Upon this Rock I will build my Church and the gates of the hell shall not prevail it. Matthew 16:18
In our previous issue, we discussed the importance of knowing the doctrine of the true church and the first of several proofs to its being so, according to the Bible. We now go on to the second proof.
The second mark that identifies a true church is the degree of manifestation of the Holy Spirit in it. A church, to prove its claims, must possess the complete gifts of the Holy Spirit.
What are the complete gifts of the Spirit? In 1 Corinthians 12:28, this gifts are classified into two kinds – the gifts of administration, and the gifts of operation. The gifts of administration are those offices which enable the brethren to effectively administer and lead the church in its various roles, and also to prepare the brethren for works of service (Ephesians 4:12). They are, 1) apostles, 2) prophets, 3) evangelists, 4) pastors, and 5) teachers (Ephesians 4:11). The gifts of operation are, 1) miracles, 2) healing, 3) wisdom, 4) knowledge, 5) faith, 6) prophesy, 7) discerning of spirits, 8) speaking in tongues, and 9) interpretation of tongues (1Corinthians 12:7:11).
Now, if we closely study each religious group claiming to be true and check out if the above gifts are evident in them, we will find that many, if not all of them, lack several of these. To mask their inadequacies, they tend to play up a few of these gifts and disregard the others, while some of them invent doctrines and twist Bible verses to defend their position. For example, most “born again” groups put undue emphasis on speaking in tongues, prophesy and healing to prove that they are the true church. They conveniently ignore the fact that in Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, Paul says that speaking in tongues is the least among these gifts and the most prone to misinterpretation, that prophesy is subject to control of prophets because it could cause disorder in worship, and that healing, when done by those who aren’t commend by God or by those who don’t do His will, is condemnable (Matthew 7:22-23).
Regarding those groups who are led by persons other than apostles, their very leaders themselves deny the truthfulness of their claims. The Bible is very explicit in stating that only apostles have the right to established and lead the Church of Christ. Paul says that the church is “built in the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone.”(Eph 2:20). If ever someone other than an apostle pastors the Church of Christ, that person must have been appointed by the apostle, as in the case of Timothy (2 Tim 1:6, 14) and (Tit 1:5).
Some religious groups justify their glaring lack of spiritual gifts by claiming that the gift of apostleship was a gift exclusive to the persons in the New Testament. They argue that no renewal of this office has been called for because it was a fundamental office. In the nature of things, the office could not be transmitted or repeated, any more than the underlying historic experiences could not be transmitted to those who had never known the incarnate Lord, or received a resurrection appearance (Illustrated Bible Dictionary, vol 1, p.80).
This line of reasoning is contrary to what the Bible says. The Church is a living organism- it is only natural that it be led by someone who is living too. In Romans 11:49, Paul says that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” The phrase “without repentance” means a continuing process – similar to what is meant in Acts 2:39,
“ for the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off– for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Also, while these churches deny the continuity of the office of apostleship, they do not hesitate to call themselves evangelists, pastors, and teachers – gifts which are of equal footing with the gift of apostleship. This is sheer hypocrisy. The real reason why they could not lay claim to the office of apostleship is because there is no one among themselves who has the rightful claim to it. How could they, because it is only God, through His wisdom and grace, who has the exclusive right to appoint someone as His apostle (Gal. 1:1), if only to prove that the completeness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to be evident in the true Church.
Praise the Lord, we in the Pentecostal Missionary CHURCH of CHRIST (4th Watch) can rightfully claim as being the church with complete spiritual gifts. Not only are the gifts of operation powerfully moving among us, not only are some of us prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, but most of all we have the distinction of having God’s apostle as our spiritual leader and example in this last days.