Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
NUMBER 35, PAGE 8-9b

The Holy Spirit, -- VIII.

Arthur W. Atkinson, Jr., Columbus, Ohio

In our last article we noticed the nine spiritual gifts given by the laying on of the apostles' hands. We also learned that these gifts have ceased to exist in the miraculous way. There are six of these gifts that we could manifest today by natural means. For example, a person can talk in tongues, that is, another language, but he has to study that language before that happens. A person can interpret tongues today, but he has to study that language before he is able to do so. None of these things can be done without study. There are no miraculous gifts in our day and age.

We wish in this article to give further proof of miracles ceasing. The reason that we are giving so much time to this one point is that there are many honest folks who are mixed up on this subject and they still think that a person today can work miracles. Turn to the 13th chapter of I Cor. where Paul will tell us that the gifts mentioned in I Cor. 12: would cease. Verse 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." Herein we learn that three of the nine spiritual gifts are going to end. It is logical to conclude that not only are these three going to end, but that Paul is using them to make a general statement to the effect that all will cease to exist at some future date. I do not think that anyone would disagree with this conclusion. Let us learn just when it is that these gifts were to pass away. Verses 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." Here we learn that "that which is perfect" shall do away with the gifts or revelation which were only in part and not the whole of God's will.

We must now determine what "that which is perfect" is. Our friends who claim to have power to work miracles, speak in tongues etc. say that it refers to Christ, thus these gifts were meant to last until his second advent. That is their main argument on this passage of scripture, and if we show it to be false then we have undermined their theory and leave them no way to turn.

Remember that Paul as he closed the 12th chapter said, "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way." Thus, there is something better than having spiritual gifts. He proceeds to show this more excellent way in the next chapter. It is the way of love (or charity) coupled with faith and hope. I Cor. 13:13, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." Paul here indicates that these three things shall abide even after the spiritual gifts have ceased to exist. Now if we conclude that Christ is "that which is perfect", we must conclude that even after Christ comes, faith, hone and charity will continue to exist. This cannot be. Let us learn from the Bible the definition of faith and hone. Heb. 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Now let ns define hope. "For we are saved by hope; but here that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why cloth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." (Rom. 8:24, 25.) 'Thus, faith is evidence of things not seen and we hope for that which we have not seen and if we see it, our hope ends and our faith becomes knowledge. We have learned that the gifts would cease when "that which is perfect" would come but faith, hope and charity would continue to abide. Since we have learned that faith and hope will cease at the coming of Christ we must then conclude that Christ is not that which is perfect. Thus, the spiritual gifts will not continue until Christ comes for we have shown that Christ is not "that which is perfect". Understand now that we know that Christ is perfect, but have deduced that Paul in this passage is not referring to Christ.

To what then is he referring? Let us read Rom. 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." The will of God is good, acceptable and perfect. How is the will of God made manifest to us? Through His word, the scriptures. The will of the Lord is expressed in words which become His laws. Let us now read from James 1:25, "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." James refers to the law of the Lord as the PERFECT law of liberty. What about this law of the Lord, is it enough without spiritual gifts? II Tim. 3:16, 17, "All scripture is 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, throughly furnished unto all good works." We then, can be perfect by following the perfect law of liberty separate and apart from spiritual gifts. The gifts were needed in the infancy of the church for its guidance and welfare But when the New Testament was finished, the church then had a perfect guide and no longer needed the gifts. Listen to Paul once more as he speaks in I Cor. 13:11, "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." When the church was in its infancy it needed spiritual gifts but when it came to manhood the need passed away and the gifts ceased. We have all the revelation of God now in the scriptures and no longer need the gifts to reveal God's will to us. The word has once been confirmed by miracles and needs no further confirmation.

We could compare it with building a structure today. When the structure is started much scaffolding is needed. The scaffolding is all around the building to help the workers. After the building is completed the scaffolding is torn down and the building remains. Spiritual gifts were the scaffolding of the church. After the church became of age and had a perfect guide, the New Testament, the scaffolding was torn down. Those who still want the scaffolding are claiming that the church is still being built and still in its infancy. The revelation of God was completed in A.D. 96 when John wrote the book of Revelation. Since that time there has been no further revelation and no need for spiritual gifts.

The power to heal had begun to Wane as early as A.D. 64 and undoubtedly earlier than that. The apostles could not use this power out of compassion. They used it only to confirm the word. They could not and did not heal their own diseases nor the diseases of their friends. Let us notice this fact. I Timothy 6:23, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." Paul was here speaking to Timothy a young gospel preacher. Why didn't Paul heal him? Why did he tell him to take something for his stomach? These are questions worthy of answers b3i those who claim to have power to heal. The answer is apparent; Paul could not heal him or he would have. No one would be foolish enough to say it was because of lack of faith on the part of either of these two men. Miraculous healing had begun to wane even then and was not used for the benefit of one's friends.

II Timothy 4:20, "Erastus abode at Corinth, but Trophimus, have I left at Miletus sick." Paul left his friend Trophimus sick. Why did he not heal him? Paul would not purposely leave one sick if he could heal him, do you think? No, of course not. So we must conclude that Paul could not heal him. Paul could not use his power at his own discretion but only to confirm the gospel.

Again we read. Phil. 2:26,27, "For he (Epaphroditus) longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had learned that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." Why should Epaphroditus be sick nigh unto death and Paul worry about him if he could heal him? The answer is that Paul could not heal him. It is very apparent from these three cases that the gospel had spread to such an extent in the year AD. 64, that the gift of healing was used very little. The gifts were to remain only as long as they were needed and when the need ceased they ceased. There is no other conclusion to which we can come.