Public Debate on “Are the Miraculous Gifts of the
Holy Spirit Possessed today?”
Transcript of a debate with John Liliekas
Saturday 4 March 1989
The Great Hall, University Of Leeds,Leeds, U.K.
For Possession today position: Mr. John Liliekas (Charismatic/ Evangelical Christian)
Against possession today position: Mr. Duncan Heaster
Chairman: Mr. Simon Perfitt
Mr. Liliekas’ First Speech
3-2-1 The Need For Miracles
3-2-2 Divine Administration
Mr. Heaster’s First Speech
3-2-3 Charismatic Christians
Mr. Liliekas’ Second Speech
3-2-5 Abuse Of Spirit Gifts
Mr. Heaster’s Second Speech
3-2-6 Spirit Gifts Withdrawn
Questions from the Floor
3-2-7 Questions About The Holy Spirit
3-2-8 Questions About Spirit Gifts
Summation by Mr. Liliekas
3-2-9 Gifts Of The Spirit Today
Summation by Mr. Heaster
3-2-10 Humble To The Word Of God
Chairman’s Concluding Remarks
This Debate arose as a result of the discussions between Duncan Heaster and John Liliekas on differing doctrinal issues. Consequently, it was felt a Public Debate concerning the present day possession of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit was desirable and would be of interest to a wide range of people.
Both Duncan Heaster and John Liliekas agree that the Bible is the Inspired and Infallible Word of God, therefore it formed the basis for the Debate.
Mr. Liliekas has been asked to provide confirmatory evidence for three examples he gave during the Debate, as follows:
Reference is made to Baptists in the Philippines raising the dead. Enquiries have been made of the Baptist Headquarters in London and also in the Philippines, neither of whom appear to have any knowledge or records of such claim;
Reference is made to “Bible John”. He was a Glasgow murderer in 1968. The published records do not include any accounts of him endeavouring to convert anyone; in fact, he was a murderer of female dancers and was nicknamed “Bible John” because he once quoted from the Bible;
Reference is made to the miraculous cure of a Paisley girl whose one leg was six inches shorter than the other. Mr. Heaster was invited to investigate the evidence; so far no verifiable evidence has been provided and the identity of the person is unknown.
One of the questioners gave a personal testimony of being the subject of a miraculous cure. This evidence, provided by the lady, was used by Mr. Liliekas in a further debate with John Allfree on the same subject, published as a separate transcript, where the matter is investigated further.
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to the Debate. First of all, I would like to introduce our two speakers this evening. On my right side, your left, Mr. Liliekas, who is going to speak for the subject this evening “Are the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit possessed today?” and on my left, Mr. Duncan Heaster, who is going to speak against that proposal.
Before they begin, I will just run through the order for this evening. The two speakers will be given 25 minutes each for their opening speeches, then there will be a 10 minute interval for you to go to the toilet, or whatever, stretch your legs…and after that 10 minutes for each speaker to reply. Then there will be opportunity for you to ask questions from the floor to the speakers in turn, 10 minutes for each speaker. Now, because we are quite tight on time this evening, we have to be out by 10 o’clock, I would like your agreement to keep those questions to questions please and to keep them as brief as possible.
As the evening is being recorded for the purposes of the transcript. I will relay your questions back to you in order that they will be recorded via the mikes at the front, otherwise they might not appear on the tape recording.
I accept that there is a time and place for most things, everything probably, including personal testimony, but in view of the time, both parties have agreed that we stick to questions this evening to the speakers and not statements about your experiences please.
After the questions, each speaker will be given 10 minutes summing up time.
We will proceed then with asking Mr. Liliekas to talk about, on behalf of the subject, “the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, are they possessed today?” to speak for that motion: Mr. Liliekas.
3-2-1 The Need For Miracles
Well, good evening. Actually the name is Liliekas (pronounced with an “I” in the middle not an “E”). O.K. Let me start by asking a question: This debate goes around other miracles relevant for today? Are gifts relevant for today? And I think to start off we have to ask one question: why are there miracles in the Bible? Anybody know? Why are there miracles in the Bible? Why are there supernatural gifts? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to impress the scientific world, if there were no stumbling blocks like miracles and gifts then the intellectuals could easily accept so much that is in the Bible. But it seems as if for some reason or other the Bible seems to be filled with things that we cannot quite explain by using our intelligence.
O.K. So to answer this question let me ask some others. I guess everybody here goes to Church or they are Christians. Yes? Good. How many of us find when we preach or when we teach the Word of God, or when we try to tell people about doctrine who have not heard the Scripture before, that straightway they say, “I believe you, Sir, that is true, I’ll accept that”. How many of us find this? Nobody right? How many of us, when we go to invite people to Church, find that there is a mob of people pushing and struggling to find out where our Church is, what time it starts at and they ask us “Sir, can I please bring my friends, and my family and my colleagues?” How many of us find that? Nobody right? Or when we open the Church on the Sunday morning you find mobs breaking in through the doors, rushing in to find the best seat, filling up all the seats in the aisles and then they sit raptly and attentively and when you have finished giving your message, they all fall down in repentance, accept your message, and they are in such an eagerness to go on with the gospel that you have to take them the next day to the public swimming bath and baptize them? I’ve never found that, and I’m sure that none of you guys have. One of the reasons for that is that man is, by nature, a sceptic. Right? Man is sceptical. There is an ancient Latin proverb which says: “Believe nothing and be on your guard against everything”. Now we know that man hasn’t changed. That is exactly the way the man in the street is. He has been like that since the beginning of time, he’s like that now.
There’s a French proverb which says: “Sceptics are never deceived”. Now that’s true. If you are sceptical, you’ll never be deceived. On the other hand, you’ll never believe anything either.
Unfortunately from the gospel perspective, man is a sceptic by heart. On one side, we have men who are sceptics, who won’t believe, who won’t accept, who doubt everything you say. The sceptic will say “show me your God, you say you are a man of God, you say this message is from God – prove it. I see temples, churches of all sorts of denominations round me, all sorts of priests and whatever, how do I know that you are from God, how do I know?” So on the one hand we have the sceptic who won’t believe until he sees. On the other hand we have a God of infinite love – what does it say? It says “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son” (Jn. 3:16). He so loved what? It wasn’t a tiny minority. It wasn’t just the few people, or an elect little group or sect. He loved the world. God’s over-riding concern is the salvation of the world. He will do everything to achieve that end.
On one hand we have sceptical man, on the other hand we have a God, filled with love with a strong objective – the salvation of the world.
Enter – miracles.
What’s needed to overwhelm the heart of the sceptical man is some confirmation from God. There are two aspects of this. One is Divine confirmation, the other is Divine administration. Let’s look at confirmation first.
Moses standing in the mountain by the burning bush, God says to him, “Moses, go down to Egypt and bring my people out of Egypt” (Ex. 3:10). And Moses asked the classical question “what if they will not believe me Lord?” (Ex. 4:1). “What happens if I go there and they say ‘get lost!’”. In Exodus 4 God says to Moses that if they don’t believe you, do one miracle. If they don’t believe that I’ll give you another miracle. If they don’t believe that I’ll give you another sign. Why? God is confirming that his messenger is sent from God and that the message is from God as well.
Elijah and the prophets of Baal. What happened? Elijah standing there on the mountain, he’s got a sacrifice made and so have the priests of Baal. They do the equivalent of a heavy metal rock –and-roll dance round their offering. Nothing happens. Elijah says douse the offering with water, and we’ll see who is God. And what happened when the fire fell and God answered by a miracle? Those people who were holding between two different opinions were moved and they said, “The Lord he is God” (1 Kgs. 18:39).
Let’s look at the New Testament. When Peter was speaking on the day of Pentecost and the people were saying “what happened here?” Peter goes through a sermon and at the end he says (Acts 2:22), “This Jesus was a man attested to you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God performed through him”. In other words God was validating the message. God was saying that both the messenger and the message were true by a Divine confirmation.
Was this ever meant as a substitute for the Word? By no means. This wasn’t something that was going to just last for a hundred years and then when God had finally got the canon of Scripture, He would do away with it. This was God actively taking part in the ongoing work of redeeming man and bringing him back to Himself.
Philip was at Samaria. He went down there and, it says, he preached and performed mighty miracles. What happened? Everyone repented. Multitudes turned to God. Do you think we need to see multitudes turn to God today? You’re dead right, we do! Do you think if we went and performed some miracle somewhere, that it would turn the hearts of the people to God. Obviously it would. This is what is happening with Charismatics and Spirit-filled all over the Third World. This happens all the time. Especially in the Third World, why? Because men are less sceptical.