Don’t Be Like The Corinthians!
Paul, the hand-picked 12th apostle of Jesus Christ, went to speak to the members of the Church at Corinth. He had heard that there were contentions and divisions among them, and that there were lots of sins like envying, strife – sexual immorality, and he wanted them to become united into one body of Christ, and united in one Spirit.
Paul told them, in 1 Corinthians 1;10: “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
Why was this body of believers in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in disunity?
Paul wanted to tell them that the spirit of man knows the things of man, but the Spirit of God, who now dwells within each born-again believer, knows all of the things of God. In 1 Corinthians 2:11, Paul actually says it this way: “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
All during Chapter one of 1 Corinthians, Paul is telling them that their divisions and contentions with one another were because they were listening to their inner spirit – the spirit of man…their soul, if you will…their mind, and as intellectual as they were, they needed to now listen to what the Spirit of God would reveal to them through Paul. Once they get to listen to God’s Holy Spirit…with a message delivered by Paul, a very learned man who studied under the chiefest of Rabbis, Gamaliel, and Paul reminds them that he could speak in many languages…more than any of them in attendance.
In verses 12and 13 of 1 Corinthians 2, Paul then tells them, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.”
In Chapter 3 of 1 Corinthians, Paul tells the Corinthian believers that they have only been taught the basics of the Gospel of Christ….the milk of God’s Word by him, but now it was time for them to learn the meat of God’s Word, and he was there to deliver a meatier message.
He refers to them as “babes in Christ” who could not handle the meatier words from God, and he hoped that now that he was there to expand upon the Word of God, they would now be able to comprehend it.
In verse 3, Paul tells them they are still carnal men who think carnally, and their lack of the meat of God’s word has shown them to be ignorant of the things of God. “This is what is causing divisions, envy and strife among you, and it ought not be that way.”
In verse 16, Paul chastises the members in disarray by reminding them of something. “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?”
Paul reminds them in verse 23 of Chapter 3, of the progression from the Holy Spirit who dwells in them, “and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” Therefore, God’s mind is known by Christ who has left them for heaven, but God’s mind is also known by the Holy Spirit…the “comforter” who now dwells within them.
Jesus promised to send this Holy Spirit to born-again believers because He would be ascending into heaven, which He already did.
So, now it was time for them to listen to the meat of God’s Words through the Holy Spirit power that Paul had been given to deliver this particular message to this church at Corinth.
In 1 Corinthians 4:9-13, Paul reveals what I already know. He was the last of the apostles. “For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men."
10-"We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11-To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12-We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13-when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.”
That said, Paul did not want to shame these Corinthians by those remarks, he simply wanted to warn them that, although they were listening to a lot of people who claimed to be “instructors of Christ”, they needed to hear from one person now…for the one who Jesus has appointed to be their “spiritual father”….him.
Verses 15 thru 17 reveals this declaration that he, Paul, was assigned to be their spiritual father by Jesus Himself. “For in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16-Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17-For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”
Paul told them they needed a Pastor now to show them how to become unified, so he was going to send Timothy to them, and Timothy would urge them to “imitate” or be just like Paul, and that his ways agree with Christ’s teachings.
In Chapter 5, Paul tells them that he has heard not only of the sin of division, envying and strife, but he also heard they were condoning sexual immorality within the membership. One man was sleeping with his stepmother, and they had not tossed him out of the church….they turned a blind eye to it, so this church at Corinth was doing all that their spirits (souls…minds) were teaching, but they were not utilizing the gift of the Holy Spirit that dwelled within them. They, therefore, needed to stop thinking carnally, and start being led by the Spirit of God.
Paul went on, in Chapter five, to tell them that if they allowed a little sin (yeast), in the church, it would affect the entire body of believers. He advised them to expel the man who was sleeping with his stepmother. He told them that he was there to judge the members, and it was not his job to judge sinners outside of the church. Verse 12 and 13 – “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."
Chapter 6 reveals that the Corinthian church members were taking each other to court to settle matters. Paul admonished them to take these matters before their church leaders instead because it is not right for a Christian brother to sue another brother in a court of law. These Corinthians were guilty of many sins, so far, and Paul wanted to bring it all to their attention before he left, and before Timothy would come to be their pastor.
In chapter 7, Paul directly addresses all the matters that the leaders wrote to him about because they wanted him to come…and shed light on those subjects.
The first subject was about marriage. Paul addressed all of their concerns about virgins, divorced people, widows, single people and, because of their immorality, he recommended that they marry to avoid their sins of adultery and fornication. Some were eating meat that was cheaper because it was offered to idols.
In Chapter 8, Paul tells the members that it is okay to eat this meat, but if it becomes a stumbling block to their brothers in Christ…refrain from eating it in front of them…it would be an offense to them.
Chapter 9 reveals that Paul is telling the church at Corinth (and us thousands of years later), that we should be paying those who preach the Word of God. That said, Paul told them that he would take no script…no payment for his work with them because he wanted them to know that he preached the Gospel of Christ because he was compelled to do so, and not for money. He told them that he became all things to all people in the hopes of winning them to Christ.
In Chapter 10, Paul warns these new Christians that they should remember their ancestors (most were Jews in the Corinthian church)…the Israelites, and how they were being led by God, but they constantly fell into the sin of immorality, drunkenness, pagan idol worship, so they needed to guard against repeating the same things.
Paul sums up Chapters 9 and 10 with this: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” The Corinthians still had most of their teachings from men wrong.
In Chapter 11, Paul taught them to have the “Lord’s Supper”…a communion of remembrance of what Christ did on the cross for them…and for us. Paul reiterated what the symbolism of the unleavened cracker and the cup of grape juice (new wine) symbolized. The Corinthians were having their church services, but rather than worshipping and praising God, they were using the service to wine and dine themselves. They brought their own meals to have in church, and some came with wine…and became drunk. Paul simply had to re-instruct them about how to worship and have praise services, and that they should honor Christ as often as they think about what he did on the cross for them by having the “Communion Services” periodically.
Paul also instructed them about what the priority is to be in the church. Christ is the head of the church. Men are next, women are next, but not to be independent of each other…they are equal in God’s sight. Verse 11 “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.”
GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – AND TONGUES.
This is the crux of the Book of 1 Corinthians that I wanted to speak directly to…The Gifts of the Holy Spirit of God.
What are they…how did the Corinthians use or misuse them, and are the gifts of the Spirit still with us today?
To get to 1 Corinthians 14, we must start it in context, so I want to start right away in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12 and verse 1…The italicized verses will come first, then I will expand upon them to make sure you understand it in English.
1-"Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2-You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. “
Paul is telling them that he does not want them to be ignorant or uneducated concerning “Spiritual Gifts”. Therefore, Paul does not want you or me to be ignorant of them either.
He continues in verses 1-3 by stating the obvious. He tells them that when they were sinning pagans, and worshipping idols, then anything they said to those gods were just words. But, now that they are born-again believers, they cannot say that Jesus be cursed. If they do say, “Jesus be cursed”, it cannot be from the Holy Spirit who indwells them. The Holy Spirit who now dwells within them can only allow that person to say, “Jesus is Lord.”
In verses 4-6, I want you to read from the KJV because King James is the original interpretation of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. You need to see the words chosen.
4”Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5-And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6-And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”
Paul demonstrates what he already said back in the first Chapter….there is a progression from the person to the Holy Spirit, then to Christ, then to God.
Let’s now review those verses from the NAS version of the Bible –4-“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” – There are many “Gifts of The Holy Spirit, but there is still just one Holy Spirit.
5”And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.” – There are many ways (varieties) of ministering the Word of God, worshipping God, serving God - but, there is but one Lord – The Lord Jesus Christ.
6-"There are varieties of effects (diversities of operations) , but the same God who works all things in all persons.” There are many born again believers in Christ who work to accomplish the same things…which is to do the will of God…but there is still just one God.
To that, Paul means that, although each born-again believer may have a different “gift”, and they may worship God, and adhere to the teachings of Jesus, and although many born-again believers in Christ go about accomplishing the will of God, there is still one Spirit, one Christ, and one God….and this is the “oneness” or unity in which all believers can come together.
All are part of the “body of Christ”, regardless of how they use their gifts, or how they worship God, or how they administer the Gospel of Christ.
Therefore all born-again believers have “oneness” or “unity”, and that is that we are all children of God who have accepted Christ as lord and Savior, and He has sent us the gift of the Holy Spirit to teach us, to guide us, to direct our paths, and when endued with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to direct others toward Christ.
Okay…that is important to know. Paul is trying to unite these Corinthian believers who are “new Christians not yet fed the meat of God’s word”, so they won’t be confused. Confusion is of the devil, and it was causing strife, envying, and division in their church. Satan wants to divide Christians now, and it is over all of the “gray areas” that are not clearly spelled out in the Bible.
The “uniting precept” is that all born-again believers must unite in the knowledge that there is one God, one Savior, and one Holy Spirit, and that all three will always point people to Christ, as He is the only way to get into heaven.
Let’s now continue forward in 1 Corinthians 12:7 and beyond…..
7-“Now to each one (born-again believer) the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
Here, Paul will address the variety of gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to the first churches.
8-"To one (born-again believer in Christ) there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9-to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10-to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. “
Paul wanted the Corinthians (and now us) to know that each born-again believer in Christ was given a gift…or several of the gifts mentioned in verses 8-11, and those gifts are all given by the one Holy Spirit as the Spirit determines, but these gifts must be used…per verse 7…”for the good of all” the body of Christ in general, and to the body of believers in the Corinthian church in particular. He elaborates on this next…
12-"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
Paul tells the Corinthians that the gifts are to edify the entire body….which is one unit…and not made up of a bunch of parts that do not need each other.
14-"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15-If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16-And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17-If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18-But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19-If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20-As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21-The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22-On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23-and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24-while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25-so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26I-f one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27-Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Therefore, Paul is teaching the Corinthians (and now us) that although we are millions or billions strong, all born-again believers in Christ have become ONE BODY – the “body of Christ”…later called the Bride of Christ and “the Church”.
Paul continues to tell them that the church was given a “variety of people” to preach, to prophesy, to teach, to perform miracles, to heal the sick, helpers, those who could administer the workings of a church, and finally, God gave the churches those who cold speak to the diversity of the people who were there.
There were Jews who spoke in Hebrew and who needed “signs” before they would accept and believe in what they were being taught…there were Greeks in attendance at the Corinthian church, and these spoke in Greek…and they were seeking wisdom, rather than signs and wonders like the Jews were after (go back to revisit 1 Corinthians 1:22 to read that for yourself), and others who spoke different languages (tongues), so the church needed all these varieties of personnel to properly administer the Gospel of Christ and to teach God’s Words to the congregation.
Here are the verses to back that up: 28-And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”
Paul wanted to show the congregation that, although there is one body..the body of Christ…made up of all who accepted Christ as their Savior…not everyone in attendance was an apostle…not all would be prophets…not all would work miracles (signs and wonders), not all would heal, and not everyone could speak to the variety of languages in the congregation. Not all could interpret either.
Paul said, 29-Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30-Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
Then, Paul said something remarkable, so I separated it out from all the other verses in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12. It is found in verse 31-“But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.”
Paul wanted the congregation at Corinth (and now us) to eagerly seek greater gifts than to preach, or prophesy, teach, perform miracles, heal the sick, be administrators, or have the gift of helping…or the gift of speaking in another language or interpret what was being preached and taught to those that did not understand the preacher or teacher in their native language.
Paul intimated that there were greater gifts of the Spirit than all of those mentioned, and we shall find that those gifts are faith, hope and love….with the greatest of those gifts being love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13. But, we’ll learn our way to that point first.
Now we can get into the “meat” of the Word of God as taught by Paul, the hand-picked 12th apostle of Jesus Himself….Chapter 13.
Verse 1-“If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love, I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
Paul was telling people that He does speak in the tongues of men…he spoke several languages.
Paul, the Apostle, along with the other eleven apostles who spoke in the “tongues of angels”…this is found over in the Book of Acts. We refer to it as the “Day of Pentecost”.
In Acts 2:and verse 4, we read, “ And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Who did God’s Holy Spirit enable to speak in ‘other tongues’? The twelve apostles, and the twelve apostles only.
How do I verify this? Go to Acts 1:26…the last verse just before the miracle of Pentecost. You will read that the man-picked apostle of Peter…a man named Mathias, was just picked from a lottery of two names, and he was added as the 12th apostle…not of Jesus’ choosing, I might add.
Let’s read who the “they” are spoken of In Acts 2:4. Acts 1:26 – “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” Then we go right into Acts 2 to see who “they” are – “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”
So, on the day of Pentecost, they were “they”…the newly gathered twelve apostles, were all with one accord, and in one place.
Then we would have to ask, “If these men were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, to speak to people in an “unknown tongue” – “tongues of angels from heaven”, why? There must have been a reason.
The reason that “tongues” were given as a gift to the twelve is found in verse 22 of 1 Corinthians 14. Paul teaches the Corinthian church members (and now us) this: “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.”
So, there is one reason that this “gift of speaking in an unknown tongue”, which is to say it is a gift of God to some, like Paul, to be able to speak to the unbelievers in an audience, and these unbelievers were from all over the lands. They spoke in different languages, and would not be able to understand the saving Gospel Message of Christ…unless someone was there to speak in their language.
Tongues, according to Paul, were for unbelievers, and it is not for the edification of believers.
Let’s now go back to the Day of Pentecost in Acts to see why these twelve apostles spoke in an unknown language, and we will see that they spoke in the languages of quite a few unsaved who were from everywhere.
Acts 2:6 - “…the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them (the apostles) speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?"
Clearly, the “speaking of languages in tongues not known to the twelve apostles were directed at all those unbelievers – over twenty different nationalities and languages so they could hear and understand God’s message being delivered by the apostles. The miracle on the day of Pentecost was that these unsaved people from Asia, Egypt…you name it, all heard the apostles speaking in their native tongue/language. Note* There were none there who needed to interpret what the apostles were saying…the miracle is that they were speaking in Greek, Asian, Egyptian languages, yet they were all from Galilee. This also happened because all of the Jews who were watching this event believed…because they liked confirmation of supernatural signs and wonders, and God delivered their “sign” that day.
Paul wants to continue with his teachings to the church at Corinth, so let’s listen in…1 Corinthians 13:2 –“And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God's love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).”
Paul wanted to point out that, although he personally possessed all the gifts that Christ bestowed upon him….as his authenticity before the Jews who wanted to see signs, wonders, miracles…raising the dead, healing the sick, lame, blind, etc. – even though he possessed all of those gifts, if he did not have the love of God in him for the “lost and dying unsaved people of the world, what good would those gifts be?
Paul continued to use “IFS” - 3-"Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God's love in me), I gain nothing.” LOVE IS WHAT COUNTS.
He then tells them what LOVE IS, according to God’s interpretation of it. 4-”Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. 5-It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. 6-It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. 7-Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. 8-Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].”
Paul told the Corinthians that this LOVE is the same love that Jesus has for all of mankind, and they (and we) should demonstrate that LOVE in the same way. That LOVE is what builds relationships.
Paul next speaks about the gift of prophecy (which he also has because he was instructed – by Jesus, to write much of it down. It is now part of the New Testament.). “As for prophecy (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth].
Paul says that prophecy will be fulfilled and it will pass away.
He was right. Once the prophecy was fully written down…by himself and the other apostles, then prophecy would be needed no more. The New Testament was finished around 70 A.D.
(coincidentally at the same time the Temple at Jerusalem was demolished on August 4th.
Jesus fully agreed with this, because Jesus said, in Luke 16:16 – "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” So if Jesus said prophets would end around the time of John the Baptist, and Paul seconded that motion here in Corinthians, who are we to argue with them?
Paul continues – Verse 9 of 1 Corinthians 13 –“For our knowledge is in part now (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is also in part now (incomplete and imperfect). 10-But when the complete and perfect comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded).”
Paul said, in the King James translation, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” 10-But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”
The big hang-up in some circles is WHAT DID PAUL MEAN WHEN HE SAID, "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away “ Did Paul mean the second coming? If so, then the belief that prophets, apostles, miracles, raising the dead, etc. would still be around until the rapture.
Some say that when that which is perfect comes, meaning when Jesus comes, then prophecy, etc. will be done away with. They would then have to argue with Luke 16:16 when Jesus told us all that prophecy and the Law was finished when He would be sacrificed once and for all for the sins of mankind…and during the “season of John the Baptist” those would end. Once Jesus died for the sins of mankind, the Laws of Moses – The Ten Commandments, could not condemn believers any longer. Once the New Testament was completed, there is nothing more to prophesy…nothing!
Paul, the acknowledged writer of Hebrews, tells us who perfect is. Hebrews 5:5 – "So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6-As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 7-Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8-Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9-And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10-Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”
Yes, Jesus, being made PERFECT, became the author of eternal salvation upon His death on the cross…and today, “Whoseover shall call upon His name shall be saved.”
That is why Jesus told us that the Law and the prophets would end during the “season of John the Baptist”. All would be fulfilled….made perfect…so these gifts of prophecy, healing, miracles, signs and wonders, raising the dead…all gifts that the twelve apostles, including Paul had…would end. When all of the apostles died, the New Testament was written….finished.
There would be no need for apostles or all of the special gifts associated with them.
There would remain the gifts of Pastors, evangelists, teachers, helpers, and administrators, but Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 13:8…Love never fails, but when that which is perfect…Jesus…when He comes, and when He dies on the Cross , and when he spent forty days with his apostles to teach them what to write out in the New Testament….and when Paul, the 12th hand-picked apostle of Jesus finishes writing his portion of the New Testament, then prophecy will fail…tongues…they shall fail…”word of knowledge” shall fail…
I want to add the following gifts of the Spirit that were given only to the twelve apostles failed when they died, as there would be no need to show “signs and wonders” anymore….all of God’s Word was completed at the time of John the Baptist, that is to say during that “season”….around 70-A.D. when the Temple at Jerusalem was also finished and demolished. The Messiah was not accepted by God’s elect…the Jews, so Paul finished off the “apostolic era” by sharing the Gospel of Christ with the Jews who would listen, but it mainly went out to the Gentiles…meaning all non-Jews.
Here is the list of all that ONLY THE APOSTLES HAD AS GIFTS…to use as their authentication that they were from Christ, and had His power to use as “signs and wonders”. Mark 16:14 – “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. 15-He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16-Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
17-And these signs will accompany those (of you who now choose to believe me now that you have physically seen me) who believe: In my name they (those of you who choose to believe me) will drive out demons; they (those of you who choose to believe me) will speak in new tongues; 18they (those of you who choose to believe me) will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they (those of you who choose to believe me) drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they (those of you who choose to believe me) will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." 19-After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them ,(eleven apostles- Judas hanged himself…Matthias was not yet chosen by Peter and a two man lottery), he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
So, it has always been clear to me that Jesus gave the eleven (later Paul, his hand-picked apostle) these special gifts, and they were given only to those apostles, and not to every Tom, Dick and Harry who now believe they, too are apostles.
There shall be twelve apostles in heaven. They are part of the 24 Elders who will be around God’s throne. Twelve…not a million apostles. Their special gifts died with them.
There is no evidence of anyone raising the dead, healing the blind, handling poisonous snakes after Paul, the apostle. There are books out there with claims of doing those miracles, and they are backed up by relatives (in the case of Smith Wigglesworth, as an example), but I would invite any claimant to have these powers to join me at any graveyard, and if they raise a dead person…I shall indeed believe. If any can come with me to a cancer hospital and cure just one patient of cancer who has been given the death sentence, I will believe. If they come with me to the Perkins school for the blind, and heal a blind mans’ eyesight so he can see, I’m an instant believer that apostles and their gifts are alive and well today. Until then, I believe what Jesus said, and I believe Paul, the apostle.
We have to finish this study, so let’s see how Paul ends it.
1 Corinthians 13:11-13 –“ 1When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
In English, Paul told them, “Now, because I have grown in the Lord, I understand the deeper things…the meat of God’s Word. Now, I can put away those childish things that you folks in Corinth are foolishly arguing over and causing divisions over. All of those things that I mentioned are going to pass, and pass quickly.”
12-”For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13And now abideth faith, hope, LOVE, these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE.”
Paul is telling the church at Corinth (and us), “My friends, we don’t know all there is to know about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit – heaven, hell, Satan, the angels…or how things work because we cannot now know the mind and heart of God…but then…when we arrive in heaven, we shall see Jesus face to face and we shall know and see all these things that we have questions about.
God will KNOW us…we will KNOW God….but for now, there are three gifts of the Holy Spirit, and they are to be coveted. They are the gift of faith…the gift of our eternal hope, and the gift of the Love of God that we also need to share with others.”
I will leave you with Paul’s words found in Chapter 14 about tongues…and what they are for…as I elaborated upon earlier: “So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers.”
So, this Chapter fourteen really ends with verse 22 because all the rest disappears when the last of the apostles died.
Paul said, Be more like those at Berea..."in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Paul would rather that we search the Scriptures daily so that we know whether what we are told by man (including this author) are so. Don't just take someone's word that the Bible says this or that. Don't read an article somewhere in a book and figure that what is being written is true...search the Scriptures so that YOU are convinced about a subject.
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