- -The Who, The Why, And The When
Robert F. Turner
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The use of spiritual gifts could be abused by early saints, for The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (1 Cor. 14:32). Remember that when you are told The Spirit is moving me; I cant help myself. Peter acted hypocritically (Gal. 2:11 -13), and Paul had to buffet his body lest he be rejected (1 Cor. 9:27). But the message which the Spirit gave, using the earthen vessels as a mouth piece, was inerrant and unified. The case of Baalam (Num. 22:24:) is an 0. T. example; and 1 Cor. 14: is an account of N.T. saints who could misuse their gifts, but through whom a unified truth was presented. This emphasizes the true purpose of such gifts.
The message was the thing. Paul could say, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue (v. 19). He told the Corinthians, I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied (taught, rt) for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying (v. 5).
The unification of the message is apparent in that Paul could say, If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord (v. 37). The testing of one who claimed to have the Spirit was done by comparing his message with that of John and other inspired men, (1 Jn. 4:1- 6). So-called miracles were also tested by the message, or content of teaching, (See Deut. 13:1-3; 2 Thes. 2:9-l2).
Further study of 1 Cor. 12: 13: 14: shows us that although Paul wanted the Corinthians to have and use spiritual gifts, he recognized their transient nature. Note, Covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way (12:31). The more excellent way was not a new or different way (love was intended for all saints) but it was an enduring way as opposed to spiritual gifts that would serve their purpose, and them cease. Miraculous prophecies, tongues, and knowledge were to cease; for we know in part, and we prophesy in part (i.e., piece by piece, rt) but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away (13:8-10). Some say this refers to Christs coming at the end of time, but that which is not He who. Marshalls interlinear translates, When the perfect thing comes, the thing in part will be abolished. The perfect (mature, full - grown) thing is the complete revelation. Miraculous gifts served, in the child or developmental stage of New Testament revelation, but when the job was done, the scaffold — the trappings of development — would have accomplished its purpose, and cease.
The Holy Spirit did His work well, delivering through chosen messengers a confirmed and established standard of truth for all men and all tine. We believe the WHO? WHY? and WHEN? study of miraculous spiritual gifts will make clear this truth. Current ecstatic gifts (?) do not conform to N.T: teaching, hence are not of God.