Modern Spiritual Gifts As Analogous To Apostolic Gifts: Affirming Extraordinary Works Of The Spirit Within Cessationist Theology -- By: Vern Sheridan Poythress

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 39:1 (Mar 1996)
Article: Modern Spiritual Gifts As Analogous To Apostolic Gifts: Affirming Extraordinary Works Of The Spirit Within Cessationist Theology
Author: Vern Sheridan Poythress


Modern Spiritual Gifts As Analogous To Apostolic Gifts:
Affirming Extraordinary Works Of The Spirit Within Cessationist Theology

Vern Sheridan Poythress*

I maintain that modern spiritual gifts are analogous to but not identical with the divinely authoritative gifts exercised by the apostles. Since there is no strict identity, apostolic teaching and the Biblical canon have exclusive divine authority. On the other hand, since there is analogy, modern spiritual gifts are still genuine and useful to the Church. Hence there is a middle way between blanket approval and blanket rejection of modern charismatic gifts.

I. Christocentricity Of Gifts

To develop this view we need several crucial distinctions. First, we need a Biblical framework for thinking about gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The NT itself provides resources for a theology of spiritual gifts. One key passage is found in Eph 4:7–11. Jesus Christ is head of the Church and distributor of all gifts of the Spirit (v. 11). He distributes gifts from the fullness that he himself possesses, because he has triumphed (v. 8) and fills all things (v. 10). Acts 2:33 supplements this picture by saying that Christ “received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit” as a prelude to pouring out the Spirit on the Church. From Christ’s fullness of the Spirit we receive a measure “as Christ apportioned it” (Eph 4:7).

These reflections naturally lead to the conclusion that our ministry in the Spirit is analogous to, as well as subordinate to, the ministry of Christ. For example, Christ is the final great prophet (Acts 3:22–26). Through the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost we all become subordinate prophets (2:17–18). Christ is the chief shepherd (1 Pet 5:4), the ruler over the Church. Through the Spirit he appoints subordinate shepherds (5:1–3; Acts 20:28) and gives gifts of ruling and administering and caring for the flock (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11 [“pastors”]). Christ came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28). He also gives gifts of service (Rom 12:7–8)...

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