Larry Ray Hafley


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Contending for the Faith

Word Confirmed with Signs


The Lord promised the apostles that the Spirit would be with them and in them. That is, the Holy Spirit would give and guide them into all truth, and that he would attest to their divine direction by granting them the ability to perform miracles (John 14:17, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:13). The truth of the above facts is seen in what transpired. In other words, what subsequently happened defined and described what Jesus meant when he said the Spirit would testify and bear witness with them (Cf. "also," John 15:26, 27).

What followed these promises? What happened? "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following" (Mark 16:20; Cf. Hebrews 2:4). Both the apostles and the Holy Spirit were "witnesses" of the death of Christ and the glory that followed (Again, see "also" in Acts 5:32; Cf. John 15:27, where "also" includes both the apostles and the Spirit). When Peter later says they spoke the gospel "with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven," he was speaking of the fulfillment of these very things; namely, that the Spirit confirmed the testimony he gave the apostles by granting them the ability to work miracles (1 Peter 1:10-12). Or, as Scripture says, "And many wonders and signs were done by the apostles" (Acts 2:43). "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 4:33, which is in accord with the plea and prayer of 4:29, 30). God "gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (Acts 14:3). These passages are practical exhibitions or demonstrations of the declarations and promises of John 14:26; 15:26, 27; 16:13, 14. It is to such things that Paul alludes when he speaks of "the signs of an apostle" (2 Corinthians 12:12).

Yes, others, upon whom the apostles hands were laid, were enabled to speak the word and have it confirmed by "miracles and signs" (Acts 8:5, 6, 13, 18; Eph. 3:5). However, those upon whom the apostles laid hands could not then transfer that same power to others. At least, Philip could not (Acts 6:5, 6; 8:13-18). (A sheriff my have the power to deputize another, but those deputized cannot make deputies of others.)

Contrast Pentecostal Practice

As we have seen, those who received the Holy Spirit preached and their word was confirmed with signs and miracles (Mark 16:20; Acts 2:32, 33; 4:33; 5:30-32; 8:5-18; 14:3). So:

Preached Word Confirmed By Signs

However, in Pentecostalism, they attempt to confirm their signs by words. That is, they seek to "convince" us of the reality of their miracles by their preaching. We are supposed to believe they work miracles by the testimonials they give. So:

Signs Confirmed By Preached Word

Observe the contrast. The apostolic word was confirmed by signs, whereas Pentecostalism attempts to confirm their signs by words! Which one represents the scriptural order - "word confirmed by signs," or "signs confirmed by words" (Mark 16:20; Acts 14:3)?

Moses, Elijah, and the apostles had their word confirmed by signs that clearly and powerfully showed that God was the author and finisher of their faith (Exodus 4:1-5; 1 Kings 18:21-40; Hebrews 2:1-4). However, we see no such things from Pentecostal preachers who claim similar gifts and powers today. ("Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain" — Proverbs 25:14). Though "they speak great swelling words of vanity," they do not have the confirmation of heaven behind them. If they did, "mighty signs and wonders" would confirm their word. Since such miracles do not accompany them, their words are as false as their claims.

 

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