Monday, July 4, 2011

Spiritual gifts

Is it your understanding that the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and healing were temporary, that they have ceased, failed and vanished and are no longer being operated by the Creator God? 

Yes, it is my understanding from scriptures that, although the Lord gave supernatural gifts of the Spirit to members of the church, the body of Christ in the beginning, he now, no longer gives those supernatural gifts because he no longer needs to.

Here's why:

In Ephesians chapter 4, our Apostle Paul explains the reason why God gave those gifts in the beginning...

Ephesians 4:11-13
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting [bringing to maturity] of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Here Paul tells us why God gave those gifts in the first place, and that was to edify saints to do the work of the ministry “till” we come into the perfect knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, which in turn will make it possible for us to walk and labour in charity, one towards another for the Lord's sake!

After that perfect knowledge comes then there is no need for those gifts anymore.

Look what our Apostle says…

1 Corinthians 13:8
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

We all know that none of God's prophecies fail to come true (when he speaks something it always comes to pass), so we know that that is not what Paul is saying in that verse. What he is saying is that the supernatural gift of prophecy will one day fail or come to an end.

We also know that the languages of the world will never cease—man will use his mouth to praise the Lord Jesus forever.  So, that too is not what Paul is saying. What he is saying is that the supernatural gifts of tongues (given so that God's men could ‘verbally communicate his word’ to all the gentiles on the earth in their own languages before the bible was complete) will one day not be needed in order to communicate God's word to every people, tribe and tongue on the earth.

We also know that the knowledge of God will not vanish away because he is God and his word abides forever. So what Paul is saying is that the supernatural gift of knowledge will no longer be needed for all to know God.

In a nutshell, God was temporarily using all these sign gifts in order to communicate his word and edify people until something else came on the scene! What is this something else?

Well, Paul goes on to say…

1 Corinthians 13:9-10
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

At the time that Paul wrote this epistle, he did not have the full knowledge of the Mystery of Christ because God gave it to him in installments over about 30 years. All he had was a partial knowledge of it. That is why he says that we know in part. And because they only 'knew in part,' they could only ‘speak (that's what prophecy is—speaking for God) in part' as well.

But Paul goes on to say that when that which is perfect shall come (the full, complete, perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the Mystery [Romans 16:25]), then the partial knowledge will go away. Paul knew that that would happen once the Lord Jesus completed giving him this information.

2 Corinthians 12:1
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I [Paul] will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.)

Acts 26: 16
But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I [the Lord] will appear unto thee [Paul];

Here Paul makes it clear that the message that Christ gave him for us did not come to him all at once. So God had Paul write epistles, as well as, had Paul and other men use the supernatural gifts of the Holy Ghost to teach/edify people about the Lord's mystery message!

So when did that end?

It was when Paul wrote his 13th epistle, 2 Timothy, that those sign gifts came to an end.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All [full, complete] scripture is [now] given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [full, complete], throughly furnished unto all good works.

You see, now with the completion of God's word (66 books, rightly divided), we can learn doctrine, we can have our conduct reproved, we can have our thinking corrected, and we can be fully instructed in how to be righteous ‘without’ those spiritual gifts!

Today, God wants all of our focus to be—not on going after spiritual gifts, but—on understanding his written word! He does not want us going after those ‘temporary, carnal’ things which shall fail, cease and vanish, as Paul explains in 1 Corinthians, chapters 12-14.

Today, charity (love in action) is the issue; and God's word is sufficient for that without supernatural gifts!

Here is more proof from scripture that those gifts begin to vanish the longer Paul's ministry went on:

Remember, in First Timothy, Paul mentions how he (and the other elders) had by the gift of prophecy, laid hands on Timothy so that he too would have supernatural gifts?

1 Timothy 4:14
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

But then later, in Second Timothy, Paul had to remind Timothy to...stir up the gift of god, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

By the time that we get to Second Timothy (the last epistle Paul wrote), Timothy's gift began to fade away like the flames of a cooling bonfire. So just like you have to move the logs around and blow on it to keep the flickering flames alive, so too did Tim have to stir up his failing gift (he did it by studying God's written word through Paul by the way).

Later, in 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul tells Tim the work of an evangelist...

He now longer had the supernatural gift of the evangelist as he had before, and that Ephesians 4 spoke of—now he had to do the "work" of that gift.

So today, because we have all scripture to make us perfect....throughly furnished to all good works, we no longer need those childish gifts.

We now do the work of most of those ministry gifts that men before us did supernaturally through those childish gifts!

Why do I say "childish?" Because that is what Paul calls them…

1 Corinthians 13:11-12
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Here, in the context of those failing/ceasing/vanishing spiritual gifts, Paul equates it to when he was a child. In scripture, the term child represents immaturity, carnal, baby stuff. A child has very little knowledge or power—they ‘know only in part!’

Here Paul is saying those who spoke in tongues spoke like a child would—i.e., with partial knowledge. They also understand things the way a child would—partially, or incomplete. Their thinking would also be childlike. Now all these things described our carnal Corinthian brethren didn't it?

But Paul goes on to say that when he became a man, he put away those things of a child. His speech, his understanding, and his thinking matured when he grew up! 

Same with us today who now have all of God's word!

Today (through God's completed, written word), we have all we need to be adult sons and daughters—pleasing to God our Father!

Hopefully this helps!

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