Archive for February, 2021

Is Acts 8:18 Saying The Holy Ghost Was Given Through The Apostles Hands ONLY?

February 25, 2021

Acts 8:18 reads “And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money.” Many say that means only the apostles had this power to lay hands on someone to impart miraculous gifts. But are we justified in adding the word “only” to this text to make it say the gifts were imparted via the apostles only?

First, most true disciples can see adding the word “only” to verses like Rom 5:1 (“justified by faith”) is incorrect because of verses like James 2:24 which teach we are not justified by faith only. Similarly, might Acts 8:18 be saying apostles could impart the miraculous gifts but not trying to say the apostles only?

This possibility is more easily seen once you realize Acts 8:18 is not talking about the twelve apostles, but specifically two apostles, Peter and John (verse 14). Verse 18 says Simon “saw” something. Sometimes we use the word “saw” to mean “understood.”  But here it means “saw” with his eyes.  And what did Simon actually see with his eyes? He didn’t see that the gifts were bestowed by the twelve apostles (they weren’t all there), but what he actually saw was that the gifts were bestowed by the apostles Peter and John. So if we add the word “only” to this verse, that would say the gifts could only be bestowed through the hands of Peter and John, as they are the only apostles verse 18 is referring to.  What proves too much proves nothing.

To illustrate, suppose all the living Presidents were gathered for an important fundraiser, and I said “The Presidents enjoyed their meal.”  Would I mean all 46 presidents enjoyed a meal, or just the Presidents that were there? Acts 8:18 does not say “twelve” apostles; it is referring to the two apostles Simon “saw” laying on hands.  It would be correct to refer to Peter and John as “apostles” would it not?

And if we consider other texts, can we not see passages where someone other than an apostle was able to impart spiritual gifts? Examples:

· Doesn’t Acts 9:17 teach Ananias was sent Saul so that Saul could be “filled with the Holy Ghost”? How could that be true unless Ananias could somehow/someway bestow the Holy Ghost upon Saul?

· Doesn’t I Tim 4:14 teach Timothy received a miraculous gift through the “laying on of the hands of the presbytery” (the eldership), not necessarily through the laying on of the hands of the apostles?  If we say a baseball player hit a home run “with” a 34 inch bat, wouldn’t that mean the bat was the means?  So why wouldn’t “with’ mean the same thing in I Tim 4:14?

Perhaps there are other ways of explaining these two passages that I have overlooked, but what harm does it do just to take them at their face value?

What we need to realize is I Cor 13:8-13 and Zech 13:1-4 tell us the duration of the miraculous gifts; they would cease when the New Testament revelation was completed. The Bible does not say they would cease when the last person whom the apostles laid hands on died. (that argument already ignores the fact that some received the Holy Spirit directly, such as the apostles, Cornelius’ household, and perhaps others) The chances that last person died would be at the same time as when the New Testament law was completed might be one in a zillion (hyperbole). God did not intend to leave the timing of the cessation of the miraculous gifts to chance. Those gifts had a specific primary purpose – to reveal and confirm New Testament law (Heb 3:3-4), and so the gifts would be needed up until and ending when that purpose was completed (I Cor 13:8-10).

Is Rom 1:24,26-27 Only Condemning Homosexuality Because It Was Associated With Idolatry?

February 18, 2021

When publically debating homosexuality with the Gay Church, my favorite passage to condemn the practice is Romans 1:24,26-27. But because idolatry is condemned in the same context, the Gay Church’s reply is usually that Romans 1 is only condemning homosexuality because it was associated with idolatry. How do I respond to their assertion?

First, if this argument has any merit at all, then the other sins mentioned in the same context (fornication, murder, deceit, haters of God, etc., verses 29-31) would also only be wrong when they are associated with idolatry. I doubt even the gays are willing to go that far.

Second, the language of the passage condemns the act of homosexuality by itself:

· vile affections – driven by their personal affection, not for the idol

· change the natural use – sex act itself is unnatural

· burned in their lust – doing it to satisfy their own lusts, not for the idol necessarily

John Boswell (a homosexual and famous scholar) makes the same point about why this Gay Church argument is inadequate: “… it is clear that the sexual behaviour itself is objectionable to Paul, not merely its associations. … Paul is not describing cold-blooded, dispassionate acts performed in the interest of ritual or ceremony: he states very clearly that the parties involved “burned in their lust one toward another.” It is unreasonable to infer from the passage that there was any motive for the behavior other than sexual desire.” (Christianity, Social Intolerance & Homosexuality, p.108)

Richard F. Lovelace makes a good point – “The disorders in verses 24-32 are not wrong because they issue from idolatry, they are wrong in and of themselves, and Paul mentions them because they prove the spiritual bankruptcy of idolatrous cultures.”

Conclusion: To any extent homosexuality is connected with idolatry, it simply compounds the sin. Homosex is a sin in and of itself, in every case, in any shape, form, or fashion!

Gen 20:1-7 And Sins Committed In Ignorance

February 11, 2021

Take a moment to read Genesis 20:1-7. Notice the following three facts about the story …

If Abimelech had committed the sin (taken Sarah as wife), it would have been a sin of ignorance – verses 2,5-6.

If Abimelech had committed this sin of ignorance, he would have been a dead man – verses 3-4.

Because Abimelech was sincere, God withheld him from committing this sin of ignorance – verse 6.

I Thess 4:8 Says God Gives Christians His Holy Spirit

February 4, 2021

I Thessalonians 4:8 reads “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.”

Notice in this passage the Holy Spirit himself is what is given; He is the gift. It is not a gift or power from the Holy Spirit. This confirms that in Acts 2:38, the “gift of the Holy Spirit ” is the Holy Spirit himself.

Who is promised the Holy Spirit by I Thess 4:8? Those of “us” “who are not to despise man (v.8) by defrauding our brother in any matter (v.6), but instead are to show brotherly love (v.9), For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness (v.7).” In other words, all Christians!

This passage teaches all Christians are given the Holy Spirit (not just a select few – so it can’t be talking about the miraculous – I Cor 12:29-30, 13:8-13).