Doctrines of Classic Pentecostalism - Part 3
Healing in the Atonement – A message preached some time ago by Philip is now posted as a DVD at: http://cetf.co/IET1D6 . PLEASE listen-in and kindly spread the word.
To Recap: In Part 1 we looked at Healing in the Atonement (CETF #57 September 2011 – pp. 9-11) - http://cetf.co/I9DMGa. Then in Part 2 at the classic Pentecostal teaching about speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy (CETF #58 December 2011 pp. 10-12) - http://cetf.co/Ihri9Y. It would be too bold a claim to affirm that these doctrines viz. Healing in the Atonement and The Verbal Gifts (Manifestations) originated with the modern Pentecostal movement, but certainly Pentecostalism popularised and then to some extent distorted both of them, as we saw in the previous two articles. The distortion is largely an issue of perception, exaggeration and/or malpractice. Opponents of pentecostalism dismiss our doctrine of Healing in the Atonement because they wrongly think that such implies that everyone should be physically healed and to remain sick implies personal sin. Such is not the case as we saw in part 1 of this series. We also saw that the healing provided in the atonement of Christ is not primarily physical but spiritual, as the biblical contexts and meanings of the original words that we examined, abundantly prove; but that does not mean that the physical, mental, emotional and all other forms of bodily healing are excluded from the atoning work of Christ. All of the redemptive benefits, both temporal and eternal, that accrue to us are directly derived from the atonement, which underpins everything in the Christian life – now and on into the everlasting Kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ. The Atonement secured heaven and guarantees the rapture and with that position, generally speaking, cessationists and non-cessationists are in full agreement, I am sure. It is the area of the gifts of the Holy Spirit where the major disagreements arise and I think there are faults on both sides.
Gifts of Power
To another [is given] faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles – 1 Corinthians 12:9-10.
Some time ago my classic Pentecostal presupposition was challenged by the suggestion that the gifts of the Holy Spirit relate to the person who receives the benefit not the person through whom the benefit flows. In other words the person who is healed receives “the gift of healing” not the person used by God in the healing process. This seems to logically apply in some cases to “the gifts of healings” (the original implies a double plural), but consistency demands that it must apply to all nine supernatural gifts (manifestations cf. 1 Cor. 12:7), and of course it doesn't and cannot. For example the person with the gift of “faith” cannot transfer it to someone else. Also it must be borne in mind that when the lame man at the gate of the temple was healed, Peter did say, “what I have I give to you” - Acts 3:6. Peter had something that was beyond his own natural ability to give. It would appear that the classic Pentecostal doctrine, that each of the nine gifts (manifestations) of the Holy Spirit is resident within the person is biblically correct, but that does not mean it is permanent and can be operated at will. Some in the Pentecostal camp have misapplied the Bible statement that “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). That statement has nothing to do with the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the function of the Church. It relates to the divine election of Israel.
Classic Pentecostalism insists that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the three “power gifts” of our present consideration are available to the whole Church throughout the entire Church age but only according to His sovereign will – “dividing to every man severally as He will” - 1 Corinthians 12:11. This applied in the New Testament (NT), where very clearly the proper operations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit were on the initiation and at the instigation of God not man. Not every sick person was healed under Paul's ministry. We read that he left Trophimus sick in Malta (2 Timothy 4:20) and that there were special times of exceptional displays of miracles and healings by the apostles cf. Acts 5:12-15 with Acts 19:11. In fact the same is implied in respect of our Lord Jesus Christ cf. “and the power of the Lord was present to heal them” (Luke 5:17) with Mark 6:5:
And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
The following definitions which are discoverable in early Pentecostal literature, albeit not in these exact words which are my own, may prove helpful:
The Gift of Faith – is a divine impartation of exceptional faith which enables the recipient to believe for the naturally impossible. It is different from faith for salvation even though the source is the same. It is faith above the normal and therefore something different from and greater than faith for Christian living, which is part of “the fruit of the Spirit” cf. Galatians 5:22 and as such obviously something which all Christians possess in degree – cf. Romans 12:3. The gift of faith is rare and is imparted according to God's discretion and for His purpose.
The Gifts of Healing(s) – note, while the KJV says “to another the gifts of healing”, in the Greek both “gifts” and “healing”are in the plural i.e. literally “gifts of healings”. Too often this has been misinterpreted to refer to a preacher or evangelist as having the gift of healing, by which is meant “the gift to heal.” That is not what the scripture teaches. This wrong emphasis has led to the unwarranted acclaim of men having the power to heal. The “gifts of healings” is a divine impartation for demonstrations of compassion in healing the sick. It relates totally to bodily needs. It was a vital part of evangelism in the 1st Century Church. There is no biblical indication that the gift(s) have been withdrawn. Divine healing through the gifts of the Holy Spirit is something that should be earnestly desired – 1 Corinthians 12:31. Healing is a major part of the manifesto of the Kingdom announced by our Lord cf. Luke 4: 17-19, where every human need is represented. It was an essential part of Christ's and His apostles' ministries and it was a vital element in the establishment of classic Pentecostalism.
The Working(s) of Miracles – Again it is the double plural that is used i.e. “workings of miracles”. All matters relating to bodily ailments are encompassed by the “gifts of healings”. The “workings of miracles” relate to matters outside of the area of the human body e.g. natural phenomenon, the forces of nature, the realm of demonic and satanic activity and such things.
These three power gifts are obviously complementary and supplementary in their function. FAITH is a common and essential ingredient, but that is not to say that if healing fails to take place it can be attributed to a lack of faith. Other factors contribute not least the sovereign will and purpose of God. 1 Corinthians 12: 11 is foundational - “dividing to every man severally as He (God) will”
Early 20th century Pentecostals conducted Salvation and Healing meetings as part of their evangelistic thrust. Ostensibly they modelled their practice on the earthly ministries of Jesus and His apostles of whom we read in the Gospels:
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons: freely you have received, freely give – Matthew 10:5-8.
And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick – Luke 9:2 cf. 10:9.
And in the Acts of the Apostles:
Then Peter said, Silver and gold I do not have; but such as I have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and anklebones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God – Acts 3:6-9.
By comparing the above with the apostolic prayer for signs and wonders and healings, and the great evangelistic ingathering (multitude) that ensued, one apparently establishes a fairly convincing biblical basis for the Pentecostal practice, which has continued to some extent right up to our time. However definite differences may have been overlooked, which I think we should consider.
And now, Lord, behold their threatening: and grant to your servants, that with all boldness they may speak your word, By stretching forth your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of your holy child Jesus – Acts 4:29-30. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul – Acts 4:32.
The Apostolic Pattern
Both Jesus and His apostles performed their healings and miracles mainly in the open air and without any prior publicity. In contrast 20th Century Pentecostal evangelists relied, at least to some extent, on advertising as they gathered in halls of varying size for their salvation/healing campaigns. This difference resulted in another notable contrast . New Testament wayside preaching and evangelism were essentially a “do as you go” performance. The Acts of the Apostles provides a number of great examples. While I have no doubt that the providence of God was at work, the story in Acts 3:1-11 is one of a chance encounter that developed out of a routine happening—two men walking to a prayer meeting being suddenly confronted with an obvious human sickness. A lame man is healed, the crowds gather, Peter preaches the Gospel and about five thousand people believe and join the Church cf. Acts 4:5. A similar example occurs in Acts 14 at a town called Lystra, where Paul, as he discoursed with the people saw a crippled man, whom he perceived “had faith to be healed”. So he commanded him to stand to his feet – verse 10 “and he leaped and walked.” In this case the results were mixed, with the immediate adulation of Paul and Barnabas (vv. 11-13) followed by Paul being stoned by the very same people, who not long before wanted to worship him and Barnabas (v.19).
In drawing these contrasts I am not seeking to condemn our Pentecostal forefathers for the method they adopted—far from it—nor am I suggesting that God did not bless their “modus operandi”—He most certainly did as I can bear testimony. As a very young child I recall my parents, particularly my mother, speaking with passion of the amazing miracles and healings that they saw in those early Pentecostal pioneer Salvation and Healing campaigns conducted especially by Welsh evangelist Stephen Jeffreys (1876-1943)  and his brother George Jeffreys (1889-1962),  when many people were converted to Christ and became foundation members of Pentecostal Churches, throughout Britain and further afield. (Both of the Jeffreys brothers were genuine converts from the Welsh Revival.)  I do not doubt the stories I heard even though I never personally saw convincing “signs and wonders” performed in public healing meetings. I do however bear witness to personal physical healing myself and have seen others healed during my fifty plus years of ministry.
My point is that a dogmatic appeal to the New Testament for the pattern adopted by the early Pentecostals is too bold a claim. That aside, by perpetuating the “model” I think we have created some of the problems that we now face with men such as Benny Hinn and other “deceivers” who operate as “televangelists”. The progression (digression) from wayside evangelism as practised in the New Testament, to organised and widely advertised public or church halls and more recent television audiences may have generated some of our problems for at least three reasons:
We have failed to recognise the sovereignty of God in the timing of movements and events;Confined spaces, no matter how large, combined with motivational talks about “healing” and “miracles”, tend to produce psychological and, at times, psychosomatic atmospheres and results; andReliance on publicity and testimony, even by word of mouth, has tended to produce unrealistic expectations.
In presenting this I really am not being critical of our Pentecostal forefathers and pioneers, but rather of us as their successors. We have turned a “divine principle” into a “human formula” and God has left us to our own devices. By way of illustration I refer to a powerful and tear jerking story my friend, brother and veteran Pentecostal preacher, Aeron Morgan recently recounted to me about a man who was well known for his physical deformity in the Welsh valleys when he attended a salvation and healing meeting conducted by George Jeffreys in the 1920s. The following are Aeron's words:
The Blind Evangelist
GLYNNE THOMAS was born a cripple and a hunchback. He suffered from epilepsy, often having a number of fits during a day. Because he was incapable of strenuous physical work he took a job as a “newsboy,” selling newspapers on the streets of Swansea (South Wales). It was there that Glynne heard the Gospel in a Mission for newsboys, started by a brother from the Open Brethren, and Glynne was born-again. He often witnessed to his friend inviting him to the Mission, but he would never agree to go.
One day the newspaper headlines told the story of miraculous healings taking place in the meetings of a Pentecostal Evangelist named George Jeffreys in Cardiff, the capital of South Wales, and that he was coming to Swansea to conduct similar meetings. Glynne's friend said he would like to go to the meetings, and asked Glynne to go with him. The Brethren leader had warned the boys NOT to go, that the reported miracles and healings were exaggerations and not true. However, because Glynne had heard that the Word of God was read in the meetings, he believed his friend could get saved through the reading of the Scriptures. So he agreed to go with his friend one evening.
The place was packed out and it seemed there was no available seating, but Glynne's friend spotted a place and guided crippled Glynne through the crowd to it. Glynne sat on his friend's knee. After the evangelist had faithfully preached the Gospel Glynne's friend was one of the first to respond to the invitation and went forward to receive Christ as his Saviour.
Afterwards while George Jeffreys was praying for sick people at one end of the platform, Glynne said that he distinctly heard God speak to him to go forward for prayer. He did so and found himself in a little crumpled heap, because of his physical condition, at the opposite end of the platform to that where the Evangelist was praying for people to be healed. Without any person laying hands on him or praying for him, Glynne suddenly stood up straight, completely healed, his clothes, which were specially made because of his crooked shape, just hanging on him. A woman who had previously looked on him and his hunched back with much compassion, suddenly seeing the miracle, excitedly cried out, “It's gone; it's gone”. The crowd that filled the Brangwyn Hall, with great rejoicing, took up the cry, “It's gone; it's gone”.
Glynne's friend took him home after the meeting agreeing to go into the house first to prepare Glynne's mother for the 'shock' of seeing her son completely healed. What joy and rejoicing! He never had another epileptic fit. God completely healed him that night. From then on he became a faithful witness and street preacher of the Gospel, and conducted evangelistic meetings in churches in the Welsh valleys. A few years later he was conducting a series of meetings in Stockton-on-Tees in the north of England, where a woman came to Christ and asked if Glynne would visit her husband in the hospital. He borrowed a bicycle to go there. On the way he collided with a large truck, the door of which flew open and one of Glynne's eyes was completely gouged out. He was taken to the hospital in a critical condition, badly injured and now without sight in either eye and not expected to live. The doctor requested that a message be sent to Glynne's mother to arrange for his body to be taken back to South Wales for burial. However, he lived, sufficiently recovered from the accident to return to Swansea, but now he was TOTALLY BLIND.
At that point in time he was unable to travel around preaching being confined to his home for nearly two years. He would pray for God to heal him, and he had not a single doubt that God could do it. He had already known the mighty and miraculous power of God a few years previously. Often he would stand by the window in his bedroom, as though looking out through sightless eyes, expecting God to restore his sight.
One day he felt God spoke clearly to him: “Glynne, what is more important, your sight OR souls?” After a little struggle eventually he responded, “Souls, Lord”, and God gave him a further commission to GO and preach. He did so obediently and fervently for the next 46 years, conducting evangelistic meetings, seeing great numbers of people coming to Christ through his faithful preaching. He was a student at the Swansea Bible College under the Principalship of the renowned Rhys Howells. He pastored at least four churches with the Calvary Holiness Fellowship, which later merged with The Church of the Nazarene, but he was Pentecostal in experience and uncompromising in his Pentecostal faith. He often preached with his close friend Leonard Ravenhill. He NEVER received his sight, though he believed God could heal him. He prayed for others and God graciously healed many of them.
He was an incredible man of faith who fulfilled an effective pastoral ministry even though totally blind, including the regular visitation of members, getting around alone with the aid of his white stick. For six years he pastored the Church of the Nazarene in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, where it grew under his ministry so they built a larger building. Due to his blindness he could not physically assist with the building, but the folk said he was a great inspiration and encouragement to them as they worked. Glynne actually laid the last brick. He was greatly loved and highly esteemed. We called him Uncle Glynne. He came to three of the churches that I pastored in my early ministry in England - Thurscoe, Darlington and Radcliffe, and was guest speaker at my father's memorial service in Aberaman, South Wales in May 1972 after my dad went to be with the Lord while visiting with us in Toowoomba, Australia. Glynne Thomas was an amazing preacher, whom I knew from my childhood days. He became a close friend of our family, and often stayed in our home. We always referred to him as “Uncle” Glynne. He was a godly and beloved servant of Jesus Christ—a man of prayer (known as the praying preacher), and a passionate preacher of the Word of God.
I personally heard him share the thrilling account of his life and ministry, and the miraculous healing in Swansea – and while totally blind through all the years I knew him, he never questioned WHY God did not heal him of his blindness. Yet he remained faithful in his walk with God and work for God. He inspired me by his praiseworthy example and his able preaching of the Word of God and imparted much to me that has helped me in my walk with the Lord and ministry. Precious and unforgettable are the memories of this early Pentecostal/Holiness preacher who went to be with Christ in February 1982. Even at his funeral service there were seekers who had been in attendance at his last preaching engagement a few weeks earlier.
In Conclusion: While we must always establish our doctrine (teaching) on Scripture and carefully guard against basing it on historic or current illustrations, it is quite legitimate to extrapolate biblical truth from illustrations and anecdotal evidence. So what do we learn about classic Pentecostalism from evangelist Glynne Thomas's story?
1. The Power Gifts are at the cutting edge of Christianity. This was certainly the case in the New Testament with Jesus and the apostles. It was so in Pentecostal Evangelism and was a major contributing factor in the spread of the Pentecostal message, which by the 1960s was being described as the Third Arm of Christianity—the first being the Early Church and the second the Reformation. The term “Third Arm” has been highjacked by the Charismatic Movement and especially by human manipulators such as the late John Wimber and the selfpromoting Peter Wagner. One of the reasons the frequency of healings and miracles has diminished in our local churches is that we no longer evangelise. Our Lord's commission was,
Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. ... And these signs shall follow them that believe.... they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover... And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen – Mark 16:15-20.
By taking the “GO” out of “GOSPEL” we have largely removed the possibility of the sovereign miraculous workings of God, which were never promised as a source of comfort and blessing to mere gatherings of God's people.
2. The Power Gifts like all the “gifts of the Spirit” are at the sovereign discretion and by the supernatural intervention of God. Miracles and healings are the stuff of God not of man. Glynne Thomas simply acted on the impulse of God, who sovereignly and supernaturally removed his hunched back and raised him upright upon his feet. Human manipulation can never achieve that or anything like it.
3. The Power Gifts do not function on demand—they never did in the NT or in early Pentecostalism and they won't in our world today. There will always be the question, “Why am I or why is so and so NOT HEALED”. Glynne Thomas who experienced a mighty miracle later became and remained blind. He like Paul the apostle was made to know that God's Grace is as great as God's miracle working power cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9.
4. The Power Gifts are for today and to say otherwise is to reflect our backslidden condition. Cessationism detracts from the Glory of God and deprives needy mankind of the operation of the gifts of healings and of the workings of miracles, which in the purpose of God are part of His plan to demonstrate His greatness to every generation. “Oh Lord do it again.”
John Wesley in his sermon The More Excellent Way writes:
The cause of this [decline of spiritual gifts following Constantine] was not, (as has been vulgarly supposed,) “because there was no more occasion for them,” because all the world was become Christians. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christian. The real cause was, “the love of many”, almost of all Christians, so called, was “waxed cold”. The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ than the other Heathens. The Son of Man, when he came to examine his Church, could hardly “find faith upon earth”. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian Church; because the Christians were turned Heathens again, and had only a dead form left.