Wednesday, February 22
The Gift, Then and Now
Read 1 Corinthians 14:1 and compare the different lists in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 27-31; Romans 12:3-8; and Ephesians 4:11, 12. Were those gifts given only to the New Testament believers? Why are the gifts available today?
There are some Christians who think that the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament were restricted to the times of Jesus and the apostles. They argue that, with the death of the first apostles, the special spiritual gifts also have ceased to be present in the church. In support of such a view, they quote 1 Corinthians 13:10, where the apostle Paul states that “when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away” (NASB). Yes, there will be a time when the gifts will cease. But they will cease only when the perfect has come, that is, when we no longer see as through a dark glass, but face to face, when Jesus comes again. The Bible tells us that the spiritual gifts are given to build up the church (1 Cor. 12:28). Paul admonishes the believers to “desire earnestly spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 14:1, NASB). They are necessary to the well-being of the body. In the absence of any scriptural proof that God has abolished them, we have to assume that He intends them to remain until the church has completed its mission, and Christ has come again.
The work of God will be completed at the end of time with power and strength far exceeding the first beginnings. As long as the church is called to prepare the world for Christ’s second coming, God will not leave the members of the church without help in fulfilling their mission. But these gifts will never supersede the Bible, nor fill the same place as the Bible. Rather they are a fulfillment of the biblical promise to equip the believers so that they can build up the body of Christ and prepare the world for the soon coming of Jesus.
Read Ephesians 4:11-13, especially verse 13, which says: “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (NKJV). What does this tell us about the present need for the gifts in the church?