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I've heard it said among some Christians that the spiritual gifts (i.e. speaking in tongues, prophecy, etc.), are no longer active and available to us.

I would genuinely like to know the basis for this assessment.

I've heard it relates to 1 Corinthians 13:10, which states...

"but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears."

Apparently, this can be linked to the 'completeness' of the Bible and now the spiritual gifts have 'disappeared', though I don't see the connection. Have I misheard?

Peter reiterates the prophet Joel by saying in Acts 2:17-18...

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

How can some Christian dispute the move of the Holy Spirit with consideration to scripture such as this?

closed as off-topic by EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica, enegue, Jack Douglas, Dan, b a Mar 11 at 10:35

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "Questions including a biblical text but that are not seeking an answer about ① the history of that biblical text itself or ② the meaning of that biblical text either in context or through a process of arriving at a particular interpretation of it are off-topic." – Dan, b a
  • "Questions about biblical topics but without a specific Bible passage are off-topic as hermeneutical methods cannot be applied when no text is referenced." – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica, enegue, Jack Douglas
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  • You are specifically interested in the cessationist explanation, correct? You’re not looking to know if gifts are still in operation today, seems you take that as a given. – Nihil Sine Deo Feb 26 at 4:23
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    I could be wrong, but as stated this seems more like a systematics question than an exegetical one. Can you edit to focus more on the specific texts in question? – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Mar 2 at 14:44
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The whole dispute about "cessationism" (no spiritual gifts after 1st century) vs "continuationism" (all spiritual gifts continue as long as the church exists) essentially revolves around just two isolated issues that make both sides, at times, inconsistent and unbiblical. Here I will make no attempt to defend either but simply observe the actual Biblical data.

Nearly all the debate actually concerns the gift of prophecy and (and to a much lesser extent miracles) and NOT the other 18 or so spiritual gifts listed in the NT such as apostleship (one who is sent to new areas), administration, teaching, discernment, helpfulness, generosity, etc. Just how this gift of prophecy (and possibly miracles) can be separated from the others is not stated. As a direct result of a determined effort by cessationists to stop prophecy in the 1st century, all spiritual gifts are said to have ceased with the original 12 apostles.

Several texts are often quoted to support this view but NONE are remotely conclusive or convincing or even relevant. Further, they mostly ignore the strong evidence of the other side. Similarly continuationists also make unsubstantiated claims and distinctions that are unbiblical.

Most of the debate concerns the issue of Sola Scriptura. Cessationists vehemently argue that the principle of Sola Scriptura essentially means that there can be no further prophets or prophecy because the canon of Scripture closed with the death of John the Revelator. In fact, this is NOT a Biblical argument as Sola Scriptura is not explicitly stated (I still believe it is TRUE) and this it is a Meta-argument. Continuationists counter that the gift of prophecy is compatible with Sola Scriptura.

So what are the Biblical Hermeneutics here? Let us observe some well-known facts.

  • The fact that a person has the gift of prophecy does not necessarily mean that the person produces a new part of the canon of Scripture. There were numerous prophets that were acknowledged as such that did NOT contribute to Scripture such as Agabus, the four daughters of Philip, John the Baptist (the greatest of the prophets according to Jesus), Barnabas, Silas, and many more.
  • On the other side, some parts of the Bible were produced by people who were NOT prophets but who were inspired such as Ezra the Scribe and Luke the physician and historian.
  • Any prophecy uttered by a prophet may not even concern the teachings of Scripture. Agabus uttered prophecies (Acts 11:28, 21:10, 11) that were true, but had no influence on Bible teaching.
  • Any prophecy from a would-be prophet must (on the basis of Sola Scriptura) not contradict nor diminish the existing Bible teaching and its centrality of Christ and His all-sufficient sacrifice and salvation. (Isa 8:19, 20, etc.)

I am at a loss to understand how, in view of 1 Cor 12 14, Rom 12:6, Eph 4:1-7 and other passages, how anyone can assume that a church full of saved sinners (and many unsaved as well) can function without the necessary gifts of the Spirit guiding the church in all sorts of ways. Genuine gifts of Spirit will uphold the Bible and be manifestly consistent with existing Bible revelation and make no attempt to add to it.

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1 Corinthians 12:11 New International Version (NIV) 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

In what I have been able to study from the Bible, I conclude that they are still available, according to the quote I just shared. To say that they are not available, that is to say that the Holy Spirit is currently limited, and He is God, Almighty, without limits and sovereign, does as he wants.

  • I completely agree. God is NOT confined to any one place or time in history, – user25930 Feb 28 at 5:43
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The spiritual gifts were poured out in the "last days" just as the prophet Joel had told in Joel chap. 2.

"28 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:

29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit." (Joel 2:28-29, KJV)

Peter stated on the day of Pentecost in the first century AD, about 30 -31 AD that what was happening, what the people saw and heard was what Joel had prophesied.

"15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;" (Acts 2:15-16, KJV)

Peter said "this", what they saw and heard on the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of Joel's prophesy that was to be poured out in "the last days". Therefore, the day of Pentecost occurred in the last days.

And in verse 17 Peter repeats Joel's prophesy.

The trouble many people have is recognizing when "the last days" were, and what they were the last days of. The current teaching that we are in the last days is very wrong. Peter told them they were living in the last days. He confirmed it again in his letter to the strangers living in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythinia.

"19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you," (1 Pet. 1: 19-20, KJV)

When was Christ manifested on earth? Is He walking on earth now? Have we seen Him or heard Him teaching?

Those people who lived in the first century AD when Christ walked on this earth were the ones who saw Him, touched Him, spoke with Him, heard Him, and witnessed His sacrifice for our sins. Christ was manifested in the first century AD, and Peter said He was manifested "in these last times". Therefore, the last days spoken of in the record of the NT writings were those of the first century AD before the destruction of Jerusalem.

We must stop reading the words spoken almost 2,000 years ago as if they were just written to us yesterday. The NT is our past. It is history for us. The present tense and future tense words of the first century AD writings belong to that time period for those people who saw the manifestation of Christ on earth in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4).

Once we can recognize that "this age" spoken of in the first century AD (Matt. 12:32; 13:22, 40) was the one in which they were living when Christ spoke those words to them almost 2,000 years ago, then we have to acknowledge that time matters. "This age" that belonged to their time period was "the last days" of the Mosaic covenant, and the second temple in Jerusalem. We cannot lift "this age" that existed during the first century AD out of time, and put it into our century.

It is not "this age" when we are reading it. It was "this age" when the apostles wrote it down; and when Christ said it. Lifting it out of the first century AD is anachronistic. "This age" = before the destruction of Jerusalem, and the last days of the Mosaic covenant. "The age to come" = the time after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Christian age of the rule of the Messiah.

Christ had to fulfill all of the prophesies of the OT, including the second fulfillment of the destruction of Jerusalem which Joel - as well as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, etc - had prophesied. Until that second temple was completely destroyed (Matt. ch. 24; Mark ch. 13; Luke ch. 16) in AD 70, the Mosaic covenant was still being practiced, and the animals were still being sacrificed in Jerusalem.

That was the termination point of the old covenant, and the double fulfillment of the prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem. That was the "end of the age" and the "end of days" of Daniel's prophesy in Dan. 9:24 - 12:13.

During those days, those last days of the old Mosaic covenant, the newly baptized Jews on the day of Pentecost did not yet have the writings of the Apostles and disciples that we now call the New Testament. They had to know that what the Apostles were teaching was confirmed by and authorized by YHVH. The miracles presented through the gifts of the Spirit were to confirm that the words they spoke came from YHVH.

"`Men, Israelites! hear these words, Jesus the Nazarene, a man approved of God among you by mighty works, and wonders, and signs, that God did through him in the midst of you, according as also ye yourselves have known;" (Acts 2:22, YLT)

Peter told them that the miracles Christ had shown them were for confirmation that He was sent by, and approved by YHVH. The miracles the prophets performed throughout the record of the OT were always to confirm the existence of YHVH and that the prophets were truthfully speaking His words to the people.

It was the same in the first century AD. The people had the record of the OT through the Greek translation, what we call the Septuagint (or the LXX) which most attribute to Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt. (1, 2) The people could check the Apostles' words of the prophets against the written record of the OT (Acts 17:11).

But, until about 54 - 56 AD they didn't have any written record of the NT scriptures. They needed confirmation from on High of the Apostles teaching of the gospel. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were the confirmation YHVH provided for their assurance so they could believe He had sent His Son to them. When that record was complete, "that which is perfect" (1 Cor. 13:10), then the spiritual gifts would die out as the people who held them died.

"For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:39, KJV)

The promise of the gifts of the Holy Spirit was

  1. "to you" - to those standing there on the day of Pentecost,
  2. "and to your children" - their children of that generation in the first century AD,
  3. "and to all that are afar off" - those gentile of the nations to whom Peter would open the door at the house of Cornelius (Acts ch. 10) and all other nations that would hear the gospel of Christ during the first century AD.

Those last days happened in the first century AD, and they were the "last days" of "this age" in which they lived 2,000 years ago at the end of the Mosaic covenant. When they spoke of "the age to come", they were speaking of the time in their future that would be in full force and effect after the destruction of that temple in Jerusalem. The age to come was their future, the Messianic age, the Christian age in which we now live.

"Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Eph. 3:21, KJV)

The people of the first century AD were still looking ahead to a prophetic time which had not yet been completed while they were teaching and learning the gospel of Christ. When we can recognize that reading an historical document requires that we read with the first audience perspective; that the words "soon", "at hand", and "shortly" meant exactly what they heard when they were spoken 2,000 years ago, then we can place the events in their proper time frame.

We are now living in what they called "the age to come", and we do not have to be afraid of any "end time" apocalypse. That apocalypse came upon their generation in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. It already happened in their lifetimes, and those gifts of the Holy Spirit helped those early Christians to live through it.

There are many proofs from the scriptures of the time frame and many time texts that Christ and the disciples / apostles spoke to the people that confirm the first audience perspective. Most all of the posts at my blog detail them. See "Perspective" at the top menu, and you might begin with all of the series of "It's Not The End of The World" at ShreddingTheVeil

The Christian age has no end.

(All bold emphasis is mine.)

Notes:

1) A Brief History of the Septuagint: here

2) Septuagint here

  • Thank you for this. You really have me thinking now about the term 'Age' in the NT. I will research this further, though there seems to be some rather sizeable assumptions. I will need to research further. – Bainn Feb 27 at 19:48
  • Hi Gina. Again, lots of great stuff. You might want to add this to your Septuagint intro as Dr. Williams makes a cogent case that the term/concept is inappropriate as there was no canonized greek translation. Just a bunch of translations. IE: One would never speak of "the English version" as there are many and they vary widely: youtube.com/watch?v=RmpnJ1cgh58 Also, why do you say that "the Christian age has no end"? It seems to have ended circa 70ad as well! – Ruminator Mar 8 at 14:20
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I believe that prophecy and healing gifts continue to exist today because I have seen it first hand thousands of times. I have also met one cessationist in real life who is one of the most miserable people I have ever met and despite my best effort I could not see the light of Christ in him.

Regarding Prophecy Prophecy is a Tool of Evangelism “If all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1 Corinthians 14:24–25)?

Prophecy is the Most Significant Gift and We are to Desire It 14 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified. 1 Corinthians 14:1-5

Prophets Warn People (Prior to God Punishing Them) When Paul was going up to Jerusalem the prophet Agabus warned him of the danger that he would face there (Acts 21:10,11). God often prepares his people in this way. The prophet is a watchman, who warns God's people of coming trouble.

Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground where no snare has been set? Does a trap spring up from the earth when there is nothing to catch? When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:5-7).

God's Plan is Revealed Through Prophets God's plan for history is revealed through his prophets.

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets (Eph 3:4,5).

Prophets Will Suffer The role of a prophet often involves suffering so the idea that a prophet is suffering because he is out of God's will by sharing a prophecy is not biblical.

"And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground" (Heb 11:32-38).

Prophets Not Only Correct the Church but also Nations The primary responsibility of the prophet is to speak to the people of God. He brings both direction and correction to the Church. But a prophet may also be called to speak to his nation. Many of the prophets of the Old Testament found themselves confronting kings, and taking an important role in national affairs. Some also addressed their words to foreign nations. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel each prophesied to the surrounding nations (Is 13-12, Jer 46-51, Ezek 25-32).

Prophets are Healers Some prophets are used in healing the sick. Elijah was a prophet who moved effectively in the gift of healing. Elisha followed in his mentor's footsteps.

When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the Lord. Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy's body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes (2 Kings 4:32-35).

As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, "Am I God? Can I kill and bring Back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!" When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: "Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel." So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed." (2 Kings 5:7-10).

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Among the gifts of the Holy Spirit some are narrowly contextual and thus abolishable - for example, speaking in different tongues was necessary for spreading message of salvation conveniently without delay necessary for learning properly languages; however, some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit - like "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23) - are eternal and will never be taken away from a person who had cultivated them in his heart. One can not speak tongues and be a very good Christian, but unless one cultivates the mentioned gifts of the Spirit, all of them, for they are necessarily intertwined and resonate with each other, one will not be able to be a good Christian, for what is love without peace, or what is kindness without forbearance, etc?

Thus the Spirit's gifts that are eternal and are to be eternally possessed and cultivated by a believer, will never pass in any epoch. However, the gifts like the mentioned speaking in tongues, or even the gift of prophesizing about the future historical events, will be abolished, for the history itself will be abolished after the Second Advent and there will be no time (Rev 10:6), how can one prophesie about the future when the very concept of future will change irreversibly? But even in the eternity of the Kingdom of Heaven love, wisdom, gentleness, mercy etc. will continue; therefore, that which will last and continue in Eternity should be gained and fought for already in time, our temporal historical sojourn, the historical life.

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Currently the evidence concerning the eschatology of the scriptures leads me to believe that:

  • Paul's argument in 1 Cor 13 is eschatological. That is, what will change regarding the power gifts will change when Paul et al see God:

1Co 13:12 KJV - 12 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.

  • it is the fact that he expected that when the Lord Jesus arrived he would take Paul and everyone else to the Happy Place (Heaven) that the gifts would be irrelevant, not when the scriptures were completed.

  • Paul expected himself and all believers, including those "asleep in Christ", to be "caught up" (1 Thess 4:16-17) in his lifetime. I see no reason to doubt that it occurred as he predicted.

  • all of the scriptures are history. This has dawned on me slowly but profoundly. Even Paul's letters are simply historical relics. Neither he nor anyone else in the scriptures penned a single line to you and I in 21st century USA or where ever. Paul wrote to Timothy, Corinthians, etc., never: "and to those who will come after we are gone...". I mean, he did, but not to people that he didn't expect to go up with him.

Paul's point in 1 Cor 13:10 was that they were living in the final days, not only of the Jewish temple, Jerusalem and judgment upon the Jews, it was to be the end of God's people on earth! God's people would be "caught up to meet the Lord in the air" and "so shall we ever be with the Lord".

It appears to me that since we are here, we are "the dogs outside":

Rev 22:14-15 NASB - 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

No instructions were provided for the dogs.


Given that, the "Churches" are simply posers. The most horrific development is the tendency of Churches to look to the first 15 chapters of Acts as normative for modern day believers when in reality those gifts were for the endorsement of the apostles in the last day:

Mar 16:20 NASB - 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.] [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.]

Modern day groups that claim to be living in the last days are constantly producing:

  • "prophecies" that don't come true
  • "tongues" that are simply repeated gibberish
  • "interpretations" are simply made up nonsense
  • "healings" that are less effective than a placebo
  • "snake handling" where people get bit and die
  • "apostles" with no prophetic power etc.

Bottom line: The last days came and went and we missed them. Paul did not have a post-end-on-earth scenario in view when he spoke of the arrival of the perfect. Nor did John:

1Jo 3:2 KJV - 2 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.

It would be as silly to bring "tongues" or "healing" gifts to Heaven as it would be to bring a Bible and vice versa.

Update

I just came across an article in Biblical Archaeology (current issue) that discusses the fact, recognized by modern scholars, that there is no extant evidence that there were Christians on Earth for 200 years after 70ad!!!

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