Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today? Part 2

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
May 5, 2001

Last Updated :
July 24, 2012

NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.

Are Spiritual Gifts Not For Today?, Twisting The Scriptures, Balancing The Scriptures, The Perfection To Come, Gift Of Prophecy And Tongues, Pentecost And The Outpouring Of The Spirit, Foreign Languages, Gift Of Knowledge, The Dead And Blind, One Body But Different Members And Spiritual Gifts

Sadly, some religionists today claim that we no longer need all of these great signs and miraculous wonders. They argue that these things were for times past when the Lord had to encourage and strengthen His Early Church through these physical manifestations. These people insist that these miracles were done in order to establish God's Authority within the fledging Church; and to win the First Generation Disciples who would become the spiritual progenitors of the born-again nation of the Children of God who would come after them. According to those who support this false view, once these things were accomplished, the Gifts of the Spirit ceased. One popular verse they use, or misuse, in order to try to add weight to their claim is the following:

"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."
1 Corinthians 13:8, KJV

Based on this one verse, some of the more conservative churches, such as some of the Baptists, do not even allow the Gifts of the Spirit to be manifested within their congregations. I have witnessed this firsthand. The Gifts of the Spirit are simply explained away or attributed to other more mundane things such as driving kids to Sunday school class, or being the church organist. While these things require skill, they are definitely not what Jesus or Paul or anyone else was referring to when speaking of the Gifts and the Manifestations of the Spirit. In my view, even using the above verse by itself is a Scriptural injustice. It is, as Peter called it, a wresting, or a twisting or a perverting, of the Scriptures:

"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
2 Peter 3:16, KJV

Notice that Peter tells us that the reason that these people try to change the true meaning of the Scriptures, is because they are spiritually unlearned or unstable. In other words, they don't have a leg to stand on; they are wobbly. Their doctrines are spiritually off-balance because they are not firmly founded upon the whole Word of God; and they know it. They don't carefully compare Scripture with Scripture as I have exhorted my readers to do on many occasions such as in the article entitled "Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth". This is precisely what we are commanded to do in the Bible:

"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"
Isaiah 28:9-10, KJV

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV

This idea of dissecting the Scriptures is a very common practice within churches and organizations which yield themselves to the spirit of exclusivity which I thoroughly discuss in "Elijah: Where Are the True Prophets of God?". As I also point out in the article "A Biblical Cafeteria or the Whole Course?", some of these people pick and choose what they want to believe. If it is something which they can't accept or don't want to believe, then those bothersome verses are simply ignored, are not included in the church's or the organization's instructional materials, or else they are explained in a way which is totally contrary to the Truth. If one were to continue reading what Paul says right after the previous verse from Corinthians, this is what he would find:

"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."
1 Corinthians 13:9-10, KJV

Notice when Paul says that some of these Gifts of the Spirit will cease; "when that which is perfect is come". In my mind, the only thing, or better said, the only One who is perfect is Jesus Christ. Has Jesus returned yet? Not that I am aware of; so "that which is perfect" has not come yet either; which implies that these Gifts of the Spirit are still in operation. Not only that, but as I have pointed out before, when the Lord returns, we will also be perfected, or made whole and complete; because we will at last receive our full Salvation in the form of our new Glorified Bodies. This idea seems to be supported by the very next verses, as well as by the fifteenth chapter of this same Epistle, part of which I quote below. In other words, Paul is telling us that some of these Gifts are only temporary, and that they will cease when "that which is perfect is come". He then proceeds only two chapters later to tell us what he means by this phrase. It is one continuous thought from chapter twelve, where he first begins discussing the Gifts of the Spirit, to chapter fifteen where he explains the perfection which is to come:

"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."
1 Corinthians 13:11-12, KJV

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
1 Corinthians 15:51-52, KJV

When Jesus returns, "that which is perfect" will have indeed come; and not only will we see Him face to face, and see Him as He is, but we ourselves will be transformed to be just like Him. Praise God!:

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
1 John 3:2, KJV

So again, I believe that what Paul is really saying is that once Jesus Christ returns to this Earth, once we see Him face to face, once we are changed and glorified, there will no longer be the need for some of these Gifts. Notice also the specific Gifts which Paul says will cease. First he mentions the Gift of Prophecy and the Gift of Tongues. In my view, some people today do not fully understand the purpose for these two Gifts, particularly the Gift of Tongues. In the fourteenth chapter, Paul offers a partial explanation of what these Gifts are for:

"Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying . . . I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue."
1 Corinthians 14:1-5, 18-19, KJV

The gist of Paul's discourse is that the Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues are to serve as a means of communication. They are a Divine Link between Heaven and Earth. We use them to communicate with the Lord, and to communicate the Lord's messages to the brethren for the edification of the whole Body. However, a closer examination of the previous verses, as well as a few others, reveals that there are actually two different types of Tongues which, while being closely related, are not identical. In fact, today as I was taking a quick review of this series, I was reminded of something which the Apostle Paul wrote in the famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians. In verse one, Paul very clear states:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
1 Corinthians 13:1, KJV

And there you have it; two distinct kinds of tongues. That is, the tongues of men, and the tongues of Angels. Clearly, they aren't the same thing. The Gift of Tongues mentioned previously in 1 Corinthians 14 appears to be referring to a personal communication between our spirit and the Lord. It is for our own personal edification and inspiration. This may also be what Paul is referring to in the following verses:

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
Romans 8:26-27, KJV

"For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful."
1 Corinthians 14:14, KJV

These verses seem to be describing God's Holy Spirit within us making direct intercession to the Father for us by means of indecipherable Tongues, or groanings, which our carnal minds do not understand. At the same time, there is another form of Tongues, which in my opinion, is probably the primary form of speaking in Tongues being as it edifies more people, and is more likely to bring people to Christ if they don't already know Him. It is for this reason that Paul specifically tells us that this second type of Tongues is primarily for the unbelievers; because by witnessing this Gift, they are convinced of the Power of God, and may then come to accept the Lord:

"Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe."
1 Corinthians 14:22, KJV

Exactly what is this second kind of Tongues of which Paul is speaking? The following verses provide us with an interesting clue:

"Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret . . . If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret."
1 Corinthians 14:13, 27, KJV

The key word here is "interpret". As the following verses will clearly confirm without a shadow of a doubt, the second and most important kind of Unknown Tongues is simply foreign languages. If you are a Christian who is able to speak a foreign language, then you are capable of reaching twice as many people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as a person who does not speak any foreign languages. Now imagine if you will, a group of born-again Spirit-filled Christians in Jerusalem two thousand years ago who suddenly begin speaking in foreign languages which they have never studied or spoken before. The fact that some of the Apostles were unlearned men is clarified for us by the following verse from Luke's account in Acts:

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
Acts 4:13, KJV

I discuss this topic more fully in such articles as "The Only Credentials You Need!". So then, imagine if you will that this sudden speaking in foreign languages is done in the presence of thousands of visitors to Jerusalem. How would you describe such a scene? Luke was faced with the same situation, and here is what he had to say:

"And they 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? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?"
Acts 2:4-12, KJV

Of course, Satan's emissaries who were present, were not about to accept this obvious manifestation of the Spirit and Power of Almighty God, El Shaddai; so like some modern-day religionists who also try to dismiss the Gifts of the Spirit with their lukewarm explanations, the Jews weakly accused the Disciples of being drunk. Even their trick of bribing the Roman guards at Jesus' tomb was a little more ingenious than this, even though it also failed to smother the young flames of Christianity:

"Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine."
Acts 2:13, KJV

Were the Disciples really drunk? The answer is "no" and "yes". While they weren't drunk on wine made from grapes, the Apostles and Disciples were most definitely drunk on the wine of the Spirit of God! As King David and the Prophet Joel wrote, these vessels of the Lord, the First Disciples, were anointed by God's oil of the Spirit, and filled to overflowing:

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."
Psalm 23:5, KJV

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that 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. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call."
Joel 2:28-32, KJV

Whether or not the above verses are really a prophecy of the Endtime as some Christians believe is a matter of personal speculation. Regardless, upon hearing the false accusation of the jealous Jewish leaders, Peter immediately launched into the following discourse in order to explain to those present what was really happening. He quoted from these very same prophecies of Joel and said that they were fulfilled that very day:

"But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Acts 2:14-21, KJV

Were the Disciples just babbling in loud confusion foaming at their mouths and rolling on the floor like we see in some so-called Spirit-filled churches today? Definitely not! We are clearly told that all of these visitors to Jerusalem "heard them speak in his own language". Then we see them ask "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" Exactly why did God allow this to happen? In order to do exactly as Paul had said; to be a sign to the unbelievers of the wonderful Power of God! These visitors confirmed this themselves when they said "we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God". You see. Speaking in Unknown Tongues, that is, in a foreign language which you have never personally endeavored to learn, is primarily to serve as a witness to the unbelievers. This incident at Jerusalem makes this very clear.

In a way, there is a bit of irony involved in the day of Pentecost. The reason I say this is because in the Old Testament, the Lord used the confusion of tongues to stop Nimrod and his followers from building the city and tower of Babel. As I explain in the series "John Lennon's Imagine and Secular Humanism", under the inspiration of Satan, Babel was one of man's earliest attempts to achieve greatness without God. Turning the situation completely around, here in the Book of Acts we see the Lord using the ability to speak many foreign languages, as a means to bring people together so that they can all hear and understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Clearly, God is in charge of the show, and He can do things however it pleases Him!

Luke then very specifically tells us what nationalities were present to witness this marvellous manifestation of God's Holy Spirit: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Jews, Cappadocians, Egyptians, Cyreneans, Romans Cretians, Arabians, and people from Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia. If you translate all of these names to their modern-day counterparts, you will quickly discover that the Lord did this mighty miracle in order to send out a message of Salvation to people native to an area extending from Italy, to Greece, to Turkey, to Syria, to Iraq, to Iran, and all the way down to the countries of North Africa and the islands of the Mediterranean Sea! This was one massive witnessing campaign! It was like a worldwide telecast of God's Spirit! In other words, representatives of the entire Mediterranean area were reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in one single day! This manifestation of the Gift of Tongues, that is, unlearned foreign languages, served as a tool to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. Isn't this what Jesus told His Disciples that they were to do?:

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
John 15:16, KJV

After Peter and the rest of the Disciples had refuted the accusation of being drunk, and after they had delivered a powerful message to this huge crowd, do you know what happened next? We find the answer towards the very end of this same chapter of Acts:

"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
Acts 2:41-42, KJV

Thus we see that this powerful manifestation of God's Spirit bore immediate fruit. In case you are wondering what they did with so many new converts in one day, I invite you to read my series "Where Are the First Century Churches?". It is filled with many Scriptures explaining the pattern of the Early Church; the very same pattern which churches today are supposed to be following. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these converts in Jerusalem eventually returned to their homelands in order to share with their relatives and friends all of the wonderful things they had witnessed in Jerusalem. Perhaps the Lord allowed them to remain in Jerusalem for a time so they could obtain a firm foundation in the Word of God at the feet of the Apostles; however, in God's perfect time, quite possibly at the time of the great persecution which began with the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts chapter seven, many of them returned to their native lands carrying the Seed of Faith with them. This was clearly the Wisdom of God at work. Consider the following verses:

"And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him."
Acts 8:1-2, KJV

"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord."
Acts 11:19-21, KJV

Thus we see the far-reaching effects of speaking in foreign tongues in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. In the previous verses from his first Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul also said that the Gift of Knowledge will cease. Why is that? Again, the answer seems rather simple to me; because we will be in the presence of the Lord; and He is the very Living Word of God. We will no longer have to be guessing about all of these deep Endtime prophecies and other issues which continue to puzzle us. I don't doubt that the Lord will be happy to clear up our understanding regarding these things. Won't that be really wonderful? As I have said before, I am sure we each have our little list of questions tucked away in the back of our minds. In fact, the Apostle John informs us that once Jesus returns, and we are changed and/or resurrected, the Mystery of God will be completed. In other words, everything will be made plain to us, just as Jesus made the Old Testament Scriptures clear to His First Disciples following His Resurrection:

"And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?"
Luke 24:27-32, KJV

"But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets."
Revelation 10:7, KJV

Notice however, that in the thirteenth chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul does not mention any cessation of the other Gifts of the Spirit. One specific Gift he does not mention is the Gift of Healing. Again, the reason for this can be found in the Scriptures. Even though Jesus will have returned for His children, and even though we will be in our new Spiritual Bodies, in the future there are still going to be people living on the New Earth who are going to require healing, at least spiritual healing, just as they do now. Consider the Apostle John's words in the Book of Revelation:

"In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
Revelation 22:2, KJV

The full significance of the previous verse may be much more profound than you realize. I will be sharing my personal thoughts on the possible symbolism of the Tree Of Life in a separate article. In regards to this current article however, the primary point I wish to make is that the Gift of Healing is one which will not cease, as will some of the others. Considering the volume of verses I have provided on this issue, I can only come to the conclusion that those who support the idea of the Gifts of the Spirit having ceased long ago, are clearly in the wrong. In my view, those who teach this false doctrine are denying the Power of the Spirit of God; and thus must not only be spiritually dead themselves, but spiritually blinded to the Truth of the Scriptures as well. Jesus had similar thoughts towards the staunch religionists of His day who denied God's Spirit working through Him:

". . . Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:60b, KJV

"Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
Matthew 15:14, KJV

Similar to the rebellious unbelieving Jews of two thousand years ago, those who are spiritually dead today don't even realize it. They may still be going through all of the proper motions outwardly, but inwardly they are spiritually cold and dead. They are like a corpse which is still going through its final convulsions. Tragically, those who do not have any spiritual discernment, mistake these nervous twitches for real spiritual life, when it really isn't. Jesus just as much said the very same thing:

"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead."
Revelation 3:1, KJV

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."
Matthew 23:27, KJV

While I believe that the Gifts of the Spirit are still in operation today, allow me add a degree of balance to my previous statements by saying that not all Christians seem to manifest them; and of those that do, they are not necessarily the same with each person. The Apostle Paul emphasized this point in the twelfth chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians when he wrote:

"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will . . . And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."
1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28, KJV

Thus we see that while all of these Gifts originate with one and the selfsame Spirit, it is the Lord who determines which Gifts He bestows upon each individual. I would speculate that the Lord probably gives those Gifts which would be most beneficial to a person's particular calling and ministry; or as Paul says, "to every man to profit withal".

Please go to part three for the conclusion of this series.

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