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Saturday, November 22, 2014


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Evidence For The Cessation of The Gift





1 Corinthians Chapter 13

If it can be shown that it was God's intention to operate the Spirit Gift among men for a limited period, and it was His intention that the Gift should cease, then this fact alone will destroy the attempt to establish a Spirit Gift with believers today. If the gifts were to cease, then the proposal that the promise at Pentecost was without limit through the christian dispensation is not true.

Paul speaks of the cessation of the gifts in 1 Corinthians 13, and he does so in an unambiguous style. He plainly says in verse 8 that the gifts of knowledge, prophecy, and tongues would cease. "Love never faileth, but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away." Although the word gifts is not in the text, it is to be understood; just as in verse 2 where gifts is included in italics. Knowledge and prophecy were two of the gifts, we know from ch. 12:7; and in ch. 14:3-5 Paul commends prophesying as the best gift. Prophesying was not foretelling but "speaking unto men to edification, and


comfort." But though it was the best gift, Paul says in chapter 13 it was to be done away. Surely if this best gift was to cease, there is no case for any less valuable gift continuing.

When That Which Is Perfect Is Come

Objection to this simple assessment of what Paul is saying arises when we read on to the next verse, where Paul says that the knowing and prophesying "from parts" would be done away "when that which is perfect is come." This means, it is argued, that the ceasing has not yet occurred, because "that which is perfect" awaits the coming of Jesus.

First, we note in response to this argument, that it proves more than is wanted. If we accept the argument, it requires the existence today of the gift of tongues as well as of knowledge and prophesying; and this is more than its supporters would want to claim. The gift of tongues should be apparent today, and it is not. So there is something wrong with the argument. We shall find that Paul is speaking of a perfectness or fulness in the immediate future, and not a long way off. True, Paul does comprehend in his thought a fulness or perfection when Christ comes "For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face: now I know from parts; but then I shall know even as I am known" (v. 12). But he also has in mind a more immediate perfection when the ecclesia should have passed from the childhood state to maturity, as he says in Ephesians 4:1-16; "that ye henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine . . . . but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ . . . ." When this maturity has been reached the gifts would cease.

Attention to the last verse of the chapter will confirm what has been just said. Paul concludes the chapter, and his line of thought, with the words: "Now remaineth faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." The now takes its meaning from the previous verse: "Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face." So the now defines the present time of mortality and probation. And he says that in this now state of things, faith hope and love are to remain; and therefore other things, i.e. the Spirit gifts, are to cease. This is the point: the emphasis on faith, hope and love remaining is also an emphasis on the Spirit gifts ceasing. If Paul had meant that the Spirit gifts were not to cease until Christ comes, he would have concluded with saying, "But now remain the Spirit gifts:" but he does not. The whole theme of this chapter 13 requires that it is love that is to remain, and the gifts to pass away. Love is "the more excellent way" than the best gifts, Paul says


at the end of chapter 12; and in chapter 13 he shows that love is sufficient for the needs of the ecclesia when the gifts had passed away. Seeing that Paul is speaking specifically about the future of the Spirit gifts, it is inconceivable that he would conclude "Now remaineth faith, hope and love," if he meant, Now remaineth the Spirit gifts until Christ comes.

Joel Chapter 2

We are not dependent on Paul alone for this teaching about the cessation of the gifts. Reference is made to this in the original prophecy about the gifts of the Spirit in Joel, part of which is quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost. Peter's quotation is from the end of Joel 2: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, etc." (Acts 2:17). A further reference to the giving of the Holy Spirit occurs a little earlier in chapter 2 of Joel. The A.V. reads for verse 23: "Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for He hath given you the former rain moderately (margin: a teacher of righteousness), and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain (margin: Hebrew -- according to righteousness) and the latter rain in the first month." The marginal notes show that there is something peculiar here. A lexicon reveals that the marginal renderings are the correct ones, but the translators, not having understanding, were puzzled. This "teacher of righteousness" was the Holy Spirit. Jesus so describes the Holy Spirit, "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things . . . ." (John 14:26). The lexicon shows that the Hebrew word mowrach normally means teacher, but can mean rain. It is used in only one other place, Ps. 84:8, as rain. The usual word for rain or shower is matar, and this is the word used later in this verse. The Hebrew word translated moderately, means in righteousness and ought to have been so translated.

The prophet is saying that as rain comes down as God's blessing on the ground at the appointed time, so there would be a coming down of a teacher of righteousness as a blessing to the children of Zion. Moses speaks of God's word through him as the rain: "My doctrine shall drop as the rain; my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb" (Deut. 32:2). Moreover, as in nature there were two periods of rain to give the full harvest, so Joel is prophesying that there should be two "rains of the Spirit," the early and the latter rain. There was to be rain of the Spirit at the time of the apostles, and there will be another in the final day of the Lord. And if there are two rains of the Spirit, there must be a


cessation of the Spirit in the time between. We are living in the dry time when there is no rain of the Spirit.

The cessation of the Miraculous Part Only is not true

As we have already noted an attempt is made to get round the Bible references to the cessation of the Spirit, by proposing that it was only the miraculous parts of the Gift that ceased. The visibly miraculous parts of the Holy Spirit Gift are regarded as an extra, belonging to the time of the Apostles, and the alleged more hidden aspects of the Gift are said to be the real promise made on the day of Pentecost to all believers; and these hidden aspects have continued. Let us see if this is a tenable position.

We have already looked at what Paul says about the cessation of the Spirit in 1 Cor. 13. Does he support the proposition now being made? Clearly, No! He puts together knowledge, prophecy and tongues and states that these shall all cease. It is not just the gift of tongues, but also the non-miraculous gift of knowledge. The three gifts Paul mentions are a fair sample of all the parts of the Spirit Gift, and this justifies the view that the cessation of the Spirit Gift applied to all its parts.

What Paul writes in the previous chapter (Chapter 12), is also against the idea of there being two parts to the Holy Spirit Gift, the miracle working part and the teaching, guiding, part. The emphasis of the chapter is that every different Spirit Gift was essential, just as all the members of the body, ear, eye, hand, foot etc. each have an essential part to contribute to the wellbeing of the body. The gift of wisdom, the gift of knowledge, the gift of faith, the gifts of healing, the working of miracles, etc. "But all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will" (1 Cor. 12: 11 R.V.). This is the pattern of things in the first century, and if there is a Holy Spirit Gift today for the well being of the ecclesias, it will be after the same pattern. We have no instruction as to any other pattern of Holy Spirit Gift. To propose a semi- system of the Spirit in the hearts of believers is sheer assumption. Either the ecclesia today have the whole system described by Paul, or it does not exist. CONTENTS | CHAPTER 7: A Study of Four Key Passages