By Larry Ray Hafley
This time we are drawing a bead on a Pentecostal charge of inconsistency. The charismatics say we are inconsistent for selecting New Testament cases of conversion and holding them up as examples while throwing out the miraculous content. They say this is like those who believe everything in the Bible except the miracles. If we are going to use the conversion accounts to bind baptism, then we ought to do the same with respect to miracles. Acts 2, 8, 9, 10, and 16 are prominent passages which are used to set forth the gospel conditions of salvation. To be consistent we must accept the miraculous activity, too, or so the Pentecostals alledge.
First, we accept the miracles: I do not know of single Christian who denies the miracles of Acts or any other book in the Bible. However, if acceptance means occurrence today, who has heard the sound as of a rushing, mighty wind, but no one’s hair is blown out of place! Where are the cloven tongues like as of fire? Where are living apostles equal to Peter and John to lay hands on disciples that they might receive the Holy Spirit? Further, after Peter raised Dorcas from the dead, it was widely publicized and “many believed on the Lord” (Acts 9:40-42). Let us not stop with a few tongues; why not have some raising of the dead if we must have the miracles as well as the baptism, according to the Pentecostal charge.
Second, why do some Pentecostals deny the essentiality of water baptism but accept miracles? If we must have miraculous activity because miracles are recorded as a part of the conversion accounts, then they must accept the essentiality of baptism (Acts 2:38; 8:12; 8:35-39; 16:30-34; 10:47, 48). So, if we are inconsistent for accepting baptism but “denying” miracles, they are inconsistent for claiming miracles but denying the place of water baptism.
Third, we can show that water baptism is to continue until the Lord returns. Just as long as men need to be saved from their sins, just that long will baptism be necessary (Mk. 16:16). However, miracles were limited as to purpose. We can show when they were to cease (Mk. 16:17-20; 1 Cor. 13:8-13; Heb. 2:3, 4).
Truth Magazine XXII: 34, p. 546
August 31, 1978