Sunday, April 25, 2010


Finally, after much thought and study on the proper interpretation of the word "perfect" found in verse eight, I have come to the conclusion that it really does not matter if one, the other, or both a true.

Those who are Charismatics will accept neither the completed New Testament, nor an individual walking perfectly before the Lord, as being the correct meaning because they have experienced the manifestation of the Spirit in their own lives. In fact, they will declare that it is only when they are walking in the Spirit that He manifests the gifts through them. Sin requires confession to remove unrighteousness, at which point, they become the righteousness of God in Christ (1 John 1:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Instead of Christian maturity causing the gifts to cease, it is the very thing that allows the Spirit to work. As for the New Testament being completed, that officially occurred when the Apostle John penned Revelation around A.D. 100. As for the Church, the first evidence that the New Testament was recognized as having twenty-seven books and having them in the current order, was a letter written by Athanasius in A.D. 367. It certainly would be hard to argue that the gifts stopped before the New Testament was accepted as complete. One would expect that someone would have written that the gifts ceased, but as far as I know, no one did.

Those who believe that the gifts ceased upon the completion of the New Testament will also continue to do so. And, where the Charismatics see spiritual maturity as the prerequisite for the manifestation of the gifts, others see the exercise of spiritual gifts as evidence of immaturity. They will point out that prophecy is the best gift and quote 1 Corinthians 14:1-5, but they should be reminded that 1 Corinthians 13:8 says that prophecy also will cease. In Revelation 11:3, after the Rapture of the Church, there will still be prophets prophesying. I know many of you reading this will point out that there is a difference between Old Testament prophets (which the two witnesses are dispensationally speaking), and New Testament prophets. One foretold future events, and the other interprets what is already revealed. However, I am not sure I can make that distinction.

Since neither side in the debate over the exercise of spiritual gifts will ever convince the other, what possible hope is there for Christian unity? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 provides the answer. That is probably why Paul wrote it in the middle of the two chapters. Summed up, the verses describe Christlike behavior between parties that do not agree. Christ's prayer for unity can only be realized when all believers in an assembly bind themselves together in love. I repeat: Romans 14:13-21; 1 Corinthians 10:23-24; Galatians 5:13-14; Ephesians 4:3; Philippians 2:1-8! We are free; free to love one another. All else is sin.

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