Examining the Doctrine of the Church of Christ Denomination
Once again, there are various positions on this issue within the Church of Christ denomination, but this is probably their most grievous error. Because it goes way beyond just rejecting the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, as recorded in I Corinthians chapters 12-14. It also includes the rejection of His "enduement of power." Jesus said in Acts 1:4-8 that He would "baptize them in the Holy Spirit" and they would "receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." And we see the fulfillment of this promise on the day of Pentecost. Peter said in Acts 2:39, that the promise of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit was for every believer, for "as many as the Lord our God shall call!" In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus had also promised that the miraculous would follow those that believed, in Chapter 16, verse 17. Jesus promised in John 14:16, that the Holy Spirit "would be with us FOREVER!" Paul said in Romans 11:29 that, "The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable."
Some (not all) of the members of the Church of Christ denomination go even further in their defiance of the Holy Spirit, and say that he is not even a person of the Trinity. The Bible is very clear in attributing personhood to the Holy Spirit by stating that the Holy Spirit has a will (I Cor 12:11); that He can be grieved (Eph 4:30); that He would be our Teacher (John 14:26) and more. Many of the Church of Christ denominations even come dangerously close to committing blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31) by saying that any manifestation of the miraculous in this day and age are all 100% demonic! Take it from me, I am living proof that God still performs miracles today. Because in 1979, while a member of the Church of Christ denomination… I committed suicide. My family was falling apart, and thanks to the erroneous teachings of the Church of Christ denomination, all I had to fall back on was a "religion," not a living, personal relationship with the living Lord of the Universe. So faced with a future of hopelessness and despair, I took an overdose (130+) of sleeping pills, and laid down to die.
But because of the mercy and grace of our loving Creator, a minister friend of mine from the Christian Church came by (after the pills had been in my system for nearly six hours!) As he struggled to help me get dressed to go to the hospital (with the rescue squad on its way), I lapsed into a coma. I went stiff as a board and my eyes rolled back in my head and I keeled over. But on the way to the hospital, as my friend prayed for me, I came to! I had no adverse side effects, other than being thirsty and feeling like I hadn't slept in days. The doctors didn't have a clue. My minister friend didn't even know what to think either. My own earthly Father went to the grave suspecting that the whole thing was an effort to get attention. Hey, you don't take over 100 sleeping pills to get anyone's attention but a mortician!
So now maybe you can see why I feel so strongly about reaching the poor souls that have fallen prey to the dead theology of the Church of Christ denomination. Legalism robs a believer of their Joy! And since the Joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10), then legalism is a parasite that will sap you of your ability to stand when the storms of life come your way. If the Church of Christ denomination wants to be a TRUE representation of the New Testament Church, then they must embrace that which the original church embraced. I am grateful for the basic biblical foundation that I received while in the Church of Christ denomination, but even more grateful that Jesus has shown me a "more excellent way!"
The following statements were made by a member of the Church of Christ denomination (CHOCD) who we will call “BOB.” This will give you a good idea of how far some people are willing to go to deny the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit. There are many clear verses that say that the Holy Spirit’s ministry and gifts are perpetual to the end of this age. But because some people prefer a God who doesn’t require much more than church attendance, they settle for complacency rather than God’s best. Paul said the Gifts of the Spirit must be “earnestly desired.” That means striving to attain them. But some folks prefer to be on the “inactive” list.
Four Errors: Convolution - Omission - Exception - Eisegesis
They make four main errors in their misinterpretation of Scripture:
Pay close attention to how they combine verses to make their point. To “prove” their point the CHOCD has to take you from one verse to another and try to get you to agree with their conclusions. The danger is adding 2 plus 2 and coming up with 3. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Judas went and hanged himself.” There is another verse, somewhere else, that says, “Go, and do likewise.” So we are all supposed to commit suicide, right? Beware of mixing two verses together to come to your “conclusions” when there are already clear verses about the subject. We will refer to this tactic as “Convolution.” To “convolute” means to “twist.” A pretzel is convoluted. Likewise, scriptural Convolution, is twisting a verse or two into a pretzel.
OMISSION This tactic is self-explanatory. They simply omit verses that contradict their position.
EXCEPTION This tactic is occasionally used when we see an example of the Holy Spirit’s activity in the church that contradicts the CHOCD’s position. They say that it is an “exception rather than the rule.” In other words, that verse or incident “doesn’t count.” Keep in mind, the CHOCD claims to “Speak where the Bible speaks and we are silent where the Bible is silent.”
EISEGESIS Eisegesis is the opposite of Exegesis. To exegete a text is to draw the true meaning out. To eisegete a text is to read your personal interpretation or preconceive ideas into the verse.
Exclamation This is not so much an “error” as it is a “tactic.” Note the exaggerated use of the exclamation point! This is a tactic used to make the reader feel stupid like the subjects in the “Emperor’s New Clothes.” There it is! Don’t you get it? It is so clear! Anyone can see that this is correct!
So let’s jump in and take a look at how members of the CHOCD deny the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit. To make it easier to track, their comments will be in blue, our comments will be in red. In their text, we will bold and underline their errors.
“The gifts of the Holy Spirit were imparted to man in only one of two ways: through baptism of the Holy Spirit, of which there are only two recorded cases in the Bible (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 10 & 11); and through the laying on of the apostles’ hands (Acts 8:14-18), which is often confused by some with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We must be careful not to do this! The baptism of the twelve apostles, in the first case, was the fulfillment off Christ’s promise that He would send them the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; John 15:26; John 16:7). The Holy Spirit was sent (Acts 2:1-4) to teach the apostles all things, to bring all things to their remembrance (John 14:26), and to guide them into all truth (John 16:13). As a result, men inspired of God recorded all truth (the Bible) one time, for all time (2 Peter 1:3-11; 2 Timothy 3:16). Since we now have all truth, there is clearly no additional truth to be delivered. Therefore, this reason for the baptism of the Holy Spirit no longer exists! After the falling of the Holy Spirit on the household of Cornelius, in the second case, God completed the fulfillment of the promise that He had made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3; “and in thee and thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed.” The Gentiles were to be blessed by God following this second case of Holy Spirit baptism (Acts 11:14; Acts 10:48) just as He blessed the Jews following the first case of Holy Spirit baptism. This means that God would at this time grant salvation through Christ to the Gentiles (Acts 11:18), just as He had done to the Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-47). Since Cornelius and his household were baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts10:47-48; Acts 2:38) following Holy Spirit baptism, it is clear that the reason for Holy Spirit baptism was not to save or wash away sin! What then was the reason? The Bible is clear! In Acts 10 & 11; Acts 15:7-9, we find that this household was baptized in the Holy Spirit only as a witness to the Jews that God had also granted salvation in Christ to the Gentiles. Since the promise of God was fulfilled (filled full) at this time, this reason for Holy Spirit baptism also ceased to exist.
All purposes for Holy Spirit baptism, then, were fulfilled. Therefore, there is no reason for it today. To support this conclusion further, we note that Paul wrote in 63/65AD that, at that time, there was only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). At the same time (65AD), Peter writes and tells us that water “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:20-21). In 65AD then, there was only one baptism and this one baptism was water baptism! This being true, we can only conclude that this one baptism is the baptism of the great commission, which is “unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:18-20). There is no room for Holy Spirit baptism today! If there is only one, there cannot be two!”
These opening statements are so convoluted it is hard to determine where to start. Here we see BOB commit all four of the errors: Convolution - Omission - Exception - Eisegesis and using the Exclamation tactic to an extreme.
BOB says, “The gifts of the Holy Spirit were imparted to man in only one of two ways:
(1) Through baptism of the Holy Spirit, (of which there are only two recorded cases in the Bible)
(2) And through the laying on of the apostles’ hands.”
Here we see BOB setting you up for his CONVOLUTION: “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit came in only two ways and I can prove that those two ways were EXCEPTIONS.” His use of the word “only” implies a singularity of events. If his statement is erroneous, then likewise his conclusions will be erroneous.
So, we must ask:
(1) Are there “only two recorded cases” of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Bible?
(2) Were the gifts imparted ONLY via the Apostles?
So, are there “only two recorded cases” of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Bible?
What is Baptism of the Holy Spirit? It is a supernatural impartation of power, usually accompanied by the manifestation of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said in Acts 1:5 & 8, “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” And in verse 8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Bob says we don't need this power to be a witness anymore, because we have the Bible instead.
So let’s look at some examples…
The CHOCD loves Acts 2:38, “Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It is one of their favorite and most often quoted verses in the Bible. But why stop there? Let’s read Acts 2:39, “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Now we don’t want to make some of the same CONVOLUTIONS that BOB and the CHOCD makes, so let’s put those two verses back together and read them as they are written:
“Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
Remember, this “Day of Pentecost” is the first manifestation of Jesus’ promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Bob insinuates that this is one of “only two baptisms of the Holy Spirit” in the entire Bible. But is that what Peter says? Peter says that this baptism of the Holy Spirit is “for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Peter clearly states that this baptism of the Holy Spirit is for everyone, not just for the Apostles or for the people who were hearing his words.
So we see in Acts 2, that the gift of the Holy Spirit is for everyone. But for how long? In speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said in John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will bein you.”
So we can clearly see that the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit was for ALL believers, for ALL time. But maybe God changed His Mind and took back the Holy Spirit and His Gifts. Not likely. Romans 11:29 says, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” If God makes a promise to everyone…forever…you can take that to the bank!
Bob also says that the Bible contains “all truth,” which is not true. Everything in the Bible is true, yes, but it does not tell me when Jesus will return. John said in John 21:25,”Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” The Bible does not tell me where to work or whom to marry. We get that guidance from the Holy Spirit. John 16:13 says, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” It is no wonder that BOB and the CHOCD come to so many wrong conclusions, they deny the very guidance that would lead them to the Truth.
Any other examples? Absolutely. Acts 19: 1- 6 says, “It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples.
2He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." 3And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism." 4Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus."
5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.”
So we see Bob’s assertion that there were only two examples of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the whole Bible is fallacious. Jesus taught it was forever and Peter said it was for everyone. Bob also says that there is “no need” for the baptism of the Holy Spirit today. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” That “power” transformed Peter from a “denier” to a mighty man of God. Who today is willing to boast that they don’t need that transforming power?
As stated above, spiritual gifts were given in one of two ways in the New Testament, either through the baptism of the Holy Spirit or through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. It has been shown above that Holy Spirit baptism does not exist today, but what about the laying on of the apostles’ hands? The question that needs to be answered is this: Can one be qualified to be an apostle today? No! To be qualified to be an apostle, one must be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22) as were the twelve (Acts 1:21) and the apostle Paul (Acts 26:13-18). None living today have seen the resurrected Christ!
Therefore, none today can be qualified to be an apostle. Those who claim to be apostles today do so without biblical support (Revelation 2:2). Since there is no Holy Spirit baptism today and since the last apostle died about 2000 years ago, it is evident that spiritual gifts could last only as long as the last person was alive upon whom an apostle had laid his hands.”
Were the gifts imparted ONLY via the Apostles?
No one denies that one of the ways that the Lord imparted the Holy Spirit was through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. The primary issue here is the word “only.” BOB and the CHOCD insist that ONLY the Apostles could impart the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Their logic then allows them to deduce that since there are no longer any Apostles living today, then the impartation of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands has ceased. So how can you disprove this erroneous assumption? Firstly, don’t forget that even BOB admits that God can baptize someone with the Holy Spirit anytime He chooses. So to assume that we no longer have the Gift of the Holy Spirit because we no longer have any Apostles flies in the face of the afore mentioned Scriptures. But let’s look and see if anyone other than an Apostle laid hands on anyone that they might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is the account of the conversion of Saul, later to be known as the Apostle Paul. The Lord has told a man named Ananias (who was not an Apostle) to lay hands on him. Verse 17 says, “So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Now how do we know that the Apostle Paul actually received the Holy Spirit? He says so, many times in the New Testament. Once, in I Corinthians14, he even jokingly said, “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all.” The Apostle Paul not only was baptized in the Holy Spirit, he went on to teach more about the subject than any other New Testament writer. But who laid hands on Paul initially? A mighty Apostle? Nope. Ananias. Just little ol’ Ananias. So much for the “Only Apostles Can Impart the Holy Spirit” theory.
“In Ephesians 4:7-14; 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, we find that spiritual gifts were for the church in it’s infancy. They were called childish things that would be put away when the church became mature. Some would teach falsely that the mature, or more spiritual, church practices the use of gifts today. This is in direct opposition to what Paul says in verse eleven, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child: but when I became a man (mature), I put away childish things”; speaking of the miraculous gifts that, in verse eight, “shall vanish away” and, in verse nine, “shall be done away.”
The only way the church could become complete (mature) was through all scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the complete (perfect) law of liberty (James 1:25). In the years following the establishment of the church, the will of God had not yet been fully revealed, written and confirmed by miracles. It was yet in part! The sole purpose of miracles was to confirm the newly revealed word (John 20:30-31). Once all scripture was given by inspiration of God, confirmed and written, it became the complete (perfect) law of liberty, able to “make the man of God perfect (complete), thoroughly furnished unto every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
Since we now have “that which is perfect” (1 Corinthians 13:10); that is, the complete, mature, confirmed word of God, in which are “all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” and by which we can become complete (mature) as Christians, there remains no need for gifts to day. They have served the purpose for which they were intended!
Are miraculous gifts evident today? When one, without bias, compares what men claim to do today with the miracles performed in the Bible, it will clearly be seen that “biblical” gifts are not evident today! Where is the man today who speaks a foreign language he has not studied or learned? Where are those today who raise the dead? Where are the dead whom they have raised? Why do those who claim gifts today die? Why do they go to hospitals for treatment? Why do their families get sick and die? Where are those who walk upon water? Surely, biblical miracles are not being performed today!
Those who claim baptism of the Holy Spirit and miraculous gifts today obviously do so without biblical support. They are pretenders and false claimants of something that does not exist! Not only this, but they, knowingly or unknowingly, arrogantly place themselves on an equality with the apostles! God forbid that we should be found guilty of such!
The Holy Spirit does not work in our lives today separate and apart from the Word of God! He operates only through the instrument of the Word, which is His sword (Ephesians 6:17). Through the Word, He saves us (Titus 3:5), bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God (Romans 8:26), witnesses to us (Hebrews 10:15), strengthens us (Ephesians 3:16), sanctifies us (2 Thessalonians 2:13), and He will raise us up in the last day (Romans 8:11) at the direction of Jesus Christ (John 5:28-29). He also makes intercession for us before the throne of God (Romans 8:26-27). Since all of this occurs through the Word of God, what need is there for a “working” apart from it? Absolutely none."
WOW! Where to begin? I would not want to be in Bob’s shoes on the day of Judgment. Why? Jesus said in Matthew 12:30-32, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”
So blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is…well…blasphemy. But what was Jesus referring to? What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? The context of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 12 is clear. Jesus had just healed a paralyzed man, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees said it was by the power of the Devil. Jesus then responds with the scorching rebuke about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. So blasphemy of the Holy Spirit occurs whenever someone says that an act of the Holy Spirit is actually an act of the flesh or even the Devil. Sound familiar BOB?
I Corinthians 13:10
Once again, there are various positions on this issue within the Church of Christ denomination, but this is probably BOB’s most grievous error. Because it goes way beyond just rejecting the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, as recorded in I Corinthians chapters 12-14. It also includes the rejection of His "enduement of power." The only verse that they can even attempt to take out of context to uphold their dispensational outlook is I Cor. 13:10, that states at some point in time ("when that which is perfect comes") the miraculous will be done away with. They believe "that which is perfect" was the canonization of the Scriptures. But when you read this statement in context, you see that it couldn't be what or when they say it is. First of all, the Apostle Paul virtually tells us when it would happen, in verse 12, by telling us what would transpire at the arrival of "that which is perfect." He says, "For NOW we see in a mirror dimly, but THEN we will see face to face; NOW I know in part, but THEN I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known".
To prove that the miraculous didn't cease at the canonization of the Scriptures, all you have to do is plug their theory into verse 12, every time Paul says the word THEN. "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but THEN, at the canonization of scripture (300 AD), we will see face to face; now I know in part, but THEN, at the canonization of scripture, I shall know fully as I also have been fully known."
The term "face to face" was used in Paul's day (as it is in our day) as a very literal term. At the canonization of scripture, who or what did Paul see "face to face?" At the canonization of scripture, how did the Apostle Paul grow in knowledge? He had been in Heaven for over 200 years! The fact of the matter is that when Paul referred to "that which is perfect" he was simply referring to the second coming of Christ, or when we would go home to glory, whichever came first. Will you gain knowledge when you get to heaven? Absolutely! Will you see anyone (Jesus, for example) "face to face?" Undoubtedly! So this verse is obviously a very precarious place to hang one's hat in an attempt to prove that the miraculous workings of God, through the power of His Holy Spirit, have ceased!
Why do “gifted believers” die? That’s a rather bizarre question. Why did the Apostles die?
Equal with the Apostles? I don’t know anyone who has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit who claims to be “equal” with the Apostles. That is an outrageous misrepresentation. But, on the other hand, these were just men, just like you and I. God uses the weak to confound the strong. Do not glorify the Apostles, they were but clay in the hands of The Potter. The reality is that neither James or Jude were Apostles either but they both have books in the New Testament.
God cannot work outside of His Word?
This is a common CHOCD position. Always putting God in a box. The reality is that God does many things outside of His Word, just never contrary to His Word. BOB and the CHOCD worship the Word rather than its Author.
They are much like the believers in Acts 19:1-2, “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
And in Acts 8:14 -16, “Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Galatians 3: 2-5 says, "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. (2)I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? (3)Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (4)Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing? (5)Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?"
A final warning? A parting shot? Acts 7:51, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.”