How is it therefore that those who claim to have the Comforter are believing different things? Catholic charismatics believe they have the Comforter, speak in tongues, do miracles. And yet they’re insistent that Mary is the mother of God. They’re insistent that the Pope is God’s representative here on earth. Why is it on the issue of the Trinity that there is division between those who all claim to have the Comforter in the miraculous sense? It can’t be so that they’ve all got these gifts. It can’t be so. Because the Comforter was to lead to “all truth”.
And yet we’re not saying that in no sense do these words apply to us. In the first century, in it’s miraculous sense, yes those gifts have been withdrawn. But actually when you look at the language the Lord uses… “I’m going away, but I’m not going to leave you as orphans, I will come to you in this Comforter and it will abide with you or in you.” Yet all the time in John’s record, he speaks about how the words of Jesus will abide in you. “The seed of God, or the Word of God, abides in you”. “The Truth abides” in us. And Jesus says, “My Word is Truth”…God’s Word is Truth (Jn. 17:17). The Word of God abides in you, the gospel abides in us. But the Comforter abides in us. So you see then the parallel between the Comforter and the Word of God.
Now another thing that I’d like to bring to your attention is the way that the gifts were passed on in the first century… by the laying on of hands, by the Apostles. That’s why when Simon saw that by the laying on of the Apostle’s hands the gifts were given, he offered them money. Paul said he wanted to visit Rome, to lay his hands on them and give them some spiritual gift. He tells Timothy of the gift that he put in Timothy by the laying on of his hands.
And so when the first century Apostles started to die out, there’s no evidence at all that that power to lay on hands existed beyond them. So at most, the second generation after Jesus no longer had those gifts. And I want to ask you a question, and I ask this in all intellectual honesty: You’ll probably be aware, all of you here, of the Lord’s own words where he says that when he comes again there will be people who will say, “Lord, Lord. Didn’t we do miracles in your name?” (Mt. 7:23-25). And he’ll say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you are.” There are going to be… “many [who] will say this”, many people, from Catholic Charismatics to well meaning Pentecostals. Not a couple of misguided people, but many people will think that they had the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but will find tragically all too late, he doesn’t even know them. Now who are these people? Now, I’m not pointing fingers at anybody nor judging any individual. But what I’m saying is, there’s going to be a lot of people in this position. And I plead with you, because my heart burns for you…if you might be in that category, to think again. Because I do not believe that, despite the confident words, that “Yeah, we do miracles, yeah it all happens down at our church”, I do not believe that underneath, in that un-shareable self which we all have, that you are that confident. As you lie awake at night (like I do), looking up at the ceiling, looking up at the light socket, thinking about who you really are and about what you really believe. I do not believe that underneath there is not a doubt. That “Is this whole thing valid or not? Or is it just a paradigm that we bought into?” …won’t go away. And I submit to you that that’s what it is. And when you rationally analyze against the scriptures that those things that are called miracles are not really being done. And I sincerely submit to you that those things have been withdrawn and that now we can’t use those miracles as a crutch for our own faith. But what we have is God’s Word. And it is a man or a woman and his Bible, that’s what they have. It’s what you have and what I have.
God bless and I hope to pick up in our summing up. Thank you.