January  18 -
  January 24

SDA Sabbath School Lessons

#4 Spiritual Gifts From Pentecost to the Present

Read for this  
week's study: 
Joel 2:28-32; 1 Cor. 1:6, 7; 1 Thess. 5:19-21; Matt. 24:24
Memory Text:  "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions" (Joel 2:28, NIV).
Key Thought: From its inception, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has accepted the view that spiritual gifts are functional in any age. Since 1980, we have included in Fundamental Belief, No. 16, all the spiritual gifts as applicable to the life of the church today.
The Lessons:
The Discussion: We invite youi to join the  SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning, January 18, (usually 9:30 AM) with your SSNETlocal Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

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Sabbath -
 January 18


Many churches believe in the authenticity of gifts such as helps, intercessory prayer, etc., but not in the so-called "sign" or "power" gifts such as prophecy, healing, and speaking in tongues. This view is called cessationism. On the other hand, churches and groups that form part of the contemporary charismatic movement take the position that sign gifts are not only valid, but particularly important in today's world. Seventh-day Adventists have always believed that all spiritual gifts are functional in any age, that the gift of prophecy is particularly relevant to the remnant church, and that other sign or power gifts will be notably manifested during the latter rain. But Adventists question the application of some "gifts" in contemporary denominations, especially speaking in tongues and faith healing.

This week we trace the history of spiritual gifts from the early church to our day and outline why Seventh-day Adventists believe spiritual gifts are still functional.

Sunday -
 January 19

(Joel 2:28-32).

There is a school of thought called cessationism that holds that the gifts of the Spirit, particularly the gifts of tongues, healing, and prophecy, were special endowments given to people only during New Testament times. The claim is that once the canon of Scripture closed, spiritual gifts were no longer needed. Adventists have never accepted that view. Our understanding is based on the chronology indicated by the phrase "And afterward" in Joel 2:28 (NIV) and the phrase "when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears" in Corinthians 13:10 (NIV).

Analyze the way Peter applied Joel 2:28-32 on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:14-21. To whom did he apply the prophecy? Acts 2:39.

The Hebrew for "afterward" in Joel 2:28 is a common expression referring to some time in the future. The Greek of Acts 2:17 uses the word eschatos in the phrase "in the last days." Eschatos means "last in time or space." The English word eschatology (study of last things) is derived from this word. The early Christians saw their day as "the last days," because Jesus had told them to proclaim the gospel worldwide and then He would return (Acts 1:6-8). So Peter applied the prophecy to his day. But Peter's era was not the final "last days."

What did Paul mean in 1 Corinthians 13:10 by his words "when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears"? See I Cor. 15:50-55.

Notice Paul's series of contrasts in 1 Corinthians 13:
  • Now
  • Then
Prophecies Will cease
Tongues Will be stilled
Knowledge Will pass away
We know in part Shall know fully

When is "then"? The word perfect (1 Cor. 13: 10) is the Greek word teleios, which means "complete when it gets to the end." On this earth, we never attain total "completeness." When Jesus comes, the saved are re-created. Since all spiritual gifts are still valid, why don't we hear more about them in our church?

Monday -
 January 20
Spiritual gifts are an integral part of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, the span of time between Pentecost and the second coming. Focusing particularly on the gift of prophecy, A.G. Daniells wrote: "When sin had broken direct communion between heaven and earth, God gave the prophetic gift to men, vouchsafing it to His church, and that gift has never been permanently withdrawn since its bestowal." - A.G. Daniells, The Abiding Gift of Prophecy (Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1936), p.11. That excellent summary applies equally to all gifts of the Spirit.

How does 1 Corinthians 1:6, 7 confirm the position that spiritual gifts are valid and active in the church today? What other evidence is there that spiritual gifts, including the "sign" gifts, are still active today? Eph. 4:7-13; Rev. 12:17.

Study the following spiritual gifts, marking ones you think you might have.
Romans 12 1 Cor. 12

(Not mentioned



Alluded to
Prophecy Wisdom Apostle Celibacy (1 Cor. 7:7)
Teaching Knowledge Evangelist Voluntary poverty (1 Cor. 13:3)
Service Faith Pastor Martyrdom (1 Cor. 13:3)
Giving Healing Hospitality (1 Peter 4:9)
Leadership Miracles Exorcism (Acts 8:5-8)
Mercy Discerning of spirits Intercessory Prayer (Acts 12:12)


Tongues Missionary (Rom. 11:13)
Interpretation of tongues
Pinpoint times in your life and work in the church when spiritual gifts enhanced whatever you were doing.

Tuesday -
 January 21


Historical records show that throughout its history the Christian church recognized spiritual gifts as a continuing, legitimate operation of the Holy Spirit. Today's lesson will trace some instances of the appearance of spiritual gifts. See Friday's lesson for more details.

As power passed into the hands of a church hierarchy, eventually resulting in the formation of the papal system, the official church tended to identify spiritual gifts with schismatic movements.

The Early Christian Centuries. At least two early church-related documents, The Didache and The Shepherd of Hermes, mention ongoing spiritual gifts. Both documents use almost the same words as does Paul in listing the various gifts. Justin Martyr, who lived some 60 years after the death of John, the last of the apostles, says: "The prophetical gifts . . . remain with us, even to the present time." - Quoted in Ronald Kydd, Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984), p. 27.

Third and Fourth Centuries. A group called the Montanists claimed to have the sign gifts in their midst. Other writers of the time, even those opposed to Montanism, do not seem to regard the appearance of these spiritual gifts as either inconsistent or impious.

The Middle Ages. The appearance during this time of protesting groups such as the Waldenses and Huguenots brought a renewed manifestation of spiritual gifts. According to A.G. Daniells, a contemporary observer said of a group in southeastern France: "They were all people without malice, in whom I perceived nothing that I could suspect of being their invention."- Quoted in A.G. Daniells, The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, p. 227.

Adventists are familiar with the gift of prophecy in our church, and Ellen White affirms the continuance of other spiritual gifts: "But the gifts of the Spirit are promised to every believer according to his need for the Lord's work. The promise is just as strong and trustworthy now as in the days of the apostles. 'These signs shall follow them that believe.' This is the privilege of God's children, and faith should lay hold on all that it is possible to have as an endorsement of faith." The Desire of Ages, p. 823. Italics supplied.

Suppose we agree that the Bible teaches that all believers have spiritual gifts for ministry. How can you explain why churches through the centuries did not include this truth in their central teaching? (See Ellen While, The Great Controversy, chapter 3.)

Wednesday -
  January 22


During the latter rain, spectacular gifts of the Spirit will again be manifested. "The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close." - The Great Controversy, p. 611.

Joel describes the latter rain in Joel 2:23, 27-32. Peter applied this prophecy to Pentecost, the former rain. How do we know it also applies to the latter rain? Zech. 10:1; Hosea 6:3; Rev. 18:1.

"Near the close of earth's harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the failing of the latter rain; and it is for this added power that Christians are to send their petitions to the Lord of the harvest 'in the time of the latter rain.' In response, 'the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain.' 'He will cause to come down.-.. the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain.' Zechariah 10:1; Joel 2:23." - The Acts of the Apostles, p. 55.

What kind of power and manifestations of spiritual gifts can we expect during the latter rain? Mark 16:15-20.

Ellen White cites this passage and describes what will happen during the latter rain. "Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers." - The Great Controversy, p. 612.

"I saw the latter rain was coming as the midnight cry [The Millerite Movement], and with ten times the power." Ellen G. White, Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 4.

The latter rain is the last gospel invitation before the close of probation. It is the ultimate, premillennial call to accept the Lord's complete system of truth. The Lord will again empower large numbers of disciples with the sign gifts as evidence of His power.
Praying for the latter rain to fall is serious business. What commitments are involved in praying for the latter rain?

Thursday -
 January 23


Whenever something true appears, Satan supplies a counterfeit. Spiritual gifts are no exception. For instance, divine healing is all too easy to falsify. Speaking in tongues is a perennial problem for many churches. Outbreaks of self-proclaimed prophets and apostles cause incredible difficulties in many church communions.

What did Paul say about authenticating spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy? 1 Thess. 5:19-21. What did Jesus say about counterfeit signs and wonders? Matt. 24:24.

There have been periodic outbreaks of Pentecostal-type movements in Adventist history. An interesting one was the case of a Mr. and Mrs. Mackin. Visiting Ellen White in 1908, Mr. & Mrs. Mackin related how they sang in the Spirit, spoke in tongues (in their case unlearned foreign languages), and cast out demons. Mrs. Mackin also felt she had the gift of prophecy. Ellen White's response came through a vision. The Mackins were cautioned that their type of experience usually brought the cause of God into disrepute. "The Holy Spirit works," Ellen White told them, "in a manner that commends itself to the good judgement of the people." - Selected Messages, book 3, p. 371.

What is the relationship of spiritual gifts to the authority of the Bible? Isa. 8:20; 1 Cor. 14:32, 37 (compare 1 Cor. 15:1, 2; 2 Tim. 1:11-14).

Spiritual gifts are always governed by the revealed Word of God and must be exercised only within the boundaries set by the Bible. One problem with the contemporary charismatic movement is that people's subjective experiences often replace the Bible as final authority in their lives. J.N. Andrews put it well: "The Bible expressly teaches that the existence of these gifts is as necessary to the church of Christ, as the different members are necessary to the well-being of the body. While, therefore, the Bible recognizes the gifts of the Spirit, these are not given to supersede the Bible, nor yet to fill the same place as the Bible."- Review and Herald, Feb. 15, 1870.

Have you ever been involved in a religious experience that seemed true at first but turned out to be counterfeit? How did you come to the conclusion that it was counterfeit?

Friday -
  January 24


For more information on deceptive teachings and counterfeits, see Selected Messages, book 2, sections I and II. For specific information on Pentecostal-type movements within Adventism, see Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 31-39, and George R. Knight, From 1888 to Apostasy (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald, 1987), pp. 167-171. For information on the continuing validity of spiritual gifts, see A.G. Daniells, The Abiding Gift of Prophecy (Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Pub. Assn.), 1936. Daniells traces prophecy and other spiritual gifts through the Bible and history into the twentieth century.

The fact that some individuals abused spiritual gifts does not mean that the gifts themselves or faithful believers practicing them were at fault. Referring to the rise of the Advent movement in later centuries, Ellen White records: "In every generation God has sent His servants to rebuke sin, both in the world and in the church.... Many reformers, in entering upon their work, determined to exercise great prudence in attacking the sins of the church and the nation. They hoped, by the example of a pure Christian life, to lead the people back to the doctrines of the Bible. But the Spirit of God came upon them as it came upon Elijah, moving him to rebuke the sins of a wicked king and an apostate people; they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the Bible-doctrines which they had been reluctant to present.... The words which the Lord gave them they uttered, fearless of consequences, and the people were compelled to hear the warning." -The Great Controversy, p. 606.

The latter rain. For more information, see The Great Controversy, pp. 611, 612.


  1. Compile a list of evidences that spiritual gifts are still valid today. How does this support the Adventist emphasis on the gift of prophecy?
  2. How do you account for the fact that it was not until 1980 that all spiritual gifts were included in one of our fundamental belief statements?
  3. How does the inclusion of all spiritual gifts in our church's belief system affect our concept of ministry and the priest- hood of all believers?
SUMMARY:   This lesson traces the functioning of spiritual gifts throughout the centuries. There is strong biblical and historical evidence that the gifts mentioned in the Bible are still valid today. Spiritual gifts can be counterfeited. We must take care to follow the Bible's guidance to ensure that the gifts are exercised correctly.

Inside Story

The Datu's Dream

Norma Lachica

Datu ("Chief") Mangol was the illiterate but respected chief of a little village in the Philippines. He believed in the gods of the mountains, the rocks, the trees, the sun, the harvest; but he did not believe in the God of the universe. He would laugh at his three wives when he caught them praying, and often tried to pry their eyes open in an attempt to stop their prayers.

One night Datu Mangol had a dream. He saw a narrow path with boiling water on one side and fire on the other. He heard a voice instructing him to walk on the narrow path. Frightened, he hesitated, but the voice urged him to walk in faith, for the God of the universe would keep him from falling. Still frightened, Datu Mangol decided to go home and prepare for his journey, but the voice compelled him to begin his journey at once.

He began to walk, and soon found himself standing on a crossroad, where roads stretched out in every direction. On one road he could see a church. The voice asked him which road he should take, and Datu Mangol said, "The road to the church." The voice assured him that was the way God wanted him to go. In Datu Mangol's society dreams have great significance. Datu Mangol studied his dream carefully to determine the meaning. He decided that God wanted him to attend church.

A few days later word came that a baptism was scheduled in a town several hours away. Datu resolved to attend the baptism. He hiked for three hours to the nearest town, and then joined other believers for the six-hour jeepney ride to the place where the baptism was to be held. He asked for baptism and enrolled in an adult literacy class being offered by student missionaries, so that one day he could read the Bible for himself. In the meantime he studies the Bible with church members in his village.

Pray for student and volunteer missionaries in the Philippines as they seek to lead others out of spiritual darkness to the Light of the world.

Datu Mangol. Norma Lachica works at Mountain View College in southern Phillippines.

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