fourteenth chapter launches them for all the Church in all ages. “Since you are eager for the manifestations of the Spirit , seek to abound in order to strengthen the Church.” (14:12) As in the first verse: “pursue love and seek, be eager, for the spiritual gifts.” Not either or, but love essential for the use of the Gifts. To Timothy Paul admonishes: “Stir up the gift within you”. To the Thessalonian Church he warns not to extinguish the Spirit by forbidding prophecy. (1 Thess 5:18-22) A very apt warning, and a very real danger. As evidenced in the silence of the Spirit in most evangelical churches. The only voice that is heard is the voice of someone preaching about the word, and often denying the very work of the Spirit without which no spoken words ever produce that for which they were sent. The Body of believers, being the new body that has been prepared for the Head in Heaven to express Himself in the World for the glory of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit.
Neither the gifts of Christ to the Church in the form of Teachers/Shepherds and Prophets, Apostles and Evangelists are in evidence in any Church which denies that those are for the Church. Neither will there ever be evidence of the gifts of the Spirit in a church where there is no Body concept and no understanding of what ‘building up the body’ means.
Oh you can call people by those titles as long as you ignore the biblical credentials for them.

 

    You can even claim to be led by the Spirit as long as nobody contests your teaching on the things you claim that the Spirit has long since stopped doing. You can have all the elemental paraphernalia in place that constitute the popular idea of what Church is, and as long as you don’t get down to the brass tacks of scripture then you can create and constitute any number of organisations with the name of being Church. But begin to ask the Head for illumination, begin to search the scriptures and a certain unease creeps in: is this all?
“And the Spirit and the Bride say: come..and let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wants it take of the water of life free of charge.”
* * *
Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster 12 June 2021

For a more comprehensive text about the cessation of the gifts: see Blogtext. Have the spiritual gifts come to an end? ~ Teddy Donobauer


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Blogtext: "The silencing of the Spirit"


  1. THE SILENCING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

    "Never use the word silence, until you have heard a heart stop beating."

    Wherever we look in the Bible we find predictions that speak of a Silence of God to come.

    We read of the awesome silence of our Lord when he would not respond to the taunts and calumnies of his accusers.

    We read that there would at some time be a distinct silence from the Word of God itself. A frantic search would ensue for that most needed of communications, it will occur said the prophet Amos.

    When would that silence come? There was a silence for 400 odd years between the end of Malachi and the beginning of Matthew.

    But the fearsome silence of God is also experienced by individuals. When the crown on king Saul has slipped down over his ears he found that : "When Saul inquired of the Lord, the LORD did not answer him either by dreams, or by Urim or by prophets."

    We read of the deafening of ears of God's people and Gods enemies alike.
    "Pharaoh's heart was hardened." "With hearing ears they hear not."(see my other posting on that theme)

    "There was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour."

    But we also are told that severe silencing of the Holy Spirit of God would eventually happen.
    And it would be done by the Church itself!

    Is the church of Christ on an upward evolutionary path?

    Do you find that question odd? If so I suggest it is because a large majority of the population have so thoroughly been brainwashed by a theory of
    'ever upward development of all things' that it is now by some sort of nebulous reasoning taken for granted that everything that is now must be better than that which was in the past, simply because it is newer. If I look without those blinkers I see a few things that speak of the absolute opposite of upward development.

    Already during the last teachings of the Lord Jesus there is an ominous warning:
    "The son of Man, when he comes, shall he find the faith on the earth?"

    Although it is part of the task of the Church to spread the gospel over the whole earth, a
    nd holding out a promise that the whole world may be 'evangelized', there is also the truth of parallel reality of only a Remnant, the Elect, the Chosen being saved. There is certainly the task of preaching the good news to all, but not a prognosis that any majority in any time will be saved and serving.

    Before the ultimate throne of God there all nations will stand under judgment but no whole nations will be among the redeemed. But only those of whom it was said: '
    and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;', surely a great throng, a multitude, but not ever the majority of mankind.

    Not only is the idea of 'the whole world saved' not very well attested but it is also true that quality of the same church would also not be on an upward movement but rather the contrary.

    As Paul is about to leave the Church at Ephesos for the last time he makes a prediction of bad things to come: '
    For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.'

    To Timothy Paul is even sharper in tone and to the extent of his warning: '
    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.'

    Note that Paul in no way suffers from the delusion of an inevitable upward spiral of maturity. And when you add what he wrote to Timothy a short while before, you will be rallied to realize that it is the Holy Spirit himself who gives this futuristic scenario: ’Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

    And to complete the prognosis of what the end times will look like, even within the assembly of the saints; Read 2 Timothy 3. In view of how large parts of the Church have become more worldly than the world itself this is indeed eye-watering.

    'This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

    It is an illusion to believe that the church of today is an upward and onward development from the early Church. The Church of Christ is a remnant of what she was from the beginning. A remnant of what God gave her from the beginning is still there. The essentials have never been lost. The Word and the Spirit!

    Why reformation?
    Large parts of the now existing churches claim to be "Reformed Churches". But what was it they needed to be reformed by, for and why? The Church in the beginning was given the fullness of Christ. Over the centuries until the Reformation it lost virtually on every point
    ‘that which was in the beginning'.
    And when the reformation age came some of the original treasure of the Church was regained, but only in part. What was
    created from this mixture of clay and iron is what you see today.

    Tradition and Church sovereignty over the WORD by various means, such as a long list of theologies, did not disappear. The reformation created a new and equally solid prison for the Word of Truth in the Spirit as ever there was before the Reformation. The prisoner does not thank you much for being moved from a dungeon to an ivory tower, his imprisonment remains the same. And only freedom will satisfy him. The need for reformation today stems from one major source. The silencing of the Spirit of God in the Church.

    The unchanging Trinity

    An unholy thing has happened to the Holy Spirit over time. He has been separated from the Father and the Son in a most despicable manner. And He has also been separated from the Word of God in another unholy manner.

    One of the aspects of the Godhead is its
    immutability. God, says the scripture is unchanging from eternity to eternity. God is forever the same and does not accommodate Himself to our changing nature nor is there a shadow of changing with him."Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us by the word of truth forth , so that we might be as it were, the first fruits of his creatures."

    Equally the scriptures declare that the Son, the Saviour, the Christ is equally unchanging.
    " Jesus Christ, the same today, yesterday and forever."And naturally the Word also declares the unchanging nature of the Spirit. "How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? "There is no room for an evolution of God, in God three in one itself. God is not an evolving entity, what ever the theologians say. Man's perceptions change and mankind’s morals change, but God changes not. It stretches across the ages to his people. "For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable."

    But now the great (unholy) mystery.

    The third member of the Godhead does not change in Himself, in his true Personhood, in his power and ability to promote the holiness without which it is impossible to see God. Nor does he withdraw his gifts and calling, since he acts in total union with the Father and the Son and they have given tasks to the subservient Spirit. Gifts which neither Father or Son has ever changed. They were given in the past, not only for the past but for ever, as long as it is called today. Since only 'today' it is the day of full salvation. Without change until the end of the Ages. Any change in one and all must change. And an unreliable God is no God at all.

    And yet: The Church possesses the outrageous ability to render the Spirit of God inoperative and outcast from the very church! A stranger in his own home. A missing High Priest in the temple. A giver of perfect gifts whose treasures are roughly shunned by the very people for whom they are designed.

    Well may you ask: how is that done, and is it even possible?

    One basic assumption that we should agree on is that
    'all scripture is God breathed, or God aspired and hence Spirit driven. So the scriptures must never be given the status of independence from the Spirit itself. Scripture without the Spirit is mere words. To this there are several testimonies in the scriptures.

    "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us to enter into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it. For the gospel was preached to us as well as to them. But to them it was of no profit, because they did not receive it and mix it with their own faith. "
    If the words alone were effective then no personal involvement would be necessary. Faith is the gift of the same Spirit who first made sure that the word was written down. ‘Without Faith it is impossible to please God.’ The words only follow through on the Spirit taking the words of Christ and teaching them to us. Spirit cannot operate without the word, nor can the word do anything at all without the Spirit. A solid and reliable truth.

    Claiming that it is enough to expound the word in semantic
    'acrobacy and telling people that: if you know the word you also have what it says' is untenable by the one standard of verity that is left us. The Word himself declares it in absolute terms. 'My words are spirit and truth', ''But an hour is coming, and has come, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is Spirit and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.' '

    And most centrally Jesus explained the relationship between the written words and himself in unassailable clarity in John 5:39 'You search the scriptures, because you are of the opinion and think that knowing them is having the eternal life; and , yes they are true testimonies about me. And still, you will not come to me to receive that very life.' A few verses later in the same chapter: 'If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?'

    The word must become flesh

    It is not enough to know the truth as a knowledge in the head. It is truth when it has worked out in my life what the Spirit worked into the meaning behind the words. What the written word can do is
    inform us as to the certainty of something' s existence. What the Spirit does with the information is to instruct us one a life changing scale, and when he has done so it becomes an intuitive knowledge, a constant walking in the Spirit.

    The principal difference between the former covenant and the new is the indwelling of the Spirit in the believer. Whereas the former covenant saw the words of God being like the bit and bridle of a horse, being kept in reins by outward means, the new covenant sees the horse as having accepted the master as part of his flock and therefore follows in the safety zone that is created by trust.

    That is the meaning of Jeremia
    h 31:33-34 as given again by Paul in 2 Cor 3.' You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifest that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.'

    The mere words about the matters of faith are information and that information can simply result in a life lived in a straight jacket of do's and don'ts. Much like the Highway code determines what you must do however you feel about it. You may have all the right information but never know the instruction that brings those words from the paper to the heart.
    Knowing the Highway code never prevents you from breaking it unless you firmly believe in it. It is the doer of the word that truly believes. And I claim to be on safe ground when I say that we only truly believe what we actually have learned to do. Or to put it in other words: ‘Orthodoxy’ in teaching must lead to ‘Orthopraxis’ in doing. Correct doctrine is in the scriptures always seen as correct living.

    If the word is separated from the Spirit and the direct teaching of the Spirit to the church is ignored then all that is left of preaching is the speaker’s use of the Word of God to preach his version of the Truth.
    The incarnation is something utterly other: We are to be transformed by the Word so that we become the message that we preach. Only the Spirit of the Incarnate God will accomplish that transformation.

    That is where the gifts of the Spirit come in. The Spirit is not needed in order to launch a one hour homily on say 'the doctrine concerning the immutability of God'. A fair acquaintance with a few textbooks of the preferred theology and a few hours of swotting over the wisdom of other men, is enough to create a homily or sermon on any topic. Add stamina and a good voice and the ability to master the speaker's arsenal and you may bring any matter for information to any body of believers or unbelievers.

    But when does it become the words of the Spirit in the hearts of the believers? The scriptures given by the Holy Spirit spell it out clearly.

    'But a natural (not spiritually born) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are to be appraised in a spiritual manner. It takes a spiritual man to appraise all things spiritual, and the spiritual man is not appraised by the any (natural) man.'

    Only the Spirit knows how to make the mind of Christ known to those who have the mind of Christ by regeneration.

    If we attempt to better the unregenerate man by preaching then we are attempting the animation of a dead corpse, yea, we try to raise Lazarus by incantation and loud shouting. We saw how Jesus did it: 'Lazarus come out' and will emulate that for the next ten years, always hoping that the dead will rise by words alone.
    'The kingdom of God is not in eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the holy Spirit.'
    'For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power.'
    'My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.'

    The power of God transforms lives, it does not
    merely pre- or conserve members of an organisation.

    Aborted mission?

    The total scope of the work and mission of Jesus Christ in the Church of Christ can not be understood apart from the Spirit. The Spirit has no agenda of His own at all. But He carries out the will of the Father and the Son and glorifies them both in a very self-effacing way. While being the operational agent behind all of the following, they all contribute to the creation of the new man in Christ.

    Here is his work as expressed in the very scriptures that He inspired the writing of.

    • He awakens the heart of the sinner who hears the gospel preached.

    • He convicts the heart of sin, judgment and righteousness

    • He paints Christ before the lost man or woman's eyes until hope awakens and that the sinner understands the need of giving him or herself unreservedly to the Saviour, who also gives himself to the sinner to be received by faith.

    • He brings the forlorn and lost to the turning round point of repentance

    • He shows him the need to allow the old man to die in the water of Baptism. No biblical baptism is done with out both elements and therefore :

    • He then baptizes him or her by the Holy Spirit so that the resurrection life of Christ can begin and that the purifying and cleansing work of clearing the dross and chaff of the past life can happen.

    • He will establish your understanding of God the Father and assure you of being his child.

    • His presence in your life is the token of your spiritual inheritance with all the saints.

    • He begins a lifelong process of training in righteousness and sanctification.

    • He is instrumental in frequent re-fillings by the Spirit as the need arises.

    • He establishes the walking in the Spirit guided by the Word of the perfect law of Love, a Love which He first has poured out in the heart of those baptized in the Spirit.

    • He equips every man for their work of upbuilding the entire body by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. He also qualifies that the gifts cannot be separated from the fruit of the Spirit.

    • He assists the believer in his relationship to the written word wherein the plan of salvation, and the purposes of God, are made clear by diligent personal feeding on the word. The Spirit interprets the things of the Spirit on the basis of his own words. The Spirit supports 'sound doctrine' and defines sound doctrine as that teaching which leads to the life of which it speaks.

    • He guides the believers by giving clear directions and sometimes rebuttals and clear 'no entry' signs. He does so by a multitude of means all of them furthering the growth of understanding by the word and the revelation to the body of believers by explaining the meaning of the word. This he does through all the members of the body.

    • He also carries out judgment and correction and punishment when needed.

    • He speaks to the Church as a whole, not merely to a handful of individuals.

    • He together with the Lamb of God invites to the marriage supper.

    These are a number of the works of the Spirit in the Church of Christ. The list can be extended.

    All these works are interlinked with one another, and they are the works of the Trinity. They are in total agreement and unity and what is done is approved by them all.

    The silencing of the Spirit?


    Telling the Church that the Spirit no longer does this and that and that is to curtail the work of the Spirit
    and bring the Church into confusion, since what is now no longer believed has not been removed from the very scriptures the same Spirit inspired. So there is no encouragement to read the scriptures except those parts that are 'safe' and away from the focus of the Church.

    Whereas the Father and Son are somewhat unaffected by what the Church does the Spirit is much more vulnerable and can in fact be horrendously maltreated by the children of God. Note these things can only happen in the CHURCH.

    • He can be lied to with lethal consequences. Acts 5:3

    • His gifts can become 'goods for sale' and will then be withdrawn from those who do such Acts. ch 8:18-21

    • He can be grieved by unedifying teaching or preaching; Eph 4:30

    • He can be quenched by the denial of some of his gifts, 1 Thess 5:18

    • He can be insulted by the way the cross and blood of Christ are treated, Heb 10:28




    The personality of the Holy Spirit

    The Holy Spirit is not a container of this or that commodity. He is the full person of the Godhead and you cannot have a little of him or see him as a sort of spiritual tank station where you go to top up. It is true that an occasional 'double portion' and 'infilling' can occur as a special equipping for a specific task,
    and that may be translated into a view that the Holy Spirit is something like a resource, but first and foremost the Spirit is an indivisible unity. He is either alive in you or he is not. You cannot have a partial tide of Spirit in and Spirit out as if it was a seashore. You cannot have more or less of the Spirit. It is you who allow him to rule over more or less of your life.

    Neither can you pick and chose which bits you like or don't like. His gifts are his sovereign belongings. They are given to us relative to the service to which we are called. But they remain the gifts of the Spirit. To divide the indivisible is quenching the Spirit. To deny prophesying is one such quenching.

    To deny a part of the work and ministry of the Spirit is to deny Him entirely. The Spirit is not given in instalments.

    The somersault of unbelief:

    I will conclude with a few observations from the word about the working of the Spirit and the word together. When someone stands up and denies part of the Spirit's work and operation by saying that this or that has ceased, then in effect what is claimed is this:


    "I, who am born again by the Spirit, have been made part of the body of Christ by the same Spirit, have learned to worship in the Spirit, endeavour to walk in daily communion with the Spirit, spend parts of my life in the words given by the Spirit, I have it from the Spirit and the Word that the Spirit no longer does what he is manifestly was doing right through the Bible. He has told me so, trust me."

    Is that not a rather tall order? Did the Spirit lie in the Bible, or is the lie spoken by those who, while claiming the Bible to be the true communication of God to all people in all ages, cross their fingers behind their backs and deny large parts of what is written? Because unless you outright deny that God and the Holy Spirit never change you cannot remove a third of the New Testament and still be considered an honest person. If God changes then nothing of the Bible is safe.


    In particular there is much folly spoken about the 'signs and wonders' of the early church. Have they ceased? They are significant in one respect. They have an outburst in the beginning of a breakthrough by the Gospel into a new area or new people. So what happened on the day of Pentecost did what it was designed for and it kept on for a while. But then the people needed to hear the life changing message which was preached by Peter and they were added to the Church with less need for the confirmation in signs and wonders.

    But when the gospel reached the Samarians another breakthrough was confirmed by signs and wonders and a fresh outpo
    uring of the Spirit. Acts 8:4-17 The next breakthrough came to the Romans. The household of Cornelius being the first fruits. Peter comes to them after beings moved there by a series of revelations none of which follow from any written word. In fact he tried to defend himself against the revelation by referring to scripture. God Himself overruled. Acts 10:44-48. But the real hammer is what he tells the Jerusalem contingent of apostles and believers. Acts 11:15-18. 'It happened in the household of Cornelius as it had happened on us in the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord how he used to say John baptized you with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'

    Deny the deliberate and conscious baptism with the Spirit and you will also deny the works and gifts of the Spirit.

    The rest is salvation history. Right through Paul’s ministry and that of many others and then right through Romans and Corinthians and so on the signs and wonders are not routine but exceptions. It is easy to see how the fallacy arose. If you landed in one of the interim periods you would interpret the latent signs as absent signs. But to draw the conclusion that they therefore have ceased is plain folly.
    The gospel is even today breaching into new constellations of people and languages and where that happens the original signs and wonders occur.

    Yes it is true that the role of an Apostle included signs and wonders. So therefore the allegation is made that the signs and miracles ceased with them. 'The distinguishing marks of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs, wonders, and miracles.' 2 Cor 12:11-13
    But no such claim can be sustained for long. Because not only the apostles did signs and miracles but also those who heard that first generation.
    The gifts of Christ to the Church in all ages are ‘And he gave some as apostles, and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.’
    Has not every generation of the Church been given all these? Those who deny the full work of the Spirit also deny these gifts. And the dead man’s grip of a theology of denial cannot create a Church akin to that which was in the beginning.

    'After it was at first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders, and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.' Hebrews 2:1-5

    When Jesus prayed for the church in John 14 to 17 he entirely omitted saying anything about different conditions for the next generations of believer. He in fact established that what was relevant for the twelve would be relevant for generations to come among those: '
    As you sent me into the world, so send I them.' 'Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;' Is there the slightest evidence that the coming generations would labour under different conditions?

    And by proxy we are told that in the end times there will be many false signs and wonders designed to lure the believers away from the simplicity of faith in Christ. If the signs and wonders had by then been gone for 2000 years there would not have been any believers that believed in them, so that they could be fooled by the counterfeit stuff. See Matthew 24:23-24 It is only in among the true things that a counterfeit stands a chance of success.

    And I have not even breathed a word of the 2000 years of church history during which signs and wonders and miracles intermittently have been manifested, and as soon as they appeared were suppressed by the likes of those who still deny them today.

    Hold fast to what you have.


    You however continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.’ And the continuity of the same teaching is safeguarded by Paul to Timothy in 2 Tim 2:2 ‘And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.’ Theologies seem to have a need to renew themselves, the Truth of the Word has no such need.

    Like a babe in a manger

    When Christ was born he was helpless and dependent on his parents. This child was soon threatened and singled out for destruction by those whose very position as King the babe questioned. The Holy Spirit may also receive such treatment. He may be silenced by the very people to whom he was sent. Coming to their own and being rejected is an experience shared by the Son and the Spirit.


    I have made the point that the Holy Spirit is vulnerable to what the Church does. And it follows from what the ministry of Jesus suffered while on earth. Frequently the scriptures tell us that Jesus could not do any great works in this place or that, and the reason is always the same:
    'And He could not do any miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He was amazed at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages, teaching.' Mark 6:5-7. Take good note: he could teach in the midst of unbelief, but accomplish nothing else. But teaching that is not testified to by the signs may lead nowhere. Even for Christ the same applied.

    It is no accident that Jesus in his farewell message to the disciples promised: 'And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will pick up serpents and if they drink any deadly poison it shall not hurt them. They will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.'


    The rest of the NT confirms that the continued works of Christ through the Church did all of that. Jesus said it was an integral, if not essential, part of evangelizing. Churches adamant about the cessation of the gifts do not generally appear among the churches that grow.

    Unbelief and the elevation of ignorance about the gifts of the Spirit are dead certain ways to never experience them. The Holy Spirit may brood over the primeval waters. He may have all executive power in the universe.
    But he will be silenced by unbelief.

    As in the beginning.


    What is left is a form of godliness without power.


    Endless preaching without authority to produce what it proclaims.
    Eloquent repetitions of promises never fulfilled.
    Escape to heaven seen as the only real purpose of salvation.
    Evangelistic messages over and over to the already saved.


    Is it not a terrible silence?

    The text is a bit gloomy, right?
    You might react and say that you believe that you are saved while recognizing that some of what I wrote above is familiar to you from your own Church life. Comfort yourself. If you know the Lord and have the testimony of adoption, knowing yourself to be a child of God, then you shall be saved. But our individual salvation happens in order for us to become the Church together with others. The order must be right. Contrary to some teachings there is Salvation outside the Church because you are saved in order to become the Church. It is never the Church that saves you but the Lord Jesus by the work of the Spirit. Salvation is individual, Church is the collective of the saved. Salvation’s further purpose is what the rest of the Work of the Spirit is all about.

    I said in the beginning that you should never use the word silence until you have heard a heart stop beating. Lay your ear to the church and listen. You may hear the awesome silence of the quenched Holy Spirit. But even that will be drowned out by the voices of unbelief.

    There are numerous passages that declare the necessity of holding fast to that which once and for all was given the church. There are no passages that tell us that the future will be
    different than the beginning, or that you are entitled to ignore large parts of the Word in the future. ’Heaven and earth may pass, but my words shall not.’

    Separating the Word from the Spirit is one major 'silencer'. What is omitted in the teaching of the Church does not reach the heart of the church and cannot grow and make an impact. The command
    'to teach all that I have commanded them', 'to not withhold from the church any of the counsel of God' is much neglected in every shade and hue of Church round the globe. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the words of Christ, how shall they have faith if not taught the fullness?

    There is a very ill boding correlation between certain styles of preaching and a firm denial of many of the above mentioned works of the Spirit. Many of the modes of operation and gifts to the church are today denied by large segments of the Church.

    It was predicted to happen, and the fulfilment of that prediction is here. Need it stay that way?

    Teddy Donobauer

    Doncaster Jan 26/ February 24 2021

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