Yesterday, I ended with the big "if." If the Word of God, being completed, determines when the gifts mentioned would cease, the modern Church has a serious problem with doctrine. I suggested that the main cause for division between those churches that are Charismatic and those which are not, is the interpretation of a single word of Scripture: teleios. This word, meaning "ended, completed, or perfect, is the same word used in James 1:25 where it speaks of "the perfect law of liberty." The Old Testament was anything but the "law of liberty"; Paul described it as the source of bondage (Galatians 4:21-5:1). In this passage, he contrasts the two covenants, one as a source of bondage and the other the source of liberty. So non-Charismatics refuse to acknowledge the gifts as genuine because they believe the need for them ended with the completing of the New Testament.
The same word, teleios, is also used to describe the born-again Christian who has reached maturity. It is the Greek translation of Matthew 5:48; 19:21; John 17:23; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 1:28; 4:12; James 1:4; 3:2. Therefore, since it is possible for a believer to reach the level of perfection mentioned in these verses, when that occurs, the gifts would cease. But, do they cease to be active in the one who has matured only, or altogether? The obvious answer is neither. Paul spoke in tongues more than all his readers (1 Corinthians 14:18), and few would doubt that he had reached Christian maturity. Then again, Paul did not see himself as being perfect (Philippians 3:13-14). Plus, it would make no sense for the gifts to cease when only one believer matured; the gifts were to be manifested in believers for the edification of others (1 Corinthians 14:5, 12, 26).
Perhaps the key is found in another word: unity. In His last recorded prayer, Jesus asked that His disciples be "made perfect in one" (John 17:23). Since the gifts are only needed to edify the Body of Christ, and His Church is made perfect in unity, once the Church achieves unity, the gifts will cease. Ephesians 4:1-16 combines the relationship between unity, maturity, edification, and gifts. Logically then, if manifesting the gifts is a sign of a lack of maturity in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 13:9-12; Ephesians 4:14), and the gifts were to cease only upon reaching maturity, and the Church is more divided than ever in its history, the gifts have not ceased. We have the completed Word, but we do not have unity. We have the gifts, proving we do not have maturity. When unity comes, then the gifts will cease!
I will attempt to reach both sides in the area of Spiritual gifts tomorrow, Lord willing, and as always, I covet your prayers. Until tomorrow, God bless you as you strive to win the lost by striving for unity.