November 17, 2014
I Corinthians 13:8-12
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In the last blog we touched on what Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:10, when he said, “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” This verse is crucial in understanding the gifts and offices of the Holy Spirit given to Christ’s Church and its individual members – especially the miraculous or manifestation gifts listed in I Corinthians 12 and the first two offices in Ephesians 4.
• I Corinthians 12:8 through 10 – “…the word of wisdom…the word of knowledge…faith… gifts of healings…the working of miracles…prophecy… discerning of spirits…different kinds of tongues…[and] the interpretation of tongues.”
• Ephesians 4:11 – “…apostles…[and] prophets….”
I quoted Oliver B. Greene from his Ephesians commentary in Friday’s blog: “The apostles are all gone….We have no prophets in the church today.” (page 150). And in his commentary on I Corinthians, he wrote,
We must distinguish between the gifts of the Spirit which were bestowed upon
the apostles, and the gifts of the Spirit which are permanent and will continue
through the Church Age. Some of the gifts were given at a specific time for a
specific purpose, and lasted only during the apostolic testimony….During the
transition period and in the first century of Christianity, God gave specific gifts
according to His own will, testifying to the true salvation through the blood of
Jesus: “…When that which is perfect is come, than that which is in part
shall be done away” (I Corinthians 13:10). Therefore, when “the faith once
delivered unto the saints” was complete and the perfect law of liberty was given
in full, there was no longer need for signs and wonders….We need no signs and
wonders today to prove what we find in the Word of God. (p. 394).
Although Mr. Greene may not be counted by some among elite Bible scholars, he is representative of those who believe some of God’s gifts and offices are not valid in today’s Church. And if they are practiced by Pentecostal or Charismatic Christians, some go so far as to say such practices are of the devil! But Mr. Greene has succinctly put forth the ideas of the side with which he stands – and since I have the two of his commentaries that are relevant here – I have quoted his writings on the subject.
As a young Christian training in seminary for the pastorate, I was taught such anti- charismatic views. I still have an early sermon called Charismatic Confusion which I preached to my first church. I proclaimed from the pulpit, “The gifts of tongues, prophecy, healing, the working of miracles are all sign gifts. They were used to establish the authority of God in the early Church before they had the completed scriptures.” I have always had a yearning for the truth and diligently sought it out. And as Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:17, “Your word is truth.” Studying the Bible for over 30 years for the answers to the validity of the gifts and offices of the Holy Spirit, I have ‘outed’ myself as a charismatic Christian – one who believed all the Spiritual gifts and offices are valid for the Church today. And as God leads me, I now practice whatever gift is necessary for the occasion.
So What Is The Perfect To Come? We haven’t even gotten to our featured scripture! Here is I Corinthians 13:8 through 12:
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether
there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish
away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which
is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I
was a child, I spoke 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 in a
mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall
know just as I also am known.
The question we will continue to address in future blogs is based on verse 10: What Is The Perfect To Come? Read and meditate on the full Corinthian passage above as well as Romans 8:18 through 23; I Corinthians 1:4 through 8; I Corinthians 12:4 through 31; and Ephesians 4:11 through 16 (the scripture we used for the last four blogs, Maturing In Christ).
And please pray for me as I research and write these coming blogs. This is a deep and controversial subject, and I want to present God’s Word in a true, logical and precise way – as Paul said in II Timothy 2:15, “…rightly dividing the word of truth.”