[Calvary Chapel] 2000-06-24 - The Temporary Gifts to Cease

Spiritual Gifts, Part 7

"... But whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall be cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away" (verse 8b). Paul is saying that some spiritual gifts would cease. "Prophecies  … shall be done away" does not mean that the Bible predictions will not come to pass, but that the ability to prophesy -- as the Old and New Testament prophets did -- would stop.

"… Whether there be tongues, they shall cease … " The ability to speak in foreign languages without having to study them was a temporary gift of the early church. "...Whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away." During the apostolic era, God provided the outreach. These gifts belonged to the apostles and to those upon whom they laid their hands (see Acts 8 and 19). The one who had the gift of prophecy did not have the gifts of tongues; the one who had the gifts of interpreting tongues did not have the gifts of healings, and so on. Only certain ones received this power for service through the laying on of the apostles' hands. Upon the death of the apostles, and those upon whom they had laid their hands, those gifts passed away with them. God had endowed certain persons with gifts that would enable them to perfect the Body of Christ.

Just as scaffolding is used as a temporary framework for supporting workmen during the period a building is under construction, so these temporary, spiritual gifts supported those responsible for erecting the structure of the early church, until such time as the Word of God was completely given. They were then removed, leaving the permanent structure.

The Three Permanent Gifts

Though those temporary gifts were to cease, three permanent gifts were to abide throughout the centuries. "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part (1 Corinthians 8:2 reaffirms this) but when that which is perfect (the Millennium, Daniel 9:24) is come, that which is in part shall be done away" (verses 9,10). If Paul were referring to the Word of God as that which is "perfect," as some have suggested, then we would presently know everything, for we now have the Word of God! He could not have been alluding to this since he continued, saying, "But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part (knowledge, verse 9) shall be done away (because we will know fully, verse 12). When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: For now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we (apostles, prophets, et al, 12:28) see in a mirror darkly; but then (in the Millennium) face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known. But now abideth faith, hope love, and these three: and the greatest of these is love" (1 Cothinthains 13:11-13). Of all the spiritual gifts that were bestowed upon the early church, the only remaining, permanent ones are FAITH, HOPE and LOVE.

After the fall of man -- as recorded in Genesis, chapter 3 -- the curse fell upon the woman, upon the man, upon the animals, upon the ground and upon the entire creation. However, when Christ returns -- at the end of the Tribulation -- He will incarcerate Satan and all the demons, confining them to the pit of abyss. He will also lift the curse from the earth; everything will then be in perfect condition.

There will be no need for prophecy -- Christ Himself will teach the Word from Jerusalem. There will be no one to deceive -- Christ will be here to give forth the Truth. Then will we know fully even as we are fully known.

"Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy." (1 Corinthians 14:1) To "follow after" is to pursue or run after love. "Desire earnestly" the gifts the Spirit confers upon those whose hearts He indwells. In "but rather that ye may prophesy," the Greek "pro" means in behalf of; "phemi" is to speak. When a prophet was speaking for God he was prophesying, whether of things past, present, future.

The reason they were to desire the ability to prophesy is stated in these words: "For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth; but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries" (verse 2). This passage has been greatly misunderstood. To illustrate: the people in the church of Corinth spoke the Greek language -- a fact which should be kept in mind. This was the native language used in communicating with one another. Should someone have come into their church service and spoken a revelation from God in a foreign language, such as Russian, Babylonian -- or any other -- he would have been speaking into the air; no one would have understood what he was saying.

On the other hand, let us suppose that someone had come before that Greek-speaking church and given a message in the Greek language so that all could understand; of such an one Paul says, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men edification, and exhortation, and consolation" (verse 3).

He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself, but he that prophesieth edifieth the church" (verse 4). Those who had the New Testament gift of tongues in the early church always understood what they were saying when speaking in a foreign language. This was a part of the miracle related to the spiritual gifts and is definitely foreign to the modern tongues movement. Paul says that "he that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself." One cannot be edified unless he understands. Therefore if one claims to be speaking in tongues, and the individual who is speaking does not understand what he is saying, he is doing something for which there is no basis in the New Testament! This statement may seem to be a drastic one, but is thoroughly justifiable when compared with all the facts.

To be continued.

In His Service,
Rick & Sandy