Question:

I have seen on a couple of occasions on this site that you believe the gifts of the spirit are a thing of the past, and that you use I Corinthians 13:8-10 to try and validate that point of view. It is very easy to take a verse or two of scripture and make it say whatever suits your particular purpose but when put it back in its context with the rest of scripture your personal point of view often falls over. In this particular case, "that which is perfect" has not yet come. It is quite clear that Paul is referring to the return of Christ and the establishment of God's kingdom on Earth. Most scholars agree with this interpretation as well.

Why would Paul in the same epistle encourage the new church to "eagerly desire the greater gifts" in I Corinthians 12:27 if in a matter of 'moments' they were going to be gone?

What faith do you have that God did not give you? What love other than that that He gave you? Aren't theseĀ gifts of the spirit? I could attest to the things that I have seen with my own eyes in church that are miraculous. Just last night a woman returned to our church who had been completely healed from cancer with a letter from her specialists acknowledging that clearly a miracle had taken place. I agree, this is just what I have experienced and of itself does not meet the criteria of proof. But given how often we see these things it makes denying the existence of the spiritual gifts somewhat precarious. Then what of great evangelists such as Smith Wigglesworth? Many eyewitness accounts of signs and wonders performed through him.

Without the gifts of the Holy Spirit the church cannot grow and its followers are completely disarmed and doesn't the enemy love that idea? Believers with no power and authority. That's a gift to him.


Answer:

You claim that Paul's statement in I Corinthians 13:8-10 refers to the return of Jesus, but you did not prove that point. I have written a good bit about theses verses and gave details evidence that Paul was referring to the completion of the New Testament, such as in Love is Greater.

"And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way" (I Corinthians 12:28-31).

In Paul's point, the best gifts were not the miraculous gifts. In fact, he spends chapter 13 proving that love is better than all the miraculous gifts. Love is one of the best gifts to seek. Love is something everyone needs and should desire. Love is widespread and permanent. The miraculous gifts were limited and temporary.

Even though Paul stated that miraculous gifts would end, they did not end for almost a generation. The New Testament was written over a 50-60 year period of time. The argument that they could not desire spiritual gifts because they would end immediately is false.

God gives us the ability to have faith and love. He taught us what they are. But He also commanded that we have faith. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). God does not give faith to some and withhold it from others. All men are able to have faith. All have to respond to God's commands. "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). So, no, faith and love are not miraculous gifts of God.

You are correct that a second hand account of a woman claiming to have a letter from a doctor that she no longer has cancer is not proof that a miracle took place. What you offered is not verifiable. We cannot verify that she had cancer, nor that it is no longer in her system. We cannot verify that it disappear instantaneously This is totally unlike the miracles in the Bible where people knew the problem a person had, often for years, such as blindness, paralysis, or a withered hand. It is not like the true miracles where believers and unbelievers saw the Lord stated that they would be healed and saw the problem instantly disappear. Modern-day "miracles" are cheap imitations of true miracles.

The idea that the church cannot grow without miraculous gifts is false. The gifts of the Spirit confirmed the word of God (Hebrews 2:3-4). But it is the word, not the gift that was causing the growth. "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (I Peter 2:2). Once the word was confirmed, the gifts were no longer needed since the word was delivered only once (Jude 3).