O.K. Well, as we have seen the main argument used by Mr. Heaster was basically that gifts were temporary until the canon of Scripture was written. Now, unfortunately that denies the consistent evidence of what has gone through Scripture.
After Moses received the Law on the mountain, and the Old Testament church had the written word, the miracles still were an on –going issue. As far as the New Testament church was concerned, it was the same thing. They already had lots of things that were already written, but gifts were an on-going issue. Why? Nothing to do with Scripture. They were never ever meant or designed to supplement Scripture or let’s say to humour the church until the written text was completed. The reason they were there was again, God was actively administering in His church. He never ceased to administer when the Scripture was completed. Obviously, God is not going to sit down. Those same problems existed after Scripture was written, there were problems of discipline, problems of strategic planning as to how the church should go forward – things which the church could never know on their own – dangers to be warned of – they were still there. We know that. Irrespective of whether the canon of Scripture was completed or not. The canon of Scripture was completed to give on-going, moral and ethical guidance as to how I should walk and relate to God.
Now, as far as the abuse of Spirit gifts is concerned. It’s true that there are abuses in Charismatic circles. I have spoken out against that. However, we’ve heard the adage “you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water” – and I would say, in this instance, you cannot throw the baby out with the bath water. How many of you have seen somebody who has been a Christian who has made a decision and then went out and chopped her granny up with an axe or something. I mean, maybe not that extreme, but done something terrible. Or after they made a decision for Christ and got baptized, went and committed adultery. Would you therefore say that baptism is no longer for today? Abuse does not equal the thing itself being wrong. It only says that something right can be misused. Abuse of Spirit gifts likewise.
Now, it says the main Scripture use was when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. “I know in part, I prophesy in part, when I was a child I spoke like one, thought like a child, reasoned like a child; when I became a man, childish things passed away”. He says “for now we see in a mirror dimly, then we shall see face to face” (1 Cor.13:12). Obviously, the “then” is when Christ comes back. Because we will then have a full revelation of Jesus Christ and who he is. Let me further qualify that.
It seems to be quite logical that when Christ comes back, we are not going to need to evangelise, are we? We are not going to need prophecies, or Words of God for direction because the Kingdom will be established. We are not going to need God intervening to expose the sins which lie within the church. Why? All that will be brought to an end. We are not going to need God to guide us to strategic places to evangelise. Why? Well Christ has come back. It is obvious that the gifts and the miracles have nothing to do with the canon of Scripture – absolutely nothing. But they are an integral part of God’s overall objective – He will achieve the evangelisation of the world. That there are abuses – I have seen it myself – tons of times – I could write books on it – it doesn’t change the fact that they are here today. I’ll give you an example. In Glasgow, Scotland, we had a guy called “Bible John” this is a few years back. Bible John would hitch-hike on the road, try and tell people about the gospel and if they didn’t, the people in the car didn’t believe, he would take them out and shoot them and bury them. Does that mean that the Bible and the gospel are wrong because somebody abused it? By no means! Abuse doesn’t mean that the thing in itself is wrong. No way!
We also partake of communion, right? When do we partake of communion? That’s something that we will stop when we see Christ face to face. That’s another one of those things which has a temporary usage within the church.
Does the complete canon of Scripture mean that we no longer see darkly? By no means! The church is equally confused and Duncan himself said that there are so many conflicting views and there are so many problems in arriving at the truth, it is obvious that we do not see clearly. It is obvious that we do not agree. It is obvious that we are not at that point yet where we now understand. Would you say that the church on the earth is mature or even better, that the early Christian church became perfect? Paul wrote the epistles and said that there were enormous grievances and abuses in the on-going church in those days. All his letters were written to address those grievances. He also says “know that very soon, perilous times will come and deceivers will come and a great falling away” (Acts 20:29-30) – that was not a perfect church. No way was it perfected by the canon of Scripture. Now – Duncan makes a good point – he says early church history, contrary to what he says it’s very clearly recorded in early history that gifts were very, very, much manifest right up to the Third Century. Lots of documentation on that, and, what’s more, they did seem to cease and wane round about the Third Century, it’s true, they didn’t disappear. But do you know why? Because the church began to become dead and orthodox, the very church fathers that Duncan is speaking about are the men who introduced Platonic philosophy into Christianity. These church fathers were the beginning of death. They introduced Greek intellectualism into Christianity. They couldn’t tolerate those kind of things like gifts. So, when we see a demise of the gifts at that time, that is true, but not for the reason Duncan said; it’s because faith, by and large, was beginning to fall away in the church.
Another thing. I never said that there was going to be two outpourings of the spirit. What I did say is at the end time that on-going manifestation would be greatly enhanced before the coming day of the Lord.
Now all the other stuff, the parallels between well, you name it, I mean something has got to be a bit absurd. If you believe…Here’s a question? How many of us believe that God answers prayer. Christadelphians, do we believe that God answers prayer? That’s good, put up your hands, don’t try and hide. They think I’m going to hook them here, right? O.K. God answers prayers. Jesus says “if you pray believing, you shall say to this mountain be taken up and cast into the sea” (Lk. 11:23) didn’t he. He says whatever you believe “it shall be done for you”. I’ll ask you a question. If you pray believing that someone will be healed, will it be done for you? Or is Jesus lying? What’s the alternative? Obviously, obviously healing is still for today because God answers His word. If you pray for the sick, and you believe, and you claim the promise, it will be done. Why? Otherwise you need to stand up here and say that God is a liar.
I would say that the perfect has not come. The perfect no way infers the canon of Scripture, the perfect means that when Christ comes back to this earth obviously there is no longer a need for gifts. We shall see him face to face. There will be no evangelistic need, there will be no more a need to confirm the word with signs and wonders. God will have accomplished His purpose; the church will have matured and we will see him face to face; it will all be over. Until then, God is still actively promoting His church, actively confirming His messengers and the message with signs and wonders that follow.
Thank you very much.
Thank you. Now there is the opportunity for Mr. Heaster to reply to Mr. Lilekas’ first address. Thank you.