Preface and Part I
One of the significant developments in American church life during the past decade has been the rapid spread of the neo-Pentecostal or charismatic movement within the mainline churches. In the early sixties, experiences and practices usually associated only with Pentecostal denominations began to appear with increasing frequency also in such churches as the Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, and Lutheran. By the mid-nineteen-sixties, it was apparent that this movement had also spread to some pastors and congregations of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. In certain areas of the Synod, tensions and even divisions had arisen over such neo-Pentecostal practices as speaking in tongues, miraculous healings, prophecy, and the claimed possession of a special "baptism in the Holy Spirit." At the request of the president of the Synod, the Commission on Theology and Church Relations in 1968 began a study of the charismatic movement with special reference to the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The 1969 synodical convention specifically directed the commission to "make a comprehensive study of the charismatic movement with special emphasis on its exegetical aspects and theological implications." It was further suggested that "the Commission on Theology and Church Relations be encouraged to involve in its study brethren who claim to have received the baptism of the Spirit and related gifts." (Resolution 2-23, 1969 Proceedings, p. 90) Since that time, the commission has sought in every practical way to acquaint itself with the theology of the charismatic movement. The commission has proceeded on the supposition that Lutherans involved in the charismatic movement do not share all the views of neo- Pentecostalism in general. Accordingly, the commission has particularly endeavored to learn the views of representative Lutheran charismatics and to address primarily those aspects of the charismatic movement that are a matter of interest or concern within our Synod. Members of the commission have on a number of occasions consulted privately with Lutheran pastors who are involved in this movement; they have studied documents, position papers, and booklets produced by Lutheran brethren who claim to have been baptized in the Spirit; they have examined carefully official reports and study documents prepared by Lutheran and non-Lutheran church bodies on this subject.  Representatives of the commission have attended portions of two conferences conducted by Lutheran charismatics. Furthermore, preliminary drafts of this document were examined and criticized by a number of Lutheran charismatic pastors. The commission herewith expresses its deep appreciation to those pastors for their cooperation and assistance. In this document, we are presenting materials that deal primarily with baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and, to a lesser degree, miraculous healing, as these phenomena are occurring in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The first part presents general background information on the history of the movement, its sociological and psychological dimensions, and characteristic theological views of Lutheran charismatics. The second part of this document presents an analysis of relevant Biblical data, with particular reference to baptism in the Holy Spirit and the nature and purpose of spiritual gifts. In the final part, the commission offers its evaluation and recommendations from the perspective of Lutheran theology. The commission hopes this document will be helpful in encouraging further study and a proper evaluation of this increasingly significant movement.
A. A Brief History
About a decade ago the Christian world became aware of a religious movement that suddenly sprang up within many of the major American denominations. Perhaps the most characteristic mark of this new movement was its emphasis on an experience called the "baptism of the Holy Spirit." Because some of its basic beliefs resembled those of the Pentecostal churches, it became known among the traditional Christian denominations as neo-Pentecostalism. However, the movement gradually and increasingly came to assume the name "charismatic." In this word the neo-Pentecostal Christians found a term that is both Biblical and popular without bearing the stigma that has often in the past attached itself to the emotionalism and excesses of some Pentecostals. At first the new movement appeared to have arisen somewhat spontaneously, but on closer investigation it became quite evident that traditional Pentecostalism was having a strong influence on the charismatic movement. The origin of neo-Pentecostalism is difficult to trace. It first attracted public attention in 1960 when Rev. Dennis Bennett, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Van Nuys, Calif., resigned his office rather than see his congregation divided over the practice of speaking in tongues by himself and some members of his congregation. But this action, instead of easing tension, seems rather to have signaled the public debut of a movement that had been going on in private since the middle fifties. Reports of similar experiences in other non- Pentecostal churches suddenly were made known, reports that previously had been suppressed perhaps for reasons of uncertainty about the legitimacy of the experience or for fear of denominational censure.
Since 1960 this modern "charismatic renewal," as its leaders like to call it, has spread far beyond the Pentecostal churches. It is found within such denominations as the Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, and more recently, also the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. With the support of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International (FGBMFI), the Blessed Trinity Society, and individuals who are anxious to share their experiences with others, it has touched nearly every Protestant denomination in our own country as well as in many foreign countries. In spite of warnings by denominational leaders and even the removal of pastors from their charges, the movement seems to increase in influence. Periodicals published by the FGBMFI and other charismatic groups carry regular reports of pastors and laymen who claim to have experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Leaders of the charismatic renewal are greatly encouraged by the fact that the movement has also made inroads into certain intellectual centers in America. Neo-Pentecostals frequently publicize the fact that Yale University experienced a Pentecostal revival in October 1961 when nineteen students and one faculty member received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. From Yale the movement then spread to Dartmouth, Princeton, and other university campuses across the nation. Although the charismatic movement began to enter The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod some twenty years ago, the main thrust began in the middle sixties. By April 1968, when the first gathering of Missouri Synod charismatic pastors was held at Crystal City, Missouri, there were 44 pastors across the Synod claiming to have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When a conference of Lutheran pastors in the charismatic movement was held at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in May 1971, it was estimated that there were over 200 pastors in the Synod claiming to have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Lutheran charismatics, like their counterparts in other denominations, explain that their goal is not to separate from the organized church but to assist in revitalizing the church by bearing testimony to the remarkable work the Lord is doing in their own lives through the power of the Spirit. It is their hope that the mainline churches will regard the movement with an open mind and incorporate it into the mainstream of the church's life. Various attempts have been made to account for the apparent success of the charismatic movement. Dennis Bennet explains its phenomenal growth in these words:
The church is in a mess, organized Christianity a failure. Why? Because the Holy Spirit has not had a fair chance to work experientially in the church. ... It is time to stop relying on intellectual analyses and to start relying on spiritual experience. After all Christianity is not an intellectual matter at all. It is a purely personal and spiritual matter. 
Frederick Dale Bruner expresses the view that Protestant as well as Roman Catholic churches since the Second Vatican Council have exercised vigorous criticism of their own churches, especially with respect to their irrelevancy, institutionalism, and spiritual deadness. Appealing to harried Protestant pastors and to spiritually malnourished Protestant and Catholic laity, neo-Pentecostal Christians claim that the power for spiritual life in the individual and in the church is to be found in the long-neglected but now discovered and experienced baptism in the Holy Spirit with its charismatic manifestations. 
A Lutheran pastor, recently won over to the movement, states:
It was obvious to me that my own ministry lacked the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Certainly souls had been saved through the preaching and teaching of the Gospel. But what about the other works that Jesus did? 
B. Sociological and Psychological Dimensions
Psychologists too have sought an explanation for the spectacular growth experienced by the charismatic movement. Luther P. Gerlach and Virginia H. Hine, members of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, have produced a study in which they discount the popular view that economic deprivation, social disorganization, and psychological maladjustment have been primary causes in the development of this movement. It is their opinion that the success of the charismatic revival is to be sought rather in the dynamics of the movement itself. They point to five factors that in particular have been instrumental in the rapid growth of neo-Pentecostalism:
1. The network of friendship, kinship, and other social ties that unites ministers, leaders, evangelists, and people in a "reticulate acephalous organizational structure" that enables them to reach all strata of society.
2. "Face-to-face recruitment along lines of pre-existing significant social relationships." Gerlach and Hine found that relatives accounted for the recruitment of 52 percent of their total sample, and close friends for another 29 percent. "Other recruiting relationships were those between neighbors, business associates, fellow students, employer-employee, or teacher-student, in which previous significant interaction had occurred."
3. A strong sense of commitment that grew out of a transforming act such as the practice of glossolalia, "which set the believer apart in some way from the larger social context, cut him off from past patterns of behavior and sometimes from past associations, identified him with other participants in the, movement, and provided high motivation for changed behavior.
4. Encouragement to demonstrate a boldness of spirit for promoting the Lord's work.
5. A psychology of persecution. Among neo-Pentecostals it was found that ridicule, nonacceptance, or painful ejections from mainline denominational churches often resulted in increased growth; on the other hand, in cases where local officialdom posed little or no opposition, recruitment was more difficult. 
In recent years psychologists have also conducted controlled and comprehensive studies to ascertain whether participants in the charismatic revival are maladjusted individuals, emotionally unstable, or intellectually deprived. While older psychological opinion tended to relate glossolalia to schizophrenia, hysteria, group hypnosis, unadaptive anxiety reactions, or a higher degree of susceptibility to suggestion, more recent studies have claimed that such conclusions are no longer acceptable in the light of recent sociocultural and psychological data. Gerlach and Hine have reported that in seven studies conducted by psychologists or psychiatrists, Pentecostal glossolalia could not be related to mental illness. Speaking in tongues was not considered an indicator of neurosis or psychosis. Data indicate that although disturbed individuals may be attracted to the movement, there is no evidence that they exist in greater proportion within this movement than within the organized church. It is quite possible that the disturbed may be attracted because of their great need of help, and they may even do or say bizarre things as a manifestation of their illness, but it is not the result of the dynamics of the movement. 
Somewhat different conclusions were reached in a psychological and linguistic examination of glossolalia conducted recently by the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn under the direction of John P. Kildahl, Ph. D., and Paul A. Qualben, M. D., and financed by the National Institute of Mental Health. According to their report, they compared the personalities of certain individuals who spoke in tongues with those who did not. Their purpose was "to determine the relationship between certain personality variables and the practice of speaking in tongues" (p. 5). In their study they employed a sampling of 39 individuals, 26 of whom were glossolalists and 13 nonglossolalists. All the participants were volunteers and were equated for age, sex, marital status, and education. All were considered "very religious." An important part of the study was a structured interview and four psychological tests. Among the significant findings in their "Final Progress Report" were the following:
1. As far as emotional and mental health is concerned, the two groups were found to be very similar. Neither group was mentally more healthy than the other. However, it was discovered that an individual's level of maturity did affect the way in which he used glossolalia. The more disturbed use it in a more "bizarre" way, while the maturer person employed it in a more careful manner and made more modest claims concerning its value and effectiveness. (Pp. 25-26)
2. Tongue-speakers are more dependent on authority figures than are nonglossolalists. They have a strong need for guidance "from some external authority" and a strong tendency to lean on "someone more powerful." Having such authority figures "often brings with it great feelings of peace and relaxation." (P. 27)
3. Glossolalists invariably initiate their speech in the presence of a benevolent authority figure, in reality or fantasy (p. 15). "They are able to develop a deeply trusting and submissive relationship to the authority figure who introduces them to the practice of glossolalia. Without completely turning oneself over to the leader, one cannot begin to speak in tongues. In psychotherapy this is called a "dependent transference" (pp. 26 f.). This ability to submit oneself to a mentor "is not a function of either mental health or illness"; rather, it is "the same general trait that is called hypnotizability." (P. 28)
4. The influence of a leader is also apparent in the style and type of glossolalia that is employed by a group. The Kildahl report states: "Where certain prominent tongue speakers had visited, whole groups of glossolalists would speak in his style of speech." (P. 27)
5. While speaking in tongues, the individual "does not lose contact with his environment and his senses continue to operate during the experience. But there is an apparent lessening of conscious control" (p. 6). Some believe that the movement of their tongues is directly controlled by God. This experience apparently brings with it a feeling of peace, joy, and inner harmony, and in certain cases gives the charismatic a "tremendous feeling of worth and power." (Pp. 7, 29)
6. Speaking in tongues "is not gibberish. The sounds appear to a non-linguist to have the rhythm and qualities of language." However, glossolalia as it is practiced today lacks the ordinary features that are characteristic of human speech and is not therefore to be classified among natural languages, either living or dead. (Pp. 5, 16, 25) 
Lutheran charismatics feel that the Kildahl report is unsatisfactory. They point out, in the first place, that the Kildahl-Qualben conclusions are based on too small a sample to be truly scientific and conclusive. Lutheran charismatics also deny that the Holy Spirit takes control of the person's mouth and tongue while speaking in tongues. They explain that those who speak in tongues have control over when and where they exercise the gift (just as St. Paul indicates in 1 Cor. 14:27-28). While speaking in tongues may be accompanied by a feeling of joy or closeness to God, it does not occur in a semihypnotic state, nor does it involve the speaker in a loss of consciousness or awareness of all that is going on about him. Lutheran charismatics admit that many people are taught the mechanics of speaking in tongues, but they emphasize that others have received the gift simply in response to prayer and without receiving any instruction or hearing anyone speak in tongues. Finally, Lutheran charismatics deny that speaking in tongues means that they are specially chosen by God; they emphasize that speaking in tongues is purely a gift of God's grace.  While the congregations and pastors of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod may find various psychological studies of neo-Pentecostalism to be interesting and helpful, such studies appear to be largely inconclusive at the present time. Furthermore, our concern as Christians should center especially on the theological aspects of this movement.
C. Theological Views of Lutheran Charismatics
In spite of the fact that many books, pamphlets, and articles relating personal experiences and views have been produced by Lutheran charismatics in the past decade, it must be understood that no single voice speaks for the entire movement. Moreover, no single authoritative theological interpretation has emerged that is commonly accepted by all charismatics (or even by all Lutheran charismatics). There are, however, several basic theological viewpoints that appear with some frequency in the writings of Lutheran charismatics.  Among them are the following:
1. In the early church those who came to faith in Jesus Christ were baptized with water. But then as a second or succeeding step they expected also to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. The normal (although not the only) sequence of events was repentance, faith, water baptism, and baptism in the Holy Spirit.
2. Ordinarily this baptism in the Spirit was an experience that happened at a definite moment in time and was readily recognizable to all who were present since it was accompanied by manifestations of the Spirit, usually speaking in tongues. (Acts 2:1-4; 8:12-17; 10:44-48; 19:1-6)
3. The various gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Scripture are being given to God's people also today and may be sought according to the sovereign will of God. These gifts include extraordinary faith, power to witness to Jesus Christ, miraculous healing, speaking in tongues, the interpretation of tongues, prophecy, exorcism, and others. (1 Cor. 12:4-11, 27-31; 1 Cor. 14:1-5, 37-40; 1 Thess. 5:19, 20; Acts 2:17-18; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 11:13; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 13:8-12)
4. God's Word alone should determine the nature, purpose, and exercise of these spiritual gifts.
5. Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are founded on the Word and guided by the Word. In addition to the study of the Word and the reception of the sacraments, they are to empower and equip the church for her ministry of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to herself and to the world.
6. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not to be identified with emotionalism, nor does it occur as a result of one's wrestling or because one has reached a certain stage of holiness or spirituality. The baptism in the Spirit is a gift offered by grace to both the strong and the weak in faith. It is to be claimed and received as one claims and receives any promise in the Word. When one becomes a child of God, the Lord gives him the Spirit as a gift; he is then "born of the Spirit" (John 3:5-6). But the Christian may also be "filled" or "baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:5-8). With this "filling," the Spirit is allowed to express Himself more fully in and through the Christian's life. There are, however, various opinions among Lutheran charismatics with respect to the manner in which baptism in the Spirit is to be received. Some have listed specific steps that are to be followed in the attainment of this gift; for example, the desire for baptism in the Spirit, an earnest effort to yield one's will to Jesus in all areas of life, fervent prayer for the gift, receiving the gift by faith, thanking God for granting baptism in the Spirit, and releasing the Spirit by praising the Lord in an unknown tongue.
7. Speaking in tongues, which in apostolic times was one of the manifestations of the Spirit, is an act of spiritual devotion (1 Cor. 14:2). As one worships God in tongues, his mind is at rest and his spirit prays, unhindered by the limitations of human understanding (1 Cor. 14:14). Though the worshiper does not understand with the mind what he is saying, he does have a clear sense of communion with God.
8. Praying in tongues is a power that the exalted Christ gives members of His church to express the inexpressible and praise God in new speech. It is a gift that should neither be disparaged nor discouraged in the church. To despise or even take lightly a gift of the Spirit is to put oneself in spiritual danger. (1 Thess. 5:19,20; 1 Cor. 12:31; 14:1-39)
9. Speaking in tongues is not divisive. The cause of divisions in the church is always to be found in the ignorance and sinfulness of man, coupled with the agitation and devices of Satan.
10. The gift of healing, according to Mark 16:17-18, is one of the "sign gifts" by which God manifests His power to the world in a particularly striking manner. It is one of God's ways of confirming the truth of the Christian message.
11. Miraculous healing, which was very evident in the ministry of Jesus as well as in the apostolic church, is a gift of the Spirit that is still available to the Christian church today. However, it does not find ready acceptance in our day partially because even Christians have been affected to some extent by a naturalistic, materialistic philosophy - particularly popular in the Western world - which rules out any direct supernatural or divine intervention in the course of human events.
12. Prophecies exist in the church today even as in apostolic times. God still speaks directly to His children, communicating to them information to guide and direct them in a given situation in temporal matters. Some charismatics assert that this "word from God comes, not in connection with the sacraments nor with hearing the written or spoken Word, but at times of prayer or even in dreams" or in "prophecy, tongues, and interpretation." It is said that this view does not conflict with those statements of the Lutheran Confessions that are directed against enthusiasm, since Lutheran charismatics uphold the principle that conversion occurs solely through the Gospel. 
13. No member of a congregation should be pressured into seeking spiritual gifts or the baptism in the Holy Spirit nor be made to feel inferior because he does not possess or desire such gifts and experiences, but those members who claim the baptism in the Holy Spirit should be accepted as Lutheran Christians and be given proper instruction from God's Word as to how they should live with their gifts and experiences in a harmonious, edifying manner in the local congregation.
14. The pastor and elders of the church should prayerfully, carefully, and evangelically govern the use and correct any abuse of all spiritual gifts in the life of the church according to the Word of God.
15. A person is saved solely by faith in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior from sin and not because of any special measure or experience of the Holy Spirit or because of the presence or absence of any spiritual gift. 16. The Lord will bless any congregation that gives Christ and His Word its highest allegiance and allows God's Spirit the freedom to move in the lives of its members as He wills. Conversely, the Lord will withhold His full blessing from any congregation that places the traditions and interpretations of men above His Word or on a par with His Word or limits the activity of the Holy Spirit according to past patterns and human definitions.
Lutheran charismatics claim that their theological views supplement rather than contradict traditional Lutheran doctrine. That claim can be properly evaluated only on the basis of what the Scriptures teach. We shall first examine the Biblical teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will them summarize what the Scriptures teach concerning the Holy Spirit and His spiritual gifts in general before giving particular attention to St. Paul's treatment of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Finally, we will discuss whether the Scriptures promise extraordinary charismatic gifts to the church of every age.
A. Baptism of the Holy Spirit
The distinctive doctrine and major emphasis of the neo-Pentecostal or charismatic movement is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is therefore crucial to understand what the Scriptures say about this teaching.
1. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is an expression that occurs in a slightly different form in six passages of the New Testament. It appears first in Matthew 3:11 where John the Baptist, speaking to the multitudes concerning Jesus, said: "I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I. ... He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (See also the parallel passages: Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33.) Jesus employed the same terminology shortly before His ascension into heaven. In Acts 1:5 it is reported that on the day of His departure into heaven, Jesus told His disciples: "For John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Acts 11:16 relates the reactions of Simon Peter when the Holy Spirit "fell on" Cornelius and his household. The apostle exclaims: "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' While these are the only passages that employ the specific terminology, "baptize with the Holy Spirit," there are other parts of Scripture that describe the same concept in different words; for example, "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4; 7:55; 9:17), or "the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the Word" (Acts 10:44-46), or "the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles" (Acts 10:45), or "the Holy Spirit came on them" (Acts 19:6). In each of these instances the context indicates an experience similar to baptism with the Holy Spirit.
2. Scripture is also very clear regarding the meaning of Spirit baptism in the apostolic church. The promise Jesus had given His disciples, "but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:5), was fulfilled on Pentecost when God poured out His Spirit on 120 followers of the ascended Lord, giving them power to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. A similar experience occurred among the Samaritans when Philip preached the Gospel to them (Acts 8:14-15), and in the case of Cornelius and his family to whom Peter brought the Gospel (Acts 10:44-48). It was also experienced by the disciples at Ephesus when Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:1-6). In each of these instances believers in Jesus were endowed with special supernatural gifts (Acts 2:43; 3:6-7; 5:12; 6:8; 7:55; 8:13; 9:40; etc.). Significantly, nowhere in Acts is the gift of the Spirit given to individuals in isolation from the community of Christians.
3. It will be noted, furthermore, that in each of these instances baptism with the Spirit occurred after conversion. The apostles were Christians before Pentecost. The Samaritans had given heed to the preaching of Philip before Peter was sent to them and prayed that they might receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:6, 14-15). Likewise in the case of Cornelius, he was "a devout man who feared God with all his household" and prayed constantly to Him even before Peter entered into his house and preached to him with the result that the Spirit fell on all who heard the Word. (Acts 10:2, 44-48)
4. There is nothing in these narratives to indicate that Luke is intent on giving the church a formula for receiving the baptism of the Spirit. The apostle Peter had already proclaimed to his conscience-stricken hearers on Pentecost: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to Him" (Acts 2:38-39). This promise is given not only to Christians in the apostolic age but to all future generations as well. It should be noted that there is no suggestion of a time interval between baptism in the name of Jesus and receiving the gift of the Spirit. Nor is there any indication in this important promise that the believer, after coming to faith, must then actively seek the gift of the Spirit before receiving it.
Lutheran theologians are generally agreed that Luke's purpose in recording the events in Acts 8 and 10 is to relate how God in a marvelous way demonstrated before the eyes of Peter and other representatives of the congregation at Jerusalem that the Gentiles also were to be received into the church even as the Jews. It has, therefore, been suggested by some Lutheran exegetes that the lapse in time between conversion and baptism with the Spirit, in the case of the Samaritans and of Cornelius, was for the purpose of bringing Peter and others to the scene and making them eyewitnesses as God poured out His Spirit on the Gentiles as He had done on the Jews at Pentecost. (Acts 11:13- 18)
5. According to the Book of Acts, Christians in the apostolic church always received the baptism of the Holy Spirit solely as a gift, never as a blessing achieved on the basis of human effort. While charismatics sometimes emphasize that the Spirit must be earnestly sought after and prayed for, the major passages in Acts constantly refer to Him as the result of a promise from the Father (Acts 1:4-5; 2:33; 2:38-39; 8:20; 10:45), bestowed on the believer when he comes to faith.
When one looks specifically at the promise Jesus gave His disciples prior to Pentecost, it is evident that there were no conditions stated and no requirements made of them before they would receive the baptism of the Spirit. No mention is made of the need to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, nor that they should empty themselves of sin, surrender their wills to God, and make special preparations in other ways. Luke simply relates that Jesus charged His disciples "not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said, 'you heard from Me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' " (Acts 1:4-5)
There is no indication here that only those would receive the baptism who met certain conditions. Instead Jesus addressed Himself to all His disciples and made the general promise, "you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit." When the evangelist records the fulfillment of the promise on Pentecost, he states very specifically that "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4). It is significant that throughout the Book of Acts when the Spirit descended on a group of believers, it is always stated or strongly implied that all were filled with the Spirit. There is no indication that one or more persons were ever denied the full gift of the Spirit due to insufficient preparation. Nor is there any suggestion of a partial filling by the Spirit as if to imply that He first enters the believer's heart and life to bring conversion and sanctification and then only later comes in His fullness and power when the justified person is ready, having sought baptism of the Spirit by earnest prayer.
Luther writes very forcefully on this point in his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians. In Gal. 3:5, the apostle Paul asks: "Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?" Commenting on this verse, Luther writes that the entire Book of Acts
treats nothing else than that the Holy Spirit is not given through the law (men's deeds) but is given through the hearing of the Gospel. For when Peter preached, the Holy Spirit immediately fell on all those who heard the Word. On one day 3000 who heard Peter's proclamation believed and received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:41). Thus Cornelius received the Holy Spirit, though not on the basis of the alms he gave, but when Peter opened his mouth and was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to the Word with Cornelius (Acts 10:44). ... Thus Cornelius and his friends whom he called to his house do not do anything, nor do they look to any preceding works, and yet as many as are present receive the Holy Spirit. 
Luther understood that the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was promised to the church on Pentecost, is given to all believers solely by the grace of God, not because of any effort or deed on the part of the recipient.
To be sure, Scripture frequently urges us to pray for the gift of the Spirit (Luke 11:13; Acts 4:31; 5:29-32). But these exhortations are not intended to imply that God will withhold His Spirit from those who do not earnestly seek Him. God grants His Spirit to all who believe. Nevertheless the Lord also wants us, His children, to pray for this gift and thereby indicate our earnest desire to be His temple and our humble dependence on all His gifts. Christians frequently pray for those blessings they already possess.
6. It is highly important also that the church today understands what the Scripture means when it exhorts the Christian to be filled with the Spirit and when it speaks of men full of the Spirit. Pentecostals and many neo-Pentecostals equate these terms with the possession of charismatic gifts. They assert that when Scripture urges the believer to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), it is encouraging him to seek and pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which will bestow on him such spiritual gifts as prophecy, divine healing, miracles, or speaking in tongues. (1 Cor. 12:8-10)
However, a study of pertinent passages in the Scripture indicates rather clearly that these expressions may have various meanings. On Pentecost the disciples, filled with the Spirit, spoke in tongues, proclaiming the wondrous works of God (Acts 2:11). The deacons in Acts 6:3 were to be men full of the Spirit and of wisdom in order that they might distribute food and clothing to the needy in a fair and equitable manner. Stephen, full of the Spirit, disputed with the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin and put them to silence (Acts 6:10). Paul was filled with the Spirit at his baptism and so was equipped to be a missionary to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15-18). In Ephesians 5:18 the apostle exhorts all Christians to be filled with the Spirit, obviously meaning that they should employ the powers given them by the Spirit to live Christian lives, for the entire fifth chapter of the epistle deals with sanctification.
Thus the expression "filled with the Holy Spirit," as it is used in Scripture, very frequently has no apparent relationship to charismatic gifts. Consequently, it is often used in conjunction with such terms as "wisdom" or "faith" (Acts 6:3). Men full of the Spirit are children of God whom the Spirit has endowed with the gift of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3), as well as gifts and talents that enable them to serve Christ and their fellowmen in the church.
B. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts
The baptism of the Holy Spirit must be studied in the larger Biblical context of the Holy Spirit and His spiritual gifts. One of the themes that appears prominently in both Testaments represents the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Power who gives special gifts to the people of God in order to enable them to serve Him according to His will. In Old Testament times it was the Spirit who gave the rulers and military leaders the ability to govern in times of emergency. (1 Sam. 10:1-7; 16:13)
He gave the judges of Israel physical strength, courage, and wisdom to wage war against the enemies of God's people (Judg. 3:7-10; 6:33 ff). He endowed the artisans with craftsmanship in building the tabernacle (Ex. 31: 2-4). In a very special sense of the word, He equipped His "prophets" to serve as mouthpieces of God in order to reveal His will to the people. (2 Sam. 23:2; Neh. 9:20,30; Ezek. 11:5; Hos. 9:7; Zech. 7:12)
Throughout the New Testament, the Spirit is presented as the mark of the new age that began with the resurrection of Jesus and Pentecost. The Holy Spirit in whose name we are baptized is the Spirit who was promised in the Old Testament (cf. Ezek. 36:25-38; Jer. 31:31-34; Ps. 51:10-12). But He is associated with God's new covenant and the passing away of the old covenant (cf. 2 Cor. 3). To confess Jesus as Lord by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3) is to confess that we stand in the new testament in distinction from the old, for the Spirit is the "down payment" or "firstfruits" of the new age (cf. Rom. 8:23, 2 Cor. 5:5; 1:22). The church, created by the Holy Spirit through Baptism and the Word, is the new Israel of God.
In the New Testament the Spirit's work was intensified. This became evident even before the events of Pentecost. Early in his ministry John the Baptist proclaimed the good news that Jesus would "baptize" His people with the Holy Spirit. This indicated that with the coming of the Kingdom Jesus would pour out His Spirit on them in a very special measure.
Prior to His suffering and death on the cross, Jesus gave His disciples the promise of the Spirit. The Spirit would be their parakleetos, their Comforter and Counselor (John 14:26). He would guide them into all truth; He would teach them all things and again remind them of all that Jesus had told them while He was with them. (John 14:17, 26; 16:13)
Shortly before His ascension into heaven, the Savior told the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5); then they should employ this power to bear witness to Christ in all the world. (Acts 1:8)
In the Book of Acts it is evident that these promises concerning the Holy Spirit were fulfilled. The coming of Pentecost brought with it the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus equipped His followers with such spiritual gifts as were needed to carry out the task of evangelizing the world. Some of these gifts were miraculous. The disciples on Pentecost were heard speaking of the wonderful works of God in languages they had not learned (Acts 2:6-12). Some time later in the history of the early church, this experience was repeated with other believers in Christ. (Acts 10:46; 19:6)
Filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples of Jesus performed many signs and wonders (Acts 5:12; 6:8); they healed the lame (Acts 3:6), the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits (Acts 5:16; 8:6-8), and those who were paralyzed (Acts 9:34); on occasions they even raised the dead. (Acts 9:40; see also Acts 13:9-11; 14:8-11; 16:18; 19:11-12; 20:7-12.)
Of special importance, however, were the less spectacular spiritual gifts that were directly related to the proclamation of the Gospel. After Pentecost the disciples possessed an intense desire to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They employed every opportunity to witness to the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of their Lord. They proclaimed Christ with new courage and boldness, and it is very evident they understood better than before Pentecost the purpose and significance of Christ's death and resurrection. (Acts 2:14-40; 3:12- 26; 4:1-22; 5:29-32; 7:1-60; 8:32-35)
After Pentecost the Holy Spirit took a very active part in directing the early church into an intensive program of carrying the Gospel into all the world. It was the Spirit who led Philip to the chariot of the Ethiopian and gave him the opportunity to speak to him of the Savior (Acts 8:29). It was the Spirit who directed Simon Peter to the house of the Gentile Cornelius to proclaim to him the Gospel (Acts 10). Again it was the Spirit who chose Paul and Barnabas to be missionaries to the Gentile world (Acts 13:1-3) and then directed them through Asia Minor into Macedonia. (Acts 16:6-10)
The Bible also provides a number of lists that enumerate specific spiritual gifts with which God has endowed His church. One of the more familiar listings is recorded in 1 Corinthians 12 where the spiritual gifts mentioned are wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, the ability to distinguish between spirits, various kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. It should be carefully noted that while the apostle clearly indicates that miraculous gifts of the Spirit were possessed by some individuals in the Corinthian congregation, he does not deal with the subject extensively in his letters to other churches. When Paul in other epistles presents to his readers lists of spiritual gifts, or when he discusses the duties and functions of the church, or even when he catalogs the qualifications of pastors and other church leaders, he mentions only the less spectacular gifts, and his emphasis is on communicating the Gospel (Eph. 4:4-11; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:7-9). Some have interpreted this silence to mean that the miraculous gifts that were originally given to the followers of Christ soon disappeared from the early church after they had served their special purpose. Others, however, feel that such an argument from silence is inconclusive because there may have been no problem in these churches with regard to the proper use of these gifts.
In the fifth chapter of Galatians the apostle discusses the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (vv. 22-23). Here it should be noted that St. Paul lists the less spectacular gifts of the Spirit, namely, the more common attitudes and spiritual qualities of the Christian that result from his regeneration.
To be considered also is that Holy Scripture indicates with remarkable consistency that the Spirit imparts His gifts in response to the needs of His kingdom (Gen. 41:38; Num. 11:16-17, 24-26, 29; 27:18-23; 1 Sam. 16:13; Judg. 6:1-6, 33-34; 13:l-3, 24-25; Acts 2:1-43; 4:1-22; 6:l-11; 8:26-40). He bestows His special gifts on God's people in a historical context. In the New Testament the primary emphasis is that the Spirit equips the church to meet the world's need for the Gospel (Acts 8:5-8; 8:14-17; 11:1-18; 13:1-3; 16:6-10). For this reason the apostle strongly emphasized the importance of proclaiming Christ in a clear, intelligible manner. (1 Cor. 14:1-12)
In short, the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord and no other. Jesus promises not only that the Spirit "will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment" but that He will glorify Jesus Christ, "for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:8, 14). He is quite willing to be anonymous as long as Christ is proclaimed and exalted (John 16:13-14). The Spirit does not provide a second foundation for faith but bears witness to Jesus Christ as the church's one Foundation. Through Him we confess Jesus as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3) and call God our Father (Gal. 4:6). It is through the Spirit that we serve God and one another and overcome the temptations that arise in our lives. The Spirit transforms and empowers the whole life and outlook of those who receive Him, gives birth to the community of the church, and enables that church to proclaim the Word with boldness.
C. The Nature and Purpose of Spiritual Gifts
in 1 Corinthians 12-14
One of the most instructive sections in Holy Scriptures on the nature and purpose of spiritual gifts is 1 Corinthians 12-14. We shall not attempt to reconstruct the total problem that troubled the church at Corinth with respect to charismatic gifts, nor shall we seek to review the questions that may have been asked by the congregation. Instead we shall note some of the basic instructions that Paul gives in these chapters regarding spiritual gifts. Among the points made by St. Paul that are particularly relevant to our discussion are the following:
1. Already in the preface to his letter the apostle calls the attention of the Corinthians to the many blessings they possess in Christ. In Him they have every spiritual gift (1:7); they have sanctification (1:2), the grace of God (1:4), enrichment in speech and knowledge (1:5). Because they are in Christ, they lack no spiritual gift. They also wait for the "revealing of the Lord Jesus Christ." Only the return of the Savior would bring complete victory for them. Apparently the Corinthian Christians thought of themselves as already existing in the realm of glory, engaging in the work of the Spirit, which they conceived of as being beyond Christ. Therefore, the apostle reminds them again and again that the spiritual gifts they now possess are theirs in the crucified and resurrected Christ. And at His return they will be complete.
But while possessing all spiritual blessings, they were not using them as they should, and in chapters 12 to 14 Paul proceeds to give them instructions on the nature, purpose, and proper use of these great gifts.
2. The fact that an individual is in an ecstatic state does not in itself indicate that he is spiritual. Ecstasy is not limited to Christians. The Corinthians knew this from past experience. Before they were children of God, the very essence of their religious experience was their feeling of being carried away by spiritual forces. But then they were led away to dumb idols. Now the Corinthians are being led by the Spirit. They can recognize this from the fact that they are able to call Jesus their Lord. This confession of Christ is the characteristic mark of those possessed by the Spirit of God, says Paul.
3. But if the central work of the Spirit is leading men to honor Christ by confessing faith in Him as Lord, the Holy Spirit also manifests Himself through a variety of gifts and services with which He endows the Christian church. In 1 Cor. 12:8-10, 38-30, the apostle provides lists of the spiritual gifts he had in mind. They include the utterance of wisdom, the utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, the ability to discern spirits, various kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. Prominent at the head of the lists are gifts of intelligent and thoughtful utterance. Prominent at the end are gifts of tongues and their interpretation.
Among the spiritual gifts referred to in 1 Corinthians 12 are a number of terms that require some explanation. In verse 8 "the utterance of wisdom" and "the utterance of knowledge" may refer to an exceptionally thorough knowledge of the great truths of divine revelation, particularly the mysteries of the Gospel, and the ability to expound them in a clear and convincing manner as well as to apply them to individual cases in life. "Faith," in this context, can hardly refer to saving or justifying faith but must point to a heroic, unwavering trust and confidence in the power of God to reveal Himself in extraordinary deeds that may seem impossible to men. The expression "gifts of healing" no doubt refers to those remarkable deeds performed in the early Christian church by certain believers who were enabled by the power of God to heal the sick without medication, cast out unclean spirits, cure the lame, and even on occasions raise the dead. "The working of miracles" is a broader term including the many wondrous deeds performed by the early Christians through the almighty power of Christ.
"Prophecy" is a rather difficult term to understand, since it is used in various ways in Scripture. It does not refer primarily to the gift of declaring coming events in advance, although this did occur in the apostolic church (Acts 11:27: Agabus). It includes also the God-given ability to interpret Scripture correctly and to apply its message of Law and Gospel to the needs of men. It is the gift of expressing what the will of God was in a given situation. The ability to "distinguish between spirits" refers to a God-given power by which certain individuals in the early church were able to test the prophets to determine whether they were false or true and to judge whether a doctrine was of God or not. "Various kinds of tongues," in the case of the Corinthians, apparently had reference to a "language," unintelligible to others as well as to the speaker, by which a Christian praised God. (Paul discusses this gift at great length in 1 Corinthians 14.) "The interpretation of tongues" evidently was the ability to transmit the content and message of such "language" for the benefit and edification of the speaker and other members of the body of Christ.
4. These spiritual gifts are not reserved for the select few in the church, who are consequently in a privileged class above the rest; instead, Paul states that all Christians have been endowed by the Spirit with gifts of one kind or another. (V. 7)
5. All Christians have been baptized into the body of Christ, and all are made to drink of the one Spirit (v. 13). Therefore the spiritual gifts that each possesses are for the benefit of the entire church; they are given "for the common good" (v. 7). The Christian is to use his gifts in the service of Christ's body, the church, and not merely to serve himself. Any use of the Spirit's gifts that does not edify the church is contrary to the Spirit's intention.
6. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul discusses the basic attitude with which the Christian is to use the spiritual gifts God has given him. In the previous chapter he has indicated that they are charismata, gifts of grace. Now the apostle admonishes the Corinthians to employ them in a spirit of love.
7. It appears that in the congregation at Corinth the possession of certain spiritual gifts had led to senseless pride and chaotic confusion. Paul, therefore, admonished them in a most forceful manner that love must permeate and motivate their use of spiritual gifts or they become meaningless and useless. Even though a person may possess the very loftiest kind of tongues- speaking and though he may be able to speak not only in an unknown human language but with the tongues of angels, unless this gift is exercised in a spirit of love, it becomes nothing more than an unintelligible, meaningless set of sounds. Neither speaking in tongues nor prophetic insights nor heroic faith that can move mountains nor superhuman sacrifice can be useful and meaningful unless they are exercised in a spirit of Christian love. Thus it is not the miraculous nature of a gift nor the spectacular character of one's willingness to sacrifice that makes spiritual gifts unambiguous marks of the Spirit's presence and power; it is only the spirit of Christian love in which the gifts are exercised.
8. St. Paul then proceeds to describe very carefully the nature of this love about which he is speaking. It is not primarily something emotional or ecstatic, passionate or fiery; instead, it tends to tame those emotions that are so apt to lead to the abuse of spiritual gifts. Love is patient, long-suffering, and kind. More specifically, it is not jealous or boastful, arrogant or rude, irritable or resentful. It does not insist on having its own way. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in what is right.
9. Christian love also has the remarkable characteristic that it will continue on into the unending future, always relevant. Other gifts of the Spirit such as prophecies, tongues, and knowledge are imperfect and incomplete in this life and shall therefore pass away when they have served their purpose, but Christian love will remain intact even in the state of perfection. (13:9-13)
10. In the context of this magnificent discussion of Christian love, the apostle then exhorts the Corinthian congregation: "Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy" (14:1). Immediately thereafter, he addresses himself to certain problems that had arisen in Corinth with regard to speaking in tongues.
11. St. Paul, who himself possessed the gift of tongues (1 Cor. 14:18), believed that it could be an authentic gift of the Spirit. He did not forbid its use for self-edification or, when interpreted, for the edification of others (1 Cor. 14:5, 39). However, it should be carefully noted that the apostle in 1 Corinthians 12 to 14 is not discussing the gift of tongues for the purpose of encouraging or assisting the Corinthians in acquiring this gift. His purpose is rather to point out dangers and abuses that have resulted from its misuse and to encourage the use of other spiritual gifts, especially prophecy.
12. St. Paul prefers prophecy to tongue-speaking for a number of reasons. One who speaks in tongues speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands him, and the result is that he edifies only himself (14:2). On the other hand, he who prophesies speaks to men for their upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation. Such a person edifies the church. Edification now becomes the theme of this chapter (vv. 3, 4, 5, 12, 17, 26). According to St. Paul's manner of thinking, the ultimate criterion for a spiritual gift is this: "Does it build the church?"
13. Tongue-speaking can be useful in the church only if it is supplemented with the gift of interpretation (v. 5), for only then will it edify the church. Without interpretation no one will know what is being said, and it will be as if one speaks into the air (v. 9). Therefore he who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret in order to edify (v. 13). Paul thanks God that he has spoken in tongues more than all of them (v. 18); nevertheless, he concludes: "I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue (v. 19). In full accord with this expressed principle, we have no record of Paul ever speaking to his churches except in understandable language.
14. Accenting the gift of tongues out of proportion to other gifts is a sign of immaturity. In 1 Cor. 14:20-25 the apostle therefore challenges the Corinthians to "grow up" in their thinking. They should consider the effect that speaking in tongues might have on the church's program of evangelism. At an assembly of the church the effect of speaking in tongues on "outsiders" and "unbelievers" may be adverse, for it may lead them to think Christians are mad (v.23). In verse 21 the apostle inserts an Old Testament quotation (Is. 28:11-12) into the discussion, emphasizing that the effect of tongues on an unbeliever will be to harden rather than soften his heart.  Thus the use of strange tongues in the Corinthian congregation might not serve to convert the sinner but instead could cause him to blaspheme.
On the other hand, when members of the Corinthian congregation prophesy, which involves a testimony of their faith, and an outsider is present, there is the possibility that the unbeliever will be made conscious of his sin and unbelief. The secret sins of his heart may be revealed, and the result might well be that such a one repents and worships God, openly recognizing God's presence in the congregation. Using the gift of prophecy in that way may result in winning people for Christ.
15. Each believer is to consider himself a vital and responsible participant in the life of the congregation. In a church service everything should be done in an orderly fashion. Although Paul does not forbid speaking in tongues in their worship services (v. 39) he makes three important stipulations: (a) not more than three should speak in tongues in any one service; (b) these three should take turns and not speak all at once; (c) there should always be an interpreter present. Without an interpreter "let each of them keep silence in church and speak to himself and to God." (Vv. 27-28)
The same rules of good order apply to those who prophesy. They should prophesy in turn while the rest exercise judgment on what is said. This sentence indicates that the assembly's right to criticize should not be suspended no matter what gift might be exercised. Since God is a God not of confusion but of peace, all gifts, even prophecy, should be used in an orderly fashion.
D. The Gifts of the Spirit Today
Of primary importance in the current discussion is the question whether the Lord has promised to give His Spirit to the Christian church today in the same manner that He gave the Spirit to the church of the first century, enabling believers to perform miracles, heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, prophesy, or speak in tongues. Are the events recorded in Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19 to be interpreted solely as historical happenings that occurred in apostolic times, or should these passages be considered promises indicating what the Lord will do in behalf of His people also in future generations?
These narratives are presented by Luke as historical accounts and without any indication that they are to be considered promises also to future generations. Accordingly, Lutheran theologians in the past have usually interpreted them as experiences that occurred only in the apostolic church. Lutheran dogmaticians in earlier centuries carefully distinguished between baptism with the Holy Spirit and baptism in the name of Jesus. Only the latter was considered a sacrament to be performed in the church until the return of Christ. For these dogmaticians, baptism with the Holy Spirit, together with charismatic gifts, was limited to the apostolic age.
In more recent years, other Lutheran theologians identified the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the conversion of the sinner, which takes place through the Word and sacraments. Dr. Theodore Engelder, for example, writes:
All Christians are "baptized with the Holy Ghost," Luke 3:16. This term describes the work of the Holy Ghost in saving, in regenerating and justifying the sinner, sanctifying and preserving the Christian, and bestowing upon him the gifts and power he needs in his Christian calling, Acts 2:17; Is. 44:3; Zech. 12:10; Titus 3:6; 1 Cor. 12:3; Eph. 5:18; 1 Cor. 6:11; Gal. 3:1; Luke 11:13. ... The term is used in an unscriptural sense by the extreme enthusiasts, who define "the baptism of the Holy Ghost" as the bestowal of sinless perfection ... accompanied by miracle-working power, as the "second blessing," consequent upon the reconsecration of the soul to a higher and deeper life. ... Some even go so far as to designate it the chief and greatest blessing, while according to Scripture justification by faith is the chief and supreme thing in the life of the Christian, the greatest blessing, the source of all blessings. 
While Lutheran theologians have at times differed in their understanding of the term "baptism with the Holy Spirit," they have rather consistently held that the extraordinary charismatic gifts mentioned in Acts and 1 Corinthians were no longer given after the close of the apostolic age.
Even passages such as Mark 16:17-18 and 1 Cor. 13:8-10 do not clearly promise that God will endow His church throughout the centuries with the charismatic gifts that were given to the early Christians. Mark 16:17-18 does indeed state that "these signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." There is today almost unanimous agreement among scholars that verses 9 to 20 are not a part of the authentic text of the 16th chapter of the Gospel of Mark.  But even if these verses are authentic, they do not support the view of those who claim that in all ages of Christendom believers will be accompanied by a display of miracles. Understanding these verses in such an absolute sense would force one to conclude that these words of Jesus are unfulfilled, since such miracles have not always accompanied believers.
First Corinthians 13:8-10 has at times been quoted to prove that extraordinary charismatic gifts will remain in the church until the return of Christ, at which time that which is imperfect will pass away. However, if this passage is employed in this manner, one must conclude that not only tongues, prophecy, and knowledge will continue to exist in the church but also apostles and prophets, since they too are included among the spiritual or charismatic gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12:28. On the other hand, 1 Cor. 13:8-10 should not be used to prove the opposite. The apostle's statements that prophecies will pass away and tongues will cease are spoken in an eschatological context and do not prove that such gifts will end with the apostolic age. Moreover, his chief point in these verses is to stress the abiding character of love rather than the exact duration of extraordinary charismatic gifts.
It is noteworthy that the Scripture nowhere promises or encourages us to hope that extraordinary charismatic gifts will become the possession of the Christian church throughout the centuries. The pattern set in Scripture may actually indicate the opposite. While gifts of the Spirit are spoken of throughout the Bible, different gifts were given at different times in history depending on the needs of the Kingdom. The church can be sure that the Spirit will grant it those blessings that it will need to build the church, but it will remember that the Lord may have other gifts in mind for His people than those He granted the Christians in apostolic times. The church today must not reason in a manner that would lead us to conclude that because the Holy Spirit gave Samson the ability to fight lions or David the talent to govern, we can therefore expect Him to endow us similarly. The church must not conclude that because the Christian community in apostolic times had members who could speak in tongues, therefore the church today must possess similar gifts or it is somehow incomplete. It must not contend that because the church of the apostles had in its midst those with the ability to perform miracles of healing, therefore the church of the twentieth century must have members with similar gifts or it lacks an essential characteristic of the body of Christ. To be sure, the Lord may choose to give such gifts; but He gives to His church according to His good and gracious will and in keeping with His promises.
The Christian church today will accept with joy and gratitude any gift that the Spirit in His grace may choose to bestow on us for the purpose of edifying the body of Christ. It will recognize that the Lord does not forsake His church but promises the abiding presence of His Spirit. The church, therefore, will not reject out of hand the possibility that God may in His grace and wisdom endow some in Christendom with the same abilities and powers He gave His church in past centuries. It will take care lest it quench the Spirit by neither praying for nor expecting God's presence and power in building His church. But it will also take seriously the admonition of the apostle to "test the spirits to see whether they are of God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1; 1 Cor. 12:10) 
The church should seek the Holy Spirit and His gifts where God has promised them, in the Word and sacraments. The Scriptures make this point abundantly clear. In the house of Cornelius, for example, the preached word of Peter about Jesus Christ was the occasion for the gift of the Holy Spirit "on all who heard the word" (Acts 10:44). In Ephesus it was Paul's proclamation of Jesus that led to baptism in the name of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples of John (Acts 19:4-6). The Galatians, writes the apostle Paul, received the Spirit "by hearing with faith" (Gal. 3:3, 5). Word and sacraments are the instruments of the Spirit of God through which God continues to give His gifts to the church in this and every age. 
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