Questions From Readers
● Is it possible for Christians today to exorcise or cast out demons by praying over the one possessed by them?—U.S.A.
The Scriptures show that there may be much more involved in freeing a person from demon control than simply offering a prayer on that one’s behalf.
It is true that, in the first century C.E., certain Christians, though not all, were empowered by God’s spirit to expel demons. (1 Cor. 12:29, 30; compare Matthew 10:8.) Generally this was accomplished by ordering the demons, in the name of Jesus Christ, to release their hold on those possessed.—Acts 16:16-18; compare Acts 19:13-16.
The Scriptures, however, give no indication that the instantaneous expelling of demons and other miraculous gifts of the spirit were to continue with Christians throughout the centuries. To the contrary, miraculous gifts were to cease. The inspired apostle Paul wrote: “Whether there are gifts of prophesying, they will be done away with; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge [miraculously received], it will be done away with.” (1 Cor. 13:8) Whenever the miraculous gifts of the spirit were transmitted, one or more of the apostles directly chosen by Jesus Christ was present. (Acts 2:1, 4, 14; 8:9-20; 10:44-46; 19:6) Hence, it is logical to conclude that the transmittal of these gifts ended with the death of the apostles, and the miraculous gifts themselves ceased when their remaining possessors died.
Moreover, one of the main reasons for the miraculous gifts was to establish that God’s approval, which had rested upon the Jewish congregation, had now been placed upon the Christian congregation. (Acts 2:32, 33, 38-41; Heb. 2:1-4) Today miraculous gifts are not needed to establish that fact. The present-day Jewish congregation is unable to carry out the requirements of the Mosaic law, for it has no priesthood in the family line of Aaron and has no temple on the ancient site at Jerusalem.
Then, too, the most conclusive evidence for establishing which is the divinely approved congregation is not the performance of apparent miraculous works. Jesus Christ said: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:21-23) So Jesus indicated that even some “workers of lawlessness” might be able to exorcise demons. Evidently Satan, the chief of the demons, would permit this feat, which would give such “workers” the appearance of being “ministers of righteousness.” (2 Cor. 11:13-15) But, as to the genuine identifying mark of his true disciples, Jesus stated: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:35.
Though true Christians today do not claim to have any superhuman or divinely given demon-exorcising power, this does not mean that they cannot help those who are suffering from demonic harassment. They can pray in behalf of such ones, not in an attempt to effect an instantaneous casting out of the demons, but that those so afflicted might gain the spiritual strength to resist demonic assault. True Christians can also point to what the Bible says about resisting wicked spirit forces. (Eph. 6:10-18) Then, those who believe themselves to be troubled by the demons must personally make the effort to become free from such harassment and must sincerely want to follow the Bible’s counsel. They can rest assured that Jehovah will bless their sincere and determined efforts. (Jas. 4:7) Case histories prove that many have thus been freed from demonic assault.
● Who may properly address God as “Father”?—U.S.A.
Because Jehovah God is the Creator and Source of life, all humans are really his “progeny,” his children, as the inspired apostle states at Acts 17:28, 29. Hence, all who sincerely acknowledge that fact can rightly address him as “Father.”
The Scriptures clearly show that using the expression “Father” with reference to God is not limited to spirit-anointed Christians. It was before God’s spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost in 33 C.E. that Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, taught a crowd of Jews to address God in prayer as “our Father.” (Matt. 6:9) Centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah stated: “O Jehovah, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are our Potter; and all of us are the work of your hand.”—Isa. 64:8.
However, while all humans acknowledging the Fatherhood of God and living accordingly may properly address him as “Father,” they do not all enjoy the same intimacy with him. Of the special intimacy enjoyed by spirit-begotten Christians, the apostle Paul wrote: “You received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: ‘Abba, Father!’” (Rom. 8:15) The term “Abba” is an endearing form of address. It is the intimate expression that children used for their fathers. Such intimacy is even now enjoyed by those of humankind who have been begotten by God’s spirit with a view to becoming spirit sons in the holy heavens, where they will enjoy personal association with the Creator.
Presently a “great crowd” is being gathered from all nations for survival of the “great tribulation,” with the prospect of gaining everlasting life on earth in God’s new order of righteousness. (Rev. 7:9-17) Appropriately, they, too, address Jehovah in prayer as their “Father” or Life-Giver, as he has made provision for them to have everlasting life through his Son, Jesus Christ, the “Eternal Father.” (Isa. 9:6) In God’s new order, these will be joined by the millions who will be resurrected from the dead. Later, all who pass the final test described at Revelation 20:7-10 will have their names permanently written in the “book of life” and enjoy the special relationship of being perfect earthly sons of Jehovah, the heavenly Father.—Rom. 8:20, 21; Rev. 20:15.