GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ONLY FOR THE APOSTOLIC AGE?
It is suggested by some that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were dispensational and ceased after the apostolic age. If that were true then there should be no record of them in operation during the church age after the apostles died. In fact, it seems reasonable the church fathers would have made mention of such a loss to the church, however the opposite is true. The second century believers were still experiencing powerful gifts of the Spirit. It appears that these manifestations of the Holy Spirit were under attack during the early church and continue to the present time. The devil finds them such a threat that he has gone to great lengths to provide counterfeits. The following quotes are taken from the first volume of the Ante-Nicene Fathers published by Eerdmans. - Dale Brown
JUSTIN MARTYR [A.D. 110-165] DIALOGUE OF JUSTIN WITH TRYPHO, A JEW
CHAP. LXXXII - "For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time. And hence you ought to understand that [the gifts] formerly among your nation have been transferred to us."
CHAP. LXXXVII - "I have already said, and do again say, that it had been prophesied that this would be done by Him after His ascension to heaven. It is accordingly said, ‘He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, He gave gifts unto the sons of men.’ And again, in another prophecy it is said: ‘And it shall come to pass after this, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh, and on My servants, and on My handmaids, and they shall prophesy.’"
THE SECOND APOLOGY OF JUSTIN
CHAP. VI - "And now you can learn this from what is under your own observation. For numberless demoniacs throughout the whole world, and in your city, many of our Christian men exorcising them in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, have healed and do heal, rendering helpless and driving the possessing devils out of the men, though they could not be cured by all the other exorcists, and those who used incantations and drugs."
IRENAEUS [A.D. 120-202] - a disciple of Polycarp who according to Irenaeus was a disciple of John the Apostle. He wrote extensively against the heresies of his day that came in, "like locusts" to devour the harvest of the gospel.
IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES
IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES
PREFACE - Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself.
XXXII - Wherefore, also, those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe[in Christ], and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years. And what shall I more say? It is not possible to name the number of the gifts which the Church, [scattered] throughout the whole world, has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and which she exerts day by day for the benefit of the Gentiles, neither practicing deception upon any, nor taking any reward from [on account of such miraculous interpositions]. For as she has received freely from God, freely also does she minister [to others].
A gospel message with no spiritual confirmation is often the reason those looking for spiritual fulfillment find themselves mixed up in the occult. Christians who present a powerless gospel are presenting a message that may have promise for the future in heaven but often has little practical application for daily living. Their theology is based on their lack of spiritual experience. If God has not manifested supernaturally to them they wrongly assume that God no longer manifests to us today. If God is truly the same yesterday, today and forever, then He can surely manifest Himself on a personal level in whatever way He chooses. Though it is true that there have been times of spiritual drought when there were few miraculous signs, it is not healthy to think that God cannot work miracles today. Gideon had the same complaint in his day. If God is with us, where are his signs (Judge 6:13)? God confirmed to him the supernatural in spite of Gideon’s lack of faith. In the days of young prophet Samuel the scripture states that word from the Lord was infrequent and visions were rare (! Sam. 3:1). Jesus claimed that John the Baptist was the greatest of the prophets yet he was not known for miracles. Should we assume then that the dispensation of miracles had stopped? Some New Testament disciples manifested great signs and wonders, however the scriptural record is limited to a very few. Usually the people with the strongest views on tongues and other spiritual gifts come from those who have the least amount of experience in that realm. They surround themselves with those of like mind and are quick to point out every misuse of such manifestations as proof that they are not for today.
Some claim that if you have the Holy Spirit you will have all of the Spirit all of the time. This does not square with scripture. King Saul was fill with the Holy Spirit one minute and demonized the next (1 Samuel 19:9). Then a short time later the Holy Spirit came upon him and he prophesied (1 Sam. 19:23) thus proving that the Holy Spirit can manifest in/on a corrupt vessel. The New Testament believer is no different. The same Peter who was filled with the Spirit at Pentecost later had to be rebuked by Paul for false teaching and hypocrisy (Gal. 2:11-14). Was Peter being inspired by the Holy Spirit during this time? God has used imperfect vessels from the beginning. If we could get good enough to deserve the Holy Spirit we would not need the Holy Spirit. Paul said to desire spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1). He did not say desire only the ones for this dispensation, or until we get the Bible printed in King James English.