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Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts

by Nathan Weaver

Published in
The Christian Informer
July, 2000


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Last updated:
June 30, 2000.
 

Many people in the world today have a great deal of misunderstanding about spiritual gifts, more commonly known today as miracles. They were brought to my attention recently by a girl who asked if I believed in them. Yes, I do, and they are real. But, according to God's Word, they have ceased. I would like to take a moment of your time to look at what the Bible says on spiritual gifts.

ARE SPIRITUAL GIFTS [MIRACLES] REAL?

Spiritual gifts were real. These spiritual gifts were foretold, "And it shall come to pass, that afterward I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit" (Joel 2:28-29). They were also foretold by Jesus, "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark 16:17-18). These spiritual gifts were going to happen, and they did.

There are many examples of these spiritual gifts being used throughout the New Testament. In Acts 2:4-8, "And they [the apostles] were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" This is when those spiritual gifts came about "which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (vs. 16). They were foretold and they came to be. There are many other numerous examples of these spiritual gifts. But, for time sake, I will not proceed to quote them all. (See Matthew 3:11. For other examples of these spiritual gifts being used, I recommend you read the book of Acts)

"HOW SHALL YE BELIEVE MY WORDS?"

Now that we can see from the scriptures that spiritual gifts were real, I would like to ask a very important question. What was the purpose of spiritual gifts? Jesus put it well when he asked, "But if ye believe not his [Moses's] writings, how shall ye believe my words?" (John 5:47). If people would not believe Jesus' words, Jesus had another way of persuading them to believe that he was Son of God; he said "the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me" (vs. 36). The very purpose for those spiritual gifts was to confirm the word. Because of the miracles Jesus had performed "a great multitude followed him" (John 6:2). They would not believe His word, but when he performed miracles they believed and knew that Jesus was the Son of God. These miracles confirmed Jesus' words. The apostles "preached everywhere," "the Lord working with them," "confirming the word with signs" (Mark 16:20). People would not take heed to the word; the evidence the apostles had to confirm that what they taught was of God were these miracles. God was "bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost" (Hebrews 2:4). Jesus said, "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." (John 4:48). The miracles were the early Christians only witness that their words were of God. That what they said was of divine inspiration. As Jesus said, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17; see also John 4:43-54).

HOW LONG WOULD THEY LAST?

How long were these spiritual gifts going to last? That's seems to be a question that has too many answers today. Paul said, "Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:29-31). What was this "more excellent way" than miracles? It is the written word of God. In other words, the Bible. Spiritual gifts weren't going to be around forever. THERE WAS TO BE AN END Paul also says, "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. 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." No one at that time had all of God's word written down in it's completeness, but rather they had His Word in part and they knew "in part", (vs. 12), through the letters and writings of inspired men which were received periodically. Paul says, "when that which is perfect [or complete] is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." There would be a time when all of God's word was in completion, [the combined written word, from Genesis to Revelation], and the people would not have to rely on other disciples or the apostles with divine inspiration to teach them God's word. But a man could look "into the perfect law of liberty [the Bible], and continue therein... being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work... this man shall be blessed in his deed" (James 1:25). In the early Church the letters and writings of inspired men were to "be read unto all the holy brethren" (1 Thessalonians 5:27). This was accomplished by these writings being passed from congregation to congregation (Colossians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 16:1). But these letters and writings were not all written and compiled together in their completeness until around the year 150 A.D., about two generations after the death of the last apostle, John.

THE WORD OF GOD IS COMPLETE

However, the word of God is complete today. That is why we no longer need spiritual gifts to persuade men to believe the word of God. We have God's word in written form before our very own eyes. Those spiritual gifts were to persuade men to believe and to instruct the early church. The word of God (the Bible) is "written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31). Those spiritual gifts were used to persuade men to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God by the early Church. Today, we use the Bible to persuade men to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. When we teach, we are to go by what God's word says, because it is His will. Some people poke fun at people that go by what the Bible teaches; but we know that "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness" (1 Corinthians 1:18-23; see also James 2:12; Hebrews 2:3-4; John 20:30-31).

IS GOD A LIAR?

Are the people who teach that spiritual gifts exist today willing to call God a liar? I don't think they are, and I've yet to meet one who would call God a liar. If God is not the liar, then it must be the people who are teaching that spiritual gifts still exist today. If someone teaches that spiritual gifts exist today, but God's word teaches that they no longer exist today, who's the liar? God or Man? Paul says, "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4). Are you willing to call God a liar just because you want to believe what someone has said, or because it was the way you were raised, or because it was "good enough" for your parents? Paul says, "there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:7-10). Are you willing to give up an eternity in Heaven to live a lie on earth and have an eternity in Hell? If someone teaches something contrary to what God's word teaches remember, "God...cannot lie" (Titus 1:2). If someone says some teaching of the word of God is inaccurate or not true, ask yourself, "Who's the liar? 'God, that cannot lie,' or Man?" (See also 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; Matthew 7:21-27).

In conclusion, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Eccl. 3:1). Spiritual gifts had a purpose, that purpose had a season, and that season has ended.


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