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The Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Church

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    Part Two

    Chapter 5—The Perpetuity of Spiritual Gifts

    The church of Christ should ever be grateful for the revelation God has given in His Holy Word. This is her chart and compass; it is her guide in the uncertain paths of life. It is here she finds her message to preach to lost men, the message that is to go to the whole world in power and great glory.BSPC 78.1

    The Bible as we know it has been complete for nearly two thousand years; no further writings have been added to the sacred collection. It hardly seems probable that any additions will ever be made to this compilation of sacred books. This Holy Bible is, in God’s providence, the supreme standard of doctrine and the guide and director in all our relationships and experiences.BSPC 78.2

    One should not entertain the idea, however, that in closing the sacred canon of Scripture, God thereby meant that all communication from Heaven to men would cease. His plan was far from that. Jesus made this clear in His conversations with His disciples during the closing days of His ministry on earth. He told them that although He was going away, He would send someone to take His place, someone who would represent Him, His vicegerent; in other words, He would send the Comforter, or the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “He dwells with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:17. Then the Divine Record reads, “When he ascended up on high, he ... gave gifts unto men.” Ephesians 4:8. These gifts were the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and were more particularly outlined by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth.BSPC 78.3

    “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.BSPC 78.4

    “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits. To another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.BSPC 79.1

    The Holy Spirit referred to in these verses was the same that inspired the prophets of old, for it was “the Spirit of Christ which was in them.” 1 Peter 1:11.BSPC 79.2

    God reveals Himself by the Holy Spirit in and through the Scriptures of truth, and He reveals Himself also to the church through the gifts of the Spirit. These two methods of communication are part of the divine plan and purpose. The Bible does not take the place of the gifts; neither do the gifts take the place of the Bible. Both are necessary to the well-being, to the spiritual growth and development, and to the final triumph of the church of Christ. One who accepts fully the inspiration and authority of the word of God, accepts naturally the ministry of the gifts of the Spirit, because the teaching concerning these things is an integral part of the Inspired Word of truth.BSPC 79.3

    This was well expressed by J. N. Andrews many years ago, and the following statement from the Review and Herald is worthy of our thoughtful study:BSPC 79.4

    “1. We understand that the Holy Scriptures are divinely inspired, and that they contain the truth of God which is able to make us wise unto salvation.BSPC 79.5

    “2. But we do not understand that the gift of the Scriptures to mankind supersedes the gift of the Holy Spirit to the people of God.BSPC 79.6

    “3. On the contrary, we do believe that the Scriptures plainly reveal the office and work of the Holy Spirit; which office and work can never cease while man remains upon probation.BSPC 79.7

    “4. This work of the Holy Spirit is revealed to us in the Bible doctrine of spiritual gifts.BSPC 79.8

    “5. While therefore we do heartily accept the Scriptures as teaching man’s whole duty toward God, we do not deny the Holy Spirit that place in the church which the Scriptures assign to it....BSPC 79.9

    “9. Now it is plain that those who reject the work of the Spirit of God under the plea that the Scriptures are sufficient, do deny and reject all that part of the Bible which reveals the office and work of the Holy Spirit.BSPC 79.10

    10. Thus 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, which define the gifts of the Spirit of God, cannot really form a part of the rule of life of those who affirm that the Scriptures are so sufficient in themselves that the gifts of the Spirit are unnecessary....BSPC 79.11

    “13. Now the Bible expressly teaches that the existence of these gifts is as necessary to the church of Christ, as the different members are necessary to the well-being of the body. While, therefore, the Bible recognizes the gifts of the Spirit, these are not given to supersede the Bible, nor yet to fill the same place as the Bible.BSPC 80.1

    “14. The object of spiritual gifts is to maintain the living work of God in the church. They enable the Spirit of God to speak in the correction of wrongs, and in the exposure of iniquity. They are the means whereby God teaches His people when they are in danger of taking wrong steps. They are the means by which the Spirit of God sheds light upon church difficulties, when otherwise their adjustment would be impossible. They also constitute the means whereby God preserves His people from confusion by pointing out errors, by correcting false interpretations of the Scriptures, and causing light to shine out upon that which is in danger of being wrongly understood. And therefore of being the cause of evil and division to the people of God. In short, their work is to unite the people of God in the same mind and in the same judgment upon the meaning of the Scriptures.... It would be sad indeed if God could not still converse with His people.”—February 15, 1870.BSPC 80.2

    Not only does the Spirit of prophecy belong to New Testament days; it was manifested over and over again in the experience of the patriarchs and the prophets of olden days. The prophet Joel actually looked forward to the time when God would pour out His Spirit in much larger measure upon the church. We read:BSPC 80.3

    “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” Joel 2:28, 29.BSPC 80.4

    That this is a prophecy of the last days is evident from the verses that follow the foregoing quotation. After the pouring out of the Spirit, signs are to be seen in the heavens “before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” Verse 31. At that time urgent appeals will be made to the hearts of men to prepare for the coming of Christ. The deliverance offered and the message that will be given, will be through “the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” Verse 32. Consequently, the prophecy applies to the closing up of God’s work on earth. It is the time when the remnant of the church will be looking for the coming of our blessed Lord.BSPC 80.5

    There was a partial fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, however, on the day of Pentecost. This can be observed in the story as given by Luke. We read the following:BSPC 81.1

    “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” Acts 2:16-18.BSPC 81.2

    But though the apostles recognized a fulfillment of this prophecy on the day of Pentecost, there will be a larger fulfillment in the last days. What happened at Pentecost was the former rain; that which is due now is the latter rain. The prophecy of Joel is of wider application than the experience at Pentecost. In the days of the early apostles God took some of the great reservoir of power and poured this out in mighty measure on that never-to-be-forgotten day. But the great remainder God reserves until the last days. Then the latter rain will fall, and in copious, abundant showers, in the finishing of the work of God. Observe the following from the Spirit of prophecy:BSPC 81.3

    “The work will be similar to that of the day of Pentecost.... The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening.”—The Great Controversy, 611.BSPC 81.4

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