by D. Allen Briggs

The first New Testament instance we hear of anyone other than Jesus having the power to heal, raise the dead and cast out devils is when Jesus ordained his twelve Apostles to go out and preach.

    (Mat 10:8) Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

    (Mark 3:14-15) And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, [15] And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:

    (Luke 9:1-2) Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. [2] And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

Later, we find someone other than the Apostles is casting out devils in Jesus' authority ("in thy name").  The interesting point to note is that Jesus statement regarding such:

    (Luke 9:49-50) And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. [50] And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

Then, at the time of Jesus' ascension to Heaven, we note the following:

    (Acts 1:4-9) And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. [5] For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. [6] When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? [7] And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. [8] But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. [9] And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

The above statements of Jesus concern (1) the baptism of the Holy Ghost and (2) the reception of power after the baptism of the Holy Ghost for evangelism.

The fulfillment of Jesus' statements occurred on Pentecost:

    (Acts 2:1-21) And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. [5] And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. [6] Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. [7] And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? [8] And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? [9] Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, [10] Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, [11] Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. [12] And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? [13] Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. [14] But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: [15] For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. [16] But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; [17] And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: [18] And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: [19] And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: [20] The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: [21] And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

We note at Pentecost the fulfillment of the promise of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and the commencement of the endowment of power to spread the gospel.  The Apostles already had the delegated authority to heal, raise the dead, and cast out demons; however, we see a fulfillment of the prophecy given of God to Joel (Joel 2:28- 32) which was precisely quoted by Peter under the obvious influence of the Holy Spirit.  It should be noted that only so much of what Peter said in Acts 2:17-18 (Joel 2:28-29) regarding prophecy and visions was fulfilled during the Apostles' time and that the remainder of the prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.

We should also note that "gifts" (Gr. charisma) is a miraculous faculty or manifestation of the Spirit of God to the profit and edification of all.

    1Co 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit (receiving of the Holy Spirit) was communicated by the medium of the laying on of the hands of the apostles (Acts 8:17; 19:6):

    (Acts 8:17) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

    (Acts 19:6) And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

None of these baptisms (receiving of the Holy Ghost) is noted to be accompanied by other manifestations than tongues and prophecy of the Spirit such as healing, miracles and such.

Some of the manifestations of the Spirit are listed in 1 Corinthians 12.  There are more manifestations of the Holy Spirit noted in the Bible, such as causing rivers to stop, splitting of the Red Sea, fire from Heaven, calming storms, etc.  However, Paul is likely relating those manifestations of the Spirit which were mostly prevalent in the early characteristically miracle working church.

Justin and Irenaeus and their contemporaries, subsequent to the age of the Apostles, allude to miracle working as a thing which had to their knowledge existed in their day, and yet with which they seem to have little exact personal acquaintance.  It appears that the charismata of the Apostles ceased at their time and has not been reconsidered until the 1700s..  I recommend the reader study The Cessation of the Charismata by Benjamin B. Warfield for an in depth study of the charismata surrounding the age of the Apostles.  I don't agree with all of Warfield's conclusions; however, his study is sound.

During the 1700s there was a great revival in America known as the Great Awakening in which several "religious manifestations"were noted by my ancestor on my dad's side, Rev. Jonathan Edwards in a letter which he wrote: "The State of Religion at Northampton in the County of Hampshire, About 100 Miles Westward of Boston". It was published in The Christian History, I (Jan. 14, 21, 28, 1743), and also in Dwight's, Life of President Edwards. Rev. Edwards noted some religious affectations (manifestations of the Spirit):

    ". . .  overcome with a sense of the greatness and glory of divine things, and with admiration, love, joy, and praise, and compassion to others that looked upon themselves as in a state of nature; and many others at the same time were overcome with distress about their sinful and miserable estate and condition; so that the whole room was full of nothing but outcries, faintings, and the like."

These faintings seem to emulate what has subsequently been termed by Pentecostals as "slain in the Spirit." Some have described it also as “God’s operating table.”  It appears  the manifestations of the Spirit included the conviction of sin, righteousness and judgement written of by the Apostle John:

    (John 16:7-8) Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. [8] And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

Also noted by Rev. Edwards, were some folks that got up and ran around the building, but Rev. Edwards did not approve of this and put a stop to it.  However, there was no mention of the laying on of hands, healings, etc.  However, it should be considered that such laying on of hands was not generally practiced in the church at that time.

Subsequently, there have been some notable healings through such evangelists as Smith Wigglesworth, John Lake, W.V. Grant, Sr., Maria Woodworth-Etter, James Dunn, etc.  Even the dead were raised! Try ascribing resurrection of the dead to hysteria! Each of these individuals, used of God, weren't satisfied with merely being sealed into the kingdom but were hungry for more, and sought for greater and greater depths in God.  Truly their unction of the Spirit was the like of which has rarely been seen since the days of the apostles.

I would conclude that those who can cast out demons, heal, and resurrect the dead are those whom God chooses to work through amongst those who are willing to go the extra step, forsaking all for the kingdom.  It is always the manifestation of the Spirit and not the work of man so it isn't so what man can do but what God can do.  And prayer is the key for these are the works of God.  When a particular individual becomes the vessel for manifestations of the Spirit it is because of delegation of the authority of God, but the manifestation is still that of the Spirit. 

    (Mat 7:22-23) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The above verses from Chapter Seven of Matthew are related to obedience to the word of God, written and spoken to the heart of the believer.  There are many, as wolves amongst sheep, who would use the church to enrich themselves.  God is not a living; God is not an income.  The worker is worthy of his hire, but not worthy to wear God's crown or glory.  One can but point to the throne and say, "He did it!"

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