One of our readers writes as follows: “I don’t like people in the church I attend praying for me, since if you ask for prayer, they lay hands on you and I worry in case I get a transferring of Spirit from them. Is there anything in the Bible about this?”
Apart from the question of laying on of hands, we would suggest that any church a person attends where he or she is afraid of the Spirit that works in the other members, is not a suitable church to be attending. Though I doubt very much that there is any possibility of a “transferring of the Spirit” by the laying on of hands in such a case, the thought of having the Spirit that works on the other members of the church ought to be a joy, not an occasion of fear to believers.
As far as the laying on of hands is concerned, we believe that such behavior as in the case described is both inappropriate and unbiblical. Perhaps our correspondent realizes this and for this reason is afraid of what might happen as a result of it. Unbiblical behavior never brings God’s blessing.
Scripture does, of course, speak of laying on of hands. However, this is something that was done only when church office-bearers were being ordained (Acts 6:6; 9:17; 13:3; I Tim. 4:14; 5:22; II Tim 1:6) and when, in apostolic times, apostolic gifts were being conferred (Acts 8:17-18; 19:6; 28:8).
In the former case, the laying on of hands, as Acts 13:3 and I Timothy 4:14 show, was done by other ordained men and symbolized the gift of the Holy Spirit Who would assist and bless the man called to be an elder or deacon or pastor or missionary in Christ’s church. It had nothing to do, as such, with prayer, but was rather a testimony to the presence and grace of the Holy Spirit. It was very much similar to the ceremony of anointing with oil that was used so often in the Old Testament.
The laying on of hands, therefore, is still appropriate in the church, but only when men are being ordained to office. But it ought to be done then according to the pattern laid down in Scripture, that is, by other ordained men, particularly those described in Scripture as “the Presbytery,” that is, the elders. There are no examples in Scripture of ordinary believers laying hands on others for any reason.
In the second case, the laying on of hands was done only by the Apostles, and conferred special and miraculous gifts, gifts that are called in II Corinthians 12:12, “the signs of the Apostles.” We have written in more detail on this subject (please write and ask for these issues if you do not have them), and are convinced that these gifts belonged to the time of the Apostles and ended with the death of the Apostles. There is, therefore no occasion for this kind of laying on of hands today.
We believe, too, that the office of Apostle was unique in the church, and that there are no such men around today. The qualifications for Apostleship simply cannot be met today, for qualifications included that a man had seen the risen Lord and been personally appointed by Him. Since there are no Apostles, there are not qualified to lay hands on others in order to give the special gifts of the Spirit, though many claim to be able to do so.
The sad thing about all this is that the majority of those who identify themselves as Christians are not even interested in learning what the Bible says on such matters. They are determined to go their own way, while claiming to serve and honor God.
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 26
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
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