Volume 3 December 1, 2004 Issue 20

Measures Of The Spirit — Part 2

We have been discussing the measures of the Spirit. For sake of helping to clarify some of the debates concerning the giving of the Spirit in the Word, we stated in the previous issue that every instance of the Spirit being given to any group or individual can be placed into one of the following three categories, or measures as we called them — 1) Baptismal Measure 2) Secondary Measure 3) Indwelling Measure. Our discussion for this issue will focus on —

The Secondary Measure

This measure of the Holy Spirit was unlike the Baptismal Measure in that it was not bestowed from an unseen source. It was instead given by the Apostles through laying their hands on the individuals to whom they chose to give it. This measure, like the Baptismal Measure also was manifested by speaking in tongues, performing miracles and other miraculous demonstrations by those to whom it had been given. There are several places in the New Testament that mention instances when the Apostles gave this gift to various individuals. One such example is in Acts 19 when Paul laid his hands on some disciples in Ephesus.

"When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all." (Acts 19:6-7 NIV)

Another instance of this second measure being given by the laying on of the Apostles hands is in Acts 8.

"When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17 NIV)

There are several other instances that refer to the Apostles laying hands on certain disciples to bestow upon them special miraculous gifts. One of those instances is in Acts 6:1-6 on the occasion of what we generally believe to be the first Deacons appointed in the Church. Two of the men in that group were Stephen and Philip. Acts 6:8 tells us that Stephen performed great miracles and Acts 8:6 tells us that Philip performed miraculous signs. So we know that these men had miraculous abilities and that the Apostles had laid their hands on them.

The Apostles were the only ones who could bestow these miraculous gifts on others. With the exception of Ananias in Acts 9:17-18, (who was sent directly by God to heal Saul of his blindness), each time we read of miracles being performed, we can also locate the Scripture that gives an account of the Apostles having laid hands on that individual. There's not one single example in the New Testament of anyone other than the Apostles passing on such gifts to someone else by the laying on of hands. The Apostles were the only ones who could do that. In fact, Paul implies that very thing in Romans 1:11 when he wrote these words to them —

For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; (NASB)

This would certainly indicate that Paul had to visit those Roman Christians in person so that he could lay hands on them to give them some miraculous gifts. Those gifts could only be acquired by the Apostles laying on of hands. We see this demonstrated even more clearly in this next verse.

"When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money. Peter answered: 'May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!'" (Acts 8:18 and 20 NIV)

So we can now see that the Secondary Measure of the Holy Spirit was manifested in much the same way (i.e. performing miracles, prophesying, speaking in tongues, etc.) as the Baptismal Measure. Both gave certain miraculous abilities to those who received them although they were bestowed in different ways.

In the previous issue we noted that the Baptismal Measure did not save those who received it. We looked at the story of Cornelius and read that they were baptized after hearing the message Peter had preached to them (Acts 10:47-48). This Secondary Measure also did not save those to whom it was given. Earlier in this article, we mentioned the 12 disciples in Ephesus. We read verses 6 and 7 of Acts 19. Now, let's begin reading one verse earlier. Paul had just explained in more detail to them about baptism. Then we read —

"On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied." (Acts 19:5-6 NIV)

So we see that Paul's ability to lay hands on them did not negate the necessity for them to be baptized. That is also quite clear in the account of Cornelius that we discussed in the previous issue. Baptism was then and is now the act that saves us. (Gal. 3:37; I Peter 3:21 and many others). Neither the Baptismal Measure nor the Secondary Measure of the Spirit saved those to whom it was given.

We discussed at some length in the previous issue that the Baptismal Measure of the Spirit was given at specific times for very specific needs. We noted that the Church was just beginning and that extraordinary measures were necessary in order to establish the fact that Christianity was indeed of God and that Jesus was the Son of God.

In the same way that the Baptismal Measure had a specific purpose for a specific time, so also did the Secondary Measure. Christians of that time didn't have the written Word as we have it today. There might have been a few letters written by the Apostles that were circulated among some of the churches, but there obviously was no Bible as we have today. So this Secondary Measure of the Spirit was bestowed on certain Christians for the purpose of helping to establish the Church and to reveal God's Word during those very early days. We read about how that was going to be accomplished in Ephesians 4.

"It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

Remember that we established earlier that the Apostles were the only ones who were able to bestow this Secondary Measure on others. Nowhere in the Scriptures do we ever read of anyone other than the Apostles having that capability. Both of these measures of the Spirit were for the purpose of accomplishing a very specific task — the task of establishing the New Testament Church. That task had been accomplished by the time all of the Apostles had died. So the bestowing of that measure died with them. The need for such miraculous gifts had ended.

In Luke 16:19-31, the Scriptures tell the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Both had died. The rich man was in torment while Lazarus was in Paradise. Then verse 28 states that the rich man asked that Lazarus be allowed to go and warn his brothers so that they would not "also come to this place of torment."

"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" (Luke 16:29-31 NIV)

We have the very words of God recorded by Divinely Inspired writers in the Holy Bible for us to use today. This story of the rich man and Lazarus is very much applicable to the subject of these miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Those who do not listen to and accept the very Words of God recorded for them in the Scriptures, would also not be convinced even if someone performs miraculous signs. Let's read these words spoken by Jesus from Luke 11.

"As the crowds increased, Jesus said, 'This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here." (Luke 11:29-32 NIV)

The Son of God was here! He walked on this earth. He was greater than Jonah and Solomon. Even after He rose from the grave, some still did not believe He was the Messiah. Even after the Apostles performed spectacular miracles, some still did not believe. Even after the Apostles laid their hands on many of the early Christians and gave them miraculous gifts to perform spectacular miracles, some still did not believe. If the rich man's brothers would not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither would they listen to relatives raised from the dead. If those living today will not listen to the Inspired Word of God, neither would they believe if spectacular signs and wonders were performed.

So we have seen in these last two issues that the Baptismal and the Secondary Measures of the Holy Spirit were both given for very specific reasons. The Baptismal Measure was given only to the Apostles and to Cornelius (and the Gentiles with him). The Secondary Measure was given to some Christians and only through the laying on of the hands of the Apostles. No one else could pass on these special miraculous powers — only the Apostles. Therefore the giving of the Secondary Measure of the Spirit ceased when the last Apostle died.

We have also seen that neither the Baptismal Measure nor the Secondary Measure saved those who received them. Baptism in the water was the act that saved. The miraculous gifts were for purposes other than salvation. The Scriptures tell us that there is one baptism and that is in the watery grave and it is what saved the early Christians and it is what saves us today.

We have noted that Christ was the Administrator of the Baptismal Measure (John 1:33 and Matthew 3:11) and that the Baptismal Measure was to reveal (John 14:26 and I Cor. 2:13) and to confirm (Mark 16:20) the truth so that the New Testament Church could be established. When that task was completed there was no longer a need for spectacular demonstrations to prove that the Church was of God, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and that salvation was now available even to the Gentiles. Both measures ceased when those who had received them died. There is no example anywhere in the Scriptures of anyone other than the Apostles passing on those miraculous gifts. Both the Baptismal and the Secondary Measures of the Holy Spirit were given for very specific purposes and those purposes no longer exist.

In the next issue we will conclude this series on the three measures of the Spirit with a discussion of the Indwelling Measure.

"Diligence" is a privately funded publication of:
Dennis and Sherri Owens — Cincinnati, Ohio