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Tongues & Continuous Revelation
We want to look at the Biblical viewpoint of some of the gifts of the Spirit, more commonly called the Charismatic gifts. The word charismatic comes from the Greek word charisma which means "a divinely conferred endowment". Thus it is a gift given by Gods grace for the glory of God and for the benefit of mankind.
There is a great controversy today in the sphere of professing Christian circles concerning the use and function of these gifts. The issue centers around the matter of whether or not all the spiritual gifts mentioned in I Corinthians 12:8-10 are still in operation. The purpose of this brief study is to determine what "thus saith the Lord" concerning the matter. It is what God says that counts. We shall, honestly before God, seek to determine the validity of these gifts for the church of Jesus Christ today. We have prayerfully sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit and desire to communicate only what He has recorded in the Word through holy men of old.
It is of vital importance that we understand same early Biblical historical facts before we delve into this matter in great detail. When the early church came together to meet in the years of A.D. 33 to 96, they did not have a full copy of the New Testament as we have it today. They possessed copies of the Old Testament which they used in their services. For example, I Corinthians 14:26 tells us that the Psalms were used. New Testament truth that they needed was passed on by word of mouth from the Lord Jesus Christ to the apostles and then to the church for the first ten to twelve years. Other New Testament truth came to the early church via the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and prophecy, as we will study in this pamphlet.
Most Christians do not understand that it took about fifty years to get the New Testament recorded and completed. The first New Testament book, the epistle of James, was not written until about A.D. 45. This is about twelve years after the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. The book of Matthew seems to be next in order around A.D. 50; I Thessalonians about A.D. 51:11 Thessalonians about the same date; I Corinthians about A D 52-56, John, 1,11, and III John about A.D. 85-95; and Revelation about A D 96. Thus the Lord completed the New Testament about A.D. 96. We can safely say that the twenty-seven books of the New Testament were finished before the end of the first century A.D.
Meanwhile, as it was being completed, the early church used the Old Testament scriptures, the charismatic gifts of knowledge, wisdom, prophecy, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, oral traditions received from Christ and from the apostles, and the New Testament books as they were being completed from about A.D. 45-96. This was the extent of the Word of God that they had at their disposal during those early days of the infant church.
All professing born-again Christians that we know of or have heard of believe that the sixty-six books of the Bible are the sole, inerrant, fully-inspired Word of God. Even those who claim that God is still giving revelation through the gift of prophecy believe that the Bible, as we now have it, is the Word of God. I do not see them carrying around with them some other book or document that they call the Word of God. The point being made here is that if God is still speaking and giving New Testament revelation someone should be carefully collecting this supposed new revelation and adding books to the New Testament. The fact that this is not being done by born-again Christians is indicative that, for all practical purposes, they have a completed set of holy Scriptures finished in A.D. 96.
One of the problems in the early church that existed concerning the charismatic gifts was ignorance. Ignorance simply means the lack of knowledge. In I Corinthians 12:1 Paul says, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant." As ignorance concerning the use and function of many of these gifts brought chaos, disorder, and division to the early church, so has ignorance brought chaos, disorder, and division to the church today. Ignorance is eliminated by an understanding of facts. Let us consider some of these facts.
In I Corinthians 12:7, Paul states that "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit." These gifts were given by the Holy Spirit so that the early church could profit spiritually during the interim while the New Testament was being completed. The word profit can be translated "for the benefit of anyone" or "for the advantage or good of anyone." The gifts were given for the ultimate profit of the church. To substantiate this, please note I Corinthians 14:5, "I would that ye all spoke with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied; for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying."
With these few introductory thoughts in mind, we shall progress to our study of I Corinthians 12:8-10, and I Corinthians 13:8-10, to determine Gods viewpoint of the charismatic gifts. In order to properly understand the I Corinthians 12:8-10, passage, it is imperative that we look at the overall structure of this passage. These verses contain within them three distinct classes of gifts that are separated from each other by the use of two separate Greek words translated here by the English word another. The first word translated "another" is the Greek word allos which means "another of the same kind." This word first appears in these three verses in verse 8 where it says, "to another (allos) of the same kind, the word of knowledge by the same Spirit." The second word translated "another" in this passage is the Greek word heteros meaning "another of a different kind." This word is found at the beginning of verse 9 which introduces a different group or class of gifts which are definitely diverse from those found in verse 8 The next use of heteros is found in verse 10 where it says "to another heteros of a different kind, (various) kinds of tongues." The use of the Greek word heteros here denotes a different class of gifts, again diverse from those of verse 8, 9, or 10a. It is imperative that we understand this natural division that the Holy Spirit has given so we can better understand this passage and that of I Corinthians 13:8-10. To clarify this matter ever further, this diagram is given for your consideration.
When we put this information together, we can understand I Corinthians 12:8-10 as follows:
"For to one is given by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another (allos) of the same kind within the same class, the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;"
"To another (heteros) of a different kind in a different class, faith by the same Spirit; to another (allos) of the same kind within the same class, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another (allos) of the same kind within the same class, prophecy; to another (allos) of the same kind within the same class, discerning of spirits;
"To another (heteros) of a different kind in a different class, various kinds of tongues; to another (allos) of the same kind within the same class, the interpretation of tongues."
Thus, for study purposes, we can see by the Holy Spirits choice of the Greek language, that He wants us to see there are three groups or classes of gifts that appear in this passage.
Class I gifts pertain to the intellect, wisdom and knowledge.
Class II gifts relate to a special gift of faith. This was not salvation faith or the faith that initially brought them to Christ, but a special faith which enabled them to perform healings, working of miracles, prophecy, and discern or judge the spirits of the prophets.
Class III gifts were the tongues gifts involving the ability to speak in a known foreign language of the day (see Acts 2:6,8,11), and the gift to interpret the language so that those in the church could receive edification. These three classes functioned within the framework of the early, infant church to edify or build it up spiritually during the time that she did not have a completed canon of Scripture.
Now let us proceed to I Corinthians 13:8-10 to see what the Holy Spirit says as to the duration if these gifts. It is imperative to notice that these gifts were given by the Holy Spirit as seen in verses 7, 8, 9, and 11 of chapter 12. The same Holy Spirit has a very important lesson to teach us as to the duration of these gifts which is integral to our study.
First of all, please notice in I Corinthians 13:8-10 that three out of the nine gifts mentioned in I Corinthians I 2:8-10 are repeated. It is most interesting, especially when you see that there is one gift from each of these classes. Please note that in I Corinthians I 3:8 prophecy (Class II), tongues (Class III), and knowledge (Class I) are mentioned. It is also of importance to note that the Holy Spirit says that prophecy and knowledge shall fail and that tongues shall cease. The same Greek word is translated "shall be done away" in verse I 0 and "put away" in verse 11. It is the Greek word katargeo which means "to render useless" or "unproductive" in Luke I 3:7; "to render powerless" in Romans 6:6, "to make empty and unmeaning" in Romans 4:14; "to render null or conceal" in Romans 3:3, 31 and in Ephesians 2:15; "to bring to an end" in I Corinthians 2:6; 13:8; 15:24, 26; II Corinthians 3:7 (The Analytical Greek Lexicon, published by Zondervan). In Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, page 418, it says that because katargeo is the passive voice, it should be rendered in I Corinthians I 3:8 as "cease" or "pass away".
Not only is this the meaning of the word, but in the original language this is a future tense which means that at some future date, following the writing of I Corinthians (A.D. 52-56), tongues would cease, knowledge and prophecy would be rendered null and void or would be canceled out. The passive voice is used with the gifts of knowledge and prophecy which means that these gifts will receive a cancellation in the future. The indicative mood is used by the Holy Spirit to point out the reality of the fact that the gifts of knowledge and prophecy will definitely be canceled out at same future date. The Holy Spirit emphatically declares that tongues would cease at some future date.
It is here that we arrive at a very crucial point that determines whether these gifts are in operation or not. The present day dispute lies in the dating of the cessation o these gifts. All will agree that the gifts are temporary or exist in time, but the point at which they cease in the future is at the heart of the matter. We believe, however, that the Holy Spirit is clear, as to the future point at which these gifts and those others in I Corinthians 12:8-10 will no longer operate. Please note further with us what the Scriptures say.
In verse 9, it says, "for we know in part, and we prophesy in part". The word "for" connects verse 9 with verse 8 giving us a cause or a reason why knowledge and prophecy will be canceled out. The reason for their future cancellation will be because they have fulfilled their function as being temporary vehicles for divine revelation. You may ask the question, "Where do you get that idea?". Again it comes from the text itself. The word "for"is the Greek particle gar which gives the cause or reason for the statement in verse 8. Also. the preposition "in" is the Greek preposition ek which means "out from the source of". The word "know" is in reference to knowledge and the word "part" is the Greek word meros which means "the part of a whole". Thus knowledge and prophecy will receive a cancellation as functionable gifts because the knowledge was fragmentary or "out from the source of a part of the whole". Likewise, prophecy, which was the gift through which New Testament revelation came, would also receive a cancellation because it was only receiving bits and fragments "out from the source or the whole" of divine revelation.
A simple illustration of this would be the experience of eating a cherry pie. Before the pie is put together and baked, you find yourself unable to wait for the end product. You taste the cherries by themselves, then you sample the crust, and finally some sugar. All three ingredients taste good in themselves, but they are fragments that make up the whole pie. Only when the whole pie is put together, which is the composite of the fragments, and thus baked, can we really appreciate the taste of a homemade cherry pie.
We trust you see the point clearly. The gifts of knowledge and prophecy were divinely given gifts by which God gave the New Testament church a taste of His Word, but only in fragments. The gifts that were the vehicles for bits of divine revelation must give way to the complete Word of God which will contain the bits and fragments in a complete whole which gives us the sweet delectable Word of God -- the Bible.
Before leaving verse 9, we wish to make two other very important observations. First of all, the context demands that we are talking about gifts --the charismatic gifts of the Spirit. Thus we are dealing with an it or a thing. Secondly in verse 9, two gifts are mentioned which are in reference to vehicles through which the Word of God came. God is thus speaking in the text about temporary gifts used to divulge divine revelation that would be canceled out because their function was fulfilled.
In verse 10 the Holy Spirit keeps us in the same framework of thinking about the gifts and about His Word, but introduces a very astounding change that we must consider at this time. We will seek to explain the meaning of this verse and at the same time lead out the truth that God has given us in this passage.
Consider first, "But when that which is perfect is come". The word "but" changes our thinking from that which is fragmentary in verse 9 and temporary in verses 8 and 9 to that which is complete and permanent in verse I 0. The word translated "perfect" is the Greek word teleion which has at its root teleios which means "brought to completion", "fully accomplished", "fully developed", and "complete and entire as opposed to what is partial or limited". It is neuter in gender and is therefore in reference to a thing or an it. The context in verse 9 demands that it refers to the Word of God, the Bible, the completed canon of Scriptures. It cannot refer to Jesus Christ because the word "complete" is neuter in gender. It cannot be in reference to the event of the second coming of Christ because the context has been talking about the gifts, their inability to last due to their fragmentary status, and to the Word of God, specifically. The phrase "is come" is important because it is in the passive voice meaning that the completed canon of Scripture will receive completion at a future date. As we noted earlier in this study, it was completed in A.D. 96. As this completed canon of Scripture was received, the temporary gifts of knowledge and prophecy received a cancellation. They had fulfilled their purpose of bringing the Word of God into existence, and had been used of the Holy Spirit to edify the early, infant church.
Now notice the next phrase of verse 10. "When that which is perfect or complete comes, then that which is in part shall be done away. The phrase "shall be done away" literally means 'shall receive a cancellation" or 'shall receive a null and void status". Thus, when that which is perfect is come, the Word of God, then that which is out from the source of the part of the whole, namely the gifts of knowledge and prophecy, shall receive a cancellation.
With the above interpretation being true, we can logically deduce the following:
(1) Love, Gods love, which is the primary subject of this chapter, will never fail or fall. The fruit of the Spirit, functioning in time, is more important than the gifts of the Spirit, that function in time. Gods love will last for time and eternity, whereas the gifts of the Spirit are only temporal, and really only for a part of time, namely the first sixty years of church history.
(2) The gift of tongues, knowledge, and prophecy have ceased or have received a cancellation by the Holy Spirit who gave them. With these specialized gifts being gone, so are the other six gifts of I Corinthians 12:8-10, namely wisdom, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, discerning of spirits, and interpretation of tongues. We wish to be very careful at this point and exceedingly clear. We believe that knowledge in the form of a complete divine revelation is with us today in the Bible, but not the specialized Holy Spirit gift of knowledge. In fact, II Peter 3:18 commands us to keep on growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This can only be done through the study of and obedience to the completed Word of God.
We also believe that wisdom, Gods wisdom, is still with us, first of all in the Person of Christ (I Corinthians 1:30) and secondly in the completed Word of God as the Holy Spirit illuminates the Word to our hearts so that we may properly understand and apply the Bible to life's circumstances.
We likewise believe that God can and still does perform healing on people because He is all-powerful and cannot change. But we do not believe that He gives the specialized gift of healing to individuals. In like manner, God has never ceased to be the God of the miraculous, but on the basis of our study we do not believe He gives the charismatic gift of miracles.
Likewise, we believe that God could reveal more to us if He desired to do so through prophecy, but He himself caused the revelation to cease for this time by A.D. 96. If you think for a moment, this is nothing new Biblical history. God completed the Old Testament some 400 years before Christ and never spoke through a prophet again until 400 years later in the person of John the Baptist.
The charismatic gift of discerning of spirits has been canceled out because it was used as a check on the gift of prophecy to discern or judge through what a man said to ascertain what he said was really from God. However, every believer filled with the Holy Spirit and properly taught doctrinally, because of a completed canon of Scripture, can discern the spirit of any false teacher or false prophet of our day. Jesus said, 'Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free, John 8:32. Just because the specialized charismatic gift of tongues has ceased, tongues (or more accurately, known earthly language) have not. Today, all nations and languages are to hear the gospel and be saved, be baptized, and learn all that Jesus commands us, which by the way is in the completed canon of Scripture, the Bible. Then in their native tongue they praise and thank the Lord because of His mighty works manifest toward them and in them. Of course with tongues or the ability to speak a known language that you do not know coming to an end, the gift of interpretation of tongues must cease also. Today, one must go to language school to know how to interpret a foreign tongue.
(3) With tongues and interpretation of tongues ceasing, we can logically deduce that the modern-day charismatic movement is in error and should be avoided and rejected by every true born-again child of God. This movement is found in Catholicism, apostate Protestantism, evangelical Christianity, namely the Four Square Gospel Churches, Churches of God, Assemblies of God, some Nazarene Churches and Apostolic Churches. It is also found outside of organized religion in the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship. Since these gifts are not being produced today by the Holy Spirit, their presence can be attributed to Satanic demons, emotionalism, or pure fakery.
(4) With the gift of prophecy coming to an end, we can also logically deduce that any religious movement or doctrine that teaches that God has given further revelation since A.D. 96 is in violation of the Word of God. This would include such religions and cults as Catholicism with their traditions and rituals that are not found in the Bible, Protestantism with its church doctrines that accentuate works for salvation rather than grace, Mohammedism which accepts Mohammed as a prophet of God, Mormonism which accepts the prophecies of Joseph Smith, Christian Science which has other extra-biblical writings as Science and Health: Key to the Scriptures, Jehovah's Witnesses with their perverted New World Translation and false doctrines, and the false doctrines of the Moonies, Bahaism, etc.
In Short, keep yourself from all and every religion that does not believe that the Bible is the completed Word of God.
Find a good, solid, Fundamental Bible believing Church where the Pastors pulpit ministry is centered in the Word of God and where he seeks to teach you its doctrines and its books verse by verse and chapter by chapter.
Look for the following when seeking to choose a church:
(1) A church that believes that the Bible is the only source of true doctrine and practice of the Christian faith.
(2) A church that teaches that God is not revealing any more New Testament doctrine, and has not since A.D. 96.
(3) A church that does not stress a denominational name tag above Christ or the revealed Word of God.
(4) A church where the Pastor is a teacher of the Word of God, and where he teaches you book by book, chapter by chapter, doctrine by doctrine, all of what the Bible says.
(5) A church that teaches that a man must be born-again, receiving the Lord Jesus Christ in order to go to Heaven.
(6) A church that teaches the importance of baptism by immersion following your salvation experience, not a part of it..
(7) A church that believes the Lord Jesus Christ is the virgin born Son of God/Son of Man who laid down His life, the just for the unjust ones. In other words, they preach and teach that He died on a cross as a vicarious substitute, and shed His precious blood for the remission of sins.
(8) A church that believes Christ will return to the earth before the tribulation and before the millennium to rapture the saints out of the earth.
(9) A church that believes in the reality of Hell, the Lake of Fire, Satan, and demons.
(10) A church that believes in the total depravity of man, that he is conceived in sin, born in sin and is lost in sin needing a Savior.
(11) A church that believes that upon receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are baptized once and for all into the body of Christ, sealed there forever by His Spirit, kept by the power of God, and preserved eternally for Jesus Christ.
(12) A church that believes you, as a born-again Christian, are to live a holy, separated life from sin and worldliness.
(13) A church that believes you, as a born-again Christian, are to be in a church that is separated ecclesiastically from the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, New Evangelicalism, the Occult, the Cults, and religion in general.
Such a church is the one mentioned below. Join them this week in the study of the completed revelation of God, the Bible.