Was the New Testament Church like a modern Pentecostal Church?
Former cessationist Dr. Jack Deere believes “Yes” is the obvious answer, he claims:
If you take a new convert, who prior to his conversion knew nothing about the history of Christianity or the New Testament, and you lock him in a room with a Bible for a week, he will come out believing that he is a member of a body that is passionately in love with the Lord Jesus Christ and a body that consistently experiences miracles and works miracles. It would take a clever theologian with no experience of the miraculous to convince this young convert differently.-Deere, Jack. Surprised by the Power of the Spirit (p. 114). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
On the contrary, a careful convert studying Christianity first notices John the Baptist, who did no miracles or powerful works yet our LORD Jesus said of him:
“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; (Matt. 11:11 NKJ)
The only supernatural event that occurred during John’s Baptisms (John 1:19-28) was at Jesus’ Baptism (John 1:32-34). Neither John nor those who believed His Word did signs and wonders.
Then the convert would notice only those selected by Christ did powerful works, BUT NOT those who believed because of their word:
1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go…
17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
19 “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” – (Lk. 10:1-20 NKJ)
The Convert notices these reappear (Acts. 1:21-22) in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost, now numbering 120, that only they received the gift of tongues, not the multitude observing them (Acts. 2:1-12).
Nor is it written the 3,000 saved that day spoke in tongues. Rather, they follow the pattern already set, only God’s specially graced witnesses do the signs indicating they speak the very words of God. If everyone saved that day manifested the revelatory gifts of the Spirit then it would not be unique, a special event deemed to be a “sign from God” (Acts 10:44-47; 15:7-8). Confirming this, only when John’s disciples confess publicly Jesus is LORD does this special group of Jews manifest the revelatory gifts of the Spirit. That these disciples belonged to the exclusive group of Jews chosen to found Christianity is evident by the revelation they were “Twelve” in number (Acts 19:1-7).
The 3,000 saved that day prove they received the Holy Spirit by being “born-again,” their changed hearts now showing Godly fear and love for God’s truth and His people (1 Pet. 1:22-23):
41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,
45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47 NKJ)
[There on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2:42 is the modern born-again experience! It has not changed! Compare 1 Pet. 1:22-23]
The convert would conclude God empowered this special group of Jews who knew Christ while He was on earth, and these founded Christianity because “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).
Then the convert would notice something special about the Twelve, they ALONE did the special signs and wonders that caused everyone, including the 120 to be in Godly fear:
Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. (Acts 2:43 NKJ)
The New Convert would deduce the 12 Apostles are special (Rev. 21:14), no one follows them in history. It is clear they alone (or those they authorize), could write Holy Scripture.
Clearly a modern Pentecostal Church has yet to appear in the pages of the New Testament, even during the time of maximum manifestation of the Holy Spirit, on the Day of Pentecost.
Then New Convert notices the gifts were ceasing by the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, which is the only likely reason Paul would discuss their cessation (1 Cor. 13:8-13). As less people manifested them, it caused divisions in the church (1 Cor. 1:11-12, 22-23). Confirming this, Cessation was happening so fast it caused Corinthians to wonder if God still loved them (1 Cor. 1:6-9). Paul contradicted that deduction, declaring the opposite is true, God confirmed their salvation by the testimony of Christ in them. God is faithful (1 Cor. 1:6-9). Contrary to what they feared, the Corinthians come behind in no gift. This implies Paul compared the Corinthian church to others, and they too were experiencing the cessation of the revelatory gifts:
4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus,
5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge,
6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you,
7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:4-9 NKJ)
Cessation caused tongues speakers to be in the minority, the majority wanted to forbid speaking in tongues completely (1 Cor. 14:39). Only a majority can impose its will, and without Paul forbidding it, they would have.
Forbid the Speaking in Tongues!!! That does not look like a modern Pentecostal church to me!
The New Convert then notices the revelatory gifts and signs manifested by preachers of the Gospel, are spoken of in “the past tense” (ἐβεβαιώθη) when the book of Hebrews was written. Consistent with the rest of the New Testament which does not refer tongues etc. written near that time. The New Convert would conclude the special group of Jews commissioned to establish the church in the 1st century must have vanished from the scene, departing to be with the LORD. The signs and wonders they performed, were in the past, a special time when the Bible was still being written.
3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (Heb. 2:3-4 NKJ)
Therefore, the New Convert would NOT see a modern Pentecostal church in the pages of the New Testament.
He would see a modern Bible Believing church that grounds all its doctrine firmly in Holy Scripture but does no signs and wonders. They realize the Jews who once walked with Christ and were specially graced by God to found Christianity, had departed to be with the LORD. It would be pernicious God continue producing redundant revelation, as that would undermine the Holy Scriptures He wrote “in order that” the people of God be fully equipped for every good work, including knowing all necessary to know about the Truth once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3):
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NKJ)
The specially empowered Jews who were chosen by Christ during His earthly ministry, were in the upper Room on the Day of Pentecost, but now with the LORD. They left us a completed Bible that fully equips the Church for every good work, which includes knowing what will occur in the future, if anyone diligently seek it.
The New Convert would then ask himself: “Can the modern Pentecostal church be found in scripture at all?”
As “False prophecy” is the most prominent feature of modern Pentecostal churches, they seem most like those Jeremiah 14:13-14 and Ezekiel 13:6-9 preached against!
AND did not our LORD Jesus warn about miracle workers who believed they had a special relationship with Him, but did not? (Compare 1 John 2:19; 1 Cor. 12:1-3; 2 Thess. 2:11-12; 2 Pet. 2:14-19; Jude 1:8-13; 1 John 4:1; 1 Tim. 4:1; Isa. 8:20-22). They appear on Judgment Day, after a life of working “Christian like miracles”, but Jesus denied He knew them:
22 “Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
23 “And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt. 7:22-23 NKJ)
This means they did nothing by Christ’s Spirit, He never knew them. (compare 1 John 2:18-21). They did not follow the Scripture, do the Father’s Will (Matt. 7:21).
Another prominent feature of a modern Pentecostal church is they revile the Devil and demons, whereas the angels of God would never dare do that:
8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. (Jude 1:8-10 NKJ)
Another prominent feature in Modern Pentecostalism is love of money, lustful and dismissive of the Word of God for the sake of their experiences. Grumblers, complainers who flatter each other as great prophets of God, thinking nothing of the schisms caused their novelties and odd doctrines:
11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;
13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever…
16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:
18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.
19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. (Jude 1:11-13, 16-19 NKJ)
Many Pentecostals are like the Sorcerers Jannes and Jambres, professing godliness but not knowing its power to live righteously, carnally walking in their lusts:
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,
7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;
9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. (2 Tim. 3:1-9 NKJ)
Jack Deere is wrong, a week of intense Bible study would teach the New Convert to distinguish between the modern Pentecostal church rebelling against the Word of God for the sake of its experiences (2 Thess. 2:9-12; 1 Tim. 4:1), and the true Church obedient to the Word of God (1 Tim. 3:16; 4:1; Compare Jude 1:8-16; 1 John 2:18-21; 4:1-6).
The “secret power of Godliness” the Holy Spirit inspires obedience to God’s Word of Truth (John 17:17) the Bible. The true church obeys scripture above any supernatural sign and wonder (2 Thess. 2:13-17).
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,
14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,
17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. (2 Thess. 2:9-3:1 NKJ)
For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13 NLT)
By God’s grace all who call on the name of the LORD are saved, even those not 100% doctrinally correct. Christians can speak in something they believe are “tongues,” confusing self-induced speech with the Biblical “gift of tongues”, without it being the “work of the devil”. God does not permit a demon spirit possess a believer (1 John 5:18).
Cessationists believe that all the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased to occur early in Christian history, and therefore that the speaking in tongues as practiced by Charismatic Christians is the learned utterance of non-linguistic syllables. According to this belief, tt is neither xenoglossia nor miraculous, but rather taught behavior, possibly self-induced. These believe that what the New Testament described as “speaking in tongues” was xenoglossia, a miraculous spiritual gift through which the speaker could communicate in natural languages not previously studied.-Wikipedia
31 “Behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who use their tongues and say,`He says.’
32 “Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” says the LORD, “and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,” says the LORD. (Jer. 23:31-32 NKJ)
21 “And if you say in your heart,`How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’–
22 “when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (Deut. 18:21-22 NKJ)
16 Bind up the testimony, Seal the law among my disciples.
17 And I will wait on the LORD, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; And I will hope in Him.
18 Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel From the LORD of hosts, Who dwells in Mount Zion.
19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?
20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
21 They will pass through it hard pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward.
22 Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness. (Isa. 8:16-22 NKJ)
Commentary on Ezekiel 8:21-22):
These spiritists thought God was leading them, sent them into a foreign land. But rather than prosperity, they meet hunger and poverty. Accordingly, they curse the king of that land, and even God whom they believe failed them.
As they are looking upward still cursing, God grants them their first true vision.
They are forced to look down, see the nether regions of the abyss, trouble and darkness, thick gloom. Their rising anguish is palpable, filling them with dread. Then God drives them down into the pit, into darkness.
Look, all you who kindle a fire, Who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled– This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment. (Isa. 50:11 NKJ)
Lest I be misunderstood, many Pentecostals are confused about the revelatory gifts, they believe scripture teaches they are for our day. When their anointing causes discernment the spirit of antichrist is manifesting itself (1 John 2:20-21) they resist thinking to themselves: “We can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
When the baby is a demon and the bathwater its excrement, then you must.
16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”
17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”
18 “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:16-18 NKJ)
However, it is written in the End Time Seven Year “week” God will pour out His Spirit ON ALL Believers, not just the select few:
17 `And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
(Acts 2:17 NKJ)