SPIRITUAL GIFTS FOR THE BELIEVER

THE DISCONTINUATION OF TEMPORARY SPIRITUAL GIFTS

Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., Pastor, Grace Bible Church of Costa Mesa, California

Copyright 1995-2014 Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., All Rights Reserved



 

Spiritual Gifts and The Completion of the Canon of Scripture

We know that permanent spiritual gifts exist throughout the Church Age. Temporary spiritual gifts were used only between the day of Pentecost and the date the Canon of Scripture was completed and disseminated. The word "Canon" is not a canon like the one in front of the Veteran's Memorial Building. Some people, believe it or not, think that's what I mean when I say Canon of Scripture. In the Greek, it is spelled kanon. It's simply transliterated to Canon. Kanon means a rule, a norm, or a standard of faith and practice. This indicates which norms or standards were employed in determining which books are inspired and those which are not. There was the great Sanhedrin in Ezra's day that determined which books would be the completed Old Testament Canon. The rule was that these books had to be written by a prophet, or someone closely associated with a prophet, or one who had the gift and possibly the office of prophet. Take Moses, for example. He wrote the first five books of the Bible. He had both the gift and office of prophecy.

The New Testament was written by apostles or close associates of apostles. The Book of Hebrews was probably written by Apollos, not an apostle, but a close associate of the apostle Paul. Most likely, Paul taught his theology to Apollos, who in turn in Paul’s usual high style classical Greek, gave it to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Hebrews. The Gospel according to Mark is really the Gospel according to Peter through Mark. Mark was simply the amanuensis of Peter. Peter taught him all the doctrine, and Mark, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, put that information in the Gospel of Mark. That is the norm and standard. The Book of Enoch is an example of a book not included in the Canon. It has some great doctrine in it, but God did not want the Book of Enoch in the New Testament Canon. This is because the information in the Book of Enoch isn't something written by Enoch. It concerned Enoch who was an Old Testament prophet.

Remember, Jude said that Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied about the Lord's coming with all of his myriads of angelic hosts. Enoch prophesied about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, but everything about this is in the Bible. We don't need that little book about what Enoch had to say. This book is a part of the Apocrypha, which the Catholics take as a part of the Bible. The Apocrypha has some excellent history recorded, such as the history of the Maccabees, but the Book of the Maccabees in the Apocrypha teaches that suicide sometimes is bona fide. The Bible never teaches that suicide is a bona fide option. Suicide is simply you using your volition and superimposing it over the will of God. Concepts like that are not to be a part of the Bible. Other Apocryphal books talk about men going out and slaying dragons. That's myth. That is not history nor reality. Other than some good history in many areas, it does not subscribe to the principles that reflect the character of God.

Definite rules and regulations were used to decide what books were acceptable and what books were not. Canon means norms and standards. This is how we got our Bible. These books would be acceptable, if written by an apostle or close associate, and would not contain any information that would contradict any other part of the Bible, or put forth concepts contrary to the essence of God.

A More Excellent Way

The Canon of Scripture was complete in 96 A.D. and circulated throughout the Roman world in all the churches from 96 to 100 A.D. The period from 30 to 96 A.D. is called the Pre-canon period of the Church Age and was the time before the written Bible was complete. The temporary spiritual gifts functioned only in the Pre-canon period, from approximately 30 to 100 A.D. Most of them were highly supernatural and very spectacular during this time. As to the gift of tongues, these men knew what they were thinking, but they didn't know what they were saying. God the Holy Spirit made it come out all right. These gifts were necessary to get the Church started without a completed Bible. These temporary gifts ceased in function because their purpose was completed as stated in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. In contrast, the permanent spiritual gifts function throughout the Post-canon period of the Church Age, right down to the Rapture or Exit Resurrection of the Church.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

We touched upon this before and will touch upon it again - the supremacy of love. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:31 that he would show the Corinthians (and us) a still more excellent way. Whatever the spiritual gift is, whether temporary between 30 A.D. and 96 A.D. or permanent, the most important thing has always been the filling of the Spirit and the love, which is the product of it. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 that if those in the Pre-canon period spoke in the languages of men and angels and have not love, they were no better than a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Paul is saying that if you are using your spiritual gift to glorify yourself, it is wrong and you are not being led by the Spirit. This means you are using your gift without any prompting from the Lord which also means you are not in fellowship. You are operating under the control of your Old Sin Nature along with its areas of strength and weakness. You are in a state of sin and need to confess your known sins to the Father and return to fellowship.

But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:31)

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Evidently, these men with the gift of tongues, although out of fellowship and carnal, could still speak in another language. However, for the gift to have spiritual effectiveness and production, it had to come from the power of the Spirit and unconditional love which comes from the Spirit. For example, the temporary gift of prophecy allowed them to fathom all mysteries and knowledge and had the ability to give information on the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Eternal State. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says that those with temporary gifts could have knowledge and actually believe that what they were prophesying was going to pass, but if they did not have unconditional love from Bible doctrine, they were nothing. You are absolutely nothing if you use your spiritual gift without unconditional love in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul continued to say in 1 Corinthians 13:4-10 that if you give all you posses to the poor, surrender your body to become a martyr, but do not have unconditional virtue love, you gain nothing. He goes on to describe the fantastic characteristics of unconditional love. Obviously, in order for you to exhibit these characteristics under pressure and prosperity, you will have to rely on a good deal of Bible doctrine resident in your soul. This is what you have to look forward to in your spiritual life! These are the very characteristics that Paul developed in his spiritual life. They are the same exact characteristics that Jesus Christ exhibited His entire life on earth.

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:4-10)

1 Corinthians 13:4-10 also says that where there are prophecies, they will be done away or they will fade out. This is the part (Pre-canon), moving toward the whole (completed Canon). When the Canon of Scripture was completed, there would be no further need for prophecy. The same is mentioned for tongues. The temporary gift of tongues ceased at 70 A.D. after 40 years. Its purpose was completed.

These miraculous gifts were being disseminated in Jerusalem to evangelize the Jews to fulfill the prophecy of tongues as taught in Isaiah 28:11-12. Paul touched on that in 1 Corinthians 14:22 where he said that tongues was a sign to the Jews in Corinth and elsewhere. There was a large community of Jews which required a massive use of the gift of speaking in tongues because those Jews did not understand Hebrew. They understood the language of the area in which they were raised. Corinth was like any big convention city, with people from all different areas living there, and when they would come into a church, they would get the Gospel in their own language.

Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, He who said to them, "Here is rest, give rest to the weary," And, "Here is repose," but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:11-12)

So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe. (1 Corinthians 14:22)

One or more persons (never more than three) could communicate under the gift of tongues at one location. Someone else would get up and interpret the Gospel. It had to be exactly what the person was communicating under his gift of languages. It had to be the content of the Gospel. They could not use this gift to speak to anyone else in the church concerning personal wishes. No interpreter could say, for instance, that God wants this man to take out that beautiful redhead in the back of the church. You don't use a spiritual gift for any personal gain. It was always the message of the Gospel. The gift of tongues gave the Jews the Gospel in their own language, and that sign went from 30 to 70 A.D. Paul said that tongues was a sign to unbelievers only. The charismatics today say that the gift of tongues is the only way they can pray to the Lord. This is supposedly a wonderful spiritual experience that God has given them. They speak in gibberish with most interpretations parroting the others. Tongues were definitely not for giving doctrine for worship. It was for the evangelization of the Jews, whether in Jerusalem or throughout the Roman world. So, in 70 A.D., the worldwide dispersion of Jews occurred and the prophecy of tongues was fulfilled. Whether there be tongues, they will stop at a definite time. This is the part moving toward the whole of the completed Canon of Scripture.

The gift of knowledge faded out. As more books were added to the Canon, the more the gifts of prophecy and knowledge faded. The King James says they vanished. This is a good description. Take the latest eclipse. People went crazy over it. Not one person interviewed about what they thought about the eclipse said it displayed the glory of God and His power over creation as David did in Psalms 19:1. It never even entered their minds that all of this around us is all from the grace of God! It’s their loss. None of them said it was a deeply moving religious experience in watching the eclipse. Do you know what they were doing? They were worshiping the creation instead of the creator.

(For the choir director. A Psalm of David.) The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. (Psalms 19:1)

Imagine people driving down from Alaska to Mexico! Imagine others coming from Minnesota to watch this great event. They were making quite a to-do about it. To me, it would be a big to-do in observing it with Psalms 19:1 in mind. For those taking it in with that viewpoint, it was a personal act of worship. They would be appreciating who and what the Creator is. The people being interviewed showed it was all humanistic. Their view was that mankind is the crowning glory of evolution. In looking at this eclipse, they thought we are a part of nature, a link to nature and that we should not destroy our poor little planet. In Romans 1:20-25, Paul says that in any nation, the quintessence of decadence is shown to those who worship the creation rather than the Creator. This is Satan’s objective - to confuse the brethren.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:20-25)

An eclipse takes place gradually. A total eclipse occurs only once in every 25 years or so. It's a phenomenal thing to see, but it declares the glory of God. The sun doesn't stop shining all at once. You see it vanishing like the beautiful sunsets on our Pacific coast. The sun goes down slowly until it finally vanishes. The whole horizon just erupts in reds and golds. That's the way it was with the temporary spiritual gifts. The gift of prophecy faded out a bit before the gift of knowledge vanished. The gift of tongues, however, didn’t fade out, but ceased right at a definite time as in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

The gift of languages was stilled in 70 A.D. They functioned in place of the completed Canon. This is the partial moving toward the whole. The phrase "For we know in part" refers to the Pre-canon period. The "perfect" is the completed Canon of Scripture because in the Greek, it is in the neuter gender, not the masculine gender which would refer to Jesus Christ. It refers to the Canon.

In James 1:25, the same word Greek TELEIOS is used which means the perfect in the neuter gender. He used it for "the perfect law of liberty," as a synonym for the Word of God or the completed Canon of Scripture. The Book of James was written before Corinthians. James is one of the earliest of the New Testament Books. He speaks about the transformation in our souls as we function under the grace intake of God’s Word. As we look into the perfect law of liberty, we are transformed and changed by it. He uses this "perfect law of liberty" in describing the Word of God. Paul picks up on that same terminology when he uses the phrase "When the perfect comes." Again, when you have the whole, you don't need the partial anymore.

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25)

The Cessation of the Gift of Healing

Paul’s gift of healing was withdrawn once his authority was established among the local churches. An illustration of this is Timothy's illness. Paul told him to take a little wine for his stomach's sake in 1 Timothy 5:23. Paul couldn't heal this problem, so he told Timothy to take a little wine. He didn't say, be healed. Paul's authority in the churches was established and his gift of healing was taken away. He couldn't heal Timothy. He couldn't even heal himself. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, as we've studied, the passage says that God’s grace was sufficient for Paul to handle his illness. Paul’s handling the problem in the power of the Holy Spirit made God’s power perfect in Paul’s weakness. Paul had a terrible physical weakness. A thorn demon was permitted, under the permissive will of God, to inflict this chronic and incurable ailment on Paul.

No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. (1 Timothy 5:23)

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Paul had a severe illness that hindered his eyesight such that when he wrote Galatians 6:11, he was full of righteous indignation that the Galatian believers had departed from grace and had become legalistic. He grabbed a pen and scroll and started writing in big letters. They knew it was Paul because every word was in capital letters because Paul could hardly see to write. He could not heal himself. His gift of healing had been removed.

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. (Galatians 6:11)

Although a salve could sometimes ease the pain, it wasn't God's will to heal Paul. Paul’s arrogance was kept down and his humility kept at an all time high due to that undeserved suffering. We all receive testing or a loss of health to knock off our arrogance and to make us humble. That's when we partake of the power of God. We use the power of God when we are humble and not in arrogance or preoccupation with ourselves. We use the power of God when we refrain from being critical and down on everyone else because everyone has done us wrong. Most of you know nothing of that super grace attitude that some have who have lost more than we will ever know and still maintain a grace attitude of thanksgiving to God. Some believers exhibit such a fantastic attitude under extreme pressure that it motivates those of us around such people to continue with greater determination in the spiritual life. That is the attitude of a winner! That is being a victor in the spiritual fight! We need to pray that those believers continue to hang in there with their intake of the Word and being a continual witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.

The issue is not healing, but the fact that God's grace always keeps on being sufficient for each and every one of us. Another passage, Philippians 2:25-29, shows that Paul was unable to heal Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus was ministering to Paul, but became so ill that he was at the point of death. Paul could not heal him. Paul sent him back to his congregation and he recovered because the illness of Epaphroditus was because of love sickness. He loved his own church so much that being away from it for a time caused a psychosomatic illness. Once he got back to his church, his health improved. He went on and had a continual productive ministry. Paul said he was one of the greatest of all the pastor teachers. So, again, Paul was unable to heal. In 2 Timothy 4:20, Paul had to leave his dear friend Trophimus sick on the island of Miletus. He could not heal him. Why? He no longer had the gift of healing.

But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly in order that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. Therefore receive him in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; (Philippians 2:25-29)

Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. (2 Timothy 4:20)

Understand that God still heals today, but the gift of healing does not function today. Healing is the sovereign decision of the Lord. God can heal medically and He can heal divinely. However, there is another category of healing that comes directly from Satan. Satan can and does induce illnesses and also induces cures from demonism. It’s clear that our Lord healed to establish His authority so that the Jews would know He was the Messiah of God and the Savior of the world. The apostle's gift of healing was for much the same reason.

Having a Spiritual Gift Does Not Equal Spirituality

There are various spiritual gifts given to different believers at the moment of salvation. Whatever your spiritual gift, you received it at salvation. It has nothing to do with spirituality. If a spiritual gift was the hallmark of spirituality, then we would all have the same spiritual gift because that would be the way we are spiritual. The charismatics teach that you are spiritual only if you speak in tongues. Unless you speak in tongues, you are not spiritual. Tongues was never a sign of spirituality! Speaking in tongues should not have caused other believers in the Corinthian church, or other churches in the first century, to have a spiritual superiority or inferiority complex.

Spectacular temporary spiritual gifts were discontinued between 70 and 100 A.D. Remember the problem of the Corinthian believers was that they were taking a spiritual gift, the gift of tongues, which was a supernatural ability from God the Holy Spirit to speak in another language and were using it for their own benefit. They didn’t understand the language they spoke, but the unbeliever that heard it did because he heard the Gospel in his own language. The Corinthians were taking the gift of tongues, listed last in order of importance of all spiritual gifts, and magnifying it out of proportion and calling it spirituality.

In 1 Corinthians 13:1-2, we have the clear-cut principle that absolutely nothing in the Christian life produces divine unconditional virtue love in the life of the Christian apart from the filling of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul took three temporary spiritual gifts and established the principle of the discontinuation of the temporary spiritual gifts. He put tongues in the middle of the list to maintain the principle in spite of any personal prejudice the Corinthians may have had. Paul did not approve of the bad behavior of the people in the Corinthian congregation. Those who had the spiritual gift of tongues were implying that others were not saved. They were saying that others could never be spiritual unless they had the same emotional ecstatic experience that they had by speaking in tongues.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-2)

You, as a mature believer, are to love under the control of God the Holy Spirit and be controlled by Him a maximum amount of the time on a daily basis. You are to be 100% filled with the Spirit daily more than you are 100% controlled by the Old Sin Nature. If you do this, there is absolutely no way you can have a bad testimony, a bad witness from a bad attitude, or bad activities within your life. You will always be up and have a positive mental attitude. You cannot have a relaxed mental attitude love without virtue love being expressed. This is not a New Age positive attitude. This is an attitude that is evident regardless of whether there is heartache, pressure, or difficulties. You will always be on top of these things when you are filled with the Spirit and progressing in your spiritual life.

We, as spiritually growing believers, are all to stay on top of the circumstances of life instead of letting them control us. We are to be on top of them because we have unconditional virtue love toward everyone. We are to perpetuate the faith-rest life because the fruit of the Spirit is faith or faithfulness. Obviously, you cannot really be faithful to the Lord unless you are trusting the Lord and using that faith-rest life. As you have unconditional love toward others and have faith-rest in all of the circumstances of life, this establishes a fantastic testimony. What a witness! Paul was telling us that the thing that really counts is the Spirit-filled life, not the gift of tongues.

In 1 Corinthians 13:8, Paul said that love never fails and that the filling of the Holy Spirit remains the same throughout the Church Age. Paul also said that everything that God says is important for believers in the Church Age. Everything concerning the last days of the Church Age has been put into the Canon of Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

The book of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians were written in about 64 A.D. By this time, some of the New Testament Canon had already been written. The Books of James, Mark and Luke were in the Canon. Prophecy written in those books was already a part of the completed Canon. Paul said that prophecy was fading out of existence and would hit the fade-out list when they reached 96 A.D. When Paul said the gift of prophecy would be done away with, he didn't mean that the Word of God includes a prophecy which will not be fulfilled. The language in 1 Corinthians 13:8 in the King James version is a little misleading in that no prophecy of God’s has failed or ever will fail. What God predicts will come about. It means they will become inoperative. Regarding tongues, Paul doesn't mean that all languages will stop at a definite time. Not so! He is only referring to the temporary gift of speaking in tongues. Languages in the human or angelic realm will always exist, just as they have always existed. We believers are all going to speak a language in heaven. One language will exist in heaven. There will never be a time when human language or angelic language will cease to exist.

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. (1 Corinthians 13:8 KJV)


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