In recent years the emergence of "Spiritual Gifts" has changed many congregations. Many churches that had thus far never embraced the usage of the gifts have changed over to being "Spirit filled" churches. Most all evangelical churches have some congregations that boast of having the Spiritual gifts outlined in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 at work in their congregation. Yet, as all of this goes on in the denominational world we in the church of Christ seemed to have missed our filling. What the denominational world calls the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" seems to have passed us by. Or, has it?
Recently an Assembly of God preacher told me that only those who "speak in tongues" have the Holy Spirit. By saying this he made "tongues" a test of the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost Peter said to "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). The Holy Ghost was given to repentant baptized believers according to Acts 2:38. This A of G preacher has thus made speaking in tongues not just a test of the "Holy Spirit" but a test of Salvation, for according to Acts 2:38 for those who were saved received the gift of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues has become the evidence of the Holy Spirit.
Fortunately for those of us who do not speak in "tongues" Paul saw it another way. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret (1 Cor. 12:28-30)? Paul laid out gifts of the Spirit then asked a series of questions; all of which are to be answered in the negative. No one would have all the gifts. Paul asked, "Do all speak with tongues?" The answer is of course "no," just as all did not possess the other gifts. Thus, Paul has put to rest the question of "diverse tongues" being evidence of the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost Peter said that those who repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus would receive, in addition to the remission of sins, the Holy Spirit as a gift, not gifts from the Holy Spirit! This is illustrated in the account of Philip and Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8. Philip, who was not an Apostle (Acts 5), went to Samaria and preached Christ to them. Many miraculous works and signs were done by Philip (Acts 8:13). And, many men and women were baptized (Acts 8:12). Yet, those baptized believers were not able to perform the miracles and signs. There was a difference in getting "gifts from the Spirit" and getting the "Spirit as a gift." There was only one way to receive the ability to perform the miracles and signs: The laying on of hands by the Apostles. Luke recorded that "Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given" (Acts 8:18). Philip was not an apostle so he could not impart the gifts. Peter and John went to Samaria and through the laying on of hands of these two apostles the people in Samaria received the Holy Spirit. From this account we learn several things about the gifts manifested by the Holy Spirit to the early church.
- There is a difference in having the Holy Spirit given to you as a gift and having the Holy Spirit give you gifts. From acts 2:38 we are told all that repent and are baptized receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. This did not enable anyone to do miraculous gifts. On that day of Pentecost some three thousand souls were added to the Kingdom, yet the only record of any miraculous gifts being used were those used by the Apostles. The people in Samaria repented and were baptized; they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, yet none of them were able to perform any miracles and signs (Acts 8).
- Speaking in tongues could not have been used as the ONLY evidence of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12). Everyone who had "gifts" did not have the same gift.
- The "Gifts" of the Spirit were not for everyone. When Peter and John went to Samaria (Acts8) they laid hands on people and the received the Holy Spirit (the ability to perform miracles and signs). Yet, we know that they did not lay hands on all in Samaria: they didn't lay hands on Simon.
- The ability to do miracles and signs came only through the laying on of hands of the Apostles. Philip could perform miracles but he could not impart the gift as he was not an apostle. Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given. Only when Peter and John laid hands on the people did the "Holy Ghost fall on them."
- The Gifts of the Spirit would have died out as the last of the people that the apostles "laid hands on" died. The account of Philip in Acts 8 shows us that one who had received the laying on of hands from an apostle could not impart the Spirit to anyone else. The ability to impart "the Holy Spirit" (and thus, gifts) died with the apostles. The ability to use miraculous gifts would have died when the last of the people the apostles imparted the ability to died.